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Chapter 2

"Wait, what are you trying to tell me?" said Derrl, a genuinely confused look on his face, "Am I invulnerable or something? How in the demon's pits did that work? I should have been killed almost instantly by that blow. I know a knife well enough to know that that should have killed any man."

"Ah, but you see, friend Derrl, you are no longer just any man. When I struck you, you began your trek down the path to being a wielder of will and runes. To answer your innumerable questions, No, you are not invulnerable; however, your physical and spiritual self now react to certain runes and patterns in ways that can harm, or protect you. The rune on my staff, and consequently the one on your temple, is a rune that strengthens the natural substance on which it is marked, as it is, the skin over your temple, as well as the bone beneath it, is nearly as resistant as the iron which caps the ends of my staff. As for how it worked, you are not quite ready to understand that yet." Somehow, the old man slowly looked wiser to Derrl, for a time. After a time, the pain subsided. He hazarded another look about the room. In the room that he had thought empty moments before, slowly he began to see another person underneath the image that he cast forth, yet somehow that image eluded him.

"This isn't the way you really look is it?"

"I have to admit that it isn't," Kevesk said with a grin. "Although I am pleasantly surprised that you were able to puzzle that out so quickly. Although I shouldn't really say puzzle, it is merely the brute strength that lies within you as your will that has revealed it to you."

All that Derrl could manage was a quizzical grunt.

"I can see that you need me to explain it a bit more," he said while a smile crept onto his face. He turned his face to catch the sunlight as it streamed in through one of the high windows. Dust motes filtered through the sunbeam as they continued on their path. "All people have some form of the will. Though that term is not quite correct, it will suffice until you can understand it properly, in which case it will not matter much how you term it. For most, their will is so weak that it is almost as if it is not there. For others, their will is faint, but there. They often get premonitions or insights into things. And for others still, like you and I, the will is strong enough to assert its own presence, in which case it can actively change its surroundings. Sometimes a person's Will will remain dormant until confronted with another Will, in which case it actively asserts itself rather quickly. This is by far the most dangerous situation." He nodded gravely to himself, as if Derrl was barely there.

"Dangerous? How so? It's not painful, is it?"

"It's not painful except in odd situations, although it can be. Without learning to control it properly, your Will will make itself useful at times, and this can be dangerous sometimes. Take this for example, I seem to remember an instance where a fellow stumbled upon a rune for an explosive fireball, however he had forgotten to define his target, or his range. Before he knew it he had a ball of flame sitting calmly in his hand, at first it only burned him, and then it blew his body to shreds. The advantages of the gift are many, but it must be used with caution, for your well-being, and that of others."

"Why are you telling me this?"

"Because if you are to control it, you must first understand it. Whether you use your gift or not is something entirely other, but learning about it and learning to restrain it are paramount. Such as it is, you are to remain with me until you can control your abilities. You are not to leave here without me to accompany you."

Derrl's mind was swimming in strange circles. He shut his eyes only to see the swirling patterns and vortexes that came with the feeling that the contents of his head were being shuffled and rearranged. It was the same headache that he had had since his waking. He was very nervous. He had not had any headaches that were quite like this one; this particular headache felt surreal in its unique pain. With every new jolt of pain, he gained a new insight to the world around him. As the pain became more and more unbearable, he tried to focus on the trader's face. A sudden stab of pain struck Derrl and his vision blurred briefly. His vision cleared long enough for him to see the old trader's face as it fell away to reveal the person behind the mask. All was blackness and void as he struck the pallet unconscious.

Thus are the truly powerful born, thought the trader with a rueful smile. He shall have more power than most, yet find himself unable to use it. It is a true shame that the powerful are always struck down by their own power when first they discover it.

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