The Burning City: Chapter 10, entry 1

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Word count: 980 Total word count: 61,622

Chapter 10 Entry 1

The mornings at the Citadel were warmer than any Malisyn had ever spent at the Tor'vic Orphanage. Her room shared with Dawn was cozy, and they were even allowed the occasional fire. She thought her days of waking up cold and shivering were behind her: until she woke up with frost on the floor of the unfamiliar Shrine. For the briefest of moments, somewhere between dreaming and waking, she imagined Allyn had curled up beside her and was trying to keep her warm.

The warmth, like the memory, fled from the touch of ice.

She woke shivering—and alone.

Malisyn slowly sat up and pulled her blanket around her shoulders. She could see her breath turn to ice in front of her. The fire in the center of the room had long since died; not even embers remained. Frost had crept up over the edges of the fire pit and choked the air from the fire. The dry kindling was covered in a thin layer of ice. She pulled her legs closer to her body to keep warm.

The last thing she remembered was staring at the mesmerizing mix of blood and wax. She had watched the cup churn and boil, slither and pop—until her eyes had become too heavy to stay open. She didn't remember getting back to her own bed. The smell of wax still lingered in air.

“Master Ja'dae?” Her voice echoed in the empty room. Her teacher did not answer. His bed was empty, blankets folded neatly and stacked against the wall. There were no foot prints across the frost-lined floor. The silence seemed to alarm her more than his absence. She tried to rely on the little training she had received from the Citadel so far. As a Second Year student, most of her classes covered wood carving (a skill she still didn't understand the usefulness for), basic self-defense (with practice blades and overly padded armor), and cooking.

Thanks to the Citadel, she was more equipped to cook a bandit dinner than she was able to wield a cooking knife with any lethality.

Maybe this is just one of Master Jadae's tests. She reminded herself, and took a deep breath. She'd been given the privilege, after all, to leave the Citadel for the first time since arriving—to undertake something that made even Hannah jealous. And whatever made that terrible girl jealous was worth doing. She waited until her heart stopped pounding before she pulled her cloak from beside her bed and pulled it over her shoulders. The frost on the floor seemed to reach all the way from the doorway to her bed. It had to be freezing outside. The light that streamed in through the narrow windows of the Shrine was dark and unwelcoming. She took her first careful step away from her bed.

The floor creaked with her effort. She cursed, and resumed walking at a normal pace towards the door. As she passed the stone-cold fireplace, she peered over the edge of the cup from last night. Something glittered inside, and the sight of it made her stomach hurt.

Did I get what I wanted? My memories? She wondered, and tore her gaze away from the cup. She'd find Master Jadae first, then come back to see what blood relic she had created.

The door was cold to her touch and opened without a sound. She stepped out on to the wooden porch of the shrine—and a demon waited for her.

The air was so could she couldn't breathe, even to gasp in surprise. The pain and the fear stole any chance she had at a scream. The demon stood very still. His muscled legs were covered in white and ice blue flesh and glistened with frost. His wings stretched and dragged across the ground, speckled in dead and frosty leaves. His horns looked like icicles jutting from his head. As he walked past the Shrine, frost spread before his footsteps.

Malisyn felt a hand touch her shoulder.

“It appears you're not safe even when you sleep.” Master Jadae's voice was a dangerous whisper. The demon's footsteps fell upon crunching leaves and dead wood. Its slow walk around the edge of the shrine sounded deafening to Malisyn. He leaned closer to her ear and continued. “I had to see just how attractive the demons find you. Insatiable, little bird. I need to cover you with a blanket.” Malisyn felt him smile, and his lips grazed her ear as he spoke. She took a step backwards and pressed herself against the door of the shrine. Her heart was pounding, but she didn't know what she was more afraid of—the demon, or the man.

Master Ja'dae didn't appear to notice.

“That's a Frost Demon.” Jadae pointed, as the demon continued his slow walk across the ground.

“What's a Frost Demon?”

“How else do you think ice gets here?” Master Jadae arched an eyebrow. He turned away from the demon to look at Malisyn.

“That sounds more like a children's story than something that really happens.” Malisyn crossed her arms over her chest.

“Well, even the oldest stories were based on something...”

Malisyn took another breath and waited for her heart to stop pounding.

“Is it dangerous?”

“No. No demon is dangerous to you while I'm here.”

She forced a small smile and nodded, but didn't take her eyes off the demon. She watched until his tall, slender body disappeared in to the fog. Ice spread across the ground in his wake.

She wanted to believe him.

“I must've fallen asleep last night—did I finish making my blood relic?” She hoped she could change the subject.

“You did fall asleep, little bird. And I put you to bed.” He placed a hand on her shoulder and guided her towards the door. Her stomach began to ache again. “Let's go and see what your blood has created.”

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