Over the next several days Nariah found herself in the same stuffy room, which felt warmer with each visit. Sweat beaded down her face dripping from her chin and created a small wet spot on the floor as the minutes passed. She tried to focus on her breathing as she had been instructed previously, but the uncomfortable temperature caused her concentration to wane; her thoughts becoming increasingly consumed by wondering why it was so hot. She opened her eyes looking up from her meditative pose to the sight of Viktoria forming large balls of fire in each hand, she then brought her hands together; her palms facing upward, merging them into one larger ball of fire. She methodically positioned her hands parallel to one another, the flames between them, then quickly clasped her hands together extinguishing the elemental magic.
“How am I to concentrate on connecting with my magic energy if you’re causing my blood to boil?” Nariah spat furiously, she knew it was an exaggeration but she was beginning to grow tired of Viktoria’s teaching methods.
“If you focused on your abilities then your body would be able to cool itself,” Viktoria says calmly but matter-of-factly. This wasn’t the first time Nariah had heard this response, she glared at Viktoria, who although didn’t show it, was just as frustrated. Nariah had been assigned to Viktoria as a test, to show her ability to teach a fellow student, and she knew that if she failed it would devastate her chances of moving beyond the academy. “Alright, Nariah come with me.” Viktoria walks out of the room.
“This is ridiculous,” Nariah mumbles under her breath.
“Overcoming distraction is part of your training Nariah, at some point, you will have to get past that.”
“Right now all it’s doing is distracting me further,” Nariah says, her response sharp.
“Fine,” Viktoria says suddenly jerking around almost causing Nariah to run into her. “Where do you think we should continue these lessons?” It didn’t take Nariah more than a second to respond,
“The secret gardens,” and as expected Viktoria gave Nariah a confused look.
Viktoria stops at the entrance to take in the striking scenery and exotic plant life that was now all around her, examining the illuminated and aura permeating vegetation and directing Nariah’s attention to the different species that she had read about in various books.
“I never knew such a place could exist within the walls of the academy.”
“Neither did I until I stumbled across it,” Nariah says as she guided her to the giant willow that she was fond of.
“I don’t think you quite understand Nariah,” Viktoria says as she takes a deep breath, closing her eyes and outstretching her hands as if to welcome an embrace. “This place irradiates with magic energy, I can feel it pulsing like a heartbeat.”
“I don’t feel anything,” Nariah says looking at Viktoria who was still standing there like she was basking in the warmth of the summer sun.
“You’re not consciously connected with your own magic energy, you have to let it wash over you like a flowing river.” Viktoria didn’t have to look at Nariah to see the blank look on her face. “I find it ironic that of all the places to be attracted to in the academy, you a drawn here; a place that consumes and releases energy, it in the air.” Viktoria finally looks at Nariah and walks towards her. “Look at it this way; because magic energy flows within us, this place relaxes you, it’s as if the essence of this place is trying to help you.” Viktoria grabs Nariah by the hand and guides her into the pond that surrounds the willow tree, entering until the water is just reaching below their waist, then she points to the pond floor. “Look.” She says softly. The instant Nariah looks into the water Viktoria grabs her by the hair and shoves her head into the water, holding her there. Nariah tries to turn her head for air as panic immediately starts to set in. Water splashes around her as she continues to struggle and Viktoria keeps her at arm’s length in order to avoid any strikes that may come from Nariah. After what started to seem like an eternity to her; Nariah feels the grip on her hair release and she frantically brings her head out of the water gasping for air.
“You fucking bitch!” she says repeatedly between coughs.
“Are you alright?”Viktoria asks calmly.
“Fuck you!” Nariah snarls, preparing herself for a possible attack.
“There’s no need to be nasty Nariah, I’m only trying to help you.”
“How is drowning me supposed to help me?”
“Let me ask you something, do you not yearn to grow stronger, to become more powerful, to discover a new spell or technique?” Nariah was unsure how to answer her mind too distracted with making sure she wasn’t going to be assaulted again. “We’ve spent the last week together and I noticed you have no drive or desire. Do you wish to make any progress at all, even in order to survive?” Nariah stood still just watching Viktoria. “I’m not going to attack you, you stupid girl.” Viktoria snapped. “Answer the question.” She demanded but Nariah only shrugged. “Are you serious? We have been blessed with an amazing gift, and you have no desire to improve upon that which comes naturally to you.” Nariah was confused by the sincerely dumbfounded look on Viktoria’s face, and she could swear that she saw her eyes becoming wet.
