35/366 – The Fire Stone (Cont.)

Continued from 34/366 – The Fire Stone (Cont.)

Morn watched from where he lay as the Deep Dweller writhed in pain without anyone touching it. Its body bent in ways that Morn didn’t understand, but saw the shaman turning its hand to reflect the twisting as the one on the floor cried out again.

“We should go,” Koldian said, extending a hand out for Morn to grab. “You hold onto that stone for now, but we are going to discuss this after.”

Morn nodded and took Koldian’s hand, lifting himself to his feet. His body felt like he had just spent the week in the fields for twelve hours a day, and he could smell burnt hair. His hand still glowed, but there wasn’t pain there anymore, only a warm sensation that felt like warm water being poured over his arm.

“Thank you for taking the stone from here,” the shaman said. “If possible, would you be willing to come back for further discussion?”

“The boy will not come back, but I would be happy to,” Koldian replied, gently pushing Morn past the line of archers that separated as they went.

“In two days,” the shaman said, looking down at the pain riddled dweller at their feet, “I’ll meet you closer to the surface so that you don’t need to worry about our warriors again.”

“In two days,” Koldian repeated.

Koldian led the way through the network of tunnels back to the surface. Morn felt grateful for the cold night air when they stepped out of the entrance. The feeling only lasted a moment before Koldian spun him around.

“What the hell was that?” Koldian said. “How are you still here? That stone should have destroyed you.”

“I-I don’t know,” Morn replied. “I remember the pain from it. I didn’t think when I reached out to grab it.”

“No, you weren’t thinking. You shouldn’t be able to hold it,” Koldian said.

“What’s it mean?” Jaque asked.

“I’m not sure, but he’s lucky to be alive,” Koldian said.

“I met the fire, and Azariah was there,” Morn said.

“Azariah?” Celeste repeated.

“What do you mean you met the fire?” Koldian asked.

Morn told Koldian everything he could remember. He explained the feeling of the cold and the warmth of the fire. The way it interacted with Azariah and everything in between. By the end of the story, Koldian was sitting on a rock looking perplexed.

“You met the element,” Koldian said, “astounding. Absolutely astounding. I would have never known what existed inside those stones.”

“So you’re not mad?” Morn asked.

“Mad? No, I was frustrated with your ignorance, but I suppose all new information comes with inherent risk. I’ve never heard of anyone surviving touching one of those stones. Many wizards have believed themselves powerful enough to withstand the force of it, but none have lived. I’ll have to write an entry into my studies on this.”

“I’m exhausted,” Morn said.

“I believe it,” Celeste said, “from what you just told us, you went through a lot when you touched that thing.”

“Why is all this happening to you?” Jaque asked.

When Morn looked over to him, Jaque’s face was a mask of irritation with ripples of anger underneath.

“I don’t know,” Morn said.

“I’ve spent years studying magic and can only produce a handful of effects and spells. Yet, here you sit, being the focus of Master Scaine’s efforts, knowing a god, meeting the sentience of an element, and surviving touching something in which no wizard has ever survived touching. All of it because you broke a statue.” Jaque was screaming by the time he finished. His eyes were large and sweat beaded on his forehead.

“I-I’m sorry,” Morn said, his eyes falling to the ground. “I didn’t-”

“He’s sorry!” Jaque erupted.

“Calm down, Jaque,” Koldian said. “The pursuit of knowledge is a long and lonely road for many wizards. Don’t say anything that will drive your friends away from you, trust me.”

“Why should I trust anything?” Jaque said, “None of this follows any sort of logical path. None of it makes even the smallest bit of sense. He is responsible for the deaths of dozens of people in the town-there I said it-and yet everything seems to be working in his favor anyway.”

“Jaque!” Celeste said, stepping up to him. “You should go.”

“Fine!” Jaque yelled, storming off toward the town. “I don’t want to be here when he trips over a rock, hits a tree, and receives the blessing of the forest anyway!”

“I’m sorry, Morn,” Koldian said.

“He’ll be fine once he gets a chance to calm down,” Celeste said.

“He’s right,” Morn said, looking at the stone in his hand. “None of it makes sense. I don’t understand how I’ve survived everything that’s happened, let alone been rewarded for it.”

“You’ve lost things too, Morn,” Celeste said.

“I know,” Morn said, thinking about his father again, “but my mother is back, and with this, she’ll be fine. I’m sad my dad is gone, but Jaque is right. I broke the rules, I defaced the town, and a lot of people died because of it. Why is it working out this way?”

“Your whole dynamic is new to me, but I’m assuming it has a lot to do with the friends you keep,” Koldian said, “sometimes, the people around us are the only reason we can make it through the big things that happen to us.”

Morn nodded, “Without Jaque, I don’t know what would have happened.”

Celeste put her hand on Morn’s shoulder and shook him gently. “We should get that to your mother before something else happens.”

Morn nodded and forced his legs to march back through the forest. At the edge of the forest, where the field started back to the town, flashes of fire erupted from the center of it. In the light, Morn could make out Jaque and a dozen undead that advanced on him from all sides. He felt his heart sink in his chest.

“Jaque!” Morn yelled, running forward, Celeste and Koldian close behind.

continued 36/366 – The Power One Needs



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