|Training for Vengeance|
|Series||His True Destiny by Azaelia Silmarwen|
|Previous||His True Destiny: Chapter One|
|Next||His True Destiny: Chapter Three|
|← His True Destiny: Chapter One||Chapter Chronology||His True Destiny: Chapter Three →|
Chapter Two: Training For VengeanceEdit
When Rowan woke the next morning, he felt sick. As such, all he wanted to do was stay in bed. Brom always allowed him to stay in bed when he was unwell.
Unfortunately, his roommate didn’t share Brom’s caring views.
‘It’s time to get out of bed!’ Whisper informed him, pulling him out of bed and dropping him on the floor.
Groaning, Rowan stood up and glared at her, only to find that she was a good head taller than him. He also knew that her heritage wasn’t in Albion. Her dark skinned appearance and looks told him that.
‘You must be Whisper,’ he said.
‘And you must be my roommate Rowan,’ she replied. ‘You’re shorter than I expected.’ Rowan gave her a look.
‘You know you talk in your sleep?’ she said conversationally as he put his shirt and shoes. ‘Sounded like a bad nightmare.’
It had been a bad nightmare. Rowan relived the Oakvale Massacre last night.
‘Happens to a lot the first week,’ Whisper continued. ‘Some don’t even last that long. You won’t either if you don’t get moving. The Guildmaster is waiting for us in the map room. You don’t want to be late on your first day. Follow me!’
Seeing as he didn’t have a choice, Rowan followed Whisper to the map room, which happened to be the same room Rowan first met the Guildmaster in. The Guildmaster was nowhere in sight.
‘Hm… looks like the Guildmaster got tired of waiting for you,’ Whisper commented. ‘In that case, I’m going back to bed,’ Rowan informed her, turning to leave.
She grabbed his forearm, preventing him from leaving.
‘Oh no, you don’t!’ she said sternly. ‘He’s probably at the training grounds across the river. Let’s go!’
Groaning, Rowan allowed Whisper to drag him to the training grounds. Why couldn’t she just let him be? Couldn’t he at least have one day to mourn what he had lost? As Rowan and Whisper headed for the training grounds, Rowan saw many Heroes and Heroes-in-training going about their daily business. Many stopped and looked at him as he went passed.
Whisper was right when she said that the Guildmaster would be in the training grounds. They found him near a small arena with a dummy in the middle.
‘I see that you finally decided to join me,’ the Guildmaster commented when they stopped before him. ‘Alright, lad, it’s time to see if you’ve got any potential. Get in the ring.’
‘If I must,’ Rowan sighed, climbing over the fence. Once on the other side, he looked back at the Guildmaster.
‘I want you to hit that dummy as hard as you can,’ he instructed. ‘Just keep going until I tell you to stop.’
‘Yes, sir,’ Rowan replied, making his way towards the dummy where he began to hit it with all his strength. As he did so, the Guildmaster watched him closely, as did Whisper.
‘Okay, stop,’ the Guildmaster said, a minute later. ‘You’re not making much of an impact there, are you? Here, try it with this.’
He picked up a fighting stick, which had been leaning against the fence, and threw it to Rowan. He caught it easily, before attacking the dummy with it, making it sway to and fro. He eventually ended up destroying it.
Rowan looked nervously at the Guildmaster wondering if he would be angry that Rowan had destroyed it, only to find him looking very happy.
‘That’s more like it,’ he said approvingly. ‘Now, tomorrow we’ll –’ The Guildmaster broke off and looked around when warning bells sounded.
‘What is that?’ asked Rowan.
‘That’s the Guild alarm,’ replied the Guildmaster. ‘It sounds like there might be something loose in the woods.’ He looked down at the boy thoughtfully. ‘This is a good opportunity to test your spirit. I’ll wait for you at the Guild Woods entrance while you deal with the problem.’
‘You want me to deal with it!’ Rowan exclaimed. ‘What if it’s a bandit or worse?’ ‘Oh, I’m sure it’s nothing too serious.’
‘If you’re scared, I’ll go do it!’ Whisper said eagerly.
‘No, this is for Rowan to do alone,’ the Guildmaster said firmly. ‘He needs to prove himself. Now, go on and do your training, Whisper.’
Whisper did as he ordered, looking highly disappointed.
‘Off you go, lad,’ he added to Rowan.
Groaning, Rowan headed for the Guild Woods. When he entered the Woods, he nervously held his fighting stick out in front of him, jumping at every sound, wondering what dangerous creature was about to rip him apart. It turned out that the Guild Alarm was only warning the Heroes about a group of giant beetles.
Rowan relaxed slightly when he saw them, before whacking each of them as hard as he could with his stick. Once they were dead, he headed back to the Guildmaster.
