How do you raise a hero?
Falcon and Marta had three children–Warrick, Windle, and Reetha. Each of these young characters contribute heroically to development of The Dragon’s Bones saga.
How did these parents help these souls grow into their rescuing roles? There was hard work. For Warrick, it was raising and protecting their long-haired goats. For Windle and Reetha, there was the creation of dyed yarn and beautiful tapestries from it.
In Warrick’s case, there was also training on weapons, when to use them, and how to respond to those who made the weapons necessary.
As a youngster, an older boy named Rance teased Warrick by calling him “Goats” and imitating the voices of the family’s animals. Thinking himself to be a superior fighter, one day Rance made a serious mistake as written in Battling the Bones.
“Hey, Goats! Bleeeaaatttt!” Rance shouted to Warrick for the benefit of his malicious mates, using a name he coined and continued using when he saw Warrick bristle over it.
“Hey, Goats! What would become of your shaggy-haired beauties if you weren’t there to nurse them? A goat’s not a proper beast like a cow or an ox, after all. They need a nursemaid to keep them from harmin’ themselves!”
All angular long-shanks and over-sized appendages, Warrick quickened his pace and changed his direction away from the boys. The wanton boys descended on him like flies on a sunlit window.
Rance’s first jab with his staff caught Warrick in the side. Without a staff for his defense, he tried to elude them but the boys cut him off in a jeering, mocking ring. Another jab brought hot, embarrassing tears to his eyes.
“Aw, Goats, what have I gone and done now. You’re startin’ to cry on us,” Rance gibed, feinting another jab and then rapping Warrick across the shins. “Don’t you just hate to see a goat-tender cry, boys?” Rance continued, tripping Warrick up and sending him sprawling in the dust.
The other boys with staffs rushed to join in, not knowing that Warrick sprawled in part as a defensive tactic. The weakest boy gave up his staff without realizing it. Before he could protect himself, Warrick slapped the top of his head with the staff and toppled him backward.
Warrick flipped up, armed, and facing Rance. The older boy stood taller and flexed his strong hands and wrists.
“So, Goats, you’ve come to town to play, have you? Let’s have at it, then.” He spun his staff from hand-to-hand in the manner he long practiced with a rake while his father imagined he pitched hay.
Not waiting for more taunting or a formal beginning, Warrick thrust his staff in the spinning arc of Rance’s pole. It stopped and he flicked it away.
Rance rushed to pick up his weapon. When he turned to face Warrick, his eyes glinted.
The clacking of staves filled the air. Rance tried again and again to overpower Warrick. The usual jeering stopped, first from Rance and then from his mates. Now, all stared at the fight. Each boy connected with bruising blows but Warrick’s superior training began to overwhelm Rance. As Warrick parried and blocked his thrusts and slaps, Rance smarted from Warrick’s rain of hits, pokes and blows. Sensing his impending loss, Rance tried dirty tricks to force a quick victory any way he could. Burned once, Warrick learned and began to bear down.
Rance could not manipulate the fight anymore. Bleeding from a slashing stroke over his right eye, bruised as though growing extra ribs, panting and staggering, he dropped his staff. Then, collapsing to his knees in a puff of dust, he conceded and awaited a final blow.
In the fearsome grip of battle-ire, Warrick prepared to execute what his father trained him to be able to deliver. Forgetting the accompanying warning to never strike in this way unless justified by a threat to his own life, Warrick twirled his staff in his fingers as he rose to his toes, spinning himself.
“WARRICK!” his father’s voice commanded. “Must this boy die?”
Here was a dimension of training that lifted Warrick from fighter to hero. Falcon taught him the overarching importance of judgment in the midst of a fight. Warrick would remember this for the rest of his life.