The Four Major Elements
All things consist of Earth, Water, Fire, and Air, the four major elements.
The elements are united by Love, and separated by Hatred.
“Elements is the way to think about it all.”
Drawing out a picture on a stone board with a stone for the first time in a while, I started to describe my thoughts.
Writing letters on the huge stone board I’d brought back to the classroom with the soft while stone was practically the same as using chalk on a blackboard. I could easily erase it all with a wet cloth, but we hardly used this special classroom at all. Teaching our students in the field was a far better way to have them remember.
However, it was necessary to understand something mentally first.
“All of the things in this world are made by combining several attributes, that line of thought. Among those attributes are four that are particularly basic, what we’ll call the four major elements. Fire, earth, water, and air.”
Drawing pictures to illustrate the four with burning fire, a hard stone, dripping water, and leaves blowing in the wind, sure enough, my students all had figurative question marks floating above their heads.
“Using a living thing to describe it should make it easier to understand. Water—blood—flows through our veins, we breath in air, our bodies will eventually return to the earth, and the fire of life fills our chests. Any living thing will die if they lack even a single one of these.”
“Our bodies are made of dirt?”
At about that moment, Shig looked doubtful and asked a question.
“It just belongs to the earth, I didn’t mean that it was itself of the earth. Like how blood isn’t actually water.”
“We learned about something similar from Nina some time ago. The three phases of matter, yes?”
I suppose I should say the wise elf came to the rescue. Violet has an amazing memory. Not only does she remember things well, she picks things up at an alarming speed.
“Three phases… what’re they again…?”
Although Rin had definitely been there for the class as well, she tilted her head. Judging by their expressions, neither Shig nor Yuuki could really remember them either.
“Visible things like stones and dirt and have a shape are solids. Although you can also see water, it doesn’t have a constant shape, so it is a liquid. Things you can’t see and have no shape, like air, are gasses.”
“Oooh, I get it now!”
Listening to Luka’s polite explanation, Rin, as well as Shig and Yuuki all let out sounds of amazement. Luka was very good at describing things the way each of them saw them.
“Right. Solids, liquids, and gases. These correspond to earth, water, and wind. Fire is energy… the power that moves things. All things in this world are comprised of these four.”
I was at a loss for how to answer Rin’s nonchalant question. Her way of thinking wasn’t bound by the usual stereotypes, so she tended to freely and often pierce right to the heart of the matter.
“Idiot. Water’s just water, so it can’t have the others.”
“That’s not actually the case.”
And as the owner of a respectable commonsense, Shig was the exact opposite. However, due to that commonsense, it was hard to explain things like this to him.
“You know that water turns into steam, a gas, after warming it up and that it turns into ice, a solid, after cooling it down, correct? In other words, the water contains both earth and air as well. If you add fire to water, it turns into air. If you reverse that, it becomes earth. Being able to do that also means that the water had fire in it as well.”
“Oh, really? These fire and water things, they’re like colors. Fire red is the color of fire, but it’s not fire itself. Like that?”
“In a sense, that’s right, yeah.”
I nodded in response to what Yuuki, who’d struck her fist onto her hand, said. Understanding the elements through colors was a good, easy to understand way for her to go about it. Her sensibility was a bit peculiar, but she was terribly good at getting the knack of things in her own way.
“… So, then, what about these colors?”
The explanation was probably feeling like it was dragging on to Shig who, looking a bit irritated, asked about what was next.
“Right. If everything in this world is made through a combination of elements, I thought that magic should be the same. In truth, you are all to some extent a collection of the attributes.”
Living in forests, elves are deeply connected with the earth.
Living in grasslands, lykoscentaur follow smells on the wind.
Living in the sea, merfolk live alongside water.
Living in volcanos, lizardmen are intimate with fire.
I’ve had a hunch that the four elements have been deeply involved with magical aptitude for a long time now. Kind of like how I, a fire dragon, can’t use magic concerning the cold at all.
My conception of it was been fairly vague until Rin gave me the idea though.
“I think I’ll have you all measure your aptitudes with the four major elements today.”
＊ ＊ ＊
“Everything’s ready, Mentor.”
“Yeah, thanks. You’re a big help, Amata.”
I thanked Amata, who’d courteously bowed at the waist.
The formerly girlish youth who looked like Yuuki had grown up rapidly, his height out pacing his younger sister who hadn’t grown at all, and turned into a fearless adolescent. His burly arms easily picked up a wooden pillar easily several times the size of him, which he put in the center of the schoolyard.
“But what are you going to use this stuff for?”
