The dummy was skewed by seven long and sharp icicles. Each light blue cone is around 10 cm in diameter and 2-meters in length with such an opacity that guarantees it is very solid. That alone was beyond many powers I've seen through my life. However, it wasn't all there was to my sister's gloriousness. These ice piercers’ trajectory wasn’t as intuitive as that of an arrow. Instead, unless I was delusional, I was pretty sure they shot in every direction and homed on the dummy, creating holes from many angles. An unsuspecting enemy with just a shield would find a certain inescapable death.
The room’s tension has been replaced with cries and shouts of excitement and joyfulness, fists striking the air. Father and sister were ecstatic.
“Again!”, Father declared, and after a quick setting up, I shot again at a new dummy, this time with more confidence.
That called for a second celebration. Shortly after, more requests were raised from the intimate crowd, trying and experimenting with the newest family treasure.
It took the better part of the hour before things got back to normal.
“Let me remind you all to be cautious and keep Jayne’s bestowment a secret.” Mother warned, switching her gaze between Jayne and me. I nodded.
“Can I tell only three friends?” negotiated Jayne.
“No Jayne. It should be kept a secret until you grow older.”
“How many months have to pass so I can be older?” Jayne asked childishly.
“Until I tell you.” Mom shot out.
“It’s not fair these are MY powers!” Jayne begged.
“Now now…” Father lowered himself to speak at her eye’s level. “You know what happens to little children that show off their powers to others, right?” He spoke softly.
Jayne shook her head.
“The black jester comes for them. He sneaks up at night, while they are asleep, and he puts them in a sack like that.” He pointed at the skewered brown sack. “Nobody knows where he takes them. But one thing for sure. They will never see their families again. Is that what you want?”
Jayne stood there mutely. Eyes wide. Terrified. Shaking her head again, much faster this time.
I believe lying to a kid when it’s for his better, is of the only few times lying is justified. Although, father wasn’t completely lying.
* * *
Barnabas Yellowstone pov.
“I’m calling it now, I’m taking one of the tuskmaw’s tusks.” The voice came from a thin man in the front of the troop, which was two lines of people, twenty four heads exactly.
“Why? Can’t satisfy Grisha?” a cheeky man cracked up from behind, causing multiple others to laugh, causing me to believe he is popular among the men.
“The one who gives the finishing blow will take these. Sorry pal.” A coarse voice came from the front, next to the thin man, matching the appearance of the bulky man.
“W-We trying to conceive!” The thin man defended.
“Maybe try to last until you strip naked” the cheeky man commented, receiving yet another wave of enjoyment from the crowd.
“Shut up!”. The thin man yelled. It made me start pitying him.
“Enough fellas. Bringing life is serious. You can have my tusk after I slay the tuskmaw.” The bulky man tapped over the thin man’s shoulder.
“You can have my bone as well. I can even give it directly to Grisha”.
*Sigh*. I guess the stupid joker can’t have enough.
“I don’t give a damn about stupid tusks. Just make sure you power me. Don’t waste it up on clowns.” Ivar, my partner, growled back at the backrow sassy man. Can’t he keep his mouth shut for once?
“Who do you call a clown huh?!” I could hear him making his way towards us.
“Excuse my brother everyone!” I held my hand up conveying exaggerated remorse. “His first-time hunting something bigger than the foxes around our farm. He’s a bit nervous.” I continued apologetically.
“He better be careful if he doesn’t want it to be his last time.”
He must feel macho after saying that. I just saved him from embarrassing himself. Ivar hunted beasts they couldn’t even imagine. These ignorant countryside clowns would have pissed their pants living through half the life he lived.
The man got back to his place in the back, as another one, walking besides us, asked, “So you are the Billies”?
I nodded with a smile.
“Why suddenly join us? Want to make a name for yourself? Tired of growing oranges?” He spoke as if he was a wise veteran, welcoming us to his battalion.
“We wanted a little change of atmosphere.”
“Is that so…”
Do not ask unnecessary questions. Do not say anything that might trigger a question. Talk in simple sentences. Do not volunteer any information. These were the rules for such situations. I hope Ivar is taking notes.
“Say… I remember the Billies had a cute sister.” He quizzed.
Can’t you just walk in silence? did he know the Billies? I don’t think there is any reason for him to suspect we aren’t really the Billies, nor do I think he is smart enough to even know how to verify such information. Anyhow, silence is the best answer. Let him do the talking. I glanced over Ivar, curving my lips almost discreetly, teasing him about not staying silent when needed. He didn’t look back at me, but I was sure he noticed me and is quite pissed.
“Huh? How about throwing a word for your brother, if you promise me, I’ll make sure to protect you two from the tuskmaw.” He grinned.
“A fine man like you need help with the ladies?” I asked baffled.
“I-mm-no-HAHAHA” he burst out laughing, I noticed how suddenly his chest puffed up, what a buffoon. Nothing throws a man off like giving him a compliment.
We walked the dirt road for some time, until the head of the troop, a man past his prime with scars across his face to show for his many years out there, stopped to signal this is where we enter the woods. Which means we are about to run into the tuskmaw.
As I was walking, I pondered whether they were going to assign roles and decide who’s to be powered, but it turned out they don’t do that sort of things. Can’t really blame them, they are just a random group of farmers and countryside boys grouping up, hoping to get some stories to tell their wives and kids back home. If there is any unique blessed one among us, he wouldn’t like to be exposed. Even a standard blessed one has no reason to discuss his powers and pick fighters he doesn’t trust. He will simply power his friends from home, and with a bit of luck, no one will realize who is the source of their power.
The men were all preparing for the encounter, as the loud babble turned nonexistent. It was time for me and my partner to scan as many people as we could. These small windows before fights proved to be the best indicators for who’s a fighter and who’s a blessed one. An amateur would suspect the poor thin man to be a blessed one, for his lack of combative appearance. Yet, I can sense his mentality heating up, his hand holding the sword a little too strongly, indicating pressure and adrenaline. The poor man will charge forward for the sake of his wife and future offspring. Not the usual utilization of a blessed one.
* shriek *
The tuskmaw appeared to our right. My eyes fixated on the troop, searching avidly for these who jumped the opposite side of the four-tusked beast to better position themselves as a backrow support.
Jackpot. The spear as a choice of weapon almost tricked me, but the obvious leap backwards and the quick reaction of his home-friends to guard his front were a dead giveaway. I glanced over to Ivar. He gave me an affirming nod. Looks like we found our target.