Electric energy galvanized Menar's muscles. He stood on edge, ready for the test he was certain he'd pass. After all, he had been training for this for weeks. "Alright, Menar," Brother Paul said. "Whenever you are ready."
Menar gave him a quick nod, entirely focused on himself. "I am ready, Brother Paul." Brother Paul smiled warmly. "I'm sure you'll do fine. Take a globe of water from that fountain and fill my flask, please." A few people in the class snickered.
Menar was taken aback; the task did seem mundane. "O-okay." he stammered, a little of his focus drained at the odd request. There had to be a catch, though. Brother Paul always challenged you, made you think. The trouble was, you didn't always know what he was thinking.
Brother Paul extracted a rather plain canteen from his robes and lain it in front of the class for everyone to see. Menar stared at it. He couldn't help but wonder exactly what the point was. Menar looked at Brother Paul. He continued to smile, almost dumbly, mesmerizingly. Menar stared at him blankly.
He snapped his attention to the fountain. "Sorry." Out of his peripheral vison, Menar saw him draw a look of confusion. "For what?" Menar didn't know. He felt rediculous now. The class laughed at the awkward silence, dealing a blow to his confidence.
Brother Paul held up a hand. "Quiet, let's let him focus, now." As the class simmered down, Menar grew more comfortable. The heavy, expectant silence wieghed down upon him like a blanket. Heads turned and whispered, but he only had eyes and ears for the fountain.
He could feel it now, the Connection. It rubbed against his conciousness so gently, flowing along with his being with all the placidity of a gently streaming river. He abolished the electric energy that had put him on edge and just let go. He spread his legs wider, fluidy. He let his body flow naturally. Brother Paul stared intently upon him.
Menar cooly raised his hand, extending as far as he could reach without straining it. The class snickered again. Brother Paul didn't say anything, just stared at him. Everyone wasn't holding back. They just did whatever natural impulse came to them. Naturally.
Menar upturned his palm. He could feel the water now, cool and calming, even though it was yards away. Then, time seemed to slow immensely. Menar stood like that for a little while, concentrating. It almost had him spell bound.
Then, Menar shot his fingers to the sky, and the water that fell accumulated in an upside down arc. Brother Paul furrowed his brow, but, again, said nothing. While it was filling, he made sure the rest of his body was relaxed to match the natural flowing of the water.
Once halfway filled, he brought his other hand over the cupped hand and fitted his hand over it to make a sphere. The water in the fountain mimicked his hands and filled to a more shapely, if not perfect orb.
The entire class was silent now, watching him with rapt, unwavering attention. He navigated the orb fairly easily, until he saw Claire watching him fixedly. It faltered, only for a moment, before he regained control.
He reprimanded himself. 'This is easy, don't mess it up. Focus.' he thought. He Willed the orb, if somewhat shakily, to move to the canteen without any further delay. He balanced it carefully over it and saw that the opening left for little error.
He allowed a tiny trickle to descend into the hole. He could not release much more, because the orb did not stand still enough. He stood like that a while. Nobody else moved either. It seemed as though the shining of the illustrious orb had captivated the class, ushering them into silence.
Menar could feel the sun on his back; he began to sweat. In the stillness, many things drove him utterly mad. The itch on his arm, the incessent barking of a dog in the distance, the heat difference of the water he could feel in his hands and his hot head- but the thing that flustered him the most was the loud trickling of the water.
The orb was barely a quarter done, yet the trickle had pounded the canteen for what seemed ike an eternity. His connection was straining now. The orb either wavered or deformed for a moment. Then, it dawned on him.
The weeks he had trained was not how much water he could carry, it was about stamina and patience. Menar had to think fast, before his connection with the water broke.
He did not feel physically tired at all, but he could sense the definite straining in his mind. He realeased his to hand and motioned it over his other cupped hand in a stirring motion. That helped improve the accuracy greatly and thus far, he hadn't spilled a single drop. He waited.
By the time there was a third left, Menar was pushing his limits. He realized there was no way he could hold out. 'If only that hole wasn't so small.' he thought, irritated. His mind worked feverishly. He could only hold it up a minute or so longer.
