Worldbuilding - The Elementalist Order

Discussion in 'Examples - General Writing' started by Nindomonogatari, Apr 11, 2017.

  1. Nindomonogatari

    Nindomonogatari Administrator

    So this is a weird idea I had; a sort of self-contained world that draws inspiration from a ton of different things. There's not much more that can be said; I tried to establish the world's rules through the events and the characters.


    Part 1

    "I completely forgot what time we were supposed to meet…“ I have a bad habit of talking to myself, though since I’m alone nobody can incriminate me for it. My eyes trail around the… Trail, walking along the forest path on the side of the mountain. It was a good thing we set this meeting place so close to the temple I had been visiting often lately, I would hate to head down south again from here. Especially after the training session I had last night… I can’t help but give a little shudder at the thought, my jaw still a little sore from the times I face-planted into the dirt.

    I look down at my hands, flexing my fingers as I walk to get them warmed up. Elementalists like me always get early hand problems, at least those of us who channel our energies through them. Sud on the other hand… I sighed lightly and quickened my pace, it was probably bad to keep whoever was waiting, waiting; assuming I actually was late.

    "Ahh, young one.” a half hour of walking passed before I heard the frail voice. I smiled, cresting a peak and standing atop a small hill. Before me was a divot in the earth, a good thirty or so feet across, mostly flat minus some jutting rocks, and covered in very short grass. I wondered to myself if this was natural, knowing our group I wouldn’t doubt if it wasn’t.

    “Ran Shaw. How are you?” I greeted the woman with our typical respective bow, my right thumb pressed into my left palm, held flat and straight vertical. She mirrored my salute as we bowed to each other, making the large phoenix seated on her shoulder ruffle its feathers, annoyed and giving a quiet caw. I smiled up to the majestic bird, almost as large as the old woman it used as a perch. “Hello to you too, Shu.”

    “YO! Liger!” I heard the voice call from the other side of our grounds, a taller man with long black hair, similar to mine actually, waved and walked briskly to me.

    “Roku! It’s been forever. Where were you last time?” I gave him a stern look with my serious voice, but couldn’t maintain it for long, smiling and offering my hand as he approached. He took it with his classic firm grip, pulling me in and wrapping his other arm around me in a manly hug.

    “Oh, you know how it is. Duty calls and all that. I tried to make it, I really did,” he give a laugh as we pulled apart. Roku was the only other elementalist in our group who was near my age, though he was still about two years older. He wasn’t quite as experienced as I was, only being able to use dual-nature manipulation, but his base lightning release was leagues above even my water release. I looked over his shoulder, finally getting a good grip on who all was here. Our group was one of the smaller elementalist gatherings in the world, a tight-knit one of about fourteen, not including Sifu Ran Shaw. It looked like there were twelve of us; I breathed a sigh, at least I wasn’t the last.

    “Yugoda and Kuruk have informed me that they shall not be joining us today. We may begin,” well that shot that down, my face turning to a deadpan look; I hope I didn’t make them wait too long. I didn’t get time to dwell though, as Sifu took her place in the center of the divot, the rest of us making a circle around her. I stood on one side of Roku, giving my friend a confident smile before looking to my other side, face dropping a little as a large, muscular man stood, grinning down at me. His thin but long beard framed his tough-looking face, as he cracked his rather large knuckles.

    “Didn’t think you’d make it, boy,” even his voice was tough.

    “…Had no reason not to, Sud,” my confidence waned, trying my best to keep it, but he could see right through me. He smiled a little condescending, but was mostly good about it. Sud and I had a… Rocky friendship. When I first joined the order about seven months ago, he was the one I was signed to as an apprentice, much to his dismay. Sud was primarily an earth user, that was his main affinity; and it showed in his stubbornness and determination. Unfortunately he was also quite fond of the element, to the point that he tried to make it mine. My affinity is water (something I only discovered after first joining), but everything he taught me was earth-based. Earth release is very strong, but very focused, it goes where it pleases to and is very stubborn to control. I managed to pick up some of it, mostly defensive, but I never really felt proper when trying to use the earth nature primarily. Being the chicken that I am though, I just went with it, developing it into instinct; it’s very hard to contest the instructions of a guy who’s an expert at throwing rocks at you.

    “We beckon the energies of the world,” Ran Shaw’s words jarred me, as we began our… Well I can’t really call it a ‘prayer’, since we aren’t really praying to anything. Creed is probably the better word. In unison, the twelve of us surrounding her took an aggressive stance.

    “The elements we channel."

    "Fire,” she spoke. All of us in our stance channeled our energies and with a motion, fired a burst of flame upward. I looked around, I really liked this part, everyone displaying their base elemental releases. Some flames were large and bright, those who had a natural fire affinity. Others were much smaller and wispier, elementalists with a wind affinity found fire difficult to breath as much life into. Our fire dissipated naturally, and we switched to our next stance, much less aggressive, very neutral.

    “Wind,” again, we summoned our energies and released, a gust of air shooting from our hands toward the sky. There were only two among us with the wind affinity, their release producing a loud booming gust, almost visible despite simply being air. I looked over at Roku’s, if I didn’t know better (which I did), it’d look like he wasn’t even doing anything. Roku’s natural affinity was lightning, so it was no wonder his wind release was rather weak. I knew he was trying though, and gave him a sure smile. We shifted our stances again, this one also fiercely aggressive.

