Graduation of a Mage


Caroline Restrepo, Writer

Talya inhaled deeply as she gazed down below at a dark shape moving down the street. The trident she was usually a proficient wielder of felt too heavy. Her expression was relaxed, almost serene, but her hands shook ever-so-slightly. She didn’t want to go and face a monster alone, no matter how weak it was.

“What are you waiting on?” The voice made her jump near ten feet, and the person chuckled, much to her embarrassment. It came from a woman in her 30s, young but leagues more experienced than Talya when it came to taking down these kinds of creatures. On her finger, a yellow gemstone shone with its own light. Talya’s hand went to a similar crystal, an indigo star she wore in her hair. She knew it could protect her from anything in the right hands, but she wasn’t sure if those hands were hers.

“I don’t know if I’m ready,” She admitted. “My family is really counting on me. I don’t want to fail.”

“Fail? No such thing,” The woman stated, puzzling Talya. She had been told that this was a final test. She’d seen some of those who returned to training after they could not take on their own assignment. Before she could ask, the woman gave her an answer. “It’s a test, but nothing happens if you fail the first time. If you don’t have everything you need, it’s on us for sending you in without proper preparations. But you won’t know unless you go. The only way you can fail is by not fighting at all.”

Talya frowned to herself. She never understood how some people could settle on a carefree mindset like that. It may seem like a minor setback, but this meant the world to her. Since she found the crystal in her hair, she knew what she wanted to do with it. She was going to get away from her old home and make it to all the places her parents never saw. She hadn’t come so far for nothing.

The light mage saw her dissatisfaction and sighed. “Listen, if anything happens, I’ll step in. Now get going. I have a date in a few hours. I’m sure you have plans, too.” She pushed Talya, giving the girl the motivation she needed to press forward.

The girl leapt from the building, gliding through the air with a trail of water droplets behind her. She was always a fast mage, understanding water currents to aid her in the air. The monster- a giant, six-legged reptile- was found in the marshland near a coastal town. It was the perfect place for a sea mage like Talya. It was incredibly humid, and the brackish waters in the area were easy to control. She could even taste the salt on the breeze here. She carefully positioned her trident and tore three long gashes in the monster’s side when she flew past, and black blood oozed out of the wound. She skidded to a stop over the sandy soil and tall grass. The creature leapt forward with a cry that sounded like a muffled scream mixed with a strangled, choking sound. She always hated that about monsters; the sounds they made were even scarier than their appearances.

Talya slid quickly to the left and stabbed her trident into the creature’s side before flipping it over. She went for a strike to the stomach, but it batted her away with a giant arm and charged again, nearly catching her between its teeth. She caught its thin neck between the weapon’s prongs but wasn’t sure what to do now. She didn’t have a countermeasure once she pulled her trident away. Holding her ground as best she could, Talya had an idea. She had a spell that would work perfectly for this.

“Bubble bliss,” She spoke, focusing her energy on the points of her trident. As she pulled her trident away, the creature tried to run forward, but it was stopped by a quickly growing sphere. Soon, the monster was engulfed, and Talya relaxed for a moment. She knew that wouldn’t hold it, but it would slow it down. She might have a way to slow it down even more.

Talya looked around, and her eyes settled on one part of the marsh specifically. She prepared herself to run and watched the creature struggle against the spell. It thrashed its tail against the sides, but it proved ineffective. The bubble barely even reacted to blunt strikes. Finally, its piercing teeth tore through the trap, causing it to burst. Talya made a beeline for the water, listening to the beast’s footsteps on her heels. She flew below the moss hanging from the tree branches it tore through. She made it just as its jaws snapped closed on the air behind her and dove into deeper waters.

Down here, Talya had all the skills she needed. Being a sea mage granted her the power to safely breathe down here, and she was just as mobile as on land. The monster, on the other hand, crashed into the water. She used the momentum from its fall to hook its arm on her trident, twisting it off. She smiled to herself, impressed by her own feat. However, she snapped out of this trance when a solid hit to the chest knocked the breath from her.

