(Day 4 skipped)
Fire, flame, flare, blaze.
Behold the flame. Feel its glory. See the power it holds in its firey arms. Worship it.
Control the blaze. Live like it. Seek power and it will seek you. Consume those who threaten to consume you. Live with passion. Embed the mark of the Inferni in your arms and chest. You must purge the settlements opposing the Inferni. You must control those who do not worship the flames.
From this day on, power will follow you wherever you go.
Welcome to the Inferni.
Yesterday, I sought power. Today, I hold power in my right hand. Flames rise up and dance, devour and destroy. Me and my fellow Inferni throw torches into the village, singing the Chant of the Flame as we wreak carnage. I don’t focus on the destruction. I simply act. It’s all I’ve ever known.
My Tuhuan, Father in the Flame, joins me in burning a fruit market. A family of five runs out of the building, screaming. I grimace.
“Every one of us has a hard time on our First Punishments, Moto,” Tuhuan says to me. I try to secure those words in my heart, use it as the power I’ve trained for years to harness. I chant the tune of the flame and create a tongue of fire on my hand. I press it on the wooden boards of the house watching as fire whooshes up. The shaq has been demolished.
“Moto!” Brier, my best friend, says from on top of a roof. The house beneath him is scorched and burning, but he is a steeler. His skin is like bronze that does not melt. The ancient magi have worked in him. “What’s your count? I’ve downed seventeen already!”
I feel a bitter taste deep in my throat. Zero. Zero. “Twenty! This job is easy.”
“For a second there I thought you weren’t enjoying this,” Brier says, laughing. His laugh always seemed genuine. I loved it. Now, as I watch the flocks of people fleeing their village, the smile makes me sick.
As a child, all of this was our prime goal in life. Warriors who got to be in the Punishings were looked up as heroes and saints. Only the strongest and the bravest could come here. Children grew up hearing stories of these legends. I couldn’t sleep last night in excitement that I would actually be one of them.
All I’ve ever known has come crashing down. I hate this. I hate the death, I hate the destruction. These people are innocent, I know it. And somehow, through the layers of education, I can tell that I have been in the wrong all my life.
I’m going to run.
I start sprinting without prior thought. I wince at the destruction around me, jumping and cutting around flames, then run into the forest. I see a crowd of villagers fleeing to the north, crashing through bushes, pulling crying children.
“Help!” I yell, running after them. They shout in fear, holding up bow and arrows. I duck under a thick-trunked tree. “I’m no longer an Inferni!”
I rip the Inferni chain from my neck, and rip off the ceremonial red robes for the Punishments. “Please, let me help you.”
“He may be a spy,” one of the men say, narrowing his eyes. “We don’t know his motives.”
“Wait!” a woman says. She has long, beautiful locks of hair. Stress has given her wrinkles, it seems, but there is still energy in her eyes. “Is that… is that you, Moto?”
My eyes widen. This woman isn’t some stranger. I now recognize her hazel brown eyes, the band she loved to wear on her head. Her loving smile. “Mama!”
I can’t believe it. I run into her arms. All those years… she had always been right next door.
I have a lot to learn. It will take time to undo this damage. But I’m finally where I belong. It’s time to change.
2 thoughts on “Inktober Day 5 ~Fire~”
I love your writing Noah. Even in this short piece you drew me into the characters. I particularly liked the way you describe Moto as you unveiled her character. And you did it with so few words. I’m looking forward to reading more.
Thank you so much!