A Heritage of Power 4: Jerik's Story 9.99:
War Mice

by Fur and Fantasy
full contents and notes located at the bottom of the file

Lina took a deep breath, adjusting to her new suit of armor. The young Mouse started her exercises, shifting her body to move the numerous light plates, teaching herself how to move to reinforce weak points. It was just a routine morning workout for her, but the first one she'd really been able to focus on for a couple months.

Just as well that Jerik hadn't chosen her as his Defender; just a few days after he'd arrived, she'd been told that Master Krith was arriving, and had agreed to train her.

There was no way in Hell she could have refused that offer. Working with a master Devanian armorsmith was a treat and an honor, but it chewed up a lot of your usual working time. Cramming in as much learning as possible during the time he was there, and meeting his exacting standards, wasn't really compatible with any other duties.

But especially without a Mage to work with, this was the best time of her life to take that kind of break from her usual training. It still felt very good to get back into routine. It fit her like a glove, and worked perfectly.

The fact that she'd designed and built it herself, with just a little help with the metallurgy from Master Krith, only made it better.

It was hard to tell just how well it would perform until she'd proved it properly, but for now she was content to learn its every idiosyncrasy. She drew her sword, moving more easily in the lighter armor, and began a series of training drills, cautiously engaging a training dummy on the empty field.

Nearly empty, at least. There was one pair of eyes watching her just now, one that hadn't had the chance to see her work before.

Another Mouse, a couple years older than her with charcoal fur, long glossy black hair and sharp black eyes. A Combat Mage from his staff and stance. He seemed content to watch her as she grew accustomed to her new armor, only stepping forward when she'd relaxed to her normal level of competency.

"An unusual style for a Mouse." He commented from just outside of her training space.

"That's what everybody tells me," the grey-furred Mouse smiled, turning to look at him. She actually managed to turn her head a bit to look at him, though the full turn was necessary in the end. "But it works for me. Nobody's taller than the last person standing on the battlefield, after all," she grinned. "Don't think we've met before; I'm Lina Stoutstriker," she said, taking off a gauntlet and offering him her hand.

"Keil Lightfire," he grinned and shook her hand. "This is Veil." He lifted his ironwood staff slightly, causing the smoky quartz finial to flash in the sunlight. "You are far too advanced to be new, where have you been the last few months?"

"Glad to meet you both," she smiled. "I've been building this, mostly," she said, shrugging her shoulders and making the plates of her armor clank lightly in emphasis. "One of Sir Artus' old friends was in here, a Devanian armorsmith. He called in a favor to get him to agree to stick around long enough to train me, but it meant I've been pretty well out of circulation for the past few months. So, where's your Defender?" She asked him, glancing around to see if she was missing somebody else training, and finding nobody there.

"Still looking for the right one," Keil shrugged a bit. "I think I know why, now." He added with a bit of a grin. "If you're game to put up with a combat Mage."

"What, you couldn't find somebody willing to deal with a mage who enjoyed getting into fights?" Lina chuckled, pulling her helmet off and giving Keil a good look. He was pretty fit, for a mage, and it was clear that he did enjoy it. She wasn't surprised to find out he was a combat mage in the least. "Can you answer one question for me first?"

"Of course." He nodded and spread his arms slightly in an open invitation.

"If you only got here since I started training with Master Krith, how'd you get your staff already?" She asked him curiously. "I thought it usually took longer."

"I began my training with the village Mage three years ago. He sent me here when he realized I was too much to handle."

"Wasn't a combat Mage himself, was he?" Lina chuckled knowingly. "So you're hoping to find a Defender who isn't going to go charging into the blast radius of a fireball without thinking about it?"

"Or leave me open, because I will end up in the middle of things from time to time." He nodded seriously. "Sir Artus suggested you might be a good match. I think I agree."

"Want to go grab breakfast, maybe get to know each other before we go and get our teacher's hopes up?" She asked him with a grin, eager to find a Mage who seemed suited to her style, especially now.

"Sounds good," he nodded. "In my quarters, or one of the inns?"

"One of the inns first, I think," she giggled. "But I really should get suited down first, if you don't mind waiting a couple minutes?

