Tag Archives: fantasy

The Awakening, part 17

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.

The Awakening, part 16

I find Caleb exactly as I left him. I look him in the eye and try to hide my nervousness but by the look on his face I can feel that I’ve failed.

“What’s next?” I ask. I’m pretty sure he’s going to teach me how to fight, but it’s wiser to ask than assume.
Caleb looks me up and down before answering. “First I shall see what kind of skills you have. Have you ever fought with anyone?”

“I’ve never attacked another person, if that’s what you mean.” I say it slowly, remembering all the times the children in the village have ganged up on me. Sometimes they had only called me names, but I’ve also dodged more rocks than I’d care to count. I learned to avoid blows quite quickly, and on occasion even retaliated, but I still got beat a lot. There’s only so much one can do against many.

I’ve never understood why they disliked me so much. When I was younger I had no problems with anyone. I don’t remember having any friends among them, but we got along well enough. Some time after my mother died, things changed. I don’t know how or why, but I became something of a pariah.

I shake my head to clear it and focus my attention on Caleb. He is looking at me intently.
“We shall start with the basics, then. It would be best if you mastered your other skills also as soon as possible, but that has to be postponed for now.”
Other skills? Great, more riddles from him. I take a deep breath as I wait for him to attack, and my muscles tense. If my instincts are right, he will bounce on me without a warning.

Caleb’s movements are so subtle and fast that I barely have time to react when he charges at me. He kicks my feet from under me and I make a spin in the air to avoid falling on my ass. I feel the adrenaline pumping in my veins and the rush is exhilarating. Without any conscious thought I avoid his next blow, and try to land one on him. He dodges it easily and his movements get faster. I do my best to hold my own, but it is clearly not enough. I find myself only barely able to defend myself.

And Caleb… One moment he’s standing in front of me. Next thing I know, I’m lying on the ground, my breath knocked out of me. I panic, and as I look up I see Caleb reaching out his hand. I suddenly hear roaring in my ears and feel something tug inside me. I roll away from his outstretched hand and as I try to block him from reaching me again, something happens. He goes flying. Literally. It’s like something threw him away from me. He manages to land on his feet, about thirty feet back from where he was standing. He slowly walks back toward me, which gives me time to get back on my feet.

“Not bad for a beginner.” He says it with a small grin. “But you have to be able to control both your movements and your powers better.”

This time I can’t deny it. I know it was me who caused that blast of air which blew Caleb away from me. I felt the energy coursing through me. As I calm down, the roaring in my ears disappears and the tugging feeling lessens. I can actually feel threads of power inside me now that I’ve recognized them for what they are. And I don’t plan on losing my grip on them any time soon.

The Awakening, part 15

I can hardly believe my luck when I see that Caleb’s prepared the food today as well. There is a steaming pot on the table, placed strategically on a disc of wood. I inhale, enjoying the smell of hotpot, and take a seat. My stomach is rumbling, but I hesitate. It would be impolite to eat without him, especially as I am staying at his home and he has gone through the trouble of providing food for me. And since there are two clean plates layd on the table as well, I think it’s safe to assume that he hasn’t eaten yet, either.

I bite my lip as I decide to wait for him. I feel kinda awkward at the moment. How is it going to work, me staying here? And how am I to earn my keep when he keeps doing everything himself? I can’t imagine Marissa letting me sleep in and just do nothing.

As I wait for him, my mind drifts back to what I experienced upstairs. Was it some kind of hallucination, a memory, or a premonition? I could almost feel the rough fabric of Giles’ uniform as I hugged him. No. That’s not right. It wasn’t exactly me. More like me seeing through someone else’s eyes. There were thoughts and feelings that weren’t my own. I’ve never experienced such things before.

Before I have a chance to dwell on whether there’s something extraordinary going on or I’m simply losing my last shards of sanity, Caleb enters the kitchen. His hair is somewhat tousled by the wind and he has a restlessness about him that I can’t quite discern. His expression, once again, is unreadable. I find it increasingly annoying that I can’t tell what he’s thinking at all.

“How are your feet?” he asks as he seats himself opposite me.

“Much better. I feel no pain while walking. I.. .thank you.” I feel a bit embarrassed. I’m not used to having people take care of me. So I concentrate on eating and avoid looking at Caleb for the rest of the meal. Childish, I know, but I’m apparently not very good at managing awkward situations.

“When we are done here we shall check on your wounds and change the bandages.” My eyes shot up at that and I look at him, startled.

