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The Mage's War This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

     Jason ran through the woods at great haste, and the shouts behind grew quiet. Jason was running away from captors; he had finally escaped. Jason was from a small village on the outskirts of the castle. Jason had curly brown hair and light skin. He wore rugged clothing and was strong compared to most children. The kingdom was lush and full of life and usually everyone was nice. He was born and raised a hunter and helped provide for his family. Jason wanted to be soldier when he grew up, but Jason became even better. Unlike the other people in his village, Jason had an aptitude for magic. He could control the very elements at his fingertips; this became very strong but what grew in power also grew instability. When the king heard that he had magical abilities, he was immediately admitted into the army. The king had to find a teacher to teach Jason how to control his powers. The king finally found Mr. Aether.
Mr. Aether was like Jason, he has the ability to summon the elements at his fingertips, and he also taught other students. There was Andrew Brady, who wanted to control the water and the air around him. He had dirty blonde hair and freckles on his face. Alex wore lots of red and was nice. There was Lily Waters, who believed in peace and vowed to control life to protect and heal others. She had dark brown, wavy hair. She loved plants and animals and wore tons of green. And then there was Sam Hunt; he was dark and mysterious and was only intent in learning his powers and not making friends. He had jet black hair and was very thin. He usually wore black clothes to match his hair. Jason had to become acquainted with his new teammates as they would be helping each other to fight the rebellion of the villages.
“Today’s lesson will be on controlling and focusing your energy to move the following objects,” Mr. Aether said.
Jason saw a rock, a bowl of water, and open flame, and a small sapling. Each student had to attempt to move the following items. Lily moved the sapling and made it grow at a rapid rate. Andrew made the water rise into an orb and spin around him. Sam had made the rock tumble to the ground at alarming speeds. It was Jason’s turn to attempt controlling the elements. He walked to the table and focused on the rock to make it move… nothing happened. He tried the water and again nothing happened. The other students were looking at him and Jason got mad. He turned red hot and then all of a sudden, the rock, flame, water, and sapling swirled around him and formed into something that he couldn’t put into words.
“Everyone back away!” Mr. Aether had shouted.
The students ran but Jason stood awestruck; he had created something of unknown origin. He was shocked and couldn’t move, and he couldn’t speak. Mr. Aether had enough and grabbed him and used air to soar out of the room. They waited until the element had subsided. Mr. Aether had explained that when all elements combine they either make light or dark depending on the person. He had also said that it usually takes years of training to conjure it. The students were sent back to the castle for food and rest. Andrew had gone over to Jason’s room to tell him about the orb.
“That was really cool what you did back there,” Andrew exclaimed.
“I don’t know how I did it,” Said Jason as he looked at his hands like they had done something horrific.
They talked for hours on end until Andrew got tired and headed off to bed. Jason was glad he had become better friends with Andrew but his mind has still been fogged with the thought of what he did at school. His eyes grew heavy and soon he fell into a deep slumber.

  The morning was normal. He woke up, he ate breakfast, and got ready. This morning was slightly different though. The rebellion in the villages was growing stronger and taking more and more territory of the kingdom. Jason was glad his parents were near the castle and with the king, but he also was scared that soon one day Jason would join the fight. Mr. Aether had explained to the students that their very existence could win a possible war.  That day, the students learned specifically how to wield an element in battle.
“For this test I will summon elementals to fight you, do the best you can and do not worry, they cannot hurt you,” Mr. Aether said with a small smile on his face.
The students nodded their heads and got ready for position. Jason didn’t know what to do. He just joined this school and now there fighting monsters.
“This is crazy,” Jason whispered right as the elementals were summoned.
The students were amazed at the beauty and grace of the elementals but soon took their awe away as the elementals lashed out on them. Lily had begun conjuring shields around the four students to protect them from the upcoming attacks. Sam disappeared into the shadows to surprise the enemy. Andrew flew orbs of water and spikes of ice at the elementals but to no avail.
“We have to go bigger!” Andrew shouted and the elementals rose into the air.
Sam had come out of the shadows with a knife forged of fire and stabbed the first elemental’s back. Its body disintegrated into thin air. The students had smiles on their faces and circled the last elemental.  The elemental fought in vain as the four students gathered around it and blasted as much magic as they could. The elemental had screeched in pain and soon fell into ashes.  Mr. Aether had applauded their performance.
“Hurrah!” the four students yelled in unison.
Later that night, Mr. Aether had prepared a feast in honor of their success at the trial. They laughed and ate and had a great time. Mr. Aether had told legends and stories from his homeland. Soon the kids grew sleepy and were sent to bed by Mr. Aether for rest for the next day.
Jason knew that the rebellion had been growing stronger, and when the time came, would fight it. He felt queasy of the thought of killing people who were just like him, innocent and thrown into a war they didn’t want to fight. He finally got it out of his head and headed downstairs. The breakfast had been the same as usual. It was eggs, bacon, and toast. He ate like a pig because magic drains his energy, which made him hungry. Andrew and Lily were talking about yesterday’s lesson while Sam ate in silence. They grouped up to find Mr. Aether when suddenly a rock crashed through the window. Glass shattered everywhere right as Mr. Aether had showed up.
