Leif's small body crumpled to the floor after striking the wooden paneling on the wall, his father Clint screaming in anger. He could hear his mother choking, Clint's hands wrapped around her throat, crushing her airways. Leif winced in pain as he looked upwards from the floor, eyeing the scene around him.
His mother Astrid had just begun preparations for dinner, and his father returned from his usual tavern visit; probably kicked out again for being too rowdy. Apparently he'd expected dinner as soon as he arrived, even though Astrid had no way of knowing when he'd be home. Almost as soon as he'd stepped through the door, their small house was pierced with Clint's furious screams. Usually Leif was the victim of Clint's abuse, but he could see his father heading straight for his mother, so he stood as defensively as a child could, in front of her, trying to provide a distraction.
With one swift movement, Clint's forearm barreled into Leif's chest, launching him towards the opposite wall, and his father fixated his attention on Astrid. Lacking the strength to fight back, her airways contricted, Astrid was helpless. Leif ignored the pain and struggled to raise himself from the floor of their small cottage. He was still small, as he hadn't reached his young adulthood years yet, but he was determined to help his mother. Leif rushed his father from behind, using what weight he had to tackle Clint. Caught off guard and already unstable from drinking too much, Clint's grip on Astrid released, and he hit the floor with a thud. Too tired and taxed by alcohol, he grumbled some angry vulgarities and went to sleep, right there on the floor. Unfortunately for Leif, Clint remembered this altercation for several days afterward, and Leif suffered through nightly beatings. In Leif's eyes, he could handle it, but his mother couldn't. He didn't care if he had to endure some pain as long as his mother didn't have to. This was just a few beatings out of dozens Leif had been through previously.
Astrid had never once laid a hand on Leif, even if he probably deserved it. She was a kind, and loving mother, but her relationship with Clint had turned sour over the years. She did her best, even through the mental and physical torment Clint's drunken stupors put her through. According to what Astrid told Leif, the beginning of the marriage with Clint was normal and happy, they'd go out to dinners and Clint would surprise Astrid with flowers and gifts. Astrid never specifically mentioned it, or said anything even remotely putting Leif at fault, but Leif believed that Clint's downward spiral was because Leif was born. Through the years after Leif's birth, Clint grew more apathetic and antagonizing towards his wife and son, eventually picking up drinking as a pasttime, resulting in the physical abuse that both Leif and Astrid suffered through. Even though Astrid's love for Clint wavered, her faith in him never faltered. Astrid had never tried to leave Clint, believing that one day Clint would redeem himself and admit his mistakes to try and be a better feather.
That day never came. A few years later, just as Leif had entered his teenage years, Clint drank so much one night in the tavern, he poisoned himself and passed out, never to awaken. Patrons at the bar hadn't noticed his death until hours later, bringing home his corpse to Astrid and Leif. Leif's mother wept for days, and he tried to comfort his mother by taking over a bit: cleaning the house, preparing meals, and consoling her, holding her as she cried in his young arms. Eventually she realized that Clint's passing was actually a sort of a relief, and cherished the years following with her son, free from her huband's oppression.
Leif suppressed the memories of his childhood, regaining focus on the current situation, and kneeled at the table with the divination bowl, his hands hovering around the sides. Those memories are why he wanted to stay in Alfheim with Eirik. He was tired of coming home each night to the same house his father abused him in, of the small, boring fishing town he grew up in. As much as he loved his mother, he had to pass this initial test in order to have the new life he so desperately wanted.
After focusing for a minute, Leif felt a warmth around his body, all over his skin, as if he was covered by some kind of heated cloud. He looked at his hands and arms, but nothing was visible. He realized this must have been the aura that Yaga had mentioned. He closed his eyes and tried to will the life energy towards the leaf, envisioning in his mind the aura being pushed from his body to the leaf and bowl.
He opened his eyes just in time to see the little green leaf float gently towards the bottom of the bowl. Before High Wizard Yaga could utter a sentence, Leif launched his fist into the air and screamed, "Yes! We did it, Eirik! We're staying in Alfheim!" His excitement finally came to a climax, and he heard Yaga chuckling behind him.
"Congratulations, Leif, the leaf in the bowl sank to the bottom, so you have an affinity for Earth magic." Yaga smiled, and motioned for Leif to return to his seat.
"Thank you so much!" Leif said happily, returning to his seat next to Eirik, raising his hand for a high-five.
Eirik obliged and whispered, "Well done." The worry and anxiety on Eirik's face had completely dissolved, clearly relieved that they had both passed.
"Now that we've concluded the testing, I'll be confirming which School you belong to. When I say your name, raise your hand. After that's finished, I'll be guiding you to where you'll be living here at Alfheim. First up, Eirik." High Wizard Yaga stated, looking around the room the six new Apprentices.
Eirik confirmed his identity and Yaga stated again he'd be specializing in Water magic. Now that Leif had a chance to focus on the people around him in the group, he realized they were all pretty close to the same age. You had to be at least 18 years old to be recruited by the magician's convoy that visited each of the 16 cities and towns in Terran, but any age above that could choose to participate. When Yaga called for Krissa, a quiet red-headed girl he hadn't even noticed raised her hand. She was very pretty, but her presence in the room was quite ominous compared to everyone else. Yaga confirmed she used Psych magic.
High Wizard Yaga called out to Tanya, a rather dark-skinned girl with intensely curly, short hair that had a huge smile on her face, reaffirming her specialty in Light magic. Then for Allen, a short, angry-looking guy who grunted as his name was called, whose affinity was for Fire magic. Leif hadn't noticed him before either, surprisingly, but there was an extremely tall boy named Baxter, probably close to seven feet in height, who had been super quiet and displayed the traits of Earth magic, like Leif.
Lastly, Yaga called out to Leif and confirmed his School as that of Earth magic. Leif looked to a window in the back of the room beyond the table and guessed it had to be just past noon or so, judging from the harshness of the sun. They probably had at least a few more hours before they were released into a period of free time where he could talk with Eirik. He was ecstatic that they both passed, and his thoughts raced, wondering what kind of feats they could pull off with their magic once they were properly trained.
"I'm sure you all have lots of questions about Alfheim, magic, and many others things, but for now I will guide you to where you'll be staying within the city. I think you'll find our housing quite accommodating. Once you've been given a place to stay, you will report to your respective Schools' High Wizards and informed of Alfheim's rules and ranks, along with getting any questions you might have answered. For now, please follow me again." High Wizard Yaga warmly smiled again, and headed for the door they entered through as everyone rose from their seats.