Mandra brought her closed fist to her chest. She looked up, and whispered, “Please let an element choose me.”
“Next,” the Enchanter said with a wave of his hand.
She stood and approached the stage at the front of the room with slow steps. She kept her head up but her eyes down, so she wouldn’t see the Enchanter’s bored expression. While they waited on wooden benches to be called, he sat on his padded throne on stage. On the table beside him rested a glass of water with condensation dripping down the sides. She licked her dry lips.
Today Mandra would learn her fate. Her mother was a seamstress in one of the factories. If Mandra wasn’t chosen by an element she would sit at the machine next to her mother’s. Her schooling would be over. There would be no way to become anything more than she had been born, a lowly factory worker.
“Hurry it up,” the Enchanter called down. She heard the soft sound of his pants against the seat cushion as he shifted.
She reached the pottery bowl, set upon a wooden table, in front of the stage. It was time. She held her arm out straight, fist over the bowl. With a deep shuddering breath she opened her hand, and the pebbled she had held close to her heart all morning fell. She watched it drop as if in slow motion.
The pale pink pebble hit the bottom of the bowl with a hollow ‘tink’. She watched it spin before laying still. The colour of the stone changed to a dark pink. After a moment she realized it was wet. Water was slowly filling the bowl until it covered the pebble.
Mandra let out the breath she had taken before dropping the pebble. With trembling fingers she reached into the cool water and took the stone back into her fist. She didn’t notice the water in the bowl swirl up into a tiny tornado before disappearing.
For a long moment nothing happened. Then the herald at the far side of the stage called, “water.”
No one moved.
“What?” said the Enchanter. When Mandra looked up he was standing in front of his throne looking down at her with wide eyes.
Mandra could hear the whispers behind her.
“It must have been wind.”
“Did you see that?”
“There hasn’t been a water mage in almost 50 years.”
The herald cleared his throat and called again. “Water.”
She held the stone in her outstretched palm for the Enchanter to see. Water pooled around the stone in her hand until it dripped onto the floor.
The Enchanter bowed to her. When he looked up, he met her gaze and smiled. “Welcome, Mage of Water.”