The Flames That Bind Us

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Ch.12 The Book of Decimus

I was taught, by my grandpa and the townspeople, not to talk to strangers, especially ones who claim to know who you are, what you are, and offering you help. But this stranger was inquiring and bizarre in all the ways you could think of. I didn’t know why, but there was something about him that assured me.

So here I was, sitting with my legs crossed, next to a very wary Gerard on the cool grass underneath a big, stubborn tree, while keeping myself busy with ripping the grass from its roots and watching the back of the stranger named Aramis as he hummed joyfully while digging through his brown bag for something.

And just minutes ago he was yelling at us for stumbling over him as he slept.

However, after he introduced himself and spoke about making me strong we didn’t know what to say. We just stood there staring at him in complete silence that felt like years. And for a moment, I actually thought he meant to make me stronger by doing ‘that’, but he explained to me that it wasn’t the case.

Though, I was confused still by what he meant in making me stronger, and this was the reason why I agreed to listen to what he had to say even though Gerard was strongly against it.

Which also explains why he was sitting beside me with his fists gripped tightly, ready for any unexpected attack in case that Aramis character decided to jump us and gouge our eyeballs.

I felt him leaning closer to me without taking his eyes off Aramis’s glorious display of his backside, whispering cautiously, “Lydia, are you sure you can trust this man?”

“I don’t know,” I huffed, “but I really want to know what he has to say. I mean, don’t you think it’s curious?”

He just gave me a shrug, opening his mouth to say something else but was cut off by Aramis. “If you don’t like being here then just leave. My beef is not with you, it’s with the fire mistress.”

He wasn`t even glancing his way, which made Gerard`s handsome features twist in displeasure. He clearly, without doubt, didn’t like Aramis’s blank rudeness, or him in general.

“And leave her with you?” snarled Gerard, putting a secured arm around my shoulder. For a second, my body twitched, somehow getting uncomfortable with the spontaneous closeness he seemed to have with me. “I don’t think so.”

I heard Aramis scoff, and that ended their short argument.

It was another long moment before Aramis` victory cry startled the both of us. “Ha!” he pulled out a large book from his bag, lifting it above his head. The book looked heavy, and I wondered how he was able to lift it despite his small form.

He turned to face us with a broad grin, the book huddled underneath his arm. “And I thought I had forgotten it. That would have been embarrassing.”

Aramis wobbled a few steps towards us, throwing himself on the grass and sitting cross-legged. He smoothed his short fingers over the surface of the book before he placed it on the ground.

“So, what’s that?” I asked as I eyed the book. It was large and looked thick, seeming like it contained more than 400 pages. But the interesting part about it was that it had no title, and it appeared to be made of dark crimson leather, with golden patterns swirling over the edges.

However, what sparked my interest further wasn’t the fact that it was untitled, but the fact that I was seeing the exact same Slifer mark I had on my waist over the book’s front cover. The colour of flames wrapping around the intertwined ‘S’ shaped lines gave the book more of a vibrant exterior.

I placed my palm on the cover, tracing with my fingers the outlines of the insignia that for a moment I had forgotten about the presence of Gerard and Aramis. I don’t know why, or what that is, but I felt like there was something calling out to me from inside this book.

No—wait—it wasn’t calling out, it was more like the moment I laid eyes on this book I felt some kind of a connection burning within me. Not that I recognized it, but that a part of me knew that this book contained something greater than myself. It was a strange and an unfamiliar feeling.

“This, my mistress,” Aramis clarified, bringing my attention back from the book to his moss green eyes that settled on my face, “is the Book of Decimus; the God of Fire, or as known here as The Burning God. He`s also your guardian deity and the god that gave you life.”

He opened the book for me, and I started flipping through its pages, each one stealing the breath more out of me.

Aramis continued, “I was given this book eighteen years ago by my master, Decimus himself, for I am a messenger of his and have been for centuries now. He commanded me to guard this book as for one day it will be given and taught to you.”

“A messenger of the gods?” Gerard repeated. “I think that`s absurd.”

“Well, I didn`t ask for what you think,” retorted Aramis.

The pair glared at each other, but I ignored them as I explored through the pages of this bizarre book. Its pages weren’t old and yellow, but they had drawings of different shapes of fire in every few pages or so, like the shape of a sword made entirely of flames, or the drawings of different animals created by fire. And some even had different colour too.

There were blue, black, and dark red flames I didn’t know possibly existed, and it fascinated me with just seeing the countless forms of fire, and the majestic display of colours to it.

Wow! To think that fire could have many methods and practices I did not know of? And I was a Fire Slifer, so I should at least be acknowledged of this. It made me feel as useless as ever.

