“Psst! Azzo. Wake up,” Fel hissed quietly in Azzen’s sleeping ear.
The boy was instantly up. He rolled onto his knees and was immediately on his guard. But there was no threat.
The boy looked up at Fel. She was glowing slightly, but her veins weren’t bright and her hair wasn’t raised. She appeared calm, but her skin still gave off light radiance.
“Yes, I know. I’ve been burning all night. I’m ready. Let’s go,” she said in hushed tones.
“Go where?” Azzen yawned, getting up.
“Go get the shard,” Fel said.
“Oh. Why now? Should I wake Wido?”
“Noh. I no trust him. We go now. Come.”
Fel took off, striding away purposefully. Azzen hopped into step beside her.
“Give me your cloak,” Fel said.
“My hoodie?” Azzen asked.
“Yes, I’m too bright, they will see.”
Azzen obliged her and the catgirl pulled it on, tucking her ears under the hood. “We go now for surprise,” she explained. “Goblins will not expect on same night.”
“Azzo,” Fel said in a serious tone. “Can you go Berserk?”
“Uh, no. I’m fine.”
“Noh. I mean, can you do it on command?”
“Oh. Noh. I’ve never been able to control it before.”
“Well figure it out,” Fel snipped. “We try to kill Frayne in his sleep, but if he wakes up, you need to go Berserk.”
“Uh, okay…” Azzen said uncertainly. He had no idea how to go about doing that. He had an inkling of how he could do it, but he didn’t want to tell Fel, in case she got any foolish ideas. Instead he complained, “how come we never have a real plan?”
“Plans can get foiled,” Fel replied. “Go with the flow.”
“But wouldn’t it-”
“Hush,” Fel cut him off. “Take my hand.”
She held out her glowing paw. Azzen took it and held tight. Her skin was searing hot. He could hear it sizzle against his, but it didn’t hurt. He could smell his flesh burn, but he didn’t withdraw. Fel took off running.
Azzen literally flew in the air as he was dragged behind the catgirl. He felt like his arm would be yanked off, but his muscles tightened and he held on.
Fel’s veins lit and she blew across the land like a lightening bolt. Azzen had never imagined she could move so fast. They were down the road and through the gate in an instant. They ran right past the Goblin guards, who were dumbfounded by the sight of a flashing light zipping by. They argued with each other about whether or not to raise the alarm, unsure of what they had seen. Luckily for Azzen and Fel, they settled on being lazy.
The two youngsters stopped, pressed up against the stone wall of a large manor.
“This is where he’ll be,” Fel whispered.
“Fel. How did you do that??” Azzen asked, gasping in astonishment.
“I told you, I’ve been burning all night.”
“So that was magic?”
“Eh, half and half,” Fel said. “Hush now. We sneak in.”
The catgirl leapt eight feet up onto the side of the building and caught onto an overhang. From there, she delicately climbed up onto an outcropping ledge and walked along the side until she came near a balcony. She pulled herself up and onto the balcony and disappeared from Azzen’s sight, twenty feet overhead.
“Umm… Fel…” Azzen hissed. “I don’t think I can-”
A rope rolled down off the side of the balcony.
“Oh. Thanks,” Azzen muttered. He hadn’t even realized Fel had brought a rope.
The boy climbed up and joined the catgirl as she was silently cracking open a door to the manor. No more words were exchanged as the two slipped in.
In the light of Fel’s glow, Azzen could see she was holding her daggers. He drew his knife out of his pocket as well and opened it with a light click. Fel froze at the sound and gave him a sharp eye before proceeding forward without making a noise.
Azzen tried to follow, but his steps couldn’t match Fel’s lightness. The wood floor beneath him creaked and Fel whirled around on him, shaking her fists in muted rage. Azzen raised his hands in apology, unsure of how to continue. Fel mimed an expressive sigh and then indicated to her feet and Azzen’s, alluding that he should walk in her footsteps.
Azzen wasn’t sure how she knew where to walk, but found that he was indeed silent when he followed her movements exactly. The two crept through the first room, which looked like a library and Fel opened another door silently, leading to a hallway.
