Painful blows reverberated throughout her entire body, and her petite and agile body couldn’t withstand more of it. Kashi gritted her teeth.
“How long?” she coughed out, drops of blood splattering out.
“A couple minutes more,” replied the elder, her voice ever so sharp yet gentle. Her eyes remained closed, her body still, sitting on the straw mat.
A wave of nausea surged over her as her stomach was pricked by hallucinatory pins and needles, and a blow to her temple nearly toppled her over. Around a dozen minutes had passed since the converging, but she could feel no change in her body; no power, no nothing. If she failed, she would be left with dire consequences: permanent injuries, or worse, dead.
“How long?” she asked again, this time desperate for more time.
“One minute,” replied the elder, as she flipped over the small hourglass, signifying that the converging was reaching its end.
Anxiety was creeping up her skin, and time was soaring by. Maybe this was the end for her. Kashi had seen many other girls, girls younger than her, with the injuries. Some had lost limbs, others had lost their senses. Most of the failures, including the weak, were left to rot in the dark, slimy, tar-covered streets, and those in luck died swiftly. Others, or the unlucky, died a slow, painful death. Life was unfair; only those who were fit survived.
A burst of pure, white light erupted from the capsule she was within, and filled the room, followed by a loud, high-pitched hum. Excruciating pain crushed her insides, as energy flowed into her organs. Her neurons severed and reattached, and her bones reinforced, as a blue aura surrounded her. Everything around her was stuck in a twister, bits of debris banging against the glass, papers flying everywhere, and even the elder knocked a few feet back.
Even the capsule couldn’t withstand the pressure exerted. Cracks were forming around the glass panels, and the room seemed to spin. The elder’s voice was inaudible, but she could make out her tone: panicked. Abruptly, everything ceased, almost as if nothing had occurred. The whole room was calm and placid, and even the elder seemed bewildered. For a few seconds, she sat there dazed, unsure of what was going on. But being the collected woman she was, she brushed the dust off her tkaya, a clothing only worn by the elders who had passed the exam, and heaved herself up.
As the elder slowly to rise to her feet, a screech filled the whole room, shattering the glass of the capsule. Shards of glass were scattered around the room, but the elder, with a shaky motion of her hand, dispelled the glass. These powers, everyone would call, were magnus.
The screech ended as soon as it started. Warm, iridescent light followed suit, irradiating the small room. And then, the room was back to normal. Yet, Kashi couldn’t stop shivering. Deep within her body, she was freezing; whether it was from fear or cold, Kashi didn’t know.
The solid, iron clasps which had pinned her limbs came loose with a soft hiss. Rubbing her wrists, Kashi laid still unsure of what to do next.
“Rise,” commanded the elder as she walked up towards her. Kashi acquiesced, cautiously crawling out, avoiding the jagged, sharp pieces lying on the floor. The aura was faint, but Kashi could see it. She could feel it, alive and pulsing, as it encircled around and enveloped her, just like ocean waves blanketing the smooth sand.
Kashi walked with apprehension, afraid that she had failed. A golden or silver light signified those who were chosen; no one had told her of a blue light. Dismayed, she hung her head, waiting for the elder to call the guards, who would drag her out back into the street.
The blue aura slowly faded away, leaving Kashi’s body numb and paralyzed. The sound of bells rung inside her head, as Kashi felt a streak of light penetrating through her head, turning her lightheaded and muddled.
Tears slowly slid down her cheeks. It had only been a couple of months since she had been picked up from the filthy streets. Only a few months since she hadn’t starved. Only a few months since she got clean clothes. And now, everything had crumbled to dust.
Clenching her fists in frustration, Kashi stared at the cracked, stone floor. As the elder reached out, flinched, bracing herself for the worst. Instead, all the elder did was softly pat Kashi’s sweaty shoulder.
“You have done well,” she said,”Now follow me.”