Soul of Flames

On the edge of the reality we know, there exists a pathway that conceals a realm far more extraordinary than any have dared to imagine. In this realm, a war is raging. And one girl is at the centre of it all. Yet, to fight the suffering, she must learn to accept a heritage that could send the life she knows up in flames. One way or another, she is about to discover that, sometimes, giving yourself to the flames can unlock your soul...

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11. Chapter 10-Robyn

I resurface from the darkness slowly, pushing the inky tendrils aside. They curl around my hand, gently caressing my skin. I feel them beginning to snake further up my arms, wrapping around my elbow like silk ribbon. Pushing more aside I realise that, no matter how many tendrils I move away, my surroundings get no lighter.

I frown into the darkness and push with more force, kicking my legs as well. They encounter more resistance than I expect and my muscles burn briefly. I relax and the fire stops. I stop flailing around and start to gently feel all around me, searching for any solid surface. My body still feels like it’s rising, but I feel no movement against my bare skin, so I assume my brain is just playing tricks on me.

Maybe it’s more than just the feeling of rising that’s false. I kick my legs out again, and the burning sensation hits hard and fast. I wince at the sudden pain but continue pushing anyway, struggling through it. All of a sudden, whatever I had been pressing against vanishes, and my legs swing out fast. Before I can stop and pull them back in, my feet collide with something sticky. I try to pull back,  but whatever substance I’m stuck to barely moves. I tug again, harder this time, yet still nothing happens.

I start to panic, twisting and turning to escape my bonds. Something tightens around my arms, pinching my skin, and I gasp sharply. I run my hand across my arm, feeling bands of silk under my touch. I remember the dark wrapping around my arms, and then the similar darkness that chased me up the stairs in the drama room. The links finally connect in my head, and my whole body tenses up in fear. Then my reflexes kick in again and I start to flail, tearing at the threads that bind me. The ribbons just wrap me up tighter, starting to prevent the blood flowing to my hands. I pull at them harder, leaving deep red scratches in my skin.

Blood begins to trickle down my arms in rivulets, pools of it collecting in the rifts in my flesh. I squint in the darkness, trying to see around me, yet the darkness is as black as ever. More ribbons are beginning to wind their way up my torso, wrapping around my neck. The pressure on my windpipe gradually builds, my hands rising involuntarily to tug at the noose around my neck. I start to feel dizzy, my breaths becoming shallower as I begin to sink into oblivion.

I struggle one last time, my body convulsing and shaking as I am cocooned in black silk ribbons, finally covering my face, blinding me and cutting off all my senses. I gasp out a final puff of air, then my world goes dark.

Robyn. Wake up, Robyn.

A soft voice pulls me awake, and my eyes shoot open, hands automatically moving to my body to pull off the ghostly ribbons.

My hands find nothing but skin and the soft cotton of my pyjamas. I realise I’m lying down and slowly push myself to a sitting position, eyes roaming my body to make sure there are no strands left.

When I’m certain they’re all gone, I turn my gaze to my surroundings. I’m sitting in the middle of a circular room, surrounded by seamless walls made of a strange material. I reach out and tap it. It’s hard, and feels almost like glass, but I can feel a softness in it beneath the hard exterior that’s replicated in its translucence-patches of smoky colour, webbed with varying shades that look like fracture lines.

Robyn. Follow.

The voice sounds again, and I look around the room, trying to find the source. I see nothing, but opposite me a portion of the wall shimmers and disappears, creating a doorway. I stand and walk towards it, pausing just in front of it.

Beyond the doorway is inky blackness. I squint, trying to make out shapes, but there is nothing there. I glance behind me at the circular room, then turn and step through the doorway.

It feels like passing through thick smoke, the weight of it pressing down on me. Then the veil lifts, and I am in a white corridor. The end is too far away for me to see. On either side of me are more doors like the one I came through. As I watch, some solidify again and others vanish, so the hallway is constantly changing.

A whisper echoes around the hallway, and all the doors solidify except one on my left, a few metres down the hall. I step towards it hesitantly, in case something comes through, although I have the sense I’m alone. Except for that voice.

I step through the door into another corridor. This time the walls are solid white, with no passages leading off them. Behind me, I hear a faint hiss as the door I came through solidifies.

No choice but to go forward. I walk along the corridor, following the twists and turns, glancing back occasionally.

After what seems like hours, the corridor opens up into another circular room. Spaced around the walls are wide arches leading off to other rooms. One of these arches is covered in silk strands, forming a web. Behind that the room is completely clear, but it somehow feels alive. I get a sense of darkness from it, and I shudder and turn away.

In the centre of the room is a spiral staircase that rises up into a thick white mist, which stops me from seeing the ceiling. The room could be many storeys high, or the staircase could hit the top, leading to nothing.

The curiosity is too much. I walk towards the staircase, pausing in front of it, looking up again. I can still see nothing but white mist, so I step forward and start to climb.

As I put one foot on the first step, a voice screams at me.

‘Stop!’

An invisible force pushes me backwards, throwing me against a wall. My breath rushes out of me as I hit it hard, sliding down to curl up on the floor, holding my head in my hands and desperately trying to get my breath back.

‘You must listen to me, and listen well,’ the voice sounds again. ‘There is danger on the horizon, and you must be prepared for any obstacle.’

I take a deep breath and slowly straighten up, groaning as my bruised body protests. I glance around, but the voice still seems to be coming from nowhere.

‘Where are you?’ I call out. ‘Why can’t I see you?’

‘I am all around you, Robyn. You cannot see me because you have yet to develop the sight required.’

‘My eyes work perfectly well, thank you! Now would you please explain what you mean? None of this makes sense!’

For a moment, I feel a warm presence surrounding me, and the voice sounds kinder when it speaks. ‘I know, Robyn. But it is you who has brought this danger, and you who must stop it.’

It goes quiet for a second, and then the voice comes back. ‘Listen closely, we don’t have much time. You must come in to your heritage, and unleash your full power. You have already met one of the people who will help you, although you don’t know it yet. When you awake, you will not consciously remember this. Now, go!’

A sharp sound snaps through the air, piercing my head and making my ears ring. I feel myself being ripped away from that room and thrown back into a tornado. The room recedes at a frighteningly fast speed, and just before it vanishes, I see a small black flame flicker across the silk covering the doorway I couldn’t enter.

With that thought, my mind goes blank and I fall into the chaos behind me.

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