Pyrophoric

The Elementals have ruled over the land of Daevarith for all of kingdom's recorded history. The Fire Elementals hold strong to the top of the social hierarchy; followed by their counterparts, the Water Elementals; then the Earth; and finally, Air. Those deemed powerless by Placement, a team funded by the Daevarithian government to place each person in their proper class, fall to the very bottom of the chain and are called Blanks.

Fourteen year old Arcana Mason, a Firehead as they are not so endearingly called, was born to two of the highest regarded Fire Elementals in all of the land and has lived a life of ease and luxury. The best food, the best clothing, the best education- only the finest things in life, and they're simply handed to her on a shiny silver platter.

Yet when she and her private tutor, an Earth Elemental named Gilligan Troye, make a discovery while analyzing an old Blanks census run by Placement itself, privileged Arcana will stop at nothing to discover the meaning behind their findings, even if that makes her a target for those dedicated to keeping the secret hidden... Even if it means loosing the lavish lifestyle she's always known.

What if the whispers are all true? What if the old folk legends aren't as fantastical as they might have seemed? A power much greater than even that of those with Fire talents may be lurking in the shadows of the impoverished, the powerless, and Arcana is determined to find it regardless of the costs.

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4. Ch. 2 [ II ]

When I noticed that our instructor was already at the front of the room, I glanced up at the clock quickly. We were only about three minutes late or so, and from the looks of it, role had yet to be called. I caught the boys' attention, motioning to the clock. Tem grumbled something under his breath, but Evon just grinned. The three of us had just placed ourselves at the back of the crowd when our instructor's voice carried over to me across the room. "Arcana Mason." I went to raise my hand, but to my surprise, she kept speaking. "Don't look so shocked. You aren't nearly as stealthy as you think... Temry. Evon. See me after class."

"Busted..." Evon groaned.

"Would you like to see me as well, Miss Carmella?" I asked hopefully as Leta looked at me from across the group with a smug smirk.

"No, Arcana," the woman sighed, shaking her head. "Take this as a warning."

"But isn't that preferential treatment?" Leta faked a gasp and tilted her head to the side. "Why wouldn't Arcana be treated just as the others?" No one had to say a word. We all knew why Miss Carmella wasn't punishing me. Dione, as she insisted that I call her outside of class, was an old friend of my parents and held them in the utmost respect.

Miss Carmella's eyes darted toward the girl in the center of the group."Enough, Leta," she snapped, waiting for the room to fall silent. "Thank you. Now, break off into pairs. Today we're going to practice manipulating our inner flames, the very substance that makes us Fire Elementals. The strength of the fire that burns within you ultimately determines how powerful of a fire user you will become." I glanced at Temry, offering him a small smile, and he nodded.

"Well okay then. Thanks guys," Evon laughed, scanning the room and grabbing onto the arm of a randomly selected classmate. "Have you met my partner... Uh..." He looked at the girl. "What's your name?"

"Remi," she said quietly, blinking wearily at him.

"Guys, meet Remi." Evon looped his arm with hers. "Remi, these are the guys."

"Hey, Remi," Tem said warmly, clearly feeling bad that the poor thing seemed so uncomfortable.

She smiled nervously at us and waved. "Hi... guys."

"Anyway... We're going to go practice. Over there." He gestured in Leta's direction with a smirk.

"Have fun, Ev!" I called after him, watching as the two walked off before turning to Temry. "Heya, partner."

"Hey yourself." He smiled back at me.

I glanced over at one of the simulation pods then smiled weakly at my friend. "You can do the honors..." He didn't argue, but rather walked into one of the pods, closing the door gently behind him. Temry knew that I had a bit of anxiety when it came to simulations and something about him going first comforted me, so he didn't mind. I walked over to the controls to secure the containment lock. Sometimes working with our elements could be messy. "Ready, Tem?" I peered at him through the smoky fire-blasted glass.

"Good to go, Ana," he said with a bright grin and tapped his palm gently against the glass in a small ba-bump sound, knowing that I could just barely make out his features and that the enclosement muffled his voice to a nearly inaudible level.

"Initiating safety lock sequence in three, two, one." I counted down the numbers down on my fingers, pressing my hand closed at zero as I flipped the lever that sealed the unit. I moved to the viewing area so that I could watch and help Tem with the manipulation. It was something that Miss Carmella insisted we do, though most of us didn't need the assistance, especially not Tem. I wouldn't be able to help him much regardless. Tem's essence was made up of an uncommon substance that we referred to as dark fire. It burned shades of violet and black, and instead of radiating light and heat, it was ice cold and projected darkness and shadow. The very nature of his core element seemed so different from his persona that it was impossible not to be intrigued.

