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.