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#it was very smart of me to want to design an interesting looking aasimar for once thats not a human with wings
gaspingforthedevil · a year ago
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The Test
lately i’ve been having some fun collaborating with my lovely girlfriend to write backstory stuff for the pair of Pathfinder rpg characters we came up with together. i’ve gotten her approval to share some of them here on tumblr; enjoy
Andromeda glances over at her most recent claim - ‘the hot one with the sword’ as she internally refers to the sylph girl. Aura has been hanging around as promised, and much to Andromeda’s chagrin, she’s been something of a “good” “influence”, whatever those are. In fact, the headstrong young aasimar wouldn’t even be here, in her private chambers, test materials splayed out on the desk before her, without Aura’s continued nudging that she should get it out of the way.
Pah. Get it out of the way. Apparently the sylph wasn’t a fan of keeping things in the dark to ensure one’s ego isn’t threatened.
“Do you really have to be here for this?” the aasimar asks, voice wavering briefly from its usual sturdy confidence.
Aura puts her hands on her hips, one eyebrow raised at her friend. “Are you going to get this over with instead of griping about it for another month if I’m not?” With a sigh, she relaxes her stance, smiling. “Look, is it really so bad? Wave your hands and mutter some nonsense and you’ll have your dad off your back for a while.”
“I-” Andromeda stutters briefly as her eyes flit to the hands on her friend’s hips, or perhaps to the hips themselves. “Well, you look, it’s not as simple as just trying to cast a spell and succeeding or failing. You have to prove a reaction first. It’s about the potential, you know, that thing everyone expects me to have in spades?”
“Hey, magic or no, you’re Andromeda. You’ve got plenty of ‘potential’, ‘Meda.”
“Thanks for the vote of confidence,” Andromeda mutters, not sounding very convinced.
Aura glances at the array of strange materials littering the desk in front of her aasimar friend. “What are you so worried about anyway? It’s not like you to care what anyone else thinks.”
Andromeda, apparently declining to answer, furrows her brow and starts assembling the first test. A small, clear quartz forms the center of a small circle of what look to the untrained eye to be completely unrelated items - the components. As far as Aura knows, this certainly isn’t the setup for casting a proper spell.
“Like I said, it’s about proving a reaction,” Andromeda repeats herself, resting a couple fingertips against one crystalline facet. “This isn’t going to do anything - which is good since I’d rather not have a misfire blow up in my face, and I’m sure that was the same for all the other jackoffs that took this test - but these components have a… oh, gods, what the hell was that stupid term? They have a ‘natural resonance’? Something something “that’s how spells are cast”. Because yeah, obviously, spells don’t usually go off randomly in the wild - it requires intent, and your own little mortal flare or whatever.
“So, you just have to focus on this quartz, nudge it over to one side, and you should see that ‘natural resonance’ if you have the ability to cast spells,” she finally concludes.
“The natural…?” Aura crinkles her brow, staring intently as Andromeda intricately sets up the test. “Not blowing up in our faces is good though. I’m a fan of that, got to admit.”
“Yeah, well, let’s see how it goes I guess.”
“Hey, you can do this ‘Meda.”
Taking in a sharp breath, Andromeda stares into the quartz, and after a couple seconds - perhaps deliberation, perhaps procrastination - she begins pushing the crystal away from her, nudging it closer to a sprig of holly.
The two items come into contact after a couple seconds.
Nothing seems to happen.
Another few seconds and Andromeda lifts her arm back, letting out a laugh as brittle as shale. “Well! Really, I was expecting that. I’m a half-celestial, so, I mean, it’s not like you’d necessarily expect me to be gifted with arcane talent of all things!”
“I guess your dad wanted to cover all bases. Is just the once really good enough, or do you need to like… try multiple times before doing the other test?”
“Everyone else who tried it and ended up becoming a mage got the resonance to show up first try, so I don’t think repeats would do anything. But who cares, right?” the aasimar laughs again. “It’s the other test I’m really interested in. I mean, dad’s a priest, mom was… some kinda angelic being or another. This is where the real money’s at,” she declares, putting aside the arcane components and picking up a single, even stranger object.
“See this bad boy? It reacts to a person’s aura-...” Andromeda looks over at her companion. “Um. Not like, your name, I mean.”
Aura gives her a tired expression. “I get it.”
