The forest is quiet. Only the howl of the wind and the rustle of the leaves left to echo. An Elden deer peers through thick bushes, happily trotting around the trees. Hooves pressed firmly on the grass below. The animal moves with agility akin to its kind. Other species fall unmatched in speed and perception.
That perception is put to the test when its ears perk up, eyes wide and shifting. Horns spiral around the head, sharp as knives, they act as a means of self-defense. Hefty wings lay on its side, tense from the immediate attention. The Elden doesn’t have time to stretch them before its muscles tense. It jumps out of the way just before a powerful jet of water splashes against a tree.
“Good form, Yue!” cheers professor Mika.
A grin stretches across my face; I wipe the sweat on my forehead before peering up at him. His blue eyes fixate on mine with a smile of his own. “It wasn’t perfect but an improvement nonetheless,” he says.
It certainly was not perfect but good enough! My hands fall at the sides where I shake the tension out. Water kinesis can be demanding, especially when falling behind practice.
There is an urge to do a victory dance, to jump right then and there, and I almost do before remembering I’m in class. I turn around to a dozen pairs of eyes staring at me. I guess celebrating will have to wait.
A glistening lake lays behind us. Steady, almost invisible waves carry the water towards us. The wind picks up. Going back into formation, in line with the rest of the students - I cannot help but stare at the imposing building just beyond the lake. A church, black as night, and big as a mountain. Its domed ceiling peers behind luscious hills. It gives me goosebumps and I don’t know why.
The professor’s voice cuts through my thoughts. “Who is willing to try next?” he squints at the students. My body tenses when he brings up my name – “Yue was certainly a great candidate, but I want someone with more confidence, with more flare!”
“Perhaps you, Aryan?” he asks the Yomi next to me.
The boy quickly shakes his head.
“Hmm, how about you Cian?” He approaches a Boulnae next, which perks everyone’s interest. We all lean closer, trying to get a better look at the boy at the end of the line.
There are only three Boulnae in this class, understandably so. This is a rare sight to see; usually people keep to one single element, the one most prevalent in their culture. Besides Yomi, there aren’t many other people practicing water kinesis, besides small, spread out tribes.
That is certainly not the case for everyone though. That I learnt when coming to kinesis class for the first time. Three Boulnae and one Elfian stood beside me as colleagues, the rest being Yomi like myself. If that is not an eye-opener then I don’t know what it is.
“Ugh... Yes, okay” he is trying to sound calm. Everyone noticed the tremble in his voice though. I wonder how good he is...
I have always been homeschooled, kinesis class was spent only with the professor and, occasionally with my annoying siblings who kept interrupting us. The boy is brought forward to a similar position I was in before.
“Have you ever iced water before?” professor Mika asks. The Boulnae shakes his head. The professor snakes a hand around his shoulders, his other hand stuck in a cast. He nods to the Yomi beside us. “Allana, show them how it’s done”
“Yes, sir” she speaks with confidence before turning to the lake.
He turns towards us as Allana prepares. “Remember, your strength doesn’t lie in your body, but in your mental state. Your mind needs to be clear, as should your intent. Water represents emotions; if you keep your emotions in check then you will have no trouble water bending”
Fallen leaves drift through the wind, gliding towards the tall grass and shifting lake. Allana is prepared; her arms bend forward and drop. She takes a breath and lifts them up again with finesse. Water droplets follow her movement; they rise from the water, conjoining until they form a small blob above the lake.
“Notice how she does not resist the water, neither pushing or pulling against it” She carries herself to a nearby tree, her hands and body shifting with the water, playing to the rhythm. She finesses her way around bushes, never keeping her hands still, always moving to keep the water afloat. Her body is relaxed. When pulling her hands back, the water follows.
With a whip of her hands, the water rushes towards a tree, splashing against the bark moments before turning to ice. Allana’s arms fall to her sides.
The professor nods with a chuckle. He shifts his attention back to the boy at his side. “Now you try. It’s okay if you don’t succeed the first time”
A snort almost escapes me. I am sure he is going to succeed; he wouldn’t be in this class if he hadn’t already proved his water kinesis skills. This class is for normal – intermediate water benders.
Even so, I cannot stifle my surprise when he reaches forward and bends water towards him. Looking from the corner of my eye, I can see I’m not the only surprised one here. Professor Mika seems undeterred though.
“Good” he praises. “Now try and hit your target”
He does so, water splashing against the tree. That’s not it though, a gasp leaves my lips as I witness water droplets crystallizing into ice, cementing their position on the tree. Eyes wide and jaw slack, I stare at the Boulnae in front. His deep brown curly hair and wide stature. A sudden sense of Deja vu comes from staring at him. Have we met before?
Professor Mika smiles. He pats the boy’s shoulder before turning to us with a devilish grin. “What do you think?” he asks.
There is no response. Some stare in awe at the Boulnae while others keep their heads down, myself being one of those people. “Defied your expectations?” Some nod.
“Danhy Cian has trained in water bending for a while. He is no better than you are. Well –he actually is better than you” he cackles when some stare at him. The sudden urge to roll my eyes brings me to a chuckle.
I notice the other two Boulnae staring anxiously at the professor. That’s understandable because, if Danhy is as good as professor Mika says – which he clearly is! Then those guys have competition.
