Chapter 6: First Uses
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Treynor led Jessica out of the library and down the hall, and he explained as they walked.
“Now you have the basics of how m’chal works.”, he began. “The next step is to build endurance, and to use it with accuracy.”
Jessica groaned, she knew all too well the word endurance. It reminded her a lot of gym class, and her nazi-like gym teacher Ms. Smithson, who tried to build their endurance through endless repeats of the same exercise. Whether it was sit-ups, push-ups, or running laps, Jessica knew the concept of endurance, and she wasn’t really looking forward to it, but she knew it had to be done.
“We can do both in one step. You can even do some chores for me in the process.”, said Treynor as the climbed some more stairs which wound in a circular pattern. As the reached the top of the stairwell, Jessica realized they were climbing one of the outer towers of the castle. Treynor led them both through a large door which led to a balcony overlooking the main courtyard.
“See that tree?”, Treynor said, as he pointed at a large willow about fifty feet out and a hundred feet below them. The tree was covered in dead leaves, frozen from the snow. The teacher gave a quick flick of his wrist and sent an energy ball towards it. The tree burst apart, scattering leaves across the courtyard.
“I want you to clean up that mess.”, he said.
“What? How?”, Jessica asked a little confused as how she was to do that from up here.
“Any way you can. That is part of the training, girl.”, snarled Treynor. “You must learn to think for yourself and quit doing as you are told.”
Jessica quirked up one eyebrow at him. He’d obviously not done his homework on her, or he would know that she was never one to comply as she was told, but much the opposite. Jessica was always getting in trouble back home for not obeying teachers, parents, or anyone with authority. Back home…Jessica was starting to miss her home, but she also sensed the immediacy of having to deal with the situation at hand.
She decided to try the method that she had been working with so far. She placed one hand against her chest, and grabbed at the energy, to fling it outwards and down towards the tree. She succeeded a bit too well, as an energy ball the size of a softball flew out and downwards. The ball missed the main gathering of leaves but hit an area nearby and disintegrated a bunch of them. Energy left her body in a rush, forcing her to lean against the stone wall of the castle for support.
“No, girl.”, Treynor said, “You are grabbing too much. You’ve noticed the energy is pulling from your own body. Do you really want to weaken yourself in a fight so quickly? Only pull what you need. Each bit of m’chal is precious and should not be wasted so easily.”
Jessica nodded, and pushed off of the wall, and leaned over the edge of the parapet again to look down and choose her target. She wanted to get as many of the leaves as possible, but didn’t want to waste her energy like that again. This time, when she grabbed at the energy, she could feel she had grabbed the same amount. Letting her hand go slack, she let some slip through her fingers and back into her body. She’d never done this before, but it seemed a natural enough thing to do. As her hand flung out and down, the m’chal was no bigger than a marble. The ball shot towards the leaves, hitting pretty close to where she’d intended. A few of them puffed up and disintegrated.
She turned and looked at Treynor, a smug grin on her face. “See?”, she said. “I can control it.”
“Good.”, he replied. “Now clear them all. You will not be leaving this balcony until they are gone.”
Treynor turned around and went back through the door. Jessica saw it dimly glow as he cast some kind of energy towards it. This got her to thinking. She started pacing the balcony, thinking about what she’d just seen and done, trying to find an easier way out of this situation.
(note: add details about how cold it is, how she solves it)
She knew she could take the long way out, and simply blast the leaves one by one. Jessica really didn’t want to do that, as there had to be hundreds of leaves out there on the snow. She scanned the courtyard looking for any other way she could to speed things up. Seeing none, she started her slow progress of destroying the leaves one at a time.
As she worked, the energy ball got smaller and smaller, until it was so small that it would fizzle out about halfway to the ground. When that happened, she started grabbing at a bit more of the energy until she found a point where she figured she was able to control the right amount to destroy a single leaf. Next she started working on the groups of leaves, destroying two or three at a time. As she went, she realized that she was building endurance, as each time she threw out the spell, she was able to recover her energy faster.
She named the energy balls blats, named for the sound it made when it hit the leaves. BLAT. After an hour of this, she spotted some people walking across the courtyard.
“HEY!”, she said. “Over Here!”
The two people looked up at her, wondering what she was doing calling out to them. They were only used to taking orders from Treynor, so to have someone else calling to them was very unusual. One of them, the taller of the two, raised a hand to wave at her.
