Untold Stories from the World of Myrrah: Niri’s Arrival in Solaire Part 3
read Part 2 here
“She is Priestess Calysthia,” Misma said to Niri. They sat crosslegged facing each other from their respective beds, which were barely a foot apart, in the girl’s dormitory. “How did you do that on your first try? I stood in front of that bowl for weeks managing nothing until Priestess Calysthia grew bored. What she called me made me cry, but didn’t help me call water.”
“How can she be in charge of us?” Niri asked.”I’ve had tutors. They could make me learn without me realizing it.”
Niri’s feet hurt. She’d walked the path between water bowl and sea so many times she could find her way in the dark. Which it had been in her last run, when she’d used a cup and risked punishment for it. Tired as she was, she wanted to know more about Solaire and this Priestess who was her teacher. Or at least pretended to be. Calysthia hadn’t even been there when Niri finished her task. So Niri had sat by the bowl until a Priestess smelling of herbs had come and asked why she sat outside in the dark. That Priestess had been kind at least, taking Niri’s hand to lead her here.
Misma cocked her head at Niri. “Tutors? Your parents were important then?”
Niri blushed. “My grandfather is city elder in Tiero. You?”
“My family are cooks. Everyone but me, I guess.” Misma stared at her bedcovers.
“How long have you been here?” Niri asked when Misma stayed silent. The sound of slow breaths filled the night air around them like moths made of air.
“A month,” Misma said quietly. “I only learned to spin water a week ago.” She rubbed her arm at that, remembered pain on her face.
“We could practice? I don’t know how I did that. I didn’t even believe I was a Water Elemental. But maybe we can figure it out.”
Misma smiled, laying back on her narrow bed. “You are a Water Elemental. A good one already. We can try tomorrow. It isn’t like Calysthia is going to show us.”
Morning routine involved more chores as the Elemental children separated to make breakfast for the Priests and Priestesses, clean rooms, and tend livestock. After that there were several hours of education in a style Niri was familiar with. Here an Earth Elemental Priest brought out books of history and people across the world of Myrrah. For a time, Niri forgot again that she was so far from home and uncertain when, if, she would return.
It was after that when a meager lunch of bread and fruit was handed out that Misma appeared and grabbed Niri’s hand. Behind her stood Pasir and Haetrhi. “We have almost two hours before we meet with Calysthia,” Misma said, tugging Niri to come with them.
“Shouldn’t we ask Kymrik to join us?” Niri asked as she scooped up her food.
“Why?” Haetrhi asked. “He hardly needs practice.”
“Exactly. He knows what he is doing. Maybe he can teach us.”
“That’s true,” Pasir said. “He is the best of us at this. It wouldn’t hurt to ask.”
“If you ask Soukat, he would say he is the best,” Theyoef said. “I know where Kymrik eats. Come on.”
Kyrmik wasn’t eating though. At least not primarily. He chewed absently as he danced a feather in a circle around himself, turning slowly in time with the whirlwind he controlled. When he saw his classmates, the feather fell as the wind died.
“No wonder you are so good. I thought it was because you were older,” Haetrhi said.
Kymrik took another bite from the apple in his hand. “Age has nothing to do with it. Look at the new girl,” he said pointing to Niri with the handful of fruit. “She looks to be the youngest and managed more than most of us did in our first months.”
“So you’ve been practicing. For how long?” Misma asked, sitting on the stones that made up the little circular garden where Kymrik had hidden himself and his efforts.
“Two weeks,” he said with a shrug. “I wondered when the rest of the class would realize it. The only way to advance from Calysthia’s teachings is to show you have strong abilities.”
“But how do you control the wind?” Niri asked. “I don’t understand how it is done.”
“And yet you did it,” Kymrik said with a lifted brow. He sighed and sat in the center of the circular stone garden. “What did you think of when you made the water leave the bowl?”
Niri’s cheeks grew warm. “I saw my reflection and… I wanted the water out of me,” she said in a whisper. “I don’t want to be a Water Elemental. I want to go home.” Niri dropped next to Misma, who put her arm around her.
“This is your home now,” Kymrik said. He looked over the small group in front of him. “It will be for the rest of your life. If you want to do well and have freedom, it is best to accept that.”
“How do you know so much?” Pasir asked, wiping a hand across her eye.
Kymrik shrugged. “There is an older student I know who is from Finndale as well. He told me.”
“So that is what you do? Think of keeping the feather aloft and it does?” Haetrhi asked.
Kymrik snorted. “No. I think of a small breeze swirling upward just where I want it and how fast I want and how tall… and you can’t think of anything else or it will fall apart. I don’t think about the feather at all.”
“I already have a headache,” Misma said, setting the cup of water in front of her. “I’ll go first,” she said with a glance at Niri.
“Otherwise you might not have any water left,” Pasir teased. Niri stuck her tongue out at her.
Niri, Misma, Pasir, and Haetrhi were tired when they arrived at their afternoon class, but each managed better than they had the day before. And Niri finally believed she was a Water Elemental. She could feel the drops of water slide over her fingers, following her thoughts. Even with only one day of practice, she was better than Misma and spun the water for Calysthia as if born to it. Because she was.
Misma did not mind her skill was harder earned. She was happy when it was her turn and she could move the water clockwise or counterclockwise as Calysthia demanded. Not being hit or pinched was enough for her. Kymrik too minded his task and did not show off today, doing exactly as Priestess Calysthia asked.
The only one who was hit this day was Soukat. “I said light a spark!” Calysthia yelled, towering over Soukat where he’d fallen after Calysthia strike. “Two months and you cannot even hold fire long enough to create a flame in dried shavings. I don’t care who your parents are or what they expect of you, but you are not worthy to be here.”
Calysthia chased him out of the small garden where they practiced. Brushing back her disarrayed hair, she glared at the rest of her students. “Afternoon chores, now!” They scattered.
“How did you improve so much?” Rahnef asked Misma as they met up outside the children’s dormitories at dinner that night.
Misma glanced at Niri and Pasir. “We’ve been practicing.”
“Do you want to come?” Niri asked. “We will meet again tomorrow.”
“We should ask the others too,” Rahnef said. “At least Theyoef and Bissyl.”
“Why not Soukat? I think he needs it the most,” Niri said.
“I wouldn’t recommend it,” Pasir said. “He’ll find a way to get us in trouble.”
The other girls left to head upstairs to their beds, but Niri hesitated. Soukat sat by himself, tearing at his bread as if to shred it rather than to eat.
“Are you alright?” Niri asked him as she approached.
Soukat might not have been able to summon fire, but there was enough of it in the look he sent Niri.
“I’m fine, water girl. Leave me alone.”
Niri hesitated. “I thought you might need help, we—” Niri stumbled back as Soukat bolted upright, spraying his food into the grass.
Soukat pushed Niri’s shoulder. “I do not need help from a water girl! Fire is the strongest element. No matter what I choose to show Priestess Calysthia about my abilities, I am better than you. Water has no place near fire.”
Niri turned and raced away.
Read part 4 here!