"Not at all," he walked with her to the changing room. "So how long have you been training?"

"A couple years now," she said easily, leading the way. "Started out when my tribe was coming through the area. My Dad decided that the best way to make sure the family kept everyone fed was to have one of us join the Guild. Since I was the one who kept running away from the tribe, they decided they'd leave the trouble to the Guild Masters," she chuckled.

"Did you stop running away?" He asked, even though he was pretty sure she had.

"Well, I stopped running far," Lina winked over her shoulder at him. "I still sneak out once in a while, but it's more to keep in shape and get something from the inn after curfew these days."

"That's hardly 'running away'," he laughed easily and grinned at her. "That's sneaking out."

"It's the first part," she chuckled as they entered the changing room. "Still haven't gotten caught except the second time," she added as she started removing the plates carefully.

"That's good odds for two years," he nodded in honest respect.

"Mind giving me a little help?" She asked him. "Devanian plate's lighter than normal, but it's more complicated to get on and off too."

"Sure," he put Veil against the wall and stepped close to give what assistance he could without having a clue how the plates fit together.

"Careful of the rigging," she warned him, showing him how to properly undo the complex harness beneath the plates, revealing the light chain she was wearing beneath it. "And thanks for the help. So, any bad habits of yours I should know about?" She asked him with a smile.

"Besides being a Mage who likes to fight?" He chuckled. "I picked up my mentor's taste for flash. Mage Riel is a weather mage."

"That will give you a taste for flashy spells," she agreed. "Well, all the better reason to stay close to you in a fight."

"Yeah, I'm not a mage who will benefit from a Defender who rushes forward to stop a fight far away," he nodded seriously. "It puts them in harm's way. I figure I'll be a bounty hunter or something when I'm experienced enough for it."

"Hey, since when have Mice ever settled down?" She rolled her shoulders as they got the last of her plates off, her chainmail rattling before she stripped it off, leaving herself in the padded leather beneath, and packed her armor away. "I don't have any problems with a life like that one."

"Good," he nodded. "It has been an issue with a couple Defenders I thought I might click with. Not that they'd say it, but you could see it in their face when I brought it up."

"A life on the road is dangerous at the most basic level," Lina nodded. "Easier to protect a mage who isn't going out looking for trouble. I'm my best when I am protecting somebody in a fight, so settling down isn't really any easier for me than not doing it."

"And you don't have a background of a stable location." He added as they walked out, heading for town. "Some folks were just not meant for a traveling life, Defender duties or not."

"Very true," she nodded. "Though you'd think most people training to become Defenders would expect it, at least to some level. I guess the fact that they'll probably see their mages settle down eventually helps there."

"Most do," he nodded. "Or when those that do go out hunting 'regularly', it's for a couple relatively pleasant moons and then back home for the rest of the year. I might eventually, but it's not a good sign when a potential Defenders isn't happy with the idea of traveling most of the time."

"No, it isn't, and I am," she smiled. "I might not travel fast, but traveling's in the blood."

"Same here," he nodded seriously. "Plus, it'll give us a good opportunity to keep in contact with kin a little more regularly than we can settled down."

"Always nice," she smiled as they reached the inn and headed in. "So, what's your family like?"

"Pretty domestic for Mice," he chuckled and found a table for them. "My Mom runs things and she got tired of traveling all the time when it kept disrupting her crafts. She's very skilled at weaving and a noble's rug can take a year or more to finish if she can work on it all day, every day. So she talked Dad into settling down when she got a commission, and only moving on when she'd delivered it. Dad's a good hunter, but my Mom's weaving provides a much better life for us.

"Then two of us were noted by the village weather mage as strong enough to train and Mom really dug in her heels about moving until that was sorted out and we were trained. My sister likes weather magic, so she's still with Mage Riel. She'll probably stay with our folks when she's done. I can't stand staying put that long."

"He tried to take on two apprentices at once, full time, and his duties as a weather mage?" Lina asked with a giggle, the two of them pausing to order breakfast. "No wonder he couldn't handle you both!"

"And one of us was restless and more likely to pay attention to his Defender than him." Keil shook his head with a chuckle. "Even being stuck here, it's not as bad. There is so much to see, do and learn, I can keep my mind off the unchanging scenery."

