• PM To Join • Spitfire

Some noble cunt needs rescuing.

Settled on the mountain next to Lake Lovalus, this city was founded by the Immortal Ilaren. The locals in this trading port are a happy, friendly bunch who deeply enjoy life, and the city buzzes with a near-constant atmosphere of celebration. Rharne is also home to the Lightning Knights, the Thunder Priestesses, and the Merchants Guild.

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• PM To Join • Spitfire

Postby Finnegan O'Connor » Fri Jul 13, 2018 8:53 pm

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Spitfire
70th Ymiden, 718

Time hadn’t been kind to the stables at the back of the Harpy Inn. When the sun shone, blades of sunlight stabbed through the thatched roof and cast bright, white eyes on the straw and dust floor; when it rained, the steady patter of rain splashing down into conveniently placed buckets dictated the pace of his work. He missed the sound of it, the smell, the freshness in the air after a good, Rharnian thunderstorm. Where the locals had chosen to flee indoors and drown themselves in another watery substance, Finn had taken to the back of the Harpy Inn and enjoyed the downpour until xx had come out half a break later and dragged him back in before he caught a cold.

Over twenty days had passed since, and it hadn’t rained a drop.

There had been some rumours of fires in the city and on one afternoon, Finn was able to make out a column of smoke through the wide-open stable doors, and a wind carried the scent of ash and charred driftwood. Good old Brimtattle with his great gray sideburns had come in the next day, with an alarming skip in his step and a dangerous mixture of red and purples on his cheeks, rendering Finn terribly concerned that the old fellar might suffer a stroke from over excitement. For the next break he was audience to several outrageous conspiracies regarding the culprit behind the fire, though Finn noted there was a commonality between all of them. “Some think it’s got to do with the Aukari,” Brimtattle would end each story, though he didn’t seem wholly convinced of this conclusion himself.

“What if it’s just the weather?” Finn ventured to ask as he lifted a heavy bucket of water with both arms and emptied it in a long, deep trough.

“That doesn’t explain the circles,” Brimtattle retorted from his position on a rickety chair near the double doors. He was too stubborn to admit it, but the old goat had seen better days and the relentless heat had started to take its toll. His memory was hazier than usual, and on several occasions now Finn had listened to the same story two, or even three times. It had only been after Finn had insisted the man sit down in the shade and let him do the work that Brimtattle’s enthusiastic storytelling returned. “Someone’s startin’ these fires, on purpose, and they want us all to know. That’s why they leave a mark. I don’t buy it’s those children. No one buys that.”

“But they took ‘em in for questioning anyway?”

“That’s what I’ve heard,” Brimtattle answered as he swatted a fly away. “You wanna be careful that you don’t come near any of those fires. The smoke is thick and clogs the lungs and what with those poor little sods claiming responsibility… they’re your age, or younger.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“I means the whole city is on edge and if you happen to be near a fire, some cunt Knight or another might try to impress his superiors and make a pre-emptive arrest, for questioning, I suppose.”
Finn put the bucket down and sauntered over to a corner of the stable where he grabbed an old, scuffed broom. “But why?”

“That’s anyone’s guess, Noah. I don’t rightly know… but I do know that if we’re unlucky and this drought keeps on, and a fire’s started, and there’s a good, stiff wind blowing…”

“Then what?”

“Then it’ll be more than homes that’ll go to ashes. With one or two incidents people might keep a level head, but this is the seventh I’ve counted and...”

“And what?”

“-and I’m afraid reason is the first victim in situations like these.” He let out a long, raspy sigh before training his gaze on the passersby a few dozen feet removed from the stable’s wide-open doors. “My meaning is: you should not let any curiosity get the better of you. The reasonable mind doesn’t really think any child is responsible but…” he grimaced here, “not all men are reasonable.”

Finn ceased his sweeping for a moment and leaned heavily on the broomstick, his face ablaze with dangerous excitement.

Brimtattle’s face followed an opposite trend and his features contorted into a grim frown. “Perhaps that’s their aim.” His watery, saggy eyes flitted over to Finn and a lightness returned to his face. “Play people out against each other. Make the elderly mistrust the youth and the other way aroun-” He looked up suddenly, “I don’t mean to frighten ya. Just be on your guard, you understand?”

Better than most, Finn thought to himself, but he couldn’t say. He hadn’t spoken of nor toted his magic and so far it seemed to have paid off. Aside from a few kerfuffles in the inn, and run-in with Bertha, the Thundering Priestess, he’d managed to stay out of trouble and he was confident he’d continued to be safe as long as he kept his secrets to himself.

“I understand,” he nodded solemnly.

--

It wasn’t until he’d wolfed down his meal and returned the plate to the kitchen that the proprietor of the Harpy Inn waved him over for a last minute delivery. Arthur Yardley almost beat Brimtattle in age, though he was of a far less round disposition and had somehow beat back the forces of old age that diminished the posture and made teeth grow crooked.

