Status: Will be updated once to twice a week, until I catch up to what I have written.

The Quest

Chapter 11 - Fire

Tess rubbed her eyes as she sat next to her cauldron. Tom snored softly in his bed, his tail wagging as he dreamed. Tess added another item to her brew, making a small cloud of green puff out of the liquid. She checked her recipe book once more to make sure she was almost done. She smiled sleepily, as she realized she only had to stir the pot a few more times, then it could steep until morning.

Yawning, Tess stood up and stretched, looking for her spoon. She finally found it in the bathroom, where Tom had left it. She went back to the cauldron and stirred it a few times. Once she was satisfied with the mixed liquid, she put the spoon on a towel. She then went to close the curtains so she could fall asleep.

Tess began pulling the curtains closed, then stopped for a second, looking out the window. She thought she had seen a dancing light. Tess continued looking out the window, trying to make sure she hadn’t been seeing things. Pixies could light up at night, but she was certain it wasn’t a pixie light she had seen. She started when she saw movement behind a house. A figure was walking around with fire in their hands.

Fire in their hands... Tess finished closing the curtain, but her brain finally woke up enough to realize what she had seen. Someone was walking around with fire in their hands! Another witch, most likely! Tess looked at Tom to see he hadn’t noticed her excitement. What should she do? Sneak out and find the person? Or stay in the room and pretend she had seen nothing.

Tess glanced at Tom once more, then grabbed the key to the room. She opened the door, then closed it without making a sound. After she was certain Tom was still asleep, she walked down the hallway as fast as she dared. There was a receptionist in the lobby, but they didn’t pay her much attention as she walked out into the fresh night air. Tess looked around the street, trying to remember where she had seen the light. “Fire, fire,” she muttered to herself, then turned to her left. Their room was in that direction, after all.

She was losing hope when she didn’t find the person after searching for almost an hour. Sighing, she sat on a nearby crate, debating on if she should continue searching, or go back to her room.

“Where is the master meeting tonight?” a soft voice whispered. Tess tilted her head, trying to locate the voice.

“On the hill,” a second voice answered. The voices seemed detached from anything that could make noise.

A flame. Tess sat up, making sure her mind hadn’t been making her see things, then she started following the flame. It didn’t appear to be attached to anything, but was contained in something. Tess followed from a short distance away. She wasn’t certain of how she was going to address the flame. How do you address fire? She thought to herself, intrigued.

The flame wove its way through town, bobbing through alleyways and market streets. They went by the docks, then began winding their way out of town. Tess began feeling nervous. Should she be following the flame? What would Tom do if she wasn’t in the room when he woke up? What was causing the fire? Could she make the fire? Or could she touch the fire? Tess looked around and noticed she was becoming surrounded by the fires. Where had they come from?

Tess looked at her hand and attempted to envision a flame in it. Energy tingled in her hand, making a soft glow. It smoked for a few seconds, then flickered out. Maybe she was too tired for this. Although her magic wasn’t supposed to come in for a few more years.

“Here you can share mine,” a voice floated into her ear as a flame stopped by her.

Tess looked at the flame and looked up to see a woman with an old, haggard face. She smiled at Tess, grabbing her flame and splitting it in two. “Here, take part of mine,” she offered it to her.

“Thank you,” Tess stuttered out, cupping the flame in her hand. It was acting like her father’s orb, alive yet not fully sentient. Where did this woman come from? She thought as she watched the flame dance. She looked back up to see the flames were ahead of her, the woman no longer in view.

“Wait!” Tess called, running after the flames as they continued up the hill. She struggled to keep up with them. They were so far ahead of her.

They finally came to a clearing in the trees. The flames surrounded a big rock stage that was filled with carvings. Tess looked around to see what seemed like a hundred flames. So many witches. One flame walked up the stage and turned to face the crowd. A hand reached up out of nowhere and pulled a hood down, revealing a face. They were wearing invisibility cloaks. That’s why she couldn’t see them! Tess watched from the edge of the trees, not wanting to disturb an obvious ritual that they did not invite her to. She hated when Tom would walk in on her rituals. She couldn’t imagine walking in on such a big one herself.

She looked up upon hearing a bird call. A crow. It flew and landed on the presenter’s shoulder, its beak acting as if it was telling secrets. After a few moments, it finished its secret and flew off. Tess watched in wonder, still cupping her hands to keep her flame safe from any winds that tried to blow it out.

“Sisters and brothers of the elements,” the person on the stage announced, raising their hands. “Today we celebrate the coming of the High Priestess!”

The crowd murmured. Tess wasn’t sure if they were good murmurs or not. Did the ritual change randomly? Could you do that? She didn’t change her rituals at the last minute often, because they rarely worked if she did.

“I have gotten word that the High Priestess is not far,” the speaker continued. “We all know that when she comes of age, we will all-”

“Lass, tis not safe here,” a hand grabbed Tess’ shoulder while covering her mouth, so she wouldn’t scream.

Tess grabbed at the hand on her mouth as the flame in her hand went out. She turned and was ready to defend herself when she saw Destru. “Destru?” Tess whispered. The crowd behind her was getting excited at whatever was happening on stage.

“You’re not safe here,” Destru grabbed her hand, and began pulling her out of the forest. “Where’s your mate?”

“Tom?” Tess asked, confused. “He’s back at the hotel. What are you doing out here?”

“I saw you walking on the docks in a trance. I wanted to make sure you were okay.” Destru glanced back at her, trying to make sure she didn’t stumble over hidden roots. “Good thing I did, too. It looked like they were going to do a sacrifice ritual.”

“S-Sacrifice?” Tess felt sick. If she would’ve gone into the clearing, would they have sacrificed her? “I thought those kinds of rituals were banned.”

“They are, but there are those that wish harm on others,” Destru explained. They were finally on the docks. Tess wasn’t sure how to explain it, but the salt air seemed to calm her nerves a little. She looked up at Destru’s concerned face. “Are you certain you’re okay?”

Tess examined herself, checking for scrapes or anything that hadn’t been on her before. Destru and Tess’ heads whipped towards the way they had come from when a scream rose into the air. “I-I think so,” Tess looked back towards Destru, her face turned white. “Thank you Destru.”

“Shall I walk you back to your place of residence?” Destru gave a toothy grin while offering his arm. He saw Tess shaking from her experience. He placed an arm on her shoulder to calm her down.

“Yes, please,” she squeaked out. It terrified her that someone could follow them and drag her back to be sacrificed.

Destru walked Tess back to the entrance of the hotel. He gave her a deep bow while twirling his hat before walking back to his ship. Tess grinned, realizing she was extremely tired. She walked back up to her room to see Tom was still asleep. She laid in her bed, her mind still reeling. After a while, she sat up and looked towards Tom. He had rolled to his side, still snoring away. Tess got up and moved to his bed, curling up next to him. Completely oblivious that Tom had seen Destru and her outside, she felt calm when his arms wrapped around her waist, falling asleep within minutes.