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DRAGONMOUNT

A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

1 000 points of Light Attn Rhya


WhiteWolf
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Continued from: Sage Check Up

 

Rhya had been staying at Owen’s treehouse for a number of weeks and had seemed to have settled in well, much to Owen’s surprise, even though Ice had tried on may occasions to tell Owen that she would. At first Owen had felt uneasy about having a female stay in his house, to him it felt like he was betraying the memory of Iris and no amount of remonstrating himself had helped, nor had talking to Wolflover, he just did not feel anyone could truly understand his feelings for Iris. But, much to his astonishment, Owen had come to appreciate Rhya’s company, she was quiet, but loved to talk. She was not messy and seemed to understand that there were times when he needed to be alone. This helped Owen to come to terms with her precense much easier than he thought he would. There was still the odd occasion where he felt awkward around her, and there had been that embarrassing morning when he had totally forgotten she was there and had wandered out of his bedroom totally sans clothes only to be scared witless by her scream of fright. But other than that the two of them had settled into a comfortable relationship. However that relationship would now be tested to the utmost as Owen had decided it was time for Rhya to learn to master her new abilities and tonight was to be her first lesson.

Owen and Rhya had taken to spending their evenings on the veranda that ran around the outside of his home, sometimes talking sometimes Rhya would patiently listen to Owen’s flute playing, which was a lot better than he realised, or anyone would tell him. Owen had broached the subject of training Rhya but had not pushed himself forward as her mentor. He had offered his services if she wanted to take him up on it or find another mentor was entirely her decision. However she had decided to take Owen up on his offer and so this night was to be her first in learning the mysteries of the Wolf Dream.

“Now before we begin I have to warn you that entering the Dream before you are prepared can be very dangerous. What happens to you there can affect you in the waking world. You can just as easily die there as you could here, and if you die there you die here as well, there is no second chance.” Owen did not want to scare Rhya but she had to understand this was not without it’s hazards. Glancing at her face, Owen was beginning to wonder if she was up to this, but eventually Rhya nodded her head for him to continue and Owen then started to explain to her how to enter the Dream.

“The first step is to enter the Dream itself. Don’t let it bother you if it does not happen at first. It is difficult at best to make yourself fall asleep. The best way is to focus on your breathing. Close your eyes." Owen watched as eventually Rhya did as he said. . "Do not try to force it. Just relax and drift. Feel your muscles relaxing; you’re breathing easing. Focus on the wolves, and moving to a spiritual place." Owen kept his voice soft and quiet, not wanting to disturb Rhya’s concentration. Soon her breathing slowed and her body, visible, relaxed, slumping where she sat.

Owen waited a moment, making sure she really was asleep, then Owen closed his eyes and stepped into the dream world. Owen had selected the cottage where Wolflover lived as their meeting place and he emerged from the surrounding trees to wait for Rhya to make an appearance. As he sat on the bench, Ice came over to him and nuzzled his hand. Owen scratched behind her ears, and the two of them talked until Rhya popped into the Dream.

Owen

The White Wolf

Ranger Leader

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It was surprising how quickly time could pass, Rhya mused. She was sitting on the veranda, curled up in a pile of cushions, her head tilted back against the wall of the house as she gazed out at the pinpoints of stars just beginning to appear in the deepening blue of the evening sky.

 

Relaxing here had become a daily habit, shocking her with how easily she’d fallen into a routine and how comfortable she felt staying there. None of her earlier qualms had borne fruit. She didn’t feel like she was imposing at all and that had been one of her greatest concerns. There had definitely been some funny moments during the first few days, and there were still times when she made herself scarce to give Owen what she felt was much needed space, but very little awkwardness all in all. Being uncomfortable was something she disliked excessively so she was thankful it had not proven to be the case here. In fact, she knew, if she was told that she had to leave, she’d be quite distraught. Finding a new home was something she had refused to believe possible just a few short weeks before but now, she could admit to herself that it was exactly how she saw this place.

 

She sensed rather than heard Owen arrive and settle himself in his usual position, but did not turn. Though they had talked a lot and on many subjects, she almost appreciated the silences more. Not everyone had the ability to sit at peace or to enjoy company without need for speech. That man, she thought in amusement, can move almost as quietly as Ice. The wolf had startled her on a few occasions by appearing at her side unexpectedly and disappearing just as suddenly. She liked the thought that maybe Ice was checking up on her during her wandering around the Stedding though she had no reason to believe it true. Still, it was a comforting idea at a time when everything was so new and her world was changing so quickly.

