Goal: 4,165 wordsWritten: 1,010 Story: The Burning City Approximate Chapter: End of Chapter 10
Master Jadae stared out the doorway a moment longer than was necessary. He placed his hand against the door and pushed, checking that the lock was secure. Not that it would hold a Frost Demon out, if it came to that. The morning sunlight alone couldn't provide the shadows he would need to defend Malisyn. He didn't want to take any chances.
“Did you use me as bait?” Malisyn asked when Jadae turned away from the door. She crossed her arms over her chest as she spoke.
“You? As bait? Little bird, you would hardly feed a mountain cat, let alone a demon.” He motioned towards the dead fire and lowered himself to the floor. He pointed across from him and Malisyn sat down. She brushed a wild curl from her eyes and looked across at him expectantly.
“But yes, I tried.” Jadae reached to the fire pit as he spoke. “The demon, I think, was drawn here by your blood relic. I could feel it this morning when I woke. Your first is very powerful—you should be proud. I certainly am.”
“My first blood relic?” Malisyn asked and turned to look in to the fire pit. “Proud?” She asked as an after thought, more of a whisper to herself than to her teacher. She hadn't noticed anything when she first woke—the demon had stolen all of her attention. But now she saw something glittering in the white-gray ash. Master Jadae had picked up a stick and now poked at the ashes, uncovering more of the glittering object.
Malisyn couldn't remember the last time anyone had been proud of something she'd accomplished. She blamed the warmness in her cheeks on being too close to the fire pit.
“The ashes may still be warm. Be careful, and you may lift it.” As Malisyn reached for the ashes, he used the stick to stop her hand. She looked up at him. “The memories inside are still very raw, little bird. Make sure you are ready.” Malisyn nodded slowly as Jadae snapped the stick in half and discarded the pieces in to the dead fire.
Malisyn hesitated. She sunk her fingers in to the warm ashes and her hand closed around the glittering object. She pulled it from the depths and ashes slipped through her fingers. The ashes were warm but the blood relic itself was warmer. She closed her hand tightly around it, and the heat pierced her skin. Her hand and then her entire arm started to feel like it had caught on fire. She screamed, or she may have cursed—she wasn't sure. The pain made her lurch forward and Master Jadae caught her before she lunged in to the fire pit. He steadied her shoulders.
“I can't let it go,” Malisyn said through clenched teeth. “But it hurts.” The last word was barely more than a grunt.
His eyes met hers. Impossibly blue. Flecks of green. Like the bottom of a creek bed in the summer. Sunlight. Sunlight filled his eyes. She noticed the ash, black as night, how his sweat made it run down his cheeks like the shadows of tears. The scars on his jawline were sharp and raw. She could smell the powder in his hair, the sweat on his skin--
“Open your hand.” His voice was loud, it forced her hand open and pulled her eyes away from his. Her hand was shaking. Resting in the center of her palm was a tear-shaped piece of purple glass. Darker than the Glass Plains, it was almost black. The relic was still warm to her touch. She felt it pulse like a heartbeat and then be still.
“What am I feeling?” She asked as her throat went dry. The world around her seemed to spin out of control. She felt dizzy for a moment and Jadae tightened his grip on her shoulders. The world slowed down. She could feel his fingers tighten slightly and then release. As he pulled away, she instantly wanted to lean back towards him.
“Blood magic,” Jadae said with a slight curve of his lips.
“But I'm not bleeding—am I?” She stared at the blood relic in wonder.
“Not yet.” Jadae caught her stare again. “I'm afraid this is going to hurt, little bird.”
“What?” Malisyn asked as she looked up from the blood relic.
Before she had a chance to ask—her eyes went wide. She sucked in one, painful breath before she couldn't breathe anymore.
She had asked for a memory of her brother and her blood magic had answered. She didn't know what to expect; she had hoped for the sound of his voice, or to see the color of his eyes again. Even to see his tiny smile as he went along with one her ridiculous plans. She hoped she'd be able to see, with clarity, any moment of the time they had spent together as children. She didn't want to be left with the haze that was her childhood memories.
What she wanted to remember was his life.
The only memory magic gave her was an agonizing image of how his face looked, lying dead in a coffin. She saw his stark, pale skin. His mouth in a stiff, flat line, a face he never made while his heart still beat. His eyes were closed so she couldn't even see his clouded, lonely brown eyes. His messy hair was matted to dead flesh; arms crossed over his eyes, tiny fingers criss-crossed, never to touch anything in the world with wonder again.
No longer her brother; just an empty shell where his heart—her heart—used to be.
“That's not what I wanted,” was all she could manage around a throat that had closed and a mouth gone painfully dry. Pain took the rest of her words away.
A teardrop of blood fell down her cheek.
It was the first time Malisyn had ever felt her blood magic—amplified by the blood relic—and she wasn't certain she ever wanted to feel it again.
Jadae let her cry. It was all he could do.