‘Good work, lad,’ the Guildmaster said approvingly when Rowan stopped before him. ‘Those beetles can be a darn nuisance. Here… I think you’ve earned yourself some pocket money for that. If you want more, I’m sure the servants could use your help with something, unless you want to get an early night.’
‘It’s not even lunch time yet,’ Rowan commented.
‘Some Heroes do go to bed at this time.’
‘I’ll go and help the servants,’ Rowan informed him, before walking off.
-----HIS TRUE DESTINY-----
Rowan eventually got into a routine at the Guild and soon accepted that it was now his life. While the memory of the Oakvale Massacre still weighted heavily on his mind, it was soon pushed away as he began to eat, live and breathe training and studying as the years passed.
Then, just as Maze had foreseen, Rowan became a Guild Apprentice, along with Whisper…
‘Get out of bed, lazybones!’ Whisper said impatiently as she pulled eleven year old Rowan out of bed. Something’s never changed. ‘We were meant to meet the Guildmaster in the training grounds an hour ago.’
‘I guess I really did sleep in today,’ Rowan replied as he quickly got dressed.
‘That is your fault for staying up late reading,’ Whisper told him as they ran to the training grounds.
‘I couldn’t help it. It was just too interesting to put down.’
‘I will never understand how you find reading enjoyable,’ Whisper said as they entered the training grounds. She hated reading and studying. Her idea of enjoyment was melee training and acrobatics.
‘Late again, I see,’ the Guildmaster said disapprovingly, when they were standing before him.
‘That was my fault,’ Rowan admitted. ‘I slept in again.’
‘I gathered as much,’ said the Guildmaster, as Rowan picked up his old fighting stick. ‘You can put that old stick away. We’ll begin training with real weapons now. Get used to the weight of this sword, and let’s see if you can hit Whisper with it.’
Rowan accepted the iron longsword and tried to get comfortable with its weight as he entered the ring with the eager Whisper.
‘Come on then,’ she said. ‘Let’s see what you’ve got, farm boy.’
Rowan went at her only to have her knock him on his bum. She giggled. Rowan looked at the Guildmaster as he joined the young Heroes-in-training in the ring.
‘Now pay attention,’ he said. ‘What I’m about to teach you may save your life one day. The life of a Hero is dangerous one, and you must learn to block your enemies’ attacks if you expect to live long. Whisper will try to hit you, but you can block her attacks with your sword. Not all blows can be blocked, but you should be able to handle anything Whisper can throw at you.’
It turned out that Rowan was very good at blocking.
‘Well done,’ the Guildmaster said, calling his apprentices over to the fence. ‘Now let’s see if you can combine attack and defence.’
‘Thunder!’ Whisper suddenly called out, waving to a man walking over to them. He had dark skin and was wearing armour.
‘Ah, hello, Thunder,’ the Guildmaster greeted. ‘Come to check on your sister’s progress, have you?’
‘You could say that,’ replied Thunder. ‘Whisper told me you’ve got her training with some farm boy.’
‘Maze thinks the boy had great potential.’
‘Enough to keep up with my Whisper?’ Thunder snorted at the thought.
‘Well, why don’t we see? Whisper and Rowan are just working on their melee skills now.’ The Guildmaster turned back to the eager Whisper and nervous Rowan. ‘Alright, children, let’s see who has learnt the most in their training. This will be a holds barred duel, just like your final melee test. Prepare yourselves.’
‘You’re going down, farm boy,’ Whisper informed Rowan before they began.
She went at him, but he blocked her attack. She went at him again for a different angle, but he blocked it again. Again and again she attacked, and again and again he blocked.
‘Rowan, you’re meant to be fighting back!’ the Guildmaster informed the boy while Thunder shook his head, before laughing as Rowan went to attack and Whisper knocked him to the ground.
‘Maze is losing his touch!’ Thunder laughed loudly, making Rowan blush. ‘Nice work, Whisper. Keep this up and you’ll be able to compete in the Arena like me.’
Thunder then walked away laughing.
‘See, this is why you should spend more time training than reading,’ Whisper informed Rowan smugly.
‘That is not entirely true, Whisper,’ said the Guildmaster. ‘As you know, there are three types of Heroes: Heroes of Strength, Heroes of Skill, and Heroes of Will. Maybe Rowan is more likely to be a Hero of Skill or Will, hence the reason why he sometimes struggles in melee training. Speaking of which, come with me to the archery range. It is time you learnt to fight with a bow.’
Whisper and Rowan eagerly followed the Guildmaster to the archery range. Once there, the Guildmaster gave them both a bow and arrows.
‘To begin with, let’s see if you can hit three stationary targets,’ he said. ‘Whisper, you first.’
‘Yes, sir!’ she said, stepping forward eagerly.
