Think about it
"Hmm?" She answered absentmindedly, not looking up from her book.
"Why aren't you like other mages?"
She looked up, a frown creasing her forehead. "Be more specific, Keth."
"I- I mean… why don't you do the things that other mages do?"
"What 'things', Keth?" she was losing patience. He forged ahead anyway.
"Well… be rich. Work for a ruler. Make money with your magic by, say, rainmaking?"
She was looking at him with an expression of bemusement that was rather off-putting.
"I once heard that you were best suited for battle magic. Why don't you do that?"
She watched him inscrutably. She was good at that.
The silence grew oppressive, with Tris just watching Keth and Keth beginning to squirm. Just when Keth was about to stammer an apology, Tris spoke. Each word coming out slowly, as though each syllable was precious.
"I'll answer your first question first. I don't do rainmaking because, well, think of the rain as a chain. Each link moves into place at the proper times. When someone messes up those times, there will be either too much or too little water some where.
Too much water leads to floods. And too little water leads to…?" she trailed off, looking at Keth expectantly.
"Droughts." He blinked slowly, adjusting to the latest mood of his teacher.
"Exactly. I've seen people go hungry for lack of water before. I' don't like to think that I might be responsible for that. Or floods, for that matter."
"As to battle magic…" she sighed. " I was in my first battle when pirates attacked winding circle. I… got angry. What they did to make me angry is none of your business. Suffice to say that I'd never been so angry in my life. I went… numb. And cold. I called up a water spout that destroyed more than half the fleet. I destroyed the flagship by turning lightning on it. It was quite an explosion. After the battle I was out of my body, a long way off shore, you know what I mean. When I was floating, I saw that full effects of what I'd done. I saw the dead in the water. Slaves, weighed down with chains, unable to escape. The screams of the drowning. The looks on the faces of the dead. The smell of death." She closed her eyes. "I still have nightmares about it sometimes. Now do you understand?"
"I think so… why are you telling me this?"
"To teach you a lesson I had to learn from experience. People say we do great things… they are wrong. They only see the glory. They don't see the effort that it takes to do them. They don't see that magic is reality, not just a trick on the road side, easy to do, easy to clean up." Easy to forget.
She sighed again, putting away her book. And walking out of the room. Just as she crossed the threshold, she turned and said the words that truly made this a lesson.
"Think about it."
"Fine, I will."