Chant #7: The Test Subject.
After I left Chronostary City I headed south, to the mountains.
According to notes left by the late General Yakufe, the ADAM test is divided into 8 parts called "the Trials".
First trial named "Inner voice" require candidate to find ones inborn element. By feeling nature and listening into the 4 main elements one is able to communicate with 'inner voice', voice of one's basic power, ones basic element, therefore the first ever used.
Usually first usage of the element happens in two years after being born so no one is able to remember what the element was. Sometimes it's the same through whole generations. But it's not a rule.
My parents died before I went to Academy and learned to control elements properly, but as long as I remember I could always use 3 elements.
Water, Lightning and Air. It must be one of them.
When I've walked a few miles I stopped to meditate. I was far enough from the village not to be influenced by elements controlled there all the time. I sat on the small hilltop in the forest near the pond.
Breath in. Breath out. Constantly thinking about my basic element I heard whistling. It grew stronger and louder as I continued meditation. I heard nothing more than this whistling noise.
Then as I was covered by darkness inside my thoughts I heard a voice, female voice. It was a whisper so I couldn't hear it due to constant whistling. What an annoying sound. But on the other hand very calm and peaceful.
The whistling volume decreased and the whispering stopped. With closed eyes I couldn't tell how much time passed.
'Find me… Find me…' I heard the woman's voice again 'Akh Dhamm… Find me… You know me… I was with you whole your life… Find me…'
Suddenly warm and soft wind dabbed my face and sweet chrysanthemum smell woke me up from deep meditation.
I opened my eyes, whistling stopped and the female voice said last words:
'Feel my soul and find me on the heights…'
I knew where I had to go, deep into the mountains. Luckily it's summer so it should be warm and nice up there, but still chilly and windy.
I grabbed my bag and jumped on tall birch below which I meditated. Jump by jump I reached the top of the tree and looked around. Hundreds of miles in bushy dark forest distended between me and the rocky hills I must go to.
I took an apple out of my bag and ate it in a flash. It was midday when I started meditation but the moon was very high when I was awaken. I decided to go to sleep and move out at dawn.
Night was very calm, no wind, no clouds, clear black sky with millions of stars and crescent moon.
I put down the fire after I ate some quail drumsticks and fell asleep.
I woke up right before the sunrise. It was chilly and the dew covered everything around me including my cape which was covering the bag.
I flicked the dew of the cape, put it on and headed south.
'It's a long way before me' was what I thought of before I saw small gray object fly in my direction from the village. It was a pigeon, used by Yakufe family to send information safely and at long distances.
A pigeon with Yakufe crest symbol on the back and small piece of paper pinned down to it's leg landed on my shoulder.
But he flew back immediately when I unhooked the note.
I unrolled and read it:
"To Akh Dhamm. Important notification from The Council and Yakufe family. Megmi Yakufe, daughter of late General Yakufe, let his spirit rest in peace and guide us through difficulties, left the Great City of Chronostary and is now following after you. You are forbidden from contacting her unless she confronts you first. Do not let her die nor kill. She's not part of the ADAM test and is forbidden from taking part in it. Be well and keep your mind unclouded."
Blasted woman, what have she thought? Doing such stupid thing right after losing her father.
I heard some noise on the north, she must've been tracking me all night.
I snapped fingers and inflamed campfire I had put down earlier. I looked at the message last time and threw it into the fire.
"Do not let her die nor kill." I said silently and gritted the campfire with earth.
I thought 'It will be very troublesome year…' and rushed south as rising sun warmed skin on my face.
Meg was tired and hungry when shortly after dawn she found dying down campfire left by Dhamm.
"Damn it, I need to rest for a bit or I won't be able to catch up to him anytime soon" she sat on the wooden pale and took bottle of water out of her bag, a lot smaller in comparison with the Akh's one.
After a short nap, around the noon, Meg gathered her things and followed Akh's trace she picked up couple of meters south.
At the end of the day she found herself nice cave near the river. She fell asleep very fast, unused to daylong travels.
(end of part 1)
After 3 weeks of traveling, days and nights, tired physically and mentally, Meg found a small wooden cottage. She thought it's weird such fine house is standing still so far away from any civilization.
She knocked on the door few times but no one answered.
She decided to knock last time when the doors opened before her on their own. She went inside.
Beside one person bed next to the window and small wooden table on the center, the cottage was totally emptied.
Meg sat on the bed. It was stiff and uncomfortable. How could anyone sleep on it?
