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?


7. Chapter 7

Chapter Seven



               Both Renn and Morgan's lives froze at that moment. Renn had used her powers consciously for the first time and Morgan had seen a set of powers he loved more than his own. That was the moment that they realised they had a connection. Morgan was still drenched. Renn was still sat on the floor.


               Renn looked at her hands. "How... How did I do that?"


               "You concentrated," Morgan helped Renn to her feet. "Really hard."


               "But... That is impossible. I am just Renn. Boring old Renn, I have no special abilities." Renn rested her head in the crook of Morgan's neck.


               "It is not impossible. It is just very rare." Morgan cuddled Renn.


               "So how come this is the first time I have been able to do it?"


               "You have done it before, just not consciously. We should talk to Madam Poppy Orav, she will probably be looking for you."


               Renn nodded and they walked, Renn in Morgan's arms, back to the place where they met. They went back round all the corners and by the time they had got back to the hospital wing, Morgan was dry. Renn went and sat on her designated bed, the sheets had been newly changed. She propped the pillow against the white wire headboard and sat with her arms wrapped around her legs. Morgan sat opposite her, he was cleaning his glasses with his shirt. Renn had just noticed that Morgan's clothes were a bit big for him. He was wearing a baby blue, long-sleeved t-shirt and a pair of tartan pyjama bottoms. Both were at least three sizes too big for him, his sleeves were folded up four times and the cuffs of his bottoms were ripped from where they had been scuffing the floor.


               "Your clothes are a bit big for you." Renn said, automatically regretting it.


               "Yes, they are. It was all I could find before fleeing my house two years ago. They fit a lot better now than they did before." Morgan looked up, put his glasses back on and smiled. Renn could not help but smile back.


               "Why did you run away from home?" Renn asked.


               "I could ask you the same question."


               "I was told to run!" Renn protested.


               "Okay, okay - you do not need to shout, I was just making a statement. I ran away from home because I found out about my powers and my foster parents rejected me when I told them. I flooded the house and they kicked me out. They called me a freak of nature and it was no wonder that my parents had committed suicide. They did not kill themselves, though – they were murdered and I was there when it happened. I was nine." Morgan forced his face into his hands and started crying.


               "Morgan, I am so sorry! If I had known, I would not have asked. My mum was killed, too. And I was there, just like you."


               Renn moved next to Morgan and hugged him. She could feel his shaky sobbing. Renn soothed Morgan as best as she could, stroking his hair slightly and rubbing his back as he let it all out in a series of tears. Renn did not let go of Morgan, even for a single second. She needed the toilet but she did not to move in fear of Morgan breaking down even more.


               Morgan cried for about an hour. And he would have cried for an hour more if he was not cut short by a tall, thin woman with such a pointy nose that could have given a unicorn a run for its money.


               "Morgan, sweetheart, you know that you are not allowed on this side of the room." Her voice was calm but it had a tone that showed she was the boss and not to be messed with.


               Morgan sat upright, cleaned his tears from the inside of his glasses and took Renn's arms off of his shoulders. Morgan crossed the small space between the two rows of beds and sat on his own bed. He faced Renn. "Thank you."


               "No problem, you would have done the same thing for me."


               "Yes, I would have." Morgan took off his leg and led down, he looked at the ceiling. It was black.


               The woman walked into the room and stood at the end of Renn's bed until she turned around. "You must be Renn."


               "Yes, I am. Who are you?"


               "My name is Madam Poppy Orav and I run the orphanage." Her eyes glimmered with pride when she said that she ran the place.


               "Okay. Can I talk to you? My mum said I had to before she died."


               "Yes, we may talk. But not here, we must speak in my office; your belongings are waiting and I will be, too," She turned and walked over to Morgan's bed. "I understand that you have just got comfortable but I need you to bring Renn to my office."


               "Yes, ma'am." Morgan sat up and started to put his leg on. He smiled because he knew what was about to happen: he kept his smile hidden.


               "I will be seeing you again shortly, Renn." And with that there was a loud crack that slightly resembled thunder. The room housed only Renn and Morgan again.


               Renn was silent for a few seconds but Morgan was having trouble stifling his smile. "Bet you were not expecting that." He stood up and walked over to Renn.


               "That was... What just happened?"


               "She can teleport. She does not usually do it because she likes walking the halls, but she likes to frighten the newcomers with it," He linked his arm into Renn's and lifted her to her feet. "Shall we?" He gestured toward the wall that had the doorway in it.


               "She is a bit scary." Renn said as they walked toward the door, arm in arm. Morgan laughed and Renn joined in.


               "Yes. She is," Morgan agreed, still laughing at Renn's remark. "It is why we call her ma'am. Partly because we have to but mostly because we are scared stiff of her."


               They left the hospital, giggling.


〰 〰 〰


               Madam Poppy Orav sat at her desk. Renn's tattered messenger bag lay on the table in front of her. She opened the flap with one of her bony fingers and stared at the bag's contents. There was no order, everything was thrown in at random. The bag did not hold anything concerning although Poppy was sure that there had been at least one weapon in the bag at some point in the last few days.


               A tap at the door showed that Morgan had directed Renn in her direction. She shut the bag and put it on the ground.


