The room was old. It looked like it could have been built hundreds of years ago, but I didn't mind. I guess it was supposed to look like that since they tried to emphasize the "oldest magical school" part.
I was forced to be here. I was forced to see all the new students excel with their powers. I looked at the stage. The headmistress, Lady Bell, was telling some of the older students to get ready. The students let out a breath and started to coax the air into helping the headmistress. She was old now and couldn't speak as well as she used to. She took a deep breath and started talking. The students behind her manipulated the air to amplify her voice. It was calm and soothing, yet also stern.
“It all started because of the alchemists,”she said. “They tried to cure the once-widespread Aetheria disease, but the cure turned out to have a dual-nature. It cured the sick, but tampered with the healthy. The cured went on with their lives, as did the healthy, at first. Generations later, what manifested as a cure for some seemed to differently affect our ancestors. The disease altered our lives for the better. We are the..." She paused to add dramatic effect. "We are the Elements."
I scoffed. For the better. I wouldn’t be a maid if not for this disease.
Everyone applauded Lady Bell and left to get refreshments. I looked around the room, seeing the mess the others made. There were napkins and crumbs littering the ground. I sighed, knowing that I would be the one to clean up. No one else ever did it; all the chores were left to me. I had no magical abilities, but the Counsel made me stay at the school. If I were to leave, I could tell others about the Elements and spread fear. One of the only students to ever fail.
I sighed. Time to start cleaning. I picked up the broom beside me and started to sweep the crumbs off the floor. It was a useless task, since the air-ests could do it faster. Everyone always treated the magical ones better. I kept on sweeping, my movements becoming harsher as I filled with envy and annoyance. I heard the squeak of the door hinge as it opened. I looked at the small child standing at the door. She was nervous. I could tell by the way she rubbed her shoe on the ground.
"Ma'am, where is the mage ceremony?" she asked in a high-pitched voice.
"Down the hall to the left,” I responded. Suddenly, I had the urge to go with her. I wanted to see the new recruits.
“Do you want me to take you there?” I asked.
The little girl was already gone; the ceremony was beginning. Before the ceremony, there had been a test, and now we would here the results. I heard the announcer begin to speak.
“Ana Reynolds, Callum Warth...”
The ceremony dragged on. The announcer read off the piece of paper in front of him. All of the children that were called would have a magical power. All of these children would have one of the six elemental powers: Water, Air, Fire, Earth, Light, or Darkness. Sadly, I had none. How I envied the children on the stage. I remembered what it was like to be on that stage. I remembered what it was like not to have my name called. The most embarrassing moment of my life.
I heard the announcer say the final name, but on the stage remained the little girl. She was waiting for her name to be called. Her eyes were so full of hope, just like mine had been. They had just left her there.
“I expect to see all the new students tomorrow,” the announcer said.
The parents and students flooded the doorways. The crowd was gone. The little girl was still standing on stage. She walked off, surprisingly calm. Then, she sat in one of the seats and lost it. There were tears all over her face. She hiccupped, and her breath was heavy. I approached her and sat down in the chair adjacent to hers.
“Just you and me, kid.” I said to her. I never thought that someone like her would not have any powers. She seemed so full of energy. I wanted to cheer her up, but I didn't know how. “What's your name?" I questioned.
"Kora Bell,” she choked out.
What? Kora Bell? She was the principal's child? They had just left her there! I can't imagine the embarrassment they both feel. Lady Bell, the most prestigious mage, had a child with no magical ability.
"Grand-daughter, I'm her granddaughter," she explained.
"You know I wasn't trying to be rude, I mean we both..." I rambled on. She looked at me with one of her eyebrows raised.
"What do you mean alike?"
"We both failed the test," I responded.
"Really, you failed the test too? I thought I was the only one."
"You and me both," I muttered under my breath.
"Hey! Get back to your dorms!" a man suddenly yelled. I wondered if Kora had a dorm room yet. She could always arrange something with the headmaster, but I figured with the current situation, she wouldn't want to see her.
"Hey, do you want to stay in my room? That is, if you don't have one." When we got there, Kora fell on to the bed next to mine and fell asleep immediately. Looking at the ceiling, I wondered, Why us? But I knew it didn't matter because there was nothing I could do anyway.
The alarm clock made a beeping noise that made me want to die.
“What time is it?” Kora asked as she rubbed her eyes.
Kora decided to stay inside because she still wasn’t ready to see her grandmother. Today was another testing day. All the new students would get their element. I dreaded this day since last year ended. It reminded me of my powerlessness.
Children started to file out of their rooms, pushing each other to get their assigned classes. I decided to go into one of the rooms to observe. At the front, the teacher was handing out a sheet of paper to each student. They held their papers and concentrated. Some papers flew into the air, and some became soaked with water or even burned to ashes. Some blended with the shadows.
The teacher began separating students into groups: Fire, Water, Earth, Air, Light, and Darkness. In the dining hall afterward, I could see that all the children were sitting with others of their own element only. There was a lot yelling. Light was fighting with Darkness. Water was fighting with Fire.
“My element could totally beat yours!” one student shouted. “Fire is useless against my water!” So many powers, yet not the power to get along.