 

Rhya’s eyes finally slid to where Owen sat. She had been somewhat taken aback by his offer to be her mentor, having assumed him far too important and busy a person to take on such a task but equally delighted that she would be taught by someone she liked and respected and was gradually coming to trust implicitly. The thought of having to learn so many new things under the auspices of a stranger was not one that appealed at all, so she had gladly accepted.

 

She knew what the plan was for tonight and her stomach flipped a little with nerves as watched Owen’s expression. She had a feeling that he wasn’t quite sure she could cope with this and she was equally determined to prove that she could. She didn’t want to let him down and, more than that, she wanted to learn. She’d had weeks now to get used to the idea but knowing she had the ability to do this and actually doing it were two different things. She’d had enough of merely thinking about it.

 

Then, as though reaching a decision, Owen began to speak and Rhya heeded the warnings he gave, though her nervousness increased still further when he mentioned dying and her face paled slightly. Rhyanon Chaede, pull yourself together, she mentally berated herself, subconsciously tilting her chin as her stubborn nature reared its head. You can do this, now concentrate. She swallowed and eventually nodded her understanding, listening to the rest of the instructions she was given.

 

Closing her eyes, she tried to relax again, deepening her breathing.

 

"Do not try to force it. Just relax and drift. Feel your muscles relaxing; your breathing easing. Focus on the wolves and moving to a spiritual place."

 

Easier said than done, she thought ruefully, emptying her mind and  trying to do as she was bid. Letting all of her muscles ease off, she concentrated on the sense of the wolves as Owen’s voice became but a murmur and gradually lost her connection with reality, slipping into sleep... and into the Dream.

 

She was standing before a cottage surrounded by trees, one she vaguely recognized from her explorations but couldn’t recall to whom it belonged. She spotted Owen sitting on a bench with Ice nearby but instinctively knew something was wrong from the slight twitch of his lips. Something didn’t feel right and it took her only a few seconds to work out what as her face flamed scarlet. The blue dress she wore was a silly frilly confection that her mother had made her wear for her 6th naming day. The one time that Fionnda had actually approved of anything Rhya had done. Her hair, she knew without checking, would be in the ringlets her mother had deemed acceptable for a young girl. Trying to gather her composure, Rhya focused... somehow... and not quite sure what she was doing... until she suddenly had her normal clothes on and her hair back in its usual unruly tumble down her back, before coughing slightly and looking to her mentor for instructions on what would happen next, a slight glare dared him to laugh openly as she sighed inwardly. Light but this isn’t going to be easy.

 

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Owen watched as Rhya appeared around the side of Wolflover’s cabin, as she approached Owen her clothing flickered before setting on a rather frilly dress that almost caused Owen to burst out laughing, so unnatural did it appear to be on Rhya. As soon as she noticed she strove to change her appearance back to something she was comfortable with, eventually she was happy with her clothes and Owen indicated that she should sit down next to him on the bench. Just then something happened that Owen had seen happen only rarely before, Shadow appeared and padded over to the bench and sat at Rhya’s side. Hiding his surprise, Owen started to talk about the lesson.

 

“In the Dream control is everything, and that is what you are going to learn first. Your first lesson will be to control your clothing, at the moment your emotions are interfering with your control. That is why you clothing flickers like it does. Now you need to hold an image of your self, and how you want to look, in your mind. Once you learn to do this then this will not be possible.”

 

“What won’t Owen? ”Rhya looked around apprehensively; thinking something untoward was going to appear. When nothing appeared she glanced back at Owen, raising an eyebrow in a silent question. “Check your clothes Rhya, I think you might be a little old to be dressed like that, mind you your hair looks cute in pigtails.” Owen did not suppress his smile at her reaction this time, but he was not laughing at her, more like with her. “This is your first lesson Rhya, and although you have already exhibited some control over your appearance, you need to realise that I have more skill here and can do things to you that you cannot anticipate. Please try and change your clothes and your appearance back to how you want. Concentrate on how you want to appear here, your clothes and your hair. Picture yourself in your mind and fix that image there. It will take you some time to be able to do this without conscious thought, but we have plenty of time for you to practice.”