“Everybody down!” Mr. Aether shouted.
The students dropped to the floor as the sound of rocks and shattered glass and pounded the walls. Mr. Aether soon got up to see what was happening, and he saw a vast army of the rebellion and gasped in horror.
“We’re being attacked!” the king bellowed.
“Follow me,” said Sam so calmly like he didn’t care what was happening.
Sam ran and the rest followed to a secret area behind a painting.
“How do you know this was here.” Lily whispered.
“I have some free time,” Sam said with a smirk curling on his face.
The group stayed there silently for quite some time until Mr. Aether believed it subsided. He exited the room behind the painting and silently went back to the window.
“We’re clear,” Mr. Aether whispered.
They looked outside to see the castle had been ransacked. Mr. Aether had said that some of the soldiers may be here but everyone was safe.
The next day the King had declared war on the rebellion.
“I wish I didn’t have to do this. I hoped the rebellion would subside but it only grew stronger,” The King said with a sense of sorrow in his voice.
“It is time to act, I have sent troops to attack the rebellion and our mages are one of them.”
The students were surprised; they hadn’t learned much but were now scared for what was to come.
Mr. Aether objected yelling things like
“They aren’t ready!” or “Give us more time!”
“I’m sorry,” the king said with a voice of content.
The rest of the day was awkward. Mr. Aether was packing things for when they leave for the war. Jason, Sam, Andrew, and Lily had to practice relentlessly before they left, and the king was ordering soldier to travel to the fort.
“When do we leave?” Jason asked.
“By dawn,” Mr. Aether responded as he put the last few things in his bag.
“Are we going to survive this?” Lily said trembling in fear.
Mr. Aether sat down with them he said it would be ok, they had learned the basics of magic and now it would come easy. They would learn new abilities along the way.
“I’ll protect them,” Lily said.
“I’ll fight for them,” Sam said.
“I’ll save them,” Andrew said.
And finally Jason said,
“I’ll be for them.”
The next day the students were sent to a camp near one of the rebel forts. You could see the fear in their eyes as they saw soldiers with life threatening wounds. Alex broke the silence between the four.
“At least if we stay alive than we’ll have great stories to tell,” Alex said with a tone of hope. He always had a good side.
Everyone smiled at Alex’s remark. They all knew that this war would have consequences, and more for fighting in it. Jason accepted fate, so did Alex and Sam but Lily rejected it.
“I can’t fight in a war,” Lily cried with tears streaming down her face.
“It’s okay,” Mr. Aether said as the others were surprised at his appearance.
Mr. Aether was wearing rugged clothing when he butted into the students’ conversation. Jason usually sees him in fancy robes.
“We are being sent in at 4,” Mr. Aether continued. He looked sad with fresh tears still gliding down his face.
The few pass time practicing their powers and magic. They didn’t know much but the basics gave them access to their own understanding. They trained and trained vigorously and soon enough they were walking towards the fort with grim faces.
The commander of the group gave an uproarious speech on how they could change the fate of the rebellion. It went on and on until soon the students marched toward the fort with their arms locked.
“This is the end,” Alex said grimly. He was serious with a stern look on his face.
Jason was unfamiliar with this side of Alex; he was usually the one putting positivity in their actions but, this time he didn’t.
“You can’t fix the war I guess,” Jason thought to himself.
The arrived at the front gates, Lily had put a barrier around the four and was waiting for the gates to crash down to the floor. As soon as they heard the clang, they ran in at full fury. They didn’t want to die so they thought if they went first then they’ll survive. Jason shot balls of fire and earth into soldiers in the rebellion. Lily was making plants grow at her touch and subdue enemies; she didn’t want to hurt anyone. Alex was destroying the rebel supplies with flashes of lighting and waves of water. Sam ran through with a knife made of stone and slashed through the enemy lines. Lily’s barrier stopped any incoming attacks. Without her, they would have surely been dead. The four fought bravely and soon Jason got use to the stench of fresh blood. None of them liked it but had to get used to it so it wouldn’t be so bad. The trumpets shouted as if they were war generals to signify the end of battle. The army had won and there was no more fighting today.
Mr. Aether greeted them at camp with cups of healing tea. Jason let its warmth absorb to destroy the freezing of death inside him. The four drank and went to the feast at dusk to get food. There was a variety of choices but Jason settled for a sandwich. The others ate until they couldn’t contain it…literally. Alex threw up in one of the pitchers of beer around the hall. Everyone was disgusted so the four left to stop attracting unwanted attention. They went he back to their tent and finally got some rest. Jason had a weird dream that night, and he saw the souls of the ones he killed. He kept yelling “I’m sorry!” as the spirits tormented him.
