Chapter 3: The Morning Class
“How long until we get there, Kurma?” Sister Cerulean stretched her arms in the air above her while yawning as she woke up from her slumber. It was still dark out and the moon was in the sky. She was also still riding in her dinghy pulled by her Familiar, Kurma, on their way to the Islands of Fire.
“Not too long now, Sister Cerulean. It’s not yet Sunrise and we’re about 30 minutes away.” Kurma responded. He was still swimming exceptionally fast.
“Alright good, we’ll make it on time. I don’t need Brother Draco freaking out on me again like last time. He is so rude! I swear he just doesn’t like anyone but himself.” Sister Cerulean crossed her arms over her chest as she rolled her eyes upward and shook her head.
“Well you know what he’s known for: Anger and his desire for a ‘Pureblood Eden’.” Kurma groaned with her.
“Such a disgusting concept. I know the other Lands are frustrating sometimes and it can be hard to interact but to want only Fire Benders to live on Eden is foolish! He needs the other Elemental Lands to keep the Balance. He, of all people, should know that. He’s even meeting me because he needs my help. I swear that man is mentally a child.” She continued on her rant.
“He definitely has some of his concepts backwards. I wonder what’s going on in his head?” Kurma affirmed her.
“I don’t know, let’s just hope we can come to an agreement on War Party Terms. Sadly, we need him as much as he needs us.” Sister Cerulean sighed.
“True.” Kurma agreed.
Only a few minutes had passed by and something was lighting up the horizon.
“Oh?” Sister Cerulean looked to her right towards the horizon. “Look! Kurma, the sun is rising!” she pointed at the bright light just barely rising above the ocean. “We’re going to be late, hurry up!” Sister Cerulean shouted at him.
“What? That’s impossible! I never get the timing wrong, I’m reading the ocean waves and the moon is still affecting them.” Kurma slowed down and raised his head out of the ocean to look towards the horizon.
“Well what do you call that!?” Sister Cerulean continued to point towards a bright yellow light coming from the horizon.
“That’s … that looks like the sun! What is going on?” Kurma slowed down even more and stared at the light.
“Exactly, there’s a first time for everything. You got your timing wrong and it’s going to cost us! Ughhh! How could you let this happen, I specifically tol—” Sister Cerulean was interrupted by Kurma.
“THAT’S NOT THE SUN! SISTER CERULEAN GET DOWN!!!” Kurma panicked and stopped swimming.
“Whhaahh!?” Sister Cerulean shrieked as her the front end of her dinghy hit then slid onto the back of Kurma’s now motionless shell. The front end of her dinghy rose upward as he immediately bucked into the air and out of the water. Sister Cerulean started falling backwards out of her dinghy. *ZZZIIIIIIISSSSS* a highly pitched whistling bolt passed right between her and Kurma, destroying the dinghy into many pieces. It looked like an arrow of lightning and made it’s way to the other side of the horizon. For a split second Sister Cerulean looked towards the horizon from where it came. It looked like the silhouette of a man with long hair holding a bow while standing up in another small dinghy. *SPLASH* Sister Cerulean fell into the ocean.
Kurma looked behind him and shouted, “Sister Cerulean!” then dove underwater going after her.
Zero was standing in the middle of a dark room. In front of him was what looked like a circular frame. Within the frame were many different colors of translucent light fading in and out. He was panting, "Syferr." he whispered. He looked down at his hand as he brought it up to his waist. In it was a silver necklace with an attached pendant. The pendant was of a white cross and a black snake wrapping around it. Tears were falling from Zero's eyes and dripping on to the pendant. He was trembling.
"Zero! Zero! Are you there? Hello? Zero?" someone's voice was calling out and surrounding him from around the entire room. Zero began to panic, his panting increased.
"What? How!? Where!?" Zero called out looking around the room. Suddenly everything start to fade. It was as if he was being pulled away from the room and it was being swallowed by darkness. "No! No, please! Stop! Don't make me go through it again!" Zero cupped his hands around each side of his head and grimaced. The darkness then engulfed him as well.
"Hey! Zero! Come on, wake up! You don't wanna be late for the Morning Class, sleepy head!" said the voice once again.
Zero's eyes burst open and his torso sprang upward from lying down on his bed, "Hhhyuuuh wha— whoa!" Zero then jumped back in his bed in sight of Syferr looking right into his eyes. He was breathing heavily, "Syferr …" he whispered while reaching for his glasses on the small stool next to his bed. He put them on, "What have I told you about doing that? You almost gave me a heart attack!" he began to scold Syferr as he started to realize he was no longer dreaming.