 

Owen was not trying to intimidate Rhya; in fact it was the exact opposite. But he needed to get a point across to her that although she knew enough to change her appearance back to what she wanted it to be, she did not know enough, yet, to be able to hold that when someone more experienced, more powerful, could do as Owen had just done.

 

Owen

 

The White Wolf

 

Ranger Leader

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Rhya gingerly took a seat on the bench feeling decidedly wary of her surroundings and the odd light emanating from… well, from somewhere. There was no obvious source for it that she could see as her eyes scoured the clearing.

 

Looking to Owen once more, she saw a slight change in his expression. It was gone so quickly that she couldn’t put a name to it but she forgot about it soon enough as he began to talk to her about the Dream.

 

“Once you learn to do this then this will not be possible.”

 

“What won’t Owen? ” she glanced quickly around wondering what she had missed, fighting to keep her fears at bay but Owen soon directed her attention to her clothes. Her face turned redder than ever in a mixture of embarrassment and annoyance while he sat there grinning at her. His subsequent words mollified her somewhat though as she saw the sense in them and realized there was no malice at all in his humour.

 

Of course there isn’t, idiot. You’re here to learn, pay attention!”

 

Rebuking herself, Rhya took a deep breath and tried to control her unruly emotions as she slowly built up a picture of her clothing in her mind. Once she was certain the details were right, she fixed it there, concentrating hard. Glancing down and releasing the breath she hadn’t known she was holding, she saw her familiar boots and trousers in place.... underneath that stupid dress!! She gritted her teeth and closed her eyes before trying again, building up all the separate parts of the picture one by one until she had it just right. Opening one eye slightly, she peeked down and looked at Owen in delight as she saw the dress finally gone.

 

It lasted but seconds, however, as he directed his gaze at her head, still grinning. Raising a hand, she suspected what she would find and she scowled as one hand touched a pigtail. Sighing, she started again. This time her hair righted itself, its reassuring weight against her back again, but she found herself barefoot. It took another three attempts before everything was to her liking and she hardly dared to move in case it all changed again.

 

“Is everything this hard here?” she muttered, feeling a little disheartened. If it is, she decided, it could take forever to learn. Frustration was a new emotion for her. Learning had always come easily to Rhya and finding something that she couldn’t master immediately was like having her favourite toy taken away.

 

Suddenly, something nudged against her hand making her yelp in surprise and her head whipped round only to be confronted with two seemingly bottomless dark pools. A wolf!!! Rhya’s eyes widened as she gazed at the creature, her mind flooded with a tumult of impressions that she found hard to understand. Shadow… she grasped the name in satisfaction, slipping to her knees in front of him, everything else forgotten in the moment and slowly reached out to touch the soft black fur.

 

“Well aren’t you something?” she murmured softly, scratching behind an ear and caught another fleeting image out of the jumble, this time of Ice and a sense of connection. It had her remembering where she was and her head turning back to Owen, eyebrow raised in query.

 

“They’re related?”

 

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Events had a way of out pacing anything mere humans tried to control and such was the case this night. Owen had no idea that Shadow would turn up in the dream, much less interrupt a lesson he was teaching. In all the time Owen had known Shadow he could not remember an occasion when he had shown up in the Wolf Dream when there were others around. Even when Ice was with Owen, which was more often than not all the time Owen was in the Wolf Dream, Shadow would not show himself. But this night he had not only chosen to show himself but to make it blatantly obvious that he was here because of Rhya caused Owen a certain amount of surprise, and a slight feeling of envy. Owen had always found it awkward to communicate with Shadow, as had most of the Wolfkin. But it was only a fleeting feeling one that was soon replaced with contentment. If Shadow had seen something in Rhya that made a connection to him then Owen was pleased, not only for Rhya but for Shadow as well.

 

“His full name, on our tongue, is Shadow falling across the moon. Although even that is only an approximation of his full name and yes you are correct in that he and Ice are related. She is his sister and has always looked out for him. Ice’s full name is Icewind on a cold dark night.” Owen leaned closer to Rhya and lowered his voice in a conspiratorial tone. “Although she does not like being called that and much prefers Ice.” Owen grinned at Rhya and eventually she smiled back, realising that Owen was only slightly teasing her and Ice. “I think you will find you have made a friend this night Rhya, I do not think it amiss to say we are keeping this in the family.” Again Owen smiled and it was an infectious one.

