Hello. ^_^* Firstly this is fairly long. I'm sorry but there was no other way to do it. All the characters belong to me as this is an original creation. Any resemblance to real persons is entirely intentional. It's my story so if they don't like it they can take it up with me. However what doesn't belong to me is the song at the end from which I take the title. It is sung by Garth Brooks and all copyrights belong to him and his affiliates. I use it because it fit for the story and the story partially evolved from me listening to it for nearly 2 weeks straight.
Ok. Enough of my ranting. Go ahead and read. Enjoy! ^_^*
Standing Outside the Fire
The time had come it was now or never. Jalyn smirked at herself. Her sarcasm ever present even in the most serious of situations. It's my own fault for letting myself get into this. Oh well, what's a little singed fur. She stood outside a large palace. It's paripates towering high above her. She looked up at the double moon as she waited. It was nowhere near the beauty it had been a month an a half ago. Instead of being joined perfectly together the smaller one was to the bottom left casting a cresent shadow on the larger. Jalyn was so engrossed in her contemplations that she almost didn't hear him approach. Almost. She turned her head to the side and looked at him out of the corner of her eye.
He continued walking towards her, stoping about foot away. "It's time for me to retire." He said in that soft quiet voice which had the ability to make her knees weak.
Jalyn scolded herself Now is not the time for weakness. Fortify yourself. She took a small breath to calm her nerves before turning around to face him. "The hour is waxing late. I should begin journey home as well." she responded, having to arc her neck up to look into his eyes.
He raised an eyebrow at her. "You are not staying here? You do realize that we are the guests of honor. Rooms have been prepared."
She let out a sigh. He was going to make this tough for her. The funny part was that he had no clue he was doing it. "Thankyou Toden. That is very gracious of your master but I would feel better if I were on my way. Besides you know me. I'm more comfortable on moss than silk sheets."
He laughed softy, she had told him as much on previous occasions as well. "I guess this is goodbye for now then." Toden took a step towards her, closing the gap between them. It was not an unsual gesture. Ever since they first meet they had said goodbye with a hug. But tonight was different. Jalyn took a slight step back, but before he had time to anylize the action she spoke. "Walk me to the stabels." She brushed past him and started walking, not pausing or turning back to make sure he followed. He shot a quizical look to the back of her head, then dismised it and trailed along after.
She was afraid for a moment. The space that they had been in was too public, infront of the large windows that adorned the front of the palace. She couldn't do it there so she decided that the the stables would be better. They were secluded at the back of the palace and required that you travel a path with many small garden noks along the way. Plus the distance required to reach them gave her time to think.
I can't believe I'm going through with this. It's not too late. I can still back out. She thought as she walked on. At that moment it seemed like a good idea. However the part of herself that forced her to be completely honest rang in her mind. You can't back down now. You've gone too far. You've keep back thusfar to continue to do so would destroy you further. Jalyn resigned herself it was true. She couldn't continue living the lie.
Sighing she tried to pin down when this had all begun and how she had let it go this far. She found that she could discover when it started. At the gather where they had first meet. He was quite and shy and she was only trying to be friendly. The meet each other often throughout the festival and talked for lack anything else to do. They were both there because they had been given the weekend off by their masters and decided to travel with other youths from thier respective lands. They became fast friends and on the last night of the gather there had been a dance. She danced with him, a common custom, and they laughed and made merry throughout the night. They traveled in the same direction for much of their journey back so their groups combined for greater safety. Before they parted she realized that she had an attraction to him. That night they gave each other thier first hug. In friendly partly as they also did with others of their traveling party. That was the begining.
But how it got to this point she would never know. Maybe it was because they were so close in age. Or it was that they had both recently come into their powers. Jalyn knew that was one of the reasons that her feelings had developed. It was also the reason that made what she was about to do so dangerous. When she had gone to the Key Holder to have her hidden potential unlocked she didn't expect much. She certianly didn't expect what she recieved. She was given the power of empathy. The ability to project happiness and sooth another's pain by taking it into herself. It would not have been that bad if it wasn't also accompied by a immense amount of raw power. The combination of the nature of her gift and the intensity of her newfound magical talent had left her raw and open. All the mental walls she had built over the years to protect herself in her youth were gone. Now she had to deal with emotions that she had never before experienced in a magnitude that often overwhelmed her.
