It's been two weeks since what historians are calling the Ravaging Battle for Beterano. Shortly after the battle, one of the many companies made or supported by the elementals came to help. Gaea construction, named after the leader of the elementals Lord Gaea has provided many materials to assist in rebuilding and holding off the drugged monsters. In 2 weeks many of the supplies we lost to the goblins were recovered and also the town had been at least a stable peace with the hobgoblins and Dwarf was expected to make a full recovery. With everything going well and secure the rest of us cadets were to be trained by the expert mana genius himself Guru Drippy. But before we were to depart, I wanted to make one last memory from the stressful few days I've had. My name is Aphele, and today I'm going to try everything in my power to make a metal construct.
So far, I've pretty much been fortunate in my efforts to master the metal element. The only times I have was able to create simple constructs of metal in the direct and stressful of situations and states. Good for a boost of adrenaline but terrible for a leader who often would have to think of strategies in the heat of an unexpected battle. Worst yet constructing upon creation is very exhausting mentally. Mana wise it has been a pretty good give and takes if I was going to be of any use I needed to at least grasp on it.
Honestly most frustrating of all was the fact that in this quest I was alone. The elementals are too preoccupied to help one person. A lot of people take it for granted, but our elements are more than just some power; it's an expression. It's a part of a person that people can express upon the world around us. So that for good and ill we leave our mark on the world and hopefully make it last for a long time to come. And if I indeed am not the last metal user alive. Then I want to make sure that even a year after I'm gone or hundred, that the element of metal is still as mighty and as strong as ever. So for me, this was more than simple training; it was a way of fulfilling my duty as a survivor of the Metal Clan Massacre.
I waked up around 5:45 and was out around 6:00 I wanted to go out on the run but then I see to figures on the top of the apartment building. I jump up there to see that it was Mai and Brandon were on the roof sparring. Blasts of water and wind were firing all over with Brandon was spiraling across the rooftop like a tornado on crack. The blast Mai fired was so wild that I barely had enough time to reactively shoot a blast towards an oncoming water blast that covers my body in hot steam that clashes heavily with the autumn air. My teammates rush over to see if I was all right as even though I'm blessed with the element of fire, I wasn't immune to heat.
"Oh, sorry Aphele guesses our training got a little too intense," Brandon said.
"I thought we were playing a game. I mean I didn't break much of a sweat," Mai said teasingly.
"Anyway, what are you doing up here?"
"I didn't know that you to sparred up here. If you did, I probably would've gone with you guys."
"Well we didn't know if you would like that, plus this originally our thing but since someone thought we were playing around. Do you want to join us?"
I agreed, wanting to figure out if I could find a way to solve my problem. With the cold air whipping about the two of us separated from one another to the other ends of the rooftop. Meanwhile, Brandon stated the rules.
"It's a simple sparring match between us. All you have to do is land a pretty good hit on the other and the first one to get it wins. And please don't hold back, I hate it when that happens."
Even with his request, I still hold back on the ferocity of my flames as I did not want to hurt my comrade. And as I did, I thought about what my relationship with the element. My mother, Crimson, was always like a firework. She always seemed to count from task to task energetically. Despite her flaws she was, I remember that she was the most passionate person in my life. And was even the one unlocked my element. I remember back in grade school, I was made fun of for not having an element and was made fun of. And when I finally told her, she told me something that became the philosophy I uphold to this day. She hugged me and said.
"Always strive to be better Aphele, there is nothing wrong with that. Don't ever stop being who you are and never let anyone tell you different till the day they put you in the ground. Do you hear the young man?"
Her words ignited something deep inside, and in her embrace, my hands burned in resonance with her fire as we kindled together until I finally calmed down. It was an expression beyond words. Even with such a revelation, I felt as though my element was uncomfortable in a sense. If my mother was a blowtorch in motion, I had an inner fire. One that brought with it confidence and determination but in many ways, I was still reserved. And sometimes I wonder if I'm like that because I was afraid of something else escaping from my life. I don't have time to dwell as I decide to launch a brutal offensive.
I fired a volley of um... fireballs near Brandon's direction to get him antsy. However, like a hyperactive twister, he avoids and sees through them, He starts to close in with a roundhouse but to use my flames I propel myself down into a roll and even use them to speed up into the air. Again I fire a couple of fire waves, but he still manages to dodge hem through multiple acrobatic flips. I put on the throttle and rocket in the right towards him to at least get a punch off him, but he jumps straight towards us intercepting with an oncoming kick, but at the very last second I used even more of my flames to fly myself out of his kick's reach. And as we made our descent, he unexpectedly pulls on my hair and flicks on my nose. We landed in a bit of a heap with Brandon looking perplexed.
