From the Ashes
“Steam? Are you alright?”
Steam’s eyes fluttered open. He stared at the Nimbat that hovered above his face, his vision returning to focus. He sat up slowly, cringing at the pain as he did so. The Blade of Ahrah hadn’t cut him, most likely because it was not being held by its master. But it had still knocked him out.
Steam looked down at Elsorah, giving it a sharp glare. “Why didn’t you do that for me, huh?”
The blade remained dormant, not giving him any sort of response.
“Fine. Stay quiet,” He muttered. Steam assumed the sword wasn’t speaking because he hadn’t awoken it. He’d stolen the sword.
Steam forced himself to stand, cringing from the bruises that now littered his body. He’d won this battle though. If it hadn’t been for Ahrah, Dust would be dead right now. It wouldn’t surprise him if he died of his injuries in the end anyway. Dust had fled with his tail between his legs, although that was something he couldn’t confirm. He’d been unconscious, and besides, staring at tails wasn’t something he made a habit of.
“Are you alright, Steam?” Nynia asked.
“I’m fine,” Steam said stiffly. He limped his way over to a ruined house and slid inside, half falling onto the charred wood with a soft groan. These injuries would take him out of commission for awhile. No matter. Dust too would be bedridden for longer.
The cold smirk returned to his face. And when he recovered, he would find Dust and kill him once and for all. It was his purpose. It was all he knew.
Every step was a struggle for him. In one arm, he cradled Fidget’s unconscious form. With the other, he supported his weight, using Ahrah has a makeshift cane. The blade didn’t seem to mind. It almost seemed to be lending him the strength to keep moving.
Ahrah had saved his life back there. Dust knew that. He would have to thank the sword later. He could only imagine how much power it must’ve taken to stop that attack.
The sun was beginning to set by the time Dust finally saw Aurora Village in the distance. He winced and kept moving, his breathing laboured as he stared at the blood dripping down Ahrah’s blade. It was all coming from his shoulder. How was he still bleeding that much? He cringed as a wave of dizziness washed over him. He recovered quickly and started moving once more. He could feel the Life Thread calling him, telling him to let go. But he wasn’t ready for it. He had to stop Steam. If he couldn’t stop him, at the very least he had to get Fidget back to Aurora so she could be looked after.
His foot got caught in a small rut. He fell over, forcing himself to fall sideways to prevent himself from landing heavily on the still unconscious Nimbat he was holding. He landed hard on his injured shoulder, making him whimper softly. He couldn’t find the strength to stand back up. Was this the end? Was he going to die here?
One of the villagers must’ve seen him coming. The voices overwhelmed him, and he felt the strange, weightless feeling of being lifted up off the ground. He held onto Fidget, refusing to let her go even though someone was offering to take her for medical care.
It seemed like such a short time had passed and he felt himself being set down once more. Fidget was pulled from his arms, as he could find no further strength to protest.
“Dust?!” Someone cried. “Dust, are you okay?”
“I lost...” Dust said softly, his mind blurry. “Life Thread...Won’t stop...”
“Don’t go, Dust,” the voice said. “We need you here. Don’t go.”
“Don’t answer it. We’re here, Dust. Stay with us. We need you.”
He passed into unconsciousness.
Fidget awoke slowly, a small whimper passing her lips.
“Fidget?” A male voice said.
“D-Dust?” Fidget asked, her eyes fluttering open. She saw green eyes and a face covered in orange fur. It wasn’t Dust.
“Sorry. It’s Nix.” He said.
“Injured. Badly,” Nix said, glancing over his shoulder in the direction Dust’s bed was. “He’s still unconscious.
“I couldn’t help him...” Fidget whispered.
“Don’t beat yourself up over it,” Nix said, smiling weakly. “You took enough of one already.”
“Yeah but Dust was...” She felt herself get dizzy again. She didn’t like feeling like this...
“Rest, Fidget. Get better, okay?”
Fidget nodded slowly, closing her eyes again before falling asleep once more.
Nix was shaken awake by Ginger the next morning. He looked up at her wearily and rubbed his eyes, yawning widely.
“How were they?” She asked, her brow furrowed with concern.
“Fidget woke up,” Nix merely stated. “Dust hasn’t changed.”
Ginger looked over to where her friend lay near death in his hospital bed. He looked to be still hanging on, but what he’d said before passing out worried her. The Life Thread had been calling him. It was no surprise considering his injuries, but it still made her sick with worry.
“You’re worried about him, aren’t you?” Nix asked, watching her face.
Ginger sighed and nodded slowly.
“If you don’t mind me asking, what’s he to you?”
“Eh?” Ginger’s eyes widened slightly. “Why would you ask me that?”
“I’m just wondering,” Nix said.
“He’s like a brother to me...” Ginger said softly. “Mostly because he technically is my brother. He has Jin’s soul.”
Nix nodded slowly. “I understand,” he said softly. “You’re worried about him.”
“So worried...” Ginger sobbed, pressing her hands into her face.
Nix stood up and pulled her into a hug. “He’ll make it, Ginger. He’s the Sen-Mithrarin. He’ll come through.”
“He already died once. And you heard what Ahrah said.”
“That doesn’t mean it has to be truth. And from what Fidget was saying when she woke up, I’m guessing they lost whatever battle they were fighting. He still needs to be here.”
“He’ll survive. I know it.”
“I hope you’re right, Nix. I really do.”
Fidget awoke again around noon that day. This time, instead of just waking up to Nix, she woke up to Ginger as well.
“D-Dust?” Fidget asked, still worried about him.
Nix shook his head.
“He’s still unconscious,” Ginger said sadly.
Fidget sighed sadly, her ears curling slightly.