Testing lasted until three o’clock. I stayed to clean until six. The walk back to my dorm seemed longer than usual.
"Why?! Why did you have to make a fool out of my granddaughter!?" Lady Bell’s voice boomed from the conference room. I put my ear next to the door, wanting to hear more.
"Please, you have to understand, we cannot tell her about her powers; she is too strong. We couldn’t tell Blake last year, and we can’t tell her now.
I sprinted to my room. By the time I reached the door, I was out of breath. My hands shook as I fumbled for my key. My hands touched the knob. Should I tell her? If it was me, would I want to know? I opened the door. I found Kora sleeping soundly, but this news was more important than sleep. I shook her awake.
"What?" She seemed rather annoyed at me for waking her up, but I didn't care. I opened the desk drawer and took out some paper. I handed her a piece and took one for myself.
"Hold the paper in your hands and concentrate." She did. The paper started to burn, but it didn't go up in flames. It seemed as though she was using the natural light from the sun and from the lights in our room. Light! Her element was Light. She smiled, and I could see tears in her eyes.
"It's your turn," she said enthusiastically. I held the piece of paper in my hand. The paper felt cool under my touch. I opened my eyes to see ice slowly growing on the paper. Ice. It was a subclass of water. It was a very rare power to have.
Kora and I decided that I would observe the classes, while she stayed in my room and
practiced. I would teach her at night.
This went on for several months. We learned from each other and helped each other practice. Our powers remained hidden; even Lady Bell didn’t know.
“Evacuate! Evacuate!” Someone yelled through the halls. I opened the door and saw panic. Everybody was running. People were going through the emergency exits in the back. I looked out from one of the windows. Emerging from the ground was the Elementalist! He was the only person ever to have two elements, Earth and Fire. He became so obsessed with his Earth powers, specifically with metal, that his skin mutated into the element itself.
I saw the teachers gather in front of the school. Most of them were Fire. The teachers seemed to think that the most logical solution was to melt the Elementalist. Perhaps, in all the commotion, they forgot that he can use fire and is immune to it.
Through the windows, I could see all of the teachers concentrating. Fire flew towards the Elementalist, but it just bounced off and injured someone. While some teachers were shooting fire, others were using their own power. One was shooting water, which extinguished the fire. Another was trying to push the the Elementalist over by creating wind. Nothing was working. I ran through the halls, pushing people out of the way. Kora was following behind me.
When we made it outside, most of the teachers were passed out on the ground. The few that were standing were going to end up like the rest of them because they weren’t working together. I put my hand on the soil and watched ice begin to spread. When the ice reached the Elementalist, he lost his footing and slipped. Kora then aimed light toward the ice. The ice immediately turned into a fog. The Elementalist looked around for us, but he couldn’t see through the mist.
Eventually, the fog cleared out, and we had nothing with which to conceal ourselves. The Elementalist was enraged. He shot metal daggers at me. I dodged to the best of my ability. I rolled and ducked, but nothing seemed to make him tired. I was running out of energy. However, Kora was fine, she was rolling and ducking, without breaking a sweat. Suddenly, there was a ring of fire surrounding her. She couldn’t protect herself any longer. Her powers couldn’t extinguish flames, they could only create them. I couldn’t watch her burn, but I also didn’t know what to do.
If only she had my power, I thought. Water would easily put out the fire. I could see Kora panicking. She was looking around for some way to escape, but she knew her powers would only make things worse. She used them anyway. Suddenly, the fire was out; instead of light, her elemental power had changed to water. I tried using my own power, but instead light sprang forth. Our elements had switched. I wondered if we could switch them back. Switching would be better for this fight because I didn’t know how to use Light, and right then was not a good time to practice.
“What do we do?” She called back. Before we could do anything, our elements swapped, and I was back to water. I still didn’t know what to do. The most highly skilled teachers were passed out. Couldn’t I just freeze the Elementalist? No, that wouldn’t work, I thought, but I did it anyway. Instantly, he was frozen, and right before he broke out of the ice prison, Kora aimed her light towards him.
The sudden temperature change was enough to make the metal crack. He fell to the ground. Trees were burned, and there were metal daggers littering the ground, but we did it. We did it! We destroyed the Elementalist. Not everyone gets to say that.
We looked around and noticed that all of the students had hid in their rooms, and all the teachers were passed out. Kora and I ran back to our dorm room. No one ever knew that we were gone.
Graduation Day isn’t as great as everyone says. At the end of every year, all students get a necklace. The teachers were calling out names. It was just like the mage ceremony at the beginning of the year. After everyone had their necklaces, Lady Bell spoke.
“I would like to introduce some new students. These students have shown excellent teamwork when we needed them most. Both of these students excel with their powers. Though they weren’t at the top of the class, these students have shown remarkable potential. I would like to introduce Blake Eiss and Kora Bell.”
No one clapped for us, they just stared.
“What? I thought that they were that powerless ones,” people whispered. Kora looked red. We were both embarrassed. Nonetheless, we walked on to the stage. Lady Bell handed us the necklaces. I was glad that I had a necklace, and a friend.