The Faerie Blade: Chapter 22

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Chapter 22: Kaelyn in the Ruins

Kaelyn was just trying to fill her belly, but she got a lot more than she bargained for when she decided to save the life of a Faerie.

 

Fearing that was a dismissal, Vesha pleaded, “Wait! Who am I?! Why was I abandoned?!”

 


 
Author's Note: Here's chapter 22 of The Faerie Blade. ~Amethyst.
 


 Chapter 22: Kaelyn in the Ruins

“Vesha, do you think you can fly?” I asked my Dragonkin companion with a worried look at her. She had been looking worse and worse as we progressed down the tunnel; her left arm was that unhealthy gray with black scales all the way up to and including the shoulder now and she was pale and in constant pain.

Yet, if she could manage to fly, then we could get to the flames of the center of the chamber far sooner. The chamber was vast, and the pillar of flame appeared to be near the center. If we had to walk through that and maneuver our way through the ruins, it would take us much longer, especially with how bad Vesha looked right now. The Dragonkin gave a pained nod and said through gritted teeth, “I can manage flying if it gets us there faster.”

I allowed her to go first, only leaping off the ledge and into the air to follow her once I was sure that her wings were supporting her. I was half-afraid that she would fall and that I would need to catch her and carry her to the pillar of flame. Fortunately, her wings held and were able to support her weight, though not with the usual powerful wingbeats I had seen from her before. No, this time she mostly glided, only beating her wings to keep aloft when absolutely needed.

I breathed a sigh of relief as I took to the air behind her, but I did not relinquish any of my caution, following her as closely as I dared in case I might need to catch her. I had been worried that my new armor might make it difficult to fly, but the enchantments made it surprisingly light, and it had been made for a Faerie. So that worry was quickly dismissed and forgotten as I focused my attention on Vesha flying in front of me.

As we flew, I kept one eye on Vesha and the other on the ruins passing beneath us, watching them for any signs of movement or danger. The sheer amount of chaotic mana being spewed out by the eternal flame was making it as difficult to sense other sources of mana or magic as being close to the dark zone had. I did not want to lose the girl I was in love with to an attack from a Tainted or something when we were so close to what could be her salvation.

Normally the ruins would have fascinated me, but I was so worried about Vesha that I could focus on little else at the moment. I had trouble enough just watching them for potential dangers in my current state of mind. I firmly told myself that there would be some time yet to explore the ruins and find the Vos’oraik within them once Vesha did whatever was needed with the eternal flame.

It was not until the heat in front of us became truly uncomfortable that I called out, “We should land, Vesha!” We were so close to the pillar of flame now that it nearly filled my sight, and the light and heat were making it difficult to keep my gaze on the Dragonkin in front of me.

Vesha’s only response was to begin to circle and make her way downward to the ground. Since my wings gave me more control than hers, I slowed to hover and then made my way downward to a massive pyramid at the center of the cavern and city that had apparently been built around the pillar of flame. Despite my concern for Vesha, I found myself fascinated by the structure.

Had the pyramid come first? Or was it built around the eternal flame? If the latter, how had they managed to do so with the sheer amount of heat that the pillar emitted? I landed near an altar of some sort, giving the impression that this was some sort of temple. Did the people who lived here worship the pillar? I had so many questions running through my mind.

Vesha landed close by, though her landing was hardly a graceful one as stumbled, winced, and hissed in pain. I thought about Tanna’s prophesy and attempted to figure out what to do as I glanced once again in concern at Vesha. “Tanna said that the eternal flame would hold your answers and your salvation, and to not fear the darkness when embraced by the light. So, what do you think, Vesha?”

Vesha did not answer. She was staring at the pillar of flames in rapt fascination and awe as she shuffled toward it. How could she stand the heat? Was it because she was a Dragonkin? I was sweating profusely and lightheaded just being this close. Embraced by the light… that pillar lit this entire cavern, maybe she needed to get closer,

I found myself frowning. I did not like this, how could I help her if I could not get close to those flames? I stepped forward, determined to stand by the girl that I was in love with, and the flames flared, seemingly in protest. The flare was enough to throw me backward and I fell to the ground cursing. Vesha merely continued shuffling forward until she stepped within the pillar of flames. As soon as she had stepped within, the flames turned white hot, and I gaped in horror as Vesha was consumed.

