The next morning after breakfast, Jake and the boys took care of the chores. The boys had gotten good at the routine of the chores that they had been asked to do over the last couple of weeks, so with all of them working they were done fairly quickly. After the chores were done, Sean had Trevor and Zach get in one of the ranch trucks and drove off.
"Where are we going?"
"I'm going to start training you and Zach on your abilities and how to work together. This afternoon Jake and Robbie are going to work with all of you boys."
The two boys nodded their understanding and sat quietly as they drove. Sean drove them for about thirty minutes until they got to a remote area of the ranch. Sean stopped the truck and they all got out. The area was something like a small box canyon. There were rock walls on three sides with a taller rock wall near the back of the canyon. The floor of the canyon was littered with a few boulders of various sizes, some trees and scrub bushes. Near the entrance to the area there were several large flat rocks about two to three feet high that were just the right height to sit on. Nearby was a small stream. Sean motioned them to take a seat on the rocks, while he chose one across from them.
"Okay, now we start the important stuff. With the powers that you will have at your hands, you must be careful at all times. I'm sure in the martial arts training that you have been having with Jake, he has told you about not abusing the training that he was giving you?"
Both boys nodded.
"The same thing applies here. What you are going to learn should not be used to bully others. Use your powers only when you need to, not because it would be easier. I know that is something I really shouldn't have to tell you, but it needs to be said. Now that that's out of the way, let me tell you a little something about these powers. I told you some of the kinds of things that you may be able to do. We won't know everything you can do until after you have been training for a several days. As I said before, there are different kinds of power. Healing, combat, protection, enhancement, and mind. You have manifested some of these, and now with this training over the next few weeks, we will find out what you can really do. The powers we have are based on the energy of the elements around you. It is an energy that can be used from all around you and from inside you. What's inside is where your healing powers come from. Okay, first, let's get started. Trevor, sit on the ground over there; Zach, sit next to him and make yourselves comfortable."
Sean sat on the ground across from them.
"Boys, now close your eyes and take slow deep breaths until I tell you to stop. Try to relax and be calm."
The boys started breathing slowly and deeply.
"Good... very good... now, Trevor, focus your mind deep inside yourself. Look for a glow. You will know it when you see it. Relax and let yourself go.
Sean watched them for a few moments.
"Zach, for now reach out and touch Trevor with your hand."
Zach took Trevor's hand as Trevor concentrated, and soon he could see the same sort of glow that Mikey had helped him see when he had been in the coma after being shot. He found himself seeing and feeling that same glow coming from inside his body. He pushed that awareness out, and he was able to see the glow that came from within Zach and then Sean. Zach's was very bright and warm; he was comforted by it. Sean's glow had a hardened steel strength to it. Trevor started to move outward but was stopped by Sean's voice.
"Hold on, Little Wolf. Come on back."
Trevor opened his eyes and saw Sean sitting across from him once again. He felt a little sweaty and tired.
"That was good. I stopped you because I don't want you wandering around yet. Now I want you to practice getting to that glow as quick as you can, we call it centering. Zach, keep that connection with Trevor; try to concentrate on Trevor and feel his power; for now just ride along with it, don't do anything yet."
The two boys sat there for the next hour as Sean guided them in centering. Soon Zach was able to see what Trevor was seeing. By the end of the hour, Trevor could reach it in a few seconds. Trevor was kind of sweaty like he had been working or playing hard in the hot sun. Sean congratulated him.
"Very good. Zach, were you watching as I told you?"
"Good, now we're going to do something a little different. Trevor, I want you to move the consciousness outward just a little and concentrate on all the living things around you. Zach, you saw the glow?"
"Yes, grandfather, I did."
"What I want you to do now is to watch Trevor's energy. When you see it weaken, the glow of his spirit will dim a little. I want you to push your energy toward him. We aren't going to be doing this long, so you're not going to use much of your energy, but I want you to get an idea of what it is like to push the energy toward him."
"Okay. Ready when you are, Trev."
"All right, Trevor, prepare yourself and then move outward and look at the plants and animals around us. I will tell you when to come back. Zach, be ready."
Trevor nodded and quickly centered. He pushed his awareness outward and soon could see the faint glow from the living things around him. The glows from plants were faint when compared to the glow from animals. He started to move outward and looked all around the area; he could see small creatures nearby. After a little while he started to feel tired and started to head back, and then he felt his energy strengthen, and he looked at the energy of Zach and could see a small stream of energy connecting the two of them. Trevor continued looking around, ranging farther afield. He seemed to move a little faster and found himself being drawn to a strong glow. As he neared it, he recognized Jake and the other two boys; he also saw that Robbie was there as well. There was a continuous flow of renewing energy that kept him strong as he moved around looking at the horses, cows and other animals. He saw the ranch hands working around the ranch. He felt a pull on him to bring his awareness back to Sean. In seconds he opened his eyes and found himself looking at Sean's grinning face. Both of the boys' hair was plastered to their head with sweat. They both looked a little like they had been working out, but both boys smiled back at Sean.
