The Cloak Of Black Fire

Black Fire Vale is the last place you will ever visit. It is where Death himself reigns. But Birch is born of Black Fire and is tied to it. Maybe that's why he want's the cloak so much but however he tries to get it someone will get hurt, sometimes power is best left to those who know all the answers instead of those who ask all the questions.

Entry for the 'Hidden Power' competition.

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2. Two

Birch knew where he was going, naturally, and so felt the need to lead the way but the woman gilded faster than he could overtake. She got to the gate without hesitation and the vines split at her slightest touch. They slithered like silver snakes into the two guarding trees that controlled the Garden of Black Fire. Birch thought that they only admitted him, his father and Messenger Park but obviously this woman was an exception. Birch followed her in with awe in his eyes as to why she was so at ease. So many questions ran through his mind but he kept quiet, trailed behind the woman with twigs crackling under his feet and the sound of silence in the non-existent breeze.   
    ‘Birch, my name is Cersei. I’m a friend of your mother’s. And I can help you get the cloak.’ Cersei kept walking but her words pulled Birch along with rapt attention. 
    ‘Wait! I don’t have a mother, I was born from the ashes of bones and the wind from my father. It was right over their where I burst from the flames.’ Birch stopped, pointed over to the clearing he visits every week to pray to the fire. Cersei did stop but kept staring ahead. Eventually she turned and looked through the trees into the clearing that had rocks scattered on the ground and leaves of silver hanging overhead, threatening to fall and caress anyone in its way. The position of a fire pit to the right of the clearing indicated that it was there so the light would shine in the centre of it as the moon rose. Cersei looked longingly at the pit, wondering if the reminder of ashes still sat there. Darkness covered her face, not like the darkness of before but the bleak sensation of fear and regret. 
    ‘He never told you did he?’  Cersei hissed with resentment and anger seeping from her lips like blood. 
    ‘Told me what? Father never tells me anything.’ Birch looked around the garden, looking for the answer even though he knew Cersei was the only one with the information he wanted. 
    ‘Birch, you were crafted from bones and wind. Bones from your mother and wind created from her mind. Birch you don’t understand anything about your birth.’ Cersei fixed her eyes from the fire pit to Birch and the red darkened and solidified with each passing second. When before they had glistened with deep thoughts they now were cold and flat. All emotion hidden behind her eyelashes.
Cersei turned and carried on walking but now Birch stayed fixed to the spot, his defiance and ignorance keeping him from finding the truth. ‘You won’t be seeing me any time soon.’ Cersei called back. Birch lowered his eyes and stared at his feet, looking back up ready to call back to her he found himself staring at nothing. The woman was gone, but her presence remained for a few moments longer as an echo said ‘And Birch, the time to take the cloak is now.’ That hiss was the last thing Birch remembered before he passed out into the twigs and vines of the garden. 

The hall was cold and loud, louder than Birch had ever heard it. His cheek felt like ice on the stone and his left eye burned under the heat of a gaze he knew belonged to his father. 
    ‘Birch get up.’ Death’s voice boomed over the others in Birch’s ear but it didn’t reach more than a whisper in the hall. A tap on his shoulder that almost broke his skin forced his eyes to open and glare into the black depths of his fathers. Rising up to a sitting position he saw the group surrounding him and the feet of people all around the hall. 
    ‘Is everything OK?’ Birch woozily mumbled. 
    ‘It appears not Birch. It seems we need to talk.’ Death turned to the room and without a single word the councillors and newcomers scurried out and left himself, Birch and Messenger Park.  Park never left Death’s side, like a thorn but with less pain and more threat. Park was the third oldest being in the three realms. Park had knowledge only Death and Life knew themselves, without Park Death would be a meek little shadow who watched the gates. 
    ‘Birch why did Park find you unconscious in the Garden of Black Fire close to the clearing?’ Birch’s father asked. Birch could hear the anger in his voice but also a tiny hint of worry.
    ‘I collapsed father, that’s all I can say.’ Birch replied, he was about to confess about his meeting with Cersei but something stopped him in a split second.   Death didn’t look convinced, although he rarely had any emotion to his face. 
No one would doubt he was mysterious, for someone dead he looked charming yet dangerous. His hair might be pitch-black but it accented his features with outstanding definition. The features themselves were attractive, while he looked dangerous and plain something about his careless face caught and frightened the eye. 
    ‘Birch I’m not playing games here, I want to know why my son was weak enough to collapse and who caused it.’ Death sounded a little disappointed this time, they eyes betrayed a glint of something Birch couldn't quite put his finger on. 
    ‘I’m not lying father, I don’t know what happened... But you might. Tell me about her.’ The conviction in Birch’s voice was enough, Death went from pale to translucent and finally those eyes so long forgotten and void of life swirled around the room. Avoiding Birch altogether Death turned to Messenger Park. 
    ‘Leave us!’ He shouted and Park silently slithered away. His hand gliding along the wall to the door. What felt like hours later for Death was only seconds for Birch but both were now scared and speechless. Birch had never heard his father shout at Park, Park was his confident and closest thing to a friend. 
    Death still didn’t look towards his son but he started to speak ‘What do you know about your mother Birch?’ His right hand clenched and the bony fingers curled into a fist that greyed with age and the knuckles paled with pressure. The cloak floated for the briefest of seconds and that flutter reminded Birch about everything he had to do. What measures he had to go to till he could be free. 
    ‘Nothing father, all I learnt was that I had one.’ The reply was delayed but Death didn’t notice anything, his mind swimming through all the possibilities. 
    ‘You have questions I suppose?’ Death asked.
    ‘Why didn’t you tell me?’ Birch blurted.
    ‘Because there were things you would never understand.’ Death finally turned, took slow steps towards his son like a predator waiting to pounce. Silence followed with each inch closer. Until he stopped mid step with one foot raised Death perked up ever so slightly. ‘She was here wasn’t she. Cersei?’ Birch neither nodded nor shook his head. Just kept it still as could be, eyes unmoving and mouth tight as a belt. ‘Tell me Birch.’ One step closer. Birch nodded. 

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