The door shut the same way they opened. On their own. Meg left her bag on the table and opened the window. Then she noticed small piece of paper sticking out of the window corner. She picked it up and opened. There were only 7 lines crossed in 2 groups, one made of 5 lines, other of 2.
"Seven?" Meg sat on the bed again and put out the candle from lying on the ground bag. "What can it mean? First five, then two…"
She stopped for a second and looked at the bag. It wasn't her, this one was bigger and heavier.
"Se-seven days?! He spent here seven days? And I thought I'm starting to finally catch up on him."
She emptied Akh's bag and threw everything on the bed. There were some clothes, kitchen gear and some bird meat leftovers.
"Where did he go then? And how long ago?" she put everything back into the bag and left it on the floor where she found it.
She grabbed her bag and left the cottage in search of Akh's trace. She found one, quite fresh footprint left south-east the cottage, in straight way to the mountain top. She ran in that direction without second thoughts.
"Great, I didn't lost her"
I jumped from one top of the tree to another just to keep my eyes on Meg. She's following me for almost a month now, we're getting closer to the mountains and it will get nasty up there.
I looked behind me. Blinded by noon sun I could barely see where the sky starts and mountains ends.
I looked down, Meg ran with all her strength, but were losing her breath quickly.
Without proper training in the academy it's nearly impossible to keep my pace, so I had to even stop for a week.
Fortunately I think I can fulfill first Trial's condition now. And I have to do it before Meg reach the mountain.
I started jumping south-west, to get as far from Meg as possible. She could find my trace back in two days top if only I left her the track to follow.
In minutes I reached the mountain, tall as if there were gates to heaven on the top. I started climbing.
When I stayed in the cottage for a week to let Meg catch up on me, I meditated long days and nights. As Meg was getting closer, I could hear the female voice clearer and louder. And on the last night before Meg found my hideout I heard the woman saying this:
"I know you. You should know me, but you rejected me from your memory. I helped you countless times without a word. Now it's time for you to help me reach you. You will find me and the answer you're looking for on top of the highest mountain before you. Go, my boy, go up and play with me. "
It started getting dark before I even climbed one third of the mountain. It must've been at least 1500 miles high.
When moon passed the mountains and showed up on the west again I decided to make short break. I had to replenish energy and hydrate myself to keep up climbing for next twenty hours.
Before I noticed I fell asleep. I woke up long after dawn, sun was high enough to make mountains a decent shadow. I drank some water and restarted climbing. When I passed half way to the top I looked down to where Meg should be. I saw small smoke below the neighbor mountain and smiled.
'She is doing just fine. Good. I can focus on the training now'
I climbed constantly for the rest of the afternoon and half of the night. I felt like I was getting closer to the stars. Same stars I used to visit before and after Academy. Same stars that were being destroyed by Callyps' army while I could do nothing to blow the whistle on it.
When moon set down and sky started to enlighten I finally reached the top of the mountains. There was something I wasn't expecting. Two columns of giant statues representing Yakufe's predecessors. Each and every one of them was able to fully understand and control at least 5 elements. At the end there was empty platform with General's name on it.
When I came closer to it stones started to gather on it, forming something resembling a person. When I touched the stones wind had blown from below the platform and threw stones high up in the sky. The stones were whirling in the sky for couple of seconds when finally formed male figure. Huge stone statue of General Gamidio Yakufe fell down like a feather and landed safely on the platform.
"Welcome, Akh Dhamm" I heard woman's voice again, but not from inside of my head, this time from behind me.
I turned around and saw a female figure made of whirling on the wind leafs and twigs. I never saw such beautiful thing in my entire life. Not on my home planet, not on any other, not here on Therra either. The woman reached out to me one hand and showed big square behind her with other.
"Do you know who I am?"
"Of course I know, you've been introducing yourself past month" I answered while making small steps toward her.
"Do you fear me?"
"No, I don't. There's no need to fear my own power."
"Are you ready to pass first part of The Trials?" I reached my hand to her and grabbed her hand made of swirling wind.
"Then sit on the middle of the Sacred Square and tell my real name"
"Yes" she let my hand go and moved back as I sat inside small circle on the center of market size square. "The name of first chant you have created. Now close your eyes, feel my breeze and tell my name."
I closed my eyes. Breath in. Breath out. I noticed I did that slow breathing every time I used any element even before I entered Academy.
Breath in. Warm morning mountain wind tickled my face. Breath out. It felt like some cold steam left my body and soul. Breath in. The female voice have spoken the last time 'My name…'
While opening my eyes with full breath I said:
"Wind Element. Chant #11. Kaze Shukujo."