His eye scanned the courtyard. He knew some were waiting for him to mess up. He looked at Claire. She flickered her eyes to him, suddenly aware that she was being watched. Menar's gaze faltered and his eye rested upon a rock near Claire's foot.
He stopped turning the orb and motioned the rock to him. Making more than one magical connection was dangerous, because it broke down other magical connections, and, if you tried hard enough, your mind.
Claire looked towards the sudden movement with surprise, as did most of the calss. Menar smoothed an arc into the entire top side of it using Earth magic and placed it on the canteen. He let the water flow quickly on the rock and finished considerably faster than the alternative method.
He then swung his hand up firmly. The rock and grains that slipped into the water left it, leaving it purified. Brother Paul broke the silence with sudden laughter. Everyone jolted at the unexpected outburst. He continued. Menar was puzzled. Some of the others even giggled, catching the contageous joy.
His jubulant laughter subsided into partially controlled giggles. "You-you little con-artist!" he exclaimed. Menar was confused at the unproved accusation "I'm not sure exactly what you mean, sir." Brother Paul shook his head. "You know all too well what I mean."
The class murmered. Menar stood silently, at a loss for words. Brother Paul's eyes sparkled with gleeful disbelief, like a child being rewarded while he was supposed to be punished. He stood up, collected the canteen, and took a swig.
"What you did well." he paced the yard in random directions, looking at the sky. "At first I didn't understand why you would gather the water in such an odd shape, but as I later saw, you waited for the water to fill to a relatively large orb, instead of gathering it directly from the bottom in controlled amounts, bypassing what I thought would be your test of patience." he glanced at him. "Which was the point, by the way, becuase I already know you have a strong inital connection." He continued to pace.
"You managed to make things more difficult for yourself. It's hard to maintain a constant, inactive connection with any of The Five Elements. I noticed that you stirred the water as well." He stroked his chin. "Very clever."
Menar blushed. Someone in the class popped their knuckles. "But," he said, his pointing a finger at Menar, "While that may have helped you, the water pressed harder against the force containing it. Namely, you."
"I saw you troubled. Your eyes wandered." he walked behind Claire. Menar turned redder. "All the way over here." he put a hand on Claire's shoulder, making her look up and smile. Menar bit his lip. "To the rock that lay here. I understand you are going to take your Knight test soon."
Menar could feel pride swelling inexplicably inside his chest. "Yes, Brother Paul." "Then those are qualities that will undoubtedly help you achieve Knighthood and a good quality of life." Brother Pual beamed at him. Menar felt humbled with so many staring at him.
He didn't want to sound like a show-off but he didn't want to scorn the compliment given him, especially from someone he respected so much and seemed so entusiastic about it. "I-erm, thanks." Brother Paul nodded and motioned for him to sit. "Now," he said, walking to the center of the calss again and rubbing his hands. "who is going next?"
(Emphasize time change) The day wore on, shining down birlliance up the courtyard. Students preformed simple tasks with water and recieved sompliments or construvive criticism. One of the yonger girls burst into tears when she went up. Many of the students looked sympathetically at her when Brother Paul had to come over to her. Although Menar felt piteous, he didn't understand why anyone would cry just because they were binglooked at.
Brother Paul whispered something to her. She nodded slowly. Sitll sniffling and rubbing her eyes, she returned to her seat and sat in a featal postion, buring her head between her knees,
"Alright, I'm going to do something a little different this time. Claire, come up here please." She obey wearily. Menar watched her with his head in his hands. How did she float like that?
She walked to Brother Paul and stood by him. "Megan," he beckoned her. Menar cringed at her name (explain). What an odd combination. Megan walked to the other side of Brother Paul and stood. With the to of them so close together, the difference between them was emphasized.
Megan was young and shorst, standing across the taller, more womanly Claire. Megan had long, blonde hair that swung freely, while Claire's was more controlled; her brown hair was shoulder length, and pulled up in a ponytail so it swayed with her every step. Megan wore several layers of bright clothing, and Claire dressed in a simple, dark colored outfit. It was an odd sight, certainly.
