'I suppose the best way to explain it is as a war, Calain,' Mrs Hogston continued. 'It happened between the ancestors of the Elemental families, the ten gods and goddesses who were prodigies of the Great Mother. The sheer power of the gods was such that their fighting caused the world to be filled with darkness, there was no daytime for almost a year, and where they fought, they left devastation across lands that you have heard of, the Darklands at the Northern and Western borders. The land had been touched by darkness to its core, creating a wound where nothing could heal or grow or live.
'When the light returned to Maegard, the ten gods were gone, destroyed in the process of vanquishing the darkness. Mournful, perhaps, but without that act, you would not have the power that you have today, for as you know, from their deaths came their reincarnations into mortal bodies, and the beginning of the Elemental lines.'
Will tried to look as unaffected as the others, yet inside his inner self had been spun around and around, dizzied from the new information. 'But who started the war?' he asked, blurting out before he could stop his impulsive curiosity.
Mrs Hogston smiled with knowledge unknown to the children, her gaze lingered at the back of the classroom towards the Spirit twins. 'Marinia, Valda, would you happen to know the answer?'
The Twins sat leant back on their chairs, the back legs rocking precariously, their feet pressed against the table's edge. Marinia's arms were crossed as she glared back.
'Is that supposed to be snide, Mrs Hogston?' she asked, her voice soft but sharply edged like a sword.
Mrs Hogston answered her with a clever smile, 'of course not, dear.'
Marinia sighed exasperatedly, removing her feet and catapulting her chair forward to its original position. 'Mellicit,' she said, 'it was Mellicit who began the Days of Darkness, if you should know. My family have spent generations living down that family dishonour.' Valda nodded beside her.
'But I wonder...' said Tayna smoothly, swivelling around on her seat, 'is it family dishonour if She was the first ancestor? Doesn't that just make it...reputation?' Marinia looked as if an array of maniacal schemes had just entered her mind, and whilst the two met with level gazes like two soldiers met on a battlefield, Mrs Hogston swooped in with an answer.
'It's true,' she said, 'Mellicit wanted power, and She felt that the power granted to her by the Great Mother was less than she deserved. So she committed to an alliance with the darkest of creatures: Chaos. One who lived before the Great Mother and considered himself both Her brother and a god. Chaos granted Her both power, and a child, both carrying his mark. However, her new power was overwhelming, a single god could not stop it, only that of nine, and in defeating her, they were vanquished themselves.'
She sighed as if expelling severity. 'Does anybody else have anymore questions?'
This time, it was Sayara. 'I wondered, I know you say it's a long way off, but when we're eighteen, what happens in...Transition?'
Again, Will felt like he knew what the word meant, like the meaning had been whispered in his ear but he couldn't make it out.
'You're right, it is a long way off, Sayara,' said Mrs Hogston, 'and I say again that it is not something you need concern yourselves with now. I shall only tell you the basics, for those who might not know. Transition, is a process that all Elemental royals have undergone since the generations were first created. If I am honest, I do not know the exact process, only that it has been described by your ancestors as a "revival", a"cleansing". It is a process in which you will fully forge your connections to your elements, as of now they are thin but strengthening every day. At your age, then can waver, with a traumatic enough experience, break entirely, but once past Transition, your powers will elevate tenfold and they will be yours for life. It differs for each Elemental, half the ceremony is seen by a close audience, but the other half lies within the Elemental themselves, and has secrets only they know.'
'I heard it hurts...' Sayara murmured, and around the room, Will saw everybody looking just as he had felt since he learnt his true identity: scared. It was as if they were all at their limits, as if they could come to terms with their royalty, with the conduct, the isolation from regular magi, but if that wasn't bad enough; it was going to hurt too.
'Any other questions?'