~o~O~o~

Vesha stared at the flames in wonder. Something about them called to her, right down to her soul, like a song that she could not stop thinking about. It was as if she was incomplete, and that pillar of fire was the one thing that could make her whole. Everything else faded away; the pain, the fear, even the world around her.

She was vaguely aware of Kaelyn speaking to her, but the words were lost in the call of the fire. Even as the flames before her called to her, the flames inside of her yearned to be free with an intensity that she had never felt before. They wished to merge with the eternal flame. She knew, instinctively, what she needed to do.

She shuffled forward, giving herself to the call, and stepped into the flames. A comforting warmth enveloped her and for the first time since she had become a young woman, she stopped holding the fire within her back. She became fire and a chorus of voices sang in her mind, -Welcome, young one, we have been awaiting you for some time.-

“Who are you?” Vesha wondered. It was strange, she felt light and unencumbered, and while she couldn’t see, or use any of her other senses, it was like she was aware of everything around her. There was the pleasant warmth of the eternal flame, the vast cavern, the ruins, Kaelyn starting to get nervous close by, and the thousands of other living presences that she felt in the flames around her. Those presences projected so much love for her.

One voice among the many sang, -We are those who came before you, those who formed your egg. We are Salamanders, fire elementals birthed by and bound to the eternal flame. Once, long ago, we lived in the city that surrounds the temple of fire and the eternal flame. We lived in peace with the Sa’vash who lived in the city of Alustriel above us and shared our power with them.-

Not recognizing the name, Vesha inquired, “The Sa’vash?”

-You would know them as the Ancient Ones. They mastered magic and technology far beyond what the world will ever see again and created wonders that spanned the entire continent, and Alustriel was their capital. They were much like the Fae, tied closely to the Weave, and they strove to become perfect. In their quest for perfection, they became long-lived and powerful, but it cost a great many of them the ability to have children, and thus their society began to decline.-

-And then came the war with the Demons and their outcast God,- another sang in a pained voice. -Humans far outnumbered the Sa’vash and were jealous of their power, even though the Sa’vash shared their wonders with the other races equally. The Demons used that jealousy to tempt the humans. And so began a war that embroiled the entire world. They corrupted much of the city above with their foul rituals and killed those whom we valued as friends. We fought alongside others against the Demons and their ilk in the war that followed, but in the end, the society of the Sa’vash, and their wonders, were forever lost to the world. Few of their kind survived, and those fled we know not where.-

-The war ended, and the Demons were defeated, but in our mourning, we grew weary of our physical existence and returned to the fire that birthed us,- another added. Vesha found herself wondering how they could do such a thing. While she felt strangely comfortable in this state, it was different from what she was used to, and she worried about how her troupe, her mother, and Kaelyn would feel if she had to stay this way.

-We are part of the eternal flame, we shall exist for as long as it remains and the element of fire exists, but we do not need to remain in a physical form. We are the embodiment of fire, child. We only require our physical forms to interact with others. Should you wish to return to that form you shall, and you can exist in that state as long as you desire. The body is but a construct, to contain your fire within when you wish to have a physical form. We are born as physical beings until we reach maturity, and many of us remained that way for most of our existence until the war, only reverting to fire when such forms would be impractical or when we were injured. The war cost us our passion for the physical world-

“I was becoming Tainted. If I return to my physical form, will I…” Even in her thoughts, Vesha could not force herself to finish that question.

-You are fire, child,- a voice gently chided. -The tainted mana that was corrupting your physical form has been expunged and destroyed by the eternal flame. Only in your natural state of fire can you connect with the Weave, when you are ready to return to your physical form, draw that mana into your flames and picture your body healthy and whole.-

Fearing that was a dismissal, Vesha pleaded, “Wait! Who am I?! Why was I abandoned?!”