"Now, for your tests. Are you ready?" he asked kindly, glancing between the two of them. "Sure!" Megan exclaimed excitedly. Claire nodded solemly. "Alright," he said, wringing his hands "I want you to both extract water from the fountain as we have been doing, but make a trail togther. Like this."
Brother Pual waved his hand lazily in the air. Water rose and made a stream in midair. He allowed it to drift for a while and returned it to the fountain. "That was pretty." someone behind Menar mubmumbled. Some of the people that heard nodded.
"You may start whenever you are ready." Brothe Paul said and sat down. Megan and Claire looked at each other, as if they weren't quiet sure how to start. ThenClaire turned her attention to the fountain and began moving the water out slowly, letting Megan know that she was ready.
She immediately assisted Claire. They worked in unison for a while. The water lolled out of the bottom basin and rose steadily in the air just above their heads, no problem. It rolled on for a moment or two, then it started to speed and falter. Menar noticed Brother Paul close his eyes, but did not do anything to assist. Menar ssumed, like he, was waiting to see how long it would stay up.
The stream streached and contracted spasmotically, threatening to break at any moment. Claire contorted her face in confusion, however Megan appeared to be frustrated. "Speed up!" Megan spat. Claire glanced at her angrily. "Go at one pace! You're moving too-" the stream suddenly collapsed, echoing loudly within the enclosed space.
Brother Paul opened his eyes at the sound. "'...with the barrier broken, we stand stronger.'" Brother Paul said. Megan and Claire matched one anothers glare, obviously irritated. "'I speak these riddles so that you may learn, that you may grow, and save us from ourselves.'" Claire replied. She looked and Brother Pual and glanced furtively at Megan, who looked now, also, looked at Brother Paul, as though she was being left out of a secret.
"What are you two talking about?" she asked, lacking the angry tone Menar had expected. "A book," replied Claire, who still sounded annoyed. " I recommended it to Brother Paul not long a go, Redemption,. I'm surprised you read it so fast."
"Years of practice," he smiled, "It is a great book, and I would reccomend it to anyof you." he looked over the class. "It's about a young man who is part of a small band of diverse heros to save the world from the apocolypse. They struggle to trust each other and learn to work together to save the world."
Claire nodded. "That's how I designed your tests." he looked at Claire. "Ironic, no? You should all know by now that I try to devop your weaknessess into strengths. Claire, I know you are a soloist, and have a hard time trusting others. You are a leader at heart, but leaders must have trust in their peers and subordinates. It is what makes leaders great."
He turned to Megan and sighed. "Megan, how old are you?" he asked tenderly. She rose to her full height. "I'll be thirteen in a couple months." She said proudly. "You're so full of life and energy. I can sense a certain auraabout you that only comes with youth and it gladdens me." he miled radiently at her."But you must learn to control this energy. You rush through things that need to occur naturally."
Megan licked her lips and looked down at the ground. "Oh no, don't be ashamed! You will learn to match natures pace with age. ' Life is like a fine wine, growing better with age.' In essence, Claire, have more faith in others, Megan, slow down and let things flow."
He looked now to the entire class, "And once you all get really good..." Brothe Paul's eyes sparkeled and he assumed an odd stance.
He swung his arms in a wide circle and all of the water from the fountain came out, soaring high in the air. He twisted his arms in a strange ,, structered way into several sdifferent shapes. He muttered words that seemed to be jibberish.
Suddenly, he reached outward as far s he could, straining ever muscle in his body like he told them not to do with water. Menar didn't understand what was happening. He, as well as the rest of the class, watched in amazment as the water took the form of a pheonix. It was so impossbly detailed, that Menar wondered if it was real. It maintained constant shape, quiet unlike water.