               "Come in." She called.


               The door handle clicked and Morgan limped in with Renn behind him. He pressed himself against the door to let Renn inside the office. He hovered beside the door. "Do you need me to stay, ma'am?"


               "You may wait outside for Renn. She will need guidance to her new room when I have concluded this meeting." Poppy said, stroking a ginger tabby cat that had settled on the desk in front of her.


               Morgan nodded. "Yes, ma'am." He shut the door behind him and slumped himself on the floor outside of the office.


〰 〰 〰


               Poppy picked the cat up and put it on the floor. The tabby took a liking for Renn and started circling her feet.


               "Sit." Madam Poppy Orav instructed.


               "Yes, ma'am." Renn replied. She moved closer to the wooden chair that sat slightly to the right of Madam Orav's desk. Renn's footsteps were silent and precise, careful not to step on the uncomfortably familiar cat. Renn sat down and was immediately bombarded with questions.


               "How is it you came by the Orphanage?" Orav sat forward, her elbows not touching the desk.


               Renn thought for a while before answering. "I helped a couple get out of some rope and they started to give me a lift in the direction of my hallucination before we crashed into a ravine. I do not remember much after that, only that Jamie saved me."


               Poppy seemed unimpressed by Renn's answer. She grunted.


               "Who told you of the Orphanage? And, what do you mean by ‘my hallucination’?" Poppy leant forward even more. If she leant any more, it looked like she was going to go through the desk.


               "My mother. It was her dying wish for me to come here. I thought the hotel didn’t exist because Haze- my friend couldn’t see it." Renn felt a tear try to escape her eye. She pushed it back.


               "Your... Mother?" Poppy was surprised; it was usually the father that directed children to her Orphanage. She leant back but remained stiff.


               "Yes," Renn said carefully. "Oh! I almost forgot, ma’am, Vienna Tsu told me to tell you to bury her on a Monday and that ‘Fire Child’ was active."


               Poppy's heart stopped, mid-beat. Vienna Tsu. The name rang so many bells but she did not know why Renn had brought up her name. "How dare you speak her name in this room!” Poppy shouted, standing up and towering over Renn.


               Renn slid down in the chair. Fear taking over: her eyes turned black, the darkness pouring in for the corners of her eyes. She stared Poppy up and down before deciding that her weak point would be her stomach area. She brought her hands in front of her, pushed her head to the side, squeezed her eyes shut and let a string of fire blast from where her palms met. This wasn’t a game, at all.


               The colour drained from Poppy's face. She had one second for a flicker of recognition to enter her eyes before she teleported out of the way of the flames. Her being formed behind Renn, breathless. The Fire Child from the prophecy. But it could not be - she was too young to be trained.


               The fire blackened the wall as soon as the surface of it was touched. The cat jumped on Renn's lap and started purring loudly but softly, an instant after the fire had dispersed. Renn swung herself around to face Poppy and tried to take aim on her again but the cat pushed itself under Renn's arms and rubbed his face into her chin. The purring grew louder as Renn's eyes returned to their normal, orange colour. Poppy stared, wide-eyed, catching her breath.


               Renn noticed the same ashen-faced look her mother had worn the night she was killed. "W- What happened?" Renn asked, her voice shaking.


               Poppy, knowing she had to be strict but also knowing that she could not tell an orphan that she had almost killed her only safety, spoke softly while returning to her seat on the opposite side of the desk. "You reminded me how out-dated the interior design of my office was." She gestured to the burnt wall with her hand.


               Renn gasped and her hand flew to her mouth, knocking the cat on the head. "I am so sorry. I did not mean to, I promise." She said both to Poppy and the cat, who was starting to curl up on her lap.


               Poppy smiled slightly, the colour returning to her cheeks. "He likes you. I never could get him to curl up on my lap."


               Renn smiled back. "He reminds me of the cat I had given to me a few months back. He was called Sarman and very strange as he never meowed or hissed or even purred unless I was scared. I loved him very much but I think he died after he ran away." Her smiled faded. The cat purred.


               "You think wrong, my friend." The cat spoke in a husky voice.


               What happened next, happened very quickly. The cat was splayed across the floor and Renn was screaming very loudly in the corner of the room. Morgan burst through the door and was greeted by Poppy motioning to calm Renn down with her elbows as she had her fingers in her ears and a scrunched up face.


               "What in the world is going on, in here?" Morgan shouted at the top of his lungs.


               Renn stopped screaming and Poppy re-opened her eyes. Morgan looked from Poppy to Renn. Renn pointed at the cat.


               The cat got up and shook out his fur, much like a dog would. He faced Morgan and looked him straight in the eye. "She freaked out when I decided to speak."


               Morgan stared at the cat then looked to Renn. He opened his mouth and a slightly high-pitched scream escaped his mouth. Poppy covered her ears again and Renn followed Morgan's actions by doing the same. The cat sighed; the screaming stopped; Poppy took her fingers out of her ears. Morgan looked to Renn, and then to the cat. Renn looked to Morgan, and then to the cat. They started screaming again. Poppy jammed her fingers back in her ears.


               "Oh, sure, because a talking cat is majorly weird compared to the freak powers that you have acquired." The cat walked out of the open door.

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