September 13, 2015 by Lyn
Soon as we could see clearly through our big black eye,
Man we lit up your world like the Fourth of July
It happened so quickly, Kai didn’t have a chance to do anything until Taro had already charged forward. He’d been aiming, she assumed, for the horrible little woman Agatha, but she’d stepped out of the way and he had hit Shahin instead.
The petite woman crumpled to the ground as Kai grabbed for Taro’s ponytail to yank him back. She wasn’t the only one, either; Mabina&Cassidy grabbed his shoulders and pulled. He landed, glaring angrily, on his ass at Conrad’s feet.
He had stopped being the problem the moment his punch landed, though; even she could see that. She looked up at the boy with Shahin – Emrys, that was his name. He was wearing a collar made of braided hair, hair that had to be Shahin’s.
Emrys had taken one quick look at his Keeper with a whispered phrase and then stepped forward, flames literally flying from his eyes.
Agatha and Dysmas, meanwhile, had slipped around to each side of their group, and Kai had the uncomfortable sensation of being flanked as she realized they’d all taken a step beyond the limits of their Sanctity.
“Is she all right?” It seemed foolish to ask that when she was so clearly threatened herself, but it was important. “Taro didn’t mean to hit her.”
“Stop talking for me!” Taro glared up at her.
“Well, you didn’t,” she pointed out reasonably, restraining herself from kicking him. Conrad was stepping forward, however, and she turned quickly towards him. “You stay out of this,” she said, hoping his talent for riling Taro up wouldn’t make the situation worse.
Emrys, however, leaned down and grabbed the front of Taro’s shirt, bunching it up in his fist. Kailani noticed with some trepidation that the flames were not merely a visual effect, as she had at first surmised, but were actually igniting small patches of the carpet and doorframe.
“Not her,” Taro grumbled. He grabbed Emrys’s wrist roughly. “I didn’t mean to hit your girl,” he repeated forcefully, sounding not so much like he was apologizing as just yelling.
Emrys was having none of it. Kailani’s eyes widened as, without so much as a word, he literally burst into flames, and Taro along with him. Anatoliy stooped over the fallen girl, effectively blocking her off from the others, as well as shielding her from the fire that began spreading across the carpet from Emrys’s feet.
“Stop that now,” Mabina snapped, sounding more forceful than Kai had ever heard her. “Emrys. Put that away and take her to the doctor’s office. She’s bleeding. You can break Taro’s nose later.”
Kailani never got to hear what Taro thought of that offer as he started screaming, and the scent of ozone rapidly filled the hallway. Kailani could barely see them through the wreath of flames, but though Emrys himself appeared to be untouched by the blaze, it looked like Taro’s shirt was burning, and his hair, and… she had to force herself to look away.
On the other side, Cassidy stepped forward to intervene, when suddenly the flames leapt up like a living thing, splitting and taking the form of dancing serpents. Kailani could hear Dysmas’s low chanting as the snakes shot forward to encircle Cassidy. “Qorawiyay intinn, qorawiyay intinn…” She found herself unconsciously analyzing the spell, and frowned. Shouldn’t fire be kwxe, a conventional energy source? Although she had no talent for it herself, much to her chagrin, she was sure she’d recognize it. Intinn… Her eyes widened. “Cassidy, it’s an illusion! He’s just messing with your mind!” Even as she said it, she found herself able to see the underlying reality, and gasped. Although the snakes were illusory, the all-too-real fire was spreading, racing up the walls.
Kailani heard Shahin’s groggy voice from behind Anatoliy’s bulk. “It’s warm… Emrys?”
“Yes, Sheen,” the giant said soothingly, his back to the growing conflagration. “You’re going to be fine. Emrys has it under control.” She wondered how true that actually was, and how calm the big man would actually be if he could see what was taking place behind him.
Cassidy had pulled a staff seemingly from nowhere; probably literally from nowhere, as Kailani recalled prior incidents of his object creation. He was spinning it before him in a pattern that reminded her of training with Allyse, though he didn’t appear quite as skilled as the femme fatale. Dysmas, certainly, was unimpressed; he had crossed his arms and was chanting again, a low susurration of “Buli unutu.” Cassidy swung the staff and she watched it pass cleanly through the laughing Dysmas as if he were no more substantial than smoke.
The smoke actually rising in the hall did nothing to lessen that impression. Taro was getting roasted, and here she was watching. Water, what was water? “Meentik yaku,” she began. “Meentik yaku…” A light rain began to fall in the hallway, pattering against the walls with her chanting. It helped control the spread of the flames, curtailing those tendrils of fire that had reached away from the main source. The central problem, however, wasn’t being addressed. The roaring blaze surrounding Emrys and Taro was just too hot, and her water couldn’t even touch it. Nonetheless, she continued her chant to put out the rest of the fire and prevent further damage to the surroundings. While she Worked, she glanced back to see how Cassidy was doing.
“Qorawiyay tlacatl!” Mabina called out, and the crablike pincers which Dysmas had shaped to try to catch Cassidy morphed back into human hands.
“Meentik panida,” Cassidy intoned, and a contingent of scorpions coalesced out of the wall to scurry at Dysmas.
“Qorawiyay hiko,” he spat contemptuously, and a few of the hall lights flickered and died as electricity arced from them to fry the vermin before he counterattacked. “Tempero hugr Mabina ia’Cassidy,” he snarled.
Kai flinched, but Cassidy was on it immediately, chanting “Quipia hugr Mabina ia’Cassidy,” to shut him down.
Instead of counterattacking in turn, however, they were watching something else… something in her direction? What could have distracted them from the fascinating magical duel? She turned to find Agatha stepping up into her face, inasmuch as someone her height could, and gesturing at Taro. He had stopped screaming, which Kailani was pretty sure wasn’t a good sign. “You see what you’ve done?”
“What I’ve done?” No, she hadn’t started this, but could she finish it? Her water wasn’t doing it, and wind wouldn’t help. Unless… she’d have to be careful with it. She chanted a Working, ignoring Agatha as much as she dared, sucking all the oxygen out of the zone of fire. A sharp crack sounded as the flames died, and Emrys jerked back, pulling his arm from the grip of the blackened and smoldering Taro. Both of them seemed to be falling… ah, yes. “Qorawiyay kaana,” she intoned, allowing the oxygen to flow back into the area.
Kailani let out the breath she’d been holding, glanced around to see what the rest of the crew was doing, and yelped. Cassidy and Dysmas appeared to be engaged in some sort of staring contest, but Cass was slackjawed and Dysmas was smiling. Mabina, she noted, stood numbly beside Cassidy, eyes fixed and staring as well. A side effect of their condition, perhaps? There was no time to think about it now though, as Agatha had slid her tiny body between Kai and Conrad and had a firm grip on his arm. “You lose this round, girl,” Agatha grinned.