"Okay, okay to be fair though I didn't want to hurt you. Fire is pretty dangerous if not used correctly. Besides at least put up a good chase, didn't I?"
He accepts my explanations, but as I recover, I decide to ask the siblings a question that could help me with my predicament. I realize that the only way I could pass on my element is if I maybe had the inspiration of another. I got more than I expected.
"What the most significant thing that you think your element symbolizes?
"What do I think about the Spirit element? I think it's awesome. Every time I get to finish my daily training or achieve at something, I know that it was from the result of the power of my own will. This was something I am the master of because it is simply my own body. Too many elements count solely on the environment, and it can make them a little overconfident. Spirit might not have me lifting stones or making my hands go up in flames, but it makes me prove that it doesn't matter. Since I have shown that I or anyone has the potential to be anyone's equal."
The comment surprised me in its profoundness. Brandon was always direct and straightforward in his endeavors, but in this, I found something genuinely nuanced. I then ask the same question to Mai.
"I've always liked water and wind even if they were stuff that I was stuck with them for the rest of my life. I always symbolized them like a storm of great change. I always thought it was a symbol that once wielded, could be morphed into something better. I used to be a crappy person in the past, and so I used both as a natural disaster. But when something ...happened I decided to become a specialist so that I may always lend a helping hand to those in need. However, if needed, I will be the storm that protects them from all harm."
The way she said it was with such infectious glee that it forced me into a smile. And after we head to breakfast as a group. The breakfast room was a cavalcade of conversations as in many a case; this could very well be the last time they see each other. Overall while it was a serious, damaging two weeks though I didn't see Deon or Lunaire. Which was a bit worrisome as now the relationship between us had evolved into something of a united kinship. Like a couple of friendly people were all working on a group project(My smiles need work). We agreed that I would go search for them as they helped packed our supplies. I searched through the busy yet peaceful streets as I take a moment to take it all in.
A young parent couple is strolling the streets with their baby. An old family was taking a picture of a young family. Two women um... they are showcasing great affection on a rooftop. And as I continued, I thought.
"This is what we've been fighting for."
"Yes, but can you keep it up? Can you prevent it from slipping through those fingers of yours?"
I shake my doubt away off as I decided to head to the infirmary since she spent much of the two weeks there. When I enter, I see Lunaire looking at a window. I about to say hi but she shushes me as I managed to find what she was looking at. It was a white man with light brown hair and eyes on crutches as he manages to adapt to it quickly but falls soon after. I was trying to recognize him as Lunaire managed to look on in a prideful look. She then pushes me aside as she explains in a feverishly nervous soliloquy.
"I know that was a bit bitchy of me, but there was a reason okay. That guy right there was named Clay, and he saved me during the Battle for Beterano. The doctors said he barely made it and that even with Jade he's going to be a long recovery. And ever since then I ducked out early every day to get him food from the mess hall and see how he's doing. And I know it's stupid that I don't talk to him, but I feel extremely guilty. Because for most of my life, I always have the unfortunate side of everyone like an early warning system. But every time I see him, I sense absolutely no regret. I see a man who saved someone like me and will probably never be what he used to be but still has no regrets. And for me, it's maddening because..."
She gazed at me in realization as I finished her sentence.
"Someone, to talk to?"
"And this is happening now. Can you forget and change the subject to anything else? "
"No, but we can make a deal."
I ask her my questions as she answered in kind.
"I never had the most positive relationship with my element, so my answer might not be worthwhile. Like I said before, I see the worst in everybody, and there are many times where I sense the depths of human cruelty. And I struggle with not letting that cruelty drive me crazy. But my mother always told me that I should always look for others as an inspiration to never stray from that path and tell their story. So I'm guessing what I say is that it's a shitty element but at least I can maybe make a person feel less shitty, and maybe that person will have to repeat the whole process."
I take her words in, process them, and before I leave, I give my own.
"That is all very true but remember no one's going to tell that story unless someone is willing to tell it. If you get what I mean?"
"I do," she says as her eyes already told of all the thanks I needed.