“Ehe, well, anyways, every sentient being has an aura of a certain alignment and strength, and there’s a distinct difference in that aura depending on whether that person holds divine magic within them or not. Since this is a test designed for people who ostensibly can’t cast any such spells yet, you need to do something to get this thing to pick up your aura, and then you’ll be able to tell whether you’ve got the juice or not. Again, pretty simple right?”
“So you just have to do something… uh, particularly holy, I guess?” A small smirk on Aura’s face. “You up to that ‘Meda?”
“Oh fuck you,” the aasimar laughs goodheartedly, taking a few steps over to shove at her friend’s shoulder before returning to the table. “I help my dad out with this stuff all the time. I can get it to show up no problem.”
Sliding a hefty tome closer to the edge and opening it with her free hand, Andromeda says, “This is what my dad used a long time ago. That’s why he gave it to me for this. You can’t just read a book and get magic that easy, especially this kind, but if you’re going to try your hand at receiving even a brief divine connection then the prayers in this old thing definitely help.”
With her left hand clutching the gold ornament to her chest and the right pressing gently to ancient leaf, Andromeda begins the second test, her voice sweeter than honey as the Celestial words lift into the air. Aura recognizes it only partially; the words, the soothing nature of what almost constitutes a song, but this time it’s just the two of them together in Andromeda’s chambers, and it’s for no one else’s benefit.
Right on cue, the gold ornament begins giving off a faint light, and Andromeda, eyes nearly alight themselves, holds it aloft as if both to inspect and declare its result. And goes quiet.
Aura, meanwhile, stands staring at the glowing ceremonial object, eyes wide. A brief word of awe escapes her lips, whispered and hushed, but her voice is somehow lost in the silence until she finally brings herself to raise it again.
“...So?”
“I… don’t get it. It’s just- it’s normal.” Andromeda lowers her arm to bring the ornament to eye-level. “Dad’s was… all different. Not just the intensity, that’s obviously gonna be…” she trails off, appearing as if she’s staring straight through the object in her hand.
“What?” Aura’s gaze flits between the ornament and Andromeda’s face. “No –  no way, something happened there, right? Could it be… like, defective?”
Andromeda responds slowly, delayed, “...Don’t think so. I mean it’s- it’s glowing just fine.”
“‘Meda…” Aura trails off, face creasing in a worried expression.
Dropping the ornament back onto the table’s surface with a clack, Andromeda practically ignores her friend to go sit on the edge of her own bed. She leans forward, arms resting against thighs, eyes cloudy.
“Wow. I’ve got nothing. Everyone was wrong about me after all.”
Aura stands there a moment longer, uncertain what to do next. “Hey… Hey, ‘Meda, that’s not true…”
“Oh yeah, Miss GoodWithHerSword?” the aasimar scoffs angrily. “Real rich coming from you. Go on, why don’t you take the damn test yourself? See how good it feels having a bunch of inanimate objects embarrass you.”
“That’s not what I–” Aura huffs, taking a step back. “I don’t need a test to tell me I don’t have any magic bullshit anyway. It’s not the end of the world, ‘Meda.”
“That’s easy for you to say. You get to watch me lose the one thing that anyone seemed to respect in me, and spout off rich lines like it’s ‘not the end of the world’ that I really am good for nothing but getting high and fucking wasting space!”
“You aren’t a waste of space ‘Meda! Don’t talk about my friend like that! You’re smart, you're funny, you’ve got like…” Aura pauses, “half the teens in this town wrapped around your finger. So what if you can’t do this one thing? Anyone tries to give you trouble about it and I’ll… I’ll punch them or something.”
Andromeda sighs. “Sure. Whatever. Like anyone gave a shit about me for being smart or funny. Your parents are fucking potters; mine are a high priest and a celestial being, respectively. I was supposed to be something special. I mean, sure, I didn’t like how they all fucking breathed down my neck for it! But I… I grew up being told I was supposed to be more than this, and apparently I’m not.”
Putting a hand on the table, Aura looks away, not quite able to bring herself to meet Andromeda’s eyes. “You’re special to me.”
“I’m… what?”
“I – I mean…” Aura hunches her shoulders, face turning red. “What your dad wants, what any of these grownups want, it – it doesn’t matter. You’re already special.”
“...To you? Or just as a meaninglessly generic sentiment?”
