POV: Master Zarkarius
The morning was still and peaceful, the dawn just beginning to creep over the horizon. The light was still gray, but warming. The best part of the day. The beginning.
My conscious mind detached from my human form and sank through my old flesh into the earth beneath me, carried by my magic, as I sat cross-legged in the garden. I spread out, traveling sinuously up the roots of the ornamental blooms, climbing into the strong hearts of the trees, tiny tendrils of my energy splintered off into the slender blades of grass, fracturing into the flecks of minerals buried in the plush soil. The orchards were heavy with fruit, the fields replete with crops, ready, the harvest soon to begin.
I felt rapid footsteps moving toward the training yard. Just one set. Perhaps an unsatisfied soldier working off some extra energy, fresh from a chamber maid’s bed, I mused.
Mirthful, I nestled in beds of refreshing moss, zigged and zagged up the knotty branches of the shrubs, and floated on the lily pads of the miniature pond in front of me.
I extended, uncoiling the green energy flowing from my soul until I could feel every leaf, bloom, and root from the castle to the forest. I breathed in deeply, at a measured pace, as I connected with Earth. The flora around me was as familiar to me as my own gray beard after these nearly twenty-one years.
I smiled as the plants leaned to the east, yearning for the sun. Another deep breath. Peace.
The earth shook violently as a sound like a thunderclap vibrated through the air.
I dove into the bedrock beneath the plethora of verdant life that adorned the surface. I cast my magic out as a net, absorbing the tremors as they reverberated and bounced.
Brimming with energy, my eyes flew open.
The quake had originated in the arena.
Before I could finish the conscious thought, a hand of vines propped me on my feet and I ran toward the training grounds as fast as my old legs would carry me.
As I approached, a strange flickering light grew stronger. The wooden walls blocked the source. I raced through the arena gate, veering to the left and quickly back stumbled back, nearly collapsing on the first bench of the wooden stands as I stared, my mouth agape at the scene before me.
A giant swirling storm of Earth, Air, Fire and Water raged in a chaotic globe, where the energy collided small fusion reactions resulted in flashes of pure energy and white light. Beneath the surging tempest a figure struggled to stand.
It was her.
The time is nearly come.
I couldn’t contain my power any longer. My hold shattered as Earth, Air, Water, and Fire erupted from my body, pouring straight from what felt like my very soul. I screamed as the four elements ripped out of my body in electric currents, toward the sky where they sparred and cavorted, violent and serene, caressing and crashing into each other. The wind raged around me and the elements whirled into a massive cyclone above me. I was mesmerized as I watched the elements detonate in radiant bursts of light as they collided within. With each jolt, I felt my power grow stronger, the threads of energy that connected me with the storm grew into ropes.
I took ahold of the lines and pressed up, off my knees, with a scream of effort. I managed to get one foot under myself, then, wobbling, the other. I screamed again as I pulled at the colossal ball of elemental forces. I closed my eyes and centered my mind. I imagined the forces spooling, harmonizing and shrinking.
My eyes flew open just as the energy condensed to a brilliant orb the size of a cannonball. Then it flew toward me .
I sailed backward and hit the ground hard, my head bouncing off the sand, my body landing with a solid thwumck that made me think something had shattered with the force. I couldn’t feel anything but the power of my elements surging through my body before they collected in my chest and sat, humming, singing, radiant.
I stared at the sky - unable to move as I gasped for air - and couldn’t but help notice the atmosphere had faded from indigo to periwinkle and shades of pink. Dawn was here.
My head was spinning and consciousness threatened to slip from me a few times before my eyes focused on a wrinkled face with twinkling hazel eyes hovering over me.
“Lady Serena?” It was Master Zarkarius. He reached down toward me and scooped his hands through the air, casting, and pushed toward the benches, the sand underneath me mimicking the motion, assisting me, carrying me to a seat.
He manipulated Earth easily, as if it were an extension of his body. The sand spilled away from me, bits wriggling out of the creases of my garments.
I offered a weak smile to my tutor as he sat next to me. Master Zarkarius had been with House Rourke since before I was born. He had been more of a father than Lord Rourke to me in some ways. I had neglected our visits since Lord Gareth had arrived. I felt my cheeks warm with a twinge of guilt.
He shifted, clearing his throat to speak and I tensed.
“Why are you out at this hour, my child?” Master Zarkarius looked at me over his spectacles, his face full of warmth. His gaze swept the disheveled arena and lingered on the charred spot that had been the target before returning to my face. I met his knowing eyes.
"I was upset..." I was still upset, but for now I had to focus on regaining control over myself, emotionally and magically.
His eyes held concern, but there was something deeper, calmer, knowing, beyond the immediate worry.
"You weren't able to contain your power," Master Zarkarius stated.
“My power has been growing,” I said softly, honestly, "I haven't been able to control it as well as I used to." I looked into his wizened face and was met with an intense stare.
He knew. He had seen me.
"Master Zarkarius... you... Did you see what happened just now?"
He was silent for a moment before looking toward the east and stating, “If anyone is worthy of wielding all four of the Elements, it is you, Lady Serena.”
I smiled at the side of his face, Master Zarkarius’ kindness and positive nature seemed to restore my spirit and quell the nervousness at the fringe of my mind. I could master this. He did not turn back to me.
"You must learn balance, Serena, and to embrace the totality of your magic. You must not fear yourself. You are an excellent mage, one of the most talented casters I have seen in my many years."
“Only after years of your instruction, Master Zarkarius."
“Talented students make the teacher’s job easier, my dear.” Zarkarius complimented me. He turned back to me, his bright hazel eyes alight. “You will perform feats such as the living realm has never seen, of this I am certain.”
“I'm sure you say that to all of your pupils,” I laughed, yet, there was something a bit foreboding in his words.
“To some I say it in hopes that they will do this kingdom some good, but to you I say it with certainty.”
With that he rose, and bade me a good morning, entreating me to visit him upon my return from Meliorn.