Her frustrations returned anew the next day, growing in fact, as she attempted to recreate the sensation. She had arrived at the gardens early, long before Viktoria would arrive. Nariah tried to sit in her favorite spot against the trunk in order to relax but it seemed not to help, instead, it only made her ability to concentrate more difficult. She eventually found herself in the water again, this time without her robes, and only a simple undergarment covering her just in case someone did happen to walk by. She intentionally stared at her reflection until her mind drifted, her breathing became steady as she peered past the image of herself staring at and into nothing. It wasn’t long before the tingling in her hands began followed by the warmth that spread over her entire body. This time very methodically, she brings her hands together as if she were holding an object. As she held her concentration she could feel the magic energy pulsing freely without anything direction. Still breathing steady and without losing focus she began willing the energy to move towards her hands. She imagined the energy flowing like the blood through her veins toward her hands. Slowly she could feel the magic moving, as a result, the empty space in between her hands started to emit a faint circular light. It grew and flicked as she continued to push her will upon the magic energy within her. She eventually found that sensation of peace once again and embraced it, holding on to it as if it were something precious she had lost. The light grew very bright, and although her eyes were still slightly open it did not distract her. She eventually became fully aware of what was happening and the sensation along with the light vanished. Nariah felt her heart thump in her chest, she stared at her hand bewildered, confused, and amazed by what just took place. Excitement overtook her and she immediately brought her hands together once more focusing on where she saw the light appear hoping to recreate it. A small light flicker for a second then faded away along with the last bit of warmth she felt. Nariah stared had her hands again this time frustration, anger, and depression took the place of the excitement she had before. She stood up exiting the small pond and was suddenly hit with a wave of fatigue. She managed to grab her robes and sit down against the trunk of the tree she liked so much before nodding off.
She awoke to the beckoning of Viktoria sometime later, unaware of how much time had passed if any at all. She didn’t feel as tired as she was before however she didn’t feel refreshed either, and Viktoria said nothing about Nariah not having her robes on. She instructed Nariah to take a meditative pose in order to begin the day’s exercise, and Nariah was very eager to recreate what had happened before Viktoria’s arrival. But instead, sweat dripped from her face as she forced herself to concentrate. It wasn’t hard for Viktoria to see that Nariah wasn’t relaxed, and how uncomfortably tense she was. Irritation began to take over followed by anger; Nariah’s eyebrows were pushed together and her jaw was clenched tight.
“You’re concentrating too hard.” Viktoria said finally, “You need to relax.”
“I’m trying!” Nariah snapped back.
“I know,” Viktoria said calmly hoping to keep Nariah’s anger from boiling over. “I can see you’re concentrating, but you aren’t getting any further than before.”
“You don’t understand, I did it, just before you came I was able to conjure a white light.”
“I find that hard to believe Nariah, you’ve barely been able to focus properly.”
“I swear to you I did.” She pleaded. Nariah heard the words come from her mouth but she didn’t know why she suddenly wanted Viktoria to believe her. This thought also crossed Viktoria’s mind and for a moment she just stood there staring at Nariah.
“Alright, let’s keep going.” Nariah re-assumed her meditative pose. “Listen to me Nariah, you have to relax first, and then focus. What you were doing before was the opposite. You’re concentrating so hard that you become tense. So for now just relax.” Viktoria took a deep breath then exhaled slowly hoping Nariah would gain a better understanding, but Nariah’s breathing was heavy and her face still bore the same intense expression. “Stop.” Viktoria sighed. “You haven’t changed anything.”
“This is ridiculous,” Nariah exclaims. “I don’t understand how can I produce magic energy when fighting for my life against a master or half asleep but I can’t do it now?” Viktoria could see Nariah’s sincere dissatisfaction.
“Do me a favor Nariah. Do exactly what you did earlier, exactly and we’ll see if we can’t figure this out.” Nariah slipped her robe off then walked back into the garden pond. She knelt down like she had before and stared at her reflection, her breathing becoming smooth and steady once again and she began to feel the rhythm of her heartbeat, followed by the warmth of magic that spread across her body. Viktoria began to feel the energy emitting from Nariah. A small light flickered in the space between her hands once again before becoming a small orb of visible light; Viktoria squinted at the brightness.
“Do not lose your focus Nariah,” Viktoria says calmly, hoping not to disrupt Nariah’s progress; the light flicker for a moment before she spoke again. “Let your body bask in the energy, allow it to engulf you like you’re submerged in water, let it consume you.” Letting the energy flow freely, the orb grew in size and brightness. “Now I want you to hold on to everything you are feeling right now, the sensation of the magic pulsing within you. While controlling your emotions I want you to gaze at the light.” Nariah’s eyes shifted slightly from looking past her reflection, gazing into nothing, to consciously bringing the orb into focus. She feels her heart start to race with excitement and the orb responded by diminishing in size and brightness. She quickly calmed herself and relaxed as instructed, taking in a deep breath then exhaling smoothly. She hadn’t noticed it before but Nariah could now feel the warmth of magic energy while looking at the orb of light. “Very good Nariah, now in your mind I want you to envision extinguishing the light as you slowly clasp your hands together.” Nariah hesitated for a moment, sweat started to appear on her brow but she remained poised. She brought her hands together slowly extinguishing the light between them. “Nicely done Nariah, you have reached the first step of mastering your own power and becoming a true caster.” Nariah wanted to smile but held it back for fear of what Viktoria may say or do. “There two other steps in order to attain greater heights; study plays an important role in understanding the principles and techniques of the magic arts, it enables you to learn new abilities. The third way to gain greater achievements is…”
“To fight,” Nariah interrupts. “to push your abilities to their limit in order to grow stronger.”
