Remembrance of the Wood
Copyright© 2014 by Tamalain
Tama was able to secure three more of the imaginary ability strings before the day ended. The agility booster, a strength enhancer, and ensnare. The last was a combat spell that fell in between offence and defense. Both parents and her teacher were amazed at how she was doing and how fast she was learning to control the abilities once she had them contained.
Tama had also discovered that she could now tap into them and not run herself dry of mana in a few seconds. That pleased her more than most anything, the feeling that she was finally getting to be in control of herself again. She was able to make it home and eat her dinner without passing out as well.
"Mama, papa, I want to try something. I would like to shadowstep and see how long I can hold it this time. May I please try?"
They looked at one another for a few seconds, then Axemen gave his permission to try. He looked at Willow and said, "At least she asked permission to try it this time." Willow sighed and shook her head in agreement for Tama to try.
Tama felt the ability rise up as she thought of it, then she willed it into action. Her vision became fuzzy around the edges and sounds became slightly muffled. Her parents gasped as she just vanished, none of unsteady fading in and out like before.
"Tama, that is incredible. You didn't fade or flicker, you just vanished." exclaimed Willow.
Tama knew that if she spoke or tried any other ability, she lose the camouflage effect instantly. She decided to try and move as quietly as she could around the room in hopes of startling her parents. They would not be fooled though, they could see the dust her feet stirred up as she moved, then she bumped a chair and the effect collapsed.
With her reappearance came a sudden surge of fatigue. She was ready for it and told her parents she was ready to go to bed now. She was asleep as soon as her head hit the pillow.
Willow looked at Axemen, "That was even better than before, she can move around a little now. She needs to work on her sneaking skills, but that is just solid practice with a real trainer in that art."
"Yes, and she was ready for the collapse afterwards too. Let's allow her do this every few days as she works with her teachers," said Axemen.
Several more days passed, and Tama's training and control improved at steady rate. After ten days she was informed she would be returning to her normal schedule. Tama was relieved at this since she wanted to get back to working on her bow and be with her friends in school.
The next morning she was up and ready to go to the woodworking shop and back to her big project. When she arrived at the woodshop she was greeted warmly as everybody was glad to have her back in one piece. Once Tama had the bow set in the vise, she continued with the shaping of the hand grip and the lower half of the bow. This section of the rough shaping took close to two hours. She had completed the upper portion on her last work period in the shop over a week before.
When she had the basic shape and first pass of the pull scraping completed, master Greenstave asked her if she was ready to put the bow up on the Tiller stand to see how even the pull was on each arm. "It is as ready as I can make it at this point Master. I just hope it survives the first pull." She knew if there was a hidden flaw in the wood, It could crack or even explode once the tension of the tiller was applied.
He first put a loose string on the notched ends, then took it to the isolated room in the back of the shop. There was a set of wide wooden hooks on the wall at head height that the bow would be fitted into. He then attached another hooked string to the bow string that ran to a heavy lever across the room. The lever and operator were protected by a brass banded wood partition in case of accident. Once he and Tama were safely behind the wall, he slowly pulled the lever a few inches to take in the slack on the pull rope. After one last glance at Tama to make sure she was ready, he applied tension to the bow. For the first few inch's it bent evenly and seemed to be doing well.
Then all at once, without warning, the upper half near the handle gave out a squeaking cracking sound. Before he could release the tension, the wood the bow was made of failed catastrophically. It was well they were behind the shield as thousands of splintered, pointed wood chunks flew across the room. One long splinter was imbedded in the ceiling it had hit so hard.
Tama just looked on in shock. All her work up to that point lost in an instant. She had known this could happen, but she just didn't think it would happen to her on her first bow attempt. Master Greenstave didn't say a word. He just reached over to the corner, pulled out a heavy broom and handed it to her and left the room. Tama sighed and started out by collecting all the largest parts. She wanted to see if she could find the sections that started the failure.
( ****Note to you the reader. There are many videos on Youtube covering this subject. I have seen several that the bow explodes as Tama's did, and other were an arm just snaps off. Bow making is an interesting subject and well covered. ****)
As Tama continued cleaning up the remains of her destroyed bow, she had a thought on how she could speed things up a bit. She carefully activated a series of buffs as they are referred to, first her agility to increase her mana pool by a fair amount, then a strength buff, then a last one that she had not tried yet. It would increase he speed for actions in combat, but not her running speed. She felt a warning twinge in her head that said this was her mana limit, so she got busy. To her nothing seemed to have changed, to everyone else in earshot, it sounded like a massive brush being dragged by a team of runaway horses down a rock covered road.
Masters Greenstave and Greenheart came running to the door to see if Tama was being hurt in some way. Instead what they saw shocked them both into immobility. Tama was sweeping and collecting all the bits of the shattered bow, but at a rate that was almost beyond imagining and they were being hard pressed to keep up with their own head and eye movement.
"Stave, I haven't seen speed like that in years. If she can do this now, by all the gods, I hope she never gets angry with any of us here," exclaimed Greenheart.
