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Rated: ASR · Short Story · Fantasy · #2138176
Written for Writers Cramp 10/18/17
Tobias read the sign on the door of the Water Elemental Magic classroom.


It took him less than a minute to decide what he would do with his unexpected freedom. Stopping by his room first to drop off his books and grab his knapsack and some snacks, Tobias fled the college grounds. Passing through the south gate before winding his way eastward, he made his way down the hilly streets of the walled city. Stalls offering a variety of merchandise caught his eye, but he was too focused to stop and take a closer look. The pungent scent of roasting meat slowed him for a brief moment, but be paused only long enough to buy a bruised apple from a bedraggled child whose sack of fruit looked as though it weighed more than she did.

His heart beating with excitement, Tobias ran across the gray stone bridge that marked the boundary of the old city, and on through the less populated area abutting the busy port.

It took him nearly three hours to reach the isolated cliffside overlooking the gray waters of the ocean, so different from the calm, azure sea near his village on the far side of the continent. He was very distant from home and everything familiar. A strong ocean breeze whipped long, fiery red hair around his face as Tobias looked out over the dynamic water below. The tall sea grasses rustling in the wind behind him were incidental. His focus was on what lay ahead. Just a few minutes longer. Tobias folded himself into a seated position at the very edge of the cliff, his bent knees projecting an inch out over the open space beyond, and breathed in the scent of brine. The blemished apple he had purchased earlier had just enough crunch to keep it from being inedible. He finished it quickly, flinging the core out into the air, to watch it arc and fall, disappearing long before it hit the water far below.

It was time. With practiced agility, Tobias rose in a single fluid movement, unconcerned with his proximity to the cliff edge. The air was chilled as he removed first his boots and then his clothing, carefully folding each item and tucking everything into his leather satchel. Lastly he reached behind his neck and undid the clasp of his stone pendant. He glared momentarily at the water stone dangling from the silver chain, and then at the foaming whitecaps, before tucking the necklace into his bag as well.

With a scream of pure joy, Tobias threw himself off the cliff.

His plummet lasted a mere heartbeat before he felt the glorious stretch of his wings unfurling as he shifted into his dragon form. Catching a gust of wind, Tobias swept out over the water, looping around in a jubilant dance on the air currents. Of all the things he missed about home, this was what he yearned for the most--the freedom of being able to find a bit of open space, preferably over the water, and just allowing himself to soar. Out here over the water, nobody knew of the shame that had brought him a thousand miles from home in search of answers. Out here over the water, nobody cared if he didn’t have his dragon fire. Out here over the water, Tobias was free.

He plunged into a steep dive, barely skimming the water with his talons before beating his powerful wings and ascending once again. By the time he alit on the grassy ground beside the cliff, the sun was beginning to sink in the west, coloring the sky in shades not unlike his own scales or the hue of his hair in human form.

Though it would take a third of the time for his dragon to return to the city, Tobias shifted back to human form, content with his unexpected day off.

650 words
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