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The Man Behind The Fire
one month ago
(This is my first time posting something. Dunno if I'll ever share more here--but I thought I might as well put this out there somewhere. Enjoy!)
Dallin watched as Instructor Emilia’s daughter--Cecily--started her display, her fingers snapping quietly, before small bits of fire slowly left her fingertips. She brought her arm up in a slow, careful arc, her every move precise, and near perfection. Slowly, the fire grew, turning from a bright orange, to a dangerous white. The fire circled around herself, a dangerous ball of force that made it feel as if the sun itself had come to live there. If anyone dared come closer, they’d be burned.
Of course Cecily has to show off, he couldn’t help but think. Everyone at the school knew she was the most talented student there--and it didn’t help that her mother taught the class. Meanwhile, people like Dallin had to work themselves so hard that their fingers were raw from snapping, and still never reach the marks people like Cecily got.
He hated it.
People like him didn’t often get the chance to gain the power of fire--kids from the humble outskirts of the country, instead of in the bustling metropolis. He was one of the lucky ones; but he knew he could be easily replaced if he never delivered.
Cecily ended her display with firing a band of fire out, before slowly dismissing the ball of fire surrounding her. The class gave an outrageous applause; everyone was impressed.
The only one who wasn’t happy was Dallin.
“Very good, Cecily!” Emilia commented once the cheering died down. “Good use of control!” She examined the rest of the class, and Dallin tried to make himself smaller, hoping he wouldn’t be noticed. The tactic, however, didn’t seem to work. “Dallin! Can you repeat the technique?”
On reflex, Dallin moved forward, and gave a small bow. “Of course.”
He moved to the center of the large room, where he would have plenty of room if things… well… blew up in his face. He closed his eyes, trying to focus his mind as he went through all of the steps involved. This was Curran’s Ball of Fire. It was all about discipline, and not releasing either too much fire, or too little. Too little, and you wouldn’t be able to defend yourself, or move on the offensive--there just wouldn’t be enough fire to go around. Too much, and… well… it was self-explanatory.
He let out a breath, his pores already sweating, even though he hadn’t summoned any heat, yet. It’s fine. You’ll be fine, he told himself.
With hesitation, he finally snapped his fingers, a small burst of fire released. Dallin winced. Too much. His eyebrow knit as he slowly brought it under control, then started weaving the fire into a sphere around himself. Better. While the flames weren’t anywhere near the intensity that Cecily had created (and somehow withstood without a single burn), he was doing alright if he did say so himself. Once the sphere was created, he shot a few balls of fire out before sucking in a breath of air, readying himself for the finisher.
Something caught his ears, though. The faint sound of a chuckle. And he could recognize it well.
It was Cecily’s voice
His blood boiled. What the heck did Cecily have to laugh about!? She probably wasn’t even paying attention! Or--worse--was laughing at his technique.
I’ll show her, he thought. He was ready to show ALL of those metropolis brats that he was just as worthy to be there.
With a growl, he jumped, before slamming his fists down on the ground, finishing the routine. This was supposed to send out a line of flame outwards from every direction, and then dissipate the ball. And in a sense, it did do that. He just didn’t anticipate that he himself would get harmed in the process. The fire caught the bottom of his pant leg, burning both the fabric, and his own skin.
Now, Cecily wasn’t the only one laughing. A few snickers rang out, most likely from some of the popular kids. Even stranger, Cecily was the one that stopped chuckling, her eyes wide in surprise.
He panicked. That wasn’t supposed to happen. This was supposed to be one of the easier techniques--not something that he could get tripped up over with the silliest of problems. He felt the blood rush to his ears as he glared at the crowd, his newly-turned golden eyes flashing with anger. Anger that blinded him so much that he forgot to put out the fire--which only got taken care of because Instructor Emily put it out.
He was ushered off, but he couldn’t keep his eyes off of Cecily, who just looked on in pity, a crueler taunt than any of the laughing spouting from the other students’ mouths.
Dallin let out a breath, a polite smile on his face as he gave a small bow. He’d just performed a perfect technique that would make some of the best Fire Elementals jealous. In front of Meto himself, as well--not to mention a crowd of hundreds of people.
Since he’d graduated, he’d risen through the ranks of soldiers several times, before taking his place as one of Meto’s personal bodyguards. In fact, he’d have a personal training area where he could hone his skills. Nobody would disturb him. He wouldn’t have to worry about anyone.
And the best part was that Cecily was nowhere to be found.
He loved it.
