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Not Such Petty Theft

Quietly now...not a sound...not a breath...only movement.

Michael closed his eyes for a moment in the darkness, creeping underneath the floorboards of The Lotus as he brushed the cobwebs away from his face, squeezing his arm underneath his body as he crawled forward. He could hear the commotion above, the usual crowd of drunkards participating in their merryment. However, this young boy, this vagabond urchin, was here for something else.

He'd found the hole in the wall behind the building a couple weeks ago, and the path under the floorboards which it led to, but only in the last couple of days had he made the crawl, and seen where the tunnel went to. At the end, the crawlspace curved sharply upward, and through a small crack in the wooden wall Michael could see where he was.

The Money Room.

Every gold coin, every crumpled paper bill that passed through the Lotus, ended up in this room, at the back of the bar behind more than a few locked and guarded doors, to be counted and sorted for the owner to add to his personal wealth. And, being the most popular bar in town, the size of a warehouse almost, there was a lot of money to be had. The last time he had made the crawl Michael had been too nervous to do anything, to try and move the latch, the small hidden hinged door into the back, and take anything...but this time...this time would be different.

Figuring he was about halfway through the crawlspace now, the boy continued, underneath the drinking section of the bar, hoping that his labor today would not go unrewarded.

Michael heard the crack of wood, the sickening splitting of the floor just inches from his feet, and saw the light that had before only creeped in through cracks flood in through a new hole. The fact that it had been a sword pierced through the floor registered within the young boy's mind as well, the finely sharpened blade shining in the newfound light. However, there was one thought, one prevalent message, that oversaw all of these realizations in Michael's mind.

Oh Shit.

Michael held his breath as he felt it rush up from his lungs, putting his head down and beginning to crawl forward with as much of both speed and stealth as his 12 year old body could muster. Now, without thinking, the boy lunged forward, his only goal to reach the end. The task had changed from one of the mind to one of the body, and the appropriate responses became readily apparent. Sweat beaded on Michael's forehead, the dust of the underground passage smearing down his face, and Michael's heart pounded through his body, pulsing in his ears with a noise that sounded insidiously like the word "fire".

Please...please let me make it...please...

Michael could hear people talking now, voices flooding into the passage...somebody must have alerted the bar's manager or owner by now. The voices grew louder, and louder still as Michael crawled forward. The noise was astounding, and Michael felt as if he were drowning in a sea of sound. Gasping for air, Michael opened his eyes wide as it all went silent for a moment, and then a sinister voice, one that Michael thought he should have known, but couldn't recognize, flooded in to his mind.

Now, my child...know your fate...dream once more of the flames.

Michael jumped up, and as he was located in a tunnel, hit his head sharply on the top of the passage as the world began to spin. The last thing he saw as it went dark were the flames ushering forth from his fingertips, the way he'd hoped they never would again.

"Oh my," Ayrania said after she surveyed the damage. Three dead men, and a hole in the floor. The bartender said nothing about the men she had just killed. He was quite used to murders in his pub. The hole in the floor, however, caught his eye. He stared at it for a moment, transfixed.

Then they both heard the scurrying below them, and the bartender swore loudly. "A thief!" he cried.

"Aren't we all?" Ayrania said in an annoyed voice before sitting at the bar as if nothing had happened. "A bottle of the strongest thing you have, please."

"You're not getting one damn thing until that theif is GONE!" he yelled loudly, occasionaly swearing.

"Fine, I'll serve myself," she said, hopping over the counter. But when she was on the other side, she stopped, her eyes wide. "Hey, do you smell that?"

"Smell what?" he asked, sniffing the air.

"Smoke..." She glanced at the floorboards, watching as thick black smoke came through the cracks. Immediately she took a few steps back, her eyes wide. She hatedfire. Her element was ice, and fire melted ice very quickly. It was painful for her to so much as get near fire. The smoke was like a deadly warning to her.

"A thief, and a fire!!!" the bartender cried out angrily.

Then the entirety of the floorboards caught on fire.

Michael reeled within the cavernous expanse of his own mind. Darkness stretched out for what seemed like an eternity around him, with nothing save for a single burning spotlight upon the boy's figure, suspended in mid air. Michael looked around him, still in a daze as he rubbed his head.

"Where...where am I?"