At this point the catgirl stopped and lowered her hood. She sniffed the air and moved her ears in different directions, searching for faint signs that Azzen could never pick up. She indicated the direction they should go with a shake of two fingers. Azzen idly mused that the act was pointless, since he was just following her anyways. Fel pulled the hood back up and continued forward.
They made no mistakes. There was nothing bumped, like in the movies. No moment of panic, where it seemed as though the enemy ought to be roused from his slumber. Fel led the way flawlessly, and under her direction, the two moved in absolute silence into the master bedroom of the manor.
Azzen could see the four post bed and the body wrapped up in bed sheets. The two crept forward at the pace of a snail and made even less noise.
It took minutes just to walk the twenty feet to the bed, but they made it without a single sound. Azzen held his breath as they stood above the sleeping body.
He couldn’t see for sure if it was Frayne. The covers were pulled entirely over the Goblin’s head. That bothered him. There was a moments pause as the boy and girl glanced at each other.
They looked into each other’s eyes. It didn’t feel right killing someone this way. But Fel nodded, and Azzen plunged his knife down.
The moment the blade penetrated the blankets, Azzen knew they had made a mistake. It felt like he had stabbed a balloon full of air. There was nothing firm to plant his knife in.
Fel’s eyes grew wide as the bed erupted into flames. Whatever Azzen had stabbed burned through the blanket and sat up. He was staring at a body of fire. Literally, that was all it was.
Azzen looked at the being’s face. It was the shape of a head, but it was a ball of fire. An arm made of flame reached out and pressed against his chest and he felt the force of a bomb explode. The arm blazed into a torrent of flame and shot the boy back, crashing into a wall.
Fel darted back and quickly yanked him to his feet. The flame organism stood up and stepped out of the bed. It was the shape of a Goblin, but had no body. It was simply coalesced flames. The fire spread out quickly across the ground and crackled loudly as it ate up furniture and ran up the walls.
“What is that??” Azzen shouted. He needed to shout, not out of surprised, but because the fire was roaring loudly like a roiling inferno. All thoughts of stealth were lost.
“It’s a Fire Elemental!” Fel shouted back.
The fire monster roared and thrust it’s arms forward. Jets of flame drove forward at Azzen and Fel. The two were forced to dive in opposite ways.
“This is bad!” Fel yelled.
“Yeah, I figured that!”
“Big Magic!” She shouted, ducking under a stream of flame that was sweeping towards her. She rolled on the burning ground that was now beginning to crumble and turn to ash. “BIG BIG MAGIC!”
The Elemental dashed towards Azzen. It formed one of its arms into a flaming sword and swept it at Azzen. The boy instinctively raised his knife to block, but the flame sword swept right through it, melting the metal onto his skin and slashing across his chest. Azzen was knocked off his feet and felt real pain for the first time in days. He shook the molten metal off his hand and looked down at his chest to see black burnt flesh bubbling with pussing white blisters.
He growled in fury and staggered up just in time to see the fire creature lunge towards Fel. To his surprise, he saw the catgirl’s veins light up to an intense white. She dropped her daggers and lunged right back at the Elemental, grappling with it and twisting around to catch it in a headlock. She swept it’s fiery feet out and they whisked into the air. The two fell to the ground, but the floor beneath them gave way, disintegrating into embers and the two wrestling fire devils fell down through the floor.
Azzen rushed forward to see how he could help, but a strong arm caught him by the shoulder.
“Uh, uh, uh, now,” sneered the voice of a Goblin.
Azzen whipped around and swung his fist, but the Goblin casually leaned back, avoiding the wild blow.
“You’re mine,” Frayne snarled.
Azzen swung again at the Goblin, but Frayne caught the fist in his hand and jarred it to a halt.
“You might not even be a challenge,” the Goblin sneered. “What a disappointment.”
“I’ll try not to let you down!” Azzen snarled back, lifting his foot and kicking hard into the Goblins stomach. Frayne “Oofed” and dropped his grip. Azzen swung up his other arm hard, catching the Goblin in the chin with an uppercut.
