Vorgith had been watching the class whilst they talked, testing them even now. Despite his quiet approaches, he was glad to see that the two other earth elementals in the class, incidentally the only two females, had sensed his approach. The others were all air and dark elementals; far more at home in the city then the wilds, still stood and talked, with some bosting whilst others egged them on.
However, daylight was passing, and the lessons needed to begin. With a breath he drew on his power, sending out tendrils of power to the surrounding wildlife. Threading his power through the plants, he funnelled his commands and wishes into the living matter, and with the barest of pauses the plants began to move at the own volition, vines and roots stealthily threading their way towards the students.
Before him the students still nattered, some looking board whilst others spoke amongst themselves. The De Olviv boy still boasted his skills to all who listened, and Vorgith could tell many of his lackeys believed in his skill.
“We will see.” The Seeker said to himself, pulling on his white seekers mask as he did so. The students did know his face, but procedure dictated such measures during joint operations in cases of public exposure, and that was the last thing they needed here in the wilds.
In the clearing both Claudia and Idrea both sensed the power at the same time, its subtle tendrils flowing through the shaded plants. “Look out!” Cried Claudia, diving towards the group to shove away the vines that were coiling behind them, but it was too late. They shot out, grasping the students around their necks, whilst roots simultaneously burst from the ground, locking the students feet into the soil as the vines tightened around their throats starching them all straight in an effort not to choke. Claudia, time wasted on a warning, tried to thrust the vines away with her power. They writhed for a moment, fighting against both forces of control, but Vorgith’s strength was far above that of a student, and they finally closed around here before she had gone half a dozen steps.
Idrea had not wasted time. Rather than warn the others she had sent out a rush of power through the earth, through her bare feet (A common style for Earths) to release a shockwave towards Vorgith, who was just stepping into the clearing. The Elder was pleased by the move, but nimbly sidestepped the blast, moving round it as you would a passing animal.
The Young Earth Girl then tried to run, reach the cover of the treeline out of Vorgith’s view to avoid the vine attack. However as she turned there was a thunderous crash, and suddenly the trees ahead had crashed together, walling off her escape and forcing her to turn back. Realising she was trapped she stooped, not missing a step, and gathered up some sandy soil in her hand, running towards the Elder whilst forming her power as she went. The sand became jagged as she held it, like small needles of rock, a good bit imitative that Vorgith noticed with a smile.
The girl leapt, ready to deliver the jagged sand into the Elder’s eyes. A mistake. In an instant Vorgith dropped to the ground, placing his hand on the damp earth and closing his eyes.
A nanosecond passed a strange scene. Students bound, Idrea Moving through the air, arm out thrust to deliver her improvised weapon, Vorgith on one knee with his hand on the ground, eyes closed as if in prayer .
Then a ten foot wall of solid rock appeared before the kneeling Seeker, exploding out of the ground with enough force to send a crack through the air.
There was a thud, as startled squeak and a sudden outrushing of air. Vorgith smiled under his mask and stood, releasing his power on the earthen wall, which now crumbled to dust under its own weight. Its collapse revealed Idrea on her back, arms at her sides and a large red welt appearing between her crossed eyes.
Stepping past her Vorgith sent a ripple of power out to the vines. There was a creak and a rustle, and the student’s bound forms began to move, guided like marionettes into a line before him, still standing as straight as possible to prevent choking. His mask was impassive as he began to speak. “You are all immensely lucky. Today you have been attacked, taken unawares mere miles from the cities walls, bond and disabled with almost no resistance, and you are not dead.” He said, striding forward. “The ease at which you have been apprehended is pitiful. You are training to be seekers, not being pampered in your estates. If I had been an enemy I could have given those vines thorns, slicing your throats without pause. I could have made the trees fall on you, crushing you to the ground. I could have had the earth rise up with spines and skewer you were you stood, or even have it open up and swallow you whole, leaving no trace.” He let that hang for a moment.
“What is our first order, written in the very makeup of every seeker who has passed their trials?” Vorgith asked, turning away from the students.
“Vigilance!” They all replied some faster than others, struggling to speak around the vines that pressed under their jaws.
“Vigilance.” Vorgith repeated. “It is what has kept us alive in the ages since our founding, It is what separated a Seeker from his brethren, always alert for danger, always ready for attack, always looking for the clues that could make the difference between life and death, for you and Loftas both.”
He turned to point at Idrea “Only one among you today was vigilant, one for all those assembled here. One who reacted, who allowed their instincts to guide them and try to protect themselves,” he glanced at the still stunned Student, “no matter how ineffective it was.”
There was a mutter from the De Olviv boy again, and Vorgith rounded on him in an instant. “What was that? I don’t think we all heard you child!” He said loudly.
Gladyn went pale for a second, but then stared at the Seeker, “-only because she’s had an advantage.”
“An advantage?” Vorgith said in reply, sounding slightly surprised. “As an air elemental, how is it you failed to sense the movement of the vines through the air, and how is it was it that the Darks failed to see the vines as they slithered through the shadows!” He sent out a wave of power, and the vines tightened around the boy’s neck, closing his windpipe and causing him to splutter. “The only advantage she had,” the seeker continued, “Was her Vigilance, a lesson that you seem unable to grasp!”
He walked closer, perhaps I should push all the way, pop your head off like a cork form a bottle, and free us all from your stupidity.” His voice was now menacing, and many of the students looked shocked, expecting the Elder to carry through his threat.
The Boy had now gone red, and was rapidly heading towards purple when Vorgith relented, releasing all the vines with a wave of the hand, dropping the students to their knees. Gladyn dropped like a sack, wheezing for air as his lackeys came over, helping him sit up and drink from a water bottle.
“Now you have had a taste of the theory, you must now face the fact. Today you will be hunting an earth seeker through these woods using the theory you have learnt in the last year. If you find him, you will pass to the advanced class, if not you will remain in the basics for another lunar cycle.” He walked over to a patch of earth, and with a wave of his hand an image appeared of the surrounding woodland as seen from above. The students, whilst still dazed, came over and stared at the living map created by a wave of the seekers hand. “This is the wood we are in.” Vorgith said. “It ranges for here to the Mithgrin River a mile to the south, and has pasture to the east, north and west. This is the exercise zone, leave this area and you will automatically fail the test. We will meet back here at this time tomorrow. Anyone not here will be left behind. Clear?” The students looked shocked by the sudden turn of events. “Clear?!” Repeat the Seeker, to a chorus of yes’ and nods from the students. “Then go.” He shouted.
The students ran, diving off into the undergrowth, already splitting into teams. Vorgith Helped the stunned Inreas up, pulling her to her feet and handing her to a friend before they left the clearing.
Vorgith waited a few moments before letting out a breath. Despite appearances this was all fairly new to him, and he never knew how the students would react, despite all his training. He made his way towards the treeline himself, heading off and away from the others. It wouldn’t take them long to realise that it was him they had to hunt, and he needed some distance between himself and them before they cottoned on.