“I don’t understand why you’re so frustrated, why should I want to grow stronger? From the moment I’ve been able to use magic, I’ve gone through hell. I’ve been beaten by my masters and threaten or attacked by others, If this is such a great gift why have I suffered almost nothing but agony?” Nariah retorts.
“People fear what they do not understand and become jealous of what they don’t have. Both fear and jealously breed hatred, and hate causes people to do extremely dangerous and life-threatening things. Hundreds of caster were killed in the streets before the academy was erected and others were made slaves to be sold halfway across the world. Not every person or even every city is friendly to casters. We are tolerated for the time being but it may not be long before we don’t share the same privileges as everyone else.” Nariah thought she saw a tear slide down the cheek of Viktoria’s face, she looked down not knowing what to say, or what to believe. “The masters are hard on everyone, it’s not just you. If you truly believe there is nothing for you or for any caster out there, then continue to be a victim for to around you.” Viktoria stops for a moment to take a deep breath trying to calm her nerves and slow her heart rate. “I would rather die standing my ground using every ounce of strength and energy I had, than fall victim to an angry mob or dangerous master, the choice is yours whether you die or not.” Viktoria turns away from Nariah. “You may not understand now, but your power will be the key to your survival in this world, but you must become stronger and you have to want it, more than you want air to breathe. That is the only way you will grow.” Viktoria began walking away. “The rest of the day is yours; we will meet here tomorrow to continue your lessons.” Viktoria just walks away leaving Nariah to her thoughts within the confines of the secret gardens.
Nariah sat at the base of the tree, tears of frustration gliding down her cheeks and into the water that surrounded the trunk. The water rippled each time a tear crashed into its surface, distorting the image in front of her. She almost couldn’t bear looking at her own reflection due to all the swelling emotions inside of her that were surfacing in the form of tiny saltwater droplets that fell from her face. She didn’t understand Viktoria, all Nariah had ever known was the academy, she was adopted by them and every master her parent. She knew that for a caster there were limited options after completing studies at the academy, the monastery; high in the mountains but only if you showed an aptitude for higher-level magic which was also the only way a student could become a master. A caster could always stay at the academy, becoming a caretaker for the grounds remaining in the service of a master, but that was the last thing Nariah wanted to do. More than anything she wanted to leave and to be left alone, but it was slowly becoming more apparent that while she was here, her masters and even some student wouldn’t do that. Deep down she was growing tired of it all, the constant torment from her master, the fights and taunting from Kane, and most of all Viktoria. She didn’t understand why but she felt as if her master had chosen Viktoria to be her mentor specifically because she would get under her skin, and that notion made her angry, but now after the scolding from Viktoria, she was starting to feel guilty. Nariah found it all pointless, what else was out in the world for her. What would be the point of honing skills and techniques if they will never be used? What was the point in trying to discover something new if it wasn’t going to be of any true value or it risked being banned by the King? What was the point? She couldn’t get past that question, and it was that question that frustrated her the most. She sat there now, no more tears staring at her reflection as if hoping the image would answer her question for her, but it didn’t and so she sat.
A few hours had passed, but Nariah didn’t move, for a moment she had no concept of time and she was still looking at her reflection. Her mind had begun to drift and now she was looking past it, or rather through it. She had sat for so long that she had begun thinking of nothing, essentially staring at nothing, her breathing steady. Nariah felt the prickling sensation again like before in her hands but ignored it, and the tingle turned to a warmth that began spreading throughout her entire body. She allowed her body and mind to relax, closing her eyes and embracing the feeling that was now starting to engulf her, it felt incredible, like nothing she had ever felt before in her entire life, tranquility. The feeling slowly subsided and she opened her eyes looking around for a moment not immediately realizing where she was, a single thought instantly flooded her mind.
The sun was setting and she had to make it back to her dorm before curfew.
Thank you for reading this installment of Betrayal Nariah's Origin, I hope you enjoyed it.
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