Just a persistent AU idea that's been bouncing around my brain for a while that may evolve further when I figure out the bigger picture.
As Agni's chosen, the children of fire have always been taught to embody the virtues of the flame.
The first, Courage, is the inner flame, flickering and flashing in turns with the staccato beat of the heart. It is the original fire, the eternal blaze. Throughout heartbreak and joy, anger and serenity, desolation and purpose, it wanes and flares with the shifting world, but never dies. In the darkest of hours, when the mind turns inward, it is the guiding light in the dark.
The spark of our willpower.
The second is Drive. Ambition. Fervour. It is the fuel–the lifeblood–of the flame; the will to push onwards in the face of any–and all–odds, imbuing within the spirit of victory. It is the wind that breathes life into the fire and the roaring air as it ignites in the inferno.
It is the unwavering conviction to do what must be done.
Honour is last, but held above all else. It is understanding the duty to the flame as an unwavering guide and the duty to one's self. It is as much the merciful hand holding the fire from the flesh of innocence as it is the resolute fist blasting through the enemy. A balm to soothe consciences; a bolt to tighten metal-plated hearts.
It is the loyalty owed to the flame, to home and, most importantly, to the people.
The lessons of the past still ring in his mind as his eyes snap open to the rising sun. Brilliant rays of light peak over the horizon, brushing over the shadows that lay beyond the distant tree line, before alighting on his cold skin. The chill bites at him and the roll of thick parchment weighs heavy in his hand, but standing there in the swelling warmth he finds himself ignoring both as he looks on from the wall.
A grubby-faced child with laughing eyes–too young to understand–bounces in a mother's arms as she hurries down the path to a hiding place. In the square the blacksmith grinds blade after blade to a fine edge and below him, a gathering of local men and women are being armed by his troop with a rapid-fire lesson on open combat and anything else they can improvise.
It only reaffirms his belief that this is the right choice.
The honourable choice.
A thousand people made their livelihoods and traditions and families within these walls; A thousand will stay to defend it to the end, for it is not the nature of fire–nor those born of it–to yield while there is still fuel to burn, to fight.
A thousand he has been ordered to leave behind. To abandon to their fate in the face of the enemy. His hand twitches violently, clenching as faint smoke curls from between closed digits.
It goes against everything he has ever been taught and everything he stands for now, and he has never compromised his sense of self. A whisper of the past, of soothing embraces and days spent by a family pond. The voice of a woman long-lost speaks to him always.
Never forget who you are.
He looks again to the sprawling town, his mind flashing through futures where the pungent stench of smoke and burnt flesh fills the air; where the glazed, unseeing pupils of a broken child stare up at him from a face frozen in a rictus of pain, and his eyes squeeze shut but his breath–his will–is unwavering.
The knife in his boot presses hard against skin–the inscription unseen but seared into memory–and he remembers fragrant teas, gruff hugs and the words of a wise old man.
Never give up without a fight.
He grasps his courage–his spark–and as the world flickers back into view, he breathes life into that fire, vowing to deny the visions any place in reality.
As he finds his own inner calm, a furious whispering breaks out along the ranks.
There is movement from across the dewy, trodden grass of the battlefield-to-be. His golden eyes sternly watch as the figures slide out from the shadows of the forest, skin bared between the mangled costumes of animal skin and metal banding.
So different from the solid weight of his armour and the rough warmth of the tunic beneath.
He inhales, a deep breath and feels.
The fire in their hands beats with the same life as his.
It's a shame, he thinks bitterly then, that those born of fire can forget their very nature.
Or perhaps, they have simply succumbed to the darker side - to hunger, destruction.
The chill air swirls in his lungs and he can feel the energy–the life–within flare in the moment he feeds it to the blaze, letting out a crisp exhale. Behind him, a collective breathe is taken and released.
The parchment is already ashes drifting from his open hand in the breeze. The other cups a strong flame, white and deadly–the manifestation of his spirit–that bends only to his will.
Together they stand at his back, a band of brothers and sisters, bound by honour and loyalty and they are ready.
The boy with golden eyes and a beacon of fire in his palm leads the march into the darkness of battle.
Hope you liked it and thanks for reading!