Fantasy Flash Fiction: Malachite

This is Day 1 of a December Writing Challenge: The prompt was Crystalline

The brown hessian of Nova’s trousers was instantly soaked as she dropped to her knees in the crisp icy snow. She sucked in a breath, the cold air on her gritted teeth setting them on edge. A feeling, like needles being driven beneath her skin raced through her arms and her cloak lay forgotten a meter or so away.

The bitter cold made goose bumps race across her flesh, a feeling that was quickly chased by heat. Fire, emerald green spread along capillaries and veins. Nova cried out as her skin cracked, splintered and flaked away revealing flaming crystal beneath.

Malachite Fire, so named for it’s resemblance to the crystal formation, a crystal formation . Malachite Fire, thought long gone when the last Chimera’s had disappeared. Malachite Fire, thought only myth and legend.

The first time it happened Nova had panicked. Alone in the forest, overwhelmed with emotion and having just finished fighting bandits she stood amongst the wreckage of new found power. The earth scorched, bodies burnt and her hands pained. The burning lines of green racing backwards to a point on her wrists. Adrenaline had seen off the pain but when it caught up with her it was unbearable, hot needles being pushed beneath her skin. Her hands shook as she stared in shock at them.

The second time it happened they’d been fleeing The Unfortunates; a hoard of the ravenous monsters tearing towards them. All Nova had thought about was protecting her friends. Her hands had lit up, emerald flames twisting like vines around her fingers. The pain was almost intolerable. Beneath the cracking flaking of her skin that had started was what looked like solid, shining rock. Greens of all shades, glittering in the firelight that, she assumed, it was creating.

It spread through the path of her veins, climbing up her arms, across her shoulders and collar bone, then making it’s way up her neck. The closer it got to her chest the more intolerable the burning became. When they escaped The Unfortunates and made it back to the boat she had collapsed. Swearing Anton to secrecy in the dark quiet of her room.

Nova decided then it was too dangerous. That she couldn’t use whatever this was. It was torturous and draining for her. She had no idea how to control it. What happened when it reached her heart? Did she expire or explode? Innocent people could be hurt.

Even when Princess Freya had been taken by Castor and the other Aidler’s she had kept it quiet. She would put her other skills to use in order to get the Princess back.

Castor never planned to give Freya back though. Castor lied.

King Leosach had agreed to hand over the keys to Brahmall Castle and with it the Eastern side of Calgora’s rich lands. All in exchange for the Princess.

Castor had let them believe he would give her back. Castor had let an entourage of Leosach Soldiers make it all the way to the gates of Giroldus castle where he refused to open them. Where he had held a struggling Princess Freya up by her hair, dangling her off the turret for the crowd to see before relieving her head of her struggling body.

As the body landed in the mud and filth below the turret, Castor had thrown Freya’s head towards the Princess’ brother with a grin.

It had come to a stop at the feet of Riley Leosach’s horse. Then Castor had signalled, and his men had attacked.

The fire overwhelmed Nova, disintegrating her clothes as the furious emotion burned bright for the coming evening to see. Emotion that wasn’t supposed to be befitting of a soldier of her skill. The green burned dark, then bright as a sob was choked off in her throat.

The image of Freya’s beautiful head coming to a stop, eyes and mouth still open at the hooves of the horse, seemed only to spur the flames on towards her heart.

Nova knew in her gut that she wasn’t about to die but it didn’t make the pain anymore bearable. It blinded her, forcing Nova to close her eyes, just for a moment.

When Nova opened her eyes and looked down at herself, she was a living flame. The snow had melted in a ring around her, the Earth was scorched. The flames below Nova’s feet were not burning, not painful, and there was no feelings of needles beneath her skin. If anything it felt like walking on moss. Soft and springy. Her limbs were no longer flesh and bone but cold solid rock.

Malachite, a spectrum of greens that glittered in the very fire it was creating. She was alive, and, she had control. Her emotions were merely extra fuel for a fire that could decimate or delight.

Castor might have had power, brutal and blood thirsty soldiers, a bigger castle and the advantage of the emotional blow he had landed, not just at the Royals feet, but the land’s to. Castor might have the advantage but he did not have this. He did not have fire capable of turning stone to ash.

The surviving members of the entourage were being seen to by medics, they were bruised, bloody, battle weary and almost half what they had been coming here. Partners, Sisters, Brothers, Fathers and Mothers had all been lost.

There were cries, gasps, gentle screams from the encampment as she entered.

The first to see her braced, ready for a fight to begin until they recognised her. Clearly, despite the flames she looked like herself, that pleased her. As she approached Riley’s tent the soldiers showed no fear. They parted the curtains in awe.

Riley and Tyra didn’t look up. Didn’t sense the change in the air as Nova entered. They remained hunched over the huge table, the map, talking in hushed worried tones. Trying to work out how they could all get home safely. What the plan was then, there was no room for trying to foster peace anymore, they were at war.

“Gentlemen” Nova said as the flames threw green light on the shadows inside the tent. “You wanted a way to win this war. I have one.”

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