Chapter 3 – Teacher’s Pet

Selera and Groyven looked over the railing of the forecastle as Tiffaniel had done less than two hours earlier. Below them, Sialin sat cross-legged on the deck of the bowsprit, behind the figurehead. Her voice lifted in song as she looked out towards the land on the horizon off the starboard side. Selera deftly vaulted over the railing and landed on the deck below, Groyven following, carefully descending the ladder behind her. She walked up behind Sialin and placed a hand on her shoulder.

 

‘Close?’ she asked inquiringly.

 

Sialin nodded and pointed in the direction of the land in the distance. Selera nodded in understanding before looking around, noticing Tiffaniel’s absence.

 

‘Tiffaniel?’

 

Sialin sighed, letting her song die. Not taking her eyes off the horizon, she answered, ‘She is sleeping off her lesson back in their cabin. No fish today, but she learnt something far more important. I do think that they have both finished paying the price for their misdemeanour.’

 

Selera watched Sialin as she raised her eyes and took stock of her surroundings, ‘We have favourable wind?’

 

‘We do.’

 

Sialin nodded and in one smooth motion got to her feet and stretched before clapping her hands sharply once, the sails suddenly unsettled and starting to flutter before the wind caught them from behind, filling them and making them strain and snap against the rigging.

 

‘Finally, the sails can do their work without my assistance. Tell the Captain that I can maintain another few hours if we come against another headwind.’

 

As she turned to Selera noting her nod, she saw Groyven, her eyes instantly lighting up as a stunning smile broke across her face, ‘Little Prince! Is it time already?’

 

Groyven blushed furiously with the sudden attention. Selera smiled while shaking her head at her young brother’s sudden bashfulness, ‘I will leave him with you, I have to get back.’

 

Sialin looked at Selera, a serious expression on her face, waving her hand at her, ‘Shh, I don’t want to hear it. You do what you must so we can all get out of here. Go, get back to studying that thing we were sent to pick up this morning.’

 

Selera smiled, shaking her head before turning to Groyven, ‘Remember what we talked about.’ She said before she ascended the ladder and disappeared over the railing.

 

Groyven watched for a moment after his sister had left. Hearing laughter, he turned to see Sialin, one hand to her lips and the other on her hip with an amused expression.

 

‘I can have big sister return if you wish; you look like a pup that has been trapped in the wildcat’s den.’

 

Groyven blushed, ‘No, well, I…’ he stammered, quickly looking around for something to focus on. ‘You were controlling the negative air pressure in front of the sails?’

 

Sialin smiled, nodding, ‘Big words for a little man. Yes, once you know how, it is not difficult. With a little practice, you could do it too.’

 

‘But I thought your thread was of fire?’

 

She laughed again, the sound akin to the gentle chiming of bells, ‘My thread? That does not stop us from learning other aspects of sorcery or mage-craft.’

 

Groyven stood still, caught off-guard, ‘I can learn more than fire?’

 

Sialin looked at him, ‘By the gods! Come Groyven.’ she gestured over to the shade and led him to sit with her opposite.

 

She leaned forwards and placed a hand on his chest, ‘Little Prince, your thread, the Demon’s Thread that pulses with elemental life inside of you, grants you power beyond the norm. It does not limit you, but gives you an affinity with a particular elemental skill. You can still learn other skills. But they never will be on par with that fire burning inside of you.’

 

Sialin sat back, leaning against the bulkhead, ‘Your thread, it is made of strands.’

 

Groyven looked at her, ‘Like a rope?’ he asked.

 

She tilted her head, ‘A little like a rope, a demon thread is woven out of strands of another one, two or even three lesser elements that complement the dominant. Not my words, but they are easy to understand.’

 

Groyven sat, his thoughts focused, ‘Complimenting the dominant?’

 

‘Meaning, you can use their separate aspects individually, as long as they compliment your strongest ability.’ She leaned towards him, in close, cupping her hands over his.

 

Sialin smiled, ‘Make a fire in my hands.’

 

He looked at her in concern, ‘But I could burn you.’

 

She smiled again, ‘Trust me, my Little Prince. Your flames can’t hurt my skin, only my heart.’ She concentrated, distracted momentarily. ‘Come, a small flame.’

 

Groyven obliged, concentrating. A small flame grew to the size of a candle from his cupped hands, while Sialin’s creating a barrier for the wind around it.

 

‘Good, very good. So, Little Prince, what influences your flame the most? You may not be thinking about it, but you are controlling it too.’

 

He continued to concentrate, sweat starting to bead on his brow with the effort of keeping the flame small.