If it was only the ramifications of her own power that Jalyn would have had to deal with, there would have been no real problem. Oh yes she would have hurt for a little bit but through time and meditation it would have past. The real problem was dealing with Toden's new power. She didn't know much from what he told her. A person's visit to the Key Holder was very sacred and details were rarely dicussed. But once when he was delivering a message from his master to hers they had time to talk and the subject came up. He mentioned that he was told that he was of the House of Phonix. She had heard stories of this house before, nothing concrete but that its members were very rare. After he left the subject still weighed heavly in her mind. Jalyn decided to find out for herself if there was any truth behind the legends. Every time that she was free from her duties she would sequester herself in the palace's library. Researching and cross-referencing every mention of the House of Phonix, and finally it payed off.
She knew the truth behind the nature of Toden's power. Possibly even more than he himself did. He was decended from an elemential. A being made entirely from fire. How it actually occured was a mirical and mystery but legend held that powerful maigess saw this creature and was consumed by desire for him. It was so intense that it manifested as an aura of flame around her. The elemental saw her and istantly fell in love. They married and had a child. However the strain of being so close to her husband and bearing their child killed her. The elemental so was distressed at the loss of his wife that his heart went cold and he flickered out of existance. The child grew up and the nature of it's parentage was a curse upon all it's decendents. Any who loved a member of the House of Phonix and dared to show it ran the chance that they would be consumed by fire.
At least that's what the old stories said. Jalyn wasn't sure how much faith to put in those legends. They had been passed down through several genrations before ever being penned. Obviously there had to be some flaws and holes. Otherwise how could there be any decendents in the first place. Besides Toden had held her in his arms before, she had touched his skin and danced close to him. She was yet to be burned, though everytime she was close to him she could feel a warmth inside her. That was not him, just her own emotions manifesting themselves.
Jalyn snapped back to the present. With the wanderings of her mind she almost failed to recognize that they were nearing the stables. Her mind raced. She was out of time. If she was going to do it she had to do it NOW. She noticed a little grove to the left of the path. She steathily vered in that direction and went to the back of the small natural alcove. She turned and saw Toden just entering. She stole one last deep breath and then began.
"Toden, I have something to tell you." she spoke quietly looking down as he came to stand right in front of her. They were only inches apart.
"What's wrong Jalyn?" His voice was so full of concern that she was forced to look up into his eyes. She was almost lost in thier dark brown depths. Eyes that contrasted yet complemented his flaming red hair with a shock of silver, much like the one she also had.
She was on the verge of tears, already having lost her conviction to present herself as a firm strong woman. Now she felt like a little girl. Her voice held a little quiver when she was finally able to find it again. "You have found your way into my heart and will not depart from it. Toden,... I like you."
The shock was apparent on his face. He started to try and say somthing "I.... I... "
She had to shut him up. To keep him from saying anything that would stop her. So she did so. Jalyn reached up and put her arms around Toden's neck. Drawing him down as she rose to the balls of her feet, closing the six inches between them. His arms wrapped around her waist, as they had done so many times before. She knew he expected a hug but that was not all that she had in mind.
Jalyn brought their lips together. Her first sensation was pleasure that he did not pull away. Then all thought ceased and she just reveled in the moment. The softness of his lips, thier cool gentle touch as they pressed up against hers. The estacy of realizing that she had actually done it. That she had given away her first kiss, and that he was letting her.
Then in an instant the joy that she was experiencing transformed into unfathomable pain. Fire lanced through her body. It passed so quickly that she thought that she had imagined it. However it returned, not in her physical body but in the depths of her soul. The fire consumed her mind, tearing away all of her control. Jalyn opened her eyes and saw that a red glow engulfed Toden and he was radiating heat. She broke the kiss and sank back down to her heels. She stepped out his embrace, he made no move to hold her.
What has he done to me? She looked into his eyes trying to find the answer. There was none. In fact she saw that he didn't even realize that he had done anything. She was in great pain but managed not to show it. Instead she smiled at him. "Toden, please don't say anthing. Just think about this." With that she walked past him, looking back only once. Emblazing the scene in her shattered mind.
