Running Toward Destiny

Chapter 13

Experimentation

He opened his eyes again and found himself in a bed.  His head felt like it had been hit with a brick.  He couldn't focus on anything, and closing his eyes helped his headache a little.  It remained there though, mildly throbbing with his heartbeat.  He didn't know how he got there, and there was no one around.  He didn't dare move, for fear of intensifying his headache.  "Hello," he said, quietly and hoarsely, his voice sounding strange to him.  Nobody responded, and he wondered where Selenia had gone.  She had always seemed close before.  He relaxed and soon dozed off again, hoping that his headache would go away soon.


He awoke next to Selenia's cool touch on his forehead.  He opened his eyes this time, and they focused rather slowly on her face.

"Glad to see you up," she said cheerily.  Then she became serious.  "I was beginning to get worried about you.  What happened yesterday?"

"Someone I knew found and captured me.  He took me to his boss.  I destroyed them all with… something that I have inside me.  I don't know what it is, and I don't like it one bit.  Whatever it is though, I think I may have used too much of it yesterday, and it exhausted me."  Selenia's expression grew from horror to surprise and back again.  Camrin sat up, and was pleased to find that he became only slightly dizzy, which rapidly wore off.

"Who… who did you kill?" She was hesitant about even asking, but she had to know.

"He called himself the king, but he wasn't real.  The others were his men, I guess.  Scoundrels, the whole lot of them.  They had raided my town many times, and the night I left, they did just that.  One of the men that were there had seen me leave and had tried to stop me.  I knocked him out that night.  This time he wasn't getting away.  They broke into my house… my own house.  I wasn't going to let them do that anymore."  He stopped and looked at his hands.  "I'm sorry I killed them, but I couldn't let them do that again."

Selenia looked at him with sympathy and thought to herself.  How could this have happened?  What have I gotten him into?  "You did the right thing.  There was nothing else you could have done."

"I know.  That makes it even worse though.  I feel like a puppet, not even in control of my own life anymore.  I don't know if I can live like this for anything."

"All of us feel that way at some point or another, and for good reason.  I just hope that it doesn't last too long for you.

Camrin stared into her eyes intently.  "Will this end when I get to the castle?  Will I be able to return home and live with my mother, free to go and do what I choose?  I don't want to be bound like this forever, fate's little toy."  Closing his eyes, he became silent for a second before speaking softly.  "I never wanted any of this in the first place."

Selenia, sighing silently, spoke up.  "I didn't want any of this either, but what choice do we have?  You may be the only person who could do this, for all we know.  Some way or another, it has to end, eventually.  The quicker we get there, the closer that time is.  We should eat something, and then get moving."  I just hope it doesn't end in our deaths, she thought to herself.  She stood up and moved to the door, opening it quickly and shutting it behind her.  Camrin watched her leave, and then stood slowly and dressed himself.

Walking down the stairs, he saw that she was already seated at a table, and she smiled slightly at him as he moved toward her and then sat down.  He returned the smile slightly.  "You know, you are right.  Hopefully we'll make good time from here.  In a couple days we'll be at that castle, I hope.  Do you know how far away it is from here?"

"If we're lucky, two days or so from here.  It'll be no longer than a week even with bad weather.  After breakfast, we can set out, if you'd like.  It's likely to be the last civilized breakfast we have for some time."

Camrin nodded.  "Yes, that sounds good.  I don't like large cities anyway."

Breakfast, which had consisted mainly of ham, didn't last very long despite the fact that it was good. After they finished it they immediately went to their room, grabbed what they had, and left, heading toward the outer gates.  They wanted to be on their way and back into the forests as quickly as possible.  Both of them seemed more at peace in nature, and the city life just wasn't what they sought after.  As almost an afterthought, they stopped at a store, and Camrin paid the small fee for a small jar of ink and a pen to write with.

The day was uneventful, and it was early evening before they stopped in a small clearing.  They were getting tired, and decided that this would be the best spot available to set up camp.  Selenia retrieved the spell from her pouch and opened it while Camrin went over to the edge of the campsite to experiment with the spells he had now.

Taking the book out of his bag, he opened it to the first page.  Pulling out the pen and the jar of ink, he opened the jar and dipped the pen into it, then writing "Levitation" next to the third spell.  Then he set both the pen and the jar down, and gazed at the second spell, affixing it into his short-term memory before setting the book down with them.  Walking over to a mid-sized rock, he raised the staff slightly in his right hand, concentrating on the rock.  "D, B, C, A, B, B, D, A."  Nothing happened, and he turned, staff still raised, and concentrated on a log sitting on the ground.  "D, B, C, A, B, B, D, A."  When nothing again happened, he sighed slightly, but instead concentrated on a tree branch, repeating the phrase.  This time, however, something did happen.  The branch, breaking loose with ease, crashed to the ground, forcing Camrin to jump back to avoid it.  Grunting slightly, he lowered the staff.  "Descent.  That explains why it wouldn't work on the rock or the log-they were already on the ground."  Picking up the book and pen, he scribbled "Rapid Descent" down for the second spell, and then looked down to the fourth.

Looking back toward the rock again, he again raised the staff, concentrating.  "C, A, A, C, D, D, A, C," he stated quickly as he watched.  The rock, quivering slightly, pulled apart at the top, and then snapped at the other end, the two halves falling to either side.  "Breach," he wrote down as simply as he had said it.  Looking down to the next line, he rose the staff again.  As he did so he heard Selenia behind him, and he stopped, turning to face her.