 

She smiled as she watched his effort, ‘As soon as you recognise the different elements you control, the easier this will all become. Watch.’ Sialin took control of his small flame, bursts of blue flickering within it. ‘Watch, my Little Prince, tell me how I am doing this.’

 

Groyven moved his hands away, watching.

 

‘Bring your hands under it, I will cup my hands over yours. Like a fire-pit.’

 

She nodded as he moved his hands into position.

 

‘Now, how can we influence this little fire or ours?’

 

Groyven smiled, ‘If I let more air in from below the fire will grow.’ he let a crack form between his hands and the fire grew in volume.

 

‘Like a furnace, yes? And if you blow on it, it grows hotter?’ said Sialin, she looked at him, ‘So in controlling your fire, you are also manipulating the?’

 

‘Air, air flow, air currents, wind… Oh.’ Groyven’s eyes grew wide in understanding.

 

‘And what would happen, if the air had no moisture in it, if the air was dry?’ she asked, guiding his thoughts.

 

‘But the fire makes the air around it dry by evaporation.’

 

‘Little Prince?’

 

‘If there is low humidity then the fire burns hot and large, as long as there…’ Groyven seemed to struggle with a thought that was just out of his reach.

 

‘Watch, in wonder. But think, what is happening? What Sialin is doing to do this?’ She raised her eyebrows and smiled before concentrating on the flame. It grew, slowly twisting into a tiny tornado of fire, sucking air in as it twisted into a cone.

 

She gestured with one hand, ‘Open the bottle, yes, my water.’ taking the offered bottle, she took a sip and handed it back to him.

 

She pointed to the swirling fire, then to her lips, she sprayed a fine mist of droplets from her mouth over it. As she did so her eyes narrowed, the droplets instantly becoming steam. Gently moving her hand the steam grew in the air and slowed the twisting fire until it became a small flame again. She smiled, ‘Now I will play.’

 

She cupped her hands over the flame, closing her eyes. Opening them again, her own blue flames limned her fingers and as she opened her hands a small sharp bud of orange flame sat in her palm. It slowly grew a blue stem and petals formed.

 

‘A flower?’ remarked Groyven.

 

Sialin chuckled, ‘I am in the mood for orchids, native to the mountains near my childhood home.’

 

Small blue flames flickered in her eyes as she concentrated, manipulating the elements immediately around her and Groyven’s flame. He watched on as the flower slowly unfurled, fiery orange with a blue flame stamen and stem.

 

‘It is beautiful.’

 

‘Thank you, my Little Prince. Now, blow it out.’

 

He looked at her in surprise.

 

‘Go on, blow it out.’

 

With a quick puff, Groyven blew on the flower and it suddenly burst into hundreds of little petal winged butterflies that slowly dispersed into the air.

 

‘Amazing. But the control over the fire? Incredible.’ he said.

 

Sialin just smiled, ‘Now, what did you see?’

 

‘Mastery.’ Groyven went quiet, ‘Controlling fire is not just the flame itself, it is controlling the air flow, humidity as well.’

 

Sialin nodded, ‘Those are the main aspects, as well as the fuel for the fire.’

 

He looked at her, ‘Does that mean I can also manipulate humidity and air?’

 

Sialin nodded, ‘I know you find it hard to control here, your fire needs great concentration and energy expenditure to keep it small. But now you know why. Soon, with that knowledge you will be able to be more efficient.’

 

‘The air, it is too dry! And the constant wind!’ He looked around, at the air itself, ‘It also explains why Tiff is instantly exhausted after a couple of spells, the air is dry. She manipulates the humidity in the air too and the air-flow to create a cooling effect. It is easier to create large and using up her energy in one spell. That is why you had her fishing. Under water is cooler, her use of her own power only was the use of freezing, no other manipulation.’

 

Sialin nodded again. ‘I am pleased, Little Prince. You already understand, I wish the Firebrand were more intuitive. By exploring your control over those other elements, you will gain mastery over your greatest power, that destructive flame of yours.’

 

‘You were using your control over humidity and airflow on the sails.’

 

Sialin laughed loudly, ‘Yes, very good, but can you think how?’

 

Groyven stood and looked out over the bow at the ocean, ‘The spray off the keel, you made it finer. The heat from the sun, you made it stronger over the deck so that the spray… Aarrrrgg!? No! You… Horizontal tornado!’ he stopped, gesturing wildly at the sails, looking at Sialin as she broke into uncontrolled laughter.

 

‘I was thinking out loud!’ Groyven said defensively.

 

Sialin stood and hooked him into a hug, ‘You, my Little Prince, are incredible! Come, I will show you how.’ she gestured for him to sit as she started to explain the method to him.

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