The phonix soared above their heads and passed nder the sun, seeming to ascend to the Pearly Gates, before Brothe Paul brought it back to the fountain. It hovered there as it slowly fell apart. It did not cry out in ppain. Before it completly returned to it's unanimated state, it spoke. "Good-bye." in Brother Paul's voice. He knew that Brother Paul himself didn't say a word, because he knew the voice came directly from the pheonix.
The pheonix was no more. Shortly after, water began to flow and cascade down the fountain again. Everone burst into converstaion. Megan and Clair e seemed to get over their brief friction. Menar sat quietly. His person favorite was, "Did you see that?" He believed the voice came from Percy. He laughed inwardly at the obvious answer.
Menar was enthralled, no doubt. It was just he had more self-control than the average person. One person even voiced the question that was burning in his head. "How did he do that?" Menar couldn't fathom Brother Paul's knowledge of magic. He was always so full of knowledge and wisdom.
" I know my time hads dwindled to only a few moment before you all head to dinner." As if on cue, the bell rang. "I want you all to think about you weaknessess and work on them, so you can become more well-rounded. You know I like to reward you for a job well done, especially after tests. As a treat, tommorrow, should you attend, you will all be rewarded with a lesson never before taught here, at the Sanctuary. We've already checked it through with the Coucil, so you leagalists don't need to worry." He grinned and stared at someone. Menar couldn't tell whom. "You are all dismissed."
He gave a deep, respectful bow. The class rose to their feet and headed to lnch. Menar just stood there until almost everyone was gone. He was about to speak when the girl who had cried walked up to Brothe Paul. I had a feeling you might stay Menar. In fact, I counted on it. You won't mind waiting a moment , will you?" Menar shook his head. "Not at all, sir." He realized, suddenly, the sun had almost completly set.
The sounds of the students echoed behind him, reverberating off the corridors so that it was difficult to tell how far along the halls the were. "Are you ready?" he asked tenderly. She glanced nervously at the door to the corridor where the students had disappeared. He could still faintly hear them. Brothe Paul swept his hand through the air and the doors closed.
"Can you do this for an audience of two, Bethany?" She looked at Menar and, catching his stare, immediatly looked at the ground. "I think so." she whispered. Menar's heart ached for her. "Just pretend you are alone, like that one day I found you doing that." He backed away to a respectful distance.
She stood there stiffly. Borther Paul motion for Menar to come beside him. Menar realized she must still be unnerved, so he quickly obeyed.
She continued to stand there for a while after he moved. Then, very slowly, she walked towards the fountain. She reminded Menar of a sleep walker. She never changed pace, but continued to move in that trance-like state.
The twilight pulled and streched their shadows. Hers almost reached them. The grass was beginning to glisten with dww. Stars had even begun to come out with the moon, giving the entire scene as sense of euphoria, an absence of reality.
She approached the large fountain and fell the her knees. She leaned agains it adn dipped her hand in the ater and appeared lost in thought. Nothing happened. Menar looked at Brother Paul after amoment. He didn't avert his eyes, though Menar knew he could see him. He turned his head to the fountain and gasped at the most incredible sight he had ever seen.
The water in the fountain glowed with luminous color, shifitng and changing hues in a glorious psychadellic manner. The dew on the grass began to change color too. The dw that surrounded her and the colorful fountain was divine, illuminating the entire courtyard against the coming night.
All three of them tood still like that for what seemed like a very long time. A flicker of tension passed her face. Suddenly, the water turned black. She pulled her hand out of the fountain and seemed to break out of the trance.
She crossed her arms and sat silently. "Beautiful, simply beautiful. I had you do this for a reason. Do you know why, Beth?" She looked at him. "Because I'm shy? Because I'm shy." She looked like she might break down again and stared at the ground.
"Not at all." She looked up, surprised. Menar couldn't help but feel a little surprised as well. "I organized this test for you, so that you can show to others that you are a uniqe, special person. I hope you already know that yourself." He stared at her.
She turned a shade of read to match the color of the fountain and grinned from ear to ear. "There you go! Now, off to dinner." "Yes, sir." "I ment me! But you go ahead. Eay your fill before I get there thought! Lord knows I'm iable to eat all the food!"