 

“I think that we should return the main reason we are here this night and focus on the lesson in hand. You will find that things here are not easy, and that it takes a lot of effort and concentration to achieve what you set your mind to, but once you know how to do a thing, and if you put the practice in, you will not have a problem. But, as with any journey it is the first few steps that are the problem ones. Imagine if you will that your training be akin to a baby learning to walk. Although we do not remember how difficult that seemed at the time, just think about it now; think about how big a challenge that was for a baby. “

 

Owen fell silent wanting Rhya to think on what he had said and hopefully come to realise that no matter how hard something might seem at first, with the right application there was nothing that could not be over come.

 

“So with that in mind shall we get back to the lesson for tonight? So do you always wear men’s clothing and cover your face in soot?”

 

Lessons such as this usually provided Owen with an outlet for humour, but it had taken a long time for him to be comfortable with anyone to the extent that he would initiate the jokes. The pain of loss, the feeling of isolation had been too great for him, maybe Rhya was the one to bridge that gap and allow him to return to the person he was before Iris had been taken from him.

 

Owen

 

The WhiteWolf

 

Ranger Leader

 

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As she asked the question, Rhya sat on the ground and crossed her legs, her hand tangled in Shadow’s fur. It was an oddly comforting feeling and she liked the contact, finding it very hard to take her eyes off this new companion. With the exception of Ice, she’d never seen a wolf this close let alone sat beside one.

 

Owen explained that the wolves were siblings, which roused her curiosity further regarding their history but she held her tongue. When he spoke about Ice’s name and mentioned that the wolf preferred the shortened version, Rhya looked at him suspiciously before eventually deciding he was teasing which made her smile. She knew he had a sense of humour but he was in surprisingly good spirits this evening and that was less than common in her admittedly limited experience. Her eyebrows flew to her hairline at his next comment though.

 

“I think you will find you have made a friend this night Rhya, I do not think it amiss to say we are keeping this in the family.”

 

Family. She rolled the word around in her mind, debating how she felt about it, looking surreptitiously from Shadow to Ice to Owen and back. The idea pleased her, it seemed to fit but then look what had happened with her last family. She tucked the thought to the back of her mind to chew over later though she couldn’t help grinning back at Owen anyway.

 

Having obviously decided that it was time to get back to the lesson, he started speaking of the Dream once more and Rhya considered the example he gave. Slowly, she nodded. Its like learning to do accounts! She remembered weeks of pouring over books and trying to make some sense out of all the columns, sums and figures. That hadn’t been easy either but once she’d grasped it, it was surprisingly straightforward and very useful in running the business. Well, hard work is something I can deal with. It won’t be the first time.

 

“So with that in mind shall we get back to the lesson for tonight? So do you always wear men’s clothing and cover your face in soot?”

 

The last few words penetrated her reverie and she touched a finger to her face. It came away black. Seeing the look on Owen’s face she laughed and stuck her tongue out at him, he was so pleased with himself.

 

“Ok ok, point taken. You know far more about this and I have a lot to learn.” She concentrated on how her clothes should be and found the process much easier than earlier. Intrigued, she started to play a little, changing small details at first such as the colour of her top and then larger things like a skirt instead of trousers, a hat and then none oblivious to time passing. Of course, keeping it the way I want it is going to be the hard part, she thought keeping a wary eye on her mentor as she put all of her clothing back to how she liked it.

 

“I think I have the hang of this... mostly,” she said cautiously.

 

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Owen could not help but grin at Rhya adding a mostly to her comment. “Mostly is what we all aim for her and then hope that we do no end up hurting of selves with the remainder that we do not know or cannot foresee. Even for those who have had a lot of experience here there are times when we do not know what the outcome of our actions here will be. So always remember to be as careful and as methodical as you can here, although that does not mean there is no fun to be had, but for now let us press on with the next part of this lesson. This will be slightly more difficult, but again at its core is control.” Owen showed Rhya a rock he had picked up. “Now what I want you to do is try and change this rock to something else, what it is, is up to you.”

 

Just then the rock in Owen’s hand changed into a lifelike image of a young woman carrying a small child, the likeness such that anyone who knew either of them would have recognised them with ease. “Now obviously your first attempt will not be like this one, so I suggest you try something simple for now and see how you get on.” Owen handed the now normal looking rock to Rhya. There was a slight element of sadness and regret to Owen’s voice, something that he banished quickly before continuing.

