CHAPTER EIGHT: WALKING
Rei woke up in the morning, and not to the sound of knives hitting the pockmarked wall behind him. Instead, he saw Talien leaning in the doorway, waiting for him to get up.
"Wakey-wakey, Rei. Unless I'm mistaken, I have you for the day?"
Rei nodded, and began the slow and laborious process of waking up. He already felt more relaxed- today SHOULD be a lot easier than the last few weeks.
"So, Rei," Talien said as soon as they had left the main building, "You've been here for two weeks now- as a member, that is. How do you like it so far?"
"Do you really want an answer to that?" Rei answered gravely.
Talien waved a dismissive hand. "No- I think I have an idea of what you'd say, anyway. The real question is: Are you sorry you stayed here?"
After a few seconds of silence Rei responded. "Do you really want an answer to that one, too?"
Talien grinned. "Yes."
"So do I," Rei answered, and fell silent again.
"As expected," was Talien's reply. "Completely as expected."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Rei asked back.
"Exactly that. I don't know anybody who's ever enjoyed their first two weeks of training. Not even Damodred."
Rei grinned. "Oh? How did she respond?"
Talien gave him a deadpan look. "Do you really want an answer to that?"
Rei grinned. "Good point."
They both laughed for a little while at that. The two walked on.
"So, Rei, do you miss any of your friends, or your family?"
"I said, do you miss any of your FRIENDS, or your FAMILY?" Talien repeated, adding an extra stress to certain words.
"Sorry, I wasn't listening," Rei blushed a bit. Then he went to answering the question. "Well, I really only had a few close friends- and yes, I miss them. Especially one of them- Gabe Raveil was his name. His first name was short for Fargableman, but he really didn't appreciate being called that."
Talien chuckled. "I don't think he would. Was he, by any chance, blonde with short hair?"
Rei blinked. "Yes... how did you know that?"
"So, he was the friend of yours who tried to flirt with Damodred!" He answered. "So... what exactly happened with that?"
Rei smiled again, remembering it. "Gabe was bragging that he could successfully chat up any girl, so we made a slight bet. I'd pick the target, and if he was successful, I'd do his chores for a while. If I won, he'd do mine."
"And you chose Damodred?"
Rei smirked. "Naturally."
"You are cruel beyond all means, my friend," Talien replied.
"No, she is," Rei answered, "That's why I won the bet."
They laughed again. Rei noticed where they were walking.
"Hey, we're walking up to that cliff where you first asked me to join, aren't we?"
"Good guess," Talien answered. "And it only took you a half hour to figure it out, too."
They made it to the summit a few minutes later.
"Time is an amazing thing, my friend," Talien began, "The smallest things can take so much of it to happen... but some of the most important, the most significant changes can happen in an instant. When you stood here two weeks ago, I'll bet you thought that this was the most glorious sight in the world. What does it look like to you now?"
"It looks like my home."
"Oh?" Talien asked, raising an eyebrow. "Nothing special about it?"
Rei shook his head. "Not anymore. It's all too familiar to me now." Rei stood in silence for a second, and then chuckled at something.
"Something's funny?' Talien asked him.
"Look down over there!" Rei said, pointing into the landscape. "They still haven't fixed that balcony!"
Talien took a few seconds to see what Rei was talking about, until he joined Rei in laughing at it. The sun continued on its westward path over the horizon.
"So, Talien," Rei asked a little while later, when they were sitting down on the grass, "Was it true- everything you said about that "Inner Burning Strength?"
Talien looked at him, and replied with a totally straight face. "Actually, no. 'Inner Burning Strength' really doesn't mean squat. What I said about your potential, however- that I firmly believe in. The whole 'Inner Burning Strength' thing was a spiel used to try to give you something concrete to hold on to whenever I mentioned potential."
"Oh," was Rei's reply. "Anything else?"
Talien casually drew his sword. "Well, about this... it hasn't been passed down my family for generations, and it's not a "Calling Sword" or whatever it is that I called it. It's just your typical, everyday enchanted, magical, blade of righteousness."
"So... you lied to me?"
"Not quite," Talien said, still holding the sword. "The Stalfos inside the room couldn't have hurt you- you would have won regardless of what you did. But the fact is, if I hadn't told you something, anything that would have inspired you to fight back, you wouldn't have had a chance to pass the test. Basically, nobody would. DO you get what I'm saying?"
"Yeah, yeah, I get it," Rei replied. "Are there any more little inspirational tales that I should know of?"
Talien shook his head. "Not yet, at any rate. Well see, though," He added with a wink.
"So, Talien- if that sword wasn't passed down for generations, where did you get it?"