“I–” Aura tenses up, still avoiding looking directly at Andromeda. The frizz in her hair pillowing outward slightly. “I like you. A – a lot.”
“Really? I uh, after I came onto you that first time we met, I thought maybe you weren’t attracted to… but, well, I have been seeing you at the temple a lot recently… was that because of me?” Andromeda sits up and presses her palms to the bed on either side of her.
“Y–yeah well, I wasn’t exactly coming in to brush up on my religious studies…” The blush on Aura’s face deepens further.
“Oh, gosh, um… I don’t think I’ve ever really, uh, been with someone in anything but a casual sense? I’m not exactly used to this. I mean, I’ve gotten confessions before, but it was all boys and I’m not…” she trails off.
“Oh.” Aura chews at her lip, voice small. “Sorry – I shouldn’t have put you on the spot like–”
“No!” Andromeda interrupts. “No, it’s okay, really. I wasn’t- wasn’t saying it was, like, bad or anything.”
“I just… not having magic doesn’t make you any less special ‘Meda.” Aura forces a small smile, finally bringing herself to look up at her. “Definitely not to me.” She laughs, “It’s not like I can do any of that stuff either.”
The aasimar scoffs, “Pshh, you can’t say that. You haven’t even taken a test for it yet, right?”
“‘Meda…” Aura rolls her eyes. “Fine, I’ll take the damn test if that’ll make you feel better. Okay?”
“Make me feel better? Yeah, I suppose it would give me a certain sick satisfaction to see you flunk just as bad as I did,” she chuckles.
“Yeah, well… I’m gonna flunk this test so hard, just you watch.” Aura mutters under her breath as she turns to sit down at the table. “What do I do here again? Just like… focus and touch the crystal thing?”
“You have to put ‘em in the circle formation again, like I had earlier. And then, yeah, focus on the crystal, and push it to one edge of the circle.”
“Okay…” Aura frowns, focusing on the set-up in front of her. After rearranging the components back into a circle, she chuckles, nervous. “This magic stuff is so weird.”
With nothing else left to do, Aura goes silent as she stares down the crystal in the center, chewing at her lip. “Okay… Well, here goes nothing.” With one finger she touches the quartz crystal at the center, pushing it to the edge away from her.
At first, nothing appears to happen, and Andromeda mentally assures herself that the same result is about to occur. Not half a second after this thought crosses her mind, however, does a spark of electricity jump from the quartz to the sprig of holly.
Aura yanks her hand back from the crystal, sucking in her breath in surprise. “Uh–” She glances back to Andromeda. “Did you see… that?”
Andromeda, for her part, is rendered dumbstruck, stuck staring at the table with wide eyes. Only after Aura turns back to her does she snap out of it. Pushing herself back to her feet, she moves to stand by the sylph’s side and says, “Aura, do that again. Come on.”
Swallowing a lump in her throat, Aura turns back to the table. Andromeda’s close presence behind her making it hard to focus. “Shit. Um.” Tentatively she reaches out with her hand again to push at the quartz.
Another spark of electricity jumps out and Aura immediately pulls her hand back again.
“Are you… kidding me?!” Andromeda exclaims, stepping back. “You! You can do this bullshit! All that fucking talk about me being perfectly special even without magic and you just casually make sparks fly around!!”
“I didn’t – I’m not – ‘Meda, I…”
“You know what! How about YOU go back to my dad and tell him what a fucking talented girl YOU are!!”
Andromeda, barely keeping the tears from cascading down her cheeks at this point, pivots and runs out of her expansive chambers through the side open to the temple gardens.
“Hey– ‘Meda!” Scrambling to her feet, Aura hastens to follow after her, stumbling on the legs of the chair. “Wait! I’m sorry!” Stepping out in the gardens, Aura slows to stop looking around. This part of the temple still unfamiliar to her. No sign of Andromeda in sight. Putting her hands to the sides of her head, Aura bites her lip hard. “Oh hell.”
“Good going Aura…” Gritting her teeth, Aura lets her hands drop, balling them into fists. “All that – now she hates you.” Spinning on one foot, Aura lashes out at the closest tree, punching the trunk in a burst of anger only to stagger backwards at what sounds like a crack of thunder as her fist hits the bark. “What–?”
Shaking her now throbbing hand, Aura stares at the scorch mark on the tree with a sinking feeling in her gut.
“Well fuck.”
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