 

“Now just picture an every day object, or an object that is very important to you, hold that focus as intently as you can, and aim it at the rock. This is not an easy task for someone new to this, so expect to be practising this for several nights to come. If necessary we can come back here every night until you can achieve this without a problem. So take a deep breath, compose yourself and begin when you are ready.”

 

Owen

 

The White Wolf

 

Ranger Leader

 

OOC Tay, this part of the lesson should take several nights for Rhya top master so your next post should indicate this. How many nights you spend on learning this is up to you,ok?

 

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Reassured by Owen’s comments, Rhya relaxed a little and wondered what would be coming next. This strange world was going take some getting used to, that much was clear. She didn’t have long to wait. Owen explained the next part of the lesson and she looked on in awe when the rock he held transformed into a beautiful statue of a woman and a child. The detailing on it was exquisite and she knew that he was right to say she couldn’t achieve such complexity. At least not yet and probably not for a long time, if ever.

 

As Owen handed her the now inconspicuous looking piece of rock, his tone altered. The change was slight and quickly gone, but she recognized again the sadness that seemed to seep now and then through carefully raised defences and wondered just what had caused such deep emotion in the enigmatic man before her. Intuition told her that it was not something to be asked about, particularly not here, but rather something that he would choose to speak of or not in his own time and so, she put the thought aside, grimacing a little at the long list of questions she was gradually stockpiling for “later”.

 

Will be there be answers for any of them? Most likely not. she thought, sighing and brought her mind back to the lesson, considering the problem before her.

 

Something simple and that she knew well. That was the key. Well, there was nothing she knew as well as her daggers. They had been at her side every day since she was old enough to hold them. Pleased with the idea, she studied the rock intently as she held the picture of one dagger in her mind, seeing its symmetry and the scrollwork on the hilt. When she was sure she had it right, she concentrated hard on the rock, trying for several minutes to fuse the image with it. The rock seemed to have a different idea and sat unmoving in her palm much to her frustration. The same thing happened on her second and third attempts and she growled in annoyance.

 

I must be missing something. This is harder than just changing my clothes. Why? she pondered for a while until finally her eyes rested on Shadow and the answer came to her. Because I’m trying to change something that exists here.

 

Taking a breath and pushing away the frustration, Rhya focused once more. This time she paid more attention to the small details such as the sharp edge of the dagger, the material it was crafted from and how its weight felt when she held it. Certain that she couldn’t be any more accurate, she aimed the thought, almost like a spear, hard at the rock and saw it waver and change. She squeaked delightedly, holding it up to show Owen and feeling remarkably pleased with herself but as she did so, it became a solid lump of rock again.

 

“Gah, I had it there for a moment,” she muttered, drooping back against the bench as exhaustion hit her suddenly. She realized she had no idea what time it was or how long they’d been here.

 

“Yes, you did but this takes practice Rhya. Its time to stop though. We’ve been in the Dream long enough. You can continue this tomorrow night after some rest,” Owen replied.

 

Rhya wasn’t about to argue, she needed food and she needed sleep. She wasn’t given the chance to anyway as Owen sent her back to her own body before she could even open her mouth to agree.

 

That set the pattern for several nights to follow and gradually, with many false starts, she began to find the process came more easily as long as she stayed calm. By the end of her fourth night in the Dream, she thought she might just have the knack of it as she managed to change the rock almost immediately without any wavering. Thinking for a moment, she voiced a concern that had been bothering her.

 

“Owen? How long can a person stay here? Does anyone actually stay in the Dream?”

 

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“It is said that when a wolf dies that they live on in here. How, exactly, I am not sure, but it has been known to happen. Maybe you should be asking Shadow that question, although I would wager you will get the same answer from him as I always get from Ice.”

 

“What would that be?”

 

Picking up a small branch, Owen idly started to strip the bark from it. “Now where would the fun be in it if I go and tell you? When you feel up to it, just ask Shadow, and then you can tell me what he says.” The shadow of a grin flitted across Owen’s pale features for a moment, and then he was back to al seriousness.