"Very good. You did that well."
"Thanks, that was kind of cool. I could feel Zach feeding me energy when I felt a little weak."
"Zach, how did you feel?"
"Like Trevor said, it was cool. I could feel when his power weakened, and I kinda pushed towards him, and I could see him get stronger and we would continue."
"Now, Zach, it is your turn. I've never worked with a bonded pair. I've met a very few, and what I want to try with you is something that they told me, although they couldn't explain how it worked very well. So I'm kind of guessing here. Trevor, get to your center. Trevor, just stay centered, Zach, I want you to connect with Trevor so that you can see the glow."
Sean waited a few moments before he closed his eyes and concentrated on the two boys. He was able to see the glow of the spirit inside the two boys and the connection between them; he smiled.
"Now, Zach, I was told that the Companion sort of reached out to the earth, and they said it was like reaching down and gripping the earth. So, like you saw Trevor do when he pushed himself outward, I want you to push downward and "grab the earth."
Sean watched as Zach struggled a little as he tried to push his awareness into the land. After a few minutes of struggle, Sean saw a connection from Zach to the land. It held for a little while before it faded.
"Good first try, Zach; now once again, reach for the land. My friends said that if you try too hard and don't stay relaxed and try to force it, it doesn't hold. So stay relaxed and try to gently reach down to the ground. Okay, go ahead."
Sean watched again as Zach reached out and was able to make the connection after a short time; again it started to waver.
'I'm here with you, Zach.'
Sean did not hear what Trevor sent to Zach, but he noticed the connection strengthen and hold.
"Very good. Now, Trevor, once again, send your spirit outward; Zach, once again, when you see the weakening, push your energy toward him, but this time pull from your connection to the land as well."
Trevor cast himself forth again and wandered far afield, feeling everything. As he started to weaken, he felt more energy entering him. He moved out in a different direction and soon felt a pull toward a part of the ranch he hadn't looked at before. The location seemed to feel more alive and familiar. As his spirit neared it, he realized that it was the area of the swimming hole. Everything seemed to have more life to it. The trees and plants in the area showed a little brighter to his senses. He felt stronger and the area seemed to renew him a little as well. He felt Sean calling him back, and he came back to Sean and Zach. He opened his eyes. Both boys now were even more sweat soaked than before, and Zach was breathing hard, like he had just finished running. Sean handed them some Toblerone chocolate and a Nalgene bottle.
"Here, eat this, it will replenish some of your energy."
The boys took both gratefully and refreshed themselves.
"You boys definitely have a very strong bond. It will take you far. You have progressed well. This is going to be fun. I can't wait to see what all you can do. I am proud of both of you. I think that's enough for today. Let's go get some lunch, relax a little and then this afternoon all you boys will be going with Jake. I might even let Robbie go with you guys. Now, Zach, what did it feel like?"
"It's hard to say; I could feel the power in the earth, but couldn't easily pull anything from it."
"Well, it was a good try for the first time. We'll have to work some more on that. I wish I could help more, but I just have little experience with a bonded pair. But I have faith in the two of you, and together we will figure it out."
"Thanks for teaching us, Grandpa."
"I knew that I wouldn't get this chance with Jake. So I am real happy that he found me a grandson that I can do this with. I think that's enough for today. So let's get going, boys."
The boys smiled as they got in the truck. Sean drove them back and arrived just as Shayna came out to tell everyone that lunch was ready. From the stables Jake, Robbie and the other boys came to wash up and eat lunch. After lunch Jake gathered the boys' together out in the ranch yard. Robbie stood beside him.
"Okay, guys, it's my turn this afternoon. I've been teaching you guys' martial arts, and Cody, I will start that with you while the other boys practice what I have taught them. After we have done that for awhile, then we'll start the real fun stuff."
"What kind of fun stuff, Uncle Jake?"
"I think I'll keep that for a surprise."
He gave them a grin and led them out to the Jeeps, his and Robbie's. The boys piled in and they drove off. They drove off along some of the dirt roads on the ranch. After fifteen minutes, Jake turned down a faint road and followed the break through the trees until they arrived a few minutes later in an open area surrounded by trees with a small hill on one side. Jake stopped and Robbie pulled up next to him. Everyone piled out. Jake and Robbie led them over to a shaded area.
