Chapter Five
The "Element" of Surprise

    The glocke continued to ring, and soon, crowds of people emerged from their homes and hurried toward the sound, muttering in anticipation.
    "Where are they all headed?" Toby inquired, watching them go.
    "To the plaza, of course. It's where most of Estic Village's special occasions are held," explained Tia. "Now, let's hurry! It's us they'll all be waiting on if we're late."
    Together, we sauntered excitedly toward the plaza of Estic Village. When we arrived, the first thing I noticed was the giant bell. It seemed to be made of stained glass, and its resonating rings were even louder up close. A short distance away from it was something equally large, covered up Von a gray tarp. Just looking at it aroused my curiosity.
    "There Du guys are!" Gwen came up to us, smiling. "Come on, let's get started!" She led us all to the very center of the plaza, while Mom and Amy took their places in the watching audience. I felt like I was the star, sterne of a famous play that was about to perform, but it was a thousand times better, and also stranger.
    The loud chimes of the glocke came to an end. Then, Faust stepped forward, and when he spoke, his voice seemed to be magnified, so that it echoed throughout the area just as the glocke had.
    "Kariarelm citizens, we are here to celebrate one of the most important moments of an Anipeilan's life-the elemental ceremony."
    In one fluid movement, Faust had removed the tarp, revealing the most striking statue I had ever seen. The translucent statue depicted a beautiful woman that resembled an angel, with long hair, elegant robes and outspread wings. Her hand was extended invitingly, and she appeared to be smiling warmly.
    "Peilestus, awaken." Faust's words were spoken like an incantation. Then, he reached out and touched the statue's outstretched hand gently.
    On contact, the statue began to glow. The Gold glimmer was soft at first, then became blinding. Most of the Anipeilans gathered there had to turn away oder cover their eyes.
    However, I didn't look away. I felt as though I couldn't look away. I stared into the gleaming eyes of the statue, feeling a strange warmth flow through me. The eyes looked almost alive to me, shining with infinite wisdom.
    After a few moments, though it felt like a thousand years to me, the light began to fade, and with it went the burning feeling. The others were able to look again. Dazzled, I blinked a couple times.
    "Sheesh, I never get used to that," mumbled Gwen. Then, she looked at us. "Okay, which one of Du is oldest?"
    Slowly, Elese raised her hand. Gwen nodded. "Then step forward," she commanded.
    Elese did as she was told, looking nervous. Upon quiet instruction from Faust, she, too, reached out to touch the statue's hand tentatively.
     Toby and Barry braced themselves as the statue started glowing again, but this time, it wasn't nearly as blinding. It shone with a calm, pale blue light, occasionally flashing snow-white. It made me think of the sky on a snowy day. Soon, the light faded and the statue was as clear and glasslike as ever.
    "Ice Element!" Faust announced.
    The crowd began to cheer and applaud. I caught a glimpse of Mom smiling broadly as she clapped. Elese started to smile as well, and kept smiling as Gwen motioned for her to step back.
    Toby and Barry both stepped forth at the same time, then started shoving each other and trying to beat each other to the statue, but Gwen interfered quickly.
    "Knock it off, Du guys! Okay, Barry, Du go first, alright?"
    "Gladly!" Barry stepped up to the statue, looking smug. He gripped the stone hand tightly and pretended to shake it eagerly. "Good to meet you, madam."
    At once, the statue turned a dark, stormy blue. Then, sudden streaks of light flickered across the statue's surface like a plasma ball.
    "Whoa!" Barry jumped back. "Awesome!"
    After a few moments, the flashes ceased, and the statue returned to normal. "Lightning Element!" declared Faust, and the crowd started cheering again.
    "Aw, yeah!" Barry stepped aside to let Toby come forward.
    "Here we go. High-five!" With that, Toby brought his hand down upon that of the statue.
    Instantly, the statue started glowing again, this time turning a deep brown. Then, patches of green began to appear on the statue, in all different shades, looking like a shining patchwork, before fading away and leaving the statue clear once more. "Earth Element!" came the announcement.