    “Lightning,” the resounding noise was deafening, the charge of electricity shooting out of each of us. I watched Roku and the person on the other side of him him, a man we just called Sage, as their lightning arched the highest. They were our two primary lighning users, even though Sage was much more experienced than Roku, they loved to compete, every time we did our chant they would see who could get their lightning highest the quickest. We moved into the next set, as my face fell with a depressed sigh. I never look forward to this part…

    “Earth,” in our strong, sturdy stance we motioned our hands upward, summoning a cleft of earth on either side of us. I tried to focus as hard as I could, but the stone I called looked ragged, not structurally sound. I looked over to Sud, who of course was perfect. His pillars were clean and precise, their strength was evident in their pristine construction, making up for his lackluster lightning bolt in the previous release. He caught my gaze and grinned down, partly showing off, and partly giving me as much of an approving eye as he could. Although they looked weak, my release was the strongest I had ever done in the past. We moved into our last stance, making the earth we had called jut back from whence it came. Now this was my favorite part, as I took my elegant pose with the rest of the group.

    “Water,” we rose our hands, channeling our energy through them and released, water spraying gracefully into the air. Unlike the other elements that dissipated, we held the liquid suspended for a second. I got a little boost of confidence looking around, seeing that my release was the most substantial. I didn’t produce any more water than anyone else, but my globe seemed more pristine, calmer, with an unrivaled purity. After a short couple of seconds, we returned to our neutral pose, some in the group easing the water down to the ground, but me and the only other water affinity member present (Yugoda and Kuruk being the other two in the group) liked to show off a little, dissipating our globes in a graceful explosion of mist, letting it fall down on the group, a refreshing way to end our creed.

    “Welcome everyone. It is so good to see your faces again. I hope you have been well in recent days,” Ran Shaw spoke, her soothing, elderly voice calming us. Ran Shaw was one of the worlds strongest elementalists, one of the few that could combine all five natures at once, and even use them in the quint-nature releases. We all looked up to her; despite her great power and abilities, she was one of the kindest old ladies in the world. “I hope you have all been well?” She looks around, her warm face greeting all of us in turn. I give her a nod and a smile when she looks to me, thinking about the last couple of days. I was kind of dreading this event, but the last few days have more than made up for it, they had been some of the most interesting in recent memory. I had even gotten some training in, which I hoped would help me.

    “Well, shall we not waste any more time?” she turned to walk towards the raised side of the clearing, hoisting herself up the two or so feet to perch on it, Shu unfurling her wings and stretching. I smiled with a sweat-drop, knowing where this was going.

    “Sifu, I’d like to volunteer, since I was last last time,” as if on cue, Sud stepped forward, raising his hand. Ran Shaw met him with a kind gaze, giving her nod of approval.

    “Will you be testing your apprentice, or are you to spar again?” I folded my hands behind my back, secretly crossing my fingers and closing my eyes. 'Notmenotmenotme.' My inner chanting must’ve shown on my face a little, as I opened one eye cautiously to find Sud’s face just an inch away from mine, making me yelp and leap backwards in fright. His confident smirk pierced me.

    “I haven’t been able to meet with my apprentice in quite some time, I’d like to see what he’s learned in the past couple'a months,” I thought about trying to say something in protest, but I knew it would’ve been no use, I just sighed and drooped, resigning myself to my fate, and nodded in agreement.

    “Very well,” she said, motioning for the rest of the order to file out of the circle. They did so, Roku approaching me and putting a hand on my shoulder. He tried to give me a sure smile, but looking at my apprehension must’ve rubbed off on him.

    “Don’t be so worried, you got this!” I could tell it was a little out there, but I gave a shaky smile in return. He jogged over to stand next to Sage, who gave me a thumbs up. I sighed and turned toward the center of the circle, Sud had already taken his place on the opposite side. For someone who used earth, a very not-subtle element, he sure got around quickly and silently. I guess I should be used to it though, with the events that have transpired in the last week or so.

    “So! I hope you’ve been keeping up with your training!” he called over to me, louder than was probably needed. I flashed him a smile, not nearly as confident as his.

    “Yeah… I found a training partner and everything,” he looked at me for a second with a kind of curious eyebrow before bursting into laughter. I looked at him back curiously, wondering what the heck had gotten into him when I realized that my face was a little warm, I touched my cheek and realized I was blushing. I shook my head and slapped my cheeks gently, trying to get the blood out of them, and trying not to make it worse with embarrassment.

    “I see… Well, show me!” he takes his strong stance, and I mirror him without thinking, as we stare each other down. Although we’re in the same pose, his demeanor is much sturdier, stronger, as if his aura itself was solidifying his body. I heard the ruffle of feathers, Shu preparing to signal the beginning.“ We stood in silence, my master’s eyes piercing straight through into my own. I tried to hold myself with even a shred of the same kind of confidence, which sort of worked, at least I wasn’t shaking. The air hung as the phoenix’s wings stayed outstretched for what felt like an eternity. With a quick noise she pulled them together, a flash of light as her orange plumage caught the suns rays, that beckoned our beginning.

    At the same second we both moved in different ways, him throwing his hands forward, and me shifting them upwards. Sud was powerful, but he was decently predictable. I summoned the strongest sheet of earth at my left side, raising it to my chest height. At that same second I felt his release collide with it, a sturdy bolder flattening itself into the makeshift wall. The force of his strike was stronger than my defense, but just barely, as my wall crumbled and the boulder tried to fall on me, luckily having lost enough momentum for me to easily leap to the side, out of the way as it fell to the ground. I gave a sigh of relief in my head, I honestly didn’t think I’d be able to do that.

    "Not bad, boy. Better than last time at least,” he teased me lightly, but gave me no quarter; as soon as he spoke he began his motions, shifting his arms around precisely. The boulder I had just dodged, as well as the stone I had used for my own defense stirred with life, breaking into shards and quickly launching themselves at me. I had a millisecond to dodge, not enough time not to get hit though, some of the sharp shards tearing through the bottoms of my robes. I winced as a few of them caught my skin, luckily nothing too deep, but pain was pain, it still wasn’t fun.