"Okay, first we're going to stretch those muscles and warm up, and then for you four, Robbie will lead you through your blocks and strikes. Cody, have you ever taken any martial arts?"
"Cody, call my Jake or Uncle Jake. You don't need to call me sir."
"Sure... uh, Jake."
"Okay, then Cody, you come over here with me, and I'll get you started."
Robbie got the four lined up and started them on stretching, while Jake took Cody a little ways off.
"Cody, have you done any kind of stretching like in school, before you exercise or run, like in PE?"
"Okay, then that's all we're doing. See what they're doing? We're going to do the same thing. When we're warmed up, I'm going to start teaching you some basic techniques."
"Let's get started."
They got to work. After fifteen minutes, Jake and Cody were sitting down and doing some final stretches.
"All of this is real, isn't it? The magic stuff and all that, it's real."
"Yeah, it is. It's all real. Are you okay with it?"
"I think so. It's scary but, I haven't felt like I do around you guys for a long time. I feel safe around you guys."
"That's what we do. At least that is what my dad says all the time."
"How old were you when you found out about it? Were you like my age or were you younger?"
"What's so funny?"
"Cody, I found out about this about three weeks ago."
"Three weeks? Really?"
"Yeah. I knew my dad was an elder of the Cheyenne nation. There were always people coming around to talk to my dad. When I was a kid, I thought he had a lot of friends and they always were coming by to visit. As I got older I thought they were coming for advice, and I thought it was cool the way that he was respected. Now I know a bit more, and on top of that I find he can do some pretty incredible things, and at about the same time I find out my son is the same. So you could say it was a little bit of a surprise."
"Yeah, I guess so."
"So how did you find out?"
"Well, that... is kind of a long story for another time. For now, let's get to work."
They got up and Jake started going through the basic stance and then moving through some basic blocks. Robbie had the other boys going through the more complicated blocks and strikes. Jake and Robbie kept the boys going for about an hour before stopping. They grabbed their Nalgene bottles from the cooler in Jake's Jeep.
"Okay, now for the real fun stuff. Let's go over to Robbie's Jeep and get the stuff we're going to need."
They walked over to the Jeep. In the back were some narrow wooden frames. One end of the frames had thick cardboard attached to it. They each took one of the frames and followed Robbie across the field towards the hill. Partway across the clearing they came to a line of what looked like PVC pipes driven into the ground. Robbie put the legs of the frame into one set of pipes so that the cardboard was at the upper end. The others copied his movements until there was a line of the wooden frames in front of the hill. They walked back to Jake's Jeep. He opened the back and handed out some staple guns and a stack of targets.
"Okay, boys, go and staple a target on each target frame. Then we're going to teach you how to shoot."
The boys ran to the frames and started stapling the targets to the frames. They ran back and Jake handed them a few padded moving blankets. He pulled out several gun cases and a couple of smaller soft cases. He handed some of them to Robbie and took a couple in his hand and an ammo box in the other. They walked over and he directed the boys to lay the blankets out. He and Robbie opened all the cases. They took several different types of .22 caliber rifles. A couple of them had scopes attached; the rest were open sights. The two smaller cases held sighting scopes and hearing and eye protection. Jake had the boys sit down around him on one of the blankets.
"Okay, guys, like I said, now for the fun stuff. As you can see, we're going to teach you guys how to shoot. Tom and I had planned to do this soon. But with everything that has happened, we thought that now was as good a time as any to teach you guys, and that now includes you, Cody."
Jake drew with his finger in the dirt; a 'V' with a line from the point of the 'V', up towards the open end and a circle on the top of the 'V'. The boys leaned forward to watch him.
"This is the sight picture you are looking for when you aim at the target. The circle here is the center of your target. Set up your sight picture properly, and you will hit what you aim at. So let's get started."
Jake and Robbie started handing out the rifles to each boy. He directed them to position themselves sitting on the blankets and to lay the guns down on the blanket next to them. He had them also put the hearing protection around their necks and the eye protection covering their eyes. Once everyone was set Jake stood in front of them.
"We're going to start with the kneeling position, as it can be a very steady position to shoot from. Robbie hand me a rifle... thanks. You kneel down in this position and hold the rifle like this and line up your sights. Then take a breath, blow half of it out and hold it, get your sight picture and squeeze the trigger, don't jerk it. Any questions?"
Everybody shook their heads no.
