Two years later in training, we were approaching what was called the threshold. This would be a test of some sort, which would decide whether we would become Lightcasters or not.
We were tested one at a time, maybe five to ten during a single day. While waiting we ran through basic practice over and over again. The order by which we were chosen was not dictated by how good we were, but how popular - those with most friends were selected last, mostly so that nobody would feel alone while waiting, which could take months, but also for another reason.
What we did had seemed like magic at first, but through practice and theory it became commonplace for us, just like using a key in a door might seem like magic to someone who doesn't know what a lock is.
The days went by, and we sat in the classes, going through some old theory bits again, or reiterating the same practices. Then an Elder would come to the door and call for someone. We never saw this person again. Someone of us even sneaked out of the campus and visited some nearby bars, and asked some Drifters whether these people were seen. If the Elders heard about this, they did not bother to mention about it.
Then, there were only about twenty of us left.
"Now, place your hands in front of you, palms facing each other. Concentrate on the space between. Let your thoughts flow through your arms. Keep your hands still. Concentrate".
Twenty small balls of light lit the room. Creating one was one thing, keeping it stable or growing it was another. Some of us could grow a ball as big as their heads, but none could hold such stable for long. Sooner or later it would grow unstable and 'feel' slippery, then fade away.
Then my name was called. The Elder escorted me to another door, which led into a normal class room. Three elders sat there, one at the back of the room, two others by the wall on either side. I had never seen the one on the back of the room before, but the other two were teachers. Only one table remained in the center of the room, and there was a vase on it.
"You have entered the threshold. Please walk to the center of the room. If you leave this room tonight, you will become a Lightcaster".
I did so. The Elder's voice was grim and tired. It was well past noon and they might have time to test another one after me, but probably not more.
Another Elder, one on my left continued with a soft, experienced voice, "Extend your right hand, palm forward. Concentrate on the air just beyond your hand".
This was something I'd never done before. Nevertheless, I could see a tiny light glowing between my fingers. The elders glanced at each other, the one on my left had a slight smirk on her face. The one at the end of the room nodded.
Now, the one on my right said, "Without breaking your concentration, close your hand, making a fist". All of the elders leaned forward. I closed my hand, and a one and a half meter long spike of light extended from my fist. I remained still, keeping my concentration.
"Now, hit the vase with your sword". I did so with a slow, steady movement. The vase was neatly split in two, falling apart. Then I opened my hand, and the spike vanished.
The room was in silence for a while, then the Elder at the end of the room cleared his throat and said, "What you did just now must never be done. You will never practice this, never talk about it to anyone of any Art, even your own".
"Elder, this was so.. simple. Why such caution?"
Sighing, the Elder answered, "Some, when learning this become destructive, others self-destructive. Yet others show too much joy for finding that they have a convenient weapon. You must never even practice this or you will be tempted to use it in self-defense. If you ever hear of anyone practicing it, you must report it to an Elder".
"Elder, but why?"
"There must be a balance between Arts. If this was revealed, others might think that we are above them. We must remain harmless."
After another short silence the Elders glanced at each other and nodded. "You have passed the threshold, Lightcaster.", the one at the end said, continuing, "Please exit through the right door".
I opened the door and went through. Something occurred to me then, and I almost stumbled. What if I had shown joy? How many of my friends were still alive?
Beyond the door I found a lady in leather armor. "Oh, you're early. Lightcaster, I'm Sary, your Skybreeder. I will take you to the Central, where you will finish your training".
"You mean -"
"But I've never flown before -"
"Yes, I know. Come, we have plenty of time".
I was asked to continue the 'drifter', and this bit came to mind one day. This might actually become something if I do some actual research first =)
I really, really, really should write more often.