The darkness, with those words, was no longer as flames spread from Michael's body, searing outwards in a blast of heat, Michael gripping his hands to his ears as a shrill noise filled his very thoughts, his very existense.

"Now, my child, you shall see what exactly pain is..."

The flames within Michael's dream faded away as a new scene came into view. Frozen within a crystal ball, Michael looked outward, at first unable to see anything, but as the sphere slowly turned, Michael saw a face, distorted and demonic, staring him in the eyes, with fiery irises and skin as black as soot. Observing more, Michael looked around him, and saw that this massive creature, the size of a building, held the crystal sphere in his hands.

"Or perhaps now is not the time after all.

The creature...whatever it was...crushed the globe, and Michael inside of it, into pieces as the dreamworld collapsed and Michael regained consciousness.

Screaming, Michael felt pain like no other course through his body, eye opening, mind shattering pain. Throwing his hands upward, Michael began convulsing as the fires which had before only spread from his hands now erupted, much faster than before, from his entire body.

Zaigar was shaken awake as she heard the screams. She stretched nonchalantly and saw that the young boy was screaming and thrashing his hands wildly about as if trying to get rid of some unseen force. The bandages she did for him were slowly tearing off, revealing his scalded skin.

She walked quickly towards him and landed her hands onto his wrists, trying to stop him from fidgeting. She tried to call out to him to knock some sense back to him in vain. She could feel his whole body heating up, as if there was a fire starting within him. He needed something to cool off, and quick.

With one hand holding down both his wrists, she searched in her pockets the cooling phial. As soon as her fingers touched the cold phial, she fished it out, uncorked it with her mouth, emptied it of its content and advanced her lips quickly towards the boy's. Using her tongue as a funnel, she dipped the cooling liquid into the boy's mouth and tipped his head to make him swallow it. Soon he calmed down and returned to his peaceful slumber.

Zaigar was rather surprised when she found him. She was getting ready to check into The Lotus for today when she heard about the fire. Someone had brought the fire under control, but the mention of a theif struck her. She made her way round the Money Room and saw this boy stuck halfway through his getaway route, twitching and convulsing with soot and burns all over his body. Zaigar wasn't someone to take compassion but something told her that saving him was the right thing to do. Before she knew it, she undid her robe, pulled the boy out and wrapped him with it before checking in, lying to the manager that it was some bounty she picked up.

As the hours went by, the boy slowly stirred. While he sat up, she said coldly, "You woke me up quite a bit, you lil' tart. What's you story?"

"That's it, I'm outta here," Ayrania muttered as the fire began to grow, inching towards her. Immediately she made for the door, but the bartender stopped her.

"Help me put this fire out and you'll get free drinks for a life-time!" he said. He knew the offer would be tempting to her, seeing as she was border-line alcoholic.

"You've got a deal!" she said enthusiastically. It would take a bit of magic, probably drain her, but she could put the fire out. She didn't want to, but she would.

See, Ayrania was adept with ice magic, not water. There is a difference. But, she still knew some water magic. With a sigh, she walked out the door.

"WHERE THE HELL ARE YOU GOING!?" the bartender screamed. But, she appreantly ignored him. She came back a few minutes later.

"You have no idea how lucky you are," she said with a smile. "You've got a well out front..."

The water rose from the well as one giantic liquid blob, and then flew threw the door and at the fire. In one hit, the fire were clenched. He stared at her, his eyes wide.

"Now where's my free drink?"

Michael awoke groggily, his head feling like it had been hit extremely hard from behind with something very hard and very large. At first, he couldn't see anything, the world swimming through a pattern of odd colors as it slowly settled into focus, the young boy shaking his head back and forth a few times before he heard Zaigar speak.

The voice startled him, and Michael jumped backwards a bit, clamoring to his feet and backing off of the wall, circling around to this new figure's left.

"Who are you...where am I..."

Michael asked with a voice that was more hardened and cold than any 12 year old's should have been. Then the boy had a sudden epiphany and realized who he was talking to.

The figure that had swooped over him as the water ran down his face and the world faded, who had picked him up and saved him from certain punishment by a very angry bar owner. Losing his defensive demeanor, Michael held his head low, now embarassed.

"I'm sorry...I didn't recognize you at first. Thank you...for whatever you did."

