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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5. Ch. 3 [ III ]

"I have to be here when he wakes up! Please?" I pleaded. The group of faculty and advisors that had gathered wouldn't let me go in with Temry, saying that I'd be a distraction as they tried to care for him. I argued, pleading desperately as I was unwilling to leave his side. My persistence ended in my forcible removal from the room by one of the academy's many guardians. I writhed in his grasp as he lofted me onto his shoulder, kicking and screaming. I nearly bit the man in my fit of fury. "Put... me... down!" I huffed, the sound coming as a frantic cry for pity, which the guardian had no interest in. He was only there to do his job, and that was all. He plopped me down in one of the waiting chair.

"Stay put." He puffed, his eyes warning me that he was entirely serious. "Wouldn't want to get your parents involved, would we, Miss Mason?" He turned his back to me and headed back into the room.

I slumped back in the chair dejectedly and mocked the guard as he disappeared from my view. "Wouldn't want to get your parents involved, would we, Miss Mason?" I said in a deep gruff voice. I crossed my arms over my chest and sunk deeper into the seat, my brows furrowed in worry as I tapped my foot against the dark marble floor in the hall.

"Arcana?" I lifted my head up, finally noticing Remi, who'd likely been leaning against the wall the entire time.

"Oh... Remi. Hi." I sighed, biting my lip as I ruffled my hair. Well, this was embarrassing. "Did you see all that?" I asked, and the girl nodded lightly. "Um... Sorry about that," I mumbled, imagining how silly and childish my little tantrum must have seemed to her.

"I probably would've done the same thing in your position." She twisted her candy colored hair as she came and sat down on the ground next to my chair. "I'll wait here with you if you'd like the company?" She smiled lightly as she looked up at me.

"I... uh... yeah, sure. That'd be nice," I said finally and rested my hands in my lap.

"You three are really close, huh?" Remi gazed off thoughtfully. "You, Temry, and Evon."

"Yeah, we are." I agreed. "They're like family to me. They were my first and only friends at the Academy..." I fell quiet after a moment, not sure why I was telling Remi all of that. She seemed nice enough, but I didn't really mesh well with the girls at the school. We never had anything in common. I didn't care about fashion, or parties, or status like the rest of them. But something about Remi seemed different, and I thought maybe we could be friends. My parents would be thrilled if I had a female friend. They weren't really fans of the boys and the trouble our trio got into. I groaned a bit as I leaned forward, kneading the back of my neck with my fingertips. "I should've been watching him..."

Remi shook her head softly. "This isn't your fault, and Temry will be okay." She patted my arm, and the gesture did make me feel somewhat better. I peered up at the sound of footsteps thundering through the hall. My eyes landed on Evon as he ran toward us, looking more a mess than usual.

"Where is he?" He huffed breathlessly, skidding to a stop in front of me, and had to rebalance himself. He leaned over taking short breaths, his hands pressed against his knees.

"What the-" I started, but he interrupted.

"I sprinted all the way here from the Headmaster's office once I heard what happened and the bast-"

"Language, Ev." I tilted my head at Remi, who picked herself up off the ground and stood beside the two of us.

"Hi again." She twisted a curl around her finger, eyes darting between Evon and the floor.

"Hey," Evon grinned, dragging his fingers through his hair in what looked like an attempt to neaten and fix it. If anything, I think it made his unruly locks worse, but I wasn't going to tell him that. "What are you doing here?" he wondered, and I rolled my eyes at how easily he could be distracted.

"I was just keeping Arcana company." Remi nodded to me. "I guess I can go now."

"No." Evon said rather quickly before tucking his hands deep into his pockets and sucking in his cheeks. "I mean, you can stay if you want?"

"Oh... well..." She looked to me for confirmation.

"Stay." I gave her a quick smile before turning back to Evon. "So Ev," I said, reminding him of the story he'd forgotten to finish, "the Headmaster?"

"Right." His face scrunched up as he grimaced. "As soon as I heard about Tem, I ran here from the office. Well, technically it was after the Headmaster let me go... Have they said anything yet?"

I shook my head no with a sigh. "Nothing at all." The more time I had to wait, the more anxious I got.

"Arcana's feeling guilty that Temry got hurt," Remi explained, and I looked in her direction with a faint frown.

"Hey," I mumbled, "Where's the confidentiality?"

"You what?" Evon raised a brow at me. "This isn't your fault. As much as I love Tem, he was the one who kept practicing when he knew that no one was there watching him." I narrowed my eyes as I thought. While Evon did have a point, I still felt like I should've been there for my friend. I drifted off into my thoughts, only to be drawn out when Evon tapped my nose with his finger in a light quick flick. "Not your fault, Arcana," he insisted, staring at me with an unusually serious face. "Get that through your thick skull." He grinned at Remi then gestured to me. "If you hadn't noticed, Ana here is a bit stubborn."

"I might've noticed." Remi laughed and mouthed 'sorry' to me.

"Evon." I said lowly, glaring at him. He should've known better than to call me that.

"Sorry, sorry." He sighed and lifted his shoulders in a shrug. "I know. Only Tem calls you that. I just thought that it might ligten the mood."

"Mission failed, Sergeant." I rolled my eyes dramatically.

"Nah." He grinned at me confidently. "You're smiling."

"Am not!" I fired back, and Remi piped in.

