Chapter 17

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              Kallai had barely shut and locked her door after dinner when the air behind her began to swirl. She turned around just in time to see Shuu appear, his red hair looking even messier than normal. She hurried over to him, feeling her lips curving up to match the pleasure she felt at the sight of him.

            “Hello, Sparrow,” he said, moving so he could thump down onto her bed, crossing his legs as he leaned against the air like it was as solid as the room’s walls. “More questions for you I have.”

            She nodded, sitting down in front of him on the floor, legs folded neatly beneath and to one side of her. “What do you want to know?”

            “How, to this school, children are sent? When children, Magi do already know what they are?”

            “Oh, no. On the first of every month, in every town and city, specialized government Magi are sent out. In the month a child turns four, they’re to be checked over at their nearest testing area to see if they have the potential to be a Magi. If they do, they’re sent here in the following year or two, depending on when their birthday is. But magic tends to stay in bloodlines, so most often you already know which children will be Magi,” she replied. Emboldened by her success earlier that day, and the fact that Shuu was just nodding and rubbing his chin as he thought over her words, Kallai asked “Do elemental mage children know when they’re young that they have magic?”

            He shrugged. “Sometimes. On the element and strength of the power it depends. Air and earth most easy to tell are. If a child flies, or when from the ground removed does cry, then elemental magic likely is. Water too difficult to discover not is. Fire a bit harder is. Spirit almost impossible is. Rare too. I, spirit mage, never have met. As they grow, children with elements do play, so magic obvious becomes. I flew before walked.”

            “Magi don’t normally come into their magic until they’re six or seven. Everyone’s magic, even late bloomers, generally appears by the time they’re eight. I was a White when I, and everyone else, knew that I couldn’t do magic properly.”

            Shuu snorted. “Magi magic you not can do. Real magic you can. White what does mean?”

            “Oh,” Kallai said, fiddling with the edge of one of her wide, pocketed sleeves, shifting her weight as painful memories of her earlier years at school rose in her mind. “We’re separated into colours by our rough ages, and every colour sort of has a meaning behind it. When you first start at six, you’re in Black, because your magic’s generally still hidden. Then you move onto Grey, because your power’s still slowly separating itself from the darkness. Then you’re in White because your magic has finally shown itself. Then you’re in Brown as you learn the basics from the ground up. After that’s Pink, because you’ve just gotten a touch of colour as you move on from the very basic basics. After that you’re in the rainbow proper, and you move through onto the next colour every year until you’ve finished Violet and mastered the seven subjects you’ll be tested on in the Magi licensing exam. Those are Symbols, Components, Spatial, Transformation, Combination, Inner, and Outer magic.”

            “Unnecessarily complicated it sounds,” he said, shaking his head. “Elemental mages from other mages one on one learn. Once basics mastered are, it matter of practice and imagination is. New spells and techniques all the time created are.”

            “We only have inventors and specialized Magi do that. We have enough spells already that most people don’t need to create new ones. I think there’s some one on one learning depending on what kind of Magi you decide to become. A lot of people apprentice themselves for a year to an older, more experienced Magi, so they can learn how to do stuff. A lot of the time that’s a relative or family friend.”

            “Stupid that is. Stranger or casual acquaintance of the family best is. No emotions or preconceptions about the child they have. More realistic view of the child and their talents that way will have. Many Magi there are?”

            Kallai frowned slightly as she thought about it. “I think I heard that we make up like two percent of the general population. So there are a fair number of us, but not a huge amount. Are there a lot of elemental mages where you’re from?”

            “My parents’ peoples, almost all elemental magic have. Horisha all are. But legend we have, of wind from being born. Elemental magic to the blood is tied. Legends say, elements themselves in our blood are. The truth,” he shrugged. “No one knows. Occasionally, elemental mage to non-mages is born. Sometimes the blood in a family for generations can hide. Now, enough talk. Practice you need. You talent wasting criminal is. Up stand and start we will,” Shuu said, jumping to his feet himself.

            Kallai rose more slowly, mind still processing everything he’d just told her about elemental magic. She knew that Sevilen would be interested, even if it had no bearing on either of them. Looking back at Shuu, she had to smile. Every sight of him reminding her of what she could do now, of what she really was. She wasn’t the spellless wonder, the failure, the incredible exploding girl anymore. She was just Kallai, a real mage.

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