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.


4. Four

Both had seen the other. It was inevitable, they were the same. Death had not expected this and Birch had never asked for this but somehow they had arrived here and neither one was willing to give up his fight. Birch could have approached him, stripped the cloak from him and sent his father into the black waters but he didn’t. Knowing far too much about his father sent him back to the gates. The Entrance, somewhere Birch had grown into the person he was today. The place Death had seen too much and dreamed far too often that he could escape from. 

The footsteps echoed in time with the minute breaths. His presence alone sucked all the wind away and left stagnant life and tired air. Birch was not facing the door where Death had entered but he could bet exactly where about in the room he was headed. The west wall, tracing his greyed fingernails along the hard stone and letting his cloak brush across the spotless floor. 
    ‘You really do have an extraordinary home father.’ Birch broke the silence as he scanned the ceiling and the pattern along the walls. Swirls and light brush strokes. The odd curtains high up to cover a crack or a mistake. That only intensified the beauty of it all, the intricate style.
    ‘Our home Birch, it is ours to control.’ Death replied with his voice slow and his words enunciated for clarity.
    ‘It isn’t though.  However you put it I will never have the control you do. Well I might…someday.’ Birch almost laughed at his last little comment. Somehow the laugh had altered; it didn’t belong to the boy who stood in the centre of the room, his hands lying limp at his sides and his face a complexion of mere terror and determination.
    ‘You know what Birch, you’re right. You don’t have the control like I do but have you ever thought that might be a good thing?’ Death inched away from the wall and closer to the centre, closer to Birch.
 At appearances you wouldn’t think Death was scary, not even a little intimidating. He only looked tall and ill, but still holding onto the handsome features a life with the cloak has deprived him of. An older Birch who was also very unfrightening. But that was the thing about appearances: they deceive, lie and sometimes glean with joy at misery. Because Death was someone you should be afraid of, he was malicious and scheming; if he wanted he could shock you out of your skin and send you soul soaring into the darkness. Death had become a figure with all these traits but the person behind Death was much more. Another problem with appearances; they could never reveal a person and their life. Death was an appearance created by the cloak but Callid was a soul who fell into the folds of the cloak. Callid was one person you never really saw.
    ‘Oh I know exactly what might be a good thing. But my good thing and your good thing are completely different.’ As he spoke Birch finally moved. Just enough so he could look his father straight in the eye. Barely even stretching his body but his eyes went the extra mile of holding the blackness. The nothing that was there. 
    ‘Birch you don’t understand, this isn’t - ’ Death started, stopping just a few feet away now, the tips of his raised hand could almost feel Birch’s arm. 
    ‘I do understand! Don’t tell me what I do and don’t know!’ Birch shouted, his voice bellowed through the room. Everything fell silent for the briefest of moments as Death watched in shock as his own son released anger raw with pure hatred and disgust. 
    ‘You don’t,’ Death started and waited for the onslaught of more hate but Birch stayed silent. ‘There are just some things that you might want but shouldn’t have. Not can’t but shouldn’t. Not because they’re someone else’s but because that someone else wants to protect you.’ Death might not have a heart left but he certainly knew when to plead and when to demand. Now he was pleading. Birch wasn’t some young boy anymore, his son had grown into a man who wanted the world but was going after it the wrong way and too stubborn to listen to help. 
    ‘And what would you know about protection father?’ Birch spat, anger mingled with spite and sadness. ‘Was it protection that made you kill my mother just so you had me?’
    ‘I didn’t kill her. I loved her. But the cloak. You want something you know nothing about. You desire something that destroyed her and my life.’ Death’s voice broke at the end, a high pitched note escaped before he could stop it. The cracks behind the cloak were starting to show. And Birch saw the opportunity, the one he had been looking for. He forgot the words, saw only the wounded look in Death’s face and launched himself. 
Death was unprepared, too weak to defend himself and too shocked to stand aside. In a matter of seconds the scene had changed Birch had lifted off the ground like a bird. His feet pointed down and his arms ready to grab. Death crumpled to the ground under his weight even though it didn’t hurt or was too heavy. When Death finally understood what was happening he couldn’t stop Birch from pulling at the threads of the cloak. Birch groaned with the effort for a while but realised Death was weak, Birch was getting stronger and with one last effort the cloak would be gone from the clutches of his father. All he had to do then was fit his arms in the soft material and let it float down his back. 
When h did finally rise from the non-existent brawl Death was shaking with emotion. At first Birch found it a relief, finally he could hold the cloak and his father be the envious one. But as the seconds passed and Birch stayed stood while his father sat in a heap on the floor another thought came to mind. Birch no longer saw someone who was master of all Death but a man weighed down by his own clothing, his own fate. Death lost that ill quality to his face and with each breath became more human and less ethereal. Then he started to fade, rising but not from his own doing. The wind that didn’t reach Birch lifted Callid, his father, from the black floor and into the air. Birch started to finally realise. Realise his mistake, his father’s mistake and the fate of his own existence. She was wrong, the red woman’ Birch couldn’t remember her name now but she tricked him. Looking back all Birch can see is a look in her eyes he never saw before: the look of awaiting revenge. 
    ‘Birch, I’m sorry. I tried to warn you of its power.’ Callid whispered just before he disappeared. Some smoke collected him and then vanished before Birch could blink. He didn’t need to see to know anymore though, the words still resounded even though they were barely audible. Power; hadn’t that been the goal all along? The power to be in control, the power to know everything. Birch had more questions now than he ever had. Questions about everyone he knew and everything he thought he knew. No one knew those answers though, not anymore. The one person who did had been consumed by the power before and now he was gone, leaving Birch to the cloak and nothing else. 
That was it. The cloak. Birch had though power lay in bones and blood but it didn’t. The real power was in the thread that held the patches of the cloak together. The real power was the Cloak of Black Fire. Birch and Callid had simply been its energy source. The living soul it needed to survive. The power consumed the wearer, it had already begun to infect Birch. Soon an empty shell would be left, Birch had finally found his hidden power, and he hated it more than he thought he had hated his father.

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