    Unfortunately for me, I didn’t noticed that in my dodge I had lept forward, closer to Sud. My eyes moved forward at the last second to notice the large man begin charging at me. His muscular legs and feet began to absorb the earth with each step, coating themselves in the rock to form stone grieves. I gasped and, on instinct lifted a sheet of stone between he and I, trying to throw my weight backwards. As soon as I erected the wall though, a rock came crashing through it, connected to a muscled leg. Sud grinned in his attack, using the stone I had formed to attach to his sole, giving the kick more weight and momentum. Even in my motion backwards, he connected solidly to my chest with the force of a stampeding boar. The wind was completely knocked out of me as I flew backwards a few feet, sliding against the torn grass, gasping for breath.

    “Come on boy! You gotta think quicker than that. I don’t want this to be another one-attack test,” his words were punctuated by a slam of his stone boot on the ground, perching his arms on his leg as he looked down at me. It took me a second to comprehend his words, continuing to gasp desperately for the breath that had left me. I didn’t want to stay down for that long, knowing he would probably think I was open to the finishing attack, so I clutched my chest and stood shakily. I centered my breathing, using my energy to bring my body back into appropriate balance; something I had learned quite a bit about in the past few days at the temple.

    'Damnit Liger. Stop thinking on instinct like that. She said it was no use to focus on your earth release against a superior opponent. You have to change your intuition.’ I told myself, getting all the way to my feet and centering my energy. I looked up to Sud, his eyes narrowing and his smirk widening. He must’ve noticed my pose, a bout of confidence I hadn’t shown lately.

    “It looks like your training has been paying off… Must’ve found yourself a good partner,” I didn’t let his words phase me, taking a water-based stance. He responded with a slam of his foot to the ground, shaking the earth off it, and using it to ripple the ground toward me in a quick line. I was ready though, leaping to one side.

    'Fire is swift and water is powerful. You don’t need defense if you cannot be hit’ The words echoed in my head as I ran in a little circle around to his side. He followed me of course, kicking his foot forward, launching any remaining rocks next to his leg straight at me. I clapped my hands together and quickly gathered my energy, blue and red glows emanating from around them as I pointed my palms toward the stones. Globs of viscous liquid, almost gel shot forth and caught all the rocks, covering them and allowing me to use my control over the substance to slow them to a halt, hanging them in the air.

    “Ahh, oil release. One of your strong suits. Pretty good,” his smirk was met with mine, as I pushed my hands forward to launch the stones back at him, changing the properties of the oil as I did to make it much less viscous, more like actual oil as it spilled off the rocks and onto the ground. He used just one hand to stop each of the stones, not like I really expected that attack to actually -do- anything, it did give me the chance to make my own action. I again brought my hands together, the glow of energy returning, but this time I pulled them apart with great force, a loud hissing sound emanating as I did. A steam filled the area around me, and very quickly dispersed around the entire field. It was a fine mist, not terribly hot or thick, but enough to haze the battlefield slightly, although we could still see each other fine, it was much harder to pinpoint parts of the body. One thing I had learned in my fighting of my master was that he liked to cripple parts of the body, even if that part was the chest with a swift earth-kick.

    “Yeah! Using vapor to shroud the field,” Roku’s excited voice barely caught my ears. I’m sure if he thought for a bit he’d probably know where I got the idea for that from, though it wasn’t nearly as elegant or useful; pure invisibility would be nice but I’m not that good.

    “HAHA! Good work boy! Now this is a test!” Sud’s booming voice called out, as he made a quick motion to summon some larger rocks from his side, finding me in the mist and attacking. I took a stance and repeated my previous process, grunting a little as it was harder to stop the larger rocks with the gloppy oil. I left it suspended for a second, not able to put forth a reasonable amount of energy to use my oil to launch them back, I gave each stone a quick tap, infusing it with my own power to split it into smaller chucks, using them to counterattack. Again the oil slipped off the stone surface, but some of it remained as Sud blocked each rock with deft motions. I took the opportunity to sprint in a radial around him, to his side; not really expecting to lose his eye, but I wanted a different vantage point.

    He said nothing as he repeated his process, summoning the large stones and sending them careening at me. And again, I repeated as well, covering them in my oil release to stop them, breaking them apart and sending them back, making sure the oil slipped off as much as possible before it reached him. We continued the attack, stop, counter, run cycle at least two more times before I heard him grunt in annoyance.

    “Come on boy, I thought this was going to be a good fight. You’re not gonna do anything by trying to attack me with those little rocks,” I didn’t respond, afraid that my stint of confidence would break if I opened my mouth. Instead I just stood there, watching him as best I could through the vaporous fog. I heard him sigh, turning to face me. As he did, I made a downward motion, channeling energy into the area around me, though with little visible effect. “Fine.” Was all he said before he struck up a charge, again summoning the earth to his feet in his momentum. Before he took his second step though, he let out a sudden shocked noise as his charge faltered, and that’s when my confidence really showed.

    I gave a little chuckle, which was met with a scoff from my opponent. I could tell he was annoyed, looking around our battlefield at the slick oil-covered grass and torn ground. There were very few spots that weren’t soaked in the substance, even some of the stones we had been slinging at each other were still covered. Although it wasn’t thick enough for me to control what it was on, it served its slick purpose.

    It was time to go on the offensive, as I threw my arms back and charged forward, focusing intently not only on my target, but also my element manipulation, using my energy to clear the ground of oil as I stepped, making sure I wouldn’t slip. He noticed me charge and took his earth defensive stance, which I knew he would do. Something he didn’t know was how to take such a solid stance on non-solid ground, as I approached him to his side and threw a punch, he turned to block me, but his foot caught the oil and he slipped, allowing my attack to connect cleanly with his side. I wasn't physically stronger than him by any means, but a punch to the ribs is still a punch to the ribs. He reeled from my punch, using the momentum to shift into his own attack. I raised my hands, unable to dodge, but thinking quickly I summoned oil from around my feet to me, covering the ground and my own feet with it. His punch collided, but instead of taking the full force, a lot of the momentum was transferred to the slick liquid, sending me sliding backwards quickly. The attack hurt sure, but with his normal strength, had I’ve taken any more of that I’d be down for the count. I shook the pain from my arms, but didn’t give him any time, charging forward again, dispersing the oil in my foot’s path.

