Dukalb was having trouble thinking of anything not stupid to say. So he decided simply to say what was on his mind.
"You're a goblin," he said after a moment.
"Hobgoblin, actually," Grosk corrected him irratibly, "And you're a Dwelf. What of it?"
"Goblins can't do magic," said Dukalb, confused.
"I beg to differ," said Grosk. "And Thurigen obviously agrees with me, as he asked me to teach you how to do magic, which I will find increasingly difficult if you don't stop insulting me,"
Simile sniggered. Grosk attempted to bat her away with his walking stick, but she flew out of the way.
"Have fun guys," she called, zooming off.
"Sorry," said Dukalb after a while. "It's just I didn't think.."
"Didn't think hobgoblins would be allowed in Erilliance?" asked Grosk, still clearly annoyed. "Well, I've been here a lot longer than you have. And I would think someone with your particular heritage would be.. a little more sympathetic towards my plight,"
"What do you mean?" asked Dukalb.
"We have a lot in common," answered Grosk. "We're each the only member of our race in the whole city. And we're both very far from home. And, I suspect, niether of us really thought of it as home to begin with,"
"There are plenty of Elves and Dwarves here-" Dukalb began.
"But no other Dwelves," Grosk said with mock sadness, "And no other hobgoblins. How sad for us,"
"Is that why Thurigen assigned you to me?" asked Dukalb.
"It's possible," rasped Grosk, "But I think it's more a matter of us having compatible essences,"
"Essences?" asked Dukalb quizzically.
Grosk stared incredulously at him. "You really have had no training to speak of, have you? No wonder you've developed only rudimentary powers in three years. Well, if you have no grasp of theory, we'll just have to start at the beginning. Do you honestly not know anything about essences?"
"Well of course I do!" answered Dukalb, indignant. "I'm not an idiot!"
"Well, what do you know about them?" asked the hobgoblin, walking over to a stump and sitting down.
"Umm..." said Dukalb, trying to figure out where to start. "The whole world is comprised of the four elements earth, wind, water, and fire. Every creature, plant, rock or cloud has the essences of these elements inside it in some combination. Druids gain our power by communing with these essences and manipulating them, changing the balance of essences in something to produce the desired effect,"
"So you're not completely stupid," replied Grosk with some relief. "What confused you?"
"I don't understand what you mean when you say we have compatible essences," answered Dukalb.
"Hmm...," went the Hobgoblin. For several seconds he said nothing, as if trying to collect his thoughts. Then he began.
"Have you ever wondered why Dwarves are more comfortable underground? Or why wood elves like to live in the trees?" he asked.
"I figured that's just what they were built for," said Dukalb.
"Kind of," said Grosk. "Actually, it's because the balance of essences is not constant from race to race. Dwarves have rather a lot of earth in them and little of air. Cathedral Elves have almost no earth and a double share of air essence. Only humans tend to have some measure of balance in their essences,"
"Okay..." said Dukalb, taking all this in.
Grosk continued. "A druid derives his powers from his own elemental essences - your ability to manipulate each element is dependant upon the strength of each element within your own essence,"
"Ah...," said Dukalb, with a look of revelation. "So that's why Thurigen likes to appear as a whirlwind,"
"Yes," said Grosk, "He is, or at least was, an elf of the Citadel, just like Xindor. Now. Dwarves, as I've said, have a double share of earth essence and almost no air essence. While wood elves have balanced essences except for an almost total lack of fire essence. So you, as a Dwelf, ought to have a the largest part of your essence connected with earth, and the smallest with fire. By sheer coincidence, this is exactly how a Hobgoblins essence breaks down,"
"But Goblins love fire -" objected Dukalb.
"I'm NOT a Goblin!" bellowed Grosk, suddenly becoming defensive. After another pause of a few seconds he recovered himself enough to continue. "Now naturally each of us having similar essences gives us similar abilities - obviously a natural affinity for stone, but also one for trees - since trees are composed of the earth they grow in, the water they drink, and the air they breath, we have a lot in common with them. They identify with us. Weather control is mostly about air and water, so both of us have limited succes with that, but not too much because we're basically devoid of fire essence - although you have a little more of that from your Dwarven side, which explains how you were able to call a lightning bolt,"
Dukalb was silent, taking all this in. Grosk stopped for a moment, unsure of what to say next. Finally he spoke up.
"That's your first lesson," he said, "Runes, incantations, hand motions - none of that matters to us. Leave it for the wizards and witches to worry about. A good druid needs no sound, no motion, and above all no components to work his magic. We manipulate primal elemental forces simply by being. That is the power you've tapped into, and that is what you can learn from me. If you stop insulting me, that is,"