“Here, let me off here.” I rap on the door of the carriage nosily to stress my point.
“What?” As I expected, my father was surprised, even if it was only shown by a single raised eyebrow. Why wouldn’t he have been after all?
“I said let me off here.” I say again, this time more stern.
“But dear,” mother says in a chiding tone, “There’s nothing of interest here. It’s just an empty road.”
“There’s everything of interest here, and I want off.” I leaned forward. “You’ve said it before; I’m free to do whatever I want right? I want to get off right here.”
My parents exchange a deliciously helpless look. They know I’m right, and they have no idea why I would make such a request. After a few awkward moments my father leans back and opens the small door that allows him to talk to our coach man.
“Please, stop the carriage, my daughter wants to get off.” He spoke in a firm tone.
I hardly wait for the carriage to come to a complete halt before I let the door swing open. I jump down and break the heel of my shoe, but I land cleanly and take a few steps into the fresh air.
“Be careful, you could hurt yourself!” My mother cries out to me, but I don’t care. The only thing that got ‘hurt’ was my shoes.
I hate these shoes anyway.
Personally I find fresh air hardly refreshing, but today it smells like freedom. I had a dream yesterday, where I found something amazing. But I didn’t know what it was I was looking at.
I bring my hand to my chin and think. I kick away the useless broken shoe and scratch my opposite ankle with my bare foot. I try to remember why I stopped, why I want to be here.
I bring my hand to my head and massage my right temple. This field, these trees, they were the place of power that I saw in my dream. But it wasn’t the field nor the trees I saw in the dream, it was the power that I felt.
I feel warmth under my bosom, a kind of safety, and direction I can’t describe. Something inside of me tells me this is where I need to be, right now. Or is it right here at a different now?
Mother was standing next to me, holding my shoe and trying to assess the damage, it is in two clean pieces. She glances down at me to admonish the assassination of my dress shoes, but the difference in our height is the only precedence she bears over me. She lets out a small sigh. “Why do you have to be like this?”
I ignore her, naturally. But this is for a reason beyond letting rhetorical questions fall to the wind. It’s because there is a reason I want to be here, and I’m not sure what.
“I’m going to be staying here. Right here, I need to.” I point at the surroundings.
“Here?” My mother seems confused and draws her attention from the ruined shoe. My father has come to join us and is carrying my riding boots.
“You care to justify this action?” He glowers at me, “I can’t say I am eager to leave my daughter in the middle of nowhere because of some fit of insanity.”
“It’s not insanity, father.” I stand up to him firmly snatching the right boot from him I have to hop once to keep my footing, but it’s easy enough. “This is something I can just tell…”
I flush my hand on the middle of my chest to further express my point. “This has something to do with my magic father. I need to do this.”
I could see it in his face he has no argument to that. They know nothing about what I can do, or why I can do it. They just claim that they always knew that I would be what I am, a Managul.
I take the other boot from father while they chew on that. I kick away the other useless shoe in the general direction of my mother and slide into the boot in its place. Unlike the flimsy shoe I was wearing prior, these boots are comfortable and functional.
They are actually made for riding Drakes, but I have no taste for such things, even my personal ones. The crabby Drake my parents use for travel is no exception either.
“I suppose it can’t be helped,” My father concedes. “We’ll leave you what we can and I’ll have someone come to fetch you whenever you finish doing whatever it is you’re doing here.”
I nod, “That will be adequate.”
With a simple glance our carriage rider has already begun pulling down food supplies from the back of the carriage. Fortunately, I will eat well; mother and father always travel prepared. Neither of them looks that concerned though, they will likely send out some sell sword to watch after me or fetch me in a day.
They don’t understand the importance of this. How could they? I don’t understand the importance of this. I turn to the forest and point. “There. That is where the power is strongest. I want you to set up my tent there.”
“You know we don’t have a tent to give you,” Father looked at me with a disappointed look. “There are inns a plenty to stay at along the routes between here and the City of Water, why would we carry a tent?”
“Fine,” I fold my arms in thought. “I’ll just make due. Come, you shall assist me.”
