Chapter 18 Wand Practice
“I have already extended my invitation for everyone who came with us from the giant realm to stay on as my subjects, and full citizens of the land of Tole. On the sage advice of my counsel, I vow that within a year we should have a constitution which shall be binding law from now until the end of time. And that constitution will stipulate how elections will be held and the term limits of elected offices, the formation of a parliament and the election of a prime minister, along with the frequency of elections and the rules for special elections.
“Now I would like to recognize my special envoys to the giant realm. Sir Dave, please come forward.”
Mr. Anderson rose, walked the twelve paces to the dais and stepped forward and kneeled before the queen. Jen, Eric, Gina and Julie all came forward as well, and stood by the dais until Queen Nallah would call them up.
“I had special wands made up by my team of craftsmen, imbued with special properties by our wand mistress, Ayda. Before you leave for your own realm, I strongly suggest that you go with General Lord Mowbry and learn how to focus your energy through it.”
Mr. Anderson received the wand reverently in both hands, and bowed low and solemnly to the queen. Then he backed away three paces, turned and exited the stage.
“Dame Jennifer, please come forward,” Queen Nallah called. Jen did as she was expected, and rendered a low curtsy when she arrived before the throne. “Here is your wand, especially crafted for you and your talent. Use it wisely and in good health.” Jen received her wand and followed her father’s example, exiting the stage after backing away from the throne three paces.
“Sir Eric, please come forward.” Eric followed the example of his father, and kneeled before the queen. “For your patience, endurance, and long suffering at the hands of the enemy, I give you our nation’s highest honor, the Order of the Gnarly Butterfly.” The queen herself stood and hung the decoration, attached to a ribbon around his neck. “Will the criminal known as Shifty step forward?” Eric started to back away to make room for Shifty, but Queen Nallah put her hand on his shoulder and squeezed so he would stay still.
A homely man came forward, and put his hand out, as if to shake hands with Eric. “Very honored to meet you, Sir Eric,” Shifty said.
“Mister Shifty,” Eric said. He was very confused, but he took the man’s hand and felt his arm dissolve. Without letting go, their hands separated.
“Thank you, Shifty,” Queen Nallah dismissed the criminal. “From henceforth, neither walls, nor bars, nor shackles shall be able to contain you. Hopefully you can rest well with the knowledge that you cannot be kidnapped, tortured, or thrown in an oubliette. Here is a wand especially crafted for you. Use it wisely and sparingly, but practice.”
Eric took the wand in both hands, bowed and stepped three paces backward before he turned and exited the stage. He felt elated to have a special talent. He had not yet been caught up on the special talents of the others. Queen Nallah returned to her throne and sat down.
“Gina Carter, please come forward,” the queen demanded. Gina followed Jen’s example and took the stage, curtsying before the queen, and keeping her head down. Queen Nallah touched Gina on each shoulder, and said, “For courage in the face of the enemy, and rescuing many of our army, I hereby give you title of Dame of the realm. Arise Dame Gina of Tole.” Gina got off her knees, but did not stand up straight she knew it would be in bad form for her head to rise higher than the queen’s. She stood with her knees bent, as the queen had not yet dismissed her. “Here is a wand especially tailored to your talent. Use it wisely, and practice.”
Gina took her wand in both hands, curtsied again, and backed away then turned and left the stage.
“Julie Carter, please come forward,” Queen Nallah called the girl, and Julie followed the example of the other girls, rendered her curtsy, kneeled and waited. “For outstanding bravery in combat, and saving many lives, you are hereby also a Dame of the realm. Arise Dame Julie.” Queen Nallah tapped her on both shoulders with her scepter, and Julie got up. “Please take this wand especially tailored to your talent, and use it wisely, and practice.”
Julie was disappointed. “But, I don’t have a talent,” she said.
“Oh, but you do. I can feel it in you, just below the surface, it is stirring even now, waiting to get out.”
The sun dimmed as clouds started to form overhead, the moisture in the air condensing into vapors. “I tell you I don’t have a talent.”
“Look up,” Nallah told her. “You are causing this. It was you who saved your sister and Dame Jennifer from the griffin, and you who saved the army of the dragon. You have a very powerful talent, and I should not like to get wet, so please calm down.” Julie looked up and saw the clouds swirling, and sheet lightning flashing high up in the sky. She saw it, and felt it, and knew that what the queen was saying was true.
“You may leave now,” Queen Nallah said to Julie under her breath. Julie smiled at her and turned to leave, then remembered her etiquette and turned back to face the queen. She curtsied, stepped backward three paces, then turned and skipped off the stage.