"Oh you so are." The girl giggled.

"See?" Evon winked at me and wrapped his arm around Remi, who blushed a dark scarlet color. "Remi agrees with me."

"I wonder why," I snickered, causing him to tear his eyes away from my accusatory ones.

"Uh... Because I'm right?" He mumbled, shuffling his weight from foot to foot.

"And that's all?" I arched a single brow with a laugh. "Sure, Evon, sure."

Remi pressed her lips together as Evon's arm dropped to her side. "That's all." She nodded, her face falling to an empty look, as if she were unsure how to reply.

"If you both insist!" I murmured airily, not believing a word that they uttered.

"Miss Mason. He's awake." I recognized the voice as that of the surly guardian who'd escorted me from the room. He stood in the doorway, eyes tracing over the three of us. "I suspect you all wish to come in and see him?"

"If me may?" I asked politely, edging closer to the door.

He leaned back inside, talking quietly with someone inside before giving us a nod of approval. "Come in then."

"I- I shouldn't." Remi stammered, drawing away from Evon, who looked at her in confusion.

"Why not?" He tilted his head to the side, watching her uncertain expression darken even more at his words.

"He's your friend, not mine. I'm just a stranger really," she explained.

"Oh shush." I shook my head. "You helped me lug him all the way here. You're allowed to check up on him. Now get over here, and let's go inside already." I demanded, gazing at the guard's impatient finger tapping. "We're coming. Chill." I walked back to where Evon and Remi stood, staring at one another, and latched my hand around the girl's arm, dragging her forward.

"Arcana!" She huffed, and I smirked in response.

"You weren't making a decision, so I made one for you." Evon smiled and followed along behind us. The guardian stepped inside, moving out of our way as we barreled inside. "Tem!" I squealed, running to his side and wrapping my arms tightly around him with no intention of letting go any time soon.

"Miss Mason!" The nurse hissed as Tem let out a pained grunt. "He's still recovering! Let the boy go!"

"She's okay. I'm fine." Tem murmured, tugging me in tighter, his hands running down my sleek dark hair. "I'm sorry for giving you a scare like that, especially today, Princess." He whispered softly in my ear. I leaned back, craning my head to the side as I sat on the side of his cot.

"Why'd you let it get that far?" I wondered, scanning his bright blue eyes for any type of clue as to the answer.

He seemed to fall into deep thought, grazing his teeth over his bottom lip before answering, "I thought that I'd be able to draw it back in." He sighed heavily and sat up straighter. "But I was wrong, and I couldn't."

"Stupid," I grumbled, shaking my head, and he smiled brightly down at me.

"Can't let you two have all the reckless fun." Tem smirked, moving his gaze from me to Evon. "How did Leta take to that new hairstyle of hers?"

Evon glanced nervously at the adults in the room, but they didn't seem to be paying much attention to us at all. "Oh, you know..." He beamed proudly. "I hear that she was feeling pretty hot." The rest of us broke into snickers, even Remi, who still stood uncomfortably near the back.

"Hey, Remi?" Tem called out to her, and she lifted her head, surprised that he'd noticed her presence.

"Yeah?" She said, stepping forward a bit and moving out from the shadows. She stopped at the foot of the bed, waiting.

"I just wanted to say thank you." He smiled at her and continued. "The nurse told me how you helped Ana get me here, and I really appreciate it."

"It was nothing really. I'm just glad that you're okay." She tapped the edge of the bed lightly with a grin then went to stand beside Evon.

"What about my thank you?" I teased, messing with Tem's hair as he pulled away.

"Hey!" He laughed. "Seriously, Ana?"

"Yup." I stuck my tongue out at him and reached for his hair yet again. "Won't stop till I get it."

"Thanks for dragging my unconscious body to get help. Friend of the year."

"Now I just feel extra special," Evon joked. "I guess I've been replaced by... her." His dramatized bitterness nearly had me in a fit of tears as I watched, and Tem wrapped my up in another hug.

"Really though, Ana. Thank you." He said softly before releasing me.

"You're welcome." I whispered back.

"Ahem." Damn it. I'd forgotten...

"I'm so sorry, Gilligan!" I rambled, quickly jumping up and walking to the door where my tutor waited near Evon and Remi. "I didn't mean to forget, Gil, I swear! It's just that after everything that happened-"

"It's fine, Arcana." Gilligan traced all of us over with a calculating stare. "Mister Kerkin," he said with a quick glance in Temry's direction. "I'm glad to see that you're well." Gil was acting rather stiff, formulaic, and it put me on edge. "Mister Montgomery, Miss Ballant. It's a pleasure to see you, but Miss Mason and I must be off. She's rather late for a very important instruction session."

Evon and Tem exchanged a confused glance, noticing the same formality that I had moments prior. "Thank you for your concern, Mister Troye. We're sorry to have distracted Arcana from her studies." Tem replied, gauging the level of tension in the room.

"Not a problem." Gil answered, but it was clear that for some reason it was. Normally, Gilligan wouldn't care if I was a bit late for a session. Something was definitely wrong. "We should be on our way now, Arcana."

He started out of the room, and I followed after before quickly calling back to my friends, "We'll talk later. In front of the school after class?" I suggested, and both Temry and Evon nodded in agreement. "You too, Remi," I added then rushed out after Gilligan to catch up with his long quick strides.

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