"Okay, there are a few rules you need to keep in mind. Always point the gun down range and in a safe direction. Always keep your hand off the trigger until you're ready to shoot. Never load the gun until you are ready to use it. Always listen to the Rangemaster's commands when on a gun range. Treat every gun as if it was loaded, even if you 'know' it's not loaded. A lot of people have been killed or hurt by 'unloaded' guns. Keep these rules in mind, and you will never have an accident with a gun. Everyone put on your hearing and eye protection and let's do some shooting."
He and Robbie got them positioned facing the targets. They helped each of the boys get in position and put a small box of ammo next to each one. They helped the boys load the guns and then stood to the side, gave them some last directions, before Jake gave the range instructions.
"Ready on the right? Ready on the left? Range is ready. Take off the safety and commence firing. Boys, when you have finished shooting the ammo in your gun, lay it down with the action open and step back behind the line. Have fun, boys."
With grins on their faces, the boys looked at each other and began firing at the targets. Jake and Robbie moved around behind the boys and looked at their targets through the sighting scopes. As each boy finished his shots, he laid the gun down, got up and stood behind his position. Jake waited until everyone was through.
"Clear on the left? Clear on the right? All clear! Range is closed. Okay, boys, let's go look at your targets."
The group walked across the clearing to the targets. Each of the boys stood in front of his own target and looked at them. The bullet holes were spread around the paper on all of the targets.
"As you can see, you guys are all over the place, but I didn't expect you guys to be sharpshooters on your first try. Leave the targets up here and we'll go back to the line."
They made their way back to the line. Jake had the boys return to their places.
"Okay, guys. Robbie and I will show you how to load the magazines, and then once you have loaded ten rounds, hold your hand up. When everyone is ready, I will allow you to fire. When you finish the ten rounds, put your gun down and wait for further range commands. Remember your sight picture and take your time to squeeze the trigger; don't jerk it."
For the next couple of minutes they showed the boys how to load the guns. Once everyone was ready, Jake gave the range commands and they started firing. As they emptied the guns, they put them down and waited. Once everyone was finished, Jake had them reload and continue firing until they had emptied the boxes of ammunition. Once everyone was done, Jake led them out to the targets. The bullet holes were still a bit spread around, but there were some good shots as well. Jake turned to them.
"Not too bad. Jared, very nice grouping, you're shooting well. There are still be some flyers, but you'll get better. Let's go back, and this time you can take turns shooting the scoped rifles. You'll see a difference in your shooting."
They went back to the line; he and Robbie loaded the scoped rifles and let the boys take turns using them. After everyone had shot them, they walked out to the targets and looked at the results. There was a marked difference in their shooting. They took the stands down and loaded them and the guns back into the Jeeps. Everyone piled in and they headed back to the house. When they got back, Jake and Robbie taught them how to clean the guns. That evening after dinner the boys introduced Cody to the hot tub.
The next day, Robbie came by early to pick Cody up so that they could pick up his stuff from his old home. Sean continued the training of Trevor and Zach and continued what they had been doing the day before. Again Zach had some trouble with keeping the connection, but continued to improve. Cody and Robbie returned in time to go out to the range and train some more. The schedule of training in the morning and afternoon continued for the rest of the week. That weekend the boys went riding out to the pond and met Sean, Jake and Robbie, who had driven out there. The boys swam while the adults took the sweat lodge down and loaded all the stuff into the Jeeps. Once everything was done, they joined the boys in the pond. They left a little later and met up back at the house. That evening Ms. Plainfeather came by to talk to everyone. They gathered in the den to talk.
"I have some news for you, Mr. Brave Horse. Your background check came back clean. I have some paperwork for you to sign, and you will be contacted with a court date for you, Cody, and his grandparents."
"Does that mean that I can stay with Robbie now?"
"Yes, it does. Robbie is your temporary guardian until the court date. At that time, if the judge agrees, he will be your permanent guardian. Oh, and Mr. Brave Horse, your fiancée should be at court as well."
"Thank you so much. Well, Cody, would you like to come home with me tonight?"
"Sure, from now on it's your home too."
"Will we come back here to visit?"
"Of course, we have work to do, so you'll be here almost every day."
"Cool. Mr. MacLaren, thank you for what you have done for me. I appreciate it."
"Of course, Cody. I'm glad we could help you out. Welcome to the family."
Ms. Plainfeather left with the newly signed papers. Soon after she left, Cody said goodbye to everyone and left with Robbie for his new home.
Monday morning Robbie arrived and Cody jumped out to greet the boys. They immediately went into the stables to start working. Sean gathered Trevor and Zach for their lessons; Jake went with them this time. Once at the place, they gathered around Sean.