"Oh, if you're looking to find something to do around here, just look for Apprentice Jerik," Lina chuckled. "Hasn't even managed to finish his staff, and he already managed to get involved in some of the weird stuff that happens around here. Helped take out a Blight Mage messing around the Necropolis. Did it with two other Apprentices and only one Defender too."

"That's impressive," Keil paused with his mug half way up. "Is he a combat mage?"

"No, though gods alone know why," she chuckled, taking a sip of her own drink. "He's specializing in shapeshifting, I think. He has some training from his homeland that gives him an edge in a fight, or just about anything."

"Sounds like an interesting guy," Keil murmured, then looked up. "Thank you." He nodded when the serving girl arrived with their meals.

"You're welcome, sir," the young Badger-fem smiled, nodding her head politely before heading off to take care of the next orders.

"He is," Lina smiled. "I almost ended up being his Defender, but Tomar, a Rohr Defender, got along with him a bit better, and managed to beat him in a fight. I didn't even do that, though I wasn't in full gear at the time. We've had rematches since," she winked. "They went the way they were supposed to, as long as he stayed away from his magic."

"Why do I get the feeling that he's quite a handful when he gets his mind set on something?" He chuckled and began to eat the fluffy grain cakes and seasoned fried potato wedges. "I definitely want to meet him."

"Shouldn't be hard to arrange that," Lina grinned, starting her own, similar breakfast. "I see him or Tomar fairly often."

"Good," he nodded. "So do you have any hopes, other than becoming a Defender?"

"You know, you're the second mage to ask me that in a row," she smiled. "I've thought about it a bit more this time. One of these days, I think I'd like to have a family, but it's not something I'm looking for very soon. I want to get back on the road again too, eventually. Maybe back with my tribe, or with another one."

"Sounds like something I'd like," he nodded. "Though I have to admit I intend to make a name for myself and enough money to make it a little less unpleasant in the hard months first. Some enchantments on the tent, resources for when hunting is bad, and a few skills besides my magic that's worth something to a tribe for taking us in."

"Of course," Lina chuckled. "That much is a given; it's a lot easier when you have a bit of a reputation. Heck, if we did things right, we might even be able to start our own."

"Now there's an ambitious thought for our age," he grinned. "I like it."

"Somehow, I didn't think that ambition is something you'd mind," she grinned back. "And besides; it might not work out that way. But why aim low?"

"Very true," he grinned and sipped his mead. "It's bad form in a Mage, after all. Do you have any hobbies besides armorsmithing?"

"Acrobatics, actually," she chuckled. "I joined the circus once, for about three weeks before my family caught up with them again," she grinned. "I couldn't sit for a month after they got me back, but it was worth it."

"You are a troublemaker." Keil grinned. "Oh, we would terrify both of our sets of parents if we got together, I think. Just imagine what the kids would be like."

"Hey, Mom always said that if the gods were just, my children would be just as bad as I was," Lina giggled. "Though that's a bit off to think about, just now."

"A bit," he nodded. "It doesn't hurt to think about it, before you do it. A lot of Mice have kids by my age, after all. I'm looking to at least make Mage by a few years before starting a family, but, well, you're cute." He couldn't help but shrug.

"Thank you," she giggled. "You are too, but you've got a few years on me. I think they'd have us both skinned if we had kids on the schedule our families would want if we were still living with them."

"If we were lucky." He shuddered. " Never mind what it would do to our studies."

"And careers, and really just about everything. Besides," Lina chuckled, "I am so not ready to be a mother just now."

"So are there any traditions from home you still uphold when you can?" He asked curiously.

"It's not easy to keep them up in the barracks," she admitted with a bit of a chuckle. "I do still try to pay my respects to the spirits. When I never know how far from home I am, I figure it's always best to make sure I have some kin watching over me," she smiled.

"Quite true," he nodded. "Anything else you're particularly interested in doing again once you have your own space?"

"Probably the rest of the common prayers ... I wasn't particularly religious, to be honest. You?" She asked him.

"About the same," he nodded. "Mom was serious about the ancestors, but the rest was more habit than anything else. It feels weird not too, but I don't get all strange when I can't like some folks. Name Day and the Solstices are the other big ones for me."

