Chapter 1: Listen
I should've known it would end like this. Staring down a raging treant, backed into a corner, too exhausted to cast anything. My last guardian, a conjured wolf, is shattered by a slam of the treant's mighty branch. Well, if I die here, it'll at least be more interesting than a quiet life in Magefort. The treant raises its branch to crush me-
But a tentacle of water wraps around the treant's branch, holding it back! The water yanks the treant backward, and my savior jumps into view, standing between me and the treant. They look at me over their shoulder with a smile. "Hey kid, you alright?"
I scramble to find words after my near-death experience. "U-uh, yeah, um, I'm 19 actually, I'm just short-"
"Stand back, I got this." Whips of water form in their hands. When the treant charges, they lash at it with the whips, making it stagger backward. After a final lash, they pull the whips back, holding them in place before they freeze into an array of icy daggers. With a snap of their fingers, the daggers fly forward, stabbing into the bark of the treant and making it cry out in pain!
The treant lumbers away, and my savior relaxes. Getting a better look at them, they wear leather armor and a short black cape. They appear human, except for the demonic, arrow-tipped tail that wags behind them. "Yeesh, that one's durable. Hey there, kid. Name's Cody. You okay? Any injuries?"
I should probably answer their question. Or thank them for saving me. Probably both. But the only thing I can say is "How in the world did you do that?! I've never seen spellcasting that fast and smooth before!"
"Heh, glad to see you're okay. Anyway, that wasn't spellcasting, that was my elemental powers."
"Yep. Everyone has some elemental power hidden within them. Mine's water."
"Wow... So, I have those powers too? How can I use them?"
"That's... a tough question to answer. You'll probably discover your element eventually on your travels. Just listen for it, and it'll come for you."
But it didn't. No matter where my travels took me, no matter how hard I looked, I couldn't find my element. Through scorching, windswept deserts, and great mountain waterfalls, and still nothing.
I had pretty much given up on searching for my element, when I spotted a familiar arrow-tipped tail tail in a town. I run toward them. "Hey, Cody!"
"Hm? Oh, hey there Elian! It's been a while."
We spend some time catching up, but soon I have to ask for their help. "It feels like no matter where I go or what I do, I can't find my element. How did you find yours?"
"Oh... I think your first mistake was trying to 'find' your element. You seem like the type to learn things through study and research, always finding the knowledge you need. But there's nothing to search for; your element is already inside you."
"I can't search for it? But then, how do I..."
"It's different for everyone. I unlocked my power when I was staring down a pack of monsters, disarmed, exhausted, my life on the line. But uh, don't do that. Just... don't search for it, don't try to take it. Just listen, and let it come to you."
Listen, and let it come to me... Okay. I sit down in the nice, peaceful spot I found; the sound of the nearby river soothes me, the soft grass makes a comfortable seat, the sun shining on me keeps me warm, and the wind blows through my fur. I close my eyes, and listen.
I hear lots of little noises, leaves rustling, birds calling, simple distractions. But then, during a pause in the noises, I hear something strange! Is that my- Huh? It's gone. As if the moment I reached for it, it disappeared.
Right. I can't look for it, or try to take it. All my life, I've had to reach out and learn, I had to find the things I wanted. Even after I left Magefort, it's how I learned enchantment magic. It's no wonder I haven't unlocked my element yet, I've never taken much time to listen to what's already inside me. My own voracious curiosity is holding me back.
I take a deep breath... let it out... and relax.
So many thoughts and feelings, swirling around inside me. Desires, regrets, memories, those really tasty fruit gummies mom used to pack for my school lunches, a storm of mental sparks all around. At first, I instinctively reach out to each one, picking it apart and examining it. But now's not the time for that. I manage to simply stand back and observe, feeling the emotions, thinking the thoughts, letting them flow through me.
Then I feel it again. The spark of curiosity when I notice it almost makes it fade again, but I restrain myself. I breathe, observing the strange feeling as it floats through my heart. It doesn't feel like my emotions, wild and passionate; nor like my thoughts, and their steady flow; nor even like magic, blooming from a foundation of knowledge. It feels... unrestrained. And almost... weak? No, it's light, like a feather. It's carefree and transient, never rooted to one place, never caring to stay.
I open my eyes and stand. I can feel the wind blowing through my fur so much better, now that I know how to feel it. I extend my arm, and the wind wraps around it, running over it in a spiral before flying off to continue its journey. It's about time for me to continue mine as well.
Cody is fighting a minotaur. It shrugs off the strikes from their water and blades, swinging at them with an axe. I hop off my steed and drop from the sky, stomping right on the minotaur's head before bouncing off and floating down like a feather. "Need some help?" I ask Cody as my conjured winged wolf flies down to hover beside me.
Cody whistles. "Look at you, kid! Looks like you got your element figured out. Mind patching me up a bit?" Cody gestures to the cuts and bruises around their body.
My hand glows a soothing green, and I blow an emerald wind toward Cody. It swirls around their body, sweeping away the small wounds.
"Thanks!" Cody says, but then winces. "You kinda missed a spot," they say, pointing to a larger cut.
"Whoops, sorry. Wind isn't really known for power." I prep a more concentrated spell and reach toward them, but we're forced to leap away from each other just in time to avoid a slam from the minotaur's axe! My flying wolf dives in to attack, Cody draws their daggers, and I start casting a spell to summon a grizzly bear. We'll have time to chat and heal after we're not at risk of getting chopped in half.
After the fight, we sit back and relax; I patch up our wounds while Cody shares some food as thanks for the assistance. "So," Cody says, "your element is sky."
"Yeah. It's kinda funny; the one weakness in my magic is offense, and I got the one element that I can't hit stuff with."
"Oof. You use it well, though, even if it's a bit disappointing."
"Actually... I think it's exactly what I needed. Back home, the most important part of magic was keeping control, always having a firm grasp on the spell, literally and figuratively. But you can't grasp the air. I needed to learn how to let go, how to just... let things happen."
"Huh... But uh, when it comes to things like summoning grizzly bears, I think you should probably keep control of that."
I giggle. "I used to, but controling conjured creatures takes a lot of focus. Sometimes I need to just tell it to protect me, and just... trust that it will. You can't control everything."
"Wow, you've really taken this to heart. And here I was just stabbing things with my infinite supply of ice daggers."
We laugh and chat, sharing a few stories before parting ways. I take flight on my winged wolf, soaring into the clouds. It's like a whole new world just opened up for me... and with my ravenous curiosity, I want to see it all!