The moon rose and projected a still darkness over Gardena City. Only insomniacs, teenagers, sinners and the grief-stricken were awake to listen to the minor key melodies the shadows played. The High-wizard’s apprentice Carlos Rodriguez was the former; after every anniversary of his mom’s death, his eyes would retreat further into inner-darkness. Each year Carlos would become less aware of the world around him. On the night of March 31st he would refuse sleep, like in a demented Christmas eve where instead of presents were the reminders of her death. The LED clock stood at 11:55 while memories of Marissa Rodriguez’s dying rolled in the film of his mind. Solitary tears splashed onto the book below whose text had been handwritten, but he vowed not to cry. Not until April… Then finally midnight: April 1st. The sparse tears became fountains pouring out the soul of the 22 year old. Involuntarily — though perhaps habitually— Carlos visualized his former home. It was a small single story building with nothing extravagant as aesthetic design, but in the simplicity was a beautiful organization. Furniture was forced into symmetry and each item had a compartment in space where it was allowed to exist peacefully. Carlos and his mother were both asleep when the building caught fire. A bright light awakened him and the intense heat was enough motivation to move quickly. His mom’s room was already filled with smoke and the woman unconscious. He knew he was too weak to save his mom but continued to try as the building began to collapse. Only after a portion of the roof collapsed on top of Marissa, splattering brain matter, did he escape outside. Carlos fell asleep shortly after the visualization feeling rain on his skin as he had that night. He knew it was absurd; it hadn’t rained in Gardena City since that night in April.
High-wizard Alfonso Amello was a member of the groups who were up that night: an insomniac. He heard through the paper thin walls of the apartment they shared, the howls of his apprentice. The sobs echoed a pang in his growing-fragile heart and he too recalled the day that Marissa Rodriguez died. Amello had already retired from the Council of High-wizards the year before and settled down in a small city riddled with palm trees and smelled of the nearby ocean. He worked with the police department to improve their mage detachment. Up until the blaze, the city was quiet and treated him well; there was an excess of peaceful silence and the residents often greeted each other with a smile. On April 17th the peace was broken. A mile north of the town was a maximum-security prison. In one of those cells was a man named Jason Mrza, who had assassinated a federal government official and In a method that would leave the Gardena Maximum-security prison clueless for the rest of its establishment, he escaped.
The police department immediately assembled their mage detachment and Amello lead the search. Wisp lights from search spells filled the outskirts of the city before one dashed back into town. The light moved erratically at first then as if locked on via GPS, made precise turns. The detachment followed closely behind. Jason Mrza was holed up in a downtown motel. When Amello arrived at the Homefront Inn and told his men to make ready. When they opened the hotel door that the ball of light stopped at, a cloud of smoke filled the air and in the next instant Mrza bolted out unseen but not unheard. They chased him through the crowded streets casting bolts of fire, electricity and ice at one another. An hour passed as they chased him through town. Finally in an ambush executed by Alfonso Amello, Jason Mrza was trapped. Bolts of fire were expelled in every direction as he tried to defend his position. One of those bolts zoomed past a cluster palm trees and collided into a small house which instantly set it aflame. The detachment each casted a spell of binding that rendered Mrza immobile in a nearly visible purple rope-like light that surrounded his body. Amello heard the building collapse and then a cry of the orphaned child. It was his fault. If he caught him sooner, this boy’s life would have been entirely different. He pitied the boy and his heart wrenched of guilt in his chest. By April 28th Amello became Carlos’ legal guardian and that same day Carlos begged to become his apprentice.
Carlos woke up with swollen eyes and a bruised heart, but even melancholy couldn’t stop his routine. As soon as he got out of bed, he walked over to his light-brown desk and turned on the light. The book he was reading the previous night was still open which made it easy for him to pick up where he’d left off. It was a leather-bound book with the name “Amello” gilded down the spine and the number four was branded just below that. It detailed several failed experiments to manipulate and control weather. In one experiment he tried to create rain but he had used all his magical energy in manipulating the moisture to evaporate that he fell unconscious before he could will them to form. As he read Carlos took detailed notes, and any time he thought he heard his master’s footsteps in the hall he would hide the book under his desk. After a simple pasta lunch, Carlos knocked on his master’s bedroom door. “It’s time for our dueling session,” Carlos yell through the door. A few moments later Amello opened the door in pajama bottoms and a robe, and he walked with apprentice to the grass lot behind the apartment building.