"Heheheh! But it's so fun! You freak out so much, ahahaha!" Syferr leaned forward with his hands on hips as he laughed and grinned at Zero. "Well anyways, come on hurry up we don't wanna be late for Morning Class, teach!" he leaned back up and gave him a thumbs up, then turned and walked towards the door.
"Right, yes. The Morning Class. I'll be sure I'm there. Now, go on. Let me get dressed and all." Zero pushed him away as he got up out of his bed and headed towards his wardrobe.
"Right on! See you there, Z!" Syferr excitedly closed the door and ran off down the hall towards the exit.
Zero undressed from his night gown and put on another set of a yellow short-sleeve shirt and brown leggings. He then put on his Elemental Coat. He stopped for a second and looked at Syferr's Elemental Coat laying on the chair. It sent a bit of a shiver down his spine. “Syferr …” he paused and muttered again. He then shut the wardrobe and headed towards his desk covered in research papers on Ether. To the left side of his desk was a wooden bookshelf full of books covering numerous topics from “Elemental Bending Basics Vol. 1” to “Eden's History & Mythology”. He walked up towards the bookshelf and pulled out a book. It was “Air Bending for Air Heads”. “Heheh.” he chuckled as he read the title then placed the book on the desk. In the back-end of the shelf that the book was blocking was a small hole the size of a drop of water. Zero put his head closer to the hole and blew some air in it. He then placed the book back on the bookshelf to re-block the hole. Suddenly, throughout the room, it sounded as if a faint whistle was being blown. Then, as it faded away, a small click went off near the door. He walked towards the door and stood in front of the candle holder mounted on the wall next to it. He then turned the candle holder to the left and another click went off. The candle holder popped open as if it was a door itself. It revealed a small cubby in the wall. Zero reached inside it and pulled out what looked like the same necklace he had just dreamed about. It was a silver necklace with a white cross and black snake wrapped around it as the pendant. It also had an oval engraved upon it.
"What does this mean? Why can't I remember anything about this necklace? Why do I even have it? And why do I keep having the same dream about it?" Zero started to shake a little. "And Syferr …" Zero grabbed the necklace tightly. "I'm starting to get worried."
Zero put the necklace back in the small opening in the wall and put the candle holder back in its original place. Another click went off and then a second later one more did as well. Zero sighed, "What do I do?" he stood there for a minute and then let out another sigh. "Alright, no need to freak out about this. It was just a dream. You've got a class to teach and Syferr's not gonna be happy if you miss out over some silly superstition." Zero stood tall and confident as he talked himself into a better mood. "You can do this." he was about to leave until he glanced at Syferr’s Elemental Coat lying on the chair. *Sigh* “Syferr, you forgot your coat again." he grabbed the red Elemental Coat and hung it over his forearm. “Lesson one of today’s class, How to Improve Your Memory, heheh.” Zero chuckled at his own joke. He then opened and walked through the door, locking it with a key from his pocket. He took a slow deep breath in and out then turned and headed down the hall.
"Good morning, Zero!" Mother Gaia called out to him from the entrance of the Dining Hall. She was still in her sleeping gown which consisted of a long-sleeve, cotton, beige top and leggings, however, she was barefoot. She had caught him just as he was heading towards the hallway to the exit.
"Oh?” Zero turned as he noticed her. “Good morning, Mother. I didn't see you, I was so focused on getting to class on time." Zero said with a half-frown on his face.
"Well no worries there, Zero, you're about an hour early." Mother Gaia giggled at his miscalculation.
"Wha— an hour early!? I can't believe that Syferr …" Zero shook his head then touched his forehead with the tips of his index and middle finger.
"It seems he was quite eager to attend today's class now that you're teaching it, Zero." She smiled at him.
"Yes, he's always excited about things isn't he?" Zero smiled a little in return, he was shaking.
Mother Gaia inspected him and tilted her head a little, "Zero?"
Zero looked up at her and nodded, "Uhm sorry, I just had a bad dream."
Mother Gaia sighed in relief, “Oh, I see. Well if you’d like to talk about it I have some time; I needed to go over the lesson plan with you anyways. I was actually just coming to see you for that. How about we have some breakfast?” she beckoned him into the dining hall.
