Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Tales from the Chest: Training Mari

I didn't have time to do a flash-back of Mari being personally trained by the Forest Wife.  In keeping with my idea to have Brenna and Talon in the center of the story, I needed to move on.  In any case, there was no need to really show where Brenna got a healthy helping of her stubbornness from.  

The seventy-five pound book landed on the large table, creating a small puff of dust as it did so.

In surprise, Mari waved away the dust which threatened to choke her and looked up at the blonde woman who was not quite her mentor and not quite a friend, yet.


Mari was not accustomed to taking orders and there was no mistaking that this was an order.  "Do you want me to read or practice?  I can't do both at the same time."  Mari couldn't quite keep the frustration out of her voice.

"I believe, in the end, you'll be surprised what you can do."

Mari, feeling fractious over this newest chore, sniped, "Oh, good, a new cryptic way of saying you know more than I do.  That might change if you'd just let me keep practicing!"

The pair of blue eyes fixed on Mari did not waver in their silent reprimand.

"Just let me practice!"

The Forest Wife shook her head. "Do you really think that this time and place were made just for you, Mari?"

The truth was yes.  She'd been under the impression that the place was there to give her a place to practice.

"Did you ever read the Book of Benamii as I asked?"

"Yeeees..." she answered, but didn't meet her teacher's eyes.

"So you read about yourself.  What did you think?"

At the moment, she couldn't.  She was too busy wrapping her mind around the idea she was mentioned.  As her mind raced, she shook her head.  "The book didn't say anything about me."  She was absolutely sure she would have noticed her own name.

"Then you didn't study it."

"It's boring..."

"So boring you want your ignorance to kill your husband and daughter?"

Mari blinked and then snapped her mouth closed.

"Study doesn't mean to skim over the parts you find uninteresting.  The Prophet Benamii wasn't trying to be cryptic, Mari.  he gave his life so we could have the truth."

"He's dead?!"  She hadn't heard...or she hadn't paid attention if she had.

"Nez gifted the bloodthirsty Sogoians with a public execution." This was said in such a tone she knew it was the truth.

Mari willed away her sorrow.  Last time she'd seen the old man, he was standing at the gates of Ryn House, announcing her time had come for training.  In part, that memory had served to press her onward.  "I still need the practice."

The Forest Wife took a seat; something she never did unless the subject was serious.  "Look at me, Mari."

She did.

"You are stunningly beautiful and impressively powerful, but your ignorance has reached near-epic proportions."

She scowled, failing to appreciate being called stupid.  It also tweaked her curiosity, as, no doubt, the Forest Wife intended.

"The mistakes you make here and now, on this side of time, will have severe repercussions."

"I thought you said what I did here wouldn't affect there."

"I sometimes wonder if you listen at all."

That cowed her.

"I'm not talking about whether the waterfall you forced to fall up makes a dent in the world you return to.  I'm speaking of something so much more.  Something that is coming so fast, no human can hope to stop it."

"What is it?"

"The battle for the souls of men, Mari.  What do you think all this," the Forest Wife spun in a circle with her arms outstretched, "this is about?"

She hadn't considered the souls of men.

"You have specific responsibility looming over you and you need to hurry, for all our sakes."

Mari did not like the idea of a deadline when she didn't know what was at stake.  "You know everything, so why not tell me?"  She did not want to read a foot-thick book.

The Forest Wife didn't answer, but opened the cover of the dusty tome.  "This record was written by your grandmother."

She had no memory of the woman who had passed away before she was born.

"Not that grandmother, but Marisena, wife of Jaydren; and before you can ask, yes THE Jaydren, ruler of Utak and, coincidentally, your direct-line grandfather.  If I were you, I'd memorize it."

"Why don't you just tell me what I have to know?"

"There are no shortcuts to what you need to know."

She fingered the first page, looking at the small writing, noting Jaydren's wife had pretty penmanship, but also sighing.  Then a new thought burst onto the stage of her mind, looking like a frightened doe.  "If I have something really important and you're my teacher, it figure you have something important to do as well."

The woman looked as if debating the wisest course of action.  "I am mother of the Chosen."

Mari's quick mind ran over what she remembered of the person called "the Chosen" in the Book of Benamii. She put a commiserating hand on the Forest Wife's embroidered sleeve.  Her child was destined for heartache - a life of great danger and challenges.  "If anyone can do it, you can."

"That's exactly how I feel about your role."

Mari's heart sank.  If her role was as serious as her teacher's she was in big trouble.  With resignation, she began to read.

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