Friday, June 18, 2010

Chapter 21 - FIRST LESSON

Tsan took us further up into the mountains for our lesson and started it much like Durmas had done on the way to town. He took me by the shoulders and sat me down on a rock; the others grouped around to watch.

“We’ll start by making a sword blank today, and if you feel up to it, perhaps we’ll make another. Ultimately, you’ll be making swords for each of your friends.” He pulled my sword out of its sheath and handed it to Carm at his shoulder. “Hold that so he can see it,” he said then he took my hands and placed them on the rock between us. “I’ll show you how to do the first one. I want you to try the second one on your own, but I’ll help you if you need it. You should be able to do the third one by yourself. Now there’s a bit of a trick to it. Making food is easy, all you need for that is to know what you’re hungry for. Now, I want you to pick one of your friends and think of him. I also want you to look at your sword. Listen to me, boy.” He looked me directly in the eyes. “What you are going to pull out of the ground will not look anything like your sword. Your sword is a finished product. All you’re going to be able to manage is a big hunk of raw metal that has roughly the same shape. We’ll be refining them later, maybe tomorrow.” He didn’t let me digest this information very long before he continued. “Are you ready? Which boy are you thinking about?”

“Brom,” I said. He was sitting next to Carm, and frankly, he was first in line.

“Good - are you ready?”

I nodded. “Ready as I’ll ever be.”

He laid his hands on top of mine and a burning rush went clear up my arms and into my chest to course down my spine. Moments later, a knob pushed up through the rock between my hands. I glanced up at my sword, over to Brom and then back down to this growing thing between my hands. As soon as enough of it was above the ground, Tsan wrapped my hands around it and I began to pull it from the rock (not unlike King Arthur drawing his sword from the rock.). I had to stand up in order to pull its entire length from the stone since it was almost as long as I was tall.

When it was finally free, I staggered and had to use it as a prop. Tsan still gripped my wrists and Brom had his hands around my shoulders in an instant, and then, quite unbidden, the memory of the huge sword in that sword shop flashed into my mind and a horrendous burning surged down my arms. I cried out in pain and surprise; I think everyone else did too. By the time my magic was through with us, a fair approximation of that sword was in my hands.

My hands were numb, as were my feet, I discovered, as I tried to find better footing and failed. Brom was on the ground. It was Lagge who caught me in an effort to make sure I didn’t crack my knees on the rocks as I collapsed and Tsan caught the sword as it fell from my numb fingers. I remember that part, but though I know that my eyes remained open and I remained upright, my brain had gone all numb too. The next thing I became aware of was yelling, or rather roaring. Tsan was furious, but I slowly focused on the fact that Durmas was there, then on the fact that Tsan was yelling at Durmas. It took a little longer before I figured out what he was saying, and it wasn’t until much later that Carm told me everything.

“He drew on me,” Tsan was yelling at Durmas. “And look what he’s done to Brom; he nearly killed him. I’ve never had a student draw on two sources before - not ever. How can I teach him when his magic is so strong?”

“Calm down, Tsan, calm down,” said Durmas. He didn’t do anything you couldn’t handle in your sleep, so just teach him. Let him do what he can and teach him how to focus it. Now show me what he did.”

I numbly watched them step aside with the big sword. Brom’s face suddenly swam into my range of view. Maybe I moved or something.

“Are you all right?” he asked.

I looked at him, struggling to make the words mean something and then I nodded. “I think so, are you?” I brought my hands into view; behind them were clouds. “I feel numb all over.” Those clouds looked so cool; I felt hot.

“Stop,” cried Carm. “Liam.”

If he said anything else, I didn’t hear it. My world spun and went dark.

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