He watched her from the shadows. The towering spruce forest, with its meager carpet of stunted grass and ferny scrub, afforded little cover, but centuries of working in the darkness had allowed him to hone his skills to such a degree he could conceal himself almost anywhere.
He’d come to the edge of the clearing a number of times throughout the year to watch her, evaluate her progress, and plan how best to use her. She’d sprung from obscurity but now word was spreading and her name was often on the lips of many in his strange, dark circle. With their increased interest, timing was now of the essence. He’d been happy to wait for the right moment, after all he’d already waited centuries, but the others were keen to get their hands on her, and if they did, she would be of no use to him.
Settling himself comfortably against a tree trunk, he watched her set up the row of tin cans she used for ‘target practice’. He noted the jagged, rusting cans embedded deeply into the trees around her. It was true – she was very powerful, more powerful than anyone he’d ever met in his nine hundred years, but, in his opinion, she still lacked discipline, and without discipline all the wyk in the world wouldn’t defeat someone who wielded their wyk with controlled intent. The degree of self discipline it took to genuinely master wyk took eons to develop. Too bad she was only a human and would be subject to humanity’s pitifully short lifespan. He imagined what she might have been capable of if she’d had millenia to develop her skills. She’d be magnificent – virtually unstoppable. It was a shame, but it mattered little to him anyway – his plans for her rested on her value to others.
He smiled thoughtfully to himself as he watched her produce a sizzling white ball of wyk from the palm of her hand. The pure energy hissed and spun in a glowing orb, illuminating her face in a brilliant glow as she tried to concentrate on keeping the ball steady. She threw the shining globe up into the air and batted it with her hand as though she was serving a volley ball. The wyk missed its mark and slammed into a tree behind the practice range, breaking off a large chunk of the abused, tattered trunk. He heard her curse but she quickly produced another ball of wyk, this one tinted red, and aimed it at the target. She tossed it overarm, and it too missed its mark and hit a tree, rebounding in a furious red hissing arc which sent her ducking to the ground to avoid being hit. It slammed into the earth, displacing soil and grass in a mini explosion, before bouncing across the clearing, eventually petering out only a few feet from his hiding place. He shrank further into the shadows when her eyes followed the wyk’s destructive path. With a sigh of frustration, she pushed her hair away from her face and turned back to her target.
The next ball was lighter, tinged with pink – she was obviously trying to control her emotions. He knew she understood wyk responded to intent; its color, strength and maneuverability were dependant upon positive and negative emotions. She extended her arm in front of her, aimed carefully, and pushed the orb out in one smooth movement. It hit the tin can with a sharp crack, sending it hurtling towards a tree and forcing it deep into the tree’s trunk. He grunted scornfully, his eyes narrowing as he watched her punch the air triumphantly. Hitting a stationary tin can in the middle of a quiet forest was hardly cause for celebration. In the heat of battle, when danger threatened to stretch nerves to breaking point, controlling fear, hatred and anger was an exacting, formidable skill. It had taken him hundreds of years to perfect it. She was nineteen years old, just a baby really. She needed a lesson in reality.
Springing gracefully to his feet, he stood squarely -his legs planted firmly apart, and extended his arm in front of him. He waited until she produced another ball of wyk, and, timing it precisely with her throw, sent a crackling white orb at a large spruce behind the tin cans. It hit its target with precision, the trunk opening up in a gash which extended almost through to the other side. The tree creaked and groaned, then, with slow, almost surreal movement, it began to topple towards the ground, its branches snapping and cracking as they hit the neighboring trees. He frowned; she was dumbstruck, frozen momentarily to the spot. The stupid girl wasn’t going to move. He controlled the decent of the tree with wyk, slowing it and moving it slightly aside. He didn’t want to kill her. The tree continued to crash toward the ground and she came to her senses, backing up quickly before turning to run. He’d timed it perfectly – he only wanted to scare her, but she tripped, and the tree slammed into the ground, its branches surrounding her in a screen of prickly pine needles. He heard her scream, and then there was silence, but he could read her thoughts as she struggled to overcome the shock and understand her predicament. Her foot, most likely broken, was trapped under a branch, and he smiled grimly as he listened to the string of curse words she directed at the pain.
Her head appeared above the pile of branches as she struggled to a sitting position. She was planning on lifting the tree with wyk. For a moment, he considered helping her, but dismissed the idea. If she were so powerful she should be able to do it on her own – a lesson in independence. He watched for a while longer, grudgingly admiring her ability to levitate the branch into the air despite the agony he knew she was suffering. When she finally extracted her foot, he was satisfied she would live to fulfil his plans. Turning away from the scene, he smiled to himself, his teal blue eyes sparkling with satisfaction. It wouldn’t be long now. This time he would be the winner, and the destruction would be complete.