Trial by Fire

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Pleasure in Power

An entire day had passed before the two growthlings managed to break free of their cold metal prison. Surprisingly, Onyx used his shaping abilities to bend the cast iron bars until they snapped. It was slow and took many hours and energy to perform. As a result, by the time they had broken free he was all but spent. Shortly after they decided to rest by a recently fallen tree and recoup.

Nike, spoke with frustration in xyr voice.

“Hold still so I can restore some of your energy, if you keep jiggling around I can’t find the spots that need attention.”

Onyx was splayed on the side of the tree so exhausted he could barely look in xyr direction.

“I think-”

He coughed up sap. Looking visibly ill he looked back towards Nike.

“I’m not feeling-”

Again he coughed, this time more violently.

Nike was beside herself. Xe tried many times over to find what ailed him but couldn’t locate the spot. As Onyx’s condition worsened, xe instead started to transfer xyr own energy into his. This was incredibly dangerous and drained xyr rapidly.

“Onyx, I-I can’t keep this up. You have to get up. Please get up…”

Onyx’s eyes slowly faded from green to a dim blue, it was undeniable he was quickly dying. Never one to give up, Nike summoned xyr inner strength. Xe did the only thing xe knew best: growth. On xyr knees, palms up, eyes glowing a vibrant green xe focused for energy deep in the earth. Xe felt the song of the trees, the whispers of the wind, the calling of life beneath the surface. Nike drew upon whatever xe could, asking the spirits to give what they can so that one of their own may live again. They responded to xyr inquiry, but xe was simply asking for too much.

The trees rejected xyr energy, the wind howled in defiance, the tiny earthlings protested xyr call. Xe grew increasingly frustrated. Nike thought of how much they have had to sacrifice. How Erodeseans feed and protect life at all costs. How do they give their lives to the cultivation of the forest and in turn it rejects them?

Rejection turned to screams, howling to a gale, protests to a rebellion. The life xe had dedicated xyr own to had forgotten xyr tending. Instead the forest sought to protect itself by lashing out at the aggressor. Anger enveloped Nike and soon xyr asking turned to taking. Xyr eyes slowly darkened, opened palms clinched to fists xe thrusted xyr hands deep into the dirt.

As darkness caressed Nike a feeling of satisfaction wrapped xyr dark heart. Energy cascaded violently into Onyx’s body. The screams of the forests shouted for help in every direction as life was sucked dry with reckless abandon. Nothing would be spared. Dried husks of trees and animals that couldn’t flee smoked in a large area.

After the surge of energy Onyx leapt up in surprise.

“Nike! I feel… amazing! What did y-”

He surveyed the landscape in astonishment. It was not unlike the blackness he woke up to before and he instantly felt worried he’d caused yet another incident. Quickly, he found Nike who had xyr back turned to him. He feared the worst and went to look at xyr.

Nike had tears streaming down her wooden face. Her slender frame vibrated ever so slightly, humming with energy. Xyr bark was slightly singed at the edges, bark on her beautiful curves and pretty hair also had signs of fire damage. Nike’s eyes were a deep red, an obvious sign of high pitched emotions. What shook Onyx the most though, was xyr smile. It was stretched as far as it could go and only now started to slowly recede.

“Are you… okay? What happened?” Onyx asked as Nike wore out of xyr trance.

“They wouldn’t give me anything. So I took it.”

Onyx was incredulous as he screamed “Who is they! Who did this to you?”

Nike pointed one of xyr six fingers at xyrself. At that same moment the pair noticed that they were not alone. Figures with raised bows and steel arms emerged from the still alive portions surrounding the dead-zone. As they neared closer, Nike prepared to fight back and a scared Onyx looked around in bewilderment. Before anything could make a move a familiar voice sounded out through the smoky haze.

An ultra slender tree maiden of considerable height and grace strided out in front of the duo, stopping just shy of three feet.

“Well, I say you two have made quite the mess.”

Nike went into full attack and lunged at her. In response, xe was grounded heavily but without harm. Tulip turned to Onyx, wondering if he too wanted to take a swing. Onyx put his hands up in surrender.

Tulip’s honeyed voice was both sweet and unsettling.

“You were always the tactful one, Onyx, now let’s see if we can calm this one down.”

Nike looked up from the dirt, having finally given up. Xe sighed and let xyr head rest calmly back on the ground as xe was once again tied up with xylotwine. With the restraint of an elder, Onyx refrained from making fun of Nike’s pouting face as they were guided by Tulip and her unknown allies through the brush.

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