Character Gauntlet Challenge Day Five "I wanna be the very best like no one ever was"
| Onyx stood in the center of the large room in the highest tower in her palace. The room was round. Five pillars with the five symbols of the natural elements carved into them separated the ceiling from the floor; leaving the space between open to the world. In the center of the floor was a tile inlay of a pentagram. Each point of the star was the base color of an element. In the center of each point an inlay of smaller tiles made up the symbol of the element each point represented. A white candle stood at the corner of each point. Onyx stood in the very center of the pentagram, and used her control of fire to light each candle. She let the black silk robe she wore slip from her body and pool at her feet. She faced the top point of the pentagram, which represented spirit. Her staff lay in front of her pointing toward the candle that stood at the tip of the spirit point, which extended toward the pillar that had the symbol for spirit. Onyx closed her eyes, and began to inhale through her nose, and exhale through her mouth. She had already mastered the other four elements. Now, it was time to master the element of spirit, and complete her training, making her greater than the Council. As she breathed she felt her consciousness slip away from her body. A twittering of birds caused her to open her eyes. She looked around, and found herself floating in the air about the ground where her castle stood in the physical world.
"I did it," she breathed. She looked around and saw the forest and meadows that surrounded her palace. "How do I get down?"
"Hello up there!" A voice called from the ground.
Onyx was startled enough to lose her ability to remain in the air. Just as she felt her stomach drop to her feet she felt a gentle force swaddle her. She was lowered into the arms of another. She looked up and saw a pair of almond shaped dark eyes staring down at her. She focused enough to realize that she was being held by a man. He put her down so that her bare feet were tickled by the grass.
"You must be new here," he smiled at her. "You're Lady Onyx, right?"
"That depends on who's asking," Onyx crossed her arms over her breasts, and clenched her thighs together. She needed to focus enough to cover her body. It was one thing to practice her magic sky clad when she was alone but not in front of another. It was then that she noticed he was also naked. She pulled her eyes away from him before he caught her staring.
"I'm Lao," he stated giving her a gentlemanly bow. "I live in the village down the hill from your palace."
"How do I know you're telling the truth?" Onyx demanded.
"You don't," he smiled warmly and took a step toward her. "You should come to the village more often. I'd love to see you in person."
"I send Kaela to the village to get what I need," Onyx stated.
"I know," he held his hands apart and materialized a robe for her. "She comes into my shop a lot to buy the supplies you need for your magic."
Before she could stop him he draped the robe over her shoulders. She slid her arms in and tied the sash. He materialized a pair of breaches and pulled them on; for her comfort more so than his.
"So, is this your first time in the astral plain?" Lao pressed.
"Yes," Onyx admitted. She wrapped her arms around herself defensively.
"Where is your guide?" Lao inquired he stepped forward, and gently touched her upper arms. His eyes widened in surprise, "you're here alone?"
"Yes," Onyx answered. "Aren't you?"
"I am," Lao answered, "but this is definitely not my first time here. I come here every day."
"I mastered the other elements by myself," Onyx couldn't help bragging. "Why would I need a guide?"
"The other elements exist in the physical plain," Lao explained. "To master spirit you need to be able to tap into this world without entering it."
"I have to be in this world to start," Onyx countered.
"Yes, but you should have someone with you who can help you if you get stuck," Lao explained patiently. "Do you know how to leave?"
"I..." Onyx began. She realized that she did not know how to get back.
"You don't know how to get back," Lao gasped. "If you don't get back to your body within three days you'll die, and be stuck here."
His words made her panic. She felt her legs give out, and found herself kneeling in the grass. Lao knelt beside her, and gripped her shoulders. She felt queasy like she was going to empty her belly. Lao tilted her face up to look at him, and saw horror in her eyes.
"Wait here," he whispered. "I'll help you."
With those words he was gone, and so was the robe he gave her. Onyx realized that she had never been so scared aside from her reoccurring nightmare of Ido killing her. She curled into a fetal position in the grass, and sobbed.
Lao returned to his body in the room above his shop. He quickly dressed, and grabbed he staff he used for his magic. He took enough time to extinguish his candles before leaving, and heading for the palace on his horse. By the time he reached the palace court yard his horse was frothing at the mouth. He slid off, and handed the horse to the groom who rushed up to him. He rushed to the door, and pounded his fist on it until Kaela opened it.
"Lao?" Kaela inquired, "What are you doing here?"
"No time to explain Kaela," he pushed past her into the entry hall. "Where does Lady Onyx practice her magic?"
"In the sky tower," Kaela answered. "Why?"
"She's trapped in the astral plain," Lao explained. "Where is the tower?"
"This way," Kaela led him to a flight of twisting stairs that seemed to climb all the way to the ceiling.
Lao wasted no time surmounting the stairs. They stopped on a landing just below the ceiling. He pushed through the door, and found a naked Onyx sitting in the center of her pentagram. He moved to the edge, but could not push past the barrier the candles created. He moved to the pillar that showed the symbol for spirit, and placed his bare hand on it. A white aura surrounded his body, connecting him to the pillar of spirit.
"Onyx!" Lao called at the pillar. "Onyx if you can hear me answered me."
He could hear her sobbing. She lifted her head at the sound of his voice.
She unfolded herself and stood looking up at the sky. A white light appeared in the symbol of spirit.
"Take my hand, and I'll pull you out!" His hand extended through the symbol, and she reached for it.
"I can't reach!" Onyx cried.
"Levitate up!" Lao instructed. "I know you can do it Onyx."
Onyx focused, and felt herself rising toward the symbol. She reached out, and felt Lao's hand envelop hers. She felt herself being pulled through the symbol. Lao pulled an organism of light through the symbol, and cast it at the body sitting in the center of the pentagram. Onyxâs eyes flew open in horror. She found herself being held in Laoâs arms. Onyx buried her face in his tunic and sobbed.
"There, there." Lao soothed stroking her hair. "You're out now."
"I'll never do that again," she sobbed.
"Of course you will," Lao moved her back so that he could look at her. "I'm going to help you; if you'll have me as your teacher."
Onyx eyed him curiously. He did not look much older than her. How could he know so much more about the element of spirit?
"It was my field of study at the school of Elemental focus," Lao explained as if reading her mind. "I think you've had enough for today though."
He helped her into her robe, and helped her descend the stairs from the sky tower. Kaela awaited them at the bottom of the stairs.
"Lady Onyx," she rushed to her. "Are you alright?"
"I'm alright," she looked up at Lao. "Thanks to you."
"If you'd like to thank me," he leaned down, and gave her a playful kiss. "Then let me stay, and help you."
"Alright," Onyx agreed.
Over the next few months Lao assisted Onyx in her training in the element of spirit. They became very close both in spirit and in the physical world. When Onyx finally was able to venture into the astral plain on her own Lao returned to his shop and home in the village. They continued to meet in the astral plain, and pursued a mutually beneficial friendship. Occasionally, they would meet in the physical world, but those meetings were far and few due to their busy lives.