Claire’s fingers played with the items in her pockets as nerves tried to take her over. This was the first job she would have after getting her license and she was understandably nervous. She’s worked before, it was how she was able to pay her way through Training, but that was always at her own pace with no one looking over her shoulder at how well her control was. She watched as the foreman raised a finger indicating a minute as he finished talking to a worker.
“He’ll be with you in a minute, just wait here.”
Claire nods and says her thanks as the fellow worker went back to work. She was unsure of where to go once she got to the site but everyone she asked for help was so nice and gladly pointed her towards the foreman. She was at a remote field where the local construction company was expanding their Wind Farm. She was nervous at what the job called for; their crane was out of order and needed a mage to quickly help finish the construction. No construction job is ever on schedule, but that’s how you know it’s going good. She studies the pieces of the tall windmill laying before her, amazed at the sheer size of them as the foreman comes up to her.
“So you’re the mage huh?”
She turned and smiled as she shook his hand in greeting, “Yes sir I am!”
He studies her up and down, “You don’t look like no Mage.”
Most people depict mages as seniors and wrinkling old people with crocked noses and boils. Claire was only in her early twenties with sandy blonde hair to her waist and brown eyes with gold flecks that sparkled with her moods. She stood eye to eye with the foreman at her 5’10” height with a slim frame to match. Her face was average, she was no beauty by any means, but she could hold her own in a room full of women.
She smiled some more as she’s used to the stereotypes of her people, “Yes well, some of us are born with magic from the start.”
A shout is heard distracting Joe from his comment as he turns to bark some orders. Turning back to Claire he raises an eyebrow, “You got a license though right?”
In the early 5th century the masses came to accept magic and the mages that came with it as a part of life. They were classified as a different class of species from Humans and were named Mages. As paperwork and laws became regulation, Mages were required to go through training and schooling to learn how to use their magic properly and to ensure the safety of the humans. They had to apply for a license to legally use their magic outside of their homes and schools and the reason the stereotype of Mages being old people was due to the fact that many couldn’t afford the Training until their later years. It was only until the 18th century that Training became affordable to all Mages, but even then very few went due to there being little work. Even with all the worlds’ protocols and laws, humans were still uneasy with magic. They just didn’t understand.
Claire smiles as she pulls her sleeves past her left wrist against the biting cold to reveal the tattooed marks of her Free-Pass license, “Yes sir I am.”
He whistles as he studies the tattoos, “I’ve never seen a Free-Pass mark before. That’s pretty impressive for a young woman like you.”
That’s because I enrolled when I was 3, “Yes sir thank you.”
“What’s your name?” he asked as he straightens.
“Claire sir, Claire Dunsworth.”
“I’m Joe Matchet, just call me Joe. Dunsworth huh? Never heard of them before.”
Many Mages were from a family line and their names were synonymous with magic and Mage. Claire was only an orphan and was given the name but made it her own, determined to prove that you don’t have to be a Merlin, or Mave to be a Mage.
She covers her “FP” tattoo on her wrist as she keeps the smile plastered on her face, “Yes sir, I’m just starting sir.”
“I see,” he seemed skeptical at first, “Let’s see what you can do.” He turns and walks towards the base piece of the windmill, lying on its side waiting to be hoisted. “Can you lift this up?,” he gestures to the giant metal cylinder behind him as she hears snickers around her.
Even today, there were still some who did not believe. She only raised her hand and it glowed purple as the same purple light surrounds the cylinder. Using her glowing hand to control it, she raises it up and sets it straight on the concrete foundation and used her other hand which also glowed purple to mount the piece to the concrete slab.
With it secure she turns to the foreman, placing her hands on her hips, “Is that it? I can do the rest too if you want.”
This was also why there was so little work for Mages. It was extremely expensive for companies to hire them and they could easily replace the entire workforce of the planet with only a few handfuls of Mages. The Humans thought of this when writing up the Magic Laws and stated that a Mage must have a Work-Pass or higher in order to have a paying job as a Mage. Even without a license Mages could find work, posing as a normal Human doing menial tasks and such. But it’s so stifling when you can’t do magic every now and then. For Mages it’s like being a cow, if the cows aren’t milked everyday it becomes painful for them. Same concept for Mages, if they can’t exercise their magic it becomes painful and worse, they risk a blowback and could cause damage to themselves and others.
Claire felt the heated stares of the workers around her. She knew she would gain their resentment but to feel it was another thing entirely. She tried to keep their looks from hurting her but some did find their way into her heart cutting her. She dared not move nor indicate that they were affecting her as she waiting for Joe’s response.
