I suppose I might never learn. My Callings have gotten me into trouble more than once. The urge to simply rush off to save someone is often too strong to shake off.
In Temple Black, the Elves were more restrained. Pain endurance training, self-control, and so forth, meant that there were no unwanted Callings. But here, on a world with violence and little training, people were more likely to Call, even if they thought it was unwise.
Warren was of little help to me when trying to ease a Calling. All of my own training told me to respond quickly.
Nighthope (Brenhani) and I were in the woods, scouting for problems. We did this every evening. The stationary scouts were not well trained, and we walked around in companionable silence, making certain all the scouts were in place.
I put my hand on Nighthope's neck and we talked in our fashion as we went. She was nervous, she confided. The shadows knew her name, she claimed. At first, I thought this was her wolfish-silliness, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized she meant her elvish name or her true name, and the more sober I became. Someone else knew her nature. We stopped, but Nighthope passed if off, telling me that it must be her past haunting her. We began to move onward.
A pang of pain shot through my leg. I limped a step, holding on to Nighthope. She whined, nosing me. **Dee1, are you hurt?** A Calling, I thought, a shattered leg.
"Someone ahead, a broken leg," I whispered hoarsely, letting her go.
Bren brushed against me, **Let me go ahead.** Then she loped off.
I raced after her, and was able to follow the Call. It was about a mile away, and a couple of minutes into my run, I heard Brenhani's low and tremulous howl. A new burst of speed took me, and when I reached the area, I saw "Amethyst" unconscious, against a tree, her leg broken, the source of my Calling. Brenhani's prints continued on.
I straightened Amethyst's leg gently, and healed it in moments, my adrenaline aiding my powers. I guessed the pain had rendered her unconscious. I let her sleep.
Rushing onwards, following Brenhani's prints, I heard a second howl which seemed to turn into a scream of anguish. "Noooooo!" it said. It was a ragged, little-used elvish voice. Bren's.
I ran around a large tree in my path, smack into the waiting arms of a bear-sized man. As he hugged me, I dug my hands into his crotch, under his protective cup. He moaned, loosened his grip, and I tightened mine.
His arms were bare, so I bit the inside of his elbow, and he finally let me go. I slithered to one side, and dove for a stick. It was too large and unwieldy, so, deliberately, I swung one end into a nearby tree, and a two-foot section of it shattered, flying off with a loud "snap".
I turned to face the man. He hesitated, half-crouched and on his guard. He pulled a long-knife from a sheath at his calf.
There was a shifting in my mind, as those with staff and knife training moved closer to the fore and those squeamish moved back. I carefully retained Control. They had broken Amethyst's leg on purpose, and my training from Temple Black covered staff versus knife.
The large man feinted to throw. All of us knew he couldn't throw that knife accurately, but feinted a dodge. He tossed the knife into his left hand and lunged.
I raised the right side of the staff, twisted to the left and brought the staff down on the back of his wrist. He retained his grip on the knife, but I was already swinging the left side of my staff at his chest. My left being stronger and more accurate than my right hand, the staff thudded into his chest, and I heard a crack.
The right side of my stick was down and slightly behind me. His knife flashed upwards towards my neck and chin, but the middle of the staff moved to intercept it, as I stepped back out of reach.
He slid the knife along the staff towards my left hand. I released that end, and grasped the staff near my other hand, then swung it like a bat at his knife hand.
Bones crunched, the knife flew out of his hand. He didn't feel the pain yet, so I brought my staff-bat around towards his head.
He stepped back. I hefted the staff in both hands again.
My senses confirmed his quick glance over my shoulder. I swung my staff in an arc a couple of inches above my head, satisfied with the thud. Having gotten the element of surprise on him, I spun to face my new opponent.
Another man, hit just below the eye. I stabbed him with my staff-end, and heard another satisfying rib-crunch. Pulling back hard, I hit the first man similarly, who had been cautiously approaching me from behind, but I got him in the guts. Breath wooshed out of him. I dropped the staff and ran onwards to find Brenhani.
Another Calling, much more deliberate, came to me. It was Bren. We had always been so close, the Calling was very fine tuned. They had shattered her foreleg, mashed it beyond recognition. I had been battle-blinded to the pain, thank gods, and it was now just a throbbing.
**They are hurting me, but you mustn't come here. They are ready for you. Ignore me.**
But the underlying Call couldn't be masked. There were myriad other pains I could not identify. Anger welled up in me. Lessa, Almerissa, and others as cold and bitter, rose like bile in my throat.
They will not get away with this! one swore. I didn't know which. It didn't matter. We were closer now.
Almerissa rose up in rage, swelling past me, into Control. Her hands made patterns in the air, her words spilled from my mouth though I tried to still them. Power, unused for so long, and the rage at herself and her world directed at this horrible being who warped men and nations....Black clouds rose around us. Horrible twisted shapes, demon-forms from another world.
Then the shadows fell and resolved to nothing. That was the magic of another world, not to come to be on this one. A deep regrettable resentment rushed through me and if the black demon were here, Almerissa would have torn his very teeth out. Instead, her rage had no vent.
We walked on, calming down. The edge of Kerri, just ahead, and a fire burning on the edge of the plain. Men and fire. One shadow the deepest, on the shadowless plain. Warren, Almerissa, Lessa and I, the furthest out, to confront him. It. We stepped forth.
"No, Nightwind, turn back!"
My head whipped around. Brenhani, her Elvish self, feverish in her pain, tied to a rock, magicked into her true form. My eye may have burned out of their sockets. I stepped towards her.
The shadow stirred, rose, became a man inside a cloak. Dark face, hair, eyes. It could have been one of my people, but taller, much taller, and contempt shone in his dark eyes. He let his cloak fall back, the hood fell from his head.
The face inside was calm, serene. One could call that face friend. Then the eyes mimicked me, bore a hole straight through my heart. Warren, usually calm and laid back, nearly fell over himself to come to the front. Through his memories, I recalled his time.
Recognition blasted through Warren, who now had complete control. Unbidden, I stepped forward into Xaron's embrace. For so brief a moment Warren and Xaron embraced in joy, passing between us, then pain, as the demon pushed us away.
"You dare!" it cried. "Fool. I will not ever forgive you. What a treat! Not only a Healer, but my dear brother. Be exiled, as you exiled me!"