Jessica decided to try something. She said, “Do as I tell you. Gather those loose leaves and put them into a single large pile.”
The two people looked at each other and shrugged, and began to walk off back on their tasks. Jessica flicked her hand, and a marble sized shot flew out and hit the ground right in front of the walking pair. They jumped, and looked back up at her.
“Well?”, she said. “What are you waiting for?”
The pair quickly talked between themselves and then got to work, scurrying around and gathering all the loose leaves into a large pile. Jessica smiled as she shot m’chal after m’chal into the pile, making the pile a little bit smaller each time as the pile grew bigger with their work. Now, however, Jessica didn’t need to really focus on her aim. She knew the spot, and simply had to keep throwing the energy balls towards that same area. It didn’t take long for all the leaves to be gathered and to be rapidly destroyed. As the last one disintegrated with a puff of smoke, Jessica heard a click behind her.
She left the balcony and found a servant girl waiting there for her. The girl raised one hand, and waved it towards Jessica in a “follow me” motion. The pair headed down the hallway and towards the front door. When they got there, Treynor was standing there waiting.
“Very good, Jessica. I was wondering if you would make use of those two I sent out there.”, he said.
“You SENT them?”, she asked, “Geez, man. Is there anything you do that isn’t some kind of manipulation?”
Treynor laughed. “No, actually. There isn’t.” He turned and pointed towards the door. “Now that you have done your practice work, you are now ready for a small test. Follow me.”
(insert another small test here)
He opened the main doors and walked out into the snow. He headed a different direction from where they entered the other night, Jessica thought. She stopped in her tracks and looked up at the sky. The moon was very close to the spot where it had been when she saw it last night, almost completely straight up above her. She blinked a few times, and looked closer at the moon. Yes, she was sure it was in the exact same spot. Why would that be? Had the moon moved at all since she arrived? Thinking back, she realized she had only ever seen the outside at night since she arrived in this place.
Treynor led her to one of the nearby hills. She could see across a small valley a little village, made of four small rickety huts, and what appeared to be a smoke stack coming from the middle of them.
“See that?”, he pointed to the smoke stack. “There are seven of those creatures there. They have been bothering some of my servants as of late. I wish them destroyed.”
Jessica shrugged. “Ok.”, she said. She could still remember the look on the face of one of the creatures as it came towards her, club held high. Jessica really didn’t have any problem right now with killing a few more of these evil creatures.
She walked down the hill towards the campsite, and looked back at Treynor. “Coming with?”
He shook his head. “This is your test, not mine.”
Jessica turned back to her path and began walking. It wasn’t too long before she could see the creatures moving around the camp. She walked forward, crouching down so as to not give her presence away. As she moved, she could see all the creatures in the camp and was able to count and identify them. There were three obvious males, three females, and one smaller one that was probably a child of some kind. She rubbed her hands together for warmth, laying out her attack strategy. She knew she would have to go for the males first, then the females. The child she may leave to die on its own, or not. She would cross that bridge when she came to it.
Her first blat of m’chal was the size of an apple, flying through the dark night. It caught the creatures completely off guard as it struck one of the males in the back. He dropped to the ground, still. Jessica stood up and started calmly walking forward towards the camp, confident in her own abilities. The two other males in the camp picked up their weapons and charged towards Jessica.
She fired two quick blats, aiming for their faces. Jessica laughed out loud when they both hit their targets and the two creatures dropped their weapons and began to cry in pain. Jessica watched them for a moment before she got bored, and fired two larger blasts and killed both. She advanced on the campsite itself, to find the four women huddled in a circle around the child.
As Jessica approached, one of the female creatures broke from the circle and stepped forward, hands held out in front, palms up. Jessica watched as the creature knelt on the ground and looked up at her, the look in its eyes showing that she knew what was coming.
“Are you ready to die, purple thing?”, Jessica said.
“No.”, said the creature.
Jessica stepped backwards, nearly tripping over backwards. This thing spoke. It had a voice. It had a language. It had thoughts of its own. It understood her, and responded in kind. Jessica’s head began to swim with what just happened. In her mind, what she had just done went from killing something akin to rabbits, to killing a sentient species.
“You can talk?”, said Jessica. “What are you?”
”We are the Narfalg.”, said the creature.
Jessica turned, and ran back towards the castle. Treynor had some explaining to do, and Jessica had a lot of thinking to do.