    He tried a different aspect this time, using a bit of stone in his hand as I drew close to try to smash me with. Raising a hand, I covered it in the oil and shot it up at his hand, covering them both with the substance and making the rock slip out of his grasp. I used the opening to get a bit of a leap, sending my knee square into his stomach. I saw his pained face as he reeled backwards, me taking a few steps back as well to put a bit of distance between us. I hadn’t winded him, but I sure caught him off guard, he had a hand on his stomach.

    “Well… This is most... enlightening,” he was a little short of breath, maybe I did wind him a bit; I didn’t think I had the body mass to do that. I thought about responding, but again didn’t want to give him the time or a reason to shake me from my focus. I didn’t know how much longer I could keep this up, being on the attack while also manipulating my steps was getting taxing, and energy reserves was never my strong suit. I decided to go in for a final strike, starting a dash forward. As I did, I brought my hands to my chest, a dull purple glow emanating from them. The mist that surrounded us began drawing itself in quickly as I charged, using my vapor release to pull the element into my palms, compacting the energy. He didn’t take long to react, doing a similar thing himself. His hand shined against the sun rays that were becoming clearer thanks to me absorbing the haze. I recognized that dull gray color, he was using his metal release; he was going for his own final attack. I should’ve known, he loved this kind of showdown stuff. The gap between us closed as we both finished our preparations, his hand covered in a layer of steel, my orb of vapor energy spiraling in my right palm.

    We approached and thrust forward our attacks, both smirking with confidence. It was like we were on the both wavelength, in addition to our attacks, we both used our free hand to manipulate little bits of oil at the last second under each others’ feet. I had completely forgotten that despite Sud's proficiency with earth and natural difficulty with water, he was still a part of the elementalist order, and could in fact manipulate the nature. It seemed that neither of us had counted on slipping, we were both banking on the other being the one to miss. His heavier body weight proved to be both a blessing and a curse though, as he basically fell onto my attack, but at the same instance falling his iron fist onto me, straight into the side of my head.

    The collision was strong, almost earth shattering. The nature of my attack was much more complicated than his, as the vapor release does. As soon as the orb connected with his body it exploded in a flash of mist, scalding his skin and providing a concussive force that launched him backwards. Too bad for me it didn’t launch him before his own attack hit, slamming into the side of my head with immeasurable force. I was sent back in the opposite direction, blood launching out of my mouth as my sight vanished. I could barely feel the rest of my body as I skipped and slid across the ground, finally coming to a stop crumpled against the area’s short wall.

    I was far too dazed to hear the gasps of the onlookers, but I could still think, albeit very painfully. The world seemed to pound loudly in my ears as I lay there, very slowly having my vision return to me. The only thought I could manage was attempting to center myself, to try to use my energy as best I could to get myself into a functioning state. One of the benefits of a water affinity is the ability to sort of heal yourself internally; when your jarred, you can use your ability with water to sort of calm your physical energy, like stilling a pond. It took me a moment, but my vision and most of my senses returned to me, I could feel the blood trickling down from the side of my head where his steel knuckle connected. I didn’t yet get up, but I looked across the clear field to see Sud, actually in a similar state to me. The attack seemed to be doing its job; his skin causing him a great deal of pain, hampering his movement, and the shock of the explosive force having completely sapped the air from his lungs, and probably the stability of his energy. In addition, he was completely covered in the oil he had slid across, but then again so was I. I didn’t think that far though, my cognitive functions were on instinct, I was in a fight, and I needed to finish it.

    I slowly rose to my feet, very slowly, but sooner and quicker than Sud was, still gasping for air and writing against the pain of his skin. I could barely think, most of the thoughts I tried to have returned as pain, but I was up and moving, and wanted to finish this. I didn’t want to kill him; I wasn’t that far gone, but I had another trick up my sleeve to seal my victory. With a deep wince, making my whole body buckle, I manipulated my energy, the glowing in my hands taking on a bright orange, almost white. I pressed them together carefully before slowly pulling them apart in an arc above my head. Between my palms I summoned a special energy, an element I had only recently just discovered. It was fire, yes, but it behaved like water, dripping pure flame droplets from the stream that hovered above me. The liquid fire twisted and turned exactly like flaming water would, shakily because of my lack of control.

    “Corona release…” I could barely make out a voice to my side, one of the natural fire affinity elementalists commented with suppressed excitement. Controlling the element above me felt so heavy, it felt like a hundred gallons of water when it was but a little stream. With difficulty, I began to wave my hands as though I were controlling any other water.

    “That’s enough!” a surprisingly stern voice stopped my in my tracks, eliciting a chilling fear through my wracked body. I slowly turned my surprised eyes towards Sifu Ran Shaw, her hand raised in protest and her closed eyes stern; my breathing heavy as I split what little focus I had between the old woman and my manipulation. “That is enough, Liger. I believe you have earned your victory.” She gave me a warm smile, waving her hand lightly to pull the fire easily from my mental grasp, dissipating it on the way. The relief of not having to control it washed over me as I collapsed to my knees, hands planted on the floor in my broken state. I heard the rush of the group, some coming to my side, some going to Sud’s.

    “Holy crap that was amazing!” Roku excitedly put a hand on my back, slapping me a little hard, making me yelp. He looked at me apologetically, but I returned his gesture with a smile, though the blood trickling down from my head kind of gashed the confidence I tried to show.