Jalyn managed to get to her horse before she colapsed. Luckly the stable hands had been notified that she was on her way. Her mount was already tacked and ready to go. With the last ounce of strenth remaining in her battered body, Jalyn pulled herself into the saddle and projected a image of home into the horse's mind. The trusty stead took off at a smooth trot, never once jostling it's unconcious rider.
Jalyn's next concious thought was of awaking in a soft bed. Her head was pounding and when she opened her eyes to try and discover where she was even the soft light filtering through the curtains was painful. A soft moan excaped her lips and instantly a cold cloth was placed on her forehead. She turned and with still blury vision thought she recognized the form before her. "Kujie?" she said weakly.
"Hi there." was the cheerful reply, "finally decided to rejoin us. eh?" Kujie finished wiping her brow and then wrung out the colth, placing it next to the small bowl on the table near the bed.
"Hah, yeah. I was getting bored. Where am I anyway?"
"Your room. I brought you here after I saw your horse at a watering trowel. It puzzed me that he would be there. You usually don't come visit without telling us ahead. But when I approached I recognized that you were the lump that I originally thought were traveling sacks."
"You sure do know how to flatter a person don't ya." Jalyn interjucted sulkily. Her initial pain upon waking had subsided and she had managed to sit up. Though her entire body was stiff and ached.
"Yup," Kujie said without missing a beat. "That was three days ago. Boy were you in bad shape hun. Fever, hardly breathing and burns all over your body. You are very fortunate that your master has such skilled healers in his court. What happened to you anyway?" She sat on the end of the bed, awaiting the details.
"Lets just say that I tangled with something that I shouldn't have." Jalyn saw her raise her eyebrows. She's not going to let me get away with just that, is she. "OK. Fine. I did it."
Kujie erupted into a frenzy of applause and giggles. She hugged Jalyn tightly who drew in a sharp breath. She may have been healed but she was still sore. Kujie didn't seen to notice and held her at arms lenth. "Ok tell me everything."
"There's not much to tell really. He walked me to the stables and I took him aside told him how I felt then kissed him. That's all there is to say." She sank back into the bed and pulled the covers up to her neck. Hoping that Kujie would get the hint and not question her furthure.
She didn't. "Hold on somthing doesn't seem quite right. Why did you have all those burns?"
Jalyn sighed, "I'm not sure. I think it had something to do with his magic."
"He didn't hurt you for kissing him did he." Kujie was shocked and outraged. "Why if I had any magic at all I would go over there and deal out some punishment of my own."
Jalyn tried to calm her friend. "No I don't think it was anything like that. Remember that we are both very new to our magic. I don't think he knew that he had even hurt me. He probably doesn't know how to control that aspect of his power yet. Or if he does my kissing him probably set him off balance. I don't believe it was his fault." She could see that Kujie still wasn't convinced. "Besides, I knew that this might happen. I accepted the risk."
"How could you have known?"
"I can't tell you. Please just accept that I realized what I was getting into."
"Fine." Kujie said with an exasaperated sigh. "You mages and your secrets. Just tell me one thing."
She smiled wickedly "Was the kiss at least worth it?"
Jalyn broke out in a hearty laugh. "Yes, very much so."
The two friends spent the rest of the day reveling in times long past and shared amusements until sleep claimed them both.
Jalyn was out on her small balcony. It was one of the advantages of being a Silver. Ever since the Renewal she had been privy to lots of things. Includeing her new room, reduced duties, and individual training. It was hard to believe that up until two months ago she was just another minor magess placed under the care of her master. As always when she let her mind wonder it would come back to one topic. Toden. This time it was because that at the Renewal, when she and Toden had become Silvers, that she realized her true feelings towards him.
She let out a self depreciating sigh. "Why hasn't he come to see me yet?" she spoke outloud to no one in particular. That question had plagued her almost continually for the past fortnight. It made her question herself and what she had done. Her physical inguries from the encounter had healed completely, all except for a small flame shaped scar over her heart. She mused that it would be her perminant reminder of the incident and actually rather liked it.
The mental damage was far more extensive. Jalyn had been set back nearly a month's worth of training. Her incantations often failed and talasmans refused to respond to her touch. Her mind was still trying to heal so she had little control over her emotions. Another side effect was that because she was so open she began to pick up other people's feelings. Something that she had only been able to do before through her gems. Now just being near another person allowed her to sense their state of mind. It was very disconsorting and annoying. She was finally able to get a handle over now. Meditation helped very much.