-Calm yourself, child, you shall have your answers,- a masculine voice urged. -The eternal flame is an elemental node of fire; there are a few others like it, but none quite as grand as this one. Each is connected for fire elementals such as us, just as other elementals are attuned to their own nodes. If you reach out with your mind in this state, you can allow yourself to see through the other nodes, or even travel to them. That is how we discovered some time ago that the Demons have returned. You know this as well, and we have decided to lend our aid in defeating them.-

-We needed one of our own out in the world, to call upon us when the time is right, so we each gave a small spark of ourselves and fused them together to form a new elemental child. You are our child. I am Ulielle, and since I could hold my physical form the longest, I was the one who carried you from here and ensured that I placed you in the care of people who would care for you and raise you with love,- a far more feminine voice explained.

Ulielle paused for a moment, and Vesha could feel a sense of deep affection once she continued to speak. -I followed the caravan of Changelings for days, hoping that they would give you a good life. You were eager to be free of your egg though, it began to crack even as I took you to a crossroads where I hoped you would be easily found by them. I watched from a distance even after I could no longer hold a physical form, and only left once the lone Ravieri among them bonded with you and I was certain that the caravan would give you a good home.-

“Why give me up at all?! Why not raise me yourselves?!” Vesha snapped. Had she been in her physical form, she was certain that there would be tears in her eyes.

-Here? In the ruins of a city long lost to the past, where the creatures of darkness far too often intrude? It would have been far crueler than finding you a caring mother not of your own kind,- another voice pointed out.

Then another added, -Our home has always been here, and the outside world has forgotten us. We have remained in our natural forms for thousands of years, young one, and that takes a toll on our kind. For us, taking a physical form is like using a muscle, if we go too long without doing so the ability weakens. Most of us could only hold our physical forms for a day or two at the maximum after that long without having one. Even now, after nearly two decades of practice, most of us can go no longer than a few weeks. Even if one of us could have retained our physical form long enough to raise you, we knew little of the modern world.-

-It is not that we did not love you, child,- one of the voices sang despondently. -You are the first Salamander born in millennia and each of us has given a part of ourselves to give you life. It is because we love you that we gave you to someone who could care for you properly, and show you the love that you deserve while growing up in your physical form. Please, remember that, and that some piece of each of us will always be with you.-

-You should return to your physical form, child,- a voice suggested, though there was a feeling of reluctance about it. -Your companion is worried, and you will need to leave soon if you are to return to the surface before dark, when those corrupted by the dark zone are more active. When you have need of us to fight the Demons, find a node of fire and contact us. Or… even if you just need to feel our presence or learn more about our kind.-

“I… I will,” Vesha promised. She was sure that her mother would understand. She still loved Nirlyn dearly and saw her as her mother, but now that she knew who and what she was after a lifetime of questioning, she still wanted to know more, to connect with the people who had given her life. For the moment though, she needed to worry about Kaelyn, and getting out of the ancient ruins.

It was a moment before she could filter out everything else that she was sensing around her enough to feel the mana, or at least she thought it was the mana since she had no real experience using magic. It was easier than she had imagined pulling it into her flames and when she felt that she could hold no more, she attempted to regain her physical form. She focused on her body, the familiar comfort of it; scales, flesh, wings, and even her horns and tail.

She pictured herself as healthy as she had been when she and Kaelyn had separated from the troupe and then, with some coaching from her many parents, she concentrated on reforming that body with the mana she had absorbed. Her first indication that she had succeeded was the familiar scent of fire mixed with the stale and earthy scents of the cavern. The only sound other than her own breathing was that of Kaelyn’s, and she sounded panicked.

Vesha stepped out from the pillar of fire, surprised and relieved that she no longer felt the agony searing through her left arm whenever she moved. She glanced down at it, finding her flesh and scales to be their usual colors, and breathed a sigh of relief as she approached the Faerie that she had been smitten with from the moment they met. That sigh turned into a gasp for air as said Faerie collided with her.