    “That… Was pretty good… Liger,” I looked forward, still breathing heavily as I looked up to Sud, being walked over using Sage and another person for leverage. He hand his hand over the wound my attack left, his entire chest a deep red, and even the rest of his body a light burned crimson. I gave him a little laugh, weakly raising my hand to offer it. He motioned with his head, the two helping him lowering him down so we could shake hands, both gripping weakly, but proudly. “I guess… That training… Has been pretty good for you…” I couldn’t really speak, my mind still wracked, but I managed another laugh, a blush tinging the red already present in my cheeks.

    “Liger… I must say that was excellent. Much more improvement than I have seen in recent times,” the crowd split as Sifu walked up to me, her trademark smile on her face. She reached over her shoulder and plucked at her phoenix's tail, Shu giving a caw in protest, looking down to her with a fierce glare. We all gave a lighthearted chuckle, but subsided as she offered the large pinion to me, taking it with confidence. “Congratulations.” I admired the oversized feather, the beautiful orange plumage, it almost glowing against the sun’s light. The group began to applaud gently, as I smiled sheepishly around to them all.

    “Now come on, let’s get you cleaned up.” Roku hoisted me onto my feet and plucked the pinion from my hand, planting it in my long hair and walking me off the battlefield.
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2019
  2. Nindomonogatari

    Nindomonogatari Administrator

    Part 2

    “Stupid…” I cursed myself under my breath, walking slowly through the temple grounds. It had been three days now since my… Outburst; luckily I was still allowed to stay at the temple, which was nice. I really liked it here, and the training was helping. I tried to use it to keep my mind off of things, but every time I saw her, though it was very few and far between, a twinge of regret would strike me. She of course hasn’t talked to me since then, I think she was avoiding me, but it was hard to tell with the ninja around here.

    “Liger… You still look troubled,” a young girl walked up to me. We had been talking a little bit, though I still haven’t told her what had happened. I looked at her with a sigh.

    “I’m sorry… I guess it’s harder to accept your mistakes than I thought,” I turned from the pale girl to look across the temple courtyard, where a number of initiates were training, practicing forms. I wondered why she wasn’t joining them; I wondered why I wasn’t joining them. I was trying to get more into my physical training, working so much with my elemental releases caused me to get a lot slower, and if I was gonna pass another test in a few weeks, I need to work on both.

    “You are human, you will continue to make them,” her words jarred me from my distracted thoughts, bringing my eyes back to her. She looked so calm, sipping a hot cup of tea; I was rather envious. “You must simply learn from them. We cannot change the past, it has happened. No matter what may come, we are alive; we must simply accept the past and learn from it,” she nodded as she took a sip. I nodded slowly as well, having heard these words before in our talk, but for some reason it got to me more this time. I had made a mistake; letting my feelings get the better of me and losing my balance on my emotions, but I would work to restore that balance, to ask for forgiveness. I straightened my pose and dawned a determined demeanor, bowing to my friend.

    “Thank you… Again,” I gave a little laugh that she returned with a smile.

    “What are you going to do?” she looked curiously, sensing my sudden determination.

    “I’m going out for a while. I need to cleanse my head,” I replied. She nodded, smirking a little; she seemed content with herself.

    “Good luck, Liger,” she went back to her tea and watching the other trainees while I made my way off, to my guest room to collect my things. I didn’t need much, my elemental abilities gave me a lot of survivability in the wild, and my nomadic ways in my years have taught me to fend for myself and how to survive. All I took was a simple pouch of tea, something she had made for me when I first started staying here…

    As I made my way out of my room I saw a flash of green turn a corner at the end of the hall. I called out and raced in that direction, my hand out longingly as I rounded the corner, looking down at nothing but a blank hall. I gave a heavy sigh, again annoyed at my stupidity. I shook my head, attempting to clear it of the depressive thoughts; now was no time for such things, I had something I needed to do. Regaining my determination, I set out, leaving the temple temporarily behind.

    I had a vague idea of where I was going, at least at first as I walked down a path that looked like it had been freshly cut through the trees. I figured I would start where we found the last one; even though it was a dud, I could still use that as a basis to attempt to find the next one. As I walked through the thicket, looking around at the cleared branches, I got another pang of remorse; recent memories reminding me of what I needed to fix. I slowed my pace a little, this time not able to shake the heavy thoughts as easily. I tried to focus on my goal, but it was just so hard to cut through the haze my mind was filling itself with; my sluggish motions through the forest path mirroring my mindset. Feeling suddenly very exhausted, I was about to fall to my knees to collect myself when the sound of a cracking branch jarred me. My eyes shot open, but my body slowly turned in the direction of the noise, brain reacting much quicker than body; hopefully it wasn’t something dangerous, I tried to summon some sort of defense-

    “Nick?” Only one person in the entire world called me by that name, instantly recognizing the voice my body relaxed itself, now falling to my knees in relief as the person approached me. “What’re you doin’ out here?”

    “Oh. Mari. Hey that should be my question,” I breathed a light sigh and got to my feet after a moment, standing before the woman. I was pretty short, but I looked like a dwarf next to her, I barely came up to her shoulder. She looked down at me with her trademark grin, triumphant and confident, like she could take on the world; or just did. She wore her simple robes, with her medical bag slung over her shoulder. Mari was one of the greatest apothecaries in the world, and moreso than that had one of the deepest knowledge of tea that I’ve ever seen. She traveled the world, much like me; in fact that’s where we met.

    She clapped a hand on my shoulder warmly, giving a laugh. “I was in the area for the festival of course! Did you go?” I looked away from her, my voice timid.

    “No I… Missed it,” I didn’t tell her why; that I wanted to go with someone but couldn’t, and then proceeded to mess up my relationship with that person and didn’t want to attend the festival alone. Mari looked at me with a sisterly concern, even if I didn’t tell her she could probably figure it out anyway. We had known each other for well over half our lives, though she was a few years older than me so it was more like half my life. We knew each other like family, so I didn’t need to say a thing and neither did she. She simply smiled and pulled me into a light hug, something I subconsciously wanted desperately.