"Boys, you're doing very good. Since I have never worked with a bonded pair, I didn't know what to expect on how fast you would learn, but I think that after last week, it is time to move to the next level. We are actually going to work on a couple of things today. I asked Jake to come here, because we are going to use him as a guinea pig."
"That's not exactly what you told me this morning, Dad."
"True, but what I told you this morning was true, just not at first."
"So what are we doing first?"
"Zachary, go and grab that blanket in the back of the truck and bring it over here and lay it down."
Zach came back with the blanket and laid it down.
"Jake, lay down on your back."
Jake gave him a suspicious look and lay down.
"Trevor, I want you to kneel next to Jake; Zachary you kneel behind Trevor. I'll be on the other side of Jake. What we are going to do, I want you to link with me; we practiced that last week, and now we're going to put it into practice so that I can show you some things. Put your hands over mine."
They got into position. Sean laid his hands on Jake's chest. Trevor closed his eyes and laid his hands on Sean's. Because of the practice from last week, he quickly centered himself. He could see and feel Zach's bond with him, and with Jake here, he could also see and feel his bond with Jake; they both looked like a rope of energy connecting the three of them. He quickly linked to Sean; it manifested in his mind's eye as a knot, in the line of power, something like tying two rope ends together, instead of the unbroken line that was characteristic of his bond with Jake and Zach. Once the link was formed, Sean spoke to him mind to mind.
'Trevor, now I want you to follow what I do. The purpose of this is to learn how to use your healing gift. We are going to travel into Jake's body and look at things. I know that Jake has no medical problems, so he will give you a base to start from. We are going to look at how things should be. With our healing gifts, what we do is put things back where they should be when they are out of place, and take out what shouldn't be there. Now this is one of the harder things we can do. Combat is relatively easy compared to this. A living being is extremely complex, and so you must always take care when you do this. Inside a person, we must look beyond that glow, their spirit or life energy, to the body itself. Now follow me, do as I do and feel free to ask questions as we go.'
Trevor followed Sean's consciousness as they sank inside of Jake. Sean led him into Jake's body. Trevor dropped behind for a few moments until he figured out how to see beyond the glow inside Jake, and he could start making out the shapes inside. He could feel the congratulations from Sean when he figured it out. Sean led him slowly as they skimmed over everything inside. He showed him how everything should look and where it belonged. It wasn't like they were moving through things like blood vessels, but more like he could scan over the various parts and Sean would direct his attention to the parts as they came to them. Finally, Sean led them back out until they were looking down on Jake again; Trevor noticed that he and Sean were glowing as well until they broke the link. Jake and Zach were smiling at them.
"That was cool, Trev. You and Grandfather glowed, and then the glow seemed to flow down into Uncle Jake, and then he was glowing a little too. Then just a moment ago all the glow on Uncle Jake went up into your arms until you were both glowing again."
"So Trevor, now you have seen how things are supposed to look. I want you to center again and remember what we have just done and commit what you have seen to memory. Once you have done that, it will always be in the back of your mind as to what normal is."
Trevor nodded and closed his eyes; he centered and reviewed what they had just done. He was silent for a few minutes as the others watched. Zach gently put his arms around Trevor from behind and poured his love into him. When he finished, he opened his eyes and turned to look at Zach and smile. Zach gave him a quick kiss and they turned their attention back to Sean.
"You have it now?"
"Now that you have the basics, the only way to really learn is to practice, but that will have to wait until someone is actually hurt. I will not intentionally hurt anyone for teaching purposes. A dark mage would, but not me."
"You mean dark mages can heal too?"
"Yes, many of them have that power as well. If you think about it, you can see that what you know can be used to hurt or heal."
"I understand. If I know where things are supposed to be and what shouldn't be there, then if I change that, it could cause harm."
"Yes. Now thankfully they can't put something in a person, like a disease, but they could break a bone or something like that which would cause pain. This is important for you to remember. Although you can heal people, you are not all powerful. You cannot go around healing anyone that you see that is hurt. If you do, you will quickly burn yourself out and could die. You will be able to do more, because of Zach, but you could draw both of you down quickly and kill yourselves if you're not careful. Understand?"
"As healers we keep a low profile, which I have already explained to you. A lot of people suddenly being healed by miraculous means could bring attention down on ourselves that we don't need. People are afraid of what they don't understand, and very bad things could happen if we were found out. So remember, work behind the scenes. There are some things that we just can't fix. Sometimes a body is too damaged or disease ridden to heal. Let them go. They are going to a better place with the Great Spirit. We cannot regenerate something that is not there. If someone has lost a kidney, we can't give them a new one, same with a leg, arm, etc., so don't try it. We can only repair what is damaged and we are limited in that. So I don't want you running to the first hospital you can and start healing people. I know it seems harsh, but it is necessary for our survival and safety. Do you understand?"