She found herself on the silt-covered bottom of the marsh, struggling to get back up. She planted an unsteady foot on the ground and felt her energy coming back. A mud, sand, and silt cloud rose through the water and obscured her vision. She was ready to jump back into battle, but the monster was better prepared. It was upon Talya in seconds, biting her leg and shaking its head back and forth to maximize any damage done. She screamed and used her trident to get it in the eyes, forcing it to let go. The salt and debris stung the wound, and the water began to turn red. Talya couldn’t see how bad it was, but she wasn’t sure she even wanted to know. With her leg injured, however, she wasn’t as fast as she could be. She was still landing hits on the monster, but it was chipping away at Talya, too.

Even with her injuries healing faster due to the water, she could feel herself growing tired. Maybe she should call for help. She glanced up and saw the glow of the light mage above. Even she was expecting to be needed. Talya gritted her teeth and caught the monster again. No. She wasn’t going to give up. If she had to get help, it would be because she had no other option. It was a mage’s job to protect people at all costs. If her loved ones were ever in danger, she knew she wouldn’t back out and let someone else handle it. This may be training, but this monster was real. And she wasn’t going to give it a chance to hurt anyone.

Talya didn’t even realize it, but her crystal began to glow brightly as she made up her mind to end this fight. She drove her trident through the monster’s foreleg and deep into the ground, pinning it down. Her mind went entirely blank, save for two words. She rarely fell into this trance-like state, but she knew it well. Whenever she needed it, the gem she wore always seemed to know a spell for the occasion.

“Tidal fury,” Talya spoke. A new spell. The water level in the marsh suddenly began to recede, coming down to Talya’s shoulders. Then, she felt the ground shake and heard a low rumbling sound. It reminded her of thunder or perhaps a train rattling down its tracks. Realizing what this spell did, Talya quickly pulled herself into the air and heard the rushing sound of water become louder. The monster tried to escape but couldn’t do much with a weapon stuck through its leg. Seeing a vast wave approaching, the sea mage flew higher still. The tower of water passed below her feet, rushing by in an instant. She watched it descend on the monster, slamming into trees and slowly losing force.

Talya waited for it to entirely disappear before going back down. The monster was no more, pieces of what used to be a danger scattered around. She searched the area and soon found a leech-like creature attempting to crawl away. Now, this was something she could handle. If it got away, it would reform stronger than before, having learned what tricks Talya had up her sleeve. It was what made mages the only defense against monsters. The ability to purify. She picked up the leech and closed her hand around it, focusing her energy on it. When she opened her hand back up, it appeared to dissolve like a shadow giving way to the light.

Speaking of light, Talya had nearly forgotten about the other mage. She looked around and spotted the light mage unharmed. She thankfully got away upon seeing the terrifying spell Talya used.

“Wow. When did you learn that one?” The light mage asked. “And why didn’t you lead with it?”

“Just now,” Talya replied, which answered both questions. “Did I pass?”

“Well,” The light mage said, looking around at the damage the wave had done. “No people were around, so I don’t think I can fault you for destruction. Just… don’t do that again. You might have taken out more than just the monster if I hadn’t seen it.”

“Sorry,” Talya’s face turned red, but the light mage assured her it was fine.

“I’m in the crossfire all the time. I’m more worried about civilians. Anyway, that’s a success if I’ve ever seen one! You’re ready for the real thing!”

“Yes!” Talya exclaimed, jumping up and down with excitement. She was beyond relieved and flooded with all sorts of positive emotions. “What now? Back to school? Home? Wait, do we go to the headquarters of other mages!?”

“Not quite. Just the local watch center. They do registrations for new mages. It’s not terribly exciting, but you do get to choose a mage name-”

“Rogue Wave.”

“What?” The light mage asked. Talya didn’t mean to interrupt, but she had picked out her name from the moment she began her training. Finally, she’d be able to use it!

“I want to go by Rogue Wave,” She explained. The older woman paused and then nodded in approval. She flew into the air again and gestured for Talya to follow. Talya did so with a smile, looking back to watch the body of the monster she’d slain disappear from the reeds and sedges. She hoped that sight would be common in her future. No matter which ocean or sea she found herself in, she’d destroy anything threatening this world’s peace. Talya promised herself when she was young that she’d see the world her parents never had the chance to show her. Starting now, she could fulfill that promise. There was so much to see, and Talya- no, Rogue Wave- couldn’t wait.