“I, um… I think I can manage them myself now. But thanks for… everything?” I didn’t mean for that last part to sound like a question. He probably thinks I’m not quite right in the head. But then again, he most likely had that opinion the first time he saw me, housebreaking in order to sleep in a stranger’s bed. Yeah, can’t do much worse than that.

“After having seen the disregard with which you treat your health and wellbeing, that might not be the wisest course of action.” I can hear the amusement in his voice. I’m irritated, but I automatically give him one of my blandest smiles as I respond.

“As you wish.”

I’m looking down on my plate again, but when I finally raise my eyes after finishing my meal, I see no trace of humour in his face. He is studying me with an indecipherable look, just as he did yesterday.

A few minutes later, I am still sitting on my chair as Caleb unbandages my feet. Truth is, I’ve never felt so awkward before. It doesn’t sit right with me to have someone waiting on me when I’m quite capable of managing things on my own. After examining my legs, he stands up.

“It would seem you have some healing talent. The herbs I used should have only removed the possible infection and eased your pain somewhat. Good. This means we can begin training right away.” With that, he goes outside.

I get a bit confused at that. He sure says as little as possible, leaving out half of the information. Training for what? And that talk about healing talent didn’t make much sense either. Until I look down and look at my feet myself. The cuts I had are barely noticeable. The soles of my feet still feel somewhat tender when I stand and try to walk without bandages, but I can tell that the wounds have healed.

I follow Caleb. He’s waiting for me in the center of the small meadow, about fifty feet from the house. I admit that I’m somewhat surprised to see him completely unarmed. I was almost certain that we’d be clashing wooden swords or something like that. That’s how the boys begin when they are enlisted by the king’s troops. As I near Caleb, I hear him sigh.

“That chest I put in the attic is there for a reason. Go back and get yourself some footwear before you hurt yourself again. Your feet are not completely healed yet.” He sounds kind of exasperated, but it’s hard to tell since his face is as blank from emotions as ever. I rush back inside and up to my room. The glow is back, but I try to look only at the chest as I open it, in fear of other visions intruding my head. Luckily, nothing happens as I rummage the trunk. I find a couple of simple dresses that appear to be approximately my size, and pair of weathered-looking brown leather half-boots. Which also seem to fit, though not perfectly. I pull on the boots and hurry back out, immensely relieved when I escape the attic without recieving any voices or visions.

The Awakening, part 14

It must be late morning by the time I open my eyes. I lay curled up on my bed, Moira’s diary under my outstretched hand. I feel somewhat groggy and tired. Shouldn’t have read through the night, but I just couldn’t stop myself. The content between these pages sounds incredible, and yet I can sense the truth behind the words.

I sit up on the bed and hold the diary in my hands. I get lost in thought as I examine its simple leather cover. What would it be like, to see a dragon fly over my head? Would I be terrified, startled, mesmerized? Would I tremble in fear, or rejoice to see such a magnificent sight?

I finger through the pages before I put the volume under my pillow. It is by no means thick, but Moira’s handwriting is rather small and some of the letters she uses are unfamiliar to me. So I haven’t even made it halfway through.

I briefly consider looking for the source of the strange illumination that is still present, but drop the idea almost instantly. There are no shadows to search by and besides, I decide to not question something that makes my life more comfortable. Instead, I get up from the bed and move toward the painting of a soldier that caught my eye yesterday.

Giles. The name just pops into my head. I don’t know how it can be, but it’s like I feel that it’s his name. I raise my hand and gently touch the canvas. This scene is positive. A soldier returning home. He’s obviously happy. And yet… Now that I examine the painting closely, I can sense that not everything is well. The artist didn’t want it to show. But it does, somehow. I can see it in my mind’s eye, as clearly as if I’d been there myself.

Giles was among the first battalion that made it back home after the war was over. Not won, but not lost either. I was so immensely happy when I saw him walking toward me. We had missed each other for so long. He hugged me tight and told me how happy he was to be back home with me. At that moment I was too overjoyed to listen to what my power told me. But as the days went by I could feel that I was losing him. He didn’t complain, but I saw he was in pain. And it would only get worse. When I finally realized he was suffering from a poisoned Elfin arrow, it was already too late. I could only ease his pain as I watched him waste away.

The emotion is too much for me. I step back so quickly that I stumble and fall on my ass. What was that?? I avert my eyes, half afraid to look at the painting, and make haste as I go down. As I descend via the pantry shelves and look up one last time, I see the attic is dark again.