Chapter 8 – Catharsis

Tiffaniel turned to see the fyrelf run out and onto the deck, instinctively shying away as Sialin set eyes upon her. She passed her without a word, her eyes glowing in the flickering reflection of Groyven’s fire.

 

‘I am here.’ Sialin said as she stopped beside Selera.

 

She took in the sight of Groyven flaming on deck, tears streaming down his face like beads of hot light as he resolutely kept his eyes closed. The wood of the deck was already smouldering and letting off tendrils of smoke as it blackened under his feet.

 

Sialin’s eyes hardened, ‘I will take care of Little Prince. And for the last time, Selera, you will leave him to me. We both know this could have been avoided.’ she momentarily met Selera’s eyes, her voice whip-like in frustration, ‘Contain our flames, protect the ship.’

 

‘Save him, Sialin.’ said Selera, her eyes flaring, her power already active and creating a shield between Groyven’s out of control flames and the wood of the deck.

 

Sialin turned abruptly to Tiffaniel, her hand painfully grasping her shoulder.

 

Tiffaniel looked up into those intense amber eyes, Sialin’s voice in her ears, ‘Concentrate like your life depends on it, Firebrand. I need the air to freeze around us.’

 

‘But I can’t, I don’t know…’ said Tiffaniel in a panic.

 

Sialin’s fingers dug deeper into her shoulder, drawing a cry of pain, ‘You do it Firebrand, like his life depends on it. You have taken your raging too far for too long.’

 

‘But, I apologised!’ Tiffaniel screamed.

 

‘Yes, and he had been bottling up his pain, frustration and anger in trying to keep the peace, offering himself as a shield between yourself and the crew. You have been leaning heavily on him and he has asked nothing in return.’ she directed Tiffaniel’s eyes to her brother, ‘He is in pain. Finally, it has become more than he can contain. I need the air to freeze, Firebrand. Prove your feelings of remorse and save his life, stop your whining and prove it!’ Sialin yelled at her.

 

‘By the old gods of the fiery depths! What in hell’s name is going on!?’ roared the Captain’s voice from behind them as he ran out onto the deck, still pulling his clothes on.

 

He stopped beside Sialin and Selera, ‘Gods, he hit his limit.’ 

 

Sialin turned, meeting the Captain’s eyes, they shared a knowing look, ‘Captain, the deck needs to be kept clear, I don’t need to be watched by the likes of some of the crew. Anyone not here now stays below.’ her tone serious as blue flame started to flicker in her eyes.

 

He nodded to her, respecting her control of the situation. He signalling to Darius as the First Mate charged down the steps from the helm. A few other crew members ran up from further along the deck, and he gave them their orders. Darius led them below to pass the word to the crew to be ready but stand by. The Captain signalled to Sialin. She nodded in thanks as he stood beside Selera.

 

Sialin walked toward Groyven, the heat of his fire washing over her even from this distance. Looking up at the sails she saw the light blue glow deflecting heat away from them as Selera kept the Fiddle safe. She stopped and looked at him sadly as he stood alone and aflame with his eyes pressed shut. A faint cool breeze started to swirl around the deck.

 

‘Firebrand, colder!’ she said sharply.

 

She heard Tiffaniel starting to whimper with the effort as small flecks of ice started to form on the rigging and the humidity increased in the air dramatically. Moving closer to Groyven she stood in front of him, out of the reach of his flames. As she watched, his clothing burned and fell from his shoulders in tattered and charred pieces. More tears slipped from his eyes as he became an unwilling pillar of fire.

 

‘Little Prince?’ Sialin said softly.

 

‘Stay away, I can’t control it!’ he screamed back.

 

‘Little Prince, open your eyes and look at me.’

 

‘But, they will, I can’t.’ he yelled back, clamping his eyelids shut even tighter.

 

‘Little Prince, open your eyes, I am here now, with you. You can’t hurt me with your flames. The others are far enough away. Please, open them and look at me.’ she said, her voice calm and concerned.

 

He nodded, covering his face with his hands and opened his eyes. Flames spitting and flaring from them, flowing out over his hands

 

‘Little Prince, lower your hands and let me see.’ she said gently.

 

He nodded again, slowly doing as he was bid. Sialin gasped in wonder, his blue eyes were alight and orange fire ringed and flowed from them. Like clear blue sapphires, aflame.

 

‘Beautiful, they are so beautiful.’ she said in appreciation.

 

‘I-I can’t control, I can’t control this.’ he cried, more tears forming and sliding down his cheeks.

 

She nodded, her eyes on his.

 

‘Little Prince, I am not asking you to control it.’ she said to him.