I speak to the coach driver, who I do not know nor care to know his name. He was holding a satchel filled with food when I walked over to him and tested the fabric of the Carriage shade.
“This will do. Rip it off the carriage. I’m going to use this as my door.” I start to walk toward the forest clearing when the driver has the nerve to talk back to me.
“You want me to rip it off the carriage? That would be…” The man glanced uneasily between me and my father.
“What I want,” I rounded on him and jabbed her finger at it. “Tear the bar off. I need the fabric intact. That material should be more than weather proof to protect me from the elements. And you can’t tell me you aren’t strong enough to remove that from its flimsy perch?”
The driver looks to my parents as if they were going to argue with me, particularly my father. They naturally did not. In fact, just as I suspected a single firm nod was all that came from my father. They aren’t enthusiastic about it, probably because of some off handed sentimental reason.
The driver looks up at the curtain and winces slightly, as if he thinks there is some sort of reprisal for this that he doesn’t know about yet. He reaches for the bar of one side and as I suspect one strong tug and it is freed. I can hardly hear the sound of my mother sighing over the second side of the curtain being ripped free of the carriage. Our Drake gives a screech of approval at the delinquent action and paces in place, eager to get moving once again. The muscles of its scaled body are tense. He is a graceful blue scaled beast although hardly the size of my Red ones back home.
I wave over the carriage driver as a pace ahead of him, looking for a long flat surface of stone. I look for a candidate for what will serve as my shelter while I work.
“There,” I speak aloud despite the fact only the driver is listening. It’s not like he can help me do what needs done. He looks at me with a dull expression, expecting his next order. I give it to him. “Back up.”
The flourishes and chanting of enhanced spell craft is completely useless, but I do it anyway. If the everyday man thought for a second they could do what I do without great effort it would be disastrous. As long as I have enough resources to produce a miracle it can happen, it’s remarkably dull actually.
So I put on a show, extending my hands outward and letting the gentle breeze catch my robe. I lift them slowly as one who would reach for and lift the stone from the ground; I try to imagine the weight that it would carry if it were my arms lifting it rather than the earth itself. I close my eyes and imagine how many men it would take to do the same task, grunting with effort and sweat dotting their foreheads.
I tune out the shocked gasp and the clatter of the metal rods the driver had been carrying against the ground and against each other. I slowly open my eyes and see the cave I made with my own two hands. However, because of the fresh separation of stone from earth, it is not encrusted and damp. Fresh clean soil lines the wall of the cave free of animal urine and fecal matter.
Normal animals always avoid places of power, it was the real proof this wasn’t a fruitless chase. I turn back at the driver whose mouth is still agape from my miracle. I point at the stone ridge above me. “Place them there. This will be my door.”
Mother and father tentatively had made their way to the forest during my show of power. My mother claps gently and coos. “I never tire of seeing this. You are truly remarkable dear.”
I don’t need praise. Nor do I appreciate it. I prefer the driver’s reaction, silent awe.
“It’s quite a nice substitute. I’m impressed.” Father glances about the cave. I can see his hand taking care to test its security and sturdiness. While he isn’t a brute of a man it provides me comfort to see he is unable to so much as budge the rock formation.
“Yes it will do.” I say, instantly annoyed by my father’s indifference; I match him punch for punch with my own. It brings me irritation that he doubts my prowess enough to check the walls.
“But you really don’t intend to stay here alone do you?” Mother speaks as she glances between me and father.
“I do.” I say flatly.
“She does,” Father shot back a decidedly disapproving glance at mother. “Do what you like, but be careful. There are men on these roads that would ransom you or worse if they realized you were here alone. Unless you plan on using your miracles to kill people it will do you no good against the likes of them.”
“I am aware, father.” I glare at him icily. While it was true I had little to no experience on my own, I wasn’t stupid. I knew how to hide, and I knew how to run. Especially now that I was free of those useless shoes. “Not unless one of them is on your precious list, then I suppose it would be handy for you if they just had their way with me.”
That earned me a glare back, and I relished the moment. It was decidedly difficult to ruffle my father. When I managed to succeed it was delicious.