Zaigar was rather taken aback when the boy questioned about his whereabout. It wasn't some voice any small kid would make unless he had been through years and years of turmoil and suffering. But then his features slowly softened and his voice weakening, like he was another different person altogether. When she heard him apologize, she began to think maybe he's having schizo or something.

"No offence taken," Zaigar replied in her cold, distant manner. "Was just around the neighbourhood. You've created quite a stir at the Money Room. I heard those guys are still looking for you though. So, what's your story?"

The boy didn't seem to be willing to talk, and Zaigar wasn't the person to either wait or pry into people's business. But she could tell he was hungry. She rummaged through her pouch and took the remaining smoked fish she caught last night and handed towards him. She's not the kind to offer help, but somehow she's feeling a bit generous, surprisingly. Her cold golden-yellow eyes bore deep into his as she asked:

"The name's Zaigar. What's yours, little tart?"

Michael looked for a couple seconds upon this female before him, thinking to himself if he should lay down a couple of his cards, and tempt fate with what he could. After a few moments of deliberation, his answer became clear, and somewhat reluctantly, Michael gave up a response.

"My name is Michael, and thanks again for saving me."

That's when the memories of the flames became a bit more detailed. Michael hadn't seen anything that would have started a fire in the underground passage, nothing that would have...spontaneously combusted.

"Tell me something...please...do they know what started the fire?"

"Unfortunately no, boy. I just got here. The fire was under control."

Zaigar saw the relief look on his face, then leaned forward to his face and whispered, "I hope it's not because of your doing, though. You seemed to have the power of Pyrox."

The boy seemed stunned and overcome with guilt. Zaigar grinned inwardly. She somehow takes pleasure in looking at people in distress, and kind of gives her the sense of power, like she was in control of the situation. Then the boy looked confused. Zaigar could tell he didn't understand what that name she mentioned was. It was a term taught by the man she wished would not haunt her dreams anymore than she wanted him dead.

"Pyrox. It's a type of inner power in gifted people to create fire due to their emotions. Usually novices of this power cannot control it and when their emotions get intense, their body will create fire as self-defence. When trained, they can use fire at will. You wouldn't happen to be a Pyrox, would you?"

Michael listened intently as Zaigar explained this power to him, and couldn't help but shiver as she told him her name for it. Pyrox, the word itself sounded like fire as it rolled off the tongue, seeming to burn with an acidic bitterness across the lips.

"I...I don't know what you're talking about. That's preposterous, that somebody could just...create fire at will. I'm no eldritch, I'm just a kid!"

By the end of this sentence, Michael was practically shouting, pent up frustration flowing from his throat in the form of caustic words. Fears and doubts, resolved with this one simple word which Michael would vehemently deny the existence of.

"No...there's no way."

Backing defensively into a corner, Michael's shoulders hunched as his posture dropped, again into that almost animal-like defensive stance. His eyes grew somewhat manic for a fraction of a second, and for that brief period of time it almost appeared as if his eyes, for whatever reason, were tiny, brightly burning flames. It was at this moment that something broke inside of Michael, and he had only one overwhelming instinct.

To run.

"It isn't possible!"

Michael shouted as he blew past Zaigar, his 12 year old frame propelled forward with surprising speed. Quickly opening the door, Michael stepped into the upper halls of the Lotus, the inn's rooms, and looked around. Seeing only a window, the boy hurled himself forward, beads of sweat searing down his neck, steaming as an unearthly heat radiated off of Michael's body.

With a shatter of glass and a roar of flames, he was gone into the night.

Zaigar could see the rage that was in the little boy. The feeling of fire was raging throughout the entire room. It was no doubt that he was a Pyrox. She could feel it in the aura he was emitting. It felt horribly hot and bothered, and most of all, dangerous.

"It isn't possible!"

As she heard the loud scream from the boy, she knew he wasn't in a shape to be reasoning. She could feel om trying to bolt out of somewhere. A burst of flames suddenly covered him, like a human combustion. She need to get away fast before she herself becomes a human inferno.

Her hunter reflexes didn't fail her as the burning boy swept past her, smashed the glass and disappeared into the night. She opened the window and tried to look for him but there was nowhere of him to be seen. She let out a silent sigh.

"I gotta get out by dawn before they ask me to pay for this window."

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