"Yes, Grandfather. It sucks but I do understand."
"I agree, it does... suck. People will get sick and hurt and we can't help all of them. For your homework tonight, I am sure that after your workout this afternoon, there will be some sore muscles, so I want you to practice seeing if you can ease the ache that they cause in the boys. For now, I am going to teach you some defense. You can get up now, Jake."
They all stood up and Sean had the two boys stand to the side while he faced Jake.
"Watch what I do now."
Sean stood there and they saw a shimmer in the air around him and then it cleared away.
"I want each of you to come up and hit me as hard as you can."
"Hit me, don't worry, I'll be fine."
The three of them walked over to Sean and gave him half hearted punches. When they did, they felt a slightly yielding surface stop the punches.
"I said hit me, like you mean it. I will not be hurt."
They shrugged and increased the force of their punches. When they hit the barrier this time it stung a little. The boys shook their hands after hitting him. Sean smiled.
"Jake, there is a spear in the back of the truck; grab it and come back."
Jake returned holding a spear.
"Now Jake, I want you to stab the spear at me as hard as you can."
"Uh, are you sure, Dad?"
"Yep, go ahead. I told you, I won't be hurt."
Jake had an apprehensive look on his face as he set himself and jabbed forward. You could see he was nervous, so it wasn't a very hard jab. Still the spear did stop and did not touch Sean.
Jake saw that there was no effect; he smiled in relief and jabbed again harder than before. Sean continued to tell him to do it harder, until Jake put his strength behind it, and when he hit Sean, it knocked him down. Jake dropped the spear as if it was burning his hands and started to go to his dad, but Sean jumped back up, looking fine. There was a shimmer again around him.
"There you see. I am fine, no injury. That last one was just a bit strong. What I just showed you was a physical shield that I put up around my body. I made the air around me harder and that stopped your fists and the spear from reaching me. I want to show you one more thing and then I will teach you how to do it. Jake, go pick up the spear and all of you follow me."
They walked over to some trees nearby and Sean put his hands on the tree trunk. They saw a shimmer come into view around a portion of the tree trunk. He took his hands away and turned to the others.
"Okay, Jake, throw the spear at the tree trunk."
Jake nodded and threw the spear. It sailed towards the tree and hit the barrier on the trunk and fell to the ground.
"Jake, do you have your sword?"
"Yeah, I carry it everywhere with me now."
"Good, please draw it out."
The boys watched as he reached to his waist on the left side and grasped something invisible. He drew the katana out and held it in his hands. There was a very faint glow to the blade.
"Wow! When did you learn how to do that, Dad?"
"Your Grandfather taught me how last week."
"That is really cool. Can you feel it there?"
"No, I really don't. I know it's there, but it does interfere with my movements."
"Okay Jake, now using your sword, I want you to attack the tree as if you were attacking an enemy."
Jake nodded and moved forward and began to make strikes against the trunk. As he hit the trunk, there were flashes like sparks from the barrier that was around the trunk as the sword blade met the barrier. Jake increased his effort and soon they saw that beneath the sparks, chips of the tree trunk fell at his blows. He continued until Sean called for him to stop.
"That was a demonstration of what a Guardian's blade can do. It can breach what we can put up. As you can see, it gave some protection, but it is not impervious to the blade. Jake, do you have a gun with you?"
"Yeah, it's in the truck, I'll go get it."
Jake came back with his Browning pistol. Sean smiled when he saw it.
"I see you still have the Browning."
"It's my favorite gun."
"All right, empty the gun into the tree."
"Shouldn't the boys stand back, in case of ricochets?"
"Why, are you so out of practice that you can't hit the trunk?"
"Noooo... I just don't want them to be hurt by anything bouncing off the barrier."
"They are fine where they are. Go ahead; boys, cover your ears."
Jake took his shooting stance; the boys put their fingers in their ears to block the sound. Sean just stood there. Jake started shooting and quickly emptied the magazine. They watched as the bullets struck the barrier and fell to the ground at the foot of the tree.
"As you see, the bullets lose all their velocity, so there is no danger of a ricochet hurting anyone nearby."
"That's pretty good."
"Grandfather, why didn't you cover your ears when Jake fired?"
"I made the air in my ears like harder, like when I brought up the shield, and it blocked the sound."