The boy put all of his strength into it, and though he had felled enemies with a single punch before, Frayne seemed hardly phased. The Goblin smiled and popped his jaw, more amused than anything. With wicked speed, he served Azzen an uppercut right back. The boy flew up, smashing against the ceiling before flopping back down to the ground.
Frayne was on him in a flash, jutting a knee into his back and pulling up on the boy’s chin.
“And you were supposed to be the strong one!” the villain laughed.
Azzen tried to pull the Goblin’s hands off his throat, but the grip was too strong. So Azzen bucked like a horse and rolled onto his side. He twisted around and swung an elbow into the Goblin’s face, knocking the beast off of him. He scrambled to his feet and faced off with the Goblin once again.
“Who told you that?” he asked, curious, even in the situation.
“A little Black bird,” the Goblin began to glow, changing from green to red. “That’s why I sicced that Elemental on your girlfriend. To be honest, it’s taking most of my magic to give him a form. But they told me if I could get rid of just one of you, I’d be rewarded with even more power.”
Azzen came at the Goblin again, swinging his fists. Frayne dodged and blocked, then lit his own fists aflame and swung back, viciously. Azzen padded the punches aside and lifted another kick at the Goblin’s gut. But Frayne twisted to the side and dodged while he continued talking.
“I figured the Red would be easier to kill off. That Elemental aint quite a match for me, but it’ll do to melt that wench into goo.“
“I wouldn’t be so cocky,” Azzen shot back. “Fel doesn’t burn. She absorbs it.”
The Goblin chortled a laugh. “Take it from a Red, Boy. Everybody burns.”
“Not Fel,” Azzen insisted, dodging to the side to avoid a fireball.
“I promise you, Manthing. Make it hot enough, and everyone burns. My Elemental should be finishing her off really soon. And you aint no White. I’ll kill the both of you.”
Azzen ducked a punch from a flaming fist and drove forward, tackling the Goblin to the ground and battering him in the face a few times before he was shoved off. The Goblin tried to rise, but Azzen was quicker and planted a heavy punt right into Frayne’s ribs, sending him rolling. The boy followed him, but Frayne thrust out a fireball and blew him back.
“Heh,” the Goblin muttered. “That’s a little more like it. I heard you could go Berserk. I was hoping to get a good fight out of you.”
“You aren’t even worth it,” Azzen spat, rushing forward again.
He battled back and forth with the Goblins, trading fists, blow for blow. The boy shoved a side kick into the Goblin’s knee and brought him to the ground, but Frayne blasted Azzen with fire, blowing the boy off his feet again.
“You know that doesn’t really hurt, right?” Azzen grumbled, rising again.
“Heh, I would hope not. Like I said, most of my magic is focused on that Elemental. But don’t worry. Once he finishes the Merca, you’ll feel my full force.”
It was Azzen’s turn to laugh. A mirthful laugh.
“Something funny, Manthing?” Frayne snarled.
“Yeah,” Azzen replied. “It’s hilarious, actually. You said that Elemental wasn’t no match for you, right?”
Frayne watched the boy steadily. Azzen cracked his back and stretched.
“Well that little Black bird gave you some bad information. Fel’s always been stronger than me. She’ll be back soon to help.”
The boy rushed forward again, this time dodging a fireball that Frayne threw and punched him hard in the face, knocking him back. “And I don’t even need to go Berserk to kick your ass.”
Fel and the fire spirit fell through the crumbling floor and down into the kitchen on the first level of the manor. When they hit the ground, the Elemental burst, immediately saturating the entire room in oppressing flames. Pots and knives began to melt as the being reformed itself into the shape of a flaming Goblin.
Fel scoffed as she dusted herself off.
“The Red will fall, neh?” she grumbled. “Guess that makes me a believer.”
The fire demon came at Fel with all the fury of hell.
The catgirl dove to the side, avoiding the monster’s grip and then dashed back at it, shoving both of her hands into its face and ripping it apart. The Elemental didn’t seem to notice. It blasted Fel with firebursts from it’s hands and the girl shot across the room, crashing into a burning cupboard.
The girl stood and brushed ash and embers off herself as the fire demon marched purposefully towards her. Fel’s veins burned more and more as she soaked in the flames around her. The Elemental made a sword arm and raised it against the girl.