~o~O~o~

Vesha had just vanished, seemingly completely consumed by the pillar of flames. I stood there, paralyzed for a moment in sheer terror at the thought that Vesha had been killed by the very fire we had been told would be her salvation. No, I could not believe that. I could not lose Vesha, I could not bear it, my heart felt ready to shatter at the mere thought of it.

Perhaps the flames were just obscuring my view of her. If I could get closer… The thought was quickly countered as I tried to do so and was once again sent flying backward as the flames flared, almost as if they were trying to protect me from getting too close to the heat of the inferno. I pulled myself to my feet, determined to do something, anything. -Kaelyn, stop!- Sharai’s voice commanded.

“But Vesha…” I started to argue.

-Do you truly think that Vesha, of all people, could be harmed by fire?- my spirit guide pointed out. -The prophecy said that this would hold her answers and her salvation. We need to trust her right now and hope that whatever is going on in there, she can handle it. You are not resistant to fire, if you keep trying to get closer, you will get burned. Do you think your troupe would want that? Do you think Vesha would?-

“I… you’re right,” I admitted morosely. I clenched my fists tightly at my sides and stared intently at the pillar of flames, willing Vesha to emerge from within. With each passing minute that she did not, I grew ever more nervous and worried. It was only once I was starting to become truly panicked at the thought of possibly losing her that Vesha emerged from the flames, seemingly unscathed and looking a lot healthier than when she had gone in.

As soon as she was far enough away from the flames that I would not risk getting burned, I ran to wrap her in a tight embrace, burying my head against her shoulder and holding her tight. “Thank the Gods, you are well! I was so worried about you! You are well, right?” I asked the last as I pulled away and looked her over in concern.

“As good as new,” Vesha replied while flexing her previously injured arm.

Oh, Goddess, she was so muscular and beautiful, and I just wanted to be held in those strong arms of hers. She was also very naked, and I could feel my face flushing from more than just the warmth of the cavern as I nodded, unable to speak for a moment. Once I was able to reclaim my errant voice, I managed to say, “Good, you can tell me all about what happened in there once we have found the Vos’oraik and are on our way to Loden.”

She nodded and agreed as she tried to cover herself. “Aye, we should hurry and find your proof. I was told we don’t have much time if we want to get out of here before dark.”

© 2022 - 2024 Amethyst Gibbs
All Rights Reserved

Further chapters are available to the public on my Patreon page.

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Comments

Thanks, Dot

Amethyst's picture

It looks like Vesha is back in fighting shape and ready to finish this quest.

*big hugs*

Amethyst

ChibiMaker1.jpg

Don't take me too seriously. I'm just kitten around. :3

Not For Everyone

joannebarbarella's picture

The cleansing by fire, but it has cured Vesha. And She and Kaelyn can continue their quest.

I keep on saying I'm not a fan of magic but I keep on reading this story, so you're weaving a spell on me, Amethyst.

purification

Amethyst's picture

too bad it wouldn't work on anyone with a permanently corporeal body.

Thanks, Joanne, I like to make magic fun ;)

*big hugs*

Amethyst

ChibiMaker1.jpg

Don't take me too seriously. I'm just kitten around. :3

Fire of the Phoenix

BarbieLee's picture

Vesha is the mate Kaeylan must have to fight the evil spreading throughout their world. Both bring a unique power and strength to the mix necessary to restore life on a world being slowly eaten by dark forces.
Hugs Amethyst
Barb
When I learned everything is when I understood I know nothing.

Oklahoma born and raised cowgirl

yeppers

Amethyst's picture

They both bring something valuable to the fight against the Demons.

*big hugs*

Amethyst

ChibiMaker1.jpg

Don't take me too seriously. I'm just kitten around. :3

In their defense

Amethyst's picture

Salamanders have been out of the public eye for as long as Changelings have, so it's not surprising that society has forgotten them too, outside of perhaps some legends.

*big hugs*

Amethyst

ChibiMaker1.jpg

Don't take me too seriously. I'm just kitten around. :3