The Ritual of the Flames

It was a hard and gruff voice, so, a man's. He was tall – she could tell by the way his voice spread through the forest: like a ripple in an otherwise calm lake. He was taller than her mother. And she didn't know the man, neither did her mother. Yet they were next to each other. Her mother quite unwillingly, though. It was this man who separated her from her family. She was stuck in reality whereas her parents were, hopefully, in heaven. Together at last. Would the last of her kind be able to fight for her life and flourish in the epic battle in which her life was her prize? Or would she fall?


4. Chapter 4

Chapter Four



               Renn had opened the passenger door and was leaning over the man, who was having trouble controlling his breathing, to undo the woman's rope within a minute after the nightmare she did not remember.


               "Look, if I help you, can you give me a lift in that direction?" Renn was pointing, with the curved knife, in the direction of her hallucination.


               The woman was screaming behind her gag, nodding as she did so. Muttering the words 'Please, do not hurt me.' over and over.


               Renn scanned the ropes around the woman. Tight, too tight, like her mother's. She tried to push the memory away but was unable. She shook her head.


               "I am going to have to saw through it so stop squirming," Renn barked. 


               Renn started sawing through the ropes that held the woman's arms against her body. Her muttering had turned into a loud whisper. Renn stopped sawing, frustrated.


               "I am not going to hurt you, stupid," Renn stated, continuing to saw. "Because, if you remember rightly, I am still in need your services. I may hurt you afterwards, though."


               At this, the woman started vigorously shaking her head, tears streaming from her closed eyes. The ropes snapped. Renn cut her hand and portrayed the pain in a yelp; the woman untied her own gag.


               "Are you okay?" The woman's voice was well composed, as though her previous moment of panic meant nothing. As though she was now possessed.


               Renn clutched her hand close to her chest, adding to the blood that was already on her. "Yes, are you?"


               The woman looked at her sweaty, shaking hands, grateful that she was not the one who was bleeding. Grateful that she would soon be paid for handing a child over to a murderer. "Yes."


               "Good." Renn said.


               Renn climbed off the man and stared at his ropes. They were not as tight, the knots were sloppy and the man could have slipped out at any time but he was too consumed by terror. Renn bagged the knives and started uniting the ropes by hand.


               By the time that she had finished uniting the man, the ropes were covered in blood and her skin tone was a few shades lighter than it should have been; either from the loss of her blood or the loss of family settling in.


               "Am I still okay for the lift?" Renn asked.


               The woman nodded. "Yes, get in."


               Renn walked around the back of the car. Her hands were hurting from rope burn. She ignored the burning feeling in her fingertips and opened the door. She shut the door and sat herself in the middle seat.


               "Ready?" The woman asked.


               "Ready." Renn confirmed.


〰 〰 〰


               "Are you sure that we are going in the right direction?" The woman asked.


               "Yes?" It came out as a question. Probably because the building kept shifting into view at different points in time. Renn was sure they were driving in a circle.


               "Are you sure that you are sure?"


               "Yes!" This time her voice was forceful.


               "Okay, Girl, you do not need to shout." The woman sneered.


               Her mother's murderer had called her that. Renn looked at her palms, folded neatly in her lap. They were sweaty and bloody. Blood. Both hers and Hazel's. A tear formed in Renn's eye, blurring her vision slightly.


               "Why are you crying? Is it because I shouted at you?" The woman looked pleased. She did not wait for an answer. "How petty."


               "I am not crying because you shouted at me! I am crying because my mother and my best friend were murdered!" Renn shouted, tears streaming down her cheeks.


               The woman looked shocked. Her satisfaction from the previous comment drained itself from her face in the form of blood. She became as pale as Renn. She felt a pang of guilt in her chest, where the heart of a human would have been, for wanting to give Renn to her murderer. "I -"


               "You what?" Renn barked, cutting the woman off. It was a touchy topic.


               "She did not know." The man interrupted Renn's rage.


               Renn looked at the man. She had forgotten that he was there; forgotten that he existed. "Sorry."


               "It is okay, you have every right to be angry," The man's voice was calm, content. The way he spoke not only sounded soothing but made Renn's anger fade to the depths of her mind. He continued, "Every right to want to know why the two people you cared most about died."


               Renn did not speak. She nodded, unsure as to whether or not the man saw her show of gratitude. She sat, hands in lap. She shut her eyes and thought of her first conversation with Hazel. Questions. It was full of questions. Being asked on both ends, by Hazel and by Renn. In fact, now that she thought about it, most of their conversations included questions. The conversation in town, especially. Hazel had asked how she had made the fire appear and disappear, what had she meant? What fire? She re-opened her eyes, freeing herself from her troubled mind: they were black. Two dark abysses, etched into her face where her orange eyes should have been. It was going to happen again. Only this time, her chauffeurs wanted it to happen.


               Renn looked up, her eyes fixing on those of the man in the front seat. His eyes were a kind green but his soul was black. He shut them slowly, as if he was living his life in slow motion. When they reopened, they were snake-like. They did not have a human pupil and their colour had changed, as well: they were a black slit searing through a sea of lava.


               Renn bowed her head slightly but she kept her eyes on his. It would be rude to not make eye contact. The man flicked his tongue: Renn created a small ball of fire in her palm.


               "Your power will not work on me, Fire Child." The man sneered.


               Renn did not respond with words but with a smile. The man smiled back, his tongue flicking at his lips as he did so.


               In an instant, the car had veered off of the dirt road and was toppling down a ravine that had not been there seconds ago. The fall was slow. The fall was covered in flames. The fall left three survivors: two of which were intended to be killed.


               Renn slipped out of the burning car cautiously. Her face was badly burnt on the right-hand side. Her eyes were back to a normal, orange colour and she was scared stiff. Her whole body was trembling: she did not remember that she caused the crash. Her feet were guiding her body backwards, away from the car that held two people hostage in the flames.


               "Get back here, Fire Child!" The man screamed, trying his best to escape the burning car.


               Renn shook her head violently and tripped, falling on her bottom. She shuffled backwards, away from the reptilian man and his wife. Her shuffling did not pay off. She slammed into a rock and knocked the wind out of herself. She slumped against the rock, which had stopped her from escaping, gasping for air.

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