Silver scales, dark in the night's shadows, turned white for but a second.
A mix of brown and scarlet, the rocks turned black with the rain.
He never looked back.
He was running. Running and running and running.
Away from her. Away from him.
From what? To where?
Pitter patter pitter patter went the rain as it fell.
The sky crackled with electricity.
A jagged bolt struck the earth.
A deep purple shadow raced overhead.
There was a delighted shriek.
Thunder boomed in the distance.
Black faded to gray.
Gray faded to white.
Rocks turned to soil.
Rain turned to snow.
He was tired. But he didn't stop. He couldn't stop
His feet caught a stray rock.
There was cackling laugh.
A sudden gust of wind.
And a thousand icy claws crushed him in their grip.
Jolting awake, he panted heavily. Amber eyes darting around, he swiftly turned to the cackling laughter that he had heard. To his immense relief, it was only the sounds of the fire spirits dancing in the hearth of the fireplace.
He thought back to his nightmare. Those claws that pierced his skin and flesh…
Suddenly feeling self-conscioius, he looked down at his body. Silver scales were glowing a pale orange, and the few injuries he had sustained were some minor cuts and a deep gash along the side of his belly, which was already starting to heal nicely.
"Ah, you're awake?"
Startled, a guttural growl formed in his throat as he whipped his head around, the miraculous healing forgotten. The speaker was an elderly human, a magi, he noted, and also a complete stranger to his eyes. Baring ivory fangs, the growl elevated to a sharp snarl as she approached. The barbs along his body bristled and stiffened in response, his chest swelling to prove himself intimidating despite his injured state.
The old magi merely chuckled at his aggressive display.
"My, my. Such a feisty child you are. You remind me so much of Renweard when he was about your age. Snappy and vicious, he wouldn't let anyone near him either. Refused to take his remedy when he fell ill…"
At this point, there was an irritable snap from beyond the windows. He jerked his head up, surprised, and in his heart he felt a pang of fear at whatever was outside the safety of his refuge.
"No need to fear, young one," the magi laughed, drawing his attention from the frosted glass. "Renweard doesn't like to talk about that part of his past. He thinks it… unbecoming of one such as him."
Another snap. Glancing nervously at the window, he was starting to become convinced that beyond those walls was a creature even worse than that dark purple shadow in his nightmare, or the bolt of lightning, or that high-pitched, ear-piercing shriek.
"Renweard is as gentle as a lamb once you get to know him," she reassured. "Pride just makes him too arrogant to display such affections."
If he had eyebrows, he would have raised them at the eccentricity of the magi before him.
From what he had been taught, magi were people to be avoided. They were cruel. They were greedy. They enslave others for their own purposes. They sacrifice them for use in the occult arts. He had seen, in his younger days, the various scars on his parents, the vestiges of attacks made by poaching magi. All magi were that evil.
The image of a girl with long, brown tresses and silver-blue eyes flashed across his mindscape.
Fine. Excluding the girl magi who saved him, all other magi were evil.
"Now then, what happened to you?"
Her voice snapped him out of his thoughts. Blinking once, he cocked his head at her question, but the door creaked open the second the elder magi opened her mouth, and a cheery voice floated in from the porch.
"Mama! I'm home!"
He knew that voice. Swiftly turning to the scarred wood door, he watched as the girl magi walked in from the front door, a bag in her hands and a worn satchel strapped across her chest.
"Welcome back, Firn."
So her name was Firn, he noted quietly.
He met her eyes.
With a sudden exclamation of, "Oh! You're awake!" she was in his face, staring into his eyes with her own. Stunned, he jerked backwards, almost catching her fingers with his barbs, again. Her hand, which he guiltily noted now had a bandage on it, had moved over to inspect the wound.
"I hope the balm worked alright," she rambled, moving over the gash. He flinched at her touch. "It's not meant for such deep wounds." She was still fingering the edges of the wound. He growled in warning. If she hadn't been the one to save him, he'd bite off her hand for her insolence. Instead, a growl sufficed for the moment. "I'll mix up a batch of potions that accelerate healing later, with sufficient amounts of painkiller solution to-"
"Firn dear, you're hurting him," the elderly magi interrupted.
"Oh!" the girl immediately lifted her hand from his wound. "I'm so sorry!"
He sniffed. Perhaps the old lady wasn't that bad after all.
"Don't mind Firn," she said, "She loves anything related to Alchemy, so she rambles off endlessly and loses sight of things until I stop her."
Firn smiled sheepishly, her face flushing a light pink in embarrassment.
"Ah, that's right! I haven't introduced myself, have I?"
You're Firn, aren't you? He asked, cocking his head.
"My name's Firn," she repeated. "My elemental specialty is ice. I'm currently studying Alchemy and Herbology in the Keep, so I do know a bit of healing arts and potion-making."
He didn't really understand what this 'alchemy' was, but what he did know was that herbology involved the study of various flora and their innate magical properties. He didn't know why the girl had chosen to study herbology when he could feel the ice magic flowing within her.
With winter comes snow. With snow comes ice. It was the bane of plants and flowers, and unlike the other natural elements of fire, earth, metal, wood, water and wind, ice was the conception of all the worst aspects of nature. Representing death, regret, isolation, and hopelessness, anyone with an ice affinity usually ended up dabbling in the dark arts. For an ice mage to partake in the study of life was unheard of.
"Firn, let the child rest."
"Mama! You have to introduce yourself first!"
Mama? So this was her mother? He looked between the two females, and noted quietly that they looked nothing alike.
Firn nodded furiously. The older magi chuckled.
"Very well then."
Turning to him, the lady held out her hand, palm faced upwards.
"My name is Martha. I'm Firn's adoptive mother."
He felt a start as the information coursed through his head.
"Now that the introductions are done, I'll go and prepare the potion for you," she smiled. "You'll be just fine after drinking it, I assure you that."
He watched as Firn left the room with a skip in her step, and all of a sudden, the room's temperature could have had fallen by a hundred degrees. He wondered what this strange feeling in his body was.