Fel dipped under the attack and swept her foot through the monster‘s midsection, swishing it in half. While it recollected itself, she ran to a marble countertop that was glowing red. She yanked it off it’s burning base and whipped the whole slate at the forming Elemental. The being burst apart, only to reform. But as it did, Fel raised the slab over her head and brought it smashing down on the monster.
Crackling laughter seemed to mock her efforts as the Elemental only reformed again, behind her.
Fel turned slowly, with a determined glint in her eyes. “You think you’re scary?” she muttered.
The catgirl dropped the marble slab and spread her arms, relishing in the fire, absorbing all that she could. Her skin glowed bright. Brighter than the girl had ever experienced before.
The fire demon rushed at her with dual arm swords. Fel caught them in her glowing hands. Blisters surfaced on her palms, bubbling out and popping before burning black and turning to ash. The catgirl kicked through the Elemental’s chest and tore its arms apart, ripping it in half.
The flame swords dissipated, leaving her hands charred and raw.
“YOU AINT SCARY!” Fel shouted, rage consuming her. She hadn’t felt the pain of a burn for years.
The Elemental formed again. Fel lit up and blew towards it, tearing the being into ember shreds. It formed again and Fel repeated her actions. And again. And again. The creature finally formed up farther away on the other side of the room.
Fel shoved her arms outward and poured out a massive onslaught of fire energy. The Elemental was completely consumed, lost in Fel’s blaze.
“You don’t scare me,” she spat as her flames died down and the Elemental was nowhere to be found.
She could feel its fiery presence forming behind her.
“All you do is Piss Me Off!” she shouted.
The catgirl’s veins flashed bright and she whirled around, shoving her fist through the Elemental’s face. At the same time, she felt a searing pain enter her gut.
Fel looked down to see one of the deadly sword arms piercing her abdomen. The pain was intense. The catgirl cringed and dropped to a knee. She grabbed onto the flaming sword arm. It was more tangible than any other part of the monster. It was more coalesced. It was more intensely focused. It hurt. It burned. But she kept it in place.
The catgirl closed her eyes and held on. Tears of pain squeezed out of her eyes, only to sizzle and rise as steam.
“Now I’ve got you…” she muttered weakly.
Azzen swept aside a fireball, pushing through the explosion to snatch the Goblin by the neck. Frayne thrust a punch into Azzen’s gut, and then another into his ribs, but Azzen held on and flung Frayne across the room into a wall.
Frayne rose and lit his feet up with flames. He dashed forward and kicked hard at Azzen’s chest. The boy flew back and crashed into a dresser. The smashed dresser fell onto Azzen, and he stood up out of the rubble, tossing broken boards aside and brushing loose clothing off himself.
“Why do I get the feeling this is going to go on for a while?” Azzen asked. He had lumps and bruises from the fight. His skin was scorched and marred from flames and cuts, but none of it hurt. Except for the slash across his chest that the Elemental had given him. That wound still stung. If that Elemental ever did come back, Azzen could be in trouble. But that would have to mean… No. He couldn’t think about that.
And as soon as he didn’t think about it, a tower of flames rose out of the hole that Fel had fallen through.
Azzen’s heart sank as the spout of flames rose up and out onto the floor, landing with a splash and then recollecting into a the form of a fiery body. It couldn’t be. Where was Fel? Had she…
The boy didn’t want to admit it, but he felt the rush well up into him. He tried to hold it back, but his heartbeat quickened and his muscles tightened. He didn’t want it to be true, but his body was reacting, telling him it was. The cold darkness began to fill him up. Starting in his heart, which was now thrumming so fast that he couldn’t tell if it was beating at all. His jaw clenched as he stared at the fiery being.
“Now you’ll get it,” Frayne snarled.
Azzen could barely hear him. His ears were buzzing with like he was in the middle of a swarm of a thousand locusts.
“Noh…” he rasped, barely able to breath out the words through his tightness in his throat. His voice sounded inhuman and demonic. “You don’t know… what you’ve done…”
He was almost there. Azzen knew it would happen. And he was just about ready to accept it. But something caught his eyes before they glazed over.