"Hello Camrin.  What are you doing now?"

"I'm trying to make sense of some of these spells.  I've figured out two more besides the elevation spell, rapid descent and breach.  I only have one more that I think I can do-the first spell on this page seems to be beyond the staff's capabilities at the moment.  The broken rock and the branch laying on the ground over there are the result of my learning.  I think I'll take care of the branch now."  Spinning on the balls of his heels, he raised the staff, quoting the spell from memory.  "A, D, D, C, B, C, D, A."  The branch elevated to a point above the trees themselves before he stopped it, thinking for a moment.  Then he spoke to Selenia.  "I think I'm going to find out some limits to this staff.  I'm going to try to do another spell while I hold this one."  Glancing at the book in his other hand, he said the breach spell.  "C, A, A, C, D, D, A, C."  The wood cracked open lengthwise down the whole branch, and Camrin had his answer.  He moved the pieces of wood a ways away from the camp and lowered them to the ground.

Selenia spoke up.  "You can do more than one spell on an object at once.  That's good, but can you do the same spell on two different things at the same time?"

"I don't know.  I think I'll try that out now.  Do you mind if I use you for my experiment?"

"What are you going to do?"

"I'll just elevate you and something else simultaneously."

"Okay, but don't raise me too high in case this doesn't work," she said slowly.

"First I'm going to lift two different things at the same time.  A, D, D, C, B, C, D, A."  Selenia lifted into the air along with one half of the broken rock that he'd also focused on.  "Now I'll put your both down, and I'll try to life two things separately."  He did as he said, and then looked at Selenia.  "I'll raise you first, and then I'll try to raise the rock.  A, D, D, C, B, C, D, A," he said, and she rose into the air slowly.  "A, D, D, C, B, C, D, A," he said again, glancing at the rock.  It lifted into the air, but Selenia didn't remain so.  Quickly snapping his attention back to her, he repeated the spell a third time, steadying her about a foot from the ground.  The rock landed with a small thud.

"You scared me to death," she said slowly after he had lowered her completely back to the ground.

"I know, and I'm sorry.  At least now I know that I can't do the same spell on two things separately.  I'll have to lift them at the same time."  Looking at her curiously, he went on.  "Just to know, what did you go into the forest for?"

"I was looking for different types of food.  I don't have a large variety with me at all, and berries are always good to have.  So are certain roots, if I ever find any."

Camrin nodded slightly.  "Did you find any?"

"No, I didn't see any in around."

"Are you sure?  Would you like me to lift you above the trees?"

Selenia shook her head somewhat vigorously.  "No, I'd rather not fall like that again."

"Will you go up there if I go with you?"

"I suppose that would be a little better."  She still sounded reluctant to go, though.

"Hold on to the staff with me then.  It'll be much easier to focus on you then."  She seemed hesitant, but she grabbed it.  "Just hang on, though you don't have to.  A, D, D, C, B, C, D, A."  They immediately started toward the tops of the trees.

Above the trees, they gazed down for a berry bush of some sort, hoping that the color would show itself easily.  It didn't seem to be that easy though.

"I don't see anything," Camrin stated after a few minutes of searching.

"Me either," Selenia replied.  "Let's get back down to the camp.  We'll just have to make do with what we have, for now."

"I suppose we will."  Camrin pointed the staff back down toward the camp.

It took only a moment to get back down to the ground.  Camrin gathered some logs from beside the tent; they must have come with it.  There was also a flint.  He stacked the logs into a pyramid and then went over to the branch that he'd broken earlier.  Since it was useless now anyway, he might as well use some of it for kindling wood.  Breaking off a few of the smaller twigs and picking up some tiny chips of wood, he took them back to the wood stack and moved a few of them underneath.  Taking one of the larger chips he found, he brought out one of his knives and shaved a few thin pieces of wood off of it and gathered it into a pile.  Then he took the flint and a small stone, striking them together.  The resulting sparks caught the tinder on fire, and he fanned the glowing pieces lightly to give it the air it needed to get started.  He then took a few of the smaller twigs and set them on the tinder, waiting for them to catch fire.  They did so rather quickly, and he moved the whole thing under the pyramid, managing to keep his hands clear of the young flames.

When he was sure that the fire wouldn't go out, he walked back over to the tent and peeked in through the front flap.  Selenia was busy tidying up inside.  "This is quite a tent, though it doesn't have much room left over with the two beds."

"Oh, I know, but it was the only tent I had with two beds in it.  The others only have one."

Camrin looked slightly puzzled.  "Couldn't you have just brought two of those?  That would have been easy enough."

"Yes, I could have, but that would have taken a lot more ground space."

Camrin nodded and then smiled.  "We should go explore ahead a bit before we go to sleep.  That way we'll know what's ahead of us for tomorrow.  Besides, it's still quite early.  We could have traveled for a few more hours, but I don't think we would have liked setting up the camp in the dark."  He chuckled as he pictured the pandemonium in his head of doing so.

"Do you have your lantern with you?" Selenia asked.

"Yes, I have it in here," he said as he slung his pack over his shoulder again.  "I'll bring the staff also.  It could be useful.  Alright, let's go.  Time's a wasting."

There was nothing ahead but more forest, and they traveled for perhaps another hour before turning back.  By the time they neared the clearing again, it was necessary for him to light the lantern to see.  They both crawled into their beds as soon as they'd eaten, and they sat around the fire, which had still contained hot coals when they returned.  It had been a tedious day, and Camrin was sure more would follow.