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Chapter 16 - Day One

A desert, this was the first time Emery had seen such a place. The cool breeze, the sun's glare, a vast empty space behind them, the grains of sand beneath his feet. Funnily enough, this place looked like it would be scorching but that wasn't the case.

In front of them was a large sign made out of limestone that said 'Welcome to 'Animus'.

There were thousands of young people, walking around in every direction, going into tall, straight houses also made of limestone. It was a bustling institute. What really caught Emery and Julian's eye though was the colossal yellow pillar in the middle. If they would both have to guess, that's their destination.

On the way, Julian couldn't help but notice the abundance of people and statues everywhere. There must be thousands of people in this place; he commented, "It looks like the earth element is the most abundant affinity amongst everyone."

Emery nodded in agreement. Soon enough, they arrived in front of the pillar that towered over the whole place. There were people gathering atop a hundred steps staircase.

Emery sighed and massaged his temple. He was already out of breath from walking on what felt like trudging through mud. It took almost half an hour before Emery reached the top of the staircase where there were hundreds of new acolytes just like him. He saw some familiar faces who had received the same elemental affinity in Minerva's class hall but a particular person though got his attention.

That person was also wearing a similar uniform but it was more of a robe. His aura though was what set him apart. It felt like he was someone whom you could depend on. Then that person lifted his hood with his big, calloused hands. Even though he had a serious face coupled and short hair, making him look strict, there was that sense of familiarity.

The magus introduced himself, "Welcome! My name is Darius, an Earth Lord Magus, and I'll be your guide during these seven days. My goal for all of you is to make sure you have sufficient understanding of the strongest element in the universe."

"Strongest?" a boy in the front said with a face full of doubt. In fact, it wasn't only that boy but a lot of the acolytes including Emery and Julian thought the same.

Darius laughed and smiled before saying, "Well then, let me clear your doubts."

He then made several gestures with his hand before placing his palm on the large rock sitting next to him. The large rock shook and restructured itself turning into a giant human shaped rock like the statues Emery and Julian had seen on their way here. The stone monster moved and offered its hand to Darius and Darius made his way to the stone monster's shoulder.

Darius said, "Indeed fire could turn cities into ashes, water could turn peaceful waves into terrifying tsunamis that could sweep an entire forest to become bare, lighting could eliminate lives in a blink of an eye, and wind could change the gentle breeze into swirling tornadoes as sharp as swords.

"But earth, the land, life sprang from the ground and to the ground is where all life shall return. Our institute is known as the strongest that could withstand all. Other cities—worlds may fall for they don't have our wall that protects all, Titan Shield. Ours is a shield that stands against the heavenly fires, tsunami, thousands of thunderbolts, and hurricanes…"

Emery stood in awe as he imagined the natural disasters still unable to break against the earth itself. He wondered if he could learn that, then he would not fear any knife, blade, fire, etc. any threat against his life.

Darius continued, "…Make no mistake, however. The earth element isn't only to defend one's self. We also have a spell that can pull an unimaginable force of destruction that could threaten all life in one world. In fact, this spell was so terrible that it wiped out the previous inhabitants of a whole world."

"Woah, could you tell us more about that?" asked a boy in the front.

"I'm afraid that's all I can tell you. We don't want you now learning a spell to wipe out a whole world, do we?" said Darius with a smile.

Emery also had half a smile as he listened to Darius explain a whole bunch of things. Even though Darius had a serious looking face, the aura he emitted made a person listen in and enjoy.

Darius explained while descending from the stone human's shoulder. "The Ten Elements have all their own defense, attack, and assistive spells. But what sets the earth element is so simple."

The acolytes seemed to squeeze in eager to listen to Darius' words.

"The basic and first step for a magus to learn is to be aware of your surroundings. We channel the energies of the gods and goddesses in our bodies to move the external world. For example, in order to use water spells, you need to have water near you, thus water element magi are strong when channeling in large bodies of water. Same with fire magi, they are strongest in places where the heat is abundant. As for the earth element, it is everywhere. The ground you stand on is earth and we spend 95% of our time standing on earth. And this is the reason why, my new acolytes, earth element is the strongest among the others."

Emery and Julian subconsciously nodded in agreement, Darius' explanation made a lot of sense so they couldn't wait to learn in this place.

Darius then turned the stone human to its original form when a woman wearing the same magus robes as him approached while clapping.

"You're becoming more eloquent as each year passes by, Darius. I am impressed," said the woman.

"Of course, Felicia! These youths are the future. I need to inspire these youths for the sake of humanity and I truly believe our earth element is the solution. The more talented acolytes join the earth institution, the better," replied Darius.

Felicia said, "Okay, okay, I'm not here to lecture you or anything. Now let's get to business. Let's see how many of them are qualified today."

"Let's enter the pillar, everyone!" Darius exclaimed to the young acolytes.

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