Friday, September 2, 2011

Chapter 84 - TELEPORTING

Leaving was the hardest thing I had to do, and yet I couldn’t wait to get away. Being that close to her, and yet being restricted to pleasant and polite conversation at best, was driving me up a wall.

I was a lot more stable, both mentally and physically, since shortly before Patricia had left, but that didn’t mean I was very good company on the way back to the cave. To emphasize this, I refused to run with Carm, which didn’t hurt Haines’ feelings much, but when rocks started exploding out of our path, even he caught on.

By the time we straggled into the cave, I had worked my frustrations out on several thousand rocks.

Oskan saw us coming in and said, “I thought this visit to town was supposed to revitalize you, and here you come in wiped out and tired. I hope you’re rested up by tomorrow because it’s going to be a long day.”

“I’ll be ready,” I said and disappeared into my room. I wasn’t angry with Carm or Haines, so I left them a steaming pot of stew etc., but at the same time, I didn’t want any company, so I didn’t join them.

The next day was indeed grueling. Master Durmas started my lessons on teleporting. I’ve wanted to know how to do that ever since I first figured out they were doing it, but I quickly learned that it wasn’t nearly as easy as they made it look.

My first try was only a few feet and Durmas was there to make sure nothing went wrong, but let me tell you, I felt like I was ripping myself apart. I ended up on my knees on the floor trying to figure out which direction was up and hoping my stomach would figure it out soon.

Durmas waited patiently for me to recover and then we tried again. I felt like I was learning to make my first cup of water. After my third trip across the room, I was certain I was well on the way to becoming something similar to pudding.

That night I was plagued with nightmares, but they were so vague and disjointed that I don’t remember much about them. I was sure that they must be related to what I had been working on that day, so I didn’t give it much thought.

Because of my lousy night, I was a bit ragged in the morning. If I had been more rested or less self-centered and feeling sorry for myself, I might have noticed that Durmas seemed less than top dollar as well. Instead, I was more than a little grouchy, and to top it off, I didn’t feel like I was making any progress.

“Come on, Liam. This is nothing different then what you’ve been doing all along. The only difference is, instead of bringing what you want to you, you are moving yourself,” said Durmas.

“Maybe that’s the problem, I’m not all that comfortable with considering myself just another element. What if I screw up and get something wrong?”

“Your magic won’t let that happen. Your magic hasn’t let you down yet, has it?”

I grit my teeth and prepared to try again – and yet again. It felt like I was ripping my guts out.

Two more days of this, punctuated by nights filled with nightmares, and things only got worse. I was just about to open my mouth and say something vicious, but fortunately, my brain was working faster than my mouth. For the first time, I noticed that Durmas looked just as ragged as I felt. That, like nothing else, told me something was wrong, and I was sure it had little or nothing to do with my lessons.

Any questions I might have asked were interrupted by the hasty arrival of Haines, which reminded me that I hadn’t seen any of the others for three days now. He looked like he’d just been in a car crash and that really surprised me. I think there was only one car on the planet that was allowed off the spaceport and it was too far away, or at least I didn’t think it was anywhere close.

His words came out all in a rush; I’d never heard him talk like that. “Master Durmas, I’m sorry to interrupt you, but the problem has gotten worse, much worse. Tsan has been killed, or at least I think so. Carm was taken prisoner. I don’t know where Larak is. Oskan sent me back here as soon as he saw Tsan go down.”

“Slow down, Steven.” said Durmas.

“Tsan is dead? At the village? What about Patricia?” I interrupted.

“I don’t think they’ve noticed Patricia yet. Many of the villagers have their wives and daughters hidden away in their homes. Some weren’t quick enough,” said Haines.

I looked at Durmas and noticed again how ragged he looked. “You knew about this, didn’t you? Why didn’t you tell me?”

He sighed hugely. “There were things I had hoped to teach you before you encountered someone like this. Unfortunately there are all sorts of people, and also unfortunately, the magic doesn’t discriminate.”

“You, Tsan, Larak and Oskan have been the best teachers I have ever had. Surely there isn’t much more for me to learn.”

“There are several small things you should know, but the most important one is the one that seems to be giving you the most trouble,” said Durmas.

“We don’t have time for all that. We need to go help Oskan.” I was jumping with impatience. All my fatigue and my nightmares were forgotten.

“Are you sure you’re not thinking about Miss Patricia more?” said Haines.

“Of course I’m thinking about Patricia. What’s with all this talking? Let’s go.”

Durmas looked at me closely, but it was Haines who spoke again. “Liam, I’ve seen some of the things you can do and I’ve experienced some of your training here, but if you go into a battle thinking you’re going to save or rescue one person, you’ll get at least a hundred other people killed, possibly yourself as well. You need to focus on the enemy only and trust the rest of us to take care of ourselves.”

“He’s very right about that, Liam,” said Durmas. “You must focus on the enemy. This one will be ruthless.”

“Okay, okay, let’s just get going. Time is wasting away.” I was so impatient; I was hardly listening to either of them.

“Very well,” said Durmas. I’m sure he could tell how my impatience was impairing my judgment. “Come here then and we’ll go.” He held his hands out to both of us.

“Master Durmas, you don’t look to be any better rested than I am; please allow me to get us there.” He would have to guide my efforts just as he had been so far, but the energy drain would be mine and frankly, I was younger.

He looked at me, likely thinking much the same thing. “You really are impatient, aren’t you?” he commented. Then he took our hands, and like it was just another lesson, he said, “Picture where you wish to go. I’m sure there are several places you are familiar with in and around the village, but I wouldn’t recommend a home. Nor would I recommend the area around where your parents used to live; I don’t think its close enough.”

I cast around in my memory. I didn’t want to appear anywhere near where I had been last; that might draw too much attention to Patricia. Then I thought of when we had had to sneak Carm out of his parents’ house and had hidden out back. When I met Durmas’ eyes, there was the wrenching of my guts and we were there.

After I finished baptizing the bushes with the sketchy contents of my stomach, I looked around. It was mid-afternoon and we were about a quarter mile from the edge of town. The spot where we stood was quite a bit more overgrown since the last time I had stood here, but the familiar back door was only a few steps away and that was my destination.

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