“It’s rare for you to be around these parts, what do you have planned for today, Gaius?” his mother asked.

“I don’t know, I just came from Miss Loti’s forge. And I wanted to see what you two were up to, seeing that the village guard is the only ones working.”

A smile spread across her face as she asked, “Want to practice? Oh, don’t give me that face. You use to be so diligent,” she faked a sad sigh.

Around the age of 6, his parents tried to help him condense an Aspect by exposing him to many fighting styles. If he couldn’t condense an elemental Aspect and become a mage like his parents, then perhaps he could condense a martial Aspect and become a warrior. So they taught him how to fight with the sword, spear, bow, knife, shield, hammer, axe, and even tried more exotic weapons like blow-darts and throwing stars and knives. This went on for a year until the boy finally gave up and retreated to the forest. Fortunately for him he found his role as he had a knack for finding rare herbs and flowers. 

Seeing his mother’s sad face, Gaius gave in and decided to pick up a wooden spear. In that year of training, he always felt the most comfortable using the spear. To Gen’s surprise, his brother entered the training ground. This was the first time he has seen his brother pick up a weapon, as he was much too young to remember that year of training. 

Although Gaius doesn’t want to be reminded of his failures at condensing a martial Aspect, he had to agree that there was a nice calming effect as he gripped the wooden spear in his hands and settled into his stance. 

Seeing her son seriously and calmly prepare brought a twinge of joy into her heart. Looking at his eyes she saw that he was ready and she sprung forth striking with her wooden sword only to be blocked by shaft of the spear. She smiled inwardly as she felt the strong unyielding defense of her firstborn, as well as a bit of pride.

Gaius spent a lot of time struggling to learn these weapons in the vain hopes of condensing one of them. He remembered one particular day when his mother would beat him silly into the ground, berating him for not putting up a proper defense. It was then that he told his mother, “I can’t concentrate with your aura washing over me! Every time you attack I wraps around your sword, then when you defend it condenses around your shield, it’s very hard to concentrate”.  

At the mention of being able to see her aura, she was delighted; perhaps he will be able to condense the Aspect of Light just like her. After that, she spent several hours lecturing him on how to condense an Aspect of Light, to just manifest the essences into the body, but the boy just said that he can’t summon the Aspects, and could only see them. Although he failed at condensing an Aspect, he was able to stumble upon a surprise. The boy found that, instead of fighting and focusing on his mother’s aura, if he just let it wash over him he would able to keep up his energy. Another thing he slowly found out was that he’s able to tell when his mother would attack or defend depending on the ebb and flow of her aura, so it was easy for him to know when to dodge or strike. 

In the barrack courtyard a surprising scene unfolded. The captain of the guard was sparring against her son with a flurry of attacks and blocks, yet the boy was able to keep up with her, not showing any signs of fatigue. Seconds turns into minutes, then into tens of minutes. Although Gaius’s body was drenched in sweat, he felt invigorated as he bathed in the aura that his mother exuded, as if he was stealing some of her strength. Slowly but surely, his mother’s attacks became sharper and sharper. Her attacks were not the half-hearted swings from earlier strikes, each one contained a dense sharp aura. Lost in her spar and in the delight of her son holding up against her attacks she didn’t realize that his wooden spear was near breaking point. Unlike her own wooden sword that was reinforced with her Aspect, the wooden spear in Gaius’s hand was beginning to splinter. 

His mother’s next attack contained the same sharp aura, but her wooden sword strike broke through his spear block, shattering the training weapon and the sharp Aspect of Light was about to collide into him. In a moment of panic, Gaius lost control and fell to the ground, he stared at the impeding Aspect with dread. Gaius frantically reached his hand out to block the sharp aura, trying to will the attack from cleaving him in two. All of a sudden, the sharp aura disappeared and a surge of energy filled his body. His vision turned black and he immediately fainted. 

His mother stood there in complete shock. First at herself for almost harming her own child! How carless. She should have paid more attention to the wooden spear in his hands, but she was too engrossed in her pride as she watched her son deftly dodge and counter her attacks. Secondly, at her aura. It just disappeared. Although she didn’t control much of the aura as she only imbued her wooden sword with it, it should not have disappeared like that. It should have, to her dismay, killed her son, or at least severely wounded him. Shocked back to reality, she saw her son immediately faint as the aura vanished, perhaps the aura did strike him and now he’s dead! She dropped everything and rushed towards her son with tears in her eyes. She thanked the Mother that he was still breathing, calm deep breaths. She would have never been able to live with herself if she was the cause of harming her own son. 

Dan immediately ran towards Tulia, the captain of the guard, as she cradled her son. He pulsed his Aspect of Water to probe the boy’s body and to his delight, he could see that he was still alive. Having witnessed their spar earlier, and being one of the older veterans of the guard, he was one of the few present that knew how dangerous the errant aura was. He calmly whispered, “The boy is sleeping, probably due to shock. He’s perfectly healthy. Come, let’s get him on a proper bed.”