“And now, a feast has been prepared, and I want people to take turns serving. It would not be fair for the good people who have prepared the meal to do all of the serving and not enjoy any of it themselves. Musicians, if you please, let’s have some music.” The crowd arose and the festivities began. There was singing and dancing, and talents displayed strangely for audiences across the town. In much the way jugglers, acrobats and snake charmers entertain people on street corners, several of the locals started showing off their talents on the street. One man created a woman out of mouse, and she stole his fruit and scurried away, much to the delight of the crowd. A man pulled a raccoon out of a hat, then put the hat back on, only to have a bear demand to be let out of it. A mime artist was pulling an invisible rope, then threw it over a branch of an invisible tree and proceeded to climb up it.
The Andersons and Carters mingled with the locals and sampled the fruits and flowers of the feast. They drank nectar and Eric and Gina even danced, trying to move like the locals and not quite making it.
“Dame Julie, I know it’s not my place,” Budrick stammered.
“I would love to dance with you,” she said, and Budrick’s frightened eyes shifted to surprise and joy, and she took his hand and led him out into the street with the other revelers. She followed his lead, and he knew how to dance.
They spent the night in the same grand suite the Andersons stayed in during their first visit to Tole Castle, and the slept very well in their comfortable beds. They awoke to a knock on the door.
“I apologize if I awoke you, Sir Dave,” Mowbry said when Mr. Anderson opened the door. “I thought it would be prudent to take you out for a little wand practice before you return home.”
“The queen’s idea, I think,” Mr. Anderson grunted. He poured himself a cup of fruit juice that seemed to contain some caffeine, and gulped it down.
Mowbry looked around the apartment and saw no sign of the children. “Am I too early?”
“No, Mowbry, you are not. This is the first time the children have had a decent bed to sleep on, so they are taking advantage of the situation. Just a moment,” he said, opened one door then the other, shouting the same thing in both rooms. “Get up!”
A few moments later, the children stumbled into the living room, eyes bleary and hair mussed. “Wha’s goin’ on?” Eric grumbled.
“Get your wands. We are going to get some training,” his father explained.
“Too early,” Gina sighed. “Can’t see straight.”
“Too bad,” Mr. Anderson replied shortly, “We have to get going if we are going to make it home. Don’t you want to go home?”
“I never thought I would say this, but I could use some bacon and eggs,” Gina yawned.
“And that’s why we want to go home,” Jen said. She quickly pulled her hair into a pony tail and fastened it with a rubber band. “I’m ready.”
“Will Budrick be there?” Julie asked.
“Yes, he is setting things up for us as we speak,” Mowbry said.
“Can we ride the unicorns?” Jen asked.
“When you are coronated queen you may ride the unicorns,” Mowbry said.
“So not today, huh?”
The children took a sip of nectar and grabbed some fruit and fairy cake and stuffed them into bags, so they could eat on the way. Eric grabbed his school backpack that he somehow managed to keep. He was wearing it to the store when he got kidnapped. Mowbry led them downstairs and out of a side door in the castle, through a few streets of the town across some flower fields, another strip of woodland, and then into a big open meadow. They saw Budrick and Bucspat waiting for them. They also saw several large poles set up in the field. They almost looked like telephone poles, but since there were no telephones, they figured it must be something to do with their training. They were right.
“Are you ready to learn a little bit about wands?” Mowbry asked.
“So ready,” Gina yawned again.
“I hope everybody brought theirs,” Budrick said.
Mr. Anderson pulled his from his back pocket. The girls started searching in their clothes and bags, and Eric dropped his school backpack to dig for his.
“This will never do,” Mowbry said. “One should have one’s wand at hand at all times. It is mostly a defensive weapon that is used to focus one’s talent. Talent focused is talent that is not wasted. For example, I remember the night you were kidnapped, Sir Eric. If you had a wand, you would have been able to defend yourself. If Gina had a wand, she would have been able to help you.”
“If we had talent,” Eric said.
“We didn’t have any back then,” Gina concurred. “It was only a couple of months ago, but it seems like ages.”
“Well, we have it now,” Mr. Anderson said. “Let’s learn how to use it.”
“Sir Dave, do you see the pole on the far left side?” Mowbry asked.
“I would have to be blind not to,” Mr. Anderson grunted.
“I want you to blast it into two pieces.”
“Blast it?” Mr. Anderson asked. “I can charge batteries and help boost someone else’s talent. How do I blast it?”
“Your talent enables you to draw energy from the atmosphere, any latent energy that is available, you can control. When you use the wand, you just focus all of that energy through it, and carefully aim and fire.”
“I see,” Mr. Anderson looked at the wand. “Where is the trigger?”
“You are the trigger. It is your will that controls the wand.”
Mr. Anderson pointed the wand at the pole, and nothing happened. “I can’t get it to work.”
Mowbry looked at him skeptically. “What did you feel?” he asked.