Zero nodded at her and followed. They both sat down at the dining table in their usual seats. Zero put Syferr’s Elemental Coat in the chair beside his. There were fresh ripe fruits gathered from the morning’s harvest laying upon the table in front of them. Zero took a melon and started carving it into edible portions with a knife. Mother Gaia pulled out a folded sheet of paper and placed it on the table in front of her. Zero handed her some cut melon and proceeded to start eating some on his own.
“Thank you, Zero.” Mother Gaia said after accepting his offering of fruit.
“Sure thing.” Zero said with a delighted smile on his face. “Mmm, this is so good!” he mumbled as he ate the melon.
After taking a few bites, Mother Gaia put her hands together and interlaced her fingers then looked at Zero, “So this dream of yours?” she questioned him.
Zero swallowed his melon and froze his eyes and lips into a neutral position, “It’s the same one." he said keeping his eyes on the melon. “The exact same dream as always, this is the third time now. Not a single thing is different in it. I’m starting to get worried.”
“Hmm. That is interesting. Well you know the ancient Wolf way of interpreting dreams. Usually they are symbols of how you are feeling on the inside and they hint towards your destiny. Perhaps this is just where you are headed?” she tilted her head and raised her eyebrows at him.
“I’ve considered that … but what is strange is that the dream is like in a completely different world. One that I do not quite understand. It doesn’t feel like it is any place in Eden at all.” Zero crossed his arms in front of his chest and his eyes and lips moved to the left.
“Now that is odd. I wonder what that could mean?” Mother Gaia glanced upward to the ceiling for a moment then looked back at Zero. “Perhaps, Grandmother Gaia could better help you? Maybe you should give her a visit here soon?” she had a strange smirk on her face.
“Hmm, maybe I should visit the Wolve’s Den. I appreciate your help, Mother.”
“Anything for my children." she said, shifting her smirk into a smile.
“Now, onto this mornings lesson, what have you prepared for me?” Zero looked at her and rubbed his palms together in anticipation.
“Ah, yes, hehe!” Mother Gaia snickered. “I have it all here for you." she pulled out a folded piece of paper from her pocket and then placed it upon the table. She then put her hand on the folded paper and pushed it down to Zero.
“Okay … but why are you giggling?” Zero grabbed the folded piece of paper and held it in his hand as he gazed at her.
“No reason, haha!” Mother Gaia shook her hands back and forward and then tried to cover her laugh with one of them. “But don’t worry about looking at it now, it’s more appropriate to open it when you get to the classroom. I just wanted to say, I love you, Zero, and I’m proud of you. I trust in your ability more than you think and I’m looking forward to see what happens with the Morning Class from here on out.” Mother Gaia smiled and half-bowed to Zero, a small giggle coming out even at the end.
“Okay …” Zero looked at her with an eyebrow raised and a smiling frown. “Well … anyways thank you, Mother, I really appreciate that. You are very kind and I look forward to this as well.” Zero put the piece of folded paper in his coat pocket and got up from his chair. “I think I’ll go for a walk outdoors for a bit to clear my head and then head to class. Thank you for the meal and the lesson plan! Have a good morning, Mother." He half-bowed to her then picked up Syferr’s Elemental Coat from the chair next to him and started walking towards the door.
“Enjoy your walk, hehe!” she said in return as Zero was walking away.
“Thanks! …” Zero said with a hand in one pocket and the back of his other waving towards her as he shook his head left and right.
An hour had passed and Zero was walking through the door to the Morning Class. It was another domed building but much smaller than the one used for the Night Class. It was about half the size but still was in-ground and had a glass domed ceiling for it’s main light source. The door also was on the wall to the side of the Instructor’s desk rather than at the top of the stair seats.
Zero looked at the class around him and noticed Syferr and Seren both sitting in the front of the classroom. He kept a goggled stare at the both of them. Not only was it odd that Syferr was in the front of the classroom but Seren was also here for the first class? She needed more time than that to settle in didn't she? She only did just arrive yesterday. He then examined the rest of the classroom and noticed an even greater odd detail: It was empty. Syferr and Seren were the only ones there. "What …?" Zero asked aloud as if his question was obviously understood.
"Z!" Syferr shouted as he jumped out of his seat and ran up to Zero. "What took you so long, I went to get you an hour ago!" he was smiling and with his arms behind his head. “Oh hey, my coat! I forgot all about it, thanks, Z!” he grabbed the Red Elemental Coat from Zero’s arm and started to put it on.
