Chapter 15: Buckets
Monday, November 10
Dawn was quiet and sleepy all through breakfast and coming to class on Monday morning. She’d been up later than she intended to reading the Miranda Swick book—of course, the fact that she’d ended up spending a couple of hours with Rico before even beginning her homework hadn’t helped. (It had been worth it, though. With their workloads increasing as the semester went on, time with Rico was harder and harder to come by.)
She had been able to understand what she was reading—though she’d had to look up a word or two every chapter—but she wasn’t sure yet how to apply it. Certainly, she couldn’t apply it while simultaneously doing the work Professor Lal wanted them to do. Before class quite started, while everyone was waiting for the professor to appear, she tried it; she sat straight in her chair with her feet firmly planted on the floor, closed her eyes, and reached down for the energy of the earth, but the chatter in the room made it difficult for her to concentrate, and before she could find anything, the professor appeared.
“Good morning, class,” Professor Lal said. She had, as usual, gotten everyone’s attention simply by walking into the room. “Today’s class is fairly straightforward; it is, once again, an attempt to increase your use of the element. You will be filling your buckets with water—but do try to do it slowly. The buckets are not enchanted to prevent spills. In fact, your goals today are twofold; create larger amounts of water, and learn to stop and start the creation of water.” Professor Lal held out her two hands, palms facing, the left above the right. Water poured from her left hand for a moment, gushing downward, but vanished once it hit the right palm. After a moment, it stopped. “Just so. But you will not be expected to cause the water to vanish yet, of course. Brian, will you please pass out the buckets?”
Dawn’s bucket, she noted when it was on her desk, was scorched in several places. Someone else had evidently had an out-of-control fire last week. She stared down into it with her arms still at her sides, considering. She’d had so much trouble with the initial creation of water that she wasn’t sure she’d be able to do this. But she knew how to create water now, right? And fire had been harder the second time, but that difference had been due to the origami dragon. She hadn’t signed up for extra tutoring with Professor Lal over the weekend, but maybe she should have.
She held her hands over the bucket and reached into her mind for her magic. There it was, in the back of her head, glowing and fluttering. This was the hard part; getting a hold of it, making it do her will. It was slippery and quick and she kept losing her grip. At least stopping the water wasn’t a problem; she managed to fill the bottom her bucket with about an inch of water in between stops and starts, but every time she let go of the magic, the flow would stop again. At least it didn’t seem to vanish, like the fire had.
She was trying again when there was a loud gushing sound from her left—like a waterfall. Dawn turned her head just in time to see the water in Corrie’s bucket overtake the sides and cascade over her desk and onto the floor. It splashed toward her, and she tried to jump out of the way, but it lapped up her legs. She yelled involuntarily and jumped up on her chair, trying to see what Corrie was doing. Her hands were tightly fisted, but it seemed that water was still pouring from them. Her lips were moving, but if she was speaking aloud, Dawn couldn’t hear it over the rushing of the water.
Dawn looked around for the professor. (On her other side, Roe had also climbed onto her chair, and so had some of the people in the row behind them. The water was spreading quickly across the floor, but not everyone appeared to have noticed yet.) Unfortunately, Professor Lal was at the very opposite corner of the classroom, coaching Lin. “Professor Lal!” Dawn called, cupping her hands around her mouth in hopes of amplifying her voice. “We have a flood over here!”
It took the professor a moment to turn, so Dawn wasn’t sure whether it was her voice or simply the fast-approaching water that made her notice, but when she did, she raced across the room, seemingly heedless of her expensive-looking leather boots, and grabbed Corrie’s hands in both of hers. The water flowing from Corrie instantly shut off, and the noise subsided as the last of the water splashed from the bucket onto the floor.