Tara gripped the railing and took a deep breath.
Calm down. You need to calm yourself down.
She could feel waves building up. Can’t let those loose. Not here.
Tara was standing on the top-most balcony at Frostcrag Spire. A small circular balcony, just under the top roof. The view from here was spectacular. She could see clear across Cyrodiil. Bruma looked tiny. So did Cheydinhal. Even the Imperial City was less impressive from this height. The Jerall Mountains blocked her view into Skyrim, but it seemed tantalizingly close from here, as if the mountains were just rough steps one had to climb.
Tara drew in deep breaths of the frigid air. She was grateful to still be wearing the heavy set of mage robes she’d bought months ago. This mountain was so tall, so cold, neither the Synod’s or College of Whispers’ robes were heavy enough to handle it. She was grateful she’d bought some used robes originally from Skyrim. The fabric was heavier and was currently keeping her warm.
Except her lungs. The deep breaths of cold air had numbed her throat and sent icy spikes into her lungs. Just what she needed. Her hands, which had been shaking as the waves built up inside her, now steadied. Tara felt herself calming, no longer ready to burst in anger and frustration.
Good, she’d avoided an outburst. That had been too close.
The trapdoor that led up to the balcony creaked open and Tara turned around to see Shara climbing onto the balcony.
“Is Banris looking for me?” Tara asked.
Shara took a moment to take in the view. “I should come up here more often,” she said. “I forget how beautiful and peaceful it is.”
Turning to Tara she said, “Yes. He wants to get back to your lesson.”
Tara sighed. “Why? I suck.”
Shara chuckled. “We all suck at something.”
Tara grimaced. “I suck at all Restoration magic, apparently.”
Shara was silent for a moment. “It doesn’t seem to suit you,” she finally said.
Tara laughed. “I appreciate the honesty.”
Shara nodded. “I’ll tell Banris you’ll be down shortly.” She disappeared back down the trap door.
Tara leaned on the railing and closed her eyes. The cold, constant wind was numbing her face. She liked it. She needed it. If only she could feel this numb inside.
If only she hadn’t let Banris get to her.
“Try harder,” Banris had said.
“I am trying as hard as I can!” Tara had snapped.
“Heal Other is as simple as Heal,” Banris had snapped back at her. “You can summon that spell! Have you read the spell tome?”
Tara had sighed. “Yes! I told you already. I’ve read it twice. This is pointless.” She’d gritted her teeth.
Tara and Banris had been standing in the main training room, which was on the second floor. It was a wide, circular room, like most in this strange tower. Practice targets, some of stone, some of straw, stood along the walls surrounding them.
Tara was supposed to be healing some singed straw. It wouldn’t actually heal the straw, the spell only healed the living, but if she was producing the spell, she and Banris would see a warm glow surround the target.
No matter how she tried to encourage the spell; reaching her hands toward the target, holding them above her head, speaking key words; nothing had worked. Her hands hadn’t even produced the mildest of glows.
“This makes no sense. Unless you don’t want to learn,” Banris had said. He’d been blaming her effort for days. Tara was struggling to keep her temper in check.
“I’m trying! I want to know this spell!” Tara had yelled.
“Are you sure?” He’d spat. “I think you’re just an impatient brat looking to skip on to Destruction.”
Tara had felt the sudden build-up of waves. Her hands had started trembling.
“How dare you!” She’d yelled. Tears stung her eyes. She had to get out of there. She was going to explode.
She had bolted without another word to the upper balcony.
Now calm and leaning on the balcony railing, for the first time, Tara wondered if the grief of losing Freta was blocking her ability to learn.
It’d only been two months. Nights were the worst, when she was tired and couldn’t push away her feelings. Plus, she had to admit, sleeping alone in a bed reminded her of the warm body that was no longer there to bring comfort, safety, and love.
Two months, and the only progress she’d made was improving Healing, the ability to heal herself. The other restoration spells, like Lesser Ward, remained out of reach.
And Heal Other.
She’d destroyed the scroll that could’ve saved Freta. Now, she couldn’t learn the spell that did the same thing.
Was guilt holding her back?
You could’ve saved her. Your temper killed her.
Tara opened her eyes and let the cold wind pull away the tears forming in her eyes. No crying. No waves. She couldn’t have an episode here. Whatever her “anguish waves” were, she didn’t feel safe revealing them at this College. Not yet, at least. She didn’t trust anyone enough. Nor had she found any books that referenced the phenomenon. She needed more time.
Tara made her way downstairs and approached Banris. “I’m sorry for the delay. And for yelling. I’m ready.”
Surprising her, Banris said, “I am finished as your teacher for now. Tomorrow, you start working with Shara. On Destruction magic.”
“What? Really?” Tara bit her lip, to fight back the excitement building in her voice.
“Yes. While you were…taking your break…Algar informed me he wants you on Destruction now.” Banris gave her slight smile. “I think we can all agree Restoration isn’t the school of magic for you.”
Banris paused. The smile dropped and he looked sullen for a moment. “I’m sorry for what I said. About your effort. Shara reminded me of your loss.”
She’d told Shara a few weeks ago about not knowing Heal Other in order to save Freta. She’d not mentioned the scrolls.
Tara nodded. “Thank you.”
She bit her lip again. “Um, yes, okay, I’ll meet with Shara tomorrow. Thank you.” She gave up trying to hide her excitement at being able to quit Restoration. She barely stopped herself from skipping out of the training room to head downstairs, back to the first floor.
Destruction magic! Finally!