She smiled as she got up and ran to the door. Before she went inside, she hesitated. "Thank you, Brother." He bowed to her. She giggled and slipped inside. The echo of the door closing seemed loud in the quietness of the night. The fountain was the only thing that moved or made any sound, save for the crickets.
Finally, Brother Paul spoke. "You intregue me, Menar." Menar didn't know what to say, so he said nothing. He felt the same about him. Brother Paul still hadn't removed his gaze from the door.
Menar waited for him to elaborate. He turned his head to him. "I noticed you, when I preformed the stunt with my pheonix. You have a way of standing out in a crowd. I was a little surprised you didn't react." Menar furrowed his brow when he said 'my pheonix.' "Yes, I was meaning to ask you how did you do that? That went beyond water magic. It seemed like....I'm not sure."
Brother Paul nodded in understaning. "Water combined with Spirit magic. It requires a great deal of knowledge of both. Spirit magic is the only one of the Five Core Elements that can fuse easily with any of them. I probably should have given them the false hope that they can do that with Water magic alone, but you should always have hope."
He began to pace again, Menar followed at his side. "Earth, water, fire, and air are more difficult to combine, but they make up everything." He expanded his arms in a cosmic sense, streaching them past the heavens. "Surely you know this from you acedmics and studies?" "Yes, it's just tha I've though such creations were above us, the creations of a higher power."
Brother Pual laughed. "Menar, you are so intelligent, yet you have somuch to learn. We are given domain! The ability to take and give, to create and destroy! Anyhting is possible with knowledge."
"But you didn't just Connect, you spoek! Before you made the pheonix!" He looked at Menar. "Even through the excitement you saw that? You're an observant fellow...." he muttered. "Yes, I did. That was my Animal Guardian."
Menar looked up at the sky. It was beautiful. "I've never heard of such a thing." Brother PUal shrugged. "I wouldn't doubt it. Besides, only certain, select people know what theirs are. I had to go through a great ordeal to discover mine..." he fell silent, lost inthought. Menar brooded over what he had said. He sensed that he had reached all the answers he would recieve from that question.
"What about the girl, Beth? How did she know how to do that with the fountain?" he asked. Brother Paul looked at the fountain. "I can tell by your tone that you know the answer already." Menar voiced his opinion. "I don't think she did know how."
Brother Paul smiled. "Very intuitive. Of course she didn't." "Then how?" asked Menar, more curious now than ever. "Emotion." Brother Paul said simply. "You saw the way she forgot about us and drifted into her own conciousness. What she did is not somehting you can practice, but it is a glorious thing. I was afraid she woudn't able to this time. That's why I dwindled the crowd down to you and I. If I was wrong that you would stay, I would just watch her myself. It looks like you lucked out."
"But I digress. Emotion gives everything life, animation, if you will. it personafies everything in reflection of your emotion. Didn't you see how when the water truned dark?" Menar recalled very well.
"I'll bet she was thinking about something regreattable that happened to her, and tried to pull away from those memories." Menar said. "And I'll bet on a bet that you're right. Strange, unpredictable thingscan happn when you Connect so deeply with magic, and, yet, not so unpredictable."
(Too rapid a transition) "Well, thank you Brother Paul. I'll be going now, so I won't miss my dinner. Will you be joining me?" Brother paul shook his head and looked up at the nearly full moon. "Not tonight. I've got to go and take care of soe things. Eat well." Menar waved good-bye and headed towards the Dining Hall.
Menar walked through the corridors alone. He could already smell the food. He wrinkled his nose and felt sick. He wasn't sure what it was, but he didn't feel particuarly hungary for it.
Instead, Menar pivoted and turned towards the boys' dormatory wing. It didn't take him long to get there. When he did, he sung open th door and shut it quickly. He blinked. The darkness was almost complete, except for a thing, silvery spotlight cast down by the moon upon his bed, beckoning him to it.
He didn't realize how tired he was before. He stripped to his undergarments and slipped under the covers. The sounds of the night orchistrated him a lullibye and sang him into a deep sleep.