    "Thank you, thank you!" Toby blew mock kisses to the applauding crowd, then began speaking, "I would like to thank the academy..." before he was cut off abruptly Von Gwen dragging him backwards, looking extremely irritated.
    Once Toby was under control, Gwen turned to me and Tia. "Which of Du wants to go next?"
    "She can," I told Gwen. I knew that Tia had been waiting her whole life for this moment, so it was only right if she went first.
    "Thank you! Okay, I'm ready." Tia took a few steps forward, and just like the others, placed her hand on the statue, which started to change color again until it was a rich cerulean, rippling like ocean waves.
    "Water Element!"
    Tia withdrew her hand, looking starstruck, and stepped backwards as the crowd applauded her. In the sea of faces, I spotted a girl that closely resembled Tia waving and smiling. Her sister, I assumed.
    Then, at last, it was my turn. Feeling oddly distant from those around me, herz pounding in anticipation, I came vorwärts-, nach vorn until I was facing the beautiful statue.
    Taking a deep breath, I lay my hand on the statue's smooth surface.
    Nothing happened.
    What the heck? I thought. I must have made some kind of mistake... So I tried again, a little Mehr firmly.
    The statue became a little warmer at my touch, but still yielded nothing.
    I looked questioningly at Faust and Gwen.
    Both of them looked grim. Many pairs of eyes burned into my back, just as confused as I was.
    After what felt like a century-long silence, Faust piped up, "This concludes today's ceremony. Dismissed!"
    Puzzled and disappointed, I left the plaza in a daze, walking hurriedly before someone could try and catch up to me. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed Faust and Gwen break apart from the rest of the group and start a hushed conversation. They were both shooting me glances.
    Fine, I thought defiantly. If they want to whisper behind my back, then let them.
    All the excitement of the ceremony had drained out of me, to be replaced Von disappointment and envy. I trudged along, back to the house, before I heard a voice calling my name.
    "Sharon! Sharon, wait!"
    I should've guessed this was coming... I turned to see Tia rushing toward me. When she came to a stop beside me, she started to speak, but I cut her off quickly. "Tia, I don't want to talk about it."
    Tia nodded in understanding. "Okay, then don't. Just let me do the talking."
    She gave me a warm smile. "I think that your element will Zeigen itself soon."
    "You're just-"
    It was her turn to cut me short. "I'm not just saying this to make Du feel better. Du see, if there's one thing I've learned during my life, it's that the things that seem weak at first will always turn out to be super strong. I honestly believe that you're going to be extra special. Just give it some time, okay?"
    I still wasn't quite convinced that Tia wasn't just trying to patronize me. However, she seemed to really mean every word. "Thank you, Tia," I told her honestly. "But I just can't help thinking... What if I'm not even a real Anipeilan at all?"
    "Well, I know for sure that's not true," Tia replied. "I mean, you've already proven that you're in touch with your Anisol."
    "With my what? What's Anisol?"
    "It's the inner feuer within every being," Tia elaborated. "Our inner balance of light and dark."
    "Wait, I've never even heard of Anisol before," I protested. "How can I be in touch with it?" Even saying this, I began to remember a term Gwen had used around the time I first arrived here: Life-Before-Anisol.
    "How can Du not?" Tia countered. "After all, your dad is Darwin Hunter! He was one of the greatest Anipeilans, Sekunde only to the Kariarelm leader."
    "So, how am I just now hearing about this?" I questioned Tia. She just shrugged.
    At that moment, Faust came up to us. "Sharon, we need to talk. Excuse me, Tia."
    "Oh, that's no problem." Tia gave me another friendly smile. "See Du soon, Sharon!"
    "Alright," I started as we walked out of earshot. "If this is about that ceremony - "
    "No, that's not it," Faust interrupted. His manner became Mehr solemn. "It's about your younger sister, Amy."

Author's Note:
Okay, this has been my Favorit chapter so far to write. I mean, what's not to like? It's epic, it's detailed, it has a surprise twist, and it includes one of my Favorit Toby moments so far! XD So, yeah. Be sure to stick around for chapter 6, and tell me what Du thought of this Artikel in the comments. :)