A while later, the boys arrived back at the school. Navihm waved up at the guards manning the gates and they called down a greeting cheerfully.

“Are we still on for that rematch tonight, Navihm?” called one of the guards.

“Yes, of course,” he called back. “I have a feeling this is going to be your night to win, Hue.”

“You said that last time!” They passed under the gate and dismounted, walking their horses the rest of the way to the stables.

“Did you enjoy your ride, Equus?” The only opportunity Navihm had to speak his mother tongue was with his mount. 

He enjoyed these small moments where he could almost imagine being back in his beloved foothills. Eamonn continued towards the stables but Navihm paused a brief moment, stroking his horse’s nose and murmuring to him in Genti.

A horrified gasp pulled him out of his reminiscing. A small blonde stood by the path, with hand held up to her mouth and her hair curling delicately around her heart shaped face. She was dressed neatly in expensive looking clothing and held a small parasol to keep the sun off her face. The sight of Navihm captured her attention and left her slightly stunned. Navihm glanced down at himself, he had neglected to put his shoes back on so he stood barefoot with his pants still damp to the knee. He supposed that, along with his unbound hair and rumpled clothing, did make him look rather disheveled.

“Good morning, Rose,” called Eamonn to the girl as he walked out of the stables. She ignored him.

“Put some clothes on you savage!” she said to Navihm and stormed off down the path. Navihm exchanged a bewildered look with Eamonn over his horse’s neck and they both burst into helpless laughter.

“Go get cleaned up for your meeting Navihm,” said Eamonn, smothering the last of his laughter. “I’ll stable Equus for you.” He took the reins off Navihm and waved him towards their rooms.

Navihm was concentrating on holding the water against the ceiling above Professor Blaise’s head. It was dripping steadily out of a pipe and the Professor had told him to block the flow. She sat calmly, swatting away any of the drips that made it through. She and Navihm had spent the afternoon channeling his elemental magic into various tasks. Navihm had created fissures in the earth and gusts of wind. Professor Blaise wanted Navihm to become proficient in channeling his power accurately. They’d only had a few slip ups where Navihm had siphoned the wrong kind of magic. The broken chair in the corner and uncomfortable silence between student and teacher could attest to that. Navihm had accidentally seen much more about his teacher’s past and heard more of her thoughts than he ever wanted to. He’d not even been aware that his spiritual gifts were capable of such things. His mother would be happy that he displayed some proficiency in the sight.

Navihm frowned. He could feel the water slipping out of his grasp. He shored up his blockage but the water continued to drip through. Navihm finally lost his grip and the water cascaded down from the roof right onto Professor Blaise. Navihm panted and tried to catch his breath. He had a tendency to hold his breath when he focused on using his elemental magic. His sweat-drenched body was almost a damp at Professor Blaise’s.

“Not good enough Navihm,” she said. She waved a hand over herself, causing the water soaked into her clothes to pool on the ground. Navihm frowned, he hated not being good at something.

Professor Blaise wouldn’t mention it, but she rarely saw students so proficient at elemental magic so early on. 

Students two or three years into their studies still struggled to draw their magic directly from their well of power but Navihm had all but mastered it in one afternoon. She suspected that it was because of his dedication to learning and his experience with using spirit magic that his proficiency came so quickly. Knowing that Navihm would rather be pushed than praised, she neglected to mention this to him.

“It’s slippery,” he said by way of explanation.

“Your magic is well suited to the manipulation of rock and earth. It is not uncommon for people gifted like this to struggle with the fluidity of water.”

Navihm had noticed this too. His elemental magic had felt strong and tangible when he channeled it into the ground and he could instinctively make it do what he wanted. It was not so with water. It slipped around his control and required a lot more concentration to manipulate.

“Again,” said Navihm and took a stance.

“Navihm, you must be tired. Perhaps we should try again next week?”

“I’m fine.” Navihm was a little tired from his practice as well as the drilling he’d done earlier in the day but if he wanted to master his magic and return home as soon as possible, he would have to push himself. “We still have a little time before the evening meal. I would like to try a few more times.”

He would have no time to practice for the rest of the day. He promised the guards that he would spar would them that night as well as finishing his normal school work.

“Very well,” said the Professor, taking her seat. “Again.”

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