“And The Fire Raged”

(A/N: This story was originally written to include my character (The Wanderer) and another person’s character. The other character (now Queen) has since been altered to make the story a complete original; I have the approval of that other character’s creator that I have changed it to her satisfaction and it is good to publish. Also, the cover art is my own; you can find the original here.)

The sky swirled unnaturally for miles above the human city, black clouds spitting sickly light and cracks of thunder. Queen gripped her scythe, eyes red with rage as she hovered on wings of fire. She would kill them. She would kill them all, she would rip their souls out for what they had done, every man, woman, and mewling child…

And the glowing golden dome keeping her from doing so only fueled her rage.

The burning spirit surged forward with a feral scream, but again a golden sword smashed against her scythe, throwing her back. The form that held it glowed with a piercing light – no, it was light, so bright that none but another immortal could look at it head-on. Queen struck again, and they clashed, straining against each other, two spirits of power funneling all of their unimaginable strength into their stalemate.

The second spirit spoke, her voice rich with a thousand echoes.

“Stop this, Necia! These people are under my protection. I will not let you hurt them!” The light flaring off the immortal’s form seemed almost solid, pushing against Queen to drive her back. The fire spirit finally broke off, lightning flashing behind her and further illuminating her molten regalia as she snarled.

“I’ll kill you with them, Wanderer! You think you can keep them from me? They took something of mine, and I will have it BACK!

The Wanderer was suddenly back at the top of the golden shield dome she had erected over the city. Massive wings a mile wide seared the unnatural darkness, creating strange shadows that leapt and circled their duel like vultures. Her eyes glowed with a light deeper and warmer than the rest of her, matching the sword that extended from her hand like a piece of her own soul. “I can get back what they stole. But you’re trying to destroy an entire city for the actions of a small few.” Her echoing voice held unmistakable notes of pleading. “This rage is senseless. Let me help you as well as them. We can end all of this, peacefully, and nobody has to die!”

Queen laughed. It was a cold, rending sound that filled the ears of every mortal in the city below with unspeakable dread. Below and behind her, the fire spirit’s “Family” gathered – eldritch creatures and fallen spirits, itching to fight, maim, kill for their Queen as soon as she called them in.

For a moment, the spirit’s flames compacted into an ember glow of sinister calm.

“You think you can stand against me, Wanderer?” The fire spirit floated closer, smiling with dagger fangs. “We both know you are powerful. But you are also only one spirit. I am just as strong as you, and I have an army.” The monsters below roared, their unearthly screams shaking the city’s foundations. “Even with this much power, do you really think you can stand against my Family forever – all alone?”

The Wanderer floated above her dome, staring across the distance at Queen. The intensity of her radiant golden form made it hard to discern any of her features, except for those warmth-filled eyes.

“We are meant to be guardians.” It seemed impossible that a voice so resonate with supernatural force could come as such a soft, sad whisper. “We were placed here to protect people like these. But you have set yourself up as a god.” Frantic wind whipped in a cyclone around them, and for a moment, they were only two one-time friends, cut off from the world by the intensity of the Wanderer’s searching gaze. “What went wrong, Necia? What drove you to this?

“Necia was my slave name. I am Queen.” Queen spread her arms wide, her chilling smile backlit by a furnace glow. But there seemed less satisfaction in it now. “I found something better, Wanderer. Power. Loyalty. I won’t have my will dictated by a god who would make us serve these disgusting, traitorous little mortals, when we should rule them ourselves.” She pointed her scythe at Wanderer, searing flames fanning out from her body like a pinwheel of death. “I can’t help that you’re too fool to see the truth. You’re the last of your kind, Wanderer. Get out of my way, or die alone.”

The Wanderer’s impossibly massive wings performed a slow, ponderous beat, sending ribbons of light dancing across the waiting armies below. For a long moment, she bowed her head in silence, and Queen felt a smolder of satisfaction.

When the Wanderer looked up again, the fire spirit’s smirk slipped into a frown.

“You’re wrong, Necia. I am never alone.” A pale blue light flickered deep within The Wanderer’s golden chest. The glowing dome beneath her grew brighter and brighter, until it was impossible to see the city through the shield. “But you… it doesn’t matter how many pawns you have fighting for you. It doesn’t matter how many join your Family, or worship at your feet. Because until you let Him heal the rage that’s driving you, Necia…” Her voice faltered, eyes closing against an aching, bone-deep sadness. “You will always be alone.”

The words slammed Queen like a hammer’s blow. She hung frozen, staring blankly across the gap, until, from the very depths of her soul, the scream bubbled and swelled. It seared through her heart and ripped from her mouth like the wrathful roar of the Leviathan, and the Queen of Fire hurtled forward, her scythe blazing red with her hate.

The building glow of the dome beneath the Wanderer’s feet reached its peak – and exploded. Light detonated outwards, engulfing the Wanderer and blowing the attacking spirit backwards through the air. It was as if the sun itself had set on the city, forcing even Queen to shield her eyes at its radiance.

As quickly as the glow had come, it vanished, leaving only the dim light of the cloud-dark sky and Queen’s fiery glow. The Wanderer had disappeared, and the city below was dark. And empty. Every single person gone, every living being supernaturally transported to who knew where. Only one thing of note remained: the treasure, stolen from Queen’s most precious hoard, sat atop the tallest building, nestled in a bubble of light.

The army surrounding the city stared, dumbfounded. And then they cowered back as their Queen screamed out all of her fury, raw immortal power smashing into the buildings below in a nuclear wave. She didn’t stop screaming until the entire city was laid low, and only the treasure she’d come for, still bubbled in light, remained in the barren landscape of dust.

Finally, but for the howl of the dying storm, there was silence. As the dust settled, the golden bubble popped and faded away, leaving its contents behind. Queen floated to the ground, deathly calm, scythe and wings disappearing back into her fiery gown. She picked up the item she had sought, and inspected it carefully: a simple, poorly-made rag doll, wearing a faded smile. Queen stared at it for several minutes, eyes cold and unreadable.

Without a word, the fire spirit turned and walked back to her Family, who parted before her and then fell in step as they left the ruined land behind.

None dared to notice as a single tear traced her cheek, then sizzled away.

(A/N: You can read all of my posted short stories by clicking “Writing Shorts” in the top Menu. Thanks for reading!)

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