Frayne was pointing at him and ordering the Elemental to “Destroy.”
But the fire being didn’t obey. It just stood there.
And that’s when Azzen noticed. It was formed with arms and legs and a head, but it wasn’t quite the shape of a Goblin. No. the flames on its head curled up into pointy ears and out of its back, they swished back and forth like the tail of a cat. The Elemental was in the form of a Pria!
Suddenly Azzen had hope. He wondered if Fel could be alive, and with that thought, he snapped back into reality.
“Didn’t you hear me?” Frayne snarled.
The Elemental approached the Goblin from behind.
“I said Destroy Him! Do it now!”
The Elemental held out a fiery hand. Red hot sharp claws extended out of its flame fingers. Frayne finally turned to look at it and the fire demon shoved its clawed hand into his heart.
Frayne let out a surprised “Ulp” and the Elemental twisted its fingers delicately inside of his chest. The fire Pria slowly withdrew its hand, pulling out with it a glowing red shard, shaped like a long, thin, crystal, teardrop, about the length of Azzen’s hand. Frayne dropped to his knees and then onto his face, lying motionless on the ground.
Azzen stared in amazement. The door was shoved open and Fel stumbled into the room, clutching at her stomach with one hand.
“Fel!” Azzen shouted.
“Ehy Azzo…” Fel mumbled numbly. She didn’t even glance at him as she staggered forward towards the Elemental. The catgirl approached it, cringing in pain. She held her hand out and the Elemental reached forward, dropping the shard into her palm. After that, Fel collapsed onto the floor and the Elemental disappeared into a spiral swish of air.
“FEL!” Azzen yelled, rushing to her. He saw that she was unconscious and wasted no time scooping her up and rushing out the door with the girl in his arms. Her hand still rigidly clutched the Red shard.
Azzen had never ran so fast I his life. Not nearly as fast as Fel could run, but the Goblin guards in the city that tried to chase him soon gave up, huffing in exhaustion. Azzen didn’t stop until any pursuers were out of sight. Then he pause and searched Fel’s body, hoping she had kept the Healing salve on her. He search came to no avail and the boy began to panic. How could he help her? He didn’t know what to do. He searched his mind for any idea and remembered that Celeste had been able to heal him and the High Priest also had the ability.
Without thinking of the distance, Azzen immediately began sprinting back towards the large city where the High Priest resided. As he ran, he grabbed onto the Red Shard that Fel held, to ensure it didn’t get jostled loose.
The moment he touched it, he felt an incredible surge of energy. As the boy was running, fire poured through his veins, burning with heat so intense, it threatened to melt the skin off his bones. His lungs filled with steam and his heart was aflame. His stomach twisted into a charred knot and his mind exploded in rage.
HOW COULD THIS HAPPEN?! WHY DID IT COME TO THIS?! IT WAS SO STUPID! HE HATED IT! IT WASN’T FAIR OR JUST OR RIGHTEOUS! IT PISSED HIM OFF! IT MADE HIM ANGRY AND WILD! HE WANTED TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT, TO CHANGE IT, TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE! IT GAVE HIM INCENSE AND MOTIVATED HIM TO PUSH FURTHER AND HARDER AND MORE INTENSELY THAN HE COULD IMAGINE! THIS WAS DESIRE! THIS WAS FIRE! THIS WAS RED!
The boy’s veins lit up and his feet blew aflame, carrying him with the intensity of his own rage. He blazed across the landscape like a bullet out of a barrel, completely consumed in his consternation. And in only minutes, without even realizing what he had done, he stood at the city gates in front of slack-jawed guards. In two more seconds, he was barging into the temple shouting…
The High Priest could sense the urgency in Azzen’s voice and was there in a flash. Seeing the state of the boy and Fel, he immediately stepped into action. Azzen handed Fel off to the High Priest and the holy man began pouring healing energy into her, even as he strode purposefully towards the infirmary.
“What in the name of the gods happened to you two?” he asked Azzen, who was following in the priest’s wake.
“We fought the Red. The Red Shard holder. Fel got burned by an Elemist of something.”