"Trevor, come over here and I will show you how to make the barrier."
Trevor joined him and they linked once again. Sean showed him and then had him practice bringing the barrier up and around him. He had Zach and Jake lightly toss rocks at Trevor to see how his barrier was working. Sometimes an occasional rock came through, but he had the general idea down in a short time. Sean called a halt and they picked everything up and headed back to the house. After lunch, Jake and Robbie took the five boys out to the shooting range. They worked on martial arts first and then they took all the equipment out and set up the targets once again. Once everything was set up, Jake called them together once again.
"You guys have done well and you are getting better. This week we are going to continue to practice, but we are going to have you guys learn how to shoot in different positions, because you won't always be able to take the time to get into the kneeling position. The other positions offer advantages and disadvantages. The additional positions that you are going to learn are: prone, sitting and standing. We'll spend a little time each day practicing each position. Any questions?"
There were no questions, so they began the instruction. By the end of the day, all of the boys had fired fifty rounds from each position. After they were finished, they picked everything up and went back to the house, where they once again cleaned the guns that they had used. Jake took the cleaned guns and put them away. That evening Trevor tried what he had learned on each of the boys to see if he could ease some of their minor aches. He could occasionally ease the ache slightly, but never completely. The magic instruction, martial arts and the shooting instruction continued throughout the week until Thursday, because there were preparations to be finished up.
This upcoming Saturday Robbie and Ginny were getting married. The wedding was going to be held at the ranch, so everyone was put to work getting the place cleaned up. It was going to be held outside and Sean was going to be presiding, with Marian Brave Horse assisting him. On Friday, a package arrived from California. Inside were the buckskin clothes that the boys had worn for Jake and Sandy's wedding. There was also a letter from Tom and Terry, giving Jake an update on the search for James Harvey and a couple of other things concerning the business. Ginny's parents flew in from Scotland on Friday. They stayed at Ginny's apartment with her. Her mom helped Ginny get ready, while her dad went out to the ranch to keep out of the way. Jim, Marian and Robbie were also at the ranch to help with the preparations.
On Saturday everyone was gathered at the ranch. All the family, including the Red Wolfs, Cody's grandparents, were there, plus other friends and family from the area. Jake and the boys were wearing their 'wedding' clothes. Sean and Marian were up at the front in their gleaming white buckskins. Jake stood next to Robbie as his best man, both of them in white buckskins. Across from them was a young lady who was a friend of Ginny's as her Maid of Honor. She was dressed in the Kilpatrick Tartan. The four boys were dressed in their wedding buckskins. They stood by as groomsman. Heather Kilpatrick, Ginny's mom, came down the aisle to her seat, wearing a dress made of the Kilpatrick tartan, with a length of the tartan crossing her right shoulder as a sash and pinned in place a with a large brooch of the clan crest. Off to the side was a large drum surrounded by several singers. Soon after she sat down, music started and Cody came down the aisle. When the boys saw Cody, they grinned at him; he grinned back. He was dressed in a Highland dress kilt made of the Kilpatrick tartan with a silver mounted dress sporran. In his sock was the Sgian Dubh, which every good Scotsman carried when they wore their kilt. On his head he wore a Glengarry cap with the Kilpatrick Clan badge pinned to it. In his hands on a tartan pillow he carried the rings for the bride and groom. Many people took pictures of Cody, and he greeted them all with a wide grin. Everyone's attention was then taken by the sight of William Kilpatrick and Ginny as they came out of the house and down the back steps of the deck. Instead of a white wedding gown, Ginny wore a white lace top with the Kilpatrick tartan sash over her shoulder and a dress of the same tartan. Flowers were laced in her hair. William was dressed in his dress kilt, similar to what Cody wore. Cody walked over to where Jake stood as William escorted Ginny over to where Robbie stood. He gave her a kiss before giving her hand over to Robbie and joining his wife in the front pew. The couple turned to face Sean and Marian.
"Great Spirit we are here today to join these two people together from this day until the ending of all. They stand before you, their family and friends to make a solemn promise to love and cherish each other forever."
"Does the family of the bride give their consent and blessing that these two will be joined as one?"
William and Heather stood up.
"Does the family of the groom give their consent and blessing that these two will be joined as one?"
Robbie's father stood up and Marian stepped forward next to Sean.
"As the families agree that these two should be one, we ask the Great Spirit for his blessing."
Sean started to sing a prayer and Marian joined him after a few words. In the background there was a soft deep drumming sound as they sang. The song and the drumming ended.