    “Well, it was amazing. You should attend next year,” she didn’t press, knowing that the hug was all I really wanted, and pulled away, smiling warmly. “So what’re you doing out here?”

    “I’m looking for that blossom…” she nodded, letting me continue, “I had found one, but it was dead, completely dried up.” Despite that, her eyes gleamed.

    “Oh! Still a lucky find! They say even when dead the Scarlet Dream Lotus is a powerful antitoxin for some very rare poisons,” she nodded as I looked to her quizzically.

    “It’s called the Scarlet Dream Lotus?” we had talked about the blossom before, she told me about it after all, but I had never asked her the name, “but it’s pure white and black, isn’t it?”

    “Yeah, I dunno why it’s called that,” she gave a shrug, me flattening my stare to a deadpan glance at her nonchalance. Mari was a character I’d give her that, always laid back and cool; something I aspired to do ever since the day I met her. She really did drive a lot of my personality, basically raising me. With a light grunt and a motion she hoisted her pack higher on her shoulders. “Anyway, I’ve gotta go back to looking for reagents,” she looked around mysteriously and leaned in close, her hand up to her mouth in an attempt to be sneaky. My flat stare continued as I wondered, in this empty forest, what she could be hiding from the nothing around us. “About a days journey due north I saw a spot that would be perfect for the lotus to bloom. Beautiful waterfall and everything,” she whispered and gave me a wink. Though her rather silly attitude still continued, I couldn’t help but brighten at the information. She righted herself and looked down to me proudly as some of her confidence seemed to rub off on me, finally wresting my mind from the dark thoughts. I flashed her a smile.

    “Thanks sis,” we hugged again, happier this time before she pulled away, starting back on her own path as I turned to the north and set on.

    “Oh!” she exclaimed suddenly after a few seconds, a bit of distance between between us. I turned around curiously. “Be careful with the Scarlet Dream Lotus. The rest of the plant is pretty sharp and probably wouldn’t appreciate you pulling it’s bloom off,” I remember when we encountered the dead plant, how even in its brittleness it seemed sharp and dangerous, like thorns covering the base of the flower.

    “I will. Thanks!” I said with a nod as we waved to each other, departing down our respective paths. I was filled with a renewed confidence from my sister. It was amazing how a depression brought on by saying the wrong words at the wrong time could be alleviated by no words at all. That’s what I would do; I would let my action do the talking, using words to simply explain myself. The cut path went to the east, so this was where I deviated, looking one last time at the trees we had cut through together on our last outing. I’d do this one alone so that I could find myself and my true feelings, and present them properly.

    It was a mostly uneventful trek, though I decided to stop at dusk and set up a camp for myself. The first thing I had learned after I first began training my elemental releases was how to make a proper camp; a solid earth shelter, a basin of fresh water and a roaring fire, I had the process down to an art. When I was done setting myself up I looked to the north, seeing a great peak over the trees, a tall mountain a good distance away. I could only assume that was the location Mari had talked about, it indeed looked prime grounds for the object of my current desire. With a yawn and a stretch I curled up in my shelter, drifting off to sleep.

    “Ung… Never like mornings,” I crunched down on a piece of burned meat, sitting on a short piece of upturned earth next to my fire. It was true, I honestly despised mornings in any form. It always took forever for me to wake up, but I often had so much to do in the day that I would try to function right after getting up; in this case that meant catching breakfast in a daze. It only took about four tries to finally catch the little creature, and I almost forgot the prayer of thanks I had been taught at the temple before I felled my prey. The breakfast was exactly what I needed though, and after finishing it I got up and stretched, breathing the sleep from my lungs and taking in the morning air, revitalized. I made quick work tearing my campsite down, then again with a simple manipulation of the elements it was always quick work, reducing the site to exactly as I had left it. Shielding my eyes from the morning sun I looked at the peak; my destination. I gave a reaffirming nod and set off without farther delay.

    Another uneventful journey of a few hours, feeling the earth incline as I walked. This mountain was pretty big if it was already starting to rise. The more I walked the higher it got, and after a while I was practically on all fours in an effort to walk up the steep ground. The forest had begun thinning a while ago, slowly becoming more mountainous with less foliage. After another hour or so it reached a point where I was going to have to start actually climbing, I couldn’t simply walk up the mountain anymore. I stopped to collect myself, bracing myself for this leg of the journey. In my calm as I prepares myself, I heard the sound of falling water, cascading and crashing against rocks. I perked up and began moving around the mountain instead of up it, following my ears in the direction of the sound.

    It didn’t take long before I crested a small hill and a bend around the mountain, coming face to face with the sight. My mouth hung open as I beheld the scene; I had been travelling most of my life, all over the world and seeing many different sights, but this was just stunning. The waterfall itself wasn't terribly large, maybe fifty or so feet tall, but the purity of the water, the way it flowed over the mountainside and cascaded into the river below was just unreal. The sun was high in the sky, almost exactly midday, and the way the rays caught the spray at the pool created a series of almost otherworldly rainbows. It was almost like they were portals, the way they arced over the pool, down the short river a little and up the falls just a bit; I caught myself staring at the entire scene for many long minutes.

