A little background: this part of the story is being remembered rather than told. One of that characters is in a coma and cliche as it is, while he's in there, he goes through pretty much all the important events in his life. He does this as a 'series of firsts' so things like first kiss, first love, first serious injury, first time he felt truly hurt etc. etc.
The except that I'm going to post I actually really like. But, I'm curious to get opinions on it because it is a 'show and not tell' type of thing. Its the second 'first' and occurs when the character himself is six. A lot of the younger 'firsts' don't have dialogue because he simply wouldn't remember the actual dialogue. And on a random not the way the character behaves as a child is based pretty heavily on my devil of a younger brother who right now is seven.
The first time he ever performed magic deliberately, he was six.
Still a serious, quiet and distrusting young boy, with a sister whose hair had not quite grown back yet, he spent most of his time alone. He did not play with any of the other children in his village; in fact he was certain not a one of them even knew his name. He in fact, only spent time with his family and even then it was only for meals, fishing duties and when night fell. This worried his parents, though it never worried them before the other members of the village started raising their own concerns.
But there was little anyone could do. If scolded, Saul just stared as his punisher blankly, if spoken to he would listen carefully and then walk away. If a request was made of him he would silently decide whether he would do it or not and then leave after either his decision was made or the deed was done. So Saul played alone and on the outskirts of the village to avoid being bothered and spoken to. To avoid having people ask him to do favors, whether out of concern or because they thought they could exploit him he was never sure.
The village, like Saul’s family, was poor. It was next to the sea which was full to the brim of various fishes and other sea creatures. The sea was a most magnificent place, even fishing in relatively shallow water as the village did, most of the fish were twice the size of a normal man. Watching the sun reflect off the water, causing it to sparkle and shine while masses of colorful fish swam below his family’s tiny boat in the salty, clear water could make even a boy as somber as himself smile just a little. Yet despite the fertility of the water, the land itself was dry and barren.
If anybody wanted to eat anything other than fish they had to trade for it. While his father bartered and sold the fish they caught for other varieties of food, Nelea and Ette would take their meager amounts of money, and bountiful amounts of shellfish caught from nets, to another village to trade for good they could not get in their own village. These were things like cloth, thread, wood for fire, potions and medicines. It was on a day such as this, Nooj bartering on the docks, Nelea and Ette in town, that quiet, serious, distrusting Saul was forgotten and left behind. He was not overly worried about it, the time by himself would give him a chance to do whatever he pleased, and he got to do whatever he pleased so little. Though he was often alone, it was not enjoyable as he was more often than not saddled with chores or tasks or being pestered by other villagers to do them a favor. ‘Take this letter of there,’ ‘bring that wood over here,’ ‘go put this trash somewhere.’ They were menial tasks, ones that Saul would rather have not done. But the villagers would give him a small bit of coin for his work, so that almost made it worth the effort, when he felt like it.
Having a significant lack of motivation to do anybody else’s work for them Saul wandered his way to the just outside the village. Being of a dry climate there were few plants, the dusty soil lacking the proper nutrients to nourish anything. But there was one tree, it was old and dead. Leaves no longer sprung from it and it had taken on a color to match the dusty dirt of the ground. It was however, the perfect climbing tree, rising high up into the sky with many twisting, crooked branches. Even someone as small as Saul could reach the lowest branch and pull himself up higher and higher, almost to the top of the tree. It was one of the few things, like watching the fish in the shining ocean, that made him happy and brought a smile to his face.
So happy and elated in fact, that when climbing the tree he became quite distracted. Too distracted that was, to see the hornet’s nest on the bottom side of the branch he had just stepped on. There may not have been many plants growing by his home but there were many animals who, like the villagers, lived off the sea. And there were bugs and insects too, an overabundance of them if Saul was any judge. He hated bugs and insects. Hated the way they slithered on the ground or buzzed around his head, hated anything they did.
He spent a good deal of time up in the tree, enjoying the cool breeze and the view of the village and ocean. It was scenic and relaxing, spending hours up there felt like mere moments. But eventually he got tired, and hungry, and it was close to dark. So he started climbing his way down and, having not noticed the hornet’s nest earlier, kicked it after he slipped on a branch. Hornet’s being the nasty creatures that they are immediately became angry and buzzed after Saul, seeking certain vengeance.
They stung him all over, leaving stinging and burning welts. He had been stung before but never by so many hornets at once. He scrambled the rest of the way down the tree, as fast as he could to try and get away from them. But they kept stinging him and stinging him, stings on top of stings. They were endless and he was sure that the hornets were getting some awful sort of amusement from his scrambling and suffering.
It was at the point, when he was finally down from the tree that he knew he could not outrun them. He could try and run to the ocean to evade them, but by then he would be covered in so many stings it wouldn’t matter. Besides, they would have waited for him to resurface for air and start stinging him again, awful, demon creatures that they were. So he did what he vehemently told himself he would not do, he used magic.
He was not very good at it, having not allowed himself to do it, and thus robbing himself of practice. But with enough concentration he managed to create a sharp wind. Truly the wind was not that terrifying but the ground was covered in dust and dirt and rocks, which are deadly to anything that flies. So that by the time he eventually calmed himself down, the hornets all lay on the ground, dead or without wings and Saul emerged the lumpy, stung victor.
Confidence surged through him then. Perhaps magic was not so terrible, even if he couldn’t use it for fun. He had just used it in order to save himself and the feeling had been exhilarating. The feeling of defeating all those wasps felt equally as exhilarating and he spitefully began to step on piles of them, reveling in the satisfying crunch they made when he shoes descended down upon them. That feeling of excitement and righteous victory was quickly replaced by a feeling of immense pain. Saul may have emerged the winner, but he was still covered in all the stings they managed to inflict on him before he made his little wind storm.
Still his confidence in himself and in magic was not shaken. He had seen his mother use magic to help people who were hurt many times. It was in fact the thing she was best at, helping the sick and injured with her talents. He figured then, that if he concentrated hard enough he would be able to fix the stings himself, as he had been able to bring down the hornets when he concentrated enough.
It was at that moment in which Saul learned that concentration and confidence were not enough. He learned that he would need practice and training with a good teacher to get a full grasp on his newly beloved ability. This realization came about when he concentrated with all his might on healing the painful stings. But instead of healing the stings as he intended, he made his entire body one big, giant, throbbing welt, accidentally of course. His face was so swollen that not even his mother would have recognized it. His fingers and hands took on a circular shape and his feet suddenly became too big for his sandals, pressing against the now all too tight straps. The band of his pants, which had been loose and soft this morning, now felt like sandpaper rubbing into his skin.
Defeated in his own right he promptly fainted right there on the spot. When he awoke he found himself lying in the ocean, salt water helps the stings, surrounded by villagers staring at him with the utmost concern. Undoubtedly someone had found him and put him in the water to help, but Saul disliked attention and turned bright red and hurriedly ran from the scene back to his hut, where he hid underneath the table suffering his embarrassment until his mother came to him. Understanding what had happened, for no amount of hornet stings could have blown such a small boy up to that size, Nelea calmly told her son that he would be trained and taught and that would be that. He said nothing, but knew that that would be that and there was no point in arguing.
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