They stood no more than six feet apart. Carlos’ aloof eyes looked into Amello’s, whose eyes had become a deep purple from the weeks of repeated exhaustion. For a moment, the grief and suffering lingered in the air as if trying to convey messages to each other but never had the energy. Then Carlos bowed to break the stillness and, as if predicting his Master’s first move, created a wall of earth in of him. This blocked the metal bolts that Amello had materialized without Carlos having noticed. The apprentice ran out from behind the cover and fired a quick burst of fire bolts but they vanished shortly after they were created; dispelled in an instant by a wave of Amello’s hand. The two moved clockwise in a circle as they danced with creation and destruction. Elements of various types would peek into existence only to be eliminated by the will of the other. The clashing grew larger and brighter as the duel increased in ferocity. The aloof man’s spirit had woken from its 10 year slumber just to show a small glint in his eyes while sparring. As suddenly as it began, it stopped. Carlos bowed to his master again and they sat on the grass embracing the caress of the wind. His eyes faded back into the distance.
Carlos felt the warmth of the sun and finally made a decision. He understood the taboo and the risks of doing it, but he was convinced he had to. He turned to the old-man who had taken him under his wing and said, “I’ve been reading about your weather experiments.” The old man wasn’t surprised in the least — he also noted the strange coincidence that the 10 year drought had begun April 17th.
There was a long pause before he decided to speak, and when he did it was so sudden Carlos jolted. “Creating rain isn’t going to help you with your grief. Besides if you’ve read the work, you know it’s impossible. It could get you killed. I’ve taught you about magic depletion death, haven’t it?.”
“It might not help and maybe you’re right. But I can’t keep feeling this shitty forever. If it rains even for a second it will help kick-start us out of this drought. Then maybe I can start seeing April for the rain and not death.” Carlos poured his soul to his master after years of holding it in.
“You can die Carlos. Every bit of the process will take energy from you. Evaporating moisture, condensing that into clouds and even the rainfall. It’ll will strip you of your energy, leave you immobile first, then unconscious, and then you’ll die. Is that what you want? Is that why you wanted to become my apprentice?” Two sets of eyes flickered in and out of a passionate rage one trying desperately to come to terms with death, the other trying to prevent it. Neither would yield to the other. Alfonso crossed his arms and said, “You’re an adult so you can make this decision for yourself. But I’m not going to come and help you because you’ll never learn your lesson if I do.” Carlos returned home and pulled out all the books on weather and rain that he had been hiding from his master, he continued to devour their contents.
For two weeks, Carlos neglected dueling his master for the sake of learning as much as he could about rain. He had to know every process well for the magic to work; wizards doesn’t produce something out of thin air, they manipulate every atom and every bond until they have their desired product. The 17th had to be the day it rained it was the only detail Carlos was sure. Doubts slithered into his mind and they reminded him that no matter the effort or desire, he would never recover from the tragedy. In fact, the most likely scenario was that he would die, as Amello’s assistant in the rain experiment had. It was an outright discouraging reality. On the afternoon of April 17th, the sun shone the brightest it had all month. It was a mockery to event the day marked. Carlos sat on a small field of brown-green grass where his home used to stand. “I’m going to die,” was Carlos first thought out of a daydream. “I put in all this work to become a wizard, and I’m going to die doing something stupid. But at least I’m powerful enough to save you now, mom,” Carlos thought aloud, in between chastising and comforting himself. Carlos had imagined the scene on repeat over the years and there was one thing he was certain about: the death of Marissa Rodriguez was not his fault. He was a weak child who did the best he could. She would be happy seeing that her child got to live an exciting life as an apprentice to a high-wizard and eventually he may become a full-fledged wizard. Carlos took deep breaths to steady his mind.
