Part twenty-six of Misplaced Fire
Ceylan and Nesrin argued as they walked. Something about standing on the mountain of rubies that harbored Samira’s vault bred tension. Nonetheless they continued their advancement along the footpath, coming closer and closer to the first trap. Two pirates Nesrin had long held as zombified prisoners walked in front of them, serving as pawns. Nesrin was continuing to assert, in the face Ceylan’s soundest and most sincere logic, that she had a valid plan.
“I keep telling you,” Nesrin huffed, “I don’t need the stone Patanī was in, I just need a stone. I’m gonna take a random stone to my storehouse, empty it into a tree where it can’t do any damage, force Patanī out of my friends and put him in a different tree, then refill the stone with the fire from the first tree, and put the stone back in the vault.”
The first pawn stepped on the root of a gold tree with a bronze limb. He was sucked into a whole in the tree. Nesrin and Ceylan walked past.
Ceylan shook her head. “Nesrin, the more times you come back here the greater risk you…”
“Ceylan, drop the performance. You and I both know Mother doesn’t care what I do because whatever it is she’ll find a way that it helps her.”
“That’s true for everyone else, but it’s not a risk I am willing to take with my closest sibling.”
The second pawn stepped on the wrong rock and sank into the ground. Nesrin and Ceylan didn’t stop walking. Nesrin also didn’t respond to Ceylan’s last remark. They were now standing at the mouth of the cave that contained the vault. Nesrin’s eyes glowed gold. She turned her left hand into smoke and expanded it. With a swipe she conjured a larger selection of her maritime captives. She flicked her wrist again to send them into the cave. Nesrin and Ceylan waited and watched. At length they heard a metallic crash, followed by a buzzing like swarms of demented, shrieking bees. Then an earthquake shook the mountain, smoke began to pour from the cave’s mouth, and they felt a blast of cold air. The last thing they heard was an almost imperceptible sound of a rubber band snapping. When all was quiet, they walked inside.
The vault was in the deepest part of the cave, at the bottom of a thousand mile deep canyon. They flew down rather than climb. Ceylan had the only duplicate of Samira’s key, and instead of using it she let Nesrin spend a day’s time picking the lock. While Nesrin worked Ceylan caught up on her leisure reading, prepared a modest meal of fire roasted trout, and developed a plan for destabilizing human space exploration in case they attempted another invasion. Occasionally she took note of Nesrin’s progress and techniques so she could inform Samira of weaknesses in the vault’s design. Only when the door finally opened did she tell her sister, “By the way, Mother added another layer of protection after Bedeea’s theft.”
Nesrin was greeted by a red dragon resting in the middle of the vault. Had it flown in earth’s sky, it would’ve been capable of blocking the sun. To Ceylan’s surprise, Nesrin, rather than consider the dragon, locked eyes with Ceylan. Ceylan saw the green light that allowed a fire spirit to read all the information contained in the subject’s body. A reader at Nesrin’s level, especially one who was also a keen logician, could infer enough from this process to not only tell the subject’s entire family history back to Adam and Eve in excruciating detail, but even predict future outcomes. Ceylan let Nesrin read her, then gave her a cocky expression when she finished.
“You didn’t finish enough lessons to be able to read my secrets.”
Nesrin said nothing. She vanished briefly, then reappeared smelling like the inside of a dragon and holding a damp crystal puzzle chest. Nesrin quickly ran through the puzzle and opened the chest. The remaining saGkramastones were on top, guarding the bottles containing Samira’s royal predecessors. Nesrin gingerly picked up a necklace containing a relatively small glowing stone.
“Next stop, my storehouse. You coming?”
Continued next week
Link to previous installments: https://anindeterminatenumberofnights.blog/category/misplaced-fire/
The first post of the 2020! I hope you all had a wonderful festive season, and I wish the very best for you in the new year.