He’d prepared several small wooden tubs, a scale, and a single big stone the size of a fist. Amata was very skilled with his hands, particularly with treating wood, and assembled it all wonderfully.
“These are what we’ll use for measuring. Nina, if you would.”
Giving Nina the signal, I returned to my dragon form and prepared to use the vine I’d gotten from Violet.
Simultaneously with Nina muttering that, flames coming from her hand went up like a pillar.
“Let’s see, about here I guess. Yuuki, hold where Nina’s hand is.”
Once I’d floated up to the top of Nina’s flame with the vine by using magic without using my wings, I had Yuuki grip the vine where Nina’s hand was. With that, we’d be able to know how long the flame was.
“Yeah. About five hundred sixty centimeters.”
“Nina… Fire… five sixty…”
I had Luka record the numbers on a wooden board.
“Next up is water.”
Reaching her hand out to me, who was holding a wooden bucket, Nina recited her short incantation.
I caught the water with the tub so that none of it would spill.
“Hmmm, eight hundred…. and twenty-ish?”
The bucket was made to be ten centimeters in all three dimensions. In other words, it would be one thousand cubic centimeters upon being fully filled. Every centimeter of height the water had was a hundred cubic centimeters. Anything inbetween was measured by eye.
Following that in the same way was wind. The wind blowing from Nina’s fingertip following her, once again, short incantation blew the leaf I’d put on my hand away.
“Exactly one thousand six hundred, I’d say.”
We just measured the distance from her feet to where the leaf flew.
“And last but not least is earth.”
I was troubled on how to measure the earth element. Only elves like Nina and Violet could cultivate plants, but on the other hand, it also seemed impossible to just produce soil out of nothing.
So what I thought of what weight. Gravity is the ground’s power. Magic that increases weight should be under the earth category. Immediately following Nina’s incantation, the scale started to screw greatly to one side. I put water in the bucket on the other side to keep the balance.
“Looks to be about four hundred.”
The empty bucket and stone were balanced with each other otherwise, so the amount of water I had to pour into the bucket was equal to the amount of weight the stone gained. Since water was just about one kilogram per liter, I could know the weight through the volume of water.
“Oh, big sis, earth is your worst one?”
Looking at the number Luka put down, Yuuki spoke up.
“No, there isn’t much meaning in comparing the differences in the numerical values between elements.”
If you did, for example, it would be like comparing your grip strength with your long jump.
What we’ll be able to understand through this is how the students compare to one another.
“Now then, please measure measure yourselves in whichever order you prefer. I’ll be in charge of fire. Nina will take care of water and air, with Amata taking care of earth. Only use the single-worded incantations that you heard Nina use just now.”
I honestly get the feeling it’d be better if we measured it all without using incantations at all, but there are students who can’t use magic without them. That being the case, I decided that using a single word is the rule.
“Then I’m gonna do fire~!”
I didn’t expect it, but Rin came over to me first.
She held her hand up as high as she could and a flame popped above it. It was a pretty cute flame compared to the one Nina produced, but…
“Ninety… no, one hundred.”
Even so, the flame was a meter tall. I thought it’d be worse since she was a mermaid, a race that lives in the water, but it was actually an alright result.
“It’s my turn now I think?”
The next to come was Luka, looking a little nervous.
Cropping up from her hand like a water dribbling upward was a small flame. It’s length was about fifty centimeters, but it was really easy to measure since it was stable and not as violent as Rin’s flame.
“I suppose I am next… Fire.”
The third person was Violet. A focused flame extended up from her index finger about thirty centimeters. She was an elf the same as Nina, but her output was greatly different. I don’t know if it was due to individual differences or the time they’d practiced, though. Rather, wait, Rin’s the best so far. What?
“Big brother, measure me, measure me!”
Just as I started worrying about that, Yuuki jumped over and up onto me. It’s because she acts like this that I can’t help but see her as a small child. Well, she is actually quite small, so…
A vigorous flame burst up from Yuuki’s hand. Despite its intense flame that reminded me of a jet engine’s, the force of the flame was stable. Not only does the length vary with the exact same incantation between person to person, but so does the form and power of the flame.
Upon measuring it, it was ninety centimeters tall. Regrettably, it didn’t quite measure up to Rin’s.
“I lost to Rin—!?”
With Yuuki groaning in frustration, the last person up to be measured was Shig. With an unusually calm and serious expression, he held his palm up.
He lived in a volcano, is familiar with fire, and practices every morning. I predict that he’ll produce a rather huge flame.
What appeared was contrary to my expectation.
A very, very small flame, the size of a fingertip.