"Well one, Mother Gaia notified me I had an extra hour before class started — thank you. And two, you’re Elemental Coat is important to wear here in Gaia, it helps people of different Lands know where you’re from. Anyways, what the hell is going on here; where is the rest of the class?" he lifted his arms in the air.
"Dunno man, I'm just as confused as you are mate."
"Erm, Zero?" Seren whispered across the room.
"Yes, Seren? Do you know something?" Zero looked at her. She was wearing her Blue Elemental Coat and had her tan leather satchel hanging from her left shoulder, she seemed prepared.
"Well, Han came to see me this morning."
"Yes, uhm he told me to be sure that I come here no matter what and that to tell you that he says 'Congratulations on your promotion'."
"Congratulations on my promotion? What does he mean by that?" Zero scratched his head.
Seren frowned at Zero and softly shrugged.
"Well you two wait here, I'm going to go ask Mother Gaia if she knows what's going on." Zero turned around and tried to open the door. It was sealed. "What the hell? The door is sealed? Okay, something is definitely going on here." Zero backed away from the door. Immediately after, the room started to become darker. The domed glass ceiling started to be covered by something dark and thick.
*Gasp* Seren ran towards Syferr and Zero, “What’s happening?” she asked aloud.
“Whoa!” Syferr jumped back as the room became pitch black. “Ah!” something had touched his arm.
“It’s me, Syferr.” Seren whispered.
“Oh, hi, Seren! You spooked me, haha.” Syferr chuckled.
“Okay everyone stay calm, don’t make any sudden movements.” Zero whispered for only Syferr and Seren to hear.
“Z! What’s going on, who turned out the sun!?” Syferr shouted. A small candle like flame appeared from his index finger providing a small source of light. Everyone could just barely see each other’s faces.
“Shh! Keep it down, we don’t know who is listening or who is out there. The air pressure around us hasn’t changed, so I don’t believe there’s anyone else in here. But just in case prepare yourselves to fight, that includes you too, Seren. I know we haven’t had any time to learn each other’s styles but we’ll just have to improvise.”
“Right.” Seren whispered sternly while putting herself into a defensive stance. “But who would want to attack us though? Here in Gaia, of all places?”
“I don’t know, we’ve mostly had full support of all the nations for our mission. I’m just as lost as you.” Zero responded to her question. “We can’t make a move with limited light, Syferr, can you give us more than just a finger?”
"Sure thing, Z!" Syferr shouted as he took a deep breath in. The room began to light up much brighter as a source of orange-red light illuminated his body from within.
“Wait, no, Syferr, what are you?” Zero’s eyes bulged as he realized what Syferr was about to do.
Syferr cupped his fists together and immediately let out his breath. *SHWROOOOOOOOOOSHHH!!!* A scorching burst of flames were shooting out of his mouth, through his cupped fists, and hitting the door. The heat was so intense, Zero jumped back out of the way.
Zero then quickly looked back at Seren. “Back away quick!” Zero shouted to her. She obliged with no hesitation. Zero immediately thrust his fist towards the burst of flames hitting the door. *FWUUUUUUUUUUUU!!!* The flames began to grow twice as big. He was bending air into the flames, giving them more oxygen. The door had then melted down and fell off of its hinges. It revealed a tan hard clay like substance blocking the way through the door. “Clay …?” Zero inquired.
The room became pitch black once more as Syferr breathed in and shouted, “Alright! We got the door down, woohoo! Now, let’s melt that clay!” He then took in another breath, lighting the room up once more.
“No, Syferr, stop!” Zero shouted to him.
“Hoo-uh?” Syferr mumbled as he was holding his breath, glanced at Zero. “Woo-uhs wong?”
“Hehe.” Seren put her hand over her mouth as she started laughing at Syferr’s inability to speak properly.
“Hold your breathe for now, Syferr, all we are doing is making it worse with heat.” Zero said with his arms across his chest.
“Woo-uh doo oo men?” Syferr mumbled again, still looking at Zero.
Zero walked up towards the clay in the door and knocked on it. “Exactly what I thought. It’s incredibly hard. Heat is only making the clay stronger … Damn it! Just our luck!” Zero grumbled.
“Zee. I don’ nuh’ ha’ mu’ lon uh I cuh hol thus.” Syferr’s voice shook.
“Just a few more seconds, Syferr.” Seren said as she walked closer to the door. She put her hand on the clay and felt it for a few seconds. “No worries, I’ve got this guys.”
