When I was young, I made a few mistakes that could have been fatal. We all make such mistakes, those errors in judgment whose consequences leave one wondering how anyone grows to adulthood. Often though, those mistakes are simply frightening. As a child does not have the experience to know that the slightest pain will not kill them, so one often reacts to new, small incidents as if they were much larger.

Only with time and experience do we cease to fear that which deserves none. Such is the gift of perspective.

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The difference is that when I got scared, time would slow down. I would move more quickly and, while I would evade what immediately appeared to be my fate, I would give away my greatest secret. This was where my mother had to work hard to train me to control my fear. She discovered my ability less than a year before I was to enter the scourge. She could not let me enter it as I was.

It speaks to her credit, cold as she may have been, that she was able to get such good results out of me so quickly. Still, her methods were reprehensible.

The tenseness in my scalp is how fear has always manifested itself in me. She taught me to focus on that as my anchor to the present the instant I sensed it. It was a tool, and she forced me to learn how to use it. She would shove me off of ledges, throw knives into doorjambs as I entered rooms. She would ambush me in any number of ways, then shake me out of any shift she could catch me in.

If she couldn’t catch me, she would still scream at me to control myself once it was over. Did I want to die, she would shout in my face. No, I would say silently.

Your power will be the death of you! Control it! Hide it!

For nine months of my life this carried on. Her attempts to harm me became more subtle, quicker. Some were less subtle. She lashed out with a whip in the middle of dinner. She pushed me down a flight of stairs. Gods, what didn’t she do?

And my father. He didn’t do anything about it. I could see it torturing him, yet he was too weak to stand up to my mother. There were times he objected, but he could never withstand the fury that would follow. We were prisoners, the both of us.

The day came that I was called to the scourge. My escorts arrived like saviors on horseback. I never looked back. Of course my mother had access to me where all other parents lose touch with their children in the scourge. She rarely exercised it, for it was heavily frowned upon, but she visited me a couple of times. I don’t remember much of those visits, but they were always at the worst possible times. She had a knack for making the difficult unbearable.

I was able to escape her in the field. Save for the times where she reached out to give me my orders, or formal events I was required to attend, I was able to avoid her. Until my trial. They tried to hide the details of the proceedings from me, my sentencing was supposed to be screened with secrecy. But I know it was my mother who called for my exile. I know she was the one who put that word into the minds of my judges.

Gods, but it’s a miracle I’m alive at all with a mother like Syltra na Tetrarch.

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And now we are back along the bank of a river that threatens to kill us should we enter it. The rains have yet to stop and so we must be careful how closely we walk along the bank. There is no sure footing of which to speak. Timber has proved quite capable in navigating the soggy ground where the rest of us are forced to slow.

The KoraKora are most likely behind us, and yet we cannot sense their presence. Again, this rain provides a veil to their approach.

My fears are growing, but I am in control. If I learned anything from my mother, I know the dangers of letting myself be exposed. I know the risk in letting my guard down.

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