Despite everything she was going through now she really didn't regret kissing him. It was a relief to have the truth out in the open. At first she had been in great doubt over her actions. Feeling that she had ruined something that could have been very special with her haste. Then that little honestly vein popped up again. It would have happened sooner or later, at least it happened on her terms. Jalyn had the feeling that he would not grant her boon. She accepted that fact when she decided that she was going to go through with it no matter what. All she wanted to know now was what his answer was. Yes, she told him to think about it but does a man need two weeks to thinks. She thought that he would have visited by now. He was a Silver after all and was free to travel where ever and when ever he wanted.
Jalyn sighed again. Such thoughts did her no good. She turned to go back into her room, the sun was setting and a chill wind had risen up. Before she stepped through the glass doors she noticed a hawk decending towards the courtyard. Hawks were often used for relaying messages that didn't warent a rider. Such messages were common enough that Jalyn didn't think twice about its appearance. She just went into her room and made ready for the evening.
Jalyn was finishing brushing out her long hair when there was a knock on her door. She put her brush down and answered it. Surprised to see one of the castle servents. There were no servents assigned to her. She kept her own room and ate in the hall like all other lower mages. Then she looked at what the servent held in his hand and almost fainted. She took the message and thanked him. Closing the door softly behind her.
She sat on the bed, broke the seal, unrolled the parchment and began to read.
You have been there for me through so much. I know not where I would be without your support. We are one in purpose. The ties that bind us are strong. However, dear Lady, our hearts are not in allignment. While I wish to retain your friendship I do not return the feelings that you have for me. Be not offended, fair friend, for I do not wish to lose your compainship. I pray that you will not be hurt by these words. For that is not my intention. May we meet again soon.
She could barely finish reading the message for the tears in her eyes. How could he tell me in this fashion? Jalyn could feel the pain within her bosom as her heart broke. She paused for a split second, amazed the experence was actually a physical manifestation and not a purely mental one. Then she was not able to think about anything at all. For the moment Jalyn's heart broke a spark ignighted. It quickly grew into a flame, a fire that she had felt once before.
Jalyn ran. Instinct took over her feet and carried her away. How she managed to exit the castle seemed a mircal in itself for the cooridors were normally crowded at that hour with people preparing for the evening meal or returning home from their days labor. No such obsticals presented themselves. Those who did meander through the castle felt Jalyn's approach long before she was in sight. The heat she eminated made even those slow to thought move qiuckly out of her way. As she passed many marvelled at how a woman could be encompased by such a flaming aura and exude such temperatures yet not be consumed herself.
The fleeing form had to room to ponder such things. For she was being consumed. The white hot fire that ripped through her soul was far more intense than the one that surrounded her body. It ate her alive, using the powerfull emotions that poured from her as its fuel.
Jalyn continued running, never once pausing to deduce where she being lead. In her ravaged mind, in that core that propells one to keep existing, she knew that she couldn't stop. That if she kept running she could outrun the fire that was eating away at her. Indeed it was only the speed of her passing that kept the forest through which she traveled from being reduced to ash, for the fire was not in one spot long enough to catch hold.
When it seemed that Jalyn's body could take no more punishment, that the next step would be the last before she layed down and gave up her desperate struggle for life, the fire, both within and without, began to die. The frantic woman slowed, amazed that she had actually outrun her terrible persuer. She colapsed on a patch of moss as cold replaced the void left after the flame's departure. She sleep numbly, with neither dreams nor nightmares, never knowing that she had not won the horrifing race. Instead the fire was gone because it had extinguished it's fuel, for flames cannot survive once they have eaten all that made them thrive.
It was full night when Jalyn's eyes fluttered open. The two moons shone bright, both full distinct ords in the sky. She looked around and tried to figure out where she was but found that she couldn't. Ancient trees surounded her, their druping branches full of closed blossoms. A light film of drew had begun to form in the grove and Jalyn shivered when a slight breeze lowered the temperature even more.
"Oy, what a headache." Jalyn said as she stood. Only then did she look down and realize that she was completely naked. "What THE..." she exclaimed as she searched aound her hoping to find some clothes on the ground nearby, there were none. Then the memories came flooding back. Her clothes did not survived the fire that had surounded her. She checked, but found no burns on her body, not even her hair was scorched. The only mark on her was the scar on her chest that she had aquired a fortnight ago.