 

“I do know that the longer we stay here, the less sleep we get, or should I say our sleep is not as restful as it would be if we were not here. Although in the waking world our bodies are asleep, it is not the sleep that brings total refreshment. Too many nights of that and we would be of no use to anyone and would spend most of our days walking around in a daze. I would say that if we continued to do that then sooner or later we would pass out and either die from exhaustion or not regain consciousness until our bodies had recovered.”

 

This was not a new question from a Wanderer, there had been many times before that Owen had been asked this question, albeit in a slightly different format. There had been occasions when members of the Wolfkin had become addicted to the Dream and it had taken a concerted effort on behalf of the Sages to break them of the habit. Owen hoped that Rhya would not go down that path and think that she could hide from the realities of the world in the world of dreams.

 

The next night, and for several nights there after, Owen and Rhya would meet up in the Wolf Dream and work on Rhya’s control of inanimate objects. As the nights passed Rhya improved and soon Owen was trying more and more devious ways to challenge her control. Sometimes he was successful and sometimes she managed to totally ignore his efforts. When she succeeded it was as much a surprise to her as anything Owen had used to distract her and this helped her confidence, which was the whole point of the lessons

 

One night Owen led Rhya along a now familiar trail, but tonight was going to be different, tonight would be Rhya’s greatest test so far, and one she would have to face alone. As they walked Owen talked about inconsequential things, making sure the conversation was as normal as was possible, although Rhya would ask questions about the Wolf Dream, Owen always did his best to steer the conversation back to more mundane things. As they walked along, the trail got narrower and narrower and the branches from the trees, on either side of the trail, hung lower until they were almost touching the tops of their heads.

 

Eventually there was only room for one person to walk, and so Owen signalled for Rhya to go ahead of him. As she did, Rhya started to ask another question of Owen, one concerning the Shadow and when she would know if Shadow was going to stay with her and could Shadow stay in Owen’s home with her. When Rhya realised that Owen had not responded, she turned around to see where Owen was only to find she was alone on the trail. After a moment she decided to make her way back, figuring that Owen had stopped for a reason and she would go and find out what was keeping him.

 

As she went to take her first step, her foot would not move, nor would her lower leg. Looking down at them Rhya came to realise that somehow she had wandered into the middle of some sort of quicksand. Looking around herself she tried to reach for one of the low lying branches, but for some strange reason they all now seemed to be out of reach, and all the time she was sinking slowly, the quicksand reaching to her thighs, and Owen was no where to be seen.

 

Overhead, Owen seemed to balance on one of the larger branches of the tree watching Rhya as she tried to decide how to get out of her predicament. Occasionally her clothing flickering, but did not fully change, not yet anyway.

 

Owen

 

The WhiteWolf

 

Ranger Leader

 

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Rhya knew he was up to something. You couldn’t spend so much time with one person and not pick up certain things unless you were completely blind. Owen had been changing the subject on her all evening and considering she was trying to ask about the Dream that was just not natural.

 

She allowed herself to be distracted as the talk turned to Shadow, who was rapidly becoming one of her favourite topics of conversation, and her head was suddenly full of more questions. The trail they were following became narrower as they spoke and Rhya took the lead for the time being. She’d gone a little further along the trail before it dawned on her that there had been no reply to her last question and she glanced over her shoulder, coming to an abrupt halt when there was no sign of Owen at all.

 

She started to turn, intent on discovering where he was and what had held him up but for some reason her feet and legs didn’t comply with her brain’s commands. Startled, she glanced down and it took only moments to register her predicament. Oh Light! Quicksand! She let fly with a string of colourful imprecations which by all rights should be completely unknown to a young lady of her birth, a product of the many hours spent in her father’s warehouses.

 

She couldn’t reach any of the nearby branches and trying made her sink further. Rhya felt the panic rising swiftly then, her breath coming faster as long forgotten, buried memories reached from the past, images of darkness, cold and helplessness racing through her mind, leaving her gasping for air, knuckles white as her fists clenched tightly.

 

She was dimly aware of the fact that the quicksand around her was now up to her thighs and she reached instinctively for Shadow, grasping at the first thing that came to her mind but, try though she might, she got no sense of him at all. Born of sheer desperation, Rhya dredged up the willpower from somewhere to shove the unbidden memories away, dragging in deep breaths to calm herself.

