At first I work with just Earth. My control with Water and Air, and a little less so Fire, is based on a friendship level. As I practice with Earth, I find I need more firmness in my tone. It’s like parent to child, rather than friend to friend. My mind becomes distracted by the thought of friends and I leave my practice.
I hold my pendant and think of everyone imbued within it; Dad, Gloria, Thalion, Grandma B, Sarah Morgan, Aunt Sarah, Uncle Ben, and Mom. I feel their love around me, bolstering my strength and my belief in myself. Then I think of Ash. I have avoided looking into the heart this whole day but now I am drawn to it.
“No,” the whisper comes unbidden to my lips as tears spring to my eyes.
Ash is in trouble. His hair has already begun to separate from mine. I have to help him before it’s too late. But I can’t until I finish this test. I chuck the stone I had been manipulating across the pond. Water skips it as Air directs it and Fire lights it until it sinks. My elements support me.
I hear the bell ring twice. I splash water on my face and try to school myself out of worry. Judging by the look on Zack’s face when I enter camp, I didn’t do a good job. He gloats over dinner, though he is silent until night has fallen and the bonfire is lit.
“Didn’t make it to the Greater Idol did you Manatee?” Zack sneers as he steps between me and the flames. “I heard that’s ground for failure.”
I hear Martha gulp next to me. My hand goes to my pendant and I see Zack is lying. He didn’t make it, nor is it grounds for failure. But as far as I know there is nothing I can say to make Zack stop. He hates Martha and I because we are half bloods. He thinks being full blood makes him better than us, when in truth it is his prejudice that makes him worse. I have to do something. Look what happened when I didn’t deal with Petey. I have no Ash to defend me here, nor my father.
“I thought so,” Zack revels in my silence. His face is in mine. “I bet you didn’t even get a single idol, eh Sea Cow?”
I look into Zack’s face. He has turned to Martha. NO, I cannot let him bully her. I am not defenseless for my elements gather around me. I stand and step between Zack and Martha. He stumbles back into a cage of air. The flames leap towards him, but do not touch him.
“What are you doing?” he’s suddenly scared.
“Leave her be.” I state. My fists are clenched.
Zack slides away from us. I turn to step over the log I’d been sitting on. I call over my shoulder; “at least we will have passed without cheating.” I walk away into the darkness.
I smile as Zack curses. He has slipped on a patch of wet grass. My air cushion keeps him from falling into the fire. I will not fight, nor will I harm. The time when I have to fight is coming. It is a time I dread.
My pond welcomes me back and offers up the stone I had sent across its surface. Or perhaps in standing up to Zack I have earned Earth’s respect. I strengthen my resolve as I skip the stone across the water. I will pass and I will save Ash. I will not consider any alternative, not until later. I must keep hope.
“Morgan?” It’s Martha. I glance back and give a hesitant smile. “I just wanted to say thanks.”
“Zack is a bumble headed buffoon.” I mutter. “He was lying about the Greater Idol. Don’t let him get to you.”
“But I thought…” she trails off as she watches me skip the stone.
My concentration is slightly broken, making the rock harder to handle. My other elements bolster themselves to make up for it. It is my own elemental symphony that I create as the stone skips across the water.
Water and Earth send the stone in a gentle arch across the pond. Earth and Fire light the stone with a gentle glow. Fire and Air protect the flame. Air and Water return the Rock to me like a boomerang.
A low whistle reminds me I’m not alone. The whistler is David, not Martha.
Concentration shattered the stone sinks. I manage to keep the flame lit until it hits the bottom. I turn to face them and see Martha’s hand enveloped in David’s. I sigh and turn back to camp. Tomorrow is another test day and I will be better off with sleep. They follow.
“I didn’t mean to interrupt,” David apologizes.
I shrug. “I was just practicing.”
“All four elements at the same time though!” Martha exclaims.
I stop and look at them. “Is that, not common?”
Martha and David exchange confused glances. It’s David who speaks. “Not like what you were doing. That takes fine control and years of practice.”
“Oh.” I am stunned.
The bonfire has died down and snores emanate from Zack’s tent. I smile slightly. There is much that this day has given me to think about. Unfortunately, not all of it is positive. I fall asleep with one hand on my pendant. Hold on Ash, I’m coming as soon as I can.