She tightened her doeskin gloves with an air of cool confidence. It was the feline appearance of her species that made this no difficult task, but if one notices the varying changes of countenance that her kind undergoes between flits of emotion, it was easy to scry that the mage had the confidence that only comes from practice at length: enough to take this final examination without any of the apprehension seen by most of her peers who previously waited in the room adjoined to the judging hall. As she clasped her gloved hand into a fist, a crackle of electricity could be seen for a moment about her which may have shown, if anything, an eagerness to have the formalities over with and to begin the test of her true mettle against the scrutiny of the great professors of her order. Ears lax and tail waving only slightly, her purple eyes glanced up to see that the large door had finally opened to her. She was alone in the room, the last to be seen, standing with her slim stature and garbed with the grey-blue robes of an initiate. Her chest heaved with a breath and she strolled forward towards the threshold, fetishizing over the end of her glove.
The panel of judges was to the right of the door and mirrored on the far end of an open area before the panel was an identical door that remained closed. She ran her hand through the white-and-black-speckled fur between her ears, one of the two reflexably bending back as her arm passed over. Then, pausing only a mere fraction of a moment, she passed through the threshold and stood off-center of the space before the judges. Immediately behind her was an inlayed archway dividing the normal patchwork of flagstones from a massive wall of dark solid rock carved with the visage of a giant eye.
The stones that made up the walls of the chamber were ancient and woven with the magics that only a master mason could possess. Each stone watched her with the somber iron clad officiality that comes from the unknowable ages of dead who must have passed through this room, as though each inch of cut rock absorbed all transgressions and energy that passed within their domain. Everything about the ceremony was to make her feel weak, insignificant, and powerless in the presence of such ancient rock and such advanced masters.
The eight hooded professors watched with the same leniency as the stone, their eyes shadowed, but still retaining an edge as they looked upon the young feline mage. Facing them now, she gave a polite and formal bow of acceptable depth and poise. Still she retained her cool demeanor. The mages before her were only beings who had undergone the same trial that she now undergoes and nothing more. Sure they had their advanced years of practice and study, but the present exam was merely a way to cull those who did not belong. The young Kahjiit was not one to suffer the fate of the culled. Completing her bow, she stood before them with a thin smile and dim eyes. One of the masters gave a nod, visible by the slight movement of their hood and she took it as her cue.
She postured herself in a casual yet upright attitude, placing her right arm behind her back and laying out a closed fist with left. Her next movement was perhaps a slight clench of her fist but nothing else of her body moved an iota. There was a stagnant second. Then, unclasping her hand, she laid out her palm and a plume of silver smoke appeared and floated upward like that from the issue of a pipe. The plume drifted up and formed at once into a swirling ring that dissipated through the air. Sifting her hand in a circular motion, new smoke wafted from her glove and she seemed almost to play with the magic without any sign of effort or constraint. She next reached back to her right shoulder across her body; the trail of smoke followed around her form and at her back, she clasped her hand once more. Her eyes opened fully with intensity as she turned up her elbow, and with a final arc, dashed the smoke against the ground. A massive smokescreen filled the space, which covered herself and the judges in a musky minty sort of odor. Obscured from vision a moment, she appeared remaining in that final attitude, unmoving, confident, and cool. The smoke sparkled slightly as it dissipated from the chamber.
Her slim stature and almost wry smile at the formality made for a good show and she seemed all as proper, confident, and effortless in her motions as one who had practiced several lifetimes at the correct form of magic’s summoning. The smoke tricks were nothing more than a plaything to her and though the minty odor might have been a bit much, she decided that after sitting in a room for several hours with all manner of explosions and smokes going off from all the previous initiates, the judges would appreciate that small consideration to spare their noses. It was in no small part also due to the acute sensitivity of her own nose. It was not proper form, but nor was it unacceptable. Each mage is understood to show a personal flourish now and again.
The judges nodded with no great enthusiasm, but showing their approval, motioned for her to continue.
After another bow, she re-postured herself to a stronger attitude; legs wider in a sturdy stance. Holding up a clawed right hand and raising a closed left fist out before her, the energy of the spell rose within. Her tail swayed behind her solid legs and the fingers on her right hand twitched ever so slightly as she directed her digits towards the outstretched fist. Her expression now took on an edge, purple irises squinting from the wide smile that pushed up her cheeks. A slim fang pressed into her bottom lip. The power rose, the judges watched, the stone watched, and in an instant she opened her left palm and a great gulf of fire sprung into the room from it. The rush of flames was nearly too close for comfort, but remaining still (save for her swaying tail), she articulated her right hand and the flame diminished to a bright low flame in her palm. The fire sustained for a few seconds to show that she could maintain it and then, clenching her left hand, completely killed the fire leaving only a smoldering gloved fist. Smoke emanated from the glove and she remained coolly watching as the char vanished and the smoke spent out into the air.
The judges nodded to each other again, this time with the barest hint of a murmur. She was doing well so far. Taking a moment, she bowed and assumed the next posture.
Getting into the more advanced spells now, her smile became wider, her eyes flared, glinting off the mage light of the room. Taking a horse stance, she bent back and flared out her arms: left hand down and right hand above her head, both in a clawed position of intricate design. She held this for a moment, hands growing white with frost. Drawing energy, she pivoted her right foot into a near kneel and dashed her right hand downward simultaneously raising her left hand in a firm position. Teeth showing in her clenched smile, she watched in front of her as the spire of ice burst forth in a mist of sublimed steam.
