This was probably one of the first pieces of anything that took place in a pure Fantasy setting. I wrote it for a creative writing class I was in, and no one really knew what to think of it, especially since the professor was a poet. It’s not the best thing I have ever written, and it sounded a lot better in my head than it ended up turning out on paper. If you have any questions or comments on it, please let me know!
There was a time when magic still roamed the land and was not yet confined by the now powerful Actung. It was a time before the Black Machines came and Beings still walked among us. The Tarot Riders were the strongest fighters the world had ever known and were hired only by the richest of the Lords of the Land or by those who had nothing left to lose. The only two who didn’t work only for the Lords were the Empress and the Fool. The best of the Riders, they took jobs for only those who had just causes and who could look past the heritage of the Empress. They were also the only ones who could Return a Being with any success for more than a few hours. When they Returned, the Being did not come back until it was released once again.
When the two first met, the Empress was but twenty summers and the Fool has seen only one more than she. And neither of the two had yet earned the Tarot.
“Spot is taken,” grumbled the man. His features were hidden in the shadows cast by both cloak and hearth fire. His voice was deep, but not overly so. Rae didn’t think that he could possibly be any older than her recently married brother.
“Just for me, or for everyone?” she asked, sitting down across the table from him. “Because I saw someone get up from here not a half bell ago and he hasn’t come back yet.” She pulled off her traveling cape and placed it on the wood bench. Her movement let the fire light in the tavern hit her hair and face, revealing tell-tale black hair and red eyes.
“Especially you,” he growled out. “Your kind isn’t welcomed here.”
Rae raised a hand to the tavernkeep, ordering a drink. “My kind? Do you mean me being a woman? Because I must say, I do see a dearth of those here as well.”
He didn’t respond and they sat in silence in the corner.
“Why are you still here? I thought I made it clear that you weren’t welcome here.”
Rae yawned. “One, it’s cold out. I highly doubt you want to be out in the snow either. Two, I saw no signs that said that I wasn’t welcome. And look!” she motioned to her drink. “My money spends just as good as yours.”
“You…you….” He sputtered. “You insufferable….”
She grinned. “Thank you. I try.”
He reached beneath his cloak, going for the sword she was sure was beneath. Her body stiffened, a dagger falling into her hand from a sheath on her wrist. Why was it that every time she tried to get a drink, someone took offense to her being there? Now she was going to have to fight for her food again, pay for damages, then go find somewhere else to spend the night and hope that the scene…
“Being of Fire! In sight of the town!”
The yelled warning was enough to quiet the entire tavern. The majority of the people sat in shock as the news sank in. A Being of Fire could destroy the town in seconds if he made it this far. Rae and her companion were the first to leap up out of their seats, followed by the off-duty members of the town Watch. “Can you summon anything?” Rae asked him as they ran into the streets.
“Simple sprites. Nothing that can take out that,” he said, nodding towards the hulking figure made of flames lumbering towards them. “I’m a swordsman, not a spellslinger.”
“Good thing I am then.”
Their animosity towards one another was forgotten in the heat of battle. Like all good fighters, they were able to put aside arguments at a moment’s notice and resume them later on once the threat of death had been avoided. “I’m Caleb, by the way.”
“You’ve got a plan?”
“I do. I need you to guard my back though. Once I start slinging, I can’t protect myself.”
“What’s the plan?”
“I Return it.”
“Unless there are other slingers in the Watch.”
Caleb nodded and drew his sword as they continued moving on towards the edge of Kingsguard Town. While the rest stopped just past the gates, Rae ran further up along the dirt path. The heat coming from the Being could be felt even from where she was standing, a good two hundred yards away from it. The air shifted and bent around the massive Being’s heat, like the air bends around a hot fire’s coals. She closed her eyes and reached for the Fire inside of herself. Though it was no where near as strong as the Fire that was inside of the Being, there was still enough there. :Why are you here: she asked it, using her Fire as a channel.
:PAIN! DESTROY! MASTER! FREEDOM! FIRE! DESTROY!:
It was impossible to get anything coherent out of the Being. That was the way most Returnings happened though. A Being was ripped from its home element and forced to manifest. While some Beings, like those of Air and Water were easy to control or command, Fire was a Being of a different nature entirely.
“Any slingers in the Watch?” she heard Caleb yell behind her.
“Me!” another one yelled out.
“To me!” Rae said. “Link and we can Return it.”
The slinger in the Watch was next to her in a moment, extending power to her. Rae grabbed at it, connecting the Fire of her own with the power of the other. There was something familiar about it, but she was so deep in channeling now that she couldn’t spare a thought as to what it was. If she lost concentration now, the power she held would burn them both.
“Do you know how to Return?” she asked the Watchmember.
“Seen it done, but I haven’t done it meself.”
“Then just let me do the work and grab what you offer.” Rae shut down the part of her that she had been using to speak and focused everything on the Return. With her heritage, it was easy to reach into the elemental plane that was needed.
The world faded away around her and she was in a world of fire, lakes of lava and smoke covering the sky. The heat was almost unbearable, but she endured. Somewhere in this world, there was a hole that the Being had been called out of. There would be a colder feeling around the area that the hole was, where the heat and fire could escape and the cooler air of her world would reach through. Experience in Returning Beings before would help her to find the subtle place where the hole was. She expected it to be hard. But as soon as she focused on finding the hole, the cooler air of her plane blasted her.
Some idiot hadn’t pulled the Being though. He had blasted through the wall into the elemental plane and dragged the poor thing out. No wonder it was in pain. She would be in pain too if she was pulled through a wall between worlds. It would be like being thrown at the wall of the tavern she had been in, only passing through it while still keeping the pain. There were some things that were not meant to happen.
But it was through that hole that Rae would have to convince the Being to Return. And then seal it up before Rae could leave the plane.
By the time she had gotten though to the Being, it was about to enter the town. Instead of destroying it though, it turned and walked back the way it came, listening to the call that Rae was putting out to it. There was another shimmer in the air around it that Caleb and the Watch saw before it disappeared.
A moment later, Rae opened her eyes, released the link that the slinger had given her and fell to her knees. Caleb was by her side along with half of the Watch in an instant. “You okay?”
“I’ll be fine,” she said, waving them off. “That was the hardest Return I’ve ever done though. Someone had literally torn the poor thing out of his world and into ours. The pain that he was feeling was immense and it was almost too late by the time I reached it.”
“But it wasn’t.”
She shook her head. “No. I just wish I knew who the idiot was that called a Bring here so close to town.” Rae looked around. “Is anyone hurt?”
“Nothing that the Waterwitch healers can’t take care of.”
“I can help a bit too. I’m no where near as good as my mom was, but I’m alright in the field.”
“Your mom was a Waterwitch?” Caleb asked, surprised.
“Still is as far as I know.”
“A Waterwitch with a Fireling child,” he murmured as he helped her up. “One who wants to help others rather than gain power to destroy. Will wonders never cease…”
“I certainly hope not. Besides, it’s our actions that make us evil, not who we are.” She wrapped an arm around his shoulders in an attempt to stay upright longer before leaning towards the tavern. “What say you to a drink? I wouldn’t mind finishing my wine and you look like you need a good ale.”
Caleb laughed, blue eyes sparkling in the sun. “I do, at that.”