Aramis noticed my obvious breathlessness as I drank in whatever those pages had to offer. He edged closer to me, putting a hand near where mine was. It looked like a child`s hand compared to mine, but somehow the lines and the sharp knuckles made it seem ancient and strong.

And for a moment, just a tiny one, I could swear I felt heat emanating from how his fingertips were close to mine.

“This book contains everything you need to know about your magic, every magic spell regarding fire, and every form you need to learn of. If you succeeded in learning and obtaining the magic this book offers, you will be able to become a full Slifer,” he said.

A sudden rush of hope overwhelmed me. I opened my mouth to say the words, but he beat me to it, as if he knew what I was about to ask. “But that would be nothing if the process of bonding with your King doesn’t happen. You need the power source to increase your magic so you could be able to learn the ultimate magic of fire and achieve it successfully.”

And just like that, disappointment washed over what little hope I had in not needing the King to become a full Slifer. But I attempted not to let it show on my face for I felt Gerard’s eyes on me, trying to compose my features as best as I possibly could.

“May I request you for something?” Aramis asked, and I nodded a bit reluctantly. Gerard stiffened beside me, but he didn`t say anything. “Will you show me your flames? I would like to confirm what level has your magic reached.”

Though I wasn’t sure of showing a complete stranger my magic, I still did as he asked and summoned fire at my fingers. Bright flames burned where my fingers should be, and I couldn’t help the little smile that lingered on my lips. I know it wasn’t powerful, but it was slightly better than before. Perhaps I can even defend myself well with these.

Aramis, however, seemed dissatisfied as he rubbed his strong chin with his thumb and gazed at my flames in concentration as if he was carefully inspecting it. He shook his head, disappointed. “Tsk, tsk, tsk, that won’t do, I’m afraid.”

I waved my flames away, the same disappointment washing over me. They weren`t that bad, were they?

“My lady, I have studied this book for eighteen years, and I believe I would be to your great service if I could teach you its arts. That, of course, if you would allow me?”

“You really can do that?”

He nodded proudly. “Well, of course. After all, it`s my master`s book. He wrote it especially for you. These book were meant to be handed to you when the bonding time came.”

“Wait! These books? You mean there`s more than one?”

He laughed as if what I said was the stupidest thing he ever heard. I flushed at how much I didn`t know. “Every Slifer must have one. They`re given to us messengers to guard before we hand them over to your guardians. You`re meant to have them when you turn eighteen.”

Did Grandpa know about this? Certainly I didn`t. If what he`s saying is true, then there are four of these books, and it just might be that Ayana has one. How else was she able to create that water shield of hers? I needed to speak with her more thoroughly.

“I was supposed to give it to your foster guardian, just like the other messengers did. But I heard yours passed away, so I made this journey to give it to you personally. If you want, I can help you with it.”

“Wouldn`t that get in the way of whatever messenger duties you have?” Gerrard commented, his eyes narrowed.

Aramis regarded him with the same narrowness, but he replied, “I`ve been lodging around for 18 years with a book to keep me company. That was my duty. And now that I have done what my master asked, I wish to be beside his daughter,” he then turned to me with a grin, “the life of a messenger is surprisingly boring.”

Gerard didn`t seem convinced, so he shifted his frame towards me. “Lydia, I suggest that you let this matter go. You don`t even know if what he`s saying is true. You just can`t trust people like that.” He threw him a wary glance.

“People like what, exactly?” Aramis raised a bushy eyebrow.

Gerard tensed. “Well, for starters, you have an unusual appearance.”

“And that makes me immediately untrustworthy?”

“Stop!” I said to the both of them, still trying to wrap my mind around what`s happening, and honestly I was getting tired of their bickering. Luckily, they both seemed to shut their mouths.

Aramis stirred his attention on me. “I promise you, my lady, you won`t regret having me. I hope I could be of use to you.”

“And what makes you think she can trust you?” It was Gerard`s turn to raise a blonde eyebrow, but Aramis only replied with a roll of his eyes.

“No—“I whispered, and for a moment Aramis looked slightly crushed, thinking I had refused his offer. His moss green eyes reminded me so much of Grandpa`s. I didn`t sense whatever mistrust Gerard seemed to have of him. In fact, it seemed like I’ve felt deep assurance regarding him. I don’t know why, but I couldn’t get any bad vibes coming from him.

Something was sincere in the way he wanted to help me. However, I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something cryptic about him, not evil, just purely mysterious. It felt…warm. Familiar, yet so far-fetched. He had some resemblance of Grandpa, but at the same time there was something that completely distinguished Aramis from him.

“It’s okay. I trust him.”

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