The Hero's Apprentice

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Ch. 10 Five, Six, and Seven.

When Cro had finally found Walter he was watering trees with the gourd. When he noticed Cro he refilled the gourd and returned it to him. Cro was embarrassed. Walter had mastered listening and service and the day had just begun. Cros’ past dwarfed in comparison and he realized that his master may very well not be so thick headed that he wouldn’t listen and obey Cro long enough to surpass him. So Cro discussed elements with Walter. It went quickly because the vicinity had water, earth, and air in abundance.

But then Cro realized a dilemma. Walter didn’t know the Ando runes. He knew his runes from home, but which should he use? Cro explained the problem to Walter who replied he would learn the Ando runes first. Then at some future point use the runes of his world should the need arise. Cro knew it was better for Walter to learn his own runes first. But then Rye would have an advantage of having his own language to command. If Walter used runes he understood, he would learn fast, but not knowing Ando gave Rye just as much an edge. If he learned Andoish, Rye would have a slight advantage in spells. But Walter would given time master two languages instead of one, and be all the more powerful than Rye who would still be guessing at Walters’ runes from his land.

But Walter insisted he could do it. He asked Cro how many runes there were. Cro replied thirty.

“Let’s learn four of them today then. Tomorrow five, and I’ll have them all down before the week is over.”

Cro couldn’t believe how arrogant Walter was being. Except Walter clarified.

“I mean know their original meanings of course and their pronunciations. That’s all I can hope to accomplish. The creative meanings and such will have to wait. But if I don’t then I wont be able to do magic efficiently. Just a few outbursts that will drain me up and Rye will just have to wait patiently.”

Cro was amazed that Walter understood how complicated using words with magic was. Thought magic was weak, and didn’t require much energy. Word magic was draining. And when it came down to hands, potions, runes, and rituals, you got exhausted and it would be days before you do try again. But Cro thought about it. If Walter could learn thirty runes in a week. Then he’d be able to do thought and word magic at least. It was worth it. Rune circles, and long term enchantments took too long anyway. Rye might resort to them but then Cro could do the honors and finish him in a fatigued state. If Walter could master thought and word magic, he’d slow down Rye plenty for Cro. With Walter looking strait at him, Cro began drawing the runes in the ground.

If Walter understood the runes, Cro couldn’t tell. He was just bothered when Walter guessed the meanings of the runes for earth, water. How did he know that? Walter said there was a language no one knew perfectly in his world that used these symbols. Coincidentally he had learned them playing a game of all things. That was strange to Cro. What kind of game had you learn symbols and codes? Didn’t matter, Walter had just learned two runes or rather it was review for him. Let’s just hope there would be more of that by lunch time. The third rune was the protection one. Walter said it was a symbol for an eye and the numerical symbol for nothing in his language. It made sense. The eye watched over everything. And any spell with this rune would either be for locating or protecting something. This was good, Walter could at least learn two spells by the end of the day. When Cro pointed out the P shaped rune represented joy. Walter was excited because he asked if he could put emotions into the rune. When Cro replied yes, Walter hastily wrote it down in the ground. Grass started growing in the rune he had drawn on the ground. Cro told Walter to wait a little longer and just learn O. Walter went a step ahead and wrote the upside down V shaped rune for water with the protection rune, and sure enough the water from the river circled around Walter as a protective shield. Cro was impressed. He finally could not contain himself. Walter was just a natural at this.

“Well done. But promise you wont use more than two runes till tomorrow”

Cro hadn’t been able to learn this fast with Walter and he speculated why now. It was probably because Walter didn’t know all the runes, he knew a few, and look what he had achieved with them. Things kept moving along as Walter now tried a T shaped earth rune out with the protection one, and sure enough the earth had built a wall around Walter. Cro decided me might as well teach Walter all the spells that used one or two runes. Or enough of them that Rye would get annoyed because while it was easy to bat away a few. Walter could throw hundreds of them, and some would inevitably hit Rye and beat him down. Of course Cro realized they couldn’t do that yet. Level four was protection. You learned one rune and learned that it was the most important one. Magic was used to protect, all other used were indirectly related to this one ideal. If Walter didn’t learn protection, than he couldn’t learn defense and offense, which were the fifth and sixth stages. All magic fit into categories, but the triangle of power was kept in check by these complimentary forces that all formed a triangle of protection around the user.

Cro saw Walter wanted to try something other than earth and water so he drew the N shaped rune in the ground for air, but it also applied to anything in the air like rain and snow. Walter liked this one and put up a wind barrier first, then called down rain. His experiment worked. It was raining alright, but Walter wasn’t getting wet. Cro knew that as long as Walter was careful and experimented, each day he’d learn a new spell. More like four or five. In a mere year he would have more spells than he could count if he did it every day. Cro realized that Rye would not allow this to happen and decided on a goal right there. Walter needed to learn at least fifty spells. Yes fifty. It would be a dangerous week, and Cro would have to trust Walter to try spells with three to four runes. But fifty spells was feasible enough to defeat Rye. Rye had crafty spells, but given time Walter would figure ways around them, or his massive magic store would force a way out.

That’s when Cro realized he was letting Walter drain himself just a tad too much. He halted Walters’ playtime and told him they would do some service. Walter asked for five more minutes, but Cro knew he wouldn’t stop at that so he made the offer Walter would never refuse.

“Do exactly as I say for the next eight hours and I’ll teach you how to visit Drey.”

It worked, Walter got up from the ground and said he’d do it if he taught him one of the runes to do it right there. Cro drew an R shaped rune into the ground and said it was travel. Now Walter knew six runes. Water, earth, air, joy, protection, travel. Those could be used in countless ways. All revolving around protection. No attacking spells would be achieved by these runes. And if he showed control, then he could move on to defense. Then it would actually be possible to visit Drey without being detected or in danger if Rye was laying a trap. Cro had a busy eight hours ahead of him. But he smirked cause it was lunch time and said what he had been waiting decades to say to Walter.

“Go get us two fish.”

Walter smiled and to Cros’ surprise wrote the runes for travel and water by the stream. The waters course was altered and Walter fetched out two fish flapping in the area that was once occupied by stream water. Cro almost threw a fire spell at Walter, but that would’ve been pointless. He had just hoped Walter would make some of the same mistakes he had. He’s not young you fool. He’s really much older than he looks remember. Oh well, why am I complaining? Eventually this week will be over and I can rest after that. Cro used the fire spell meant for Walter on some wood to cook the fish instead. Walter almost asked what the rune for fire was but Cro gave him a glare, and Walter put his fish over the fire and waited for it to cook.

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