Mage's Fire

All Rights Reserved ©

Eight: Nadia

As he had been the past couple of days, Delta greeted me when I walked through the front door with barks and yips of excitement. He whined and barked, wagging his little tail furiously as he pressed himself against my legs. I laughed and crouched next to him, allowing him to put his front paws on my knees to lick my chin.

“Interesting,” Gramma’s voice said from the entryway to the living room.

I glanced up at her. She was wearing slacks and a nice shirt, with a shawl draped over her shoulders. I rubbed Delta’s ears one more time before I straightened.

“What is?” I asked.

She nodded to the puppy. “He must smell the wolves on you, and yet… nothing. It’s like he doesn’t even care.” She chuckled and said, “He’s one smart pup.” She looked up at me, smiled, then turned to the living room. As she stepped inside, she beckoned me with a hand and said, “Come. Let’s get started.”

“Where’s Dad?” I asked as I followed her, Delta close on my heels.

“He’s working,” she said. “One of the deputies called in sick, and he jumped on the chance to work some more.”

I nodded absently. Good, I thought. I was still too furious with him to be in the same building as him.

Gramma lowered herself gracefully onto one of the armchairs by the fireplace. I noticed she had moved the coffee table so that it fit perfectly between the two chairs, while still allowing some legroom. Resting in the center of the table was a single-wick, white candle. I noticed that the curtains were drawn shut, and the lights were shut off.

“The first rule of magic,” she said, “is the breath. Magic is as much a part of us as breathing, or water. It’s interwoven into our souls, and without it, we’re basically nothing. The spell I’ve placed on you is nearly worn off, so I think some simple breathing exercises will suffice for now. Sit.”

I set my backpack on the ground, lowering myself onto the chair across from her. Gramma gave me a sly smile, then raised her hand and snapped her fingers. I gasped as a tiny, green-blue flame appeared at her fingertip. She laughed at my reaction, then she pressed the flame against the wick. Once the candle was lit, she brought her finger up to her lips and blew it out.

“What was that?” I asked, breathless. I had seen blue and green fire before. During my sophomore year, we had an experiment where we took several different elements and had to place it in the burner. We were then directed to record the colors we had seen, matching it with the element we burned on our worksheets.

But this fire I had just seen… the only word I could describe it in was magical.

Gramma laughed again. “That, my sweet child, is called magefire. It is the mage’s greatest, most fearsome weapon. It is also our saving grace. See, magefire can be used in two ways: it can be a weapon of mass destruction, or it can be used to heal the gravest of wounds.”

I was grinning like a kid on Christmas morning. “That’s so cool!” I exclaimed.

She chuckled. “Yes,” she said. “I suppose it is.”

“Teach me how to do that!” I demanded.

“In due time,” Gramma said. “For now, you must learn how to master your breath before you can summon your own flames.”

She drew my attention to the candle and said, “Focus on this flame. I want you to reach out with your subconscious and feel it. Close your eyes.”

I did as she said. I shut my eyes, but my nerves were on fire, my blood buzzing with excitement. Gramma’s voice became low and relaxed, giving my body a calming effect. “Breathe in slowly,” she said, her Scottish accent wrapping itself around me like a blanket. “Allow the breath to fill your lungs completely until you can’t take in any more. Now exhale through your nose, slowly…”

I exhaled, and instantly, my muscles started to relax. Gramma directed me to take in two more breaths, and each time, my body relaxed more. I could almost feel like I was floating, my skin buzzing softly.

“Now, I want you to hold your hands out… yes, just like that. Put them up by the candle. Feel the heat as it pulses against your palms. Don’t worry, it won’t hurt you… breathe in for a count of five… now hold for seven… and exhale for a count of ten. As you count in your head, I want you to focus on the flame, not your counting. It’s merely there in the background, a guide for your breath, for your magic.”

She directed me to breathe in and out, again and again. Each time I inhaled, held the breath, and exhaled, she had me do each part for a longer span of time. Soon, the counting in my head became background noise, while I focused on the heat of the flame between my palms. As I inhaled, I felt the flame grow hotter and larger, and when I exhaled, it grew smaller. As my breaths became longer, the flame grew larger as well.

“Now, open your eyes,” Gramma murmured softly. I did as she said, keeping my eyes on the small flame. “Continue to breathe, just as I instructed. You can pull your hands away now, rest them gently in your lap, but stay relaxed. I want you to control the flames with your breath. I’ll return when it’s time for you to stop.”

She stood and left the living room. I kept my focus on the flame, doing as she instructed. I didn’t have my hands near the flame anymore, but I could still feel it. It was a small, gentle burning in my chest, connecting me to it. As I inhaled, the flame and warmth in my chest grew larger, and when I exhaled, both grew dimmer.

A few moments later, Gramma returned. She lowered herself into the chair across from me and said, “Now, close your eyes… I want you to go back to inhaling for a count of five, holding for seven, and exhaling for ten. Each time you inhale, cut down the seconds until you no longer feel the flame within you.”

I did as she said, even though I didn’t want to. I wanted the warmth to stay. I wanted it to fill me up until every dark, empty crevasse was filled with warmth and light. When I no longer felt the warmth in my chest, I opened my eyes.

Gramma was smiling at me, her eyes shimmering. She lifted the candle, brought it to her lips, and blew it out. As she set it back down on the coffee table, she said, “So? How do you feel?”

I grinned. “Amazing,” I said. “I feel… alive.”

Her smile grew. “Good,” she said.

She had no idea just how good that was. For months, I had been feeling a dark pit in my chest. Some days, it was small, barely noticeable. Other days, it was all I felt. Just the past few moments of sitting here, breathing and feeling the flame, making it rise and fall with my breaths… it was intoxicating. Just the small, simple act of breathing and focusing on the flame made me feel stronger, more powerful.

“How much time do you feel has passed since we started?” Gramma asked. She leaned back in her seat, crossing one leg over the other.

I shrugged. “I dunno,” I said. “Maybe ten, fifteen minutes?”

She grinned. “Little bird, you’ve been sitting there for nearly two hours.”

I blinked, taken aback. When I glanced at the curtains, I could see the light outside growing dim through the small break between them. “Huh,” I breathed. “That’s all?”

She nodded. “For now,” she said. “I think you’ve expended enough magic tonight. For now, why don’t we go to the kitchen and have some dinner? I’ve made some shepherd’s pie.”

I smiled. “Yes, please,” I said.

Continue Reading Next Chapter

About Us

Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered publisher, providing a platform to discover hidden talents and turn them into globally successful authors. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books our readers love most on our sister app, GALATEA and other formats.