PROLOGUE—Dancing With the Storm.
By Senna Amaranth
Although it was only about midday, the sky was dark with pregnant clouds that loomed endlessly overhead. The students of Lunacrest University cast worried glances up at the skies and hurried indoors; today was not one to spend out on the grounds, for the air smelled of the great storm that brewed, and even those that could not smell it could feel it in the air around them.
Aries, however, was making his way toward the storm. He was on the roof on top of his dorm, and was climbing onto a higher level. He gripped the rough slate edge of the higher roof tightly while his sneakers fought for purchase on the bricked walls of the dorm building. Somewhere on the wall, there were a couple of bricks that stuck out enough for him to push himself up… there. With a grunt, Aries pushed off with his legs and hefted himself onto the sloped roof and turned so he could watch the sky.
The young man watched in fascination as the dark, heavy clouds blossomed and spread, dancing in slow, dizzying patterns. As he watched the storm slowly bloom, the humming sensation in his bones grew slowly stronger, intensifying as the pressure in the air increased. The static was speaking to him, calling him, inviting him to dance with it, and suddenly the sky split into three and a blinding flash left black spots in the man’s vision. He blinked his ice-colored eyes to recover from the lightning when the thunder boomed, assailing his sensitive ears. The storm had arrived.
A rapt smile appeared on the man’s face as he stood up, arms wide. The powers inside him—the mix of ice and lightning fury—crackled through his arms and legs from his chest, flowing through every part of him and making the tiny hairs on his body stand on end. Even his wavy brown hair lifted a bit from his skull. He laughed out loud, thrilled when the clouds swirled over his head—swirling the ice crystals inside of him— and a fine mist lowered to where he was standing. Then, another bolt of lightning fell, this time, closer to him. It struck again, right next to him, and little sparks and hair-like bolts jumped to touch his fingers, as two loud BOOMs harmonized, swallowing up the sounds of his whooping laughter and nearly ripping his eardrums apart. Seconds later, rain began to crash down in savage sheets, beating its harsh rhythm on the rooftops.
In front of the small classroom, a wizened old man stood, lecturing about how different elements interacted and when to expect when combining one’s element with another’s. Aries sat a row or two from the back of the class, moving his hand mechanically across his sheet of notebook paper, taking notes on what his ears heard but his mind ignored.
He sighed softly, fighting against a small yawn as he recalled ¬his storm watching from yesterday. The tips of his fingers were still raw and red from the raw power of the elements that had touched him. He felt drunk and tired from all the power he had used and absorbed; it was almost like he was hung over from the rapturous experience.
“Now when you take two of our most rare and powerful elements like ice and, say, lightning, you find that the result can be quite unpredictable. Sometimes the result could be as small as a haze of fog, or maybe it could end up to be something extremely powerful like—“
’A thunderstorm, maybe?’ Aries thought to himself with a sardonic smile. The teacher’s words had brought him back to the class. Aries looked down at his page of notes. His handwriting was neat and concise and he had perfected the art of half-listening to take notes and letting his mind wander, so the content was not much of a problem.
Across from him, another student was slowly burning designs into her paper with the tip of her finger, a bored look on her face. Aries sighed and looked away, a little irked. If she wasn’t taking notes, she could at least listen to the professor! She was just another idiot who would go around looking for notes and tutoring when test time came by. Even Aries preferred the practice and sparring classes to the theory classes, but at least he put his effort into both. The man flipped to a new page with another sigh, dispelling his annoyance.
Here, at the old Lunacrest Castle, specialists taught young elementals how to use and control their powers. There were other school around the world, but Lunacrest was ranked amongst the best—and the most expensive. It was on a secluded peninsula, about a half-day’s trip to the nearest town. If the specialists at the school scouted a person to join their prestigious university, the only fees he had to pay were room and board; if you yourself enrolled, you had to pay an arm and a leg to attend—and keep up a certain grade average.
Aries was one of the fifty-odd students in the school that had been scouted. It was quite the rare event. Lunacrest was also known for scouting the rarest and most powerful elementals. No one knew how they found such talent to bring to the school. Rare elements, like lightning, ice, and flora, were near impossible to find, yet the school had somehow managed to recruit fifty of them. The rest of the elementals could control wind, fire, water, earth, and somewhat uncommonly, light; they were useful and practical elements, but the real power was found in the rarer ones.
After the elemental theory class had come to an end, Aries was swept through the halls by the mass of students, his mind still reflecting on yesterday’s storm. What effect did it have on him anyway? It wasn’t like he would find out soon. The sparring and control classes weren’t designed to test your limits, students were expected to do so on their own. If they could. Aries’ situation was a bit different than most students’. He had been scouted by the school because he possessed one of the rarer elements: ice. What the school and everyone else around him didn’t know is that he also possessed the rarest of all the elements, lightning.
Aries blinked a couple times and looked about him. He had been so wrapped up in his thoughts that he had just gone wherever his feet and the flow of students had carried him. Where was this place in the castle? After peeking in the rooms, he deduced that this was where the advanced classes were held. He turned to leave the unfamiliar corridor and nearly bumped into someone.
“Oh, I am very sorry,” he blurted, recovering his balance. He quickly added a “Sir” to the end of his apology when he realized that he was addressing a professor. The older man was tall and slim with straight black hair. He looked to be in his mid- or late-thirties. Which professor what this? Probably one of the advanced ones that taught here, Aries thought. The professor nodded curtly and Aries continued on to his Control class.
Vincent stared after the boy who had bumped into him. The boy was clearly an ice elemental—his eyes told him that. But his hands… the boy’s fingers were as red and raw as his own... the type of red that only a lightning elemental got after catching a storm. ’Who is he?’ Vincent wondered. He hadn’t heard of another lighting elemental in the school in years. But this boy looked like an ice elemental… how curious…
What my Customer thought:
I love it. Like oh my god. Genius. Awesome. Amazing. I love it.