"Robert Brave Horse, Komaestse hotohke o'ha. You have been given your family's blessing and consent. Say what is in your heart, the Great Spirit will hear you."
"Virginia Kilpatrick, before the Great Spirit, I give my word that I will live together with you as one. We will live as one, love as one, grow as one. Because we are one, none shall come between us. As one, life will be good. My heart is now complete as we are one."
Marian stepped forward as Sean stepped back.
"Virginia Heather Kilpatrick. You have the blessings and consent of your family. Say what is in your heart, the Great Spirit will hear you."
"Robbie Brave Horse. I'll stand at your side as you need me. Know that I'll be ever near. Whenever ye need me, just glance to your side and know that I'll be there. We have our whole lives ahead o' us, and it'll be a wondrous journey together. If ever the dark threatens us, know that I'll be there to beat it back. Let's start the journey, mo chroidh."
Sean and Marian exchanged places again.
"You have made your promises before your families, friends and the Great Spirit. They have heard this promise and the strength of it rings true. The rings, please?"
Cody turned to Jake, who took one of the rings, and then walked over to Ginny's friend, and she took the other ring. Once Cody was back in his place, Jake handed the ring to Robbie. Robbie took Ginny's hand and placed the ring on her finger. She turned and took the ring from her friend and took Robbie's hand to place the ring on his finger. They joined hands, and Marian and Sean stepped forward and took their joined left hands in theirs. They once again sang a prayer together.
"Robert and Virginia, long life in service to the Great Spirit and to each other. You may kiss the bride."
The two kissed to the cheers of the crowd. When they finished, the drum started to beat again and the singers sang a song of congratulations to the couple. The couple led everyone over to another area of the lawn, where tables were set up for the reception. The boys crowded around Cody.
"Where'd you get those clothes?"
"Grandpa William brought them with him from Scotland. Cool, huh?"
"Yeah, they are, pretty cool. I wouldn't mind having clothes like that. They really look cool."
"Yeah, they are."
William Kilpatrick walked by as they said that; he looked at them and smiled. He made his way over to Sean.
"Please call me Sean."
"O' course, Sean. I just had a thought and wanted te ask ye somthin'. Since yer lahst name is MacLaren, I'm assuming, all appearances to the contrary, ye've got some Scots in ye."
"Yes, my father was Scottish."
"Good. Ahn the four lads call ye Grandfahther, so I take it, they're kin to ye."
"Yes and no. Two of them are my son Jake's adopted sons, Jeremy and Trevor. The other two, Zachary and Jared, are the sons of Jake's best friend Tom, but they have called me Grandfather for as long as I've known them, so in a way, they are my grandsons. So except for the ties of blood they are."
"They're good lads. I see how they've taken te Cody ahnd treat him as a brother. I like them, I'd like te get them sumthin te show my appreciation. Who made the clothes they're wearin'?"
"My wife did."
"Thank you. If ye'll excuse me, I have sumthin' te discuss with yer wife."
Sean nodded and William shook his hand before he made his way through the people to Shayna's side.
"Shayna. I have sumthin' to ahsk ye."
"Sure, ask away."
"Would ye happen te have ye're grandsons' measurements, for clothes. All four of the lads o' course. Sean told me that ye made the clothes they're wearin'."
"Yes, I have them in the house."
"Would it be possible fer me te get a copy o' them?"
"Of course, if you wish."
"No rush o' course, but if it would be possible I'd like te get them today."
"I'll go get them first chance I get and bring them to you."
"Thank ye. If ye'll excuse me, I'm goin' te find my wife."
William left to find Heather. Shayna watched him go with a puzzled look, but shrugged it off. The reception eventually wound down and the guests said their goodbyes until only the family was left. The company that had catered the reception had finally cleaned up everything and gotten all of their equipment cleared out. The family stood together out in front of the house to say their goodbyes.
"Well, Mr. and Mrs. Brave Horse, you need to get going. You have an early day tomorrow."
"Thanks, Sean. Cody, have fun, we'll see you when we get back next weekend. We'll be sure to bring you some souvenirs from Hawaii. Boys, we won't forget you either. Thanks everyone for being with us for this, it made it special. Well, we better get going, honey."
Cody went over to give them both a hug goodbye. Everyone gave the couple goodbye hugs. They waved as they got in Robbie's Jeep and drove off. The Kilpatricks and the elder Brave Horses said their goodbyes as well. With everyone gone, the family trooped back into the house. Everyone was tired after a really great day. They all said their goodnights and went up to bed. Cody slept in one of the guestrooms where he had already put the clothes that he had brought with him for the week that he was going to be staying with the family.