It took five minutes for the Guildmaster to show her how to hold a bow correctly, and even then she looked awkward holding it. Many Heroes of Skill stopped practicing to watch; wondering if they would get another Hero of Skill. The Heroes of Strength were the most common Heroes to find, followed by Heroes of Skill, with Heroes of Will being the rarest.
Eventually, Whisper awkwardly knotted an arrow and shot it at the first target. She missed the target completely, as she did with the second target, but she just managed to hit the third target.
‘That was a good try, Whisper,’ the Guildmaster said gently. ‘Even these fully-fledged Heroes of Skill had some trouble at first. Rowan, it’s your turn.’
Rowan, for unknown reasons, didn’t feel the slightest bit nervous. He confidently walked forward, knotting an arrow as he went, before taking up his position. The Guildmaster and the other Heroes watched him closely. They were all surprised to see that he already knew how to hold a bow properly and knot it. But then they shrugged it off believing that he had been paying very close attention to the Guildmaster when he was helping Whisper.
Ignoring everyone around him, Rowan looked at the first target and pulled back his bow string with ease. As he looked at the target, he swore that the bull’s eye was getting bigger and bigger until it was nearly as big as the target. He released the arrow and got a bull’s eye.
‘Beginner’s luck,’ one of the Heroes of Skill declared.
No one disagreed with him, but they soon became unsure when Rowan did the same thing for the last two targets.
‘Well done, Rowan!’ the Guildmaster praised, looking very impressed. ‘I cannot recall anyone ever being able to achieve a bull’s eye on their first go before. Unfortunately, though, most foes don’t stand still. So let’s see how you fare against moving targets.’
Rowan turned and faced the targets once more, only this time they were moving at different speeds. The one at the front was moving slowly, while the target at the back was moving swiftly. The middle target was moving at a pace in between the two, but this didn’t worry Rowan. In fact, to him it was as though the targets weren’t even moving.
When he was finished, he looked over at Whisper, the Guildmaster and the other Heroes. They were all staring at the targets. Rowan had put an arrow straight through his previous arrows.
‘That was unbelievable, Rowan,’ the Guildmaster eventually managed to say. ‘Was this the first time you ever used a bow?’
Rowan nodded his head.
‘You have talent, lad, there is no denying it. I think we have found your area of expertise. After we test you and teach you the basics of the Will, I will organise for you to train with your fellow Heroes of Skill, while Whisper trains with the Heroes of Strength. Come now, children, let us head for the island by the waterfall.’
‘Guildmaster, if someone studies in one specific area, does that mean they no longer need the other areas?’ Rowan asked curiously.
‘Yes and no,’ he replied. ‘Take Maze, for example. He is a Hero of Will, but that does not mean he doesn’t know how to use a sword or bow. Each Hero is required to know and use the basics of strength and skill.’
‘What about Will?’ asked Whisper.
‘Only Heroes of Will can use Will. So the other discipline Heroes merely need to be aware of these forces as it’s not something one can teach to someone who does not possess the power.’
‘Has anyone ever been a Hero of all three?’
‘Yes, they are the rarest; the fourth type of Hero. As far as we know, only a true descendant of William Black – a Hero who saved Albion from the Court – can master all three disciplines. Ah, here we are.’
Whisper and Rowan looked around, amazed, as the Will-users practiced their magic. Even though the apprentices could see it, they still couldn’t believe what they were seeing was real.
‘Now, Will is the magical energy that shapes magic into several powers that humans, or the earth itself, possess,’ the Guildmaster explained. ‘People with strong control over Will can bend reality to their own wishes and desires. Now let us see if you possess this power, though I seriously doubt you do. Sit down and close your eyes. Relax and see if you can find that power.’
Rowan and Whisper did as he said, but after several minutes, both of them declared that they couldn’t feel anything.
‘I thought as much,’ said the Guildmaster. ‘Come on then, let’s get your new training timetable done.’
-----HIS TRUE DESTINY-----
As the years passed, Rowan perfected his Skill training, and eventually became quite talented with his melee training. The Guildmaster watched this development with much interest. It was unusual for a Hero of Skill to become so talented with a sword. As such he began to question the boy’s heritage.
However, as Rowan got older, he began to think about the outside world and began to crave revenger for his family. He was more than grateful when the last of his tests arrived. If he passed them, then it would mark the end of his training and he would be free to forge his own destiny…
The day of the final test had arrived and rowan was both excited and nervous. This test would allow him more freedom, which was both exciting and frightening. As usual, Rowan met the Guildmaster in the training grounds where he was then given specific instructions.
‘You must enter the Guild Woods and go the log at the top of the hill,’ the Guildmaster informed him. ‘The test will be revealed there. Good luck.’
‘Thank you, sir,’ replied Rowan, before heading to the relevant location.
When he arrived on top of the hill, he was surprised to see a familiar face waiting for him there.