“Oh?” Zero blinked his eyes at her.
Seren pulled out what looked like a pouch from her satchel. She popped out the cork sealing it and put it in her pocket. She moved her hands in a waving motion as if she was guiding something out of the pouch.
“Guhhs I cunn …” Syferr’s face turned blood red and steam started to whistle out from his ears. He was holding his throat as if he was in pain … seconds after, Syferr let out his breath — he was facing Seren.
“SEREN, LOOK OUT!” Zero shouted to her as he grabbed her to push her out of the way.
“Huh—?” Seren said as she turned to face Zero. It was too late. The fire was already inches away from them both. Zero pulled her down to the ground and covered her with his body, closing his eyes out of fear of the pain. *SHWROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSHHH!!!* Intense heat blasted all around them as the crackling flames devoured the air and surrounded their bodies.
“AHHHHHHHH!” Zero shrieked as he felt the heat inch closer to his body.
*SSSSSSSSHHHHHHHHHHHHhhhhhh…* The sound of steam started to emit from where the blast hit.
A few seconds had passed and Seren backed away out from Zero’s embrace. “It’s okay, Zero, look." she pointed towards the direction the flame had come from.
Zero looked up in awe. Water had come out of her pouch and surrounded both Seren and Zero together. It was as if they were inside of a giant water bubble. The fire had hit the bubble and started turning into steam.
“We’re okay, my water protected us.” Seren’s face grew a smile.
“That’s incredible …” Zero murmured, was still still crouched on the ground. “It’s like it acted all on it’s own." he added.
“Hehe, thanks.” Seren said scratching her head. “I’m pretty good at defensive techniques, as well as healing ones too." she reached out her arm to help Zero stand up.
“Thanks.” He grabbed her arm and stood up to his feet. “And thanks for saving our lives at that." he said.
“Hey … guys are you okay!?” Syferr ran up to them. He had lit all five of his fingers this time as an alternative to creating a fire inside his whole body. “I am so sorry! I just couldn’t hold it in and it was actually starting to tickle me so I began to laugh a bit and it just spewed!” he exclaimed.
“Yeah. We’re okay, Syferr! No thanks to you, a tickle!? Are you serious!?” Zero threw his hands in the air as he criticized Syferr.
“Sorry, haha …” Syferr rubbed the back of his head with his right hand.
“NO! Not this time, Syferr! I am your Teacher now and you need to learn self-control. You could’ve killed both of us with that blast and all because of a tickle!?” Zero exploded at him with rage.
“Z, I didn’t mean—”
“You didn’t mean!? You never mean to! But it ALWAYS happens. There is ALWAYS this part of you that gets yourself and others into dangerous situations. It’s like you crave danger!” Zero began to pant in anger.
“If I may …” Seren jumped in between them and butted into the conversation. She looked at both of them and extended her palms out to each of them as well. She then looked at Syferr, “Syferr, I think what Zero is trying to say is that you take extreme measures sometimes and those decisions come with extreme consequences.”
Syferr blinked at Seren with a blank face.
“It’s like planting a seed. Depending on what you sow, different plants will grow. In this case, if you take extreme actions you will get extreme results.” Seren smiled at him.
“Oh, yeah I guess that makes sense!” Syferr began to form a smile. “Well look! I made a brighter light with just my fingers this time. That’s less extreme right?” he chuckled while showing the five fingertips he had fire emitting from.
“Thank you, Seren. I apologize, I may have lost my temper there for a bit. I just really care about Syferr you see.” Zero had lowered his arms and slowed his breathing.
Seren looked at Zero and smiled at him too, “Sure thing. But back to what’s important, we still don’t know what’s going on, we could be in danger. We should get out of here as soon as we can.” Seren lowered her arms and turned and faced back towards the door.
“Oh that’s right!” Zero covered his mouth with his hand. I got so distracted by the chaos I completely forgot the situation.”
“Haha, no worries, Z! Seren said she could handle it, remember?” Syferr had his goofy grin on his face as he put his non lit hand in his pocket.
“Well … I could’ve handled it. But I’m not sure anymore. Most of my water was burned up by your fire.” Seren hunched her shoulders forward and dropped her head downward.
“Ughhh! Of course!” Zero put one hand on his forehead and another on his side. He stared at Syferr and shook his head.
“Heheh … heh.” Syferr looked away to the left as he frowned towards the same direction.
