Chapter 45: Sprout
Wednesday, November 19
Dawn hadn’t used trance magic since Saturday, when she’d managed to keep it under control. She wanted to experiment more and see if it would make her tired, like it had before, but she hadn’t had much chance to practice, and anyway she suspected that it would only make her tired if it went out of control, and there was no way to be safe letting that happen unless one of the magic professors was around. Professor Lal probably already suspected that she had been messing with other kinds of magic; she didn’t want to give her more evidence.
But it seemed like she was always a little bit in trance these days. She had a low-level awareness of the ambient magic all around her, and she felt like she was glimpsing everyone’s magical potential out of the corners of her eyes. She did see a few different people whose inherent magic might have been distributed throughout their bodies like Professor Lal’s and Edie’s, but she never got a good look at them, and some of them, if they weren’t faeries, were at least in the company of faeries at the time.
So she was really tempted to use that magic to help her in the second earth magic class. But she firmly told herself not to do it. She didn’t want it going out of control again, and Professor Lal wasn’t judging her on her abilities, but on her willingness to work.
That day Professor Lal walked into the class with a large bowl in her hands. “Today is your more advanced earth magic practice,” she announced, walking down through the desks and placing something from the bowl on each desk. When she reached Dawn, she saw they were seeds; she got an acorn, while Roe’s appeared to be a sunflower seed, and the guy on her other side had a small seed Dawn didn’t recognize.
“You will attempt to force growth—either magical growth or accelerated growth, the distinction is not important, though you will learn more about it if you take the intermediate elementalism class—from the seed you see before you.” Professor Lal held up a seed in her hand, and a tiny green sprout grew from it. “You do not need water or soil, though if you wish you may experiment with creating both or either to assist you, especially if you find you have difficulty. Not all of you will have the skill or magical ability to do this, so do not be discouraged. If you have not succeeded in creating any growth by the time approximately half the class period has passed, I will ask you to create a stone or large crystal again. You may begin.”
Dawn looked down at her acorn. She couldn’t help being glad she’d gotten something she could recognize, though she didn’t know if she’d be able to grow a recognizable oak tree. But she could try, though she wasn’t entirely certain how to start. With all the other elements she’d been able to picture what she was creating—well, she couldn’t exactly picture air, but she could picture its effects. She wasn’t really sure what her sprout would look like, if she even succeeded in creating one.
At least, she thought, it would be green. And small, growing slowly… not slowly, really. Much faster than it would in nature. But growing out of the acorn more slowly than, say, she could move her finger.
She focused on the acorn and pictured its skin splitting, a tiny sprout reaching up for air and sunlight. She didn’t know where on the acorn a sprout would emerge, so she pictured it over and over again, sometimes showing the sprout reaching through the cap, sometimes showing it pushing the cap off, sometimes with it shooting through the side, sometimes with it coming out the tiny point at the end.
She kept focusing, though she was getting distracted from time to time, both with her awareness of the magic around her (the seeds, she realized, each had quite a bit of stored magic) and with her knowledge that time was passing. She kept her eyes determinedly on the acorn, but she worried that she wouldn’t be able to do it before half the class period had ended. She could probably create a stone, but this would be so much cooler.
She pushed away those thoughts and resettled her mind. Growth, she told herself, or maybe the acorn. Magical growth…
Time seemed to stretch on, but then, quite suddenly, the acorn’s skin split open, like a tiny earthquake. A sprout inched tentatively into the air. Dawn let out the breath she’d been trying not to hold in a quiet, triumphant, “Ha!” She kept her focus, her magic, on the sprout, but she was grinning to herself. She’d done it.