Next, a demonstration of another flame spell (to take the chill out of the room). Coiling her body on one foot she stepped out and, with a showmanship, flung a great gout of flame across the open demonstration area. The flames swirled and spun in small cyclones as they burned out with a menagerie of color. That seemed to delight the judges. One or two actually clapped. The judge in the center asked if that was the extent of her flame knowledge. The Kahjiit shook her head, bowed and then stood completely perpendicular to the earth. She closed her eyes. Letting a slow breath out with the simultaneous motion of her hands down the diaphragm. She then quickly drew them up with a sharp inhale. Her eyes opened, no longer purple but a bright orange as she held in the breath.
The judges watched as she quickly turned to one side, stepped forward and released. From her mouth came a white hot torrent of fire that spilled forth across the stones. The bright orange and yellow coiled and writhed before the judges, all watching with stillness as the Kahjiit spent twice a lungful into the room. Smoke coming off the bare stones, she smiled, pleased with herself before contorting her face. Her eyes bugged wide (now purple again) and she seemed to be beset by some sickness. Heat rose through her chest and she felt something coming up.
The judges, broken somewhat of their formal demeanor, rose to aid her, but in that second she exhaled a ragged breath of black smoke that wafted from her mouth. Placing a fist to her chest she ridded her body of what smoke remained and took on a sorrowful look towards the professors, her tongue slightly out of her mouth. The rest of her body mirrored that final pose of the spell. The judges let out a small chuckle and sat easier which quelled any notion to her that they would give bad marks.
What followed was the smooth and stern poise of a sharp
lightning spell. A precise and directed blast that came about from two pointed fingers and a slim posture. She had created another ice spire to direct the lightning at and the spire bifurcated, blowing away in small chunks that shattered to the floor. Without another moment she assumed another perpendicular posture, almost akimbo with her hands open next to her hips. She raised her hands above her head, opened palmed to the ceiling, which made her sleeves fall, exposing the white fur of her bicep at the end of her arm wrappings. She brought her hands down into powerful fists above her hips, turned to the side and began to step. Her eyes grew luminescent white as she gave an exhilarated smile. This hung in the air a moment as lightning arced about her. With a force, she stepped forward and directed her hands in a great bolt of lightning produced from her arms. Vicious arcs obscured the magelight of the room. She maintained the blast for some time and then pulled back her arms, coiling her hands into fists once again.
Turning to the judges with pride, she was forced to take several slow deep breaths as to calm the spent power. The judges were awestruck, she knew here and now she could end it, receive perfect marks and continue on to the upper echelon of the guild. Yet why stop now? She had them in the palm of her hand. Why not separate herself from the rest of the stock? She had been practicing for some time with the greatest spell of her repertoire, why not show it? A combination of destruction types. Lightning and fire.
The judges looked on as she turned her eyes downward, assumed an attitude involving a closed right fist at her back and a directed lightning form with her left hand. They could only watch with assumed puzzlement as she shifted her weight back, raised her left hand up as one would do with a wand, and brought a series of electric sparks before her. She closed her fist, gaining momentum and then sent her elbow down in a fist pump. She closed her eyes, expectant of the blast. Sparks and lightning crackled around a concentrated sphere in the center of the room…and then vanished.
She waited. The Judges waited. The stone waited. Nothing happened.
And then a small blip of a combustion, like that of a firecracker, popped with lackluster grace. She held the pose a moment longer, but the silence pervaded. She opened her eyes, looked at the judges and holding her position looked at the empty space. She frowned and in doing so her head was enveloped in a fiery explosion that roiled with smoke into the next crack of heat which overtook her entire body. The great booming of the room filled as the panel of judges recoiled from the blast. The table flew up from before them as the room filled with a chocking black char. The smoke lingered a while and when it finally cleared, the kahjiit was still standing, only her purple eyes looking out from her blackened mass. Most of the professors had assumed some type of magic shield, but one, by the look of their robes, a restoration mage, was knocked completely out upon the ground. One of the mages telekinetically held up the large table they had been previously sitting at. It was on trajectory to crush each of them before it was halted a mere few inches from their heads. The professor placed it gently among the broken and wayward chairs that had been thrown by the blast. Each of those standing maintained scowls at the burnt cat-person.
Only a few hours later, she had all her worldly belongings packed into a rucksack. It was likely that she would never to be remitted to the place where she had invested all her hopes and dreams. Turning one last time at the gate of the hall as it closed to her, she sighed with her downward purple eyes. Taking a few meager steps, her fist clenched tight. Her eyes flared with rage and she turned, dropping her rucksack, and aiming a bolt of lightning, she shot out a blast at the eye on the Iron Gate. The gate had some form of magical barrier that repelled the blast and the lightning fired back at her landing only a step in front of her in a shower of snow and ice. She jumped back, swore a few choice words, hefted up her rucksack, and turned away.
She drove out into the biting cold and swirling snow trudging down the mountain road towards the small village that sat below the guildhall. Maintaining a warm fire in her left hand, she kept from freezing, but as she entered the town, noticed that a few citizens were stealing distrustful glances at her. She killed the fire before reaching the town center where a low building with a big porch slumped along the icy road. The tavern there, aptly named “The Hope’s Last” was at least a warm and inviting place to rest and wile away the night.
Among the usual fare of travelers and villagers, she noticed an orange Kahjiit sitting at one of the tables alone with a cup of something steamy. It seemed that none of the humans or elves would go near her, and thinking that it would be nice to have familiar company, she paid for a room and a warm cider before approaching her kin.
Original Inspiration: (This person’s style is great and I had to write something about a possible context for this mage. Honestly helped me at least get some practice in writing while thinking about how a character is moving or standing.)