“Can I have a word, Noah?” It wasn’t really a question, Finn knew, but he nodded regardless.

The wiry owner undid the worn, leather apron he wore when he assisted in cleaning out the kitchen each night and threw it on a hook in the wall before gesturing for Finn to follow him into a tiny office space behind the kitchen. Finn had only been there once before, on the day he’d been looking for a job, and the same stale air greeted him now as it did then. Pillars of boxes and paperwork, rendered vale by age, littered the room. Not even the desk was spared from what could only be his sister’s worst nightmare for it too played host to a wild scattering of papers.

“You’re doing good work,” Arthur said as he rummaged through the paperwork while Finn remained in the door opening, unsure whether to advance or not. “Brimtattle is quite pleased with you, and so am I. I confess I wasn’t sure if you had it in you, to work the hours as you do, and most of all, to not give up after half a season as the previous four or five had done.”

“I try to do my best,” Finn mumbled.

“Brimtattle has noticed, and so have I. I wanted to give you something of a reward but…” the man’s voice trailed off there as he moved from one pillar of documents to the next, evidently searching for something he couldn’t quite find. “Stay put just a momen- Ah there it is!”

He spun around triumphantly with a crumpled letter in hand. “Where was I- Oh, right!” He stepped around the desk and ushered Finn out of the office with an impatient gesture. “I wanted you to take the next few days off. You’ve earned it and if a lifetime in the business gives a man any right to say so: it tends to be calm this time of year. Not many people travel around with this kind of heat, and I think Brimtattle can manage on his own for a bit, wouldn’t you agree?”

They exited the kitchen and stepped into the common room by the time Arthur had finished his question. Finn merely beamed a smile in reply. “Thank you…”

“Ah, but before you go off on your break, I wanted to ask one more thing of you. I have a good friend in the Sky Quarter and wanted to have this letter delivered to him today.” He pointed out the address on the envelope, “I trust you know how to get there?”

“Yes mister Yardley.”

“Very well. Off you go then!”

A smile was exchanged as Finn pocketed the letter. The air was cooler now, but darkness was still a few breaks off and Finn soon slowed his pace to a leisurely stroll as he took in the sights and sound of Rharne, basking in the glow of the setting twin suns.

--

He was just on his way back when he smelled it. That same, burnt scent, that same bitter, dry taste in his mouth. Only this time it was closer. The Sky quarter was largely made from brick and mortar, but there were still elements of wood in the buildings too, and when he halted to determine the source of the smell, he didn’t have to search for long. No sooner than he’d turned, a loud pang saw one of the windows burst and shatter, raining down a hundred tiny shards onto the street below. Several cries came from the passersby caught in harm’s way, but their cries were soon overshadowed by thick plumes of smoke rushing out into the air, filling the street with a thick mist. Finn covered his mouth with his sleeve as the smoke crawled toward him and started to bite at his eyes. Best head back, he thought to himself. But as soon as the thought emerged in his mind, a hungry tongue shot through the window, blistering the sky and twisting around angrily, desperately seeking for something to feed on. Some voices cried out from the street, one calling for aid and others clawing their way through the smoke to find the building’s entrance. There were more voices still, voices that coughed and wheezed and choked out calls for aid, yet the loudest of them all was the voice of Fire, it cackled and whooped and rejoiced in the fresh supply of air that came rushing in through the burst window and like a toddler wreaking havoc on imaginary cities with toys, it mauled and gnawed at all in its path.

Stop it, Finn commanded, but the fire wouldn’t listen. In time it would, he had no doubt of that, but ever since he’d gained the ability to speak with the elements, he’d learned more of their personality, and fire was easy to rouse but hard to douse, especially when it could feast on wood and stone and flesh as freely as it could now.

Cursing under his breath, Finn rushed up to the side of the building and searched for steady footing on the wall. The stone felt loose under his boots and there was a moment of weighlessness as he tried to scale the wall. His hands found a ledge above his head, and as he pulled up through the smoke, he could just make out his destination a few feet above him. He hadn’t forgotten what Brimtattle had said, but neither had he forgotten that fire especially would never seek to harm him, unless he harmed it. How could he not help? Knowing that there were people trapped inside and knowing that he couldn’t douse the flames quickly enough (not without drawing attention anyway), he was left with only one option.

His landing on the inside of the building was far from graceful and something bit into his leg as he half clambered, half tumbled through the window. The heat didn’t harm him, but the smoke still stung in his eyes as he got back onto his feet and stumbled ahead, blinded by the inky clouds of billowing smoke. “HELLO?!” he called out between coughs. The fire had spread quickly, and even though it retreated around him, he knew it wouldn’t be long before the woodwork would crumble and give way. “ANYONE THERE?”
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Finnegan O'Connor
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