A young woman stood alone in a large crop field in the midst of night. Elaina was a girl little older than eighteen years of age. She had silver hair with bangs tucked behind her ears and two braided pigtails that fell to her shoulders. Gentle blue eyes peered into the night sky, taking in the bright lights. But they did not belong to sparkling stars. Large manmade objects in the form of stations, colonies, and satellites circled Earth’s atmosphere. Despite living in the rural countryside, Elaina only rarely saw many stars in the night.
And then there was the moon. Over a thousand years ago, during the Clockwork War, a good quarter of the moon was devastated. Massive explosions tore chunks out of the surface which could still be seen orbiting what remained. Surprisingly, the moon was still recolonized. People were far too persistent at times. It is written as the greatest war in the history of this world, and perhaps one of the most tragic and terrifying. But that is a story of another time. This is a story about a champion…
It was nine years ago…
A young Elaina stood crying at the old dying man’s bed. “Grandpa! You are not going to leave me, right?”
The silver haired man turned his head and a bright smile took his face. He paid no attention to the others in the room with the same hair and eyes as the man and girl. All he cared about was his beautiful granddaughter. “Elaina, my shining light. This is not the end. I shall go to my ancestors, as they await to welcome me to their meadows.”
“It is where the most beautiful light is found. Remember this Elaina, light shall overcome all, but only after it stands side by side with the dark…”
Elaina was not sure what those words meant, but she had never forgotten them and continued to hold them close, as if they were the riddle to a secret. Perhaps she would someday be able to find this light that her grandfather spoke. She slipped a hand into a pocket of her skirt and removed a small device. Swiping her hand above it, three circular pieces of glass sprouted from the device on three sides. A blue light shone through and serving as a hologram, recordings of tournaments past surrounded her on all sides. A man and woman emerged and they began to battle in the ruins of an ancient city. It was as intense as any battle came. She spent hours watching the same man and woman battle one another. Ten battles that spread out over ten years and always the same result. The woman always began by delivering a good fight, but half way through the man would begin to overwhelm her as he did with any other. The last two very short recordings involved two different women, both of whom failed to offer any true competition.
“Someday, I will battle on that stage” she said aloud.
It was at that moment that a large block of ice came hurdling into her back, lifting her off her feet and sending her flying through the air, landing onto her front in the smooth dirt. A man with unkempt silver hair emerged laughing. He carried a single braid that was tucked behind his right ear.
“You are going to battle on that stage?” he laughed again. “Don’t fool yourself Elaina! That stage is reserved for Empresses and the Eternal Emperor. You have never been in a tournament in your life!”
Elaina stood up and began patting away the dirt. No wounds or bruises marked her body, she simply shook away the sudden shock. “Well, well, the delinquent of the clan. I haven’t seen you in a few days stupid Miles.”
“Did the clan idiot just call me stupid?” he said more to himself than Elaina. “I just sent you to the ground with a single chunk of ice. Better get practicing.”
“I don’t even have an emblem! I was not prepared, stupid Miles!” she screamed as her faced reddened and she stomped her foot to the ground.
“The top magician competitors do not always train with emblems! And they are always prepared” he glared. She could feel his presence grip her as his mana readied for a duel. Crouching down, he held his hands like claws and what seemed like a storm of ice emerged from his palms. “You are prepared now. So let’s train… future Empress.”
Without a word, Elaina surged toward Miles at a speed that would have been considered impossible in ancient times. A bubble of water surrounded her and began to harden.
“Ooh, so she really was prepared. Still too easy though.” The ice turned to fire and two large streams of flame came hurtling toward Elaina. On impact, heated fog emerged around the woman but she responded quickly. She spun as if performing a dance and spread her arms out creating violent currents of wind that successfully dispersed the fog, redirected the flames... ripped out trees and crops... and successfully lit the field on fire! Elaina stood frozen with a horrified face. Turning she saw Miles jumping the fence and leaving only three words, “I am gone.”
“W-w-w-wait! You stupid Miles! Ah! Ah! What do I do!? I don’t know any recovery magic!” Needless to say, this was not the light her grandfather spoke.
© Copyright 2017 Sean R Arnold. All rights reserved.
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