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the nature of things

I have touched the Muses and have written some on TNOT.  So here is page 1-3 hope you like it.  Still have no plot, any help with that woudl be lovely. Also any help with a name...

It was the day after shearing and Lark was lying on her back in the sunshine of the late afternoon.  Her only companions are sheep and they are not known as conversationalists.  She feels a nudge at her foot, it can’t be a sheep, it isn’t tentative enough.  She opens one eye to see Abner standing at her feet. 

            “Thought you might like to eat,” he says in his quiet way, holding out a plate of meat and bread, “it’s not much and we have to share,” he sits down next to her as Lark sits up.

            “What are you doing up here?” she asks, “you should be down with the wool,” shearing is done now and the jobs of sorting and processing the wool are left for the locals as the traveling shearers sleep off the effect of the past nights drink and prepare to go on to the next village.   

            “Yes, well,” Abner starts slowly, “I’ll be leaving soon so I’ve got the day off.”

            “Leaving?” Lark knows that boys leave the village sometimes, but she had never thought that Abner would.  In fact in her mind she and Abner would grow the rest of the way up together and then get married.  That’s what the whole village said, “Are you going with the shear boys?” It’s really the only thing that makes much sense.  A year or two with the shear boys and a man can shear anything as well as tell the grade of wool in their sleep, at least that’s what the elders say.

            “No… I’m not going to be a shear boy…” he’s looking at the ground between his feet.  Lark thinks he looks embarrassed.

            “Well what is it then?”

            “Going to learn Magic,” Lark tries not to laugh at her friend, but it’s hard, she finally settles on covering her laugh with a hand.

            “You?  You’re going to learn magic?   But your family raises sheep for a living.  You are going to be a weaver just like your brothers!”

            “No, someone from the school came up yesterday.  He said you could come as well.”

            “Now I know you’ve gone insane.  I’m as Magical as a stone!”

            “You always know where the sheep have wandered to, and you never loose any ewes in lambing.”

            “I’m lucky, that’s it!”

            “Luck is a kind of magic,” Abner insists.

            “In your mind maybe!”

            “No the man said so!  He’s talking to your father as well, he wants you to come with us.”    

            “Does he have a pointy hat?” Lark can’t resist asking after a long pause.

            “No, he has a squashy velvet one, with a tassel.”

            “He can’t be a Wizard then can he?” Lark asks laugh returning.  A ewe comes over and eats a piece of bread off of the plate between them; Lark pushes her off with a rude noise. 

            “He says he is,” Abner says sulkily.

            “And if I say I’m Queen, you’d believe me?”    

            “No… I suppose not.”

            “Right then this is ridiculous.  Father will never send me away with this man, I’ll be right here when you get back from what ever it is you are really going to do.” Lark sighs and reclines back down in the grass.  Boys go away, then (usually) they came back.  It’s the way of the world.  Girls stay with the sheep; the sheep make the wool that is woven into the fine cloth that is sold to the outside world.  The village prospers because the girls stay with the sheep.  It’s the nature of things.  

            Lark comes back from her memories as the ewe in her hands kicks; larks shears nick the skin and she reaches over for some tar to cover the wound, muttering under her breath.  She roles the sheep and continues on the sharp blades making the distinctive snick, snick as the wool falls away.

            “You know if you were paying attention we would be done now,” Abner calls over the sounds of lambs calling for their dams and the crashing of sheep reasserting dominance.  After all without wool things may have changed, if you’re a sheep you always have to check these things.

 Lark lets the shorn animal loose, “She was the last one,” Lark looks up at the sun, “I don’t think we’re late Abner.”

“Well it’s alright for you isn’t it?” She smiles at her childhood friend as he quickly washes his face and hands and then pulls off his smock, “It’s not like you have to be there on time.  It’s not like you run the thing.  Or even ever pick an apprentice early in the evening!”

“Abner, it’s not like they can start without you!” Lark laughs as she cleans up and takes the smocks, sheers and soap into the shed.

 They run to the school, like they did as children when she was fist chosen to apprentice in the Cotts, and he would come up and help when the work became heavy.  Abner never forgot his skills from home, and now he could not only do magic but at the same time he could weave a lovely rug to keep the floor warm.    The magic talent outweighs the weaving talent, but that doesn’t make him any less the Abner she grew up with.  They slip through the backdoor to the main school building and slow to a walk to give them time to catch their breath. 

Lark knows the building isn’t as old as everyone thinks it is when they first see it.  Of course it is built in a style that was popular a thousand years before, but the building it’s self is only a few hundred years old.  The building was carefully made to look old, the groves in the stairways were added for effect and the wood at the windows was un-naturally aged; but who wants to study magic in a building only two hundred years old? 

As they stop at the staff door to the dinning hall she smiles at Abner again, “See we aren’t late. You can’t be late!  When ever you get somewhere it’s just the perfect time!” and she shoves him through the door, she steps through behind him stifling a giggle as he stumbles.  Abner shoots her a look as she takes her place next to her husband, Archimedes.  Archimedes looks down at her and pulls a tuft of wool from her hair as Abner starts to speak:

“You have all come here to become Magus.  People may call you what they like: wizards, witches, warlocks, but you will know what you are. Magus.  Learned.  It makes no difference if your learning is of big spells and fireballs or the small quiet turnings of Nature.  You are here to learn.  And now you have learned enough to step onto the more personal path of your own Magic.  Now you will be chosen to apprentice one of the staff.”

Lark lets her attention fade off of Abner and lets her mind move over the assembled students trying to pick out one that will be a good choice for her apprentice.  There is the ready boy in the back corner, but she knows the Horse master has an eye on him, and the strong girl up front, but Archimedes has her picked out for his training.  There has to be someone who would be a good choice.  Someone who won’t be disturbed that the training they are getting is so slow, and lacks most of the flashy spells that ones like Abner would teach them. 

“Larken?”  Archimedes has to bend down to whisper in his wife’s ear, “Haven’t picked one yet?”

“Haven’t taught in the classroom this year, how can I choose if I don’t know them?”

“How about the boy halfway back against the left wall?” he watches his wife and then adds, “Our right, the left wall of the room.”  

She looks at the boy, he is plain and dull looking.  He doesn’t look stupid; he just has the look of someone trying not to be noticed.  She had heard about this one, “He’s supposed to be some religious fanatic.”    

“He prays,” Archimedes says in an amused tone, “He prays to the Shepard.  He also blasphemes the Shepard.  Almost as well as you, in my opinion.  Of course he’s my third choice, so you may not get him.”

“You’ve never had to go as far as your third choice.  What’s his name?”


“Oh no, the poor thing.”

“I guess his parents had no imagination.  He comes from out your way somewhere.”

“Not surprised with a name like that.”