    I had to shake the awe out of my face after a while, remembering my purpose for this journey. I stood at the edge of the small river, the gentle mist from the falling water refreshing me. Even if I didn’t find the lotus, I’d have to take her here; this is one of the best places in the country, and I’ve been all over it. I’m sure she would love to come out here and just meditate, heck I would love to do that myself, something I intend to do in the future irrelevant. I looked up the falls, scanning the area. It wasn’t too wide, maybe six or seven feet, the falls almost perfectly straight until it hit the pool; it really was almost like something out of another world. I looked around, up and down, and finally, near the top of the falls I saw a jut, a perfect outcropping. I couldn’t see what was above it from down here, so I began to climb up the side of the face. The waterfall wasn’t at the peak of the mountain, but it was still pretty steep. It took me a while to get up to the top of the falls, flopping myself onto the plateau and taking a breather. I was looking straight up, seeing the mountain continue to climb up to the sky, it was still pretty high up there. I rolled onto my side and looked at the top of the falls, sitting up as I examined what I could only call was pure mysticism.

    The plateau I was on wasn’t very big, only jetting out about eight feet from the rest of the mountainside to create the falls. The river that fed it, however was very short, stretching into a small cave in the mountain’s face behind it. The cave glowed with a light blue hint I noticed as I got up to examine it. I could barely fit myself in, having to duck almost to a crouch to stand at the side of the glowing pool. It was a simple thing, no wider across than I was tall, and couldn’t have been deep enough for me to submerge myself standing up, but still it fed the falls, an endless stream of water. I dropped to my knees and stuck my hand in, feeling a very familiar sense.

    “It’s a leyline…” I said to no-one in particular. Ran Shaw had told me about them before; leylines of pure magic that fed the elements of the world. They were exceedingly rare to ever come to the surface, most of the time simply coursing through the heart of the planet to fill it with energy, having it leak out in appropriate form. Natural lightning, the tallest mountains, deep oceans, volcanoes, and powerful winds were how the magic blessed the world, but to see the purest form of nature’s water release here at a leyline… It was amazing. I leaned in and cupped my hand, taking a sip of the magical spring. It tasted… I couldn’t even describe it; I often drank the water I created through my magic, it was pure and crisp, but this was… This was just something else. I took one more sip, feeling like I’d burst if I took anymore. The refreshment was unlike anything I’d ever felt; water was always known for its revitalizing qualities, but this was the next level. All the exhaustion I felt from my climb was gone, even whatever depressing thoughts that might’ve been lingering had vanished. I could take on the world and win; or at least I felt like it and that’s what was important.

    I stepped out of the cave, standing next to the river and at the edge of the cliff. Though I was still full of an almost magical confidence, I was still a bit timid as I looked over, down at the outcropping I had spotted before. Like the other two we had found it was covered in foliage, but this was much more lush than the others, it looked more alive as it swayed with the wind created by the falling water. I wasn’t sure if was the exposure to the leyline or if I truly felt that the blossom was there, but I was so sure, I just had to get there. I pondered lightly, looking over the scene. It was almost a perfectly flat drop, a good twenty feet, definitely more than I could just jump. That and the jut was pretty thin, barely wide enough for me to stand on myself, and with it being covered in bushes I couldn’t tell where the lotus was, I didn’t want to risk crushing it. I began to ponder out loud, my hand to my chin as I started pacing. I tend to do that when I think, it helps me get the different views, moving my location, even if it was only a few feet at a time. I stared down at my intended destination, walking slowly along the edge and unfortunately not noticing anything else about my position. After a few passes my stance suddenly shook, I stepped down on a loose rock with a bit too much weight, and with a sweeping motion my legs were drawn from under me, my body falling forward and careening down next to the waterfall.

    Of course I yelled, falling down the side of the mountain. I tried to right myself, thinking as quickly as I could. In my decent I saw the outcropping pass me by, I tried to reach out to it but I missed; probably for the better as I would’ve most certainly broke something had I tried to grab or land on it.

    ‘Crapcrapcrapcrapcrap’ Was about the only coherent thing that went through my head as I finally managed to right myself in the air, looking down as the water got closer and closer. I couldn’t see under it, but from the horror stories I had heard, often times the bases of waterfalls were pointy, something I most certainly didn’t want to experience. That and what I did know was that the force of the waterfall would probably keep me under it, and drowning would make restoring balance pretty difficult. I had only another second to think though, clapping my hands together and straightening myself as much as possible as I plunged feet-first into the pool under the falls.

    About a second underwater was all it took for me to finish my release, managing to dodge a rather sharp-looking rock before I threw my hands downward with as much force as I could, manipulating the water around me and using it to reverse my momentum, launching myself out of the water surprisingly gracefully all things considered. The grace was short-lived however as I began to panic, flying through the air rather wildly towards the outstretched brush-covered rock. I screamed again as I felt my velocity slowing, flailing comically as I tried my hardest to maintain my momentum. I managed to toss my hands up and grab onto the solid rock before beginning my plummet, gripping the stone tighter than I’d ever held anything before. It took me a second of hanging to get my bearings, but as soon as I could force my body to move I scrambled to climb up onto the rock, quickly flopping onto the flat surface over some of the bushes. I panicked for a second, lifting myself to look under my body to see if I was on my goal, but luckily coming up with nothing but green plants I gave a relieved sigh, laying back across the brush and taking a while to catch my breath.

    I just laid there for a good ten minutes, having centered myself a while ago, simply listening to the tranquility the rushing water brought. It was soothing, the spray from the water even more refreshing than I remember, probably because of the leyline. I finally moved, lifting myself into a sitting position uncomfortably atop a green bush. I got to my knees, sitting on them and beginning to rummage through the foliage. There wasn’t a lot of space, so it didn’t take very long before my eye caught a flash of white. I excitedly tore at the green around where I saw it, parting the branches and revealing my prize. It was the most beautiful flower I had ever seen, a large lotus bloom of pure white. Around the very edge of each petal was a black outline, giving the whole thing a very pronounced look, making it look bigger than it was. The rest of the plant was a deep emerald green, but instead of leaves I would expect there were many sharp spines, long and glistening in the afternoon sun. I carefully removed my robe, laying it in my lap before reaching out slowly towards the blossom.