“Just see to it I have food and be on your way. The sooner I can start this, the better.” I speak in a vague tone quite intentionally. Of course I have no idea what I would do in the middle of nowhere, but I couldn’t afford to ignore this. It was the first time I had ever had a feeling like this.
The driver wanders off to his task of being a glorified pack mule and mother decides to spend the time she has left with me pleading for me to reconsider, I ignore her vehemently.
I put a hand on hers, “Mother, I can’t just sit around and do nothing, not when I can feel that this is important.”
“But it’s almost your twenty first cycle. That’s important too!” She says firmly.
“For you maybe, are you so eager to be a grandmother? You don’t even look like one.” I try that angle to get her to back down. “Besides, I don’t even remotely like any of them half as much as I would need to… to…”
“I know,” Mother brought a hand to my cheek. “But we know this is what you want. We know you would rather go around and do whatever it is you do with your magic. That is why we offered to help you.”
“I can’t help you like that. Not now.” I fume, “Look, if this is nothing… then I’ll come home and do whatever it is you want me to. But after that, I might leave and never come back, would that make you happy?”
“You wouldn’t do that,” Mother strokes my hair. “You would grow attached just like I have with you, you always love your babies, you know?”
I swat her away. “Not me. Never, if you make me do that I will hate you for it. You realize that this being so important to you, it makes it seem like you have given up on me.”
Mother looked hurt. I hate that look, because it seems sincere. “Never, if you want to take up the family mantle, I couldn’t be happier. But you and I both know that is not what you want, and I do not want to force you to do this. I cannot, but you seem to care about us enough to consider giving us an heir.”
I glance away, annoyed. “I guess I do care. Somewhat, you’re fair enough.”
“Thank you. So after this, you will…?” Mother looked hopeful.
“I’ll think about it.” The very idea of having something inside of me is just disgusting somehow, especially since there isn’t a single person on their goddess damned list that I would even consider kissing let alone that.
I have someone in mind that would likely be the best candidate. He is at least good looking and there was no chance I would ever come to tolerate him, let alone love him. He would likely be fine with it being an arrangement as well, and move on. The others would try to make it more than what it is.
“I’ll think about it mother, no promises. But if it comes to that I know who it will be.” I wave her off, “So stop worrying about it.”
“All right,” Mother let go of me calmly. I wonder if she knows what I’ve decided. She gave me a kiss on the cheek and stepped back. Father and the driver came back just in time to miss my ‘promise’.
“M’lady, if I may…?” The driver bows.
“What is it?” I snap at him.
“You should hang the food in the trees so beasties can’t get to them.”
“There won’t be any animals here.” I correct him, “This is a strange place to them especially with me here.”
“What do you mean…?” Father stiffened.
“This is a place of power. You know how I say using magic makes me tired? I can use magic as much as I want here and I won’t as much as let out a yawn. This is a playground for me, and I plan to enjoy it.” I was lying of course, not about the place of power’s effect on me, but rather my motivation to be there.
“I see.” Father seems disinterested again. “We will send someone to fetch you in a weeks time, by then your supplies should be running low.”
I nod dully; something tells me a week was more than enough.
Father leaves without as much as another word. Mom glances back once as the piles of food and sat near my new little home.
Why did I want to be here, was I just buying time? Or was there something else?
I could hear our old drake screech past the trees but I didn’t care, I didn’t so much as move when I heard the wheels of our carriage start to turn and eventually fade away I make my way out to the clearing to watch the Son land.
I settle on a rock and looked southward as the son dipped low in the sky. I squint as the ball of flame burrows its way into the earth and finds its final place. I always assumed the Son died when it went below, just like a flame dipping into water. It was funny to think of the Son being a new one every day, when I was young I named every new Son. It was a habit I had long since abandoned.
“Good bye Filli.” I say aloud, “You were a good Son; you guided me to this destiny, whatever it is.”
I feel an odd sensation, and the world spun, causing me to lose footing. The earth always shook when the son landed but never this sense of piercing vertigo. I felt like a hand was grappling my throat and shaking violently. I let out a cry of anguish as I feel like the inside of me was dying. A shooting pain in my abdomen cripples me.
