Vierra learns what power she gains in exchange for something valuable.
|Vierra followed Scathach out to a fenced area with various practice areas. Scathach wasted no time and punched Vierra down, "I'm sorry. Your inherent powers will only trigger by fear."
Vierra clutched her stomach. She didn't cry or make a fuss, but it didn't hurt any less, "I don't have any power to trigger."
"You do, otherwise I wouldn't be training you right now. Now defend yourself." Scathach was already mounting another attacking attempting to crush Vierra under her boots.
Vierra rolled, staring wide-eyed at the deep impression left where her head was, "Are you trying to kill me?"
"Of course, I am trying to kill you. It is the fastest way to discover your power," Scathach said, failing to land another blow. Vierra rolled to her feet and feebly held up her hands.
"What happens if you kill me?"
"Nobody dies in this realm. You'll revive on the next sunrise."
Scathach was showing off a little, going through a series of poses. Vierra felt strange as she watched. It was like her mind was taking pictures memorizing each move. When she finished, she started her assault once more.
This time, Vierra managed to block a few punches and kicks. Scathach was confounded. Vierra stayed focused on her, slowly turning the tide in her favor.
"Impossible," Scathach growled. "You should be dead already," she said. She unleashed another vicious attack, only to have Vierra block and use the same moves against her.
"I have no idea how I am doing this," Vierra said. Scathach put up her hands to signal the exercise was at an end. Scathach was grinning, giving Vierra a nod of approval.
"You are an Epigone. You can mimic combat styles. The question is, how does it work?" Scathach seemed genuinely interested. "It will be useless for me to teach you any hand to hand or melee."
"Why is that?"
"It will be forgotten the moment you mimic another style." She motioned for Vierra to follow her to the modest dwelling once more, "We know your ability works on sight. However, it limits your ability to control the battlefield, as not all your opponents will be skilled fighters. Our goal is to eliminate this weakness."
Scathach forced Vierra into the uneven and uncomfortable wooden chair. Vierra watched the ancient teacher pull several books from a shelf and set them in front of her."
Vierra's eyes widened, each tome was six inches thick and weighed thirty pounds, "I don't know how to read otherworld language."
Scathach put her face in her hands, "It's always the gifted ones that give me the most trouble. What sits before you are manuals on fighting styles. Let us see if you can learn the contents of a manual by touch."
"Osmosis? I might be able to learn through osmosis?"
"We won't know until you touch one of the damn books."
Vierra slowly extended a delicate hand and placed it flat on the soft leather cover. Nothing happened, "I think we need..." A wave of information crashed against Vierras brain, causing her to grip the table tightly for a moment with her free hand.
"It seems we have an answer. We must now ascertain if you must be touching the book or if it is a timed effect. Stand up and see if you can block."
Vierra stood for a moment and feebly put up her hands as she did during the sparring match. All of the knowledge she had gained vanished in an instant, "I have to be touching the book to retain the information."
Scathach swore, "Tricky very tricky...we need someone skilled in magic to solve this problem. It will be difficult to fight while holding books in your hand."
"Do you know someone?"
"I do, but she hates being disturbed. We may have to earn her favor before she will do anything for us."
"Is it worth it?"
"Yes, providing she is in a biddable mood. It has been a century or two since I last saw her." Scathach said. She threw some thick wool clothes at Vierra, "Put those on. We are going to the Taiga forest in Russia. My acquaintance lives there."
"What is the point of training me?" Vierra asked. It had been on her mind since she chose to be Scathach's student.
Scathach stopped dead in her tracks fist balled in anger. Her body shook. She slowly turned like some ghost in a horror movie, and her face was just as terrifying. Vierra could hear ominous music in her head.
"Excuse me?" Scathachs voice was calm and even betraying the look on her face. "What is the point?" her voice got a hard edge to it.
On instinct, Vierra tried to make herself smaller, "I never thought I would ever be in a place like this. I am a tax accountant, wife, and mother..."
Scathach hurled a crooked mug across the room, "I train heroes Vierra Culchain," she shouted. "Do not mistake what I teach with those pathetic self-defense classes in your world. I suggest you think about why you chose to train with me."
The words reminded Vierra of being scolded by her mother, only Scathach was gentler, by comparison. Vierra watched her gathering various items, throwing them in a wicker basket with shoulder straps on it.
Vierra asked herself, "Am I doing this for me, or am I doing this to hurt Matthew?" she asked herself softly. She loved Matthew even after discovering his secret. Was she happy in her routine life? No, her job was boring. Vierra's children didn't need her like they once did. Her friends were active participants in the PTA, fundraising, soccer games, none of which held interest for Vierra.
"Scathach, what do you hope your students accomplish?"
Scathach stopped what she was doing and stared at Vierra. "Many of my students are remembered in story and song. I only hope you follow a similar path."
"Did Matthew choose to follow that path?"
"No, Matthew chose something better. I can't tell you more, and neither can he. He swore an oath to keep this place, and what he knew, secret. I hope you choose something better as well."
"What would happen if he told me?"
"Let's just say his entire life would come crashing down around his ears if he uttered a single word. He wanted to tell you more than anything," Scathach said in admiration. "We are off to Russia now. I promise to explain more once we run this little errand."
"How long is it going to take? The kids will be home soon, and I have to get supper started."
Scathach pinched the bridge of her nose in frustration, "Vierra, stop worrying. I promise you will not be late for anything." She drew a set of runes on the door and opened it. Scathach grabbed a dagger and sword, handing them to Vierra. "Arm up, just in case."
The temperature dropped the moment the pair step through the door and into a thick forest. "I don't understand, was your friend supposed to be here?" Vierra asked, admiring the tiger watching them from the bushes.
Scathach swore, "Walk over to me while maintaining eye contact with the beast. Don't question me, just do it."
Vierra tiptoed over to Scathach, who looked terminally embarrassed by this action, "Now what?"
"Get on my shoulders and be quick about it." Scathach knelt and motioned for Vierra to come forward. The tiger was softly growling as it walked forward.
Vierra did as Scathach asked, "I hope I don't weigh too much..."
"Ach, you modern women and your obsession with weight. You are a feather compared to me. If anything, you could stand to gain a few pounds."
The tiger's luminous eyes watched them in amusement. It had stopped moving and now sat thirty yards away. The great cat yawned, twitching its tail.
Vierra now knew what it was like to be tall, sitting atop Scathachs powerful shoulders. She couldn't say she liked it any, "Now what?" she asked, hoping to get down.
"Wave your arms and scream...Yaaaagggghhh," Scathach said. She was fanning her arms rapidly. Vierra was desperately trying to keep her balance.
"Shoo, cat, shoo..." Vierra said using one hand to stabilize herself.
The tiger continued to watch for a few minutes and then decided to leave. It vanished into the undergrowth. Scathach lowered Vierra, "Shoo cat shoo?"
"I hate shouting. My mother was always yelling at me..."
"Yes, I am sure it is a heart-wrenching tale. Let it go, those horrible moments have passed, and you are stronger for it. You are not a victim but a victor."
"I never thought about it that way."
"It is the best way to view such things. Dwelling on the bad often does little good. Celebrate yourself once in a while, Vierra, you have surpassed your mother in every way."
"Matthew told you?"
"Yes, despite me telling him I had no interest in knowing such things."
Scathach growled, "Why else? Because he is a fool in love. He assumed I needed to know how great you were."
"Oh.." Vierra paused, feeling small and petty for going through Matthew's things. "Where does your friend live?"
"That will be tricky. We must catch the hut on chicken legs."