"The question is, will she be functional when she finishes. Every other time she tried to use an active ability, it puts her out cold for hours afterwards Heart. I think Slim needs to be called here fast," replied Stave.
Greenheart called out, "Whittles, get Eaglesclaw here fast. She may need his help to come down from this."
Tama paused in her work for what to her seemed several minutes, but it was less than a second to the observers. She spotted some bits along the wall she had missed and collected them and added them to the bin she had been collecting the scrap bits in. Next, looking up at the large chunk in the ceiling, she decided she needed her stool. She slipped past the watchers, grabbed her stool and returned to deal with this one last splinter. She placed the stool not quite under the splinter and used the broom handle to knock at it a few times. It quickly dislodged and fell to the floor. She added this last bit to the bin and returned the broom to its corner and her stool to workroom.
She then carefully reached into her mind and slowly deactivated the speed portion of the buffs. She picked up the scrap bin and carried it over to the main collection bin and emptied the small bin into it. The world came fully back into focus and she realized she had an audience. Everyone in the shop had been watching towards the end and were in shock from what they had just witnessed. No Elven had shown this level of talent since the death of Tamalain herself, and Tama was still just an infant child.
She then cut the strength boost off, but decided to leave the agility in place. She had learned without being told that it helped her mana rebuild at double its normal rate, even when not sleeping. "What's wrong, I am short on time so I used what I could to get the job done."
"Tama, that was beyond anything any of us have ever seen. Even Eaglesclaw could not do what you just achieved," said master Greenheart.
"Couldn't do what Heart," asked Eaglesclaw having just arrived.
"This little speed demon decided to show off a bit and gave us a demonstration on how a full adult ranger might go about cleaning her house. What should have taken the rest of the hour, took her less than five minutes to complete," said Greenheart.
Eaglesclaw looked at Tama and asked, "Showing off are we now? And how is it you are not passed out cold if you just did the combat speed buff."
Tama grinned in a way that a child has that causes parents to wonder 'what have they done now that we don't know about yet', with the added worry of, 'do I really want to know.' "I activated the Agility Buff first, let it fully engage, then I set the strength buff. After that had settled down, I brought up the speed booster. Then I was able to get the room cleaned up as fast as possible. My bow exploded on the Tiller stand when stressed. I wanted to have enough time left to pick a new piece of wood to try again."
"Once the room was cleaned I released the speed boost a little bit at a time so it wouldn't feel like I was crashing down. I had just finished the strength release when you came in. I still have the agility buff in place though. It seems to be helping quite a bit with mana regeneration. My mana did not run out and is recovering faster than it did before," explained Tama. "Was I wrong to use the abilities in that manner?"
Eaglesclaw was at a loss for words. What she had just told him is that she is in full control of her limited mana pool and is able to refresh it like a caster hooked on KEI.
( Kodiaks Endless Intellect. In Everquest, it was the most sought out buff by casters ever added to the game. KEI addicts were always fun to mess with. )
"Well Tama, you didn't get hurt nor harm anybody this time. It did allow you to complete a job quickly, so I guess it is all right on this occasion that you used them. Next time, I want to be present to make sure you don't lose control and get hurt, do you understand me young lady?"
Tama looked crestfallen at the floor for a few seconds, then looking up into Eaglesclaw eyes. "I understand and will obey, with one exception."
"Oh, so now you try to negotiate terms on a non negotiable promise? Very well, what is this one exception you want."
"If I see someone who's safety and life are in peril, and I can help them using my abilities, then I will use them to help in any way I can. That is non negotiable." Tama looked Eaglesclaw in the eyes and the look he saw told him she meant it.
"Very well child, it is agreed. Do not fail in this bargain, or you may very well end up locked down by force for breaking your solemn word in this matter. The subject is closed and will not be reopened for debate until your twelfth year." With that, Eaglesclaw left the shop, heading over to Tama's home to talk to Willow before returning to the school.
Tama went into the curing shed to choose a new piece of timber to work with. She checked it for balance and but not soundness this time. She loaded it in the vise and started from scratch clearing the bark and sapwood.
At the end of her time for the day, she cleaned her area and headed home. She told her mother about her morning starting with the disaster on the Tiller station. As she finished, her mother looked at her and said, "You have made a bargain dear, one that you dare not break ever. He was serious about the lock down Tama. He came and told me about it and I have no choice in this as it is you that made the decision to use your abilities unsupervised, and then the deal with Eaglesclaw. You will get no reprieve from your father on this either."
"I know mama, I know. But I meant it when I told him if someone is hurt or in danger and the only way to help them is to use them, I will."
"We all know that Tama. But be careful on how you define danger. There are those that will test you to try and cause you to break your word. Always be wary of those kind of folks."
Once the midday meal was cleaned up, Tama headed off to school for the first time in several weeks. As she walked across the village to the school, a number of the other residents came out and asked how she was feeling. She told them she was getting better, and her problems would be solved in due course.
