Date: 8th of Ymiden, Arc 719
The Ithecal hissed in pain as the heavy dummy crashed into his side, sending him even further off balance, and he stumbled, his mediative calm dissipating as his split focus failed in favor of trying not to topple over.
"Careful there lad." Marken called out as Prae finally found his footing, the human's cane tapping against the floor. "You wouldn't want it to get out you've been bested by a glorified log." Praetorum looked up to glare at his mentor, and found the man waving another flag, this one Black and Green.
Praetorum paused at that, trying to remember. His thoughts had grown muddled again with his loss of balance, and in the time it took for him to sort them out, Marken had closed the distance between them.
"Too slow, boy." Prae made a face as the human's walking stick rapped over the top of his head, and lowered his trident slowly.
"It's harder than it looks." He grumbled, gingerly touching his side. The dummy was damn heavy, and reinforced with iron bands, so it packed a punch. If Marken had told him then that the thing also had a metal core for weight, Prae wouldn't have been surprised in the least. Still, he probably wasn't going to have much more than a bruise.
"Always is. Rest for a few bits, and then lets—"
Marken cut himself off then, his head snapping up a moment before someone burst into the courtyard. "Sir! Sir!"
It was one of the servants that Marken employed, a young man named.... Prae couldn't quite remember.
"Yes, Ash, what is it?"
The man was panting, having clearly run here. "Sir, it's your other guest, Ms Edyn." Prae straightened up at that, his injury forgotten at the mention of his captain. "She's headed for the doves!"
Praetorum had no idea what that meant, but it seemed to be bad news, as Marken cursed, before turning towards Prae. "You need to stop her, calm her down somehow. Ash will lead you. I'll follow, but I'm not as fast as I used to be, and someone needs to catch her before she does anything she'll regret. Go!"
Still confused, Prae followed his mentor's instructions. Ash led him hurriedly through Marken's estate, giving a garbled explanation along the way. Apparently Marken had given the servants instructions not to let either of his guests near the dove cote or the stable, and a few bits ago, Edyn had been spotted trying to break into both. The stablehands had managed to shoo her away, but the dove handlers were having a harder time.
It took Praetorum a moment to fully understand, but when he did, his pace hastened. Edyn had taken the loss of her magic particularly badly, having had it for so much of her life, and had spent the last few days growing antsier and antsier as the little ether they'd been able to flay from flames had slowly dwindled. It wasn't enough, he knew, for Edyn to use magic as naturally as she usually did. It had been taking an intense mental toll on her, and it seemed that she had finally reached her breaking point.
The amount of ether gained from flames was a pittance. The amount she could gain by draining life force, on the other hand...
The amount of ether, but also the amount of thirst. Marken had told him that there was a point of no return with the flaying thirst, that a mage who flayed too much too often could become what he called a Starved One, a hunger maddened creature with little in the way of reason or restraint. He'd assured Prae it would take much more than what relatively little flaying they'd had done so far, but still, it worried him.
How many doves would it take to induce the same amount of thirst as a human soul? Praetorum didn't know.
He hoped he didn't have to find out.