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Tue Sep 19, 2006 17:54 (XFF:

The Caralain Grass. Locke smiled at it, an uncompromising feeling of freedom coming across him. As far as he could see in any direction, nothing but flat, fertile, simple land - rich, and dark, with waves of green sympathizing with the westward wind. It was peaceful, it was quiet. This is where I will retire. In his mind, the twenty year old could see a small cottage, with a thatched roof and stone walls, clean, large windows, and an imperfect wooden door that was comprised of several heavy planks, and held together with wrought iron. A simple, nostalgic retreat. This is why we fight the Shadow - places of this kind of purity, this... solid, unspoilt expanse - will fall, blighted. Just like every human soul, just as pure. Locke narrowed his eyes and looked northward, not turning his feet, just his neck.

An arena, set up in simple halves, had been arranged by Lysander as the final part of the lesson. It was quite a good idea, to immerse the trainees in what they'd learned by giving them an exercise such as this. It was akin to teaching a man mounted spearform, and then giving him dummies to annihilate. Locke couldn't shake the idea that perhaps the choice of the culmination of knowledge was amiss; it seemed as though their practice here might disturb something. Locke typically wasn't a fan of anthropomorphism, but in this case it was difficult for him not to attribute some kind of "higher" characteristics to the land that the class was now surrounded by. How terrifically backwards of me. A scholar, giving nature a face.

"...and woe be to that Dedicated."

Lysander smiled, a secret face for a secret joke. Woe be to no one; Locke was not that kind of a person, regardless of his prowess with the Power, or the attributes of his position - but the new recruits did not know that. What a terrible joke to play on them! Shame on you, Lysander. Locke thumbed his chin idly, examining each Dedicated in attendance, summing them up, seeing them as he knew only a person with supreme intellect could. These all are too new for me. Styr has a partner already, and I'm not to trifle with Ceto Amaya din Silverstar. A pity - I would have liked to test her. Finally, Locke decided on a short brown haired woman, with bluish eyes and a tendency to pucker her face when she embraced the Source.

"You." Locke pointed starkly, and motioned for her to stand across from him in the arena. "With me, if you please." She about swallowed her tongue. "My name is Locke Lemain. What's yours?"

"Samantha Eldarain, Asha'man." She was worried.

"Dedicated Eldarain, you may choose who does what first." Locke adjusted his cuffs and smiled as she intoned that she would attack. "As you wish." Locke assembled a series of weak shields, each one very broad, a dome across his side of the arena, and each one after the outermost shield an equal fifth smaller than the last; the fifth, which formed a nice bubble around the statue, was tight and complex, burning with energy, with strength. Locke's greatest ability was Spirit. He nodded silently, observing her channel, and noting her shock to find a shield so far away from the statue. "I'm not cheating, Dedicated. I'm giving you an opportunity to learn something of the makeup of a shield. Do not fight the outermost yet, simply examine it with a tendril of Spirit - a finger, it you will. A probe." She obeyed, and Locke could feel the pulse of something writhing across his spheroid. "Do you sense the imperfections?"

"Yes, Asha'man."

"Attack those. A shield is very much a tangible thing, if you touch like substance with like substance. You will notice, for example, that the crack on the lower left is very small, but that you could penetrate it full on with something of a vacuous nature." Locke acknowledged for her to attempt. She spun a weave of Air and Spirit, a whirlwind torpedo looking thing, and sent it where she needed to send it. As it penetrated, it made the weave holding the shield fluctuate inward, and break. "Exceedingly good!" Locke bowed, pleased. "However, my defenses are better than that, and I will not aide you for the rest of the shields. If you focus, you will be able to annihilate each layer before time, but only if you observe the nature of each shield, and determine your attacks as they are best suited to your task." She was exploring as he spoke, which was wonderful. She had initiative. The second shield snapped inward, and then the third. Locke laughed. "Very impressive! These last two, however, I've done up right." Time was called; she could not find a weakness in the fourth shield.

"And now we switch." Locke shifted places with Samantha, who bowed, regarding the special tutelage for what it was - something unique and special. She was pondering the idea behind the identity of a weave, which was important. Each shield was different - one could not simply pound away at one and expect to be successful. Winning required thought.

"Tell me when you are ready, and I'll give you another interesting tidbit." Locke's skin prickled, and she scrunched her face up. Saidar. The shield was up, and Locke unleashed a simple salvo or fireballs. "At each successful defense, you'll feel the shield bowing, not in a traditional sense, but in a sensible manner. You can feel your weave inverting, like someone putting pressure against gelatin." Another salvo, and another. "These are simple offenses, but they are characterized by the obvious clash against the shield; you can follow the lines, yes?" She nodded. "Very good. Now, if you can "see" what is happening in your mind, you can correct the difficulties you will encounter upon having to hold a shield under stress. For example, were I to attack the weak points on the left and high left simultaneously, the reverb would echo across the entire shield to the right, so reinforce the flow to the left, and the weave will hold, even against a crushing blow." Locke spun a hammer of air and sent it hurling into the shield, letting it smash into the intangible barrier with all it's possible power. The shield wobbled, and it seemed as if she'd keep it, but it broke into pieces, for his next salvo toppled the heron statue.

"You were close - the technique was there, but you're not yet strong enough to enforce the idea in practice."

"Thank you for taking it easy on me, Asha'man."

"Mastery of something is not measured in wins and losses, Dedicated. It is measured in how one controls he information that his mastery entails. Beating you for the sake of beating you is a misuse of my power."


CM complete! :D

Thanks for the extension.

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