    I cupped my hands and placed my palms against the bottom of the flower like I had done to the dry one we found previously. I tugged gently upwards, having to apply a little pressure in order to break it from its stem. I heard the little pop of the plant being plucked, and as I did the rest of the plant seemed to shudder, curling inward towards the stem.

    “Ow!” I let out a light cry and recoiled my hands with the flower in them. There was a spot of red on my wrist where the plant had clipped me with one of its spines, a drop of blood left on the culprit and trickling down the plant. I glared at it and sucked my wound gently like one would any other small cut as the plant seemed to wilt right in front of me, losing some of its rigidity and luster; almost dying before my eyes. I felt a hint of sadness as I watched the life fall from the plant, lowering my head and giving the prayer of thanks I was taught at the temple. The teaching was age-old, thank that which gives its life for you to maintain the balance. I sat in silence for a few seconds before placing the Scarlet Dream Lotus into my lap, carefully wrapping my summoners robe around it for protection. Looking around, I realized that I was once again in a predicament, now trapped on the very outcropping I had set myself on.

    “Crap…” I set my folded robe containing my prize in my lap, returning to my pondering. Different thoughts and ideas scrolled through my head, but after a bit one dawned on me that I hadn’t even thought of before. My face fell as I let a comical sweat-drop fall from my head, annoyed and embarrassed at the entire situation I could’ve avoided. Grabbing the protected blossom and carefully standing, I tapped the mountain face next to me, channeling my earth release through the rock and down to the outcropping. With a low rumble, stone formed next to the jutting rock and outward, creating a path that wrapped from where I was standing around to the cliff side, an area that I could easily just walk down. I sighed again; luckily no-one was around to point out the frivolousness of my endeavor. I proceeded along my constructed path and down the side, back to standing at the edge of the base pool. I suppose if I had just done that from the beginning, I never would’ve discovered the leyline, and that’s something I’ll treasure for the rest of my life. I looked back up at the falls, the sun hidden now behind the rest of the mountain as I made a mental note of the area, promising to never forget this location. With a deep breath and a triumphant glance down at the folded cloth in my hands, I started to the south, down the same path I took previously.

    I walked quickly but carefully, through the thicket I had been down once before. After a while of walking night descended, deciding it best to again set up camp. I went through the motions I had done for years before, setting up my little home away from home. I sat at the edge of my fire, unfolding my cloak and examining the contents. It was still as perfect as when I had retrieved it, bouncing back from the containment instantly. It was truly a thing of beauty, I was growing unsure of what to do with it. Of course I was going to present it to her; that was the intention all along, but beyond that I wanted to make it into a tea, said to be the best in the world. Looking at the lotus though, I wasn’t so sure that was the best idea. I folded my cloak back over the flower, deciding to simply give it and let her decide what she wanted to do with it; I’d be alright with anything, it would be her’s now. I crawled into my shelter and set the bundle at my side, looking at it as I drifted off to sleep.

    My eyes fluttered open, expecting to see my cloak, but there was nothing; only red. I panicked and sat up with haste, a sharp pain cutting through my chest. I brought my hand up to clutch over my heart, wincing and containing a pained cry when I looked down at my hand. I gasped as saw it, my skin was the color of blood, and as I clenched my hand over my heart I noticed that it burned. I had been on fire before (temporarily while practicing some fire release techniques), but this was unlike any type of physical burning. Every movement, every signal sent to my muscles, every contraction of my veins to pump my blood seared. My breathing shallowed as the pain continued, a dagger through my heart and my body on fire. Every second that passed increased the pain twofold, making me begin to cry out in agony. I shouted for only a second before something silenced me, my vision was completely red by now, but I saw - and felt - something begin to grow from within me, tearing up through my throat and out my mouth. It looked like a vine, growing slowly and using me as a pot; twisting and turning up into the air. I watched in horror, unable to move from the sheer pain in my being as the tip of the vine began to bud. My body trembled as much as it could, though even that hurting unbearably, the bud growing and pulsating. After a couple of seconds it suddenly burst open, a pure crimson - though that might’ve just been because everything in my sight was red - flower exploding forth and opening, the vine that came out of me ripping apart as it bloomed…

    “Ouch… What a dream,” I winced a little as I got up groggily, sitting up very slowly. I could tell that I had tossed and turned a lot in my sleep; I must’ve had a terrible dream. I couldn’t even remember what it was, come to think of it. My eyes still felt heavy, heavier than normal when I woke up. I looked over, seeing my bundle sitting safely where I had left it the night before and smiling. I noticed that I was sweating, it was really hot in my earthen shelter I had constructed. I picked up my balled cloak, quickly walking out into the day.

    It was bright, really bright. I had to cover my eyes with my free hand and take a good couple of minutes before the pain went away, and even then it only subsided enough where I could bear it, having to squint for a while before my eyes got used to the brightness. I worked my releases to disassemble my camp, being very sluggish about the entire thing, taking almost double the time I normally did. I guess my night was just too restless, my magic didn’t like to work as well when I was low on good sleep, I think it was just that. In my motions I did notice that the small cut on my wrist was still there, almost like a red ruby attached to my skin, but I passed over it, more intent on double-checking my prize.

    I sighed in relief, noticing it was still there and completely unchanged, packaging it again and taking in my surroundings. I was still pretty warm, sweating a little. I guess it was just a much hotter day than recently; the weather had been changing after all. I gave it no more mind as I finally got my bearings, heading to the south towards the temple. I focused intently on my destination, though taking it rather slowly due to my exhaustion. At this rate it would take me pretty much all day to get back, but I didn’t care. I had gotten my prize, achieved my goal, and I had the words all ready like it was a perfectly rehearsed play. Although I sluggishly walked back, I was focused, not even noticing my unnatural exhaustion or my complete lack of hunger, I just wanted to get back, to fix what I had broken, to help restore some semblance of balance…
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2019