After finding an empty bed in the infirmary, Dan left to give Tulia some privacy with her infirmed son.

Tulia directed Gen to bring his father while she waited and looked at her sleeping baby. “I’m so sorry,” she began to sob. Through her teary eyes she noticed that the boy was releasing a white aura. She perked up at this discovery and examined him more closely with her own Aspect. She encased him with a soft white aura, and to her surprise he was indeed releasing an Aspect of Light. This wasn’t the same as condensing an Aspect, but it seemed to her that he was leaking aura? Before she could ponder on it more, she could hear the arrival of her husband and her second son. She softly told him what transpired, how she almost maimed their son. 

“And before I knew it, his wooden spear broke and the aura almost cleaved him in half, then it just disappeared. Now he’s sleeping, but the odd thing is that the boy is releasing the Aspect of Light. Gen, look at your brother and tell me what you see,” she directed.

To his surprise, Gen does as he’s told and a gasp escaped his breath and he looked at his mother and nodded. 

Before Duncan could rejoice about Gaius finally condensing an aura, Tulia said, “He isn’t condensing an aura though, it is like he’s leaking it. Have you ever heard of such a thing?”

Puzzled, Duncan shook his head.

It wasn’t until later that night that Gaius woke up. Feeling invigorated Gaius jumped from his bed and stretched to his heart’s content. His abrupt action surprised his parents and his brother, as they were huddled together talking softly about the nearby kwach’a herd.

“Honey!” Tulia rushed to her son and embraced him fiercely, her eyes immediately started to water while she tried to hold back her sobs, “I’m so sorry. Mother was foolish and almost hurt you.”

Gaius was entirely surprised by his mother’s behavior, “Mom? What happened? Why are you crying?”

Tulia calmed down a bit and held back hers sobs long enough to look in her son’s eyes and noticed that there was only concern, “You don’t remember what happened?”

Now that she mentioned it, Gaius tried to recall the last thing he remembered. A shiver ran down his spine as he remembered the sharp aura of her Aspect barreling towards him. He remembered being afraid of death and then how the aura suddenly disappeared. Before he passed out though, he remembered how he felt full of energy, like white hot water pouring into his body. It overwhelmed him and before he could do anything, darkness took him.

With his crestfallen face, Gaius looked at his mother and barely nodded, “I remember. I was really scared.”

Seeing his son’s face, Duncan’s heart couldn’t help but shudder. Thinking of ways to cheer him up, Duncan recalled the leaking aura, “Gaius. Do you know what happened to your mother’s aura? Why it disappeared?”

Gaius was still shaken by how close he was to death that he didn’t fully understand what his father just asked him, so it took him a while to finally ponder the question. “Um, I don’t really know. One second I thought it was going to kill me, and the next it just disappeared.”

Hearing her son say ‘I thought it was going to kill me’ is just as bad as saying ‘I thought mom was going to kill me’, her heart ached at the thought of he son being fearful of her.

Duncan, wanting to cheer his son up, didn’t really know what his wife was currently thinking so he told Tulia to condense her Aspect; to see if they could recreate the phenomenon. 

Tulia was about to object whole-heartedly but she saw the eager expression on Gaius’s face, a curious glint flashed deep within his eyes, as if he too wanted to find these answers. At that moment she realized how worked up she was. Gaius didn’t seem to fear her aura any more or less than before, and with an apprehensive nod she condensed her Aspect. 

A soft white aura permeated throughout the infirmary. Gaius let the aura bathe him in the warm familiar light. Duncan looked at his son expectedly, not knowing really what to expect. “So, do you feel anything different?” his father asks.

“Hmm, no, not really. It’s a lot softer than usual, but it still makes me feel warm and safe,” Gaius absentmindedly responded.

Tulia breathed a sigh of relief that her son didn’t scorn her for the near-death experience. 

“When you were sleeping earlier, your mother and brother was able to see traces of the Light Aspect leak from your body. I had hoped that this accident would allow you to condense an Aspect.”

Gaius looked at his father oddly, along with his mother and brother.

“What? Don’t stare at me like that. I’ve heard plenty of stories where people discover amazing abilities through near-death experiences,” Duncan defended himself.

The three of them looked at Duncan’s serious expression, and Tulia let out a chuckle. Gaius and Gen smiled and as if their mother’s laugh was contagious, they began chuckling too. Soon the three of them laughed for no apparent reason. Eventually Duncan joined in and laughed too. As if by some magic, the family of four felt like the gloomy atmosphere lifted form their shoulders; life returning to their eyes as they sat in the infirmary laughing for no reason.

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