 

This has to be another lesson. A test. It has to be. Her earlier suspicions came back to her and it dawned on her that Owen wouldn’t put her in harm’s way unless he thought she could get out of it. But he couldn’t have known how she’d react. She hadn’t known it herself!! At that moment all she wanted was to be free, to be able to move and that was her over-riding impulse. She knew her control was hanging by a thread and trying anything complicated was out of the question. Keep it simple, she told herself, keep it simple, repeating the words over and over like a mantra as she tried to focus.

 

“Weight!!” she muttered. All her weight was on a small area, she needed to spread her weight! As carefully as she could, Rhya flopped onto her back, spreading her arms wide as she did so. She felt the sand give below her but she didn’t sink any further for the moment and closed her eyes in relief, ruthlessly quashing again the panic that threatened to overwhelm her. Her legs were still stuck and this wasn’t solving the problem. Could she move herself completely from one place to another? She doubted it in her current frame of mind. She needed a rope.

 

Opening her eyes and tilting her head back a little, she spotted a low but sturdy looking branch further along the path. Well, if she needed a rope, she should be able to make one. Her lips twisted a little, Should being the operative word.

 

She dredged up every bit of her lessons that she could remember, focusing her will and forming the picture in her mind, gritting her teeth from the effort. It took her several attempts but finally the rope was where she’d pictured it, stretching from the branch to just above her head. It was the work of some minutes then to grab the end and pull herself hand over hand out of the sand, which was reluctant to let her go.

 

With her feet back on firm ground, her spine as stiff as a board and a blank expression, Rhya took a few shuddering gulps of air before haltingly making her rather wobbly legs start back along the path. Rounding a slight bend she stopped and looked at the familiar figure before her, tilting her head consideringly.

 

“I.... you... why... was that...,” she cleared her throat. “Could we perhaps not do that again, Owen?” The words tumbled out in a rush. “I think...” she continued, as her knees gave way and she dropped heavily onto a fallen trunk beside the path, “that I need to sit down.”

 

 

 

 

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For a while Owen had thought that Rhya was going to sink beneath the quicksand, not that anything untoward would have happened, he was in full control of what happened here and she was in no danger of suffering anything more than a hurt to her self esteem. But Rhya had fought and fought to over come the problem and finally released herself from the quicksand and then had rather shakily sat down in need of some rest after her exertions. As she recovered from her ordeal Owen started talking softly to her, explaining where she had gone wrong and how she had let panic become the over riding emotion. This had caused her to make a snappish comment to Owen. “ And of course you would have handled it differently would you not, oh mighty one.”

“Not really Rhya, when I did this I actually sank all the way and thought I was going to die, obviously Wolflover knew I would not be hurt, the only hurt was to my pride once she explained to me what it was I should have done.” A rueful smile appeared on Owen’s face almost as if he could hear the voice of his old teacher in his ear now. Shaking his head slowly at the memory Owen pushed it aside and started to explain to Rhya the mistake she had made.

“Remember what I said at the very beginning, everything here is dependent on control, the more you can remain in control of your emotions, and your thoughts, the easier this place is to understand. When you combine that with the lesson earlier on how to change objects, you would have found the way to easily escape the predicament you were in.”

A slight tilting of her head and a small raising of an eyebrow indicated to Owen that she was not sure what he meant by this. “Panic became the main emotion for you, that meant you were not thinking clearly and acting in haste, which meant you forgot the earlier lesson. Instead of struggling with the rope, you should have made the ground under you, not around you, solid. That way you could have just stepped out of the quicksand and been on your way. Because you let panic rule you, you forgot and so caused yourself more problems than you needed.”

Realisation blossomed behindher eyes as she came to understand what Owen meant, not only in this lesson but in the previous one as well. Owen could also sense annoyance in her; the prickliness of her scent gave that away. “Do not be too hard on yourself Rhya, like I said I made an even worse go of it than you did. We all learn in our own way, what is important is to never make the same mistake twice. Now off to bed with you, I will see you in the morning.” With that Rhya winked out of the Dream and Owen heard a familiar chuckle behind him.

“So you do remember your lessons White Fang, I was beginning to wonder.” Owen turned to face his old friend, an unfathomable look on his face and his emotions as tightly sealed away as ever. “How could I forget, you would never let me.”

Owen

The WhiteWolf

Ranger Leader

 

 

Continued here: A Herb Ritual

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