 

In return she let her fire grow, her amber eyes flaring with blue topaz sparks and her ethereal flame. She slipped her robe off her shoulders and let it slide to the deck. The heat washing over her as she stepped closer, her thin sleepwear shifting as the wind developed by the flames rustled them. Moving in front of him, she stepped forward and embraced him, holding him tight against her as he sobbed quietly.

 

‘You let it burn, for me.’ she said, looking down into his flaming eyes and smiling sadly as his flames engulfed her.

 

‘It is alright, my Little Prince. I am here. You can’t hurt me with your fire. But those tears do look worrying, like little jewels of molten glass.’

 

He laughed through the sobs at the thought. A faint and broken smile on his lips as he wrapped his arms around her in return.

 

‘Sialin, I can’t control it.’ he said, a level of fear in his voice.

 

She smiled at him, her own blue flames rising and mixing with his own, ‘Don’t control it, let it out. For so long you have contained it, controlled it and kept it calm. Release your pain, let it burn until the memory of it becomes a warming fire. We are here with you and for you, Selera is protecting the ship and the Firebrand is trying her best to cool the air around us.’

 

‘Tiff is here?’ he asked, almost defensively.

 

‘Yes, she is here. It is sad that it had to get to this point, but she now fears losing you to her own actions above all else.’

 

Sialin tilted his face and looked into his eyes, ‘The only thing that matters right now is you. Let everything go, there is only you and I in these flames we are sharing.’ she said, before gently kissing his forehead.

 

‘But, your clothes Sialin?’ he said, embarrassment creeping into his voice.

 

She laughed, ‘They might survive, but in truth, it does not matter. All that is left of your own is a few cinders and some smoke about the rigging.’ she looked into his eyes again, ‘Young man, are you telling me that you don’t like being embraced by a beautiful fyrelf woman?’

 

Groyven’s flames lowered, her words doing their job and distracting him.

 

‘Of course you do, my Little Prince. Let me hold you, let me keep you safe in my arms.’

 

Groyven smiled through his tears as they streamed down his face.

 

‘Thank you, Sialin.’ he said soundlessly, burying his face in her shoulder.

 

‘Anything for you, my Little Prince.’ she said quietly.

 

They stood there as long moments passed by, the light of their flames washing the deck, sails and rigging in spectacular light. Groyven continued to look into Sialin’s eyes as they stood locked in a comforting embrace.

 

‘Sialin, my legs, I can’t stand. I am so tired.’ he said, blinking rapidly as his strength faded.

 

She smiled at him, ‘Do not worry, I have you, I won’t let you go.’ she slowly guided them down until they were both kneeling.

 

‘What is happening to me?’ he asked, his words slurring as his head lolled against her arm and shoulder.

 

‘You are burning out, Little Prince. You are burning up your energy, soon you won’t be able to keep those eyes open and you will sleep deeply.’ she said as she guided his head against her shoulder and neck.

 

‘I am afraid, Sialin.’ he said with a whisper.

 

‘I will stay with you throughout the night, Little Prince.’

 

His eyes opened, as if remembering something, ‘Tiffaniel?’ he forced out.

 

Sialin shook her head, ‘No, she and Selera need a long overdue talk, do not worry about them. Tonight, you are mine and I am yours. I will care for you, I will keep you close and keep you safe.’

 

Groyven nodded tiredly, ‘I am so tired. I am sorry, Sialin, I couldn’t control it anymore. When she apologised, it was like a storm in my head.’ he said quietly near her ear, frowning with the effort.

 

She patted his back comfortingly, ‘I know, Little Prince. In the morning, you will feel like a new person. Rest your head on my shoulder, sleep.’

 

He nestled his head into her bare shoulder and neck, his voice coming out as a whisper, ‘I love you, Sialin.’

 

‘I know, my Little Prince.’

 

As Groyven fell asleep, his fire slowly calmed. Its flames lowering and dying out as exhaustion overtook him. Sialin stood, lifting Groyven in her arms easily and without effort, cradling him. Moving over to Selera, she nodded, no words were needed. The Captain came to her with her robe, draping it over her shoulders and covering Groyven. She looked to him, with a gentle smile, ‘Thank you, Captain.’

 

He nodded in return.

 

Tiffaniel slowly approached, unsure of Sialin.

 

‘Groyven?! Brother?!’ ’ said Tiffaniel, her voice stressed.

 

‘Apologising is the first step, Tiffaniel. You have taken it. Little Prince will stay in my care tonight and for however long I feel is needed while you take your next steps with your sister. Those ears of yours stay open, along with a clear mind. This foul mood over our family ends tonight. Have I made myself clear, or do I have to continue your education the hard way?’

 

Tiffaniel shook her head vigorously. Sialin looked at her and nodded before turning to the Captain.

