Author: Lord Slayer PM
Ten year old Terra wants to be a mage more than anything, but too much stress can have an adverse effect on your magic. Especially when that stress goes too far...Rated: Fiction K - English - Fantasy/Humor - Words: 1,944 - Reviews: 3 - Favs: 2 - Follows: 3 - Published: 09-21-12 - id: 3059858
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
She had everything they thought they would need to impress a spell guild instructor. Robes, a hat and a staff. Of course, the robes had been tailored by the finest seamstress in the port of Chalserra, spun from fashionable blue silk and cloth of gold in spite of her flaming hair. The hat was wide brimmed and pointed. Mother had had a fit of how passé it was, but father had assured her that it was the proper style for a wizard and all of the household servants had agreed; not that that their opinions mattered to mother. The staff was of fine mahogany and topped with a ruby the size of a pigeons' egg, crafted by the apprentice of the king's own wandmaker and worth every coin, they'd been told. By all accounts she looked precisely like what a well-to-do ten year old sorceress should. They did Terra little good when she could not cast a single spell.
"Again," the tutor said. His voice held the authority of a whip. Even his requests were imperious. She felt his unsettling voice was more than half the reason she was doing so poorly on this entry test.
"L-light of Cosmos—"
"Do not stammer."
"Light of Cosmos, gather into my hand!" Terra swallowed down her fear and raised the staff high—a little girl playing make-believe with an expensive stick "Light!"
For the sixth time that day, the tiny ball of light that would make her novice wizard did not appear. Oh, how she wanted to pitch a fit.
Old Grayzag stood as impassive as an iron pillar in the midst of her plush family parlor, at odds with everything around him with his dark grey robes and beard. Not a pointed hat in sight. He looked more like a warrior in wizard's garb, towering and broad shouldered and leathern faced, but his eyes were exactly what she imagined a wizard's should be like. Too much so. Steel colored and sharp enough to cut herself on, she found his expectant gaze unsettling in the extreme. They seemed to reach deep into her frightened self. It did not matter where she looked, she could feel them boring into her, stripping away all comfort within her home. She wanted to cry, and for the third time she wished Father would send him away.
If the wizard had her on edge her parents were of no comfort. Lawrence Goanzona sat in his favorite uncomfortable teak armchair wringing his hands and biting his lips, nervous as a banker on a pirate ship as he sweated through his silk shirt. His wife Irene was worse, pulling her red curls out of their sculpting to braid at them feverishly, her ruffled gown now wrinkled by nervous clenching. Terra's blue eyes sparked in helpless annoyance as she realized that she now knew what they meant what was said by the smell of fear, sweat and brandy.
Why in the Abyss were they so worried when it was her the family's honor supposedly rode on? She tapped a rapid tempo against the rug. Grayzag's eyes focused on it at once, a speck of annoyance about his crinkling brows. She smiled.
Father caught on at once. "You'll have to forgive her, m'lord," he said, risking an angry glance at Terra, "The girl's just nervous."
"A wizard must be without fear," Grayzag said, unfazed by the plea. "Again."
She hated him more and more as she raised the staff, bile rising with it. Just summoning the Power made her feel sick. She hated practicing in front of an audience. She tried to smile prettily—like a twit—as her mother had instructed, but she knew pretending that she was not angry just made the nausea worse. The sacrifices of ladyship, Mother would have called it. Once again she uttered the incantation, felt the Power swell within her chest, warm and comforting, then just as quickly deflate beneath the wizard's meticulous gaze.
Her round face quirked into something not quite a smile and not quite a grimace as she did her best to keep her emotions under reign. Whenever she had trouble with a spell she would stomp and huff about, but she bit her lip, remembered it was for her own sake that she had to put up with this, and kept herself civil for their honored guest.
"She's really quite talented, you know," Father began to babble. She huffed to herself. What would he know of that? "Just last week she burned down the woodshed." Oh.
Terra pulled the goofy hat over her eyes as she bit down an inward groan. That had been the result of her venting against a particularly troublesome cantrip. Why did he have to keep telling people about her tantrums, even if he was trying to put a nice spin on it?
"I am well aware of the child's potential," Grayzag's voice was weary. Something like a sneer crossed his rigid face. "Of course, not everyone with mere potential can be a wizard."
He was meeting her eyes now and she bristled at his mockery. She may have tossed aside the façade right then and told him exactly what she thought of him had Mother not swooped in.
"P-perhaps if she tried the spell in Elvish?"
Unaware, her father brushed the suggestion aside with cool patronization. "No, no, dearest. One uses the dragon tongue for such things as spellcraft. I know, I've dabbled a bit in it myself."