“I’m sorry!” Jason yelled as he woke up instantly to stop the pain. The other four looked at him with concern. Finally, Mr. Aether came in and talked to Jason. Jason told him everything.
“I know how you feel,” Mr. Aether said
“What!” Jason was surprised, he never knew Mr. Aether fought in a war. 
Mr. Aether told him about the wars he had fought in. Everyone wanted him to fight, to kill. He didn’t like it; he was forced to do something he didn’t want to do. So when he went to sleep he would see the souls of his enemies.
“I try to ignore it but soon enough I’d get to me,” Mr. Aether spoke with no emotion.
Mr. Aether finished talking and told them to get sleep, but Jason didn’t sleep, not one single bit.
Today was the day that Jason and the others would relocate to another fort. This fort was to be attacked and taken over. Jason wasn’t used to fighting just yet, but he had no choice. The few marched with the army of soldiers to reach the second camp. This time they didn’t need to unpack for the mages will be attacking at dusk.
“So we don’t get any rest, it’s been a long day and I’d like to sleep.” Lily said as she yawned.
No one was use to the schedule; well no one has experience this kind of schedule. Jason was surprised that the fort was to be attacked by only the mages. The commander didn’t want any more soldiers dead. So when the time came the mages marched to the fort, this time alone.
Jason was surprised with a volley of arrows that blotted out the moon. Thankfully Lily had protected them with a barrier. The four marched in with balls of fire, spikes of ice, vines, and rocks at the ready. The battled raged for hours but soon the fort had been eradicated and was taken over by the soldiers who soon came to the fort. The children were not happy when the fort was eradicated. All they wanted to do is sleep, so they did.’
The next morning could have been normal if it weren’t for this stupid war. Alex and Sam were sparring as Lily was in the infirmary healing the wounds of other soldiers. The next fort was the Rebel base, the headquarters.
“If we win this battle, the war should be over…right?” Jason thought to himself. He was second guessing himself.
When the war would be over, the mages would be rejoiced and given titles. Jason didn’t want this; he didn’t want to be remembered as the mage who killed thousands. Soon, then mages would head out to the final battle. They gathered up before leaving so they could be together.
The march was like usual; the soldier sang songs of fortune and glory while the mages were in the back somber. This time Jason had been filled with hope, and the war would end because of them. The base came into view; the soldiers grew faster at its sight. Jason’s hope had been diminished as he saw the rebels of the base were being sent their way. He didn’t think they’d retaliate. They usually would wait until the mages arrived. Lily saw something, and had an expression of horror. The rebels had mages of their own. One was pulsating with the void; the other had fire burning at every step.
“Are those mages!” Jason shouted.
“I guess we’re fighting our own kind,” spoke Sam.
“It had to happen someday, but I didn’t guess today.” Alex said grimly.
The mages approached the upcoming army. The soldier took on the army while the mages took on the mages.
Jason ran at great haste toward the mage with pulsating void. Lily had made barriers and this time was fighting at full force. Sam shot daggers of earth but to no avail. The rebel mages were blocking every single hit.
“How is this possible, they don’t have shields,” Jason whispered.
“They must me using light and dark,” Sam replied
“Then you know what to do Jason,” Lily whispered.
Jason knew what to do, but didn’t know when to do it. War raged in the background as Jason conjured a ball of light and shot the mage with the void. The light was brighter than a thousand suns and exploded on impact of the mage’s flesh. The mage screamed in pain as the void around him grew weaker. Now the fire mage was mad; he shot balls of fire and shot down lighting from the sky.  This gave the void mage time to get back, and they both were furious. They conjured elementals to attack the students as they shot balls of elements.
“What do we do now?” Jason thought.
He conjured a ball of dark and shot it towards the ground. He was surprised that it actually did something. The darkness wrapped around the two mages with the darkest substance Jason has ever seen. The light had drained out of their eyes as he darkness slowly consumed them. The others were awestruck; they had won.
The mages approached the rebel base with confidence that they would succeed. As the soldiers attacked the base, the mages were to assassinate the leader.
“It’s my time to shine,” Sam said and he was right.
Sam had always been a sneaky guy, and he was going to sneak a blade into the leader’s heart. The approached the door of the leader’s room and bust it down with a shake of earth. The leader was surprised at the presence of the mages.
“What are you doing here you fools,” the leader bellowed.
“We’re here to end the rebellion and you can’t stop us,” Alex yelled.
The leader smiled at his remark.
“Maybe I’m not the one you should be fighting for,” the leader said as he stared down the students. It was too late to explain; Sam had pierced the leader’s heart. He lye motionless on the ground. The students stood there, filled with so many emotions. Jason finally broke the silence.
“Hurray?” Jason said questionably.
They ran out to tell everyone that the leader was dead. The mages were sent home to their parents after they returned to the castle. The king introduced the mages as the royal mages of the kingdom.
“Everything is back to normal,” Jason thought and suddenly he remembered, that everything isn’t normal and he’s a wizard.




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