One bit of advice I received in order to develop my characters further was to write a conversation with someone. How do they think? How do they react? What are the little things that make them a person, from their thoughts to their mannerisms? If you can place them in any situation and know how that person will react, then you have a true character. So here it is.
Here is the setting: sometime in the future, society collapses. Bands of people come together to form communities. While these
"Remember, the Earth will always be. Therefore it is your ultimate tool. A speck of sand or a boulder on the mountain, all below you will aid in your tasks."
Chum'tai was well aware that something small could still benefit him, he had been plucking fruits from the trees for months before his invitation. Much to the disdain of his peers, of course, when the fruit just so happened to be above them.
Chum'tai, pick up this stone" the hooded man stretched out his hand to reveal a pebble.
He looked at the tiny stone, there was no challenge in lifting it. He locked his eyes on it and raised his hands.
"lift, lift, lift, lift" the words hushed and slow, commands that Chum'tai spoke to match his thoughts. Slowly the small pebble began to rise out of the master's glove. It danced in the air, trembling under the mental force that the child was exerting into it.
"Very good child." He raised his hand to retrieve the stone. "Tell me, was this difficult?"
"No master, it was not", halting his focus as his master placed the stone into a small pouch on his waist.
The child had been in the Wild Plains for almost a season. Every day they had lifted stones, one at a time. The other children all arrived at the same day, each with their own master. His master always gave him bigger rocks than today.
"It is small master."
So only the size of the task determines its difficulty?"
He had seen the master do this before. There was a question to show him something, and then he was going to do something to show something to the learner. Last time it had been to use his hands, as his mentor questioned him and showed the ability to direct his mental skill into multiple objects. To his surprise, his master channeled into 10 stones, one with each finger. He hovered a ring of stones and then drug the boy into the middle with a twist of his ankle.
"No," his tone wavering and unsure. He was excited and nervous to see his master's plan.
" Lift it now."
He removed the pouch and held it in his open palm. Chum'tai held his hands out again, making a triangle opening between them with the pouch inside.
"Lift, lift li..."
As soon as the pouch began to rise the master struck it to the ground with all his strength. the resistance to his mind sent a spike of pain into Chum'tai's head, sending him to the ground as well. His vision dimmed from pain, like walking in the morning fog.
"Stand up Chum'tai. If I wanted the bag I would have said raise the bag." His voice deep and calm. It was the voice he had heard in his dreams before the traveling. The child raised his head, his vision still blurred but now from the painful tears. He stood up slowly, eyes fixed onto the pouch in the dust.
"These abilities are not to be used for mere chores. Anyone of the people here can lift a stone, lift a pitcher, pluck apples from the trees. You are stronger than the rest. One day, you will see that."
Chum'tai wiped his face. He hated crying in front of the master.
"Now, how do you propose we get the stone out of the bag"
Chum'tai sniffled one last time. The pouch was leather with a drawstring to tighten it. Men in the cities used them to carry their money.
"Loosen the drawstring?" his eyes met his masters
"Try it". He rested his hands on the hilts of the blades on his hips.
He looked back to the bag. The opening was turned away from him, but he could see the strings hanging. He raised his hands again, small diamond surrounding the string.
Slowly the string became taught and the bag began to turn to face Chumtai, following the sting. The opening now facing him, Chum'tai then realized the amount of work the master asked of him. He looked to his master again, only to see his master with a raised eyebrow.
"What are you thinking Chum'tai?"
he looked back to the pouch.
"Loosen each fold till the hole is large enough."
"Then do it."
He wiped his hands on his robe before making the diamond over the opening. Each fold tightened by his master, he would have to move each fold individually, while still holding the bag in place. Pressure on each end. He lowered his hands, if he pulled on one end and pushed on the other, it would open, just like if it was in his hands. He raised his hands again. He could not make an opening on both ends, they were too close and would channel his energy into the whole bag. Instead, he pointed to each side of the opening.
"Concentrate, concentrate," repeating to himself he could feel the bag to give way. It danced slightly in the dirt, spinning one way more than the other before becoming motionless. Sweat began to form on his face, the sun had reached its peak. Chum'tai pushed and pulled, one fold opening. His eyes focused on each point that his mind was driving, slowly moving them. A drop of sweat rolled down his neck, it was not the sun's doing. Slowly the bag opened enough, and Chumtai raised the back end to pour the pebble onto the dirt. He had not noticed his master's eyes had been closed.
"Very good, Chum'tai." his eyes opened to see his apprentice on his knees now breathing heavy, his black hair wet. "Your skills improve. We will now advance your training.
"Yes. Master." His words were separated by a gasp for air, each breath eased the pain that was growing in between his eyes.
"Tell me child, what is another way to open a bag?"
The bag rose from the dirt, spinning towards the pebble which rose as well. Much quicker than Chum'tai could ever believe to do, the pebble plopped into the bag and the opening sealed shit. He looked to his master, his emotionless face not straining to direct him as well as deal with the pebble. He became puzzled.
"How do you open a grain bag?"
"With a knife master."
"But you have no knife."
The master removed his hood, his black hair knotted behind his head. He stepped towards his apprentice, the bag following over his shoulder. The bag moved to in front of the kneeling child, hovering above the ground. The master kneeled, one elbow resting on his upright knee. His apprentice looked from him to the bag.
"your lesson for the day Chum'tai is this. If you have no tool, make a tool." The master's gloved hand scraped the ground and turned, revealing a handful of dirt. in his open palm, the dirt began to form a shape. The clump became a triangle, flat and loose. It moved to the distance between the master and apprentice, hovering beside the pouch. Chum'tai looked to his master, his eyes on his apprentice.
"The earth is your tool, use it to your will."
The master raised his hand and tucked his fingers into a fist. He extended his thumb and first finger with a gap between them. His eyes on his master, he knew this was the lesson that he was waiting for all morning. His master's fingers moved together, the dirt triangle getting smaller as he did. The clumps disappeared, a smooth sliver forming in front of his eyes. By the time his fingers touched, the triangle was the size of the pebble. His master raised a finger, Chum'tai's eyes open with amazement. Just as quickly as he dropped his finger, the triangle slit the bag open and the pebble fell to the ground.
"Go to the fields and practice this. I will be there shortly" He stood and turned away, his cape fluttered in the breeze.
"Yes master", he murmured as he picked himself off the ground. His bow to his master's back would be unnoticed, but still expected. He turned away and walked towards the open fields. The dirt clearings would make a good spot. He would wait there for his master, as he had done every day. His skills would improve until the day he was sent on his own. His contracts ahead of him, it started with a pebble and some dirt.