Chapter XXII: Fire-play

“Duck, duck, DUCK,” Vaan shouted to Lucy as he sent metallic disks her way.

She barely missed the first two but got nicked by the last.  She cringed in pain and looked down at her arm.

“You don’t have time for that!” Vaan pointed out.

Lucy shrieked as she rolled away from the boomerang effect the scales had.

“Never forget that certain attacks will rebound,” Vaan sighed as he caught each flying scale.

“Got it,” Lucy nodded, pulling herself to her feet.

Her teacher stepped back in shock.  This was the first time his apprentice hadn’t give him a snappish lip.  “Excuse me?”

“I got it.  Let me try again,” she requested, positioning herself more carefully, letting her new scratch alone.

Vaan grinned from under his scarf.  He could finally teach. “I think I want to move onto something else.”

Lucy tilted her head and relaxed her pose.  “I thought you said today was training with dragon scales.”

“And I thought so too.  But you are improving.  And I think you are ready for a new sort of trick.  Let’s give you something truly worth writing about to your brother.”

Lucy’s heart skipped a beat.  Was it really time?  Was he really giving her a chance to prove herself?

“It won’t be easy,” he quickly warned.

“I promise.  I’ll give you everything I have.”

“Good, I want nothing less,” he grinned once more before snapping his fingers.   A flash of red fire hissed to life.  “First we need to draw the fire out of you,” he said as the flame spread down each digit. “Starting now.”

Without warning, he whipped the heated attack at her. Lucy barely had time to breath as she dodged the wicked assault.

Lucy rolled as he sent another wave at her.  But she wasn’t watching his left hand and was hit by an exploding fireball.

“Oi!” she hissed, nursing her wounded shoulder.

“What did I say before!” her teacher scolded before sending an earthshaking wave of sound vibrating to the floor. “You don’t have time for that!”

“I don’t know what to do!” Lucy yelled back as her balance was lost to her.

“Yes you do,” he insisted sternly before summoning a handful of icicles.

“That’s new,” Lucy pointed out before he javelined them at her feet.

“Clearly, you haven’t been doing your homework,” he told her as he threw another handful of exploding fireballs at her head.  “You will never battle someone with the same powers twice.”

“I’m always battling you,” she snipped back, catching one of the balls of fire to send back only to proceed to burn her own hand.

“You know, you can’t hold those if you don’t activate your own powers,” Vaan said.

“I’m trying!” she shouted, exacerbated by her wound as she continued to dance around the arena.

“Our powers our always evolving,” Vaan was suddenly rushing at her with a frozen fist raised.  “Never forget that!”

Lucy grabbed his other arm and spun herself away from the attack.  He simply clenched his fist and the ice shattered into a danger explosion of thin icy needles, cutting at her cheeks and defending arms.

“Stop!’ she cried.

“MAKE ME,” he challenged.

That’s when she felt it.  A pulsing.  A fire of determination turning in her core.

Lucy let out a slow breath and tensed her fists at her side.  Her eyes closed as she focused inward, concentrating on drawing the feeling out.  When she felt Vaan inches from her, Lucy opened her eyes and slammed her hands forward.

The teacher barely had time to catch her open palms when she twisted her wrist to reveal dancing white hot flames.  She shouted as energy shot away from her to push Vaan back.  Only this time, instead of the flames vanishing in a instant, they remained, hovering defensively around her wrists.

“You see, I told you,” Vaan chuckled as he put his hands up to show his white flag.

“I did it,” Lucy laughed as she examined her own creation, a smile spreading on her face.  “It’s so hard to keep it alive.”

“True, but now it will only get easier.”

“How?”

“Practice,” Vaan looked at her flames.  “Plus now we know what makes you tick.”

“What’s that?” Lucy asked.

Vaan’s yellow eyes shone brightly through the thick lens.  They met Lucy’s amber as he leaned close to her, placing a finger at her heart.  “You have a spark – aflame that is all your own.  And you’ll fight like hell before anyone will take it away.”

Lucy’s lips pursed with her cheeks stained red as her fire flickered out.

©2017 E. M. Vick

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