“If only we were in Apas, there’s always water nearby or in the air.” Seren said as she started to think. “Well … there is one thing I could do, but …” she put her index finger to her lips and her eyes looked downward to the side.
“Oh? But what?” Zero questioned her.
“Well … I can use the water from my body. I haven’t mastered it yet though. Getting the balance right to where I don’t get dehydrated is a little tricky. Sister Cerulean is always on my case about it and insists that carrying a pouch of water was always for beginner Benders …” she frowned and looked at the ground below her.
“Well, extra water is a good thing. If it wasn’t for that pouch of water, we may be torches right now.” Zero glanced at Syferr. “Do what you feel is best, Seren. We won’t push you to do something you’re uncomfortable with. Plus, we don’t want to risk you blacking out right now, we need all the able bodies and minds we have right now.” Zero glanced at Syferr again this time chuckling a little with a small smile.
Syferr caught his laugh and smiled back at him.
“Oh! Seren, I know!” Syferr walked right up to her and showed her his body. It was soaking wet. “You can use my sweat!
“Oh gross!” Zero’s body shook as he wrinkled his entire face and frowned at idea.
“All of that heat inside made me sweat like crazy! Just use the rest of your pouch water and my sweat! It’s not like I can reabsorb it and that way you don’t have to dehydrate yourself! Heheheh!” Syferr said with a wide-open smile.
“Uhm, yeah I could do that. Alright, good thinking, Syferr! And your sweat also has salt in it too which means it will be easier to pull the water from the clay!” Seren said with excitement. “Such a brilliant idea!”
“A brilliantly disgusting idea to say the least.” Zero said as he stuck his tongue out and made a hacking noise his throat.
Both Syferr and Seren looked at him and smiled.
“Well go on, don’t let me stop you. Ughh.” Zero shook all over again.
“Okay, here goes!” Seren moved her hands around her pouch again and guided the remaining water out. The water moved towards Syferr’s skin and clothing. It merged together and made his clothes even more soaked than they already were. Seconds later, water started emerging from his clothes and left them all together. Syferr’s body and clothes were completely dry! The water formed a bubble in mid air. Seren looked towards the bubble and then towards the door way. She then thrust her right palm face up towards the clay. Right as she did the water jumped towards the center of the clay that was sealing the entrance. The clay absorbed the water.
“Wow! That is amazing! It just went in so effortlessly!” Zero awed at her Water Bending Technique.
“Ooooohhh!” Syferr joined in with goggled eyes.
“Hehe, thanks guys! But I’m not finished yet!” Seren said as she moved her hands around in front of her. *Crack* A little pebble had chipped from the clay seal and fallen to the ground. Seren then pulled her right palm back in towards her body this time clenching it into a fist. Once again, the water immediately jumped out of the center of the clay but this time, it formed a much bigger bubble.
“Oh wowww! That much water was in there?” Syferr gasped.
“Uh huh!” Seren nodded with a smile. She then waved her arms around the air and guided the water into her pouch. “And it’s almost full again! Hehe!” she giggled.
“Alright … so what did you do, exactly?” Zero inquired.
“Well, why not let Syferr answer that?" she smiled and winked at Zero.
“Oh? Ohhh I see. So that’s what the crack was about. Haha, alright then! Go for it, Syferr, do what you do best. And this time, it’s okay.” Zero said with his arms crossing his chest and a smug grin on his face.
“What do you mean, Z?” Syferr gave him a blank stare. He then looked towards Seren and shrugged.
“I can’t tell if you’re serious or—” Zero was interrupted.
“Well either way, let’s see if I can break it now!” Syferr shouted. Fire engulfed his right fist as he pulled it back.
“Wait, Syf— never mind.” Zero closed his eyes and let out a breath as he dropped his head down a bit.
*CRIC—KULLLFFF* Syferr hit the door with his fiery fist, shattering all of the clay seal into thousands of little grains. It was as if the seal turned into dust. However, the force he used behind his punch was so hard he fell face-forward into the ground in front of the entrance.
“Oww! Ow! Ow!” Syferr yelled in pain, pulling his face from the dirt on the ground. He then looked up to see a blond haired man, wearing an Earth Elemental Coat, standing directly in front of him. “Heheheh, guys we made it through! Oh hey, Han!” Syferr laughed as he looked up towards the man. Han’s feet were now right in front of Syferr’s face on the ground. Zero and Seren had walked out of the entrance way.
