Chapter 14

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            “B-But,” she finally managed, shaking her head. “That’s not possible. I mean, I don’t have strong magic. If I did, if I did, I should have been able to do something. Some spell, some kind of sign, besides just making stuff explode. Shouldn’t I have?”

            Shuu shrugged, leaning back so he was half-sitting on her desk. “Depends. You among Magi always have lived. This school very young children teaches. If, impossible you it thought, then why can it do think? If elemental mage you are, then one element affinity you should have. That affinity should itself have shown, but too strong for usual Magi you are…”

            Kallai shrunk slightly under the intensity of Shuu’s gaze. His blue eyes ran over every inch of her, seeming to probe every bit of her and uncovering every flaw. From the zit on the end of her nose, to the rip in the base of her robe’s voluminous sleeve, to the grass stain on the hem she hadn’t been able to get out yet, his gaze hovered over them all.

            Finally, he frowned and crossed his arms over his chest. “Not of air you are, or I and my winds would have known. The scent of earth you not have. Hmmm… Well, for the moment, unimportant is. First, proper magic you do.”

            She flushed, dropping her gaze to her toes. “But I can’t do magic.”

            He dismissively waved a hand at her. “Magic matter of concentration and visualization is. At least for real mages is. Your magic you for must feel, then in your mind it shape. Good imagination you must have, or power you from escape will. Easy magic we first try.”

            Kallai took a step back, biting her lip. “I can’t. If I try, I’ll end up setting my room on fire again.”

            Shuu snorted, his eyebrows going up. “I useless you think, Sparrow? Nothing untrained mage or Magi do, too difficult for me to stop is. I, fully trained air mage of Horisha, am. As a child, with thunderstorms and tornadoes I played. As now I am, three water spies and one bandit group I did stop. One girl challenge is not.”

            “But…”

            “No more protests! Spell now you do! Your eyes close, your magic feel and on concentrate. In your mind, ball of light picture. That image, your magic into let flow. When feeling right is, release, and magic into effect will go.”

            Kallai opened her mouth to protest, but the look Shuu levelled at her had her ducking her head again. Shoulders hunched up, she risked another glance at him. His gaze was still locked onto her, implacable, only the gentle swaying of his hair in the air that twined around him like a cat, moving.

            Knowing he wouldn’t leave her along until she at least made the attempt, she closed her eyes. Kallai didn’t know how she was supposed to find her magic, or even what it would feel like, but she still tried to summon in. When nothing happened after several seconds of what felt like groping around the dark, blindfolded, she looked at Shuu again. Catching her eyes, he jerked his chin, the gesture speaking as loud as a shout.

            Rather than waste for time in a step that didn’t seem to be possible for her to finish, Kallai closed her eyes again and instead imagined a sphere of light hovering at eye level with her, right in the centre of her room. She pictured it as fist-sized, a bright yellow-white like a miniature sun, filling her room with a brilliant, warm light.

            “Image steady keep,” Shuu said, his voice cutting through her perfect visual. “Your power into it pour.”

            Kallai’s eyes opened of their own accord as she opened her mouth to ask Shuu what he meant. She froze for a moment, eyes blinking rapidly under the blinding light that was hovering in the middle of her room. As soon as she jerked around to stare at Shuu, the light was gone. Thrust into sudden twilight, she rubbed her eyes, wondering if the light had just been a hallucination.

            “Enough magic into the image you not put,” he said, nodding at her. “No magic in, effect faster fades. Magic it anchors. Again try.”

            Her mouth worked for a few seconds but with no sound came. When she realized that Shuu’s expression hadn’t even flickered, she closed her eyes again, this time picturing a small sphere of light. She kept its glow to just a bit higher than that of the glow globes around her, and this time concentrated on making something, anything flow into the image in her head. Kallai could feel herself flush, knowing this was going to end the same way all of her magic attempts did, but knowing she couldn’t do anything else, she opened her eyes.

            Shuu nodded at her, but she barely registered the movement with her peripheral vision, her gaze stuck onto the small, glowing ball, hovering in front of her. She blinked, but it remained where it was. She glanced at Shuu, who nodded at her again, before moving all the way around the sphere.

            No matter what direction she came at it from, it stayed where it was. Emboldened, Kallai reached out and touched it with one finger. It both felt like nothing was there and of warmth. Her creation had no weight, no substance, but she could feel the heat of it nonetheless.

            She pulled away from it, looking back at Shuu. He nodded, a tiny smile playing across his lips. “See? Magic you have. Practice you need, but that easy is. All spells like this perform, and no more your fellow spellless will call you. Now,” he said, shoving off her desk so he stood upright. “I things have to do, you must sleep. Tomorrow more practice we shall have. In your classes too, no spells use, instead effects picture and release. Good night, Sparrow.”

            Before Kallai could ask anything else, could pelt him with the hundred questions she could feel bubbling up inside her, Shuu disappeared in a swirl of air, leaving her with nothing but excitement, wonder, and a messy room to clean.

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