I wince and fall to one knee when I spot it, a stray flare off of the son. Looking at it, thinking about it, causes pain. I reach out to it, as if it was a pin jabbed into my side and I realize it is screaming across the sky.
For a second it seemed it was coming for me, but that wasn’t right. But it was comes for something, with a vengeance. The pain reminds me again it is a threat.
I should stop it.
The thought came to me quickly and without warning as I reached out to catch it. I could do miracles, and I was at this place of power, how easy it would be.
I quickly find out how wrong I am. The pain widened as I reached for it, my first attempt left me with the sensation I had put my bare hand skyward and it had punched a hole through it. I brought my other hand to my arm to examine my arm and hand. There was no blood, there was no damage.
I tried again. This time I felt my power close around the flame and bond with it. But it was pulling me, resisting me. The sheer speed it contained roaring across the sky closer to me was frightening. I don’t back down, I feel like I have to stop it.
I make my move when the fireball passes over me, over my being. I channel the energy from the place of power in an attempt to halt the flame dead trying to splatter it against a wall of dense air. The air was just consumed and the fire flared and strengthened, its trajectory shifted slightly though and I could feel it making it’s approach to the ground, gaining speed.
I pulled with all my might against it but I can do nothing but be dragged along. The farther way she blazed away from her location, the harder it became to maintain my grip. With one last desperate pull, I abandoned any hope of halting the ball of flame and pulled downward, steering the ball of flame towards the ground.
The sight is frightening as much as it is exhilarating. The ground passes beneath me so fast that a blink would make me miss a mile of travel. I can feel the pressure of strain on my temples back in my body, the tell tale sign that I’m growing weary. This has nothing to do with my magic, but the fact that it is late and I slept horribly the past few nights.
Just before the impact I gasp and break my concentration, severing the link between my projection of power but not before the resounding echoes of screams fill my ears.
Sweat rolls down my face and my breathing becomes ragged. This isn’t fatigue, this is fear. It was more of a nightmare than a show of power, and what did I even do? I failed to stop that ball of flame, despite feeling so urgently that I needed to stop it.
I raise a hand to my chest to steady my breathing; with effort I manage long controlled breaths.
If I have failed, why do I have this light and pleasant feeling of accomplishment? I have a sensation that I averted something significant, despite facing my greatest failure in my young life. I couldn’t stop it despite having a limitless resource of power.
I hardly realize I am sprawled out on the ground, surrounded by soft grass; I force myself to sit up and instantly regret it.
There’s a trail of smoke in the air, dwindling proof of my accomplishment and failure alike. I lay back down and curled up, feeling slightly gloomy but comforted by the soft grass. I grasp a handful of it and pluck it out and gingerly press the grass against my lips. Relishing the residual energy around me always calms my nerves; here in a place of power it’s almost intoxicating.
I idly toss them to the wind. Most of them just end up on the front of my robes though.
My desire to make my way to my shelter is offset by apathy and I drift off to a restless sleep. The screams I heard worried me, but in dreams screams mean nothing. They are phantoms of real thoughts, actions, doubts and fears.
I dream of someone holding me and making promises he has no intention on keeping. But I am keenly aware it is just a dream, so I let him kiss me. The phantom act invokes an early memory. I remember how pleasant I thought it was then, warm, moist, and forbidden. But how quickly I realize it was something people submit to when they want to be distracted.
But I am not really interested in being distracted right now. I shooed away the dream and the veil of sleep and sat up again. It was the dead of night, and I’m surprised by how many hours must have past. Judging by the chill of the air, I slept for quite a while.
I stand and rub my arms. Even without moisture the cold of night wasn’t to be underestimated. The surface of my robe was cold to the touch and the chill had made its way to my skin despite wearing a blouse and pants underneath.
I make my way to my make shift shelter, conflicting thoughts race through my head. More studying will have to be done in the morning. It can wait until tomorrow.
If not tomorrow, there’s the day after that.