Plants, she had explained, were simply extensions of the soil in which they grew. Because of that, she could control their growth, making them grow faster or bigger, or in the case of weeds: choking the life out of them. She could even control how much fruit a plant produced and when.
He glanced at the recently pruned apple trees, and a lopsided grin split his face. Once when he was little he had watched her make a dozen apples grow so she could make him a pie for his birthday. No small feat considering there had been snow on the ground when she did it. He had enjoyed the pie so much that he told his classmates about it the next day. Most of them had believed, but Kinsten Heril told the teacher what he'd said and she had scolded him for telling lies. She'd also made him write two hundred times: Apples don't grow in winter.
His grin widened. Well, on his mother's tree they did, and he had enjoyed apple pie for his birthday every year since. Kinsten and his teacher may not have believed, but some of his friends - Tana, Bornis, and a few others - had seen Brysia work her magic, and they were fine with her being Gifted. It was the older generation who were fearful. His experience with Luecas Sabhin had taught him that.
The summer following the pie incident Luecas had stopped by to ask what his mother was doing for her garden to make it look so nice. Without thinking, he'd told the aging farmer the truth, and Luecas had grabbed him by the front of his shirt and shook him so hard his teeth rattled. Don't you ever make jokes like that, boy, he had yelled. There be those in the world who would hurt your ma if they thought it was true.
He had never been sure if Luecas included himself in his statement, but he had kept an eye on the man ever since. He hadn't let the truth slip again either. It seemed it didn't matter how long people had known each other, the fear of Ta'shaen was stronger than any bond of friendship they may have formed. Simply put, Earthpower made people nervous.
And it didn't matter how weak or strong the Gift was; the fact that a person could wield Ta'shaen at all was terrifying to most people. Many wouldn't even call it by its real name, referring to it instead as witchcraft or sorcery, usually in hushed, nervous voices while they cast guarded looks at those around them.
He glanced across the yard once more. He was sure some of the older people in the village suspected that his mother was Gifted but chose to ignore it out of a need to disbelieve in such things. And if not that, they likely ignored it out of respect for who she was. Even someone as volatile as Luecas wasn't stupid enough to think mob justice could be used on the Sister Queen of Kelsa. There would be none of the so-called witch hunts in Kindel's Grove. Not with Daris Stodd as Brysia's warder.
And not as long as I live either, Jase thought darkly. He was big enough and skilled enough now to make ten men like Luecas think twice before applying their misguided brand of justice. He just wished he could do more to help those who didn't have the luxury of a half dozen warders. Outside of Kindel's Grove many Gifted had been killed by their villages when they manifested some ability with Ta'shaen.
Ignorant fools, he thought. Why are people so afraid of what they don't understand?
The irony of that last thought stopped him in mid-stride. Hypocrite, a voice in his head taunted. You're afraid too. Afraid of what you might discover about yourself.
He forced the voice away and started walking again. He just needed more time, that was all. Time to get used to the idea that he, too, had received Gifts. That, like his mother, he could wield Ta'shaen.
He glanced at the flowers growing a full month early in the planter box under the kitchen window and pursed his lips. Knowing of her Gift of Power didn't bother him. Strange that being like her did. So what if Ta'shaen had manifested itself to him in the form of three Gifts. It wasn't like he was a Dymas, able to use Earthpower as a weapon by hurling balls of fire or stabs of lightning. It wasn't like that at all. So why did he have to suppress a shudder as he led Rusty to her stall?