Upon arriving at the school, the other kids all wanted to know what had happened after the totem had hurt her. She had only been in school once since then. She explained what the totem effects on her had done and what kind of training she had been receiving since then.
One of the boys asked if she could show them the speed. "I am not allowed to use the abilities. They are dangerous to me and to others if I don't have one of the trainers with me to help if things get out of control."
"But they wouldn't know, they aren't here now Tama," he insisted. "None of us here would tell on you."
Tama could hear the lie in his voice. I gave my word, I will not go back on it. Too much is riding on my future for me to break faith and oath now. So no, I will not be giving demonstrations to you nor anyone else in the class." She turned, looking around for a second and found Silor, "Silor, I would strongly recommend you not try using your abilities either. Not until you are older. That day's events left you asleep for nearly a full day afterwards."
Silor blushed but nodded his head in agreement, "My mother has already promised me a really sore bottom if she catch's me doing bard songs again. I have to wait until I am twelve before I can go to the Bards School in Kelethin. Is that how it is for you Tama?"
"Yeah, I have to wait too. Once we taste the power though, it's hard not to want to use it to get things done. I used the speed to clean the tiller room in the woodshop yesterday after my bow had exploded, and boy did I get it. If I fail and go back on my word, I will never become a Ranger."
One of the girls said, "That is awful of them. You have skills to make your own and others lives so much better, yet you can't use them. Sometimes parents and teachers are such a pain. Rules, rules, rules, do this, don't do that. I hate being told what to do all the time."
Tama looked at the girl and thought about a suitable reply for a minute. "We may think that now, but in ten years we will all look back and say, they were right in how they treated us and made sure we followed the rules that were set down for our own good and safety. As children we may not agree with them, that they are not being fair, but that is how it is and always will be so long as mature sane minds still rule. I have found when rules are set in place they are there for a reason."
The girl still objected, "My mother won't let me see the boy I like just because he is older than me. And she grounds me if I don't do as she wants with the chores. I hate chores, they take time away from what I want to be doing, not sweeping a floor, washing dishes, hanging cloths to dry."
Tama realized this girl could not be swayed from her attitude but decided to try anyways. "Chores you say, each day I have a set of things that are my responsibility to take care of so that my parents can do what they need to get done at the same time. I don't complain, I just do them and I have no problems at home. As to rules concerning safety, I work in the woodshop. There are things in there that if you don't follow the rules regarding them you could lose a hand, a foot, or even your life. Rules exist for a reason, keeping foolish people from killing themselves and others in mindlessly stupid ways. Now I am going to class as Elder is at the door tapping his stick on his leg and glaring at us."
As she passed by Elder, he said, "Well reasoned and thought out. We are watching you closely Tama, just so you know." Looking up he raised his voice slightly, "Everybody in your seats, we have much to do today."
"That girl is a foolish one Elder, I don't know why I never saw it in her before," she whispered as she went by.
Willow sat quietly in the main room of her home sipping a small mug of mint tea. Eaglesclaw had joined her after Axemen had gone out with his work crew that morning. He was calm, but she could see he was worried about Tama and her future, and other things. A command messenger had passed though early that morning and hand delivered an urgent missive to him personally.
"She has so much potential Willow, so much power, yet I fear she will do something foolish soon and lose it all. That stunt at the shop shows she has some control, but does not yet have the total control she will need later in her life. Willow, you and Axemen will have to be hard on her about her future actions. She needs to continue her workout and strength building, and that insane run of hers. The woodworking shop is going to be even more important now as well. It will give her a focus to keep her attention from the issues that plague her thoughts now."
"Slim, I am just happy you were able to teach as much as you did in such a short time. Axe and I were getting downright scared for her before you arrived."
Eaglesclaw just looked at her and raised an eyebrow at Willows use of his old nickname. "Well, I will admit she did put me in my place on that hill climbing run of hers. Are you aware she carries over half her body weight in stones and water going up?"
"I knew she had some weight, but that much at her age and size? Is that good for her body?"
"Willow, I have known muscle bound warriors that could not make that run with comparable weight on their backs. So don't be to concerned unless she starts having problems with her feet. In fact, ask to look at them tonight. Explain you want to make sure her arches are intact from the running she does. If they are fine, just ask her to be very aware of them. Should they start to hurt all the time, get them looked into quickly. Ruined feet will be another strike against her at the Trueshot Academy."
"Another strike Eaglesclaw? What is the first strike against her."
"You and Axemen as you well know."
"Some there are still upset with us for hiding. Those stuffy old fools will be the death of us all someday."
"Sadly, you maybe right on that last count. The Thornbreak family controls too much of the political life in Kelethin now. Even the High Elven are annoyed with them and their attitudes. Now please, I must head back to my post today. Word has come of increasing undead activity coming out of the Loping Plains into the Lesser Faydark and it is moving towards the Greater Faydark canyon."
"Get moving then and have a safe, swift journey old friend."
"And luck to you with Tama, you will need all you can get I think."