Jalyn sat down on the moist earth to examine the situation, ignoring her discomfort. She could remember everything. But something was off. She knew that she should be upset, or angry, or something. Yet there was nothing. She was detached, unfeeling. Every detail was plain to her, she knew that she had been in pain, could even remeber how it had felt, but couldn't find any emtion within her about it. It was like she was empty, yet not feeling the void. It was like...like her past.
"No." she spoke quitely. She recongnized this state. It was much like the way she had existed before her power had been unleashed. Going on through life, being outwardly happy but never experiencing anything deeper. At the time she thought everything had been fine for the most part. But after her power was shown unto her she realized how cold and sheltered she had been. Had pitied that poor husk of a girl and vowed never to be that way again. To experince all things, good or bad, just to know that she was truely alive.
Now all the walls Jalyn thought were gone forever had rebuilt themselves in an instant. She knew it was wrong, that she could not go back to living this way. Not after experincing what it was like to really live. She searched her mind. Hoping to find some remnant of a feeling, there was none. Only rational though, sensory input, and memories. She delved into those memories, all so clear, yet none of them stired anything within her. Having nothing else to do and knowing she wouldn't be able to find her way back to the castle till morning, Jalyn sat there and tried to keep warm.
After about an hour something began to happen. The moons seemed to shine brighter, the wind turned from chill to warm, and the seeminly lifeless trees started to come alive. As if responding to the subtle stimulas the blosoms began to open. They were white yet luminesed with a blue glow. Their sent filled the air, it was undecribable but breathing it in made you think of life and death, night and day, all the forces that complimented and contrasted yet made the world continue. The silent woman in the middle of this spectacal stirred.
Jalyn looked around. She had never seen anything like this before. She took in every detail but could not appreciate the beauty of it. Then the ground beneath her moved, causing her to rise to her feet. Gentle waves of earth, light, and dew flowed past her to the center of the grove. They did not propel or force back, but simply went around the stationary figure. They began to form a piller, mingling together so that no one element could be distinguished from another. When they ceased the form of woman was apparent.
She was beautiful. A white face that gently glowed. Long flowing robes surounded her but seemed alive themselves. She graced Jalyn with a small smile as she adressed her. "Child do you know me?" her voice was like the wind as it blows through a medow.
"Then speak my name."
"You are the Wozan. The Comfortor of Souls."
The Wozan nodded. "We have meet before child. Why do you call me here now."
Jalyn was confused, oddly she wasn't scared by this apperation so she question it. "I have not known you before this time and I did not call you here."
"Not true child. I have been near you many times. Have held you in my arms. Only then you did not see me. You have called me to you this night. The cry of your soul is so great that only now you can see me." As she talked Jalyn was drawn closer to where she stood. "Tell me dear one, what need have you."
For a moment Jalyn didn't know how to respond. This creature was offering her a mircal but could she really accept it? Yes she could. "My power is gone. Can you restore it to me."
"Your power is not gone. Only locked away. What have you done for such a thing to happen?" The Wozan asked, gazing at her with deep crytiline eyes.
Jalyn looked away. She bit her lip as she tried to think of what to say. She felt the Wozan already knew the answer, but was forcing her to saw it aloud before she would help. "I have given my heart away to one who is of the House of Phonix. He rejected me."
"What a foolish thing to do." Jalyn's head snapped up at the bitterness of the words. "And now you require that I fix this mistake. What good would it bring you. Before you only felt pain. That is gone now is it not."
"Then why do you request it back?"
"But my power...."
"Your magic is not gone. See for yourself." The Wozan lifted into the air chalanging Jalyn to follow her.
Jalyn was confused by the turn in the Wozan's attitude but did as she was told. She spoke a brief incantation, and found that it responded perfectly. She rose into the air.
"You see. Your power is not gone. In fact the elements of your magic that have hindered you before are the only ones lost. Now you are free of their sway and able to use the magic as you see fit." There was a note of triumph in her voice.
Jalyn was ready to believe the Wozan but when she looked into the creature's eyes there was something that made her stop. "No." she said simply and lowered to the ground.
The Wozan looked down at her and asked softly. "Why?"
