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“Again!” Madam Strata, Arcadia’s mentor and employer insisted, and Arcadia squared her shoulders, trying to manipulate the wildness of sky magic, wind sweeping through her hair as a crackle of sparks burst from her talisman on her chest.


Arcadia had aged about three years since her emancipation from her mother, and both she and her sisters had found new lives within the town. Today, however, Three-Eyed Arcadia with her large purple eye at the center of her forehead, was troubled by her difficulty creating lightning.

“AGAIN!” The crackle of sparks ignited again, but to no avail.

“Take a break! Then practice on your own until sundown.” Madam Strata turned away as Arcadia wordlessly sat on a fallen log nearby. They had been practicing in the Grimwood Forest of Fae due to the amount of untouched wild magic, but for some reason it was particularly difficult for Arcadia to master this one.

Pebbles danced near Arcadia’s feet. “An earthquake?” she wondered, and swung her head to look around. The trees behind her were swaying, branches cracking and snapping in the distance. A giant was on the ground of the forest.

The giant’s hair was icy white, her face a pale blue, her height as tall as the oak at the center of town. She wore a large, blue-grey dress of a thick weave that they make in the giant villages.

And as she walked, there was an audible trail of thunder.

Arcadia was in shock. She had a vision recently about performing weather magic at her sister’s wedding ceremony, but for some reason there was a mental block.

“Hello!” called Arcadia to the giant. It turned and moved toward her, a look of amused curiosity on her face.

“Tiny Witch! With three eyes! Blessed be and well met!”

The giant made a slight curtsy. The crisp sparks in her hands showed her to be a sky giant. Sky giants often knew common tongue but were not always known for being hospitable to travelers, especially not if their territory were encroached on. However, this one appeared to not only know the common tongue, but to be traveling on her own as well.

“Same to you!” Arcadia made a curtsy of her own. “I’m jealous. You make sparks so easily with your fingers.”

Flattered, the giant grinned. “Watch this!” She raised a hand skyward and shot a crisp bolt of blue electricity from her palm to the clouds, which then rumbled with thunder in response. “Did you like that?

Arcadia was floored.

She had been trying for a whole moon cycle to harness lightning and thunder, where it was second nature for this huge being.

“What’s your name?” asked Arcadia.

“Maum.” The giant smiled, showcasing two decks of titanic teeth.

“How do you do that!? Sorry, sorry, my name is Arcadia. And I’m a fan of your magic.”

“Thank ye. And,” the giant said, preparing to answer Arcadia’s question, “there is power in the sky. Power that crackles and flows on days when clouds collide.”

“May I show you what I have been doing?” Arcadia asks, and Maum bobs her head in a nod.

Arcadia steadies her feet, closes her two blue eyes, then her purple one in the middle of her forehead, takes a deep breath, and says a short incantation softly, inaudibly. Her talisman lights up, and sparks, crackling with energy again. She looks up at the giant lady. “Did you see that?”

Maum nods. “Lose the necklace.”

“What?” Arcadia looks flatly at Maum.

“You don’t need it. It restricts and reroutes your power. But it’s a crutch, and for this exercise you need to run on your own tiny feet. Lose the necklace.”

Madam Strata had gifted her the necklace at the beginning of her apprenticeship, and the thought of taking it off lodged itself in her stubborn nature.

She wanted to keep it on.

She wanted to cast lighting more.

Arcadia took off the necklace.

Maum nodded and scooped Arcadia with both hands. “Now, we practice.”

Arcadia could feel the raw power and strength in the Giant’s palm, and the ginger tenderness with which she was being held. They philosophized over the ability to create thunder, with the hypothesis that the clouds create lightning from the power within the atmosphere, much like Maum.

“Madam Strata calls the wild magic in the air the Aether,” Arcadia says around a mouthful of skyberry, a large fruit cultivated by large creatures like giants, dragons, and so on.

Maum nods. “There are many names for the magic that lives in the air.” She smiles and looks distantly at the mountains. “I come from over there, the Icetop Mountains. Constant clouds. Your teacher is right, today is a good day to practice lightning magic.”

The giant slapped her thigh and stood up. “Do as I do!”

Maum flung her hand in the air, incanting:

“Magic in the sky,

Motes of energy fly

As lighting in the air

Clouds, grant my prayer!”

With a CRACK in the air, lightning flew from her palm to the sky in a sizable pillar. A rolling rumble of thunder accompanied it.

“Your turn,” she said, smiling at Arcadia.

This time, Arcadia was ready.

She repeated the incantation, flung her arm to the sky, and the wind swirled around her in a confirmation of the wild magic taking hold. Lightning flashed forth from her fingertips and palm followed by immediate thunder around her in a circular wall of sound.

“I did it? I did it!”

Maum claps her massive hands three times. “Well done, Arcadia.”

They take turns practicing until Arcadia has consistently blasted lighting not only into the sky, but at a boulder they used for target practice. Arcadia hugs Maum’s thumb like a tree.

“Thank you. Merry meet, and merry part, and merry meet again!”

“Merry meet again,” repeated Maum, and they parted ways.

Arcadia returns to Madam Strata and tells her everything. “And my necklace?” Madam Strata asks.

“It’s safe, I thought I might give it to Ashenkept or Acacia. I know you said they have the talent too.”

Madam Strata appeared to agree. “We will discuss magic without a modification circle tomorrow. For now goodnight.”

Arcadia nodded, and went to lay down in her chambers, mind flooded with possibilities.

A long, low rumble could be heard in the distance, and Maum lumbered away, through the forest, back home again.

V. Buritsch

A freelancer, fiction writer, podcast listener, fantasy reader who sometimes remembers to write for herself on occasion. She has a BA in English and Management, and currently lives in the Pacific Northwest.

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