"Ah, so the famous Dirt Demon, Han was behind this the whole time?" Zero crossed his arms and smirked at Han.
“Dirt Demon …?” Seren mumbled to herself.
"Well done, Syferr, Seren and Zero. You're skills are in top shape as expected. Though, sloppy as ever huh, Syferr?” Han looked down to Syferr at his feet with a grin. “I think that's enough then.”
“Enough? Are we being tested for something?” Zero asked.
Syferr stood up from the ground and wiped the dirt off of his Elemental Coat. He and Seren both looked at Han, waiting for answer.
“Actually, yes. Zero, did you not read the lesson plan for this morning?” Han questioned. “Mother Gaia did give it to you right?”
“Huh? Oh, the lesson plan! No I forgot all about it with all the commotion. I was so confused by what was going on, I thought I’d just go ask her in person. That’s when you sealed the room.” Zero responded.
“Ah. Well, now is a good time.” Han smiled at him.
Zero pulled out the piece of folded paper he was given by Mother Gaia earlier that morning. He unfolded it and read it aloud:
Zero, I want to thank you for all of your hard work and dedication to Gaia. Unfortunately, we have to cancel the Morning Class. There are too many complications with other nations as it is right now and none of the Three other Leaders of Eden are willing to send any new Initiates to become Monks of Gaia. Last semesters Initiates will still be staying and Han will instruct them in the Night Class. In light of this, I’m making you Captain of Squad Zero. Kind of cool, huh? Your name being a number and all and the squad being centered around you? Anyways, your squad will be made up of you, Zero, and to Han’s evaluation, Syferr and Seren. Your duties will be to continue research on Ether and Investigate any Suspicious or Unusual Activity that may or may not threaten Gaia as a whole. I figured you would enjoy this more anyways, as most of your time can be focused back upon Ether.
Han will be constructing an evaluation for Syferr and Seren in place of the Morning Class today. Be wary, he may choose to include you in it so if you notice things getting ‘dirty’, — haha! — don’t worry, just play along. Whether they pass or not, Han will explain the rest and give you your first mission … and this one is close to heart. Please complete it with care. I’m trusting you, my children.
“Squad Zero? She wants us to investigate suspicious or unusual activity? What does that mean, do we have enemies?” Zero held the paper in his hand and looked up towards Han.
“Awe yeah! We get to be on a team together, Z! And no more classes, this is the best! Woohoo!” Syferr was jumping up and down with his arms stretched out towards the sky.
“A squad …” Seren said to herself.
“Yes, Mother is growing more concerned by the day. Ever since news of our findings of Ether Crystals, it seems the Three other Leaders of Eden are growing weary of our cause. They don’t want to send any more people who could possibly be swayed away from their own land. We believe they fear us building an army to take over Eden. Wouldn’t you agree, Seren?” Han eyed her down.
Seren tensed up a bit and clenched her fist as she pull it in close to her chest, “Uhm, well Sister Cerulean did mention something like that when she chose me as her delegate. She said she wanted someone who she could trust rather than people who she had no personal ties to.” Seren was looking down to the ground a little with a bit as she spoke. “I didn’t know that she wouldn’t send any Initiates though." she added looking up once more.
“It’s alright, Seren.” Han gave her a smile.
Seren’s relaxed her body a little and nodded.
“I see. So the other nations are concerned we’ll use the power of Ether against them. And so that’s why they only want to send delegates they highly trust. That explains why all of us our Children of the Four Leaders. There’s no better people you could choose to do this.” Zero said thinking outloud. “So what was the point of that test then? I’m not sure I understand.”
“Oh that? Right, of course. First, let me clear the area.” Han said as he raised his right arm out towards the domed ceiling of the Morning Classroom. He raised it higher and the thick mud immediately rose from the domed ceiling. He then cast his arm to the right of him quickly and all of the mud followed suit. It then seemed as if Han was guiding it downward. The mud started to disappear into the ground. It bore it’s way down into the ground through a hole the size of a coin.
“Oh wow! That is incredible! I’ve never seen somebody control the Earth so easily.” Seren mouth had fell open a little bit, her eyes gazing at the disappearing mud.
“Thanks.” Han appreciated her words. The mud had finished reuniting with the Earth. “Okay then, let’s go into the classroom. It’s best we discuss these details somewhere private.”