“The doctors say he’s healing though,” Nix said, trying to cheer the Nimbat up.
Fidget merely nodded, her own injuries still throbbing.
“What happened in the forest, Fidget?” Ginger asked.
“Steam was there,” Fidget said. “We fought. He had a Nimbat with him too. She’s the one I fought. She was so much stronger than I was...”
“It’s okay, Fidget,”
“I couldn’t help Dust, and I couldn’t even help myself. I’m so pathetic...” Fidget mumbled.
“No, you’re not,” Ginger said, reaching over to scratch the Nimbat’s head. “You’re brave, and determined. You did everything you could.”
“But it wasn’t enough...” Fidget said, shifting her head to avoid getting scratched.
The Nimbat merely sniffled and rolled over, closing her eyes again.
Steam had been found. The King had gotten so desperate to see him at the castle again that he’d sent his guards after him. Steam was in too much pain to do anything but allow them to half arrest him and put him in the back of a horse cart to take back to the castle. Steam grumbled to himself, his sword draped across his lap as he stared back to where Abadis Forest was. He could faintly see Nynia’s dark figure pursuing them slowly, staying just out of sight to avoid being spotted. Good. That’s where she needed to be. He didn’t know why the creature was still following him, but he assumed it was for the sword. She wanted Elsorah back. But if that was all she wanted, why did she sound so concerned when he’d been injured? Why didn’t she take the sword while he was unconscious and fly back to the Nimbat Forest? He just didn’t understand.
The castle appeared on the horizon far sooner than he wanted it too. He let out a slight groan of dread. He’d have to spend the next eternity listening to this stuck up guy rant on about whatever task Steam was required to do. He couldn’t believe he was created to do the bidding of the King. Unfortunately, his word was all he knew.
Steam sat bitterly, his cheek propped up on his hand as the castle continued to approach. He remained stoic, not showing any emotion as the wooden gates swung wide. People were everywhere. He didn’t mind this city so much as he recognized it. He lived here once. How he knew that, he wasn’t quite sure. Who was he, really? Dust had called him...Fuse. Was that his true name? Fuse? Who was that?
A second pair of gates swung open before them, these ones made of shining metal. He didn’t spare them a glance. Steam looked towards the edge of the city, his eyes scanning the skies for Nynia. He couldn’t see her anywhere. Did she lose them? No, she was probably hiding somewhere because of all the people.
Steam was ushered out of the cart, and no sooner than his feet hit the cobblestone, he was surrounded by guards preventing his escape. Steam knew he could just simply cut them all down and flee once more, but he figured now that he was here, he might as well listen to the king. Besides, further injury wouldn’t help him in the slightest.
He was led through ornate doors into the halls of the castle. Every corridor was strangely familiar to him. He’d definitely been here before, even if he physically hadn’t seen it. Though the King had created him, this was the first time he’d seen the castle. When he’d awoken, he’d been at the peak of a volcano. The King had told him everything he was to do: kill Dust, and return to him for further instructions.
Another ornate door swung open and Steam was ushered into a massive throne room. The King sat on his huge, velvet covered chair, his son, Prince Tyrell at his side. He’d been there at his creation too, but he didn’t look like he wanted what his father wanted. He was looking at Steam now, a sort of guilt in his eyes.
“So you’ve finally come,” the King said, his eyes sharp.
“Here I am.” Steam said, not caring about respect.
“I summoned you, and yet, you did not come.”
“I had no reason to.”
The King narrowed his eyes. “I am your creator. You will answer when I call.”
“I’ll get right on that. I’m sorry I didn’t realize it before.” Steam said, half sarcastically.
The King fumed. “You dare speak to me like that?”
“Oh, do you want me to be more respectful?”
The look on the King’s face was priceless. Steam wanted to laugh until he cried, but he remained emotionless.
“You will respect me as I am your creator,” the King hissed.
“Should I kneel as well?”
“Yes.” He said.
Steam glared at the King. “No.”
The throne room was silent.
“What did you just say to me?”
“I said no. Are your ears broken? Here, I’ll say it again. NO.”
The King stood up and began walking towards him. Steam wasn’t afraid. There wasn’t a thing in the world he could do to him that he couldn’t return tenfold.
The King grabbed him by the front of his shirt, lifting him off the ground and glaring into his face. “You are my creation. You will listen to me!”
“Kill Dust, right? That’s all you want me to do?” Steam asked. “Well, the jobs half done. Want to finish it?”
The King let go of Steam’s shirt and cuffed him across the face, knocking him down. He cried out as he hit the floor, pain flaring in his cheek.
“Learn respect, creature!” The King shouted, kicking him in the side.
Steam cringed, squeezing his eyes as he fought back tears of pain.
“You are here to do what I say! So do it!” He kicked him again, this time hard enough to make him roll over. He stepped towards his creation’s already battered body once more.
Steam crawled to his feet, and without thinking about it, he plunged Elsora through the King’s chest. He felt a strange thrill passing through him. He’s just defied the person who gave him his destiny. He’d just killed the King!
The guards let out a shout as they saw Steam’s blade sticking out of their King’s back. Tyrell stood up slowly, his jaw wide open, as though he couldn’t believe it.
Steam pulled the sword out of his body, watching him fall to the floor. His hands trembled slightly. He shouldn’t have done that...but...
He heard the sound of several hundred bowstrings pulling taught. Without really thinking about it, Steam reached down and pulled the crown off the dead King’s head.
“Stand down!” He shouted. “I am your new King!”
Luckily for him, the guards did just that. Steam continued to tremble as Tyrell stared at him, his eyes wide.
“Steam...” Tyrell whispered. “What have you done?”
Steam looked at the prince and without answering his question, he asked one of his own:
“Can you tell me who Fuse is?”