Chapter 1 - Prince Hydro

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Even past midday, Freyr didn't have much bearing on the stone court. Lord's Keep was too tall, and the sun was not even at its zenith yet. In its position now, the two sparring figures managed to produce two slender shadows dancing in rhythmic beats of one another.

Hydro Paen's younger brother, Aiton, looked on closely from the shaded portion of the castle walls. Aiton sat in a longchair, held tight by his mother. His mother's friends were there, too—other marchionesses from different provinces of Acquava. Elias Ward, his father's adored, had also taken a spot amongst the crowd, waiting to tend to any injury. Hydro tried not to focus on them, but every so often he caught himself stealing a gaze, watching for his mother's eye, which never seemed to look. Mostly Hydro focused on the man in front of him, Korth.

Korth swung his sword upward, forcing Hydro to backflip. Upon landing, he ducked to avoid another stroke. Using his momentum, Hydro propelled his body forward, lance in front, attempting to pierce Korth's seachrome armor—the front and back pieces attached by strong fishing lines, and instead of chainmail covering any openings on his side, rows upon rows of tightened clams shells protected him. Upon the breast was a droplet of water pierced and shattered by a sword. It was the Paen insignia, the pride of Hydro's house.

Hydro missed. Now his back was exposed. He tugged on the golden chain attached to his sapphire lance and spun around, ready to block an incoming attack.   

"Good reflexes, Prince," said Korth. His thick moustache bobbed up and down beneath the gap of his seachrome helm. 

"I do not need your praise, Korth."

Hydro jabbed his lance forward, but it was batted away. A heavy boot struck Hydro's stomach, causing his chest to heave inward. Defeat rang thrice as the lance clattered on the court.   

"You may not need my praise, but you certainly need my help. Your lance skills are still only mediocre." Korth grinned, extending his sea-leather glove, dotted in brine, down to Hydro.

Hydro looked towards the crowd and saw his mother smirking at him. I will show you I am not a failure. Hydro ignored the hand and returned to his feet by himself. "I do not need my lance when I can best you with a sword. Shall we practice that?"

Hydro crouched down and pushed aside the golden chain on his lance, exposing a small slit. Slightly above the slit was a silver band, colored different from the rest of the sapphire lance. A black button rose outwards from the lance a quarter inch above the silver. Hydro gripped the band and pushed the black button with his thumb. He concentrated on forming a sword, and within seconds, the malleable liquid steel—zircha—started to transfer. In no longer than five seconds, he held it ready.

"No. You will practice power now. A Prince must be trained in both."

"Humph. Very well." Hydro stowed away his sword and waited for the court to be set.

From the shadows of East Wall, a water basin was brought forth by guards Hydro didn't bother taking note of. Lamps—one of gas and fire, and the other of electricity—were placed alongside the basin. Elemental power could only be cast if it already existed in its natural form and only if visible—thus it was labeled the lowest of the three tiers of power. Only then could it be called and stolen by the authority of one's voice. Now, all four elements could be drawn from—earth the easiest of them all due to its overwhelming majority and proximity. In truth, it would always be the easiest element to conquer, unless one was falling through the air or at sea.

Hydro allayed his mind by breathing and closing his eyes, letting some of his untapped senses investigate the surrounding. Seagulls chirped, and the sound of water splashing against the rocks soon became obvious, as did the smell of salt and brine. power flowed, tingling on the tips of his fingers. The cool warmth calmed him as nothing else could. Hydro opened his eyes and saw Korth pace around the individual elements, then flick his hand and move his lips.

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