This serial is presented in draft form and will be updated each Thursday. Your comments are always welcome!
Prologue ~ Ch 1 ~
“Today we are going to discuss some of the changes your bodies are going to be going through,” the teacher told the class. “This is not just the changes you will be going through as your bodies mature, but it will also prepare you for what to expect when you undergo your tespiro.”
Ravi craned his neck to see who had the nerve to ask the question that was on everyone else’s minds. A ripple of murmurs went through the class before the teacher rapped sharply on his desk with his cane.
The teacher glared at them while the boys straightened up in their seats, eyes front. It had been a year since the boys and the girls had been segregated in the classroom. Though Ravi missed sitting beside Nereida, he still got to see her at meal times and when they exercised. And of course they were never truly apart, joined as they were through their minds.
“Now I know some of you have heard rumours, the One only knows how they got started, but the simple truth is, Sior was not found worthy to become an Elemental.”
“I heard he blew up,” an anonymous voice said.
“He did not blow up! He entered his tespiro earlier than anticipated and did not survive. He was not strong enough to become a true Elemental and so he returned to his element. This is why we are going over these things now, so you will be prepared when your time comes.”
Ravi tuned the teacher out. Are you getting the same boring lecture we are? he asked his sister.
Our teacher is talking about what happened to Sior. Gaea is really upset. She hoped to one day be mated to Sior.
She shouldn’t have let herself get so attached, she knows she won’t have a choice.
Ravi suddenly became aware that the teacher had been talking to him. “I – um – I . . .” What was the question? he asked Nereida, hoping she’d been paying attention.
What’s one of the first signs of approaching tespiro, she answered promptly.
“Um, disorientation and a fever?”
“Lucky guess,” the teacher said with a glare meant just for him. “I suggest you pay closer attention, you might not be so lucky next time.”
Maybe we should save the talk for later, Nereida suggested.
Fine, just remember to save me a seat in the dining hall.
Ravi tried to pay better attention to what the teacher was telling them, but the man had a monotonous voice and it was getting warm in the classroom. He spent most of the remainder of the afternoon fighting to stay awake.
“I wonder what it’ll be like,” Zepherin said as they were dismissed from the classroom.
“Wonder what what’ll be like?”
“The breeding.” Zepherin lowered his voice. “Weren’t you paying attention?”
“Not really,” Ravi admitted.
“They’ve lowered the age for males to participate in the breeding program. Now it’s down to just two years after we pass our tespiro.”
How had he missed that little tidbit of information?
Because you were daydreaming, brother.
I was not!
Yes you were, and I can’t say as I blame you. Your teacher is really boring.
Maybe I should try eavesdropping on your lessons for a change.
Laughter rang out in his mind. You’d better say something quick to Zepherin before he thinks you’re ignoring him.
“What about the girls?” he asked, picking up the thread of his other conversation.
“He never mentioned them. Doesn’t really make any difference, It's not like any of us have a choice. We live to serve.”
They’ve lowered the girls age to eighteen, Nereida whispered at the same time.
They reached the dining hall and the buzz of conversation was louder than usual. Picking up their trays, Ravi and Zepherin made their way to their age-group section where Nereida was saving a table for them.
“Sounds like everyone’s talking about the changes,” Ravi said, out loud for Zepherin’s benefit.
“Which changes?” Jori, the fourth at the table asked. “The one’s in our minds or our bodies?”
“How about all the changes in our lives?” Zepherin suggested. “Separate classes, lowering the breeding age . . . who knows what’ll come next?”
“If they had the space, I’ll bet we wouldn’t even get to eat together,” Ravi said. “What do you think Nereida? Nereida? Are you okay?”
She sat at the table rubbing her forehead, a frown on her face. Her plate lay untouched in front of her. “I feel so strange . . .”