Terra did not bother to correct him and rattled the spell off in both languages, trying to distract herself from the idiocy raging all around. Still the ball of light failed to manifest.
"What's going wrong?" she could hold her frustration in no longer, and struck the staff—no, the stick—across the divan. "I've never not been able to do this one."
"Terra! " Mother said, matching her daughter's temper with ease, "A lady does not behave in such a crude manner."
"Have a care, girl," Father's amendment promised a severe hiding if she did not straighten up, "Be mindful of our guest." Don't ruin this chance.
"It is alright," Grayzag had his hands clasped behind him as he studied her like some fascinating insect. "I would not expect much else from such a child."
The shock of her parents was nothing next to her outrage. How dare this curmudgeonly coot insult her in her own house? For the second time she felt like setting fire to his beard.
"Tell me, child," his commanding voice broke through her thoughts, "Do you even wish to become a wizard?"
"Of course she—"
"Silence," the word was calm but carried such power that Father might have been placed under a muting spell. "Which is it, child? Do you truly crave the secrets of the Power, or are you simply fulfilling your family's petty social ambitions?"
For the second time she found herself meeting the miser's eyes. The air around her became a haze. How badly she wanted to conjure up a ball of fire and throw it into his stupid old face, or turn him to stone, or anything to make him shut up. Catching the frightened disapproval of her parents from the corner of her eye snuffed the heat out at once. She took a deep, calming breath. She was a lady, the heir to Chalserra's most respected merchant, she must not act in such a vulgar fashion.
There was something like disappointment in the old man's eye.
"I do wish to be a wizard, my lord," she said, honest and serene."More than anything. I spend every day reading and practicing, and—"
"I wonder," Grayzag actually laughed, now stroking his beard in mock contemplation. "And yet you cannot perform the most elementary of spells. My guild would never waste time with such trash."
She wavered on the precipice for less than a fraction of a second. She had to keep her temper, she had to be civil. Then she could become a student of the wizard's guild, so she could become a real wizard like she had always wanted, and increase the family's contacts and prestige. There would be severe repercussions if she failed.
Abyss take it.
She jabbed the staff right in front of the old man's chest.
"Light of Cosmos gather into my hand: Light."
For the first time, her magic ran free.
Her self-satisfaction passed with the smoke and the ringing of her ears, leaving behind a thick layer of trepidation. The fine imported rug, the artisan-crafted furniture, all of it was scorched. The antique vases, the crystal goblets, the painted lamps and the picture window were shattered. Her expensive robes and everything else was coated with soot and stank of smoke. Her parents gaped at her through smudged, dumbfounded faces. A marble sized sphere of gentle light hovered over her staff, like a fairy giggling over the mischief it had wrought.
Grayzag almost smiled.
"Impressive," she stared in utter befuddlement as he clapped for her, not a speck on him. "If a trifle untamed."
"A trifle?" Mother's voice first returned as a shriek. "Look what she's…my parlor! Look at all of this!"
"Impressive?" Father squeaked the word out as he sat plastered to the chair, unsure if he should shout or pass out.
"W-whazzat?" Terra managed with impressive articulation.
"Have you forgotten your studies so soon, child?" the wizard's face was again a stony mask. "A wizard's power comes as much from the heart as the mind. Nerves and bottled emotions make for poor spellcasting."
Her cheeks blazed as she turned away. How stupid of her. And now she had gone and ruined everything with another tantrum. She would never be a wizard now, and the fierce gazes prickling at her back warned of a tanning or three were in store for her as well.
"Nevertheless, I will expect my pupil to keep a firmer grasp of her temper in the future. Further incidents will not do, am I understood?"
No one of the Goanzona family looked if they had heard right. Mother gawked, Father gawked. Terra gawked hardest of all, feeling trembling now with pure elation as the staff fell from her numb fingers.
"Of course," the wizard said impatiently, striding for the door. "I will arrive each morning at third bell, and you will spend the whole of the day in study, without interruption. Is that understood, Tradesmaster?"
Father could only manage a dumb nod, still rooted to his chair.
"And please do away with that absurd costume."
"Of course, master," the title came willingly to her lips. The conjured orb grew brighter as Terra smiled for the first time.
Author's Note- I haven't posted anything in a while so I thought I'd share something I finished yesterday for my creative writing class. I've been wanting to do a little something on Terra (from my novel)'s backstory, so I thought this project would be a good opportunity. The only thing that I'm not really satisfied with is that the ending feels too weak, especially as in class we've been told that the last paragraph of a short story should be its strongest one. Other than that I'm rather pleased with it. Terra's just so fun to write, and little ten year old Terra is just too cute. Hope you all enjoyed it.