by Brendan McGrath
Mindi skipped happily through the Sprite Village to the school house. She was very excited. Today was the day that she would start to learn how to use magic from each of the eight elementals! Every sprite learned at eight years old how to summon elementals and use their energy to create spells. Now she could finally learn, too!
Mindi thought of Nasia, the sprite who helped the Mana Knight, Yada, and Lilac, a girl from Pandora, defeat Thanatos and the Mana Fortress, and save Mana. She'd been very skilled at magic. Mindi's grandfather said that she could make a huge boulder drop on monsters, and send fireballs at them.
Mindi thought about the first time she'd heard about Nasia's adventures with Yada and Lilac. She'd listened with excited ears when told of the rides on Flammie, the white dragon. She'd smiled and rejoiced when told of when they met the Mana Tree. She'd shivered with fear when told of Thanatos, the evil sorcerer who was master of the Underworld. She'd always admired Nasia, and wanted to be like her. Now she could learn to use magic like her.
Mindi approached the school house. She'd been inside before, but never to learn. It was like all the other houses in the village, with roofs made of woven reed, walls made of hardened clay and sandstone, and floor rugs made of flower petals. The only difference was like five houses grouped together, and where the walls touched they connected.
Mindi walked into the house, and in front of her face, the elemental Gnome appeared. He was dressed in a green tunic with a leather belt at his waste. A long beard fell to the floor, and he carried a cane. He wore a green hat on his head, and it dipped down like a night cap. His eyes twinkled brightly.
"Good morning, child!" greeted the elemental.
"Hello, Mr. Gnome! My name is Mindi," exclaimed Mindi. "I've always wanted to meet you! You're my favorite elemental!"
Gnome began to blush, his earthy tones turning as red as a tulip in Kamaj's garden. (Kamaj was the keeper of the Wind Palace, just north of the Sprite Village)
"Thank you, child. Mindi, I believe you'll be learning from me today. Follow me," said Gnome.
Mindi skipped home to her cottage after school. Her parents, Suki and Koto, would be so proud of her. She'd learned how to create a gem missile! She looked at the new ring on her finger, which was engraved with Gnome's image. She raised it to the sky, and called, "Gnome!"
Gnome appeared, and sent his power into her hands. She concentrated, and used the power to create magic gem earrings! She put them in her pocket.
Mindi walked into her house, to smell the sweet smell of cherry blossom spices be cooked over the fire in the hearth. She saw her mother, Suki, standing at the table, cutting up fuggles, a bulb that grew from the roots of a fugglina plant. They were great to eat with the cherry blossom spices sprinkled over them.
"Hello, Mindi!" called Suki, as she turned and wiped her hands on her apron, and then held them out to Mindi, who she hugged.
"Mommy, look what I made for you with Gnome's magic!" Mindi pulled the earrings out of her pocket.
"Oh, they're beautiful, Mindi!" exclaimed Suki.
Just then, screams were heard from outside the hut, and Mindi and Suki ran outside, as Koto, Mindi's father, came running into the village from berry picking. In the center of the village stood a female human.
"I saw her materialize just now," whispered Koto. "She teleported here!"
"Where is Kamaj?!" demanded the human. Her voice was like ice, and her gaze was as cold and mean as a glacier. She was dressed in a purple gown, with black hair flowing down her back.
"Melcifia!" exclaimed Kamaj from the steps of the Wind Palace. "When I was young, you took the lives of many of our sprites. Now I am eldest, and you have returned. What do you seek of us?"
"Revenge!" she breathed icily. "You injured me, and nearly killed me! All you weakling sprites!" Fire danced in those icy eyes.
"You attacked our village! You were an agent of Emperor Vandole! We would not let you take over the Upperland Forest!"
"And now, I will finally be able to!" screamed Melcifia. She raised her hands, and a swarm of dark orbs materialized from her finger tips, and died in front of her.
"Foolish one!" chided Kamaj. The power of Mana protects us! No evil corruption of Mana can exist here! Go!"
"Oooh! I will return!" she hissed, and vanished in a flash of light.
"Mommy, Daddy, who was that?!" exclaimed Mindi. Fear lay in her eyes.
"One of Emperor Vandole's servants," explained Koto, "Her sister was Fanha. Melcifia was jailed because she had refused to pull out of a battle when commanded by Vandole. She would not leave before all were killed."
"She was forgotten after that. She must have escaped from the prison," whispered Suki.
"Why wouldn't Queen Krissie have found her?" asked Mindi. (Krissie, the leader of the Resistance, was elected the queen of the Empire after Vandole's death.)
"Rumor had it that she was in a hidden cell," answered Koto. "And now, she walks. And she will not give up until our village is destroyed..."