"My father was a swordsmith," Talien answered, still holding the sword, "He made a blade for each of his sons. One for me, and one for my brother. After they were made, but before they were finished, he had one of the Great Fairies bless the swords so that they could be used in the name of Righteousness and Justice, as tools to keep the both of us on the road to Truth and Honour. That was a wonderful gift... sometimes I look at this sword, Rei, and I see all that I have done in the name of the gods and in the name of what is right; and other times I look at it and I see everything that I have done wrong. Every failure, every trespass... everything. Some objects do have power, Rei, but they really only possess the power that you allow them to have. Remember that."
"Wow," Rei replied after a little while, "Is that really how you got it?"
Talien looked at him, his face dead serious. "Yes, it is. I'm not making anything up this time."
Rei nodded. "I feel honoured that you let me use it that once, then."
Talien turned the sword around in his hand, letting the sunlight glimmer off the blade. He stood up and sheathed it. "It's only a piece of sharp metal with a fancy handle, after all. Come on, we need to do some more walking, I think."
Rei stood up and followed him.
"So, Rei, what do you think of Damodred?" Talien asked somewhat further down the road.
"Huh? What do you mean?" Rei asked back.
"What I mean is," Talien answered, "what's your impression of her? What do you think of her as a person? How do you feel about her? You've spent a lot of time around her these past couple of weeks, and if you're planning on spending time around me you're going to be around her too a lot of the time. Do you like her? Dislike her? Hate her? Are you madly in love with her? Answer however you want."
After a few minutes of thought, Rei finally gave an answer. "I'm really not sure what to think about her. For one thing, she's nuts."
Talien chuckled. Rei felt somewhat unnerved for a second. "I'm really not joking."
"You don't know the half of it," Talien replied. "Go on."
"Well, at first I thought she was just being tough because she was, you know, just a tough instructor. Kind of like the people they use in the Royal army to train new recruits. But then she said something that got me thinking."
"What did she say?" Talien asked.
"Stop treating me like your teacher. I'm not." Rei answered, trying to mimic her tone. "This got me thinking- wouldn't she be going over the top, anyway?" Rei continued. "So, I thought for a minute- she wasn't exactly civil to me on any of the occasions when we met normally, so... there you go."
Talien blinked a couple of times. "Was this leading to a point?"
"I didn't think so."
"I guess what I'm trying to say is," Rei started, "I'm really not sure what to think of her. She acts like she's mentally unstable, but at the same time shows just enough logic to prove that idea wrong, and I'm not sure whether to take any of it personally or not."
Talien smirked. "Don't take it personally- yet. Damodred isn't exactly known for her people skills. She treats nearly everyone like dirt. As of right now, I'd say that she really doesn't like you, but she hasn't had enough time to warm up to you yet. Give her enough time to recognize that you're with me, and that you're not a TOTAL idiot, and she'll probably nicen up."
Rei nodded. "Hey, I have a question for you," he said with somewhat of a grin.
"What do you think of her?" Rei asked Talien.
Talien blinked. "What?"
"I mean, you've been around her a lot more than I have," Rei said nonchalantly, "I'd like to know your opinion of the woman."
They continued walking as Talien spoke. "I've known her for roughly half of her life, and I've seen her grow up from a teenager to what she is now. Damodred... well, she is what she is. Her personality is probably one of the most unique that I've come across. She holds on to her bitterness, rage and pride as though it's all that she has left, which may be closer to the truth than you'd think."
Rei nodded. "Keep going."
"I'm not sure how many you've seen, but she has a lot of scars on her body- I know that you've at least seen the huge one on her right arm. She got that one from a really skilled swordsman who had a hidden dagger. He distracted her with the dagger, and then ripped into her right arm. She still beat him, though- this was about six years ago."
"Is this leading to a point?" Rei asked in direct imitation of Talien.
"Um... Er, yes," Talien remarked, knocked slightly off key. "Anyway, as I was saying, she has a lot of scars, and I more or less know how, where, and when she got them all. However, there are a few scars that I can't for the life of me remember where she got them."
"And they are?" Rei asked him.
"The ones on her wrists," Talien answered.
The subject of Damodred did not come up again in the conversation.
Sometime in the late afternoon, Talien and Rei's walking took them out of the city boundaries and into the woods.
"So, Talien," Rei began, "I'm running out of conversation material."
"Same here," Talien replied, "That's why I brought you in here- I might as well teach you some Sheikah-esque skill."
"Medicinal herbs," Talien explained, and then crouched to the ground. "This forest's full of them. For example, look at this one, here," he said, pointing to a small, green, nondescript leafy thing.
"It looks like a weed."
"Correct!" Talien said, raising a finger. "In fact, to most people, it's a really, really annoying weed! This is Horseweed- not a flattering name."
"Horseweed? Why's it named that?"
"Frankly, I have no idea," Talien answered, and then went on with the lesson, "When boiled in water, like tea, and sipped like tea, horseweed has incredible medicinal properties."
He put the plant in Rei's hand. "There. That's your lesson for the day."
Rei stood there holding the plant as Talien began to walk off.
"I said that I had to teach you something," Talien said as he went back down the trail leading out of the woods. Rei quickly followed him.