“A little disappointed, I guess,” Mr. Anderson answered.
“I mean, as you were gathering the energy, what did you feel?”
“I have to gather the energy?” Mr. Anderson questioned.
Mowbry shook his head. “Remember how it feels to impart energy to someone else, or to you square pocket wand? That is only a part of it. When you are using large amounts of energy, you must will it into yourself, then focus it all through the wand at your target. Now, in your time, go ahead.”
Mr. Anderson pointed the wand at the pole, but he was not aiming at it. He was focused on gathering the latent energy from the atmosphere, bringing in all of the static electricity. He felt he hair stand out on his head and arms, and a tingling sensation on all of his skin. He felt a warmth rising in his core, and his heart beating with the energy of a bass drum. He concentrated on pushing the power out of his right arm, through the wand, and so to the pole, and a spark danced off the end of the wand.
“That was a little better, I guess,” he said.
“That was much better. How do you feel?”
“Tired,” he said.
“Try again,” Mowbry demanded. “Remember, you have to exercise to get strong.”
Mr. Anderson tried again, and again, and on the fourth try, he fired a bolt of lightning at the pole, that charred it pretty good, and split it at the top. It was not quite in two, as he intended, but it was a start.
“Rest up for a minute, Sir Dave,” Mowbry instructed. “Dame Jennifer, please step forward.” Mr. Anderson dropped to the ground and closed his eyes. Jen stepped forward with her wand at the ready. “Your talent is usually one of touching, feeling the injury and repairing it. Right?”
“Right,” Jen answered, still a little confused about what she was supposed to do.
“With a wand, you can do it at a distance. That pole is made of organic material. It is alive and must be healed. You have the ability to heal it at a distance. Take your wand in your hand, and focus on the injury of the pole. It is burned and fractured. Heal it.”
Jen focused her healing energy and the pole, pointing with her wand, and wishing the burns to be healed, and the fracture to mend. She focused and wished, and she could feel the healing power, as she took on the pain of the pole, she became the pole, pulling its injuries into her self. She wanted to cry, wanted to scream, but she felt great compassion for the poor, injured, helpless pole, and then the relief when it was all better. “Well done, Dame Jennifer!” Mowbry praised her.
“You’re a natural!” Budrick exclaimed.
“I’ve several injured tools on my farm, if you’ve a mind to work for me,” Bucspat smiled.
“Dame Gina, it’s your turn,” Mowbry said, and Gina stepped forward. “You have an interesting talent that is very rare. I am not sure what will happen when you focus your wand. Do you see the center pole?” he asked, and she nodded. “Send your talent over there and let’s see what happens.”
Gina, who had been oblivious to her talent until Bleat the faun and the mole outside the mining tunnel started talking, focused her energy through the wand and wished that her talent would infect the pole. It took a few moments and then they heard tiny voices, barely audible, coming from that direction. “Let’s take a walk, shall we?” Mowbry asked. They all started walking, except for Mr. Anderson who was now in a deep slumber. The tiny voices grew louder as the they approached the pole, but they were still tiny voices. Soon they could make out words.
“There’s a good one over here,” “This one’s too old, the nectar’s played out,” “This one is nearly in seed,” “Here’s one just opening!” “The leaves are delicious!”
“I can’t make out what I’m hearing,” Gina said. “Who is talking?”
“The butterflies and ladybugs,” Julie laughed. “We can hear the insects!”
“That’s going to drive me nuts back home,” Gina said.
“It’s terribly interesting,” Eric mused. “You’ve set up a hotspot. Everything within a few feet of the pole is now audible and intelligible.”
“I wonder...,” Mowbry mumbled.
“What do you wonder, sir?” Eric asked.
“Gina, I want you to point in the general direction of the village, and summon the faun.”
“What do you mean, sir?” Gina asked.
“Wish him to come to you,” Mowbry commanded.
“But I don’t much like him. He’s annoying,” Gina explained.
“I can whistle down birds, you might be able to summon wildlife. Go ahead.”
Gina focused on the wand, with the wand focused on the village, and she focused specifically for Bleat to come to the meadow and meet her. Bleat must come to the meadow. Bleat has no choice but to run to the meadow, and no fainting. After a few minutes, Gina turned to Mowbry. “I don’t think it worked.”
“How do you feel?” Mowbry asked.
“I tried very hard, but I don’t see him. I even told him not to faint.”
“Well, we can try again later. Rest now. Dame Julie, please step forward.”
Julie approached the firing line with her wand raised. “I should make a storm?” she asked.
“Try for a whirlwind, a powerful one.”
Julie smiled broadly. “Alright,” she said. “Here goes.” She aimed her wand and wished for a strong, swirling wind. After a few moments of wishing and focusing, she finally produced a gentle breeze. “What am I doing wrong?”