‘You’ve definitely grown much since I last saw you,’ Maze said to the sixteen year old before him. ‘Now, I suppose you are wondering how you pass the final test.’
‘That’s not all I’m wondering,’ replied Rowan. What was Maze doing here? Surely it wasn’t just to give him instructions.
‘It’s simple. You must defeat me using all you have learnt in your years of training. We’ll begin with your sword. Hit me, if you can.’
Rowan nodded his understanding. He attacked with all his strength only to have it find thin air seeing as Maze had disappeared in shimmering blue light.
Frowning, Rowan looked around and saw him watching him a short distance away. Rowan charged at him, but instead of hitting the man straight on, he quickly snaked behind his back and lightly held his sword point against Maze’s back. He didn’t want to hurt or kill him, after all.
‘Well done, Rowan,’ Maze said approvingly. ‘Now, let’s see if you can shoot me.’
Once more he disappeared in shimmering blue light before reappearing in front of a tree. Rowan stared at him hesitantly. He was sure that if he attacked Maze, the Will-user wouldn’t be able to move in time. So instead, he shot at something else. He knotted his bow, took aim and fired. His arrow hit the tree next to Maze’s head.
‘And the Guildmaster told me that you missed no targets,’ Maze said, sounding disappointed. ‘You missed me.’
‘I wasn’t aiming for you, sir,’ Rowan replied truthfully.
Maze frowned and looked at the arrow next to him. He pulled it out of the tree and saw what looked like a dead fly on its tip. He looked back at Rowan, truly amazed.
‘Well, after that little display, I don’t think I need you to try and shoot me,’ he said. ‘Okay, finally I need you to cast a Will spell at me.’
Rowan stared at the man before him blankly.
‘How can I do that?’ he asked. ‘I’m a Hero of Skill, not Will. I don’t have the power.’
‘Are you sure about that?’
Rowan nodded his head. Of course he was sure. He’d never even done a single Will lesson.
Maze looked at the boy thoughtfully, before shooting lightning at him. Rowan only just managed to dodge it.
‘What are you doing?’ he yelled.
‘You need to block my attacks if you wish to pass,’ Maze informed him as he attacked once more.
‘But how? Will attacks cannot be blocked except if a Will-user creates a physical shield!’
‘Then you better cast one.’
‘I’m not a Will-user, though!’ Why wouldn’t Maze believe him?
Rowan desperately dodged Maze’s attacks, but little did he know Maze was tactfully forcing him into a corner. Unfortunately, Rowan discovered this once it was too late. With nowhere to run, Rowan watched as a jet of lightning came flying at him in slow motion. What happened next, Rowan could not believe. He felt a certain power within him; a power he had never felt before, and with it, he managed to cast a physical shield, protecting him from Maze’s spell.
‘And here you were telling me you weren’t a Will-user,’ Maze chuckled, while Rowan looked stunned. ‘Congratulations, Rowan, you have passed your final test, and you are ready to receive your Guild Seal from the Guildmaster.’
‘How can I use Will?’ Rowan inquired. ‘Does that mean I’m a Hero of Will, not a Hero of Skill?’
‘Yes and no. You are a Hero of all three.’
‘But I thought only the true bloodline of William Black could master all three disciplines.’
‘Then you must be one of his descendants, mustn’t you?’
Maze then disappeared once more, leaving Rowan to his thoughts as he returned to the Guildmaster.
‘You don’t look too happy for someone who has just graduated,’ the Guildmaster commented as Rowan approached him outside the Guild Woods.
‘Oh no, I am happy. I’ve just got a few things on my mind,’ replied Rowan.
‘I remember the first night you came to us, and look at you now,’ said the Guildmaster. ‘Maze’s faith in you was well placed. Now come along. The graduation ceremony will take place in the Chamber of Fate, the oldest part of the Guild.’
Rowan followed the Guildmaster to the Chamber of Fate, where he was told to wait just outside with Whisper. She had passed her final test too. They waited out there until they were summoned inside where the vast majority of Heroes sat waiting to applaud them. The Guildmaster stood up the front with Maze on his left and Thunder on his right.
‘Let the apprentices approach!’ they heard the Guildmaster say.
Shaking slightly with excitement, Whisper and Rowan entered the Chamber and walked towards the Guildmaster.
‘For many years now you have worked hard to earn yourselves the title of Hero,’ the Guildmaster continued. ‘Today, that apprenticeship ends and you can go out into the world to do great deeds. These deeds will bring you the gratitude of thousands, or they will strike fear into their hearts. These are dark times. The shadows of Albion are stirring, and strange winds are blowing. Your choices will change the face of the world. Now, take your Guild Seal and venture forth as Heroes!’
The crowd of Heroes cheered as Whisper and Rowan accepted their Guild Seals, before they eventually left the Chamber of Fate to help people in need or to continue their training.
Written: 26 January 2013