We train for what seems like forever. While my newfound abilities heighten my senses and help me with noticing and anticipating Caleb’s movements sooner, my reflexes are just too slow. I still end up on the ground a lot. I grit my teeth as I get back on my feet again. Every single muscle in my body is sore.
I sway on my feet before regaining balance. I don’t think I can take much more of this. My pride is the only thing that keeps me going right now. I’ll not back down before I’m told this session is over.
I look over to where Caleb is standing. He regards me with another strange expression before losing his fighting stance and saying, “That’s enough for today.”
I almost collapse from relief that I won’t have to try and avoid another one of his punches. And knowing he’s holding back, probably not wanting to overwhelm me too much is like a thorn in my side. I don’t like feeling helpless around anyone. Even if that someone is an Elf who probably has a few centuries’ worth of fighting experience.
We head to the house. I sit down by the kitchen table, sighing quietly. I’m still mulling over what course to take in order to improve myself at a fast enough pace when the sound of scraping draws my attention. Caleb pulled out the chair and is now sitting on the other side of the small table. He looks me in the eye long enough for me to start feeling uncomfortable. But I won’t look away, either. Now that I am better tuned to the energy, I can almost see it around me. And Caleb is practically glowing, even though I can feel that the flow around him is somehow constrained.
“What are you called?” he asks me, after a long stretch of silence. Interesting. Not what my name is, but what am I called. I’m not exactly sure what he means by that question, the phrasing was kind of off.
“You can call me Em.” No way I’m giving him – or anyone else, for that matter – my full name. If my father and the priest are still looking for me, I won’t make finding me easier for them by telling everyone I meet who I am.
I barely hold back the urge to reach out my hand and see if I can touch this shimmering power in the air around Caleb. Instead, I get up from the chair and move toward the pantry, trying not to limp too much. My muscles are killing me. When I finally reach the attic, I close the panel and roll on my back. I let out a long sigh and wonder about the surrounding darkness. Does the strange light appear only when it’s dark outside, or is it triggered by something?
Since the room is still dark as ever, I feel my way around the now closed panel. I know that Caleb left some candles here for me, and soon enough I find them. As I fumble with the firestone, I suddenly feel a ripple of power go through me.
Use your magic for this. The only way you can hone your skill is by practice. I inhale sharply. That voice in my head. I can actually feel that it isn’t part of me. So strange. How did I not notice this before? I feel like up until today I lived as if I had blindfolds on. And now that I know what to look for, I can see and feel things I never would’ve thought possible.
“Will you teach me?” I ask quietly, and for the first time, I’m not afraid to talk to it, whatever it is.