“Everything, you feeble child,” Mowbry snapped. “You don’t listen and you don’t learn.”
Jen and Gina were flabbergasted. They didn’t understand why Mowbry was being so harsh. Mr. Anderson aroused from his nap and heard the whole thing, so he was in the process of getting up to intervene. Eric was also upset, and was preparing to confront Mowbry for his bullying, but it was Budrick who was outraged the most. “I say, General Lord...,” he started to say, but Mowbry continued.
“You should have stayed home for all the good you are!” Mowbry said, and a cloud appeared overhead, with little sparks of electricity lighting them intermittently. Mowbry smiled broadly. “That’s the stuff, Dame Julie. Now rip out that pole!”
Julie was tempted to turn the wand on Mowbry, but she pointed the wand at the pole, and instantaneously the wind swirled around the pole furiously, forming a small tornado, ripping the pole right from the ground. Her first inclination was to send the pole right into Mowbry’s face, but then she realized what she had just accomplished, and her heart leapt for joy and a big smile spread across her face. The tornado dissipated and the pole fell heavily to the ground.
“Well done, Dame Julie,” Mowbry beamed. “It seems you need to be a little bit angry, or a little bit afraid to bring your talent to the surface. Keep practicing, and you will be able to summon it without needing to get yourself worked up. I apologize for being mean to you.”
“So you didn’t mean any of those things? You were just trying to get me worked up?” Julie was still tempted to turn her wand on him.
“Precisely so,” Mowbry smiled. “Sir Eric, I believe...”
“Dame Gina!” Bleat panted, arriving from the wood at a full sprint, “I don’t know why, but I must see Dame Gina!”
“Over here, Bleat,” she said. “Thank you for coming.”
“I don’t know why I came here, or what I need to see you about. I just got the sudden feeling that I had to see you.” The faun was still winded from running all the way.
“Well, you found me,” she said, trying to figure out what to do with him now that he was there. She wanted to tell him to go away again, but Mowbry spoke first.
“Sir Eric, you will point your wand at Bleat and make him incompatible with the solids of this universe.
“Huh?” Eric was bewildered. “What do you mean?”
“You have been given the gift of the master criminal. Your talent alters your arrangement of molecules so they are incompatible with other solids. You are only solid to yourself and your possessions in those moments. With your wand, you will be able to extend those properties to other people or things.”
Eric blinked. Then he blinked again. “First I must explore the limits of my own talent before I can extend it to others. Gina, could you please grab my wrist and hold it tight.”
“You don’t need to make up a reason to hold my hand,” she smiled, and he blushed. She put her hand around his wrist and squeezed. He tried to will his wrist out of her hand, but he really enjoyed the contact.
“You are not trying hard enough,” Mowbry chastised. “Imagine yourself running away. Don’t worry about the how of getting out of her grasp, just imagine the running away. Go ahead.”
He never thought he would try to imagine running away from the girl he wanted to run to these past few months, but then he pictured running away from Paul Dugan, the great oaf who captured him by the corner store. Dugan grabbed him and he tried to run but the man’s grip was too strong, even though he struggled...
“Well done, Sir Eric,” Mowbry was calling to him. “You can stop running now!”
Eric looked around sheepishly. He was in the meadow, almost to the wood line. “How did I get here?” he asked.
“You willed yourself out of her grasp,” Mowbry explained.
“I don’t know how you did it, but your wrist came right through my hand, and you were gone,” Gina elaborated.
“I’m sorry,” Eric apologized.
“Don’t be,” Gina said. “That’s what you were supposed to do.”
Eric didn’t know how to explain to her that he had imagined that she was Paul Dugan. That’s why he was feeling guilty.
Dame Julie, Dame Jen, Sir Dave, please take our hairy little friend her and tie him firmly to the central pole. Julie grabbed one of Bleat’s arms and Jen grabbed the other, while Mr. Anderson followed behind with a stout vine.
“I say, is this really necessary?” Bleat started to complain as they led him off, but when they got away from Gina his voice turned into a goat’s bleating.
They tied him fast to the center pole as instructed, and stepped away. When Bleat saw Eric pointing his wand at him, he fainted. The vine held him up.
“Now, in order to send your talent to the faun, you need to imagine the faun running away,” Mowbry instructed.
“It’s a little hard when he is unconscious,” Eric said.
“In your imagination he is struggling, he is running away.”
Eric imagined he was being tied to a pole by Paul Dugan, and he was trying to run away. Then he imagined he was away from the pole and running, unencumbered by the vine. Bleat collapsed onto the ground.
“I am going to call that a success,” Mowbry said. “Come back!” he called to the three who were downrange. When they returned, he told everyone to practice for one hour.