"Because this is not right. My emotions are the key to my power. Without them I cannot grow. I have been like this before and I know that it will not bring me true joy. Not even with the possesion of magic." Jalyn was close to yelling trying to release all that she knew to be the truth at once.
"Well spoken child. Your heart speaks truth even within its cage. I will grant your desire. However it will not be easy. Are you strong enough?"
"I cannot stop the pain. But I will try to ease it for you. And it will not only be the only time. Because of what you have done there will be much suffering ahead. Do you accept that?"
Jalyn paused for a moment. "I accept it. I accept it because I know that without this burden I will also never know what it is to have real happiness."
"Truth child, truth. Very well. I warn you that once I unlock your feelings the Phonix Flame will rekindle. But you have the power to control it. Feel it, allow it become part of you. You have been marked and therefor can never rid yourself completely of its influence. In time it's power and hold over you will diminsh but you must learn to control it now. While I am with you and can keep it from consuming you entirely. But you must not fight it. Do you understand?"
"I do, mother, I do."
The Wozan smiled tenderly at her and decended to the ground. "Then let us begin child."
The two figures stood silently facing each other. A wooden staff emerged from the ground and floated between them. They placed their right hands on the staff and their left over the other's right. The Wozan and Jalyn looked into one another's eyes a last time before closing them and tilting their heads slightly back.
Jalyn focused on taking deep breaths. She knew that she had to be strong and that the Wozan would keep her safe. All she had to do was trust. The saff began to grow warm beneath her touch. The comforting warmth traveled up her arms and enetered her heart. Then it washed over her, enering her mind. She could feel it within her soul. It came upon the barriers within and with a wave of energy disintigrated them.
At first Jalyn was just pleased to feel relievd that she could feel at all. Then there was no time. The fire had returned. It did not start subtly but burst into existance with a vengence. Her first instinct was to fight, but in the back of her mind she heard a calming voice. Don't fight. Experience. It was the Wozan and Jalyn remembered her words and what she needed to do. She dove into the fire. Within it she found the pain she had run from earlier. She cared for Toden deeply and still did. He was a friend to her and she cherished thier friendship. What had hurt so much was his carelessness. That he hadn't told her in in person. It made her feel neglected and ugly. That she was not worth the respect and courage that she had given him. Jalyn held back from what behind the next wall of flames. Too afraid of what they held. But the fire intensified and she realized that the only way to make it stop was to face it. She needed him. She missed him. Jalyn had always told herself that she didn't need a man to complete her. Now she knew the truth. She did. That she yearned for the safety and comfort she had felt within his arms. She knew that even if Toden was lost to her she would not stop trying to find it. That no matter how many times she was burned she would always return to the flame.
Once Jalyn admitted to these things the fire began to change. It no longer caused pain. The flame gathered into a ball at the spot where she bore the scar. Then it released in a wave that traveled throughout every sinew of Jalyn's body. It did not burn but instead awakened every nerve. Almost as if to tell her body to rejoice in renewed sensation. The waves did not stop but continued to be released in bursts of glorious energy. The sensation was so marvolous that it stole Jalyn's breath away and brought her to a point of near extacy.
As this new sensation traveled through her body it released a floodgate of tears. Not tears of pain but tears of release. By letting them flow her soul was being cleansed. They fell from Jalyn eyes and traversed her body. The tears quelched the fire that surrounded her. Then, their pure magic not yet extinguished, they began to solidify. Their paths becoming strains of fine silk, emcompasing Jalyn's naked form in the products of her own soul.
Jalyn spoke a soft "Thank you." as she felt her body being lowered to the ground. She slept peacefully and awoke the next morning with a calm that she had not felt in a long time. Jalyn rose, took a last look back at the now still grove, then began walking back home, staff in hand. Ready to face what life would bring.
We call them cool
We call them fools
But you've got to be tough when consumed by desire
We call them strong
We call them weak
They're so hell-bent on giving, walking a wire
Standing outside the fire
There's this love that is burning
Standing outside the fire
Standing outside the fire
Well? What do you think? I welcome all comments and constructive critism. I write a type of supply and demand basis. If no one comments or likes what they've read I won't bother to write about it again. Why should I waste both our time? On that note though, it doesn't take much for me to keep going so please comment.