Then he closed his eyes and focused all of his emotional and magical energy which became visible with a golden glow. With a wave of his wrist, he dispersed that energy across the town. He was going to make rain clouds. Each bit of energy lent its hand at evaporating water and condensing that moisture into clouds. Residents of Gardena city were stunned when the blue-grey overcast started to appear. They were the sort of clouds that would always, despite the direction of the wind, navigate around the city and pour down in the nearby forest. As the clouds grew the wind began to blow wildly. This caused the thinnest of trees to snap and blow away while the sturdier one bent slightly to the whim of the gusts. The increased wind caused a panic to stir in Carlos — the wind wasn’t apart of the plan and if it picks up anymore it will definitely cause serious damage. Carlos wanted to do something but the best thing he could do was sit there on the plot of land and focus. Anything else would waste magical and physical energy.
Carlos felt his body become completely numb and fell backward into the grass. He was paralyzed from magical exhaustion and all he could do now is look up into the charcoal nimbus that was now accompanied by thunder and lightning. The light and sound of the new elements harmonized with the symphony of nature that Carlos created. Following a cymbal crash of thunder, it started to rain. The small droplets riddled the land and fell on Carlo’s face. He had done it. No matter what happened to him now, he was the wizard who created rain over a city. The downpour began shortly after causing floods in areas around Carlos. He was worried about the progression of the rain but he couldn’t even stand up to do anything. He needed his masters help but he couldn’t even cry out his name. Besides even if he could, Amello wouldn’t come to help. He tried, at least to take off his glasses that the rain made impossible to see with but he couldn’t get rid of that annoyance either. He closed his eyes slowly drifting into unconsciousness and felt the heavy rain crash on his body. It was cold, not the kind of cold that makes the body shiver, though. The frigid water was actually refreshing.
The twin brothers lightning and thunder wouldn’t allow themselves to be outperformed by their aqueous counterpart. So the lightning began to strike every few seconds often hitting the ground. The orchestra imparted destruction on to the land below. The bolts crashed into homes that were quickly and safely evacuated as some burst aflame. The wind became powerful enough to knock down strongly-rooted trees and Carlos felt the wind nudge him a few inches. The feeling of temporary weightlessness caused by the gust made him realize his mistake. He wouldn’t be able to regain energy for sometime which meant the storm would be able to do with him as it pleased It could take him as its sacrifice if it so desired. As if to prove that point lightning struck the ground 5 feet to his right. There was a brief stillness before Carlos felt the hair on his skin rise and each follicle stiffening to welcome whatever deity may come next. This is what it felt like before lightning collided with a human, Carlos thought as he drew nearer to unconsciousness. Lightning, like a railgun, was ejected from the heavens in a crooked path to its target of a man who dared to play god. Even though his eyes were closed, Carlos saw the intense light and welcomed it; People have to pay for their mistakes. But before it could reach its mark it was deflected. Carlos opened his eyes briefly to see the ragged old man Amello, then he closed his eyes again.
Alfonso Amello the high-wizard focused his energy into the storm and it began to buckle to his will. It was reluctant, thrashing about with high winds and multiple claps of thunder. But the weather finally gave way to its new master and surrendered its existence into a tiny sprinkle. Carlos opened his eyes again and saw that Amello was hardly affected by his run in with Mother Nature. Mustering all the energy he could, Carlos gave a knowing smile; Amello the wizard had done this before at some point in his life. He brooded over his mother one last time and with the wind and the rain, the grief faded away. “You know, I used to hate the rain.” Carlos said sitting up slowly. “It made it hard to see with glasses and I hated the feeling of having on wet clothes” He paused for a moment looking at the sky and embracing the small drizzle of rain, “I was actually glad that it stopped raining but each year it didn’t rain reminded me I was still depressed. But now, this rain on my skin… it’s such a wonderful feeling.”