He merely shrugs his shoulders, “Sure. We’re behind schedule enough as it is. If you can get 50 mills up today we’ll be on schedule. Finish them and you can go home.”
The protest of the workers roared up as he turned to lead them to another site to start another foundation. He yelled at them that they brought this upon themselves and told them to get back to work and leave Claire to her own. As the crowd thins Claire turns to study the remaining pieces of the mill. She sighed at the enormity of the task ahead of her, doing 50 will be no problem for her, but it will be tasking. Magic drains the Mage of their stamina and strength and if they’re not careful they could literally work themselves to death. That’s why many Mages are considered weak compared to Humans. But some like Claire set out to fight against that by training their bodies as well as their minds and magic. Not every Mage shares this idea, many say they should only worry about training their magic, but Claire knows what it’s like to be hopeless and refuses to experience that again.
For the rest of the day mills could be seen rising from the horizon, shrouded in purple light as they reach for the sky. Claire worked nonstop, not even for lunch did she quit. The men thought she was rubbing it into their faces but as they came back from lunch walking by her, they all noticed the sweat pouring from her face. She had taken her coats off during lunch and sweat was puddling onto her tank top as her knees wobbled. She pants as she rises the last piece of the mill with the men watching her. With it in place and secured, she lets her arms fall and stands there with steam coming off her body heat and her breath fogging in the cold.
One of the men broke from the crowd and handed her a bottled water, “Here. Mage or not, even you need water.”
She takes the bottle and he walks away before she could say thanks as the crowd goes back to work. She smiled as she twists the top and drains the bottle in two gulps. Only 15 more to go. She takes a moment to sit and gain her breath back as she finds another bottle and savors the water this time. With the second bottle drained she gets back to work and finishes the last mill as the men were cleaning up to go. When she took her coat off she sent it back home and now she brought it back as she pulls it on, not wanting the catch a cold once her sweat cools. Laughter is heard as the men crowd around the work trucks that’ll take them back home. They’re surrounded by those bright field lights as they put tools away and close boxes with materials. They shut off machines and cut the engines of the giant workers. Claire smiles and walks to them, wanting to offer help to clean up knowing they’ll say no. As she walks closer a gale picks up, stealing papers and anything light enough to carry.
A creak and moan is heard and she looks up to see a rusty old mill that is meant to be replaced. They had turned the turbine off so the wings were fixed in place and the blowing gale pulled at them, straining the old metal. Claire watched in slow motion as the metal finally gave and cracked in half. Feeling like time was sluggish and pulling at her; she starts running to the men as the falling wings aim straight for them. She tries to scream at them but time was too thick, she couldn’t even hear her own voice. I’m not gonna make it. With her eyes ablazed, her determination sprints into her feet forcing them to move faster. As she enters the center of the now cowering men she stands directly below the falling wreckage and throws her hands up. She quickly puts up a shield of light as the metal thuds. She strains at the weight crushing down on her arms feeling her shoulders pop and elbows buckle. With a scream, she digs deep and pushes at the wings with all her might sending it into the air. Before it could begin its fall again she throws up a bolt of energy, causing it to explode. The men look up from covering their heads and see Claire fall to her knees as golden light rain down from the explosion.
She didn’t have the strength left to say anything; she could only smile at everyone in turn. Surprisingly, the men rushed to her, asking if she’s alright, if she needed anything, if she was hurt. The genuine concern of everyone overwhelmed her, warming her tired muscles.
With a feeble smile playing her lips she says in a shaky voice, “Actually, I think my shoulders popped out of their sockets. Could you guys put them back?”
Joe, who was the first to rush to her aid looks at her in concern, “Are you sure? Don’t you need a M-Doc?”
Claire shook her head, “No its fine. Not that major, just pop it back in. Please?”
The men slowly agree and a group braces her as another grabs her left arm. They pop it back in and a scream erupts from her mouth as tears wash down her face. Before they could ask if she’s ok she tells them to do the second one quick. Again they brace her as her right arm is popped back. Another scream is heard through her clenched teeth as she tries to hold it in. As she cradles her arms to her chest she asks for some more water. She drains three bottles as the pain subsides and feels more like herself. She stands on shaky legs but quickly gains her ground as she takes deep breaths.
She turns to Joe, holding out her hand, “Thanks for the job sir. I had fun.”
Both Joe and the men stare at her. But before she could question it they crush her in a throng of bear hugs and cheers and pats on the backs. She laughs at the warm feeling building up again in her heart and Joe makes his way to her, taking her hand into his as he slowly shakes them.
“Thank you for saving me and my men. Now we can go home to our wives and children and tell them about our day.”
A bright smile lights up Claire’s face as her other hand covers his, “Awesome.”