Too Many Essays!
“Come ON Elora. Wake up or we’re going to be late for our first training!” I yelled, bustling into her room and dragging Elora’s dead weight off the bed.
I’d already been awake for hours, taken breakfast - and gotten a sandwich for Elora, knowing from the past few days that she’d be up late - and had done some light reading on Yin and Yang theory for our first lesson.
For all her determination and discipline, one thing was for sure - Elora did not sleep early, and she did not wake early. And she took naps everywhere too, so her little snooze on the Zidan was not out of the ordinary. Another thing we were utterly dissimilar on.
She groaned, and sat up, her pretty face imprinted with marks from her strange sleeping position.
I pinched her skinny cheek. “Come on, we have fifteen minutes to get from here, to the Theatre. You know how far that is.”
Elora and I sprinted into the class, settling into a middle row of tables with a minute to spare after getting lost in the myriad of similar looking stone hallways. A thin man with a pinched face eyed our entrance out of the corner of his piercing blue eyes. He didn’t look pleased. On the board behind him, the words “Advisor Camara Darnall” was written.
Although we all stayed in the same floor, we quickly realised that didn’t translate to moving everywhere as a unit. The new congees tended to stick to specific groups, mixing only occasionally during mealtimes.
“Do make it a point to be at least five minutes earlier, congees. I don’t want such hasty entrances again.” Advisor Darnall sternly announced. I narrowed my eyes at Elora in jest, and she gave me a shove.
“This year, we’ve decided to structure this course in a slightly different manner. Instead of waiting till the end of the year, we will be letting you access the Cermin twice. After you’ve had some practice with your energy in your Manipulation classes tomorrow, we’ll be letting you have a go in the class on Water-day. Then once again at the end of the year before you make your streaming choices. This is based on past years’ congees feedback, and we believe this will give you an earlier idea of what your energy is like. Do note, however, that the balance may be highly volatile for some of you - the end of year would be a more accurate representation after you have had some basic training. No matter, the powers above have dictated so...” Advisor Darnall droned on.
Huh. I hadn’t expected to be know my affinity so early. Everyone, even non-Congregants, knew that Cermin viewing was a serious affair at the end of the year. I wondered to myself if this was for the benefit of the Supplicants more than anything else. Or perhaps it was because of the increasingly turbulent pro-Yang rhetoric. After all, if congees knew their affinities earlier, they could put in more effort in an element that their Guarantors required them to undertake. Or Yin-affinities could choose to train harder to become a proficient Yang user. This was especially true for the younger congees whose energy states were still immature and highly malleable by repeated exposure and certain herbal brews. Some, however, were highly fixed and found it far more difficult to control the element they had less affinity with. Tomokai, I mused, must be one of them.
I glanced over at Elora - I would almost bet she was Yang. And I was pretty sure I was Yin. Though I was glad to know my Affinity earlier, a certain sense of foreboding came over me - just how much of this sudden change of Cermin tradition was because of the recent Yin-Yang imbalances? The erratic weather, the increasing suspicions towards Yin users being tainted, and the supremist Yang attitudes. Times were changing. I shook my head at my inane musings and turned my focus back to Advisor Darnall’s introduction to Yin-Yang theory.
I pushed my plate away with a huff. Of all the filthy, Ryo’s flaming asses - four essays in the first two days?
I muttered my gratitude to a helper who removed my used utensils. At least our next class was Sento - surely Advisor Lokni and Tomokai wouldn’t give us another essay on combat - or would they?
“The Advisors are really pushing us hard aren’t they,” Elora said with a wry smile. I snorted in agreement, only Elora would put that so politely. If she only heard the profanities I’d been hurling in the confines of my mind... But really, the Congregate was known to be difficult after all. I could hardly complain when I knew what I was getting myself into.
“But oh boy, I can’t wait to use the Cermin later on.” Elora grinned excitedly.
“Honestly, we already know what you’re going to be,” I teased, jostling my elbow into her midriff.
“Hey! You never know. Personalities and attributes can be deceiving,” Elora said indignantly, wrinkling her nose.
I smiled. I’d never know indeed.
“Hello there beautiful ladies.”
I turned my head in the direction of the voice, and blinked owlishly. Fourth year congee Aaryan was standing next to our table, a self-assured smile stretching his thin lips, his fellow fourth year companions by his side. He had glowing white hair that was cropped short at the sides, but perfectly styled at the top. His eyes were a mesmerizing clear blue and one didn’t have to squint to see that he was muscular and tall under his loose fitting shirt.
Seriously, what was with all these gorgeous people? Was there some beauty pageant you had to win before you could enter? Had someone forgotten that when they accepted me?
His eyes, however, were trained solely on Elora. I was pre-tty sure that the “beautiful ladies” was meant to be singular instead of plural.
Aaryan was somewhat of a notoriously well-known congee in the Faculty. Incredibly good looking, intelligent and a strong Yang Supplicant, he probably had all of the first to fourth year female population wrapped around his little pinky. Well, most of them anyway. Shame that he could be quite insistent about his Senno beliefs and Yang supremacy. Some of the Neewa believers and Yin females were not so forgiving. I was one of them.
“I’m hosting the traditional Initiation at my residence this weekend. Everyone has been invited, and my private chauffeur will be here to pick all of you from the rooms. I must insist that you grace us with your beautiful presence.” Still, Aaryan’s eyes were focussed on Elora, a charming smile accompanying his words. To say I was a little unnerved would be an understatement.
Elora gave me a questioning glance, the question in her raised eyebrows. I shrugged. There was no harm in spending time with fellow Faculty-mates. Though I was quickly realising I didn’t like making friends as much as I had imagined. It was exhausting.
“Alright, we’ll come.” Elora said with particular emphasis.
Aaryan’s eyes shifted to mine, his blue eyes assessing me with none of the charm he had given Elora. For a split second, I felt with terrifying certainty that he thought, no, knew I was corrupted. Then I pushed the intruding thought firmly down, there was no way he knew my Affinity. I had not even found out.
I was thinking too much. And corrupted? Since when had I started calling Yin Affinities that? I shuddered. The rumours I’d heard from Enki must be getting to me.
Then he turned back to Elora with a satisfied smile, and left us after informing us of the details.
“Well, that was weird.” Elora muttered.
I shrugged, trying to shake off the uneasy feeling lodged in my spine. “We should go. Advisor Lokni seemed strict on our first day. I don’t think he’d like it if we’re late.”
A/N: What do you guys think your affinities will be?
Comment and let me know! 😌
Personally I’m probably an Yin Affinity.