"Agreed there," she nodded. "I don't worry about my Name Day too much; most people think about birthdays around here, so it's easier not to fight it in the barracks. What about the purity rituals?" She asked him.

"Physical ones, yeah. It's pretty practical stuff. Spiritual ones, some yes, some no." He admitted. "What's useful, I use. I know the rest, Mom and Dad insisted I knew it all before I left, but we weren't much on practicing a lot of it that didn't seem to have much point. Food ones I still keep to. I know most of those are for good reason, even if we don't know exactly why all the time."

"Same here," Lina nodded. "I just don't see any practical reason I should worry about touching dead bodies or mules, at least when you're not looking at the obvious ones."

"Yeah, like dead bodies are gross," he chuckled. "I figure the same timing as with an animal to eat. If it's fresh enough, it's not an issue. I mean, it's a natural part of life after all; not something to be afraid of."

"Yeah, though I'm still a little wary about pork," she smiled. "Y'know, I'm actually glad that Jerik beat me that first fight now."

"Good," Keil smiled slightly and nodded. "Care to try out how well we work together?"

"Sure," Lina grinned, finishing her breakfast. "Though if I have to call a break suddenly, it means my armor's developed a leak it's not supposed to have. I haven't given it an actual combat testing yet."

"A leak?" He raised an eyebrow at that idea, trying to figure out how liquid was involved.

"Armiger's slang," Lina chuckled. "Means somebody managed to put a new hole in the suit. In the field, it means it's probably about to start leaking right along with the wearer."

"Ah," Keil nodded. "We wouldn't want that to happen. At least in the practice arena they'll back off."

"Exactly," she nodded as they stood up. "I just haven't proven it yet. Technically, the process takes a lot more than just a duel, but I can do that part later. So, who's paying for breakfast?" She asked him easily.

"I've got it." He nodded and motioned the serving girl over. "Ready to go?"

"Yep," Lina smiled as he paid the Badger fem and they started out. "Bet they're gonna be glad we met each other. Sir Artus doesn't say anything, but I think he was starting to get worried."

"Considering he sent me to check you out, he'd be ticked if we didn't meet." Keil chuckled and walked with her to head back to the training arena.

"Didn't know it was his idea," she chuckled as they walked back onto the Academy's grounds. She grinned, her ears perking up as she noticed somebody. "Hey Jerik!" She called, waving her hand at the much taller Cat with black on red tabby markings.

"Hey Lina!" He waved back and turned to greet her. "So you finally got out of the smithy?"

"Yep," she chuckled. "Jerik, I'd like you to meet Apprentice Keil. I'm probably going to be his Defender unless something goes horribly wrong in the next ten minutes or so."

"Good to meet you," Jerik extended a hand in greeting to the much shorter male Mouse. "Glad she's finally found somebody."

"I've heard a lot about you." Keil grinned and shook his hand.

"Good things, I hope."

"Good, and just crazy." Keil grinned. "Like how you took on a Blight Mage before you even built your staff."

"Well, yeah. He was hassling one of my friends." Jerik kind of shrugged.

"I have to ask, why aren't you a combat mage?"

"Because I want to fly." Jerik grinned widely. "Transformation is the way to go for that."

"True," Kiel nodded.

"We're going to go find somebody to practice with over on the dueling grounds," Lina said easily. "If you're not busy, you want to come watch?"

"Sure. I can spare some time," he nodded and fell in with the two Mice for the rest of the walk.

A Heritage of Power 4: Jerik's Story 9.99: War Mice

Het Level is Low
Slash Level is
Femslash Level is None
Herm Level is None

19 KB, Story is Complete, Series is Finished
Written January 16, 2006 by Rauhnee Ranshanka and Karl Wolfemann

Setting: Herath, Star Wars (Furry)

Primary Races: Kat, Mice

Contents: Furry. Het (M/F).

Blurb: Lina is finally chosen by a Mage.

Disclaimer: All things taken directly from the sources listed under 'Fandoms' belong to the owners of those shows. No harm is intended and we're definitely not making any money. Now, the things we created are ours, and if you see 'Non-FanFic' up there, it's probably all ours.

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