“This shall be the end of our lesson” I sigh in relief, finally lifting my gaze from the ground. When I notice the professor glancing towards me, my eyes immediately meet my shoes again. Sweat forms on my brows.
“Don’t forget to practice for the upcoming exam. Read your books and remember your stances” a couple of groans emerge at the mention of an exam. Honestly, same. Only that I groan internally.
“You are free to go!”
I am the first one to leave the site. Rushing towards the path that leads back to the academy. It’s done! Finally finished! Lords, my nerves are ramped in this class... this was supposed to be my favorite one but with so many Yomi’s around - the professor included, I cannot help but to be anxious.
This anxiety could be getting too much. Am I really going to cower in every Kinesis class? Just because... just because what? My fear is justified. Isn’t it?
Kicking a stone on the path, I wonder where this fear started. The fear of my own people. Such thoughts bring memories, memories of home. Unfortunately, they are not pleasant ones.
It wasn’t much after the attack at the Plaza. The screams were fresh in my head. Once the night fell, those sounds rang in my ears. Darkness gave way for images, appearing like mirages and disappearing within the light. My skin still trembled and tears still dripped onto my bed.
That particular night I found myself resting on the balcony of my room. The previous nightmare had succeeded in keeping me awake. I had no doubt I would lay there until sunrise. A hush cloaked the land. Leaves rustled bellow where an elegant garden scattered with lanterns and swings lay.
Guards patrolled the area. The main entrance to the palace kept extra secured. There wasn’t much for distraction besides the guards below, who kept pacing about and occasionally cracked a joke. The Link did not serve any distraction either as I would usually end up watching news about protests and such.
Some people did not take the attack on the Plaza lightly, as they shouldn’t. Their anger was redirected towards the crown though. Something I honestly struggled to comprehend. How could it be our fault the Loyalists attacked? How could it be anyone’s fault besides the attackers? Was I too young or stupid to understand?
Was the world really that complicated?
I ran a hand through my hair, running through the knots before plopping it over one shoulder. A few strands flew in the wind. My eyelids were beginning to feel heavy. With my head in the palm of my hand, I felt myself rolling into sleep.
Unfortunately, sleep was never an option for moments later a glass-shattering bang was heard. The palace shook. With widened eyes, I witnessed guards below shouting at each other, separating and running off into different directions.
Panic startled to settle. Another bang rattled the garden and I quickly retreated into my room, closing the balcony doors and locking them. I jumped into bed and held the nearest object, a lamp, in my grasp. Moments of silence followed, paralleled with my growing anxiety. My entire body shook; I could barely hold the lamp in my own grasp.
Silence fell. Darkness shrouded the room. I could feel my heart beating in my throat. My heart stopped the second the door to my room opened slowly. Fuck! I should have locked that door too! I held the lamp a little higher as I witnessed someone entering the room.
When I was about to strike, a familiar figure appeared in front of me. “Tori!” I yelled in relief.
Tori came over to me, placing a finger on his lips. I nodded, grabbed his hand and walked out into the hall. An eerie silence followed, the only sounds were the ones of our footsteps.
“What is happening?” I whispered only for Tori to shake my hand. I shook his hand back. While going down the stairs, our bodies crouched and glued to one another, shadows played in the dark, swiveling in the corner of my eyes. All curtains were closed so that moonlight barely dripped through the cracks.
My paranoia was at an all-time high.
When entering the living room, Tori was able to let go of my hands and flick on the lights. “We need to stay in here until everything is secure” he led me to the couch.
“Tori... w-what is happening?”
“Don’t worry about it”
“What do you mean?” I exasperated. “Tori you need to tell me what is happening!”
He dragged his hands down his face and through his hair. Very telling. With bloodshot eyes, he turned his gaze towards me. “There has been a security breach”
Security breach? “I-is there someone in the palace?”
When Tori nodded his head, my blood ran cold. Chills, goosebumps, whatever you’d like to call them, they all ran through me. Down my spine, up my arms... The anxiety came back full force.
Fortunately, not much happened during isolation. My thoughts managed to keep me occupied. Fear felt like a familiar entity, always creeping around. Always there but deep inside my mind.
My ears perked up at any sound from outside. Whenever footsteps approached, Tori put himself in front of me, holding on to a holster that most probably held a firearm. When the doors did open though, it was only for my mother and father to come in.
“Yuidan!” Mom came running. Pulling me into a tight hug. “Are you alright?” I stifled a nod through sobs and tears. I wondered if nightmares would follow.
Days after, when finally working up the courage to hold a Link in my grasp. I checked the news. Through the glass screen of the device, a disturbed face stared back at me. Cold, soulless eyes. Blonde hair. Blue skin... This was the face of the intruder. A face that I would never forget.
I knew what had happened to me. I realized it from the very beginning. I knew why fear tasted different. Same chills, but different. This one wasn’t directed at one certain entity or person, it was directed at my people.
Whenever the familiar face of a Yomi, especially from Yiondelienne, came into view. My mind retreated to that place of fright. When the soulless eyes of a criminal stared into my own.
I hope you enjoyed reading this chapter as much as I did writing it! I love explaining Yuidan's backstory and why he feels so scared all the time. It's both intriguing and a little sad.
Danhy seems like an interesting character, doesn't he? And the way he can bend water o: Yuidan was astounded lmao!
Thank you for reading and don't forget to leave your opinions in the comment section! It's much appreciated.