matapam (pamuphoff) wrote,

_Guardsman_ part 33

Chapter Twelve

Try Fail 1

Lucky Dave perked up when Qamar joined the class.

“Good to see you again. PhD all official?”

“Yep. And I’ve got a job. I’ll be a guest lecturer at Daiki University for the six weeks left of this semester. So I’m going to work at putting the theory into practice. Every morning.”

Dave could feel the grin on his face. Tried to subdue it.

Rael moved her magic class outside, to what they called the Junk Yard. Miscellaneous targets for magic practice.

“All right.” The Crazy Redhead grinned at them. “Today, you are not going to destroy massive targets. But perhaps you can damage a few pieces of wood close to hand.”

She started handing out short planks. Dave casually sauntered up beside Qamar.

So she’s got her PhD and is going to lecture at Daiki University on the West side of Paris. I’ll see her regularly . . . probably meet all her boyfriends. Dammit.

“Sit in a line and try to refrain from trying this until I’ve talked to you all. Okay?” Rael shot a grin at Dave.

Dave nodded. “Yes. That’s one of the proper uses of ‘Okay.’ Good job.”

She giggled. “Now this is an exercise involving shields. You all saw the riot on ice, right? Yes, that one way to use a shield, projecting it out from your body, rather than all around your body.

“Listen up! This is very dangerous. A shield, edge on is like the sharpest blade imaginable. The slice is simply a shield, manipulated to be used as a weapon.

“Today you are all going to try to project a shield. You are going to project it only a tiny way, and only one at a time, so I can intercept any out-of-control slices.” Her eyes wandered over them. “You are all very strong, and each of you is going to have to either control this . . . or never do it.”

Dave watched her walk down to the end of the line. Fatina’s twins, grandchildren of both Harry and Byram had just turned seventeen and had been taking Rael’s morning classes almost as long as Dave had.

Hafez was at that end of the line. And sat up straighter as Rael stopped in front of him.

“All of you close your eyes and watch magically. Do not gather power. Hafez? You may gather power.” Rael circled around behind him, and Dave could see a faint haze she was projecting, a U of force, open in front of him.

“Form your usual shield . . . Relax, breath deeply. This isn’t actually very difficult. Better. Hold out your left arm . . . you’re right handed? Good. Now picture your shield flowing like water off of your body and down your left arm, and right off the tips of your fingers, straight out, like a sheet of glass . . .”

The faint shield that had sparkled on the boy’s body flashed out, contained on the sides by Rael, and in front cutting three posts twenty meters away.

And disappeared.

Hafez’s arm dropped, and he sagged.

Isakson’s deep chuckle from behind them. “Very nice.”

Rael handed the boy a bottle of boost. “Well, that was fast. Tomorrow I’ll start teaching you how to control that, so you don’t accidentally chop a person in half. Later, Isakson will teach you how to do it on purpose.”

Dave sighed. Warrior strength at seventeen. And here I am. Forty-four. Unable to do diddly. I have Speed, and I can shield fairly well. And I failed these same classes a thousand years ago.

“Hafiza? You’re not going to let your brother do that better than you can, are you? Pull power and shield.”

The girl’s first try only went out a meter, but she held it, pulled in the sides and pushed it out. It faded and she panted, grinning.

“Nice. Controlled and sustained. Qamar? Shall we see how a PhD in Magical Theory translates into practice?”

Dave was surprised at Qamar’s nervous nod.

But she relaxed, took a couple of deep breaths and gathered power. Pulled up a shaky, weak shield.

“Hmm, you’re going to need more work on the basics.” Rael sounded surprised. “Relax the shield and listen in while I pick on Dave.”

Qamar hung her head . . . and surely that wasn’t a tear!

Dave stifled an impulse to hug her, and to hell with the shields . . . He sat up straight and took a couple of deep breaths. Tried to absorb that slippery thin sunlight and pour it into a shield.

“Right handed?”


“If you had only a single pistol, which hand would you use for it?”

“Whichever it was in or the shape of whatever I was behind.” He grinned when he heard her growl. “Left hand.”

“So stick your right hand out. Now think of the shield as water and it’s pouring out to your right hand. . . and straight out, this is antigravity water, smart ass. See how it’s fanned out? Pull it into a narrow blade and push it further.”

“Now open your eyes. Lower your hand to that board in front of you, while holding the shield.”

Dave opened his eyes. And lowered his hand. The board ignored him.


He pushed . . . a thin line . . . he leaned and the cut deepened. And his head hurt like hell.

“Stop. Relax. Good job.”

He looked from her to the board in disbelief.

“Trust me that is a good first day.” Rael handed him a bottle of boost. “Don’t mind the brats.”

Dave chugged boost, then scooted around a bit sideways . . . to watch the rest of the class. That it got him a little closer to Qamar had nothing to do with it. Really.

He glanced at her. “I have a nasty feeling we’re going to be the class dunces.”

She sniffed, and scooted a bit closer. “Every one says I have an inhibition. That I’m so worried about hurting someone or something that I can do it.”

“You? Well, you weren’t ever as fierce as Ra’d.” He frowned.

“I thought Rael could get me past it.”

That made him grin. “Well I know she’s good, but since you just got here this morning . . .”

That got a laugh out of her. “I know, I know. Like magic. Poof! Done!” She heaved a sigh. “It’s just going to take more time.”

They both looked over to where a seventeen year old former priest was pushing out a wavery shield-slice and cutting down another post.

They sighed in unison, and somehow his arm went around her shoulder and she was leaning on him.

“That woman’s going to train half a dozen more Warriors just out of this bunch if she isn’t careful.” Dave squeezed her shoulders and shifted a couple of centimeters away.

She’s the daughter of a prophet. She’ll marry someone with prospects, not a half-power guard.


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