I stared, awed as inky spires warped themselves in his hands, deep purple flickering at the tips. I shivered slightly, grinding my teeth together as the temperature in the spectating room dropped significantly. I could even see goosebumps rise up on Tem's arms, and his lips darken to a shade of frostbitten blue. I squeezed my arms and pinched the skin in hopes that the blood rushing to the flushing skin would warm me. I pressed the intercom button, gazing at him through hooded eyes filled with concern. "You alright in there? You're looking a bit... blue?" I frowned slightly and narrowed my eyes.

"I'm okay." His voice flooded softly thought the speaker, and I nodded with a small sigh.

"Okay... If you're sure?"

"I'm sure. It's fine, Ana."

I grumbled to myself, not pressing the button to relay my voice inside. "If you say so..." I fell silent, focusing on his motions as he practiced minor manipulations of his element. I was so engulfed in what Tem was doing that when a shriek sounded from across the room, I was jolted from my hypnotized state and jumped up to go investigate. I slammed down on the intercom button, yelling "I'll be right back, stay put" before heading out the door. My jaw dropped as I moved toward the center of the room to see what the commotion was. In the center of the large group that had gathered was a dripping wet Leta Perkins, glaring viciously at a grinning Evon.

"You idiot!" she snarled, fumbling with the backend pieces of her still smoking hair. "You set me on fire!"

"I did?" Evon gasped, his messy brown hair flying every which way as he tossed his head around, sending appalled glances around the room at our fellow classmates. "Now, why in the name of Daevarith would I do that!"

Leta scoffed, hissing at the boy like a threatened python. "I don't know! You're the blockhead who did it, and you did it on purpose!"

"That's quite enough, children." Miss Carmella rubbed her temples soothingly, trying her best to keep collected. "Evon, Headmaster's office. Now." Remi, who'd stood beside Evon giggling the entire time, looked at him sympathetically as he shrugged, unlacing his arm from hers, and headed out the door, muttering something under his breath. "The rest of you continue practicing while I escort Miss Perkins to the nurse." Our teacher's eyes narrowed menacingly. "No more clowning around or there will be severe consequences. I promise you that."

Once they both were gone, I gazed over at the door, hoping that Evon would get back soon. It was his decision to set Leta ablaze, but I hadn't done anything to dissuade him. I should have. He was already on thin ice with the Headmaster as it was. I only hoped that nothing drastic would be done. "Arcana?" a quiet voice whispered from behind me, and I turned toward it, crossing my arms and tossing my head to the side.

"Hmm?" I sound myself looking down at Remi, furrowing my brow at her frightened expression. "Uhh, what's wrong?" I eyed her suspiciously.

She pointed behind me to one of the simulation pods and gulped. "Isn't that where Temry is?" I whipped around, eyes widening as darkness engulfed the pod. The thing had to have been as cold as ice if the dark fire had been able to break containment.

"Everyone back!" I shouted, corralling people toward the far end of the room. "That thing is going to shatter!" Seconds seemed to flash by in slow motion as I ducked down, cradling my head in my arms. There was a loud cracking sound, much like that of breaking glass. The room dropped twenty degrees in nearly an instant and was still dropping as I rose cautiously. As the shadow started to fade and recede, I gulped, seeing Tem lying on the ground, surrounded by bits and pieces of the destroyed pod.

"Is he-" Remi started, but I glared at her fiercely, and her voice trailed off. I ran to Temry's side, ignoring the bitter cold that surrounded him, and used my powers to warm myself. My skin radiated the heat in a faint gold shimmer.

"Tem?" I said weakly, pressing a warm hand against his icy one. He was as cold as the Antarctic. I closed my eyes, focusing on the fire burning at my core, and extended the warmth around me, around Temry. It wasn't safe for him to be that cold even if he could handle the chill better than the rest of our kind. I pressed two fingers to his wrist neck, barely able to breath as I searched for his pulse. It was extremely weak, but I let out a heavy breath as I found it. "Temry, please wake up," I whispered, squeezing his hand in mine before clutching it against his chest. Whispers rose up behind me, as if Tem's accident was some sort of show, and I glanced back angrily. "What is wrong with you people?" I hissed.

Remi came up to me as one might approach a wild beast, looking as if I might assault her at any minute. Her bright hazel eyes scanned my expression with a nervous yet pitying expression. "I'll help you take him to the nurse..." she offered, rubbing her thumbs awkwardly against her upper thighs as she waited. I turned my head back to my friend, who looked deathly pale as his face was pallid, a soft shade of blue-hued gray. I looked back to Remi, whose fingers were tangled up in her dyed lavender locks, and nodded, slinging my arm around his back. She grabbed his legs, and we lifted the boy up into the air with a bit of effort.

"Make way!" I demanded as we headed toward the door, my gaze never leaving Temry. "Damn it, Tem. You better be okay," I mumbled, tension running up and down my body.

"He's going to be fine," Remi attempted to reassure me. I appreciated the effort, but she couldn't know that.

I smiled sadly at the other girl as we quickened our pace. "I sure hope you're right.

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