Everyone followed Han’s lead back into the Morning Classroom. With the mud gone from the ceiling the room was well lit once again. “What about the door, Han? Z and I kinda destroyed it trying to get out, haha.” Syferr pointed towards the open doorway.
“Oh that.” Han waved his hand upward and the clay pebbles from earlier came back together and created another clay seal just as hard as the original.
Seren gasped in amazement and thought, No way! That’s impossible, I removed the water from that clay … how did it return? And it’s a glazed seal? She then turned her gaze towards Han and stared at him from afar.
Everyone followed Han to the middle of the classroom and sat on the stair seats. “Alright. So what you all just went through was a test. Mother Gaia asked me to prepare a situation where all of your personal skills could be tested.” Han said looking at everyone. “It was also a test of team work and trust. We needed to know if you three could work together as a functional squad. Zero was supposed to be aware of it, being chosen Squad Leader, haha but I guess it turned out better that he wasn’t. We didn’t feel the need to assess you personally and I think our reasons have been affirmed.” Han looked at Zero and nodded at him.
“Oh I see. Well that explains it all.” Zero nodded back.
“Awe man, that’s right! A test … well, how did we do?” Syferr elongated his eyes at Han.
“You passed.” Han said with a gentle smile on his face.
“For real!?” Syferr jumped out of his seat in excitement, as if he had never passed a test in his life.
“Yes, for real.”
“Allllright! Wooohooo! We passed! We passed!” Syferr jumped up and down with even more excitement.
“Well that’s good!” Seren joined in and clapped her hands.
“Everyone of you demonstrated incredible team work skills. Primarily, by trusting each other. You all prioritized the teams safety first and acted accordingly. And even when some accidents occurred, you all mostly handled it pretty well. This is what makes a team strong and unbreakable.” Han’s voice was stern.
“Well thank you, Han. That means a lot!” Zero beamed. “But wait, how did you know what was going on?”
“Vibrations. The Earth that I bend and myself are like one being. I can tune into it and feel everything that happens near it. I can interpret the vibrations of words, movements, breaths, etc. It becomes my eyes.” Han explained.
“Wow! No way, Han! I never knew that!” Zero’s mouth dropped open.
“Cool!” Syferr grinned at Han.
“That’s one handy ability to have! Are you sure Mother Gaia doesn’t want You as Squad Leader?” Zero added in.
“I’m sure. I don’t possess the Leadership abilities that you do, Zero. I’m more … introverted.” Han said scratching his head and laughing a little.
“Oh, well I guess that makes sense.”
This guy … his ability is incredible! Seren thought to herself.
“And besides, I like to stay here so I can assist Mother with things.” Han added.
“That’s understandable, someone with your skill level is definitely a good choice to protect Gaia.” Zero concluded.
“Heheh, thanks, Zero. Alright, well anyways let’s get back to what’s important. Your mission.” Han glanced at them all. He then turned his gaze towards Seren, “Seren, I will be straight forward with you …”
“Huh? What did I do?” Seren’s eyes bounced up as she jumped at his direct approach.
“Part of this test was for you as well. We had to know if we could trust you. Thus, I set up this test specifically to give you opportunities where you could have harmed or maybe even taken hostage, Syferr or Zero. Instead, you ended up saving Zero from harm and you even exceeded expectations by destroying my clay seal. I am thoroughly impressed. And I say this for Mother Gaia as well, you have my trust.” Han stood up and half-bowed to her.
“Oh … thank you. I am so honored.” Seren stood up from her seat and bowed in return.
“As are we.” Zero stood up as well and bowed in response to her. “You saved me from harm, I am deeply appreciative." he added. “Syferr, come on!” Zero whispered a command to him.
“Oh, right!” Syferr stood up and bowed with them. “Thanks, Seren!” he said as he looked at the floor.
Seren looked up in surprise. Someone of authority was bowing to her? Was that even possible? What did that mean? How should she respond?
“Oh … it was nothing. Don’t worry about it.” Seren gave an awkward smile and waved her hands back and forth in front of her.
“Thank you, Seren. Sometimes I kind of lose control of myself and I put you two in danger. I am sorry.” Syferr added in.
“Wow, Syferr, … good for you.” Zero glanced and smiled at him.
“Hehe … I don’t know what to say.” Seren said breathing in heavily.
Zero and Syferr then sat back down. Seren soon followed suit and everyone gave their attention back to Han.
Han had returned to his seat as well. His face grew very sincere, “Okay. So the mission.”