We both walked away to meet the man who strives to shine above all. Deon has been pretty shifty of late and not very social. And even when he does talk it is of no substance. It took until the afternoon to find him until Lunaire gave me a text that I reluctantly was forced to accept. I run into one of the numerous gyms in the Spirit province hoping to see if I would get lucky and I was. Unfortunately, as I saw Deon sweating up a storm on a treadmill as he also fires a blast of light at a target. I check on his progress using the little monitor I see that his accuracy was 73% while he only kept going on medium speed for 5 minutes. He may have been a pretty good shot, but his physical stamina seemed to be less than desired though, during previous engagements, he was under minimal physical movement. I take note of this the fact as I decided to get him a bottle of water.
As he vigorously gulped down the water while also breathing every few seconds. I checked his attire Deon was a nobleman by nature, but now his bony, pale structure was on full display in ironically black shorts and a tank top. He finally regained a semblance of a regal composure as he said.
"Thank you for the water Aphele, but I must ask what brings you to the present of my presence?"
"Just wanted to check up on you and ask you a question on a little side project I'm working on. But are you sure you are all right? You looked like you were dying back there."
"That's the point. Despite my many talents, I find a physical improvement to be beneath me but recently something has happened to put me at a crossroads, and now I find myself questioning on my future path. Which bring us to now."
Was this the purpose of a leader? To deal with the drama of everyone else is going through. I seriously think that I've missed like six chapters of an immensely popular book series and I just now caught back up. Though this did open doors, he wasn't calling us commoners anymore, and his confidence was once so radiant it was almost obnoxious in its brightness, but here his light was dimmed significantly now. Though while his arrogance was a little annoying, I found it admirable to keep spirits up in a time like this. So before I ask my question, I tell Deon this.
"Deon you've already seemed to have turned your greatest weakness into a strength. I respect what you are trying to do, but I doubt that this is the path you should be on. And don't worry, we'll help on your way. "
Deon looked solemnly and questions before awkwardly stating "Thank you, I'll keep that in mind. Now, what was your question?"
After I asked it Deon responded with this statement.
"My opinion on my element was always mixed. Despite what our ebony friend may believe I am far more mellow than you may believe. I always found commoner to be a far looser term than any term than anything my family would say. To them, the light was the pinnacle, the absolute, and in many ways, I saw as a giver. When the element shined its way on me, it gave me opportunities that I never thought possible. It helped me get over obstacles and even rise in a way that illuminated me into something to take notice of. When I say that I want to shine above all it's not just simple posturing, but a promise and in a way to reassurance that the light element will guide me into the path set out for me. And now I believe that it will guide me to whatever my new path may be."
All I could think was how much his path resonated with mind and taking his hand; I make a promise I never intended on breaking.
"I'm sure the path you choose will be the adventure of a lifetime Deon. And I'll try to help in any way I can. Provide we survive till the next year?"
The joke brought a subtle laugh out of him as I left him to his own devices. It was mid-afternoon when I started on what Is it out to do. I found myself on the outskirts of town. I felt like the best way to create was first to use a sketch I had drawn in between the Ravaging Battle for Beterano. I put the image of what I wanted to develop and sit there and mediated. I find myself in the same black space as before. Beneath me, I see a pool of metallic liquid as I try with all of my will to morph the pool into the creation I so desperately desired.
I take in all of the things I learned about my friends and even the elements that make up this fantastical world we live in. Fire the element of passion, water the element of fluidity, wind the element of ascendance, earth the element of abundance, light the element of purity. Darkness the element of tragedy, spirit the element of strength, galaxy the element of divinity mystic the element of diversity and nature the element of life. And at that moment I decide what an element should be. I conclude that it will be something that I have mastery incarnate over, something that I can change into something more than a weapon or a shield. A power that could be used to inspire others and guide me to something greater. As I've said at the start of this, an element is something far more than simple power; it's a way of life.
It was a painstaking process for sure. I don't know how long I was down there, but with each passing second, I felt my element mature and bond with me. When I was done, I pushed my will even further until I suddenly awaken.
I was covered in sweat and was exhausted as all heck. I was hungry, thirsty and was mentally and physically exhausted. It was also nighttime as I managed to take control of myself. For a second, I thought my efforts were all for not until I see a sword hovering above me, seemingly crying out to me. Emotion takes over me as in triumph; I head into the city exclaiming.
"I have a sword! I have a freaking sword that I made!"
"Yeah dude we all have swords nothing to brag about or anything," some guy said.
I enter my room to quickly head to bed, giddy with my weapon in hand as I knew that I was now ready for my next adventure and challenge.