Mage's Fire

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Thirty-Two: Nadia

“How is she?”

I looked up, only mildly surprised when Sierra stepped silently into the living room. I moved over to make room for her on the couch, and she dropped heavily onto the cushions next to me.

“She’s stable,” I murmured. I sighed and rested my head onto her shoulder, allowing her to drape an arm across my shoulders and pull me closer.

“How bad is it?” Sierra asked, her voice quiet.

I sighed again. “Bad,” I whispered. After Riley had passed out, Kai carried her all through the woods back to my dad’s cabin. She was currently up in the loft, sleeping in the queen-sized bed up there.

It’s been four days since the battle, and she still hasn’t woken up. When I finally got to see her in the light, I sobbed and fell to my knees. She had cuts and scratches all over her face and body, and her wrists were burned and scraped raw from where the wolfsbane ropes had rubbed against them. There was a massive, gaping hole in her chest, where Ariana had buried her claws in deep to damage Riley’s heart.

Kai hasn’t left her side. Anytime someone came near and suggested he go get some rest, he’d growl until they left.

“Ariana?” I asked.

Sierra growled in frustration. “Koda, Drew, Eddie, and I chased after her almost all the way to Spokane before we lost the scent. That’s why I’m back so late.”

I sighed. After Riley killed Jeremiah, Ariana had run. She shifted into wolf form and took off, storming from the hut and howling for her wolves to follow. Only a third of them went with her, while the others stayed behind.

The other Guardians had gathered up the werewolves who were ready and willing to change, and they left, too. When I asked where they were going, Kayla simply smiled and said, “We’re going to relocate them to different packs, or help them start their own. I don’t know how long it’ll take, but I do believe that we’ll return.”

I nodded. “What about Kai?”

Her face darkened as she glanced up at the cabin. “He’s staying,” she said. “We’ll be fine without him, and honestly, Riley needs him more than we do.”

“How’d Kate take it?” Sierra asked.

I grimaced. “Not well,” I said. After we managed to get Riley to the cabin and stabilize her, I called Kate and told her to hurry. When she saw Riley, bloody and broken, lying in the bed, she allowed herself five seconds to break apart. Then Kate disappeared, and Nurse Black took her place. She cleaned and bandaged Riley’s wounds, set up an IV drip, and threatened all of us that if she died in that bed, then she’d kill us herself.

I sighed and closed my eyes, trying to erase the past few days. I should have gone with them, I thought. After we stabilized Riley, I had Sierra take me to the ambush site.

I slowly picked my way through the clearing, my head swimming by the amount of magic that it held. I found pieces of broken, circular vases, which once held ingredients to make a bomb that would spark brightly. The insides were coated with magic, enhancing the effects of the bombs.

I continued scanning the clearing, until I saw the boulder. My heart raced as I stepped closer to it, my stomach dropping when I saw the words carved into the stone: I’m coming for you.

“What does that mean?” Sierra asked. “Who’s coming?”

I could barely breathe. My mouth went dry, and I barely managed to choke out one word: “Colin.”

Sierra hugged me closer, pressing her lips to the top of my head. “It’ll be okay,” she whispered. “Riley will heal, we’ll deal with Ariana and her pack, and we’ll stop whoever this Colin character is.”

I nodded. “I know,” I said. “Right now, with Riley as she is… it’s just all so much.”

I felt Sierra nod. “I know,” she whispered. “But she’s the Silver Wolf. She’s strong. She’ll pull through.”

I nodded again. I knew Riley would be fine, physically. I just worried what she’d be like mentally when she woke up.


“Gramma? I need to talk to you.”

Gramma looked up from her knitting, smiling at me. “Sure, little bird,” she said. “What is it?”

I slumped against the park bench, Delta’s head resting in my lap. I stroked his ears as I thought about what to say, and when I finally figured it out, I turned my head to her and said, “I’m a fire mage.”

She nodded. “Mm-hmm,” she said. “And?”

I swallowed thickly, rubbing Delta’s ears to help calm my racing nerves. He whined softly and licked my hand before looking up at me with his dark eyes. It’s okay, he seemed to say.

“I’m also an earth mage,” I whispered. “And… a spirit mage.”

“Ah, so you’ve figured it out.” Gramma chuckled and turned back to her knitting, humming softly.

I gaped at her. “You knew?”

She laughed. “Oh, little bird,” she said. “I’ve always known. You have such raw power in you! The day you were born, I told your parents exactly what I felt.”

“Which was…?” I prompted.

She chuckled again. “That you have the strength of all five elements within you: earth, air, fire, water, and spirit. With your personality, it’s no surprise that fire was the first to surface. So, how’d you discover spirit and earth?”

I briefly told her about Sierra’s coaching with spirit, and how the earth came out when I battled Colin with Jack. She listened with a small smile on her face, pleased that the earth had saved me from a powerful earth mage.

“Is he still going to try and recruit me?” I asked.

Gramma nodded. “Yes,” she said. “I don’t know what he has in mind, but he won’t stop trying to sway you to his side until the only choice he has left is to kill you.”

My stomach dropped. Great, I thought.

Gramma reached over to put a reassuring hand on my knee. “Don’t worry, little bird,” she said. “You’re so much stronger than he could ever hope to be. He won’t overpower you.”

She smiled at me, then turned back to her knitting, humming quietly to herself. I leaned back against the bench, hugging my arms close to my body. Delta whimpered and pushed his nose into my arms until he opened them enough to push through, panting happily as he made me hug him. I laughed and bent my head to kiss the top of his head. In response, he reached up and licked my chin.

Gramma chuckled. “He’s a good dog,” she said. “In fact, I think he might be your familiar.”

I frowned. “My what?”

“Your familiar,” she said. “Witches and mages sometimes have a familiar, an animal companion to go through life with them. They share a special bond, one developed all throughout their years.”

I grinned. “You’re saying Delta’s immortal like me?”

She sighed. “No, unfortunately,” she said. “But, he will live a long, fruitful life, one that will last for several generations.”

I laughed softly and looked down at him. “You hear that, boy?” I asked. “We’re going to be together for a long time.”

He barked once and licked my chin again, his tail wagging furiously. I laughed, and for the first time in several days, I felt lighter.

I should have known it wouldn’t last.

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