Chapter 14 Blood Fire

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The next day Kylii and Daniil return to Oswen’s classroom and agree to show off their magic with Oswen’s permission. The Seer agrees and decides to move the class outside to give the brothers enough room to perform for the children. Tanith chooses to spend the day on her own, in the surrounding forest.

Daniil creates shapes with ice using a bowl of water, making small figures that fly around the heads of the children. He has the children throw items at him as he freezes them, daring any to actually hit him.

Not to be outdone by his brother, Kylii juggles fire and makes his own figures that battle against Daniil’s figures. He makes flames dance in the air and shoots small targets. The children clap and cheer excitedly, yelling out requests for new tricks, drawing the attention of any passing by within earshot.

The excitement can be heard at the training grounds and several stop their sparring to catch a glimpse of the brothers’ magic.

Jaxon has gone off on his own, telling now one where he is going. Bern, Mava, and Rava join Bruer and Fleance in sparring. Magic users practice against the skilled fighters and Bruer encourages them when they fail at an attack, giving them advice on how to improve their usage of magic.

Fleance remains quiet during most of the sparring, easily beating his opponents. But when Mava beats him, his face turns scarlet. Noticing the young man’s reaction, Bruer pokes fun at him, causing Fleance’s face to turn a darker shade of red.

A small smile forms on Mava’s lips and her own cheeks flush pink. She turns away from the others to hide it, but her sister catches it and laughs.

For the first half of the day, Ime and Meah spend it in their private room. After eating and bathing they venture out to wander through the city. They make their way down to the river and watch the fishermen at work. Nets thrown into the clear water take time to fill with fish, but the men don’t appear troubled. They sit along the banks of the river and rest or play games as they wait.

As they sit downstream from the nets, Ime and Meah catch sight of Tanith running through the trees of the forest. She chases small animals for fun, not for food and rolls in the grass.

“How much longer do you think we can stay here?” Meah asks, dipping her feet into the cool water.

Ime stares up at the treetops as he falls back onto the grass. “We can’t forget why we came into this forest. If what Jaxon told us is true, this legendary cliff city could provide us with an army strong enough to end Klaeon’s reign.”

“But are we even sure he’s still coming after us?”

Propping up on his elbows, Ime stares at her, confused. “You want to stay?”

Meah’s breath catches in her throat. “I do, but I know we can’t.” She turns to look at him, her eyes hesitating before meeting his. “If he’s still coming for us then we put this city in danger.”

“The thought had never left my mind. As I see it, we can stay for a couple days more. Any longer and there’s a chance Klaeon’s men could catch up to us.”

The two remain sitting on the bank of the river for several hours before returning to the tower. As they climb the stairs to the floor prepared for them, they spy Kylii and Daniil walking down.

“Well, looks like you two finally decided to join the rest of the world. How long have you been loose?” Kylii jokes.

“We were down by the river. We saw Tanith playing in the forest,” Meah says.

“What about you two? Making it hard for those children to pay attention to their lessons?” Ime asks.

The brothers smile at each other and place hands on Ime and Meah’s shoulders. “Actually, we recently came up with an idea on how to distract them further,” Daniil says, happily.

Kylii’s eyes glow with excitement. “We want to invite you to visit the class with us. The children keep asking about you two and have been begging us to drag you in.”

Forcing the hands from his shoulders, Ime steps back from the brothers. “Say that again?”

“Come hang out with the little darlings for a while.”

Meah turns to Ime and her expression lightens. “That sounds like fun. Let’s do it.”

“I don’t think I can. I don’t really know how to act around children,” Ime argues. “I mean, what do they want to meet us for?”

Taking his hand in hers, Meah shrugs her shoulders. “We won’t know unless we go.”

Ime reluctantly agrees and Kylii and Daniil lead them to Oswen’s classroom. The children stare at Ime and Meah with wide eyes as they enter the room. A low, wondrous excitement fills the room and Meah can feel Ime tense. He looks more nervous than he ever did before entering the Arena for a fight.

“We said we’d bring them and here they are, Ime and Meah,” Kylii introduces proudly.

Immediately, voices shout out questions. It takes Oswen a few minutes before he regains control of the room and a sense of order returns. He points to a child waving his hand furiously above his head.

“Can we see your earth and air magic?” the boy asks quickly. The children around him loudly voice their agreements and repeat the request.

Ime looks to Oswen. “Is it all right?”

“That is for you to decide. If you feel you can control it safely.”

Nodding his head, Ime requests the desks and chairs to be moved to the sides of the room. The children do so, quickly and Ime asks for three volunteers to stand at the center of the room. It takes a little bit of corralling and discussion before three children finally stand at the center.

“Okay, now don’t move.” Ime raises his hands slowly.

The other children standing in a circle around the three watch in silence. Daniil and Kylii move to the back of the classroom, out of the way.

Releasing a calming breath, Ime spreads his arms apart and then swings them up. The three children are encircled by a gentle wind and rise from the floor. They squeal with laughter and Ime moves them around carefully. The other children ooh and ah and clap their hands.

Ime notices a boy standing just outside of the circle. His expression is neutral, even though his eyes are filled with the same wonder as the others. Ime takes a single step forward and bends his knees. The stone floor beneath the boy rises and his expression changes to surprise. He tries to walk, but Ime only makes the floor rise wherever he places foot. Those standing around him turn and soon the floor beneath them rise as well.

After allowing each child a chance to be raised by wind or try to outrun the rising floor, Oswen gives Ime a break and tells the children it is time to discuss what they experienced. He invites Ime and Meah to stay and listen and they move to the back of the room.

“Don’t know how to act around children, my ass,” Kylii says as Ime and Meah stand next to them. “You outdid our performances.”

Daniil nods his head in agreement. “Yeah, how are we supposed to top that?”

“I’m sure you’ll think of something,” Ime says.

A small hand takes hold of Ime’s hand and he looks down at Asha. Her brown eyes gaze at him sternly. Ime looks at Meah with a lost expression, unsure of what to do. Asha tugs on his hand and he returns his focus to her. She waves with her free arm for him to lower down to her. He slowly kneels and she whispers something in his ear. An amused smile spreads on his face and he whispers something back to her. Asha beams and looks at Meah before rejoining the class.

“What did she say to you?” Meah asks as Ime stands.

Before he can answer, Kylii and Daniil regain the full attention of the children and the room explodes into noise.

Ime pulls Meah to the side to gain a little more privacy. Once the room calms enough for him to be heard he smiles and leans his head close to Meah’s ear.

“She asked if you were my wife.”

Meah’s smile disappears instantly and she fights to keep her face from blushing. Her eyes move to the floor and she clenches her hands tightly together. “And what did you say?”

Ime grabs one of her hands, forcing her to look up at him. The smile on his face is bigger and he leans even closer to her so that no one can overhear his words. “I told her I hope you will be one day.” He turns his attention to the class of children laughing at Daniil and Kylii as they reenact one of their more humorous fights.

Unable to keep the rush of blood from her face any longer, Meah beams widely like a fool. She squeezes Ime’s hand and he responds in kind. She leans her head on his shoulder. Ime rests his head against hers and they watch as Daniil and Kylii keep the children entertained.

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