“Correct, however unleashing magic energy unprepared can cost you your life, that is why being aware of yourself is a very important first step, this is also why meditation is encouraged so relentlessly.” Viktoria’s tone seemed very accusing to Nariah but she said nothing. “For now we will continue on with meditation and elementary conjuring.” Viktoria sat down near the edge of the pond. “This time I want you to create the orb of light again, however, once it is stable I want you to concentrate on growing it larger then shrinking it smaller until you are unable to do it anymore.”
Her excitement didn’t fade even after she exhausted herself, in fact, once Nariah had rested for a while back in her dorm she began practicing again until she was exhausted. She slept soundly however, she let the warmth consume her while she slept, which soothed her aching limbs and fatigued consciousness. She regretted what followed in the weeks to come, now that she was able to produce and manipulate energy, Viktoria slowly became more brutal with her relentless training tactics.
Nariah stood parallel to Viktoria within a private training room; Nariah dripping terribly with blood and sweat.
“Do not allow your focus to waiver Nariah, the moment you are unaware of your energy is the moment you could lose your life.” Viktoria lectures. “Use your will to control your magic.” Nariah breathed heavily, practically gasping for air. She closed her eyes to gather what remaining focus she could muster and she was relieved to still feel the energy flowing freely through her. Nariah nodded, signaling Viktoria that she was ready to begin again, as she took a defensive stance. Viktoria immediately hurls a massive ball of fire towards Nariah, who tries her hardest not to let the size of the projectile intimidate her. The fireball smashes against a transparent barrier several inches in front of Nariah, the impact of the collision pushing her several feet back. The attacks continued to beat against Nariah’s defense even when the barrier begins to splinter at the point of impact. She concentrates as the heat begins to press against her body, her mind starts to drift and her heart starts beating faster; survival instinct begins taking over. Seconds passed before the barrier and the fireball both suddenly burst causing an explosion. The force of the blast sent Nariah through the air while Viktoria stood fast shielding her face within her arms. Nariah watched blood drip from her face to the ground. Viktoria walked through the smoke and debris of the blast and stood before Nariah. “That was an effective way to neutralize the attack, I’m impressed.” Viktoria says standing over Nariah.
“What are you talking about? Your fireball broke through the barrier.”
“On the contrary, you countered the attack but it’s obvious you don’t understand how. However, if you hadn’t I’m afraid you would be on fire screaming for your life right now.” Viktoria replied smugly. “You really don’t know how you did it, do you Nariah?” her reply was a simple shake of the head “That is very dangerous. Not having full control of your every action could cost you your life in the future.” Viktoria knelt down to Nariah’s eye level. “Awareness and control are keys to becoming a powerful master, in time it will become second nature taking less effort. But to use powerful magic unconsciously and survive is short of a miracle…and miracles are very rare for casters.” Viktoria paused for a moment, thinking about what she had just said. “We’re done for the day Nariah; I would suggest tending to your other studies, as well as more meditation.” Viktoria turned away from Nariah. “Remember what I said about miracles Nariah.” She says before exiting the training room.
Nariah flipped through the pages of a rather large, rather old book until she gets to the chapters containing history and stories of the old world. It was hard for her to grasp techniques in written form, right now especially having just finished training with Viktoria. But she found the techniques long and tedious requiring lots of preparation, some even requiring dogmatic processes; however, Nariah was fond of history, more so of the different characters and legends that existed. She stretched, taking in a deep breath, before moving her finger along the text recalling the history of the third king. Nariah was already very familiar with the third king’s history, having read it before, but there was something she always found interesting about his life. It could have been that he had lived for so long, over a century and a half; but it was rumored he lived for much longer than that and she imagined all the things that he must have seen. Nariah had a habit of imagining that she was the true heir to the throne, cast aside, denied her right because she was a caster. She envisioned what it would be like to have control over the empire, to be loved, to be feared. She let those thoughts fade away, she may have felt she didn’t know where she belonged or who she was but indulging in such childish thoughts would only leave her wanting. She turned her attention back to the book, to the history of the third king; this book contained the most information about him, however, she knew of several other books that contained more in depths accounts of his life as well as journals that he had written. The third king, Sol, had accomplished many things during his reign; he was also the last king that was a magic-user. She always found it odd that after his death there was much debate recorded over whether the next king should be allowed to be a caster, she also found it too much of a coincidence that his son and heir had disappeared the same night that Sol was assassinated. Nariah remembered how when she first read the king’s history she thought it was all fabricated but after reading other written accounts that confirmed the history she was thoroughly convinced that King Sol was betrayed by his own people.
“Traitors,” she said in a low breath “a quick death is too good for them.” She turned the next page revealing the same symbols and markings that were always there, normally she would have skipped past them but something caused her to linger this time. She stared at the page while subconsciously moving her fingers along the lines of the markings, then it suddenly hit her; she was staring at a technique written by the third king. It was in an archaic language but she had seen these symbols before in one of her master’s books. Timed slipped from Nariah as her mind stayed transfixed on the page. What she could only assume was a lost language seemed oddly familiar to her, as she followed the vertical lines she began to recognize a few of the characters written, the more she studied them they began to resemble modern words. Nariah could tell the hour was getting late while she continued to slowly study the written technique.
The wax of the candle melted slowly as dusk approached. Knowing she had little time left within the walls of the academy she thought it would be wise to make a copy, that way she could study it in seclusion in her room at the dormitories.
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