Dallin let out a breath. “Again,” he muttered under his breath. With a grimace, he snapped, spurts of flame bursting under his feet and his hands, the burst of force slowly lifting himself off the ground. His brow furrowed. Now for the hard part.
He slowly tilted forward, trying to change his levitation into motion. It was something people didn’t dare to try--fire was already hard to control; adding the movement of flight to it added a whole other level of complexity and mastery that few had ever tried to achieve.
Dallin was determined to be the first.
His movements were wobbly--he preferred to be on solid ground, where he didn’t have to have a constant and exact amount of fire coming from his body at all times. Sweat gushed out from his body, providing a level of discomfort he very much didn’t need at that moment. But he continued on, slowly moving forward. With great effort, he made it from one end of the training area to the other without major incident.
His eyes widened with surprise when he realized that things hadn’t blown up in his face. His face slowly turned from a grimace to a grin as he turned around, and increased his pace, making it to the other side in half of the time it had taken him to get to the other side the first time. With confidence, he increased speed yet again.
That was when he lost control.
His eyes widened as he gave himself too much thrust, before ultimately losing his hold on the situation, and crashing into the wall in front of him.
“You’ve gotten pretty talented, Dallin,” a voice spoke out. “No wonder you’re one of Meto’s bodyguards.”
Dallin was immediately on edge. He forced himself not to clench his fist as he picked himself up from off the ground, and fixed a steady gaze onto his teenage rival. “This room is supposed to be private. Couldn’t you have knocked?”
Cecily just gave a small shrug, sending him an infuriating smile. “I just wanted to tell you I got into Meto’s guard…Figured you might wanna hear.”
Dallin rolled his eyes. He sure as hell had heard. “That’s a wonderful and totally unoriginal concept, Cecily. Now could you just leave me so that I can go back to training? You did ruin my concentration if you didn’t notice.” He turned away from her, just trying to keep himself from trembling. It’d been years since he’d felt it, but his childhood loathing had all come back to him in one fell swoop. Why, why, why did she have to be the one to fill in the gap after Kane had to retire!? There were plenty of others that could’ve taken his place--why did she have to be the one to do it!?
Cecily didn’t leave, however. Instead, from behind his back, she spoke again. “It really is nice to have a familiar face here,” she commented. “I’m just sorry it didn’t work out as kids.”
Dallin couldn’t keep a scoff from leaving his mouth. “Look… Cecily… Your whole innocent act is cute and all, but I’m just going to tell you right now;” He turned around, a confident smirk on his face as he looked her in the eyes, “I don’t think this’ll work out.”
The look on her face was priceless. Her eyes went from hopeful to blazing within seconds. Now she was the one struggling to control her emotions. Even without certain talents, her anger was obvious. “Look. Dallin. I don’t know what you have with me, but can you at least try to be civil for once? I don’t see what I did to get this--but if there actually was something, could you point it out to me? Because I’m a little lost.”
“Don’t pretend you don’t know.”
Dallin paused, surprised. “You really don’t remember?”
A shrug. “Not really. Just give me an idea, alright? Then I’ll get outta your hair.”
“Nothing? Not any of the laughing? Showing off? Embarrassing me in front of the entire class? Making me lose my confidence? You don’t remember any of it?”
Her eyebrow shot up. “Not really. I don’t remember doing anything to you--much less trying to bully you…probably because that never actually happened.”
Dallin took a step back, surprised. How the heck did she not remember any of this? He tensed, then turned away from her, forcing himself not to launch at her, screaming. She knew what she’d done. He just knew it. “If you’re lying to me--”
“If you wanna know if I’m lying to you, just hit up your empath powers. See for yourself.”
He was glad he was turned away, otherwise, she would’ve seen his tell-tale wince. His empathy wasn’t something he talked about. Most Fire Elementals had mastered empathy a few years at most after getting a good grasp of their fire--in fact, if he remembered right, Cecily had developed her empathy only a few months after graduating.
But it was never something that had come to him.
It was one of his biggest shames to this day.
“Just… just get out, will you?” he shot back weakly. “I don’t want to see your face anymore. I don’t want to see you be smug, or rub it in anymore than you are now.”
Cecily let out a sigh, before giving a small snap. Dallin spun around, ready for an attack. But no fire had been summoned--instead, she just closed her eyes, that same pity on her face from fourteen years ago. After a moment, she whispered, “You’re a sad, bitter man, aren’t you?”
Dallin’s eyes bore into her, and he brought out his fire. “GET OUT!” he roared, before launching a reckless ball of fire at her. However, she easily dodged out of the way, before running out of the room.