 

‘Captain, could you clear the way to my cabin, Groyven will be in my care until this mess is sorted.’

 

He nodded, ‘Whatever you need, Sialin.’

 

‘Thank you. Lead the way.’ she said.

 

She looked to Selera, ‘Do what has to be done, Selera. You can’t run from this anymore.’ she said before following in the Captain’s wake.

 

 

*          *          *          *          *

 

 

Tiffaniel watched Sialin carry Groyven away, following the Captain. As they disappeared below deck her legs grew weak and she dropped to her knees, bursting into tears.

 

‘It is all my fault, I just would not stop. I just kept attacking him. It is my fault.’ she cried.

 

Looking at the deck she saw Selera’s feet and slowly looked up to see her elder sister standing, watching her with her arms open. Stumbling to her feet she met Selera’s embrace and cried.

 

‘Lera, what have I done?’

 

‘You did the right thing, Tiff.’ said Selera quietly.

 

‘But Ven? He…’

 

‘Ven has been hurting for a very long time. But unlike yourself, he has bottled it all up. Tiff, we need to talk. Firstly, I noticed that you are sporting a handprint.’

 

Tiffaniel looked at Selera ashamedly, ‘I-I made Sialin angry.’

 

Selera nodded slowly, ‘I am sure it was well earned. Do you feel you have learned your lesson? Or must we continue the way we have been for the better part of the year?’

 

‘I want to change, Lera.’ Tiffaniel said, her eyes red and swollen.

 

Selera slowly nodded, Sialin’s last words still ringing in her ears as she spoke, ‘I think that is what everyone wants. Come, let’s sit, have a warm drink and talk a little, sister to sister. Or would you rather return to your room and continue this spiral of destruction that you have been the centre of?’

 

Tiffaniel looked at Selera, a worried look on her face at the choice of her elder sister’s words, ‘I will come.’

 

‘Good choice.’

 

‘Selera, I am sorry. I have…’

 

Selera interrupted her, ‘We will work through it, you, me and Ven. Come, we will use the Captain’s quarters. I think we both need to hear each other out, your fears, my responsibilities. With clear ears, minds and hearts.’ she said as she led Tiffaniel.

 

‘But Groyven, he is unconscious.’ said Tiffaniel.

 

‘Groyven already knows, he has been trying to tell you. He asked his questions as they came to him, while you raged over the past two thirds of a year. Both he and I are tired of your behaviour; the whole crew is tired of it. So, this discussion is just the two of us, Tiff. I will answer any question you have of me. But I will not be attacked, I have tolerated your moods and aggression for too long and I am of the mind to react akin to Sialin, since it seems her approach reached you. I will not ask what you said that made her snap, but I do know that you must have made quite an effort.’

 

Tiffaniel remained silent as she followed her sister. A frown forming on her face, ‘Selera, when will Groyven be back in our room?’

 

‘When Sialin decides it so. She has always been protective of him, ever since he bonded with her when they first met. She has offered a few times now to take him on as her apprentice. I am inclined to agree with her.’

 

Tiffaniel grabbed at Selera’s arm, ‘She wants him as her apprentice? But, but he is my twin. She can’t take him away from me. Can she?’ 

 

Selera stopped and looked at her hard, ‘Do you want the truth Tiff?’

 

Tiffaniel nodded slowly.

 

‘Sialin is a good match to teach Ven, they both have the threads of fire. They both are cool-headed and compatible. As a Master, Sialin has everything Ven needs for now to help him grow into a competent and strong elementalist. If she were to take him under her wing, she would be doing so under my supervision. Truthfully, I could not ask for a better person to instruct him.’ said Selera.

 

‘Sialin has a Demon’s Thread?’ she asked incredulously. ‘But how can you trust Sialin, she is a…’

 

Selera glared at Tiffaniel, ‘She is a what? Please, don’t tell me that you are hanging onto the gossip of the Enclave?’

 

Tiffaniel continued, in a slight panic, ‘But, fire elves are dangerous, they…’

 

‘By the gods, Tiffaniel! Clean your mind of that drivel! Words cast by those too ignorant to understand that it is air they breathe. I trust Sialin with my life. She is an adopted part of our family. For the better part of seven years she has been my apprentice. At the Academy of Spires I was her mentor, room-mate and friend for two years. You know this, Tiffaniel!’

 

Tiffaniel screwed up her face.

 

Selera looked at her, ‘You don’t remember home, do you? In the mountains? Mother and Father welcomed her into our family, she lived with us and you could not get enough of her fire bending. It was just before Mother and Father were offered to work for the Enclave.’

 

Tiffaniel shook her head.

 

Selera sighed in frustration, looking up at the night sky. ‘You don’t remember.’ She stated more to herself, than to Tiffaniel.

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