“The shard holder was able to create an Elemental…” Mathews contemplated. “After only a few days of having the shard…”
“The Elemental killed him,” Azzen said. “And at first it was shaped like a Goblin, but then it changed into a Pria.”
The High Priest looked at Azzen questioningly, “that’s weird.”
“Yeah. And somewhere in there, Fel got hurt real bad. She fell through the floor,” Azzen stated. He knew he wasn’t making complete sense, but his mind was racing through all the memories. And Fel was still unconscious. “What’s wrong with her?” he asked. “Will she be okay?”
“I don’t know. It’s hard to say. Yes,” Mathews said.
The way he said it, Azzen wasn’t reassured at all. “How bad is it?”
“Her insides are melted.”
“WHAT?!” Azzen shouted.
“Not completely. Fused is more like it. They were heated so much that the edges of her organs slightly liquefied.”
“I thought Fel didn’t burn!”
“Azzen… Everyone burns. Fel can absorb heat energy, but there’s only so much she can take.”
“But she’s going to be okay, right?”
“It’s hard to say…”
“You healed her when she was smashed in half! How hard can this be?!” the boy demanded.
“Azzen,” the priest replied coolly. “That was simple. I just had to regrow her destroyed tissue. Right now, it’s all still there, just scarred and fused. Violet magic can only heal, it can’t destroy. We need the White Waters. More specifically, it’s actually Black Magic that we would require. Black magic could instantly dissolve the fused tissue and then we could replace it with Violet Magic. But we don’t have that right now. I would consider substituting Black with Red and burning it away, but the way Fel reacts to fire, there’s no way to tell if that would help or just make it worse.”
“There has to be another way,” Azzen chimed.
“I’m sure there is, but it will be very complicated and tedious. We’re going to have to play it by ear and fix one piece of her at a time. I really wish Celeste could help.”
“Celeste is here?” Azzen asked, remembering how quickly she had healed his broken rib.
“No, she’s at Magic School. But she’s turning out to be somewhat of a prodigy. I could really use her by my side right now, my acolytes just can’t keep up.”
“Oh,” Azzen said worriedly. The situation didn’t sound good.
“Azzen,” High Priest Matthews said solemnly. “You must be prepared to lose Fel-”
“You must! You cannot go Berserk if she dies.”
“She won’t die,” Azzen insisted.
“The prophecy said, ‘The Red will fall.’”
“I know what it said! But you don’t know-”
“Yes!” the High Priest cut him off. “We don’t know how to take it. It could have been referring to the Red Shard holder falling, or how you mentioned she fell through the floor, or it could mean she dies. You just have to be ready for it if it happens.”
“Shut up. Where is Magic School?”
“It’s miles away. A day’s journey.”
“I can run. I have this.” Azzen held out the Red Shard.
The priest paused for half a second in his step. Azzen pushed him forward.
“You have the Shard…” Mathews said. “That is… good. Very good. Impressive.”
“Yeah well it doesn’t matter if Fel dies,” Azzen replied. He wasn’t sure how that logic worked, but he was certain it did.
“I think you’re right,” the High Priest agreed, surprising Azzen. “Go to Magic School, grab Celeste, and bring her here now.”
“But I don’t know where-”
“Here,” the priest urgently interrupted. He pulled out a piece of parchment and a knife. After pricking his finger, he drew an arrow on the paper, then held his hand over it and muttered, “Die’res poyn’too Celeste Estel Bortraevo Si’Snay Brillianto So’Sui Coomprishe Cornalia Hodwoh Utraevri Mutoya Ohmbraeso.”
He handed the parchement to Azzen and the blood arrow swiveled like a compass. “Holy hell, she has a long name,” Mathews complained. “This will point you to her. Follow it. Go now.”
“Okay,” Azzen said, clutching the parchment in one hand and the shard in the other. He focused on the Red energy, charging himself up.
“And Azzen,” the High Priest added at the last moment. “You ARE the chosen one. You will not fail.”
For the first time, Azzen had his suspicions confirmed beyond a doubt by the voice of another. But also for the first time, he didn’t care at all. He nodded once and blazed off, following the arrow to Celeste.
~And at that point, I woke up.
I’m out of room in this journal.
I’ll write more in the next one~