Caution: Quills may be sharp Circulation: 151,901,457 Issue: 213 | 20th day of Collecting, Y7
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Dying Embers

by icegirl_sara


"One, two, THREE!"

     Ember bit her lip and raised a slender finger. She pointed it at an empty fireplace. Suddenly, smoke billowed out of it, choking Ember. She staggered away to make way for an adult Fire Faerie. Miss Flame swept her arms through the smoke and it vanished. She glared at her student and walked away. Twenty fireplaces surrounded the room, and nineteen had brightly burning fires. The heat would have dried up any Water Faerie. The twentieth fireplace had several forlorn-looking sticks of wood that looked burnt and frail - the failure of Ember's attempt to conjure a fire.

     "Ha ha! You mucked up again! Nah-ni-nah-ni-nah-nah!" The prettiest Fire Faerie in the room pointed her finger at Ember. She was laughing so much her body was shaking. Effortlessly, she shot flame at Ember. Ember yelled and stamped out her burning dress. The class hollered and giggled, yelling unkind - very unkind - things at Ember, who stood hanging her head, her clothes limp and burnt as her fireplace.

     "Enough!" yelled the teacher, Miss Flame. "Ember, if you cannot conjure a fire by tomorrow, I shall be forced to do something you really don't want me to do." Her voice was tired, exasperated, and sorrowful. Then her voice was crisp and brisk again. "Homework, spit fire from your fingers, have it around for three seconds, then vanish. All of you except for Ember. Ember, actually make fire. Or else."


     Ember hung around after the rest of the class had left. Miss Flame looked at her pitifully.

     "Another shot? One more go? Just another shot?" asked Miss Flame. She swept Ember up to a fireplace. Ember tried. Tried her hardest. A tiny speck shot out, before burning into nothing.

     "I'm sorry," said Ember sadly. "I can't do it. I can't make fire." She ran off crying. (Well, flew off crying.) Her little home was soon in front of her. She reached out a hand for the crystal doorknob. And then she thought, 'Do I really need to go here? What if I ran away? What if I left?' She was very tempted to leave, but she knew she could not survive without fire. She sighed, twisted the doorknob, and entered.

     "Something wrong, honey?" Her grandmother's razor voice echoed from her chamber.

     "If I don't make fire tomorrow, I'm doomed," answered Ember sadly. "There's no hope. I'm a failure. I should be a Water Faerie, judging by all the fire I can make. I've always loved water. Maybe it quenched my fire." Ember forced a weak laugh and went into her room. She tried to light her own personal fireplace and failed. Her grandmother came in and tried to coach her, but Ember had no hope of passing the test tomorrow.


     Ember awoke and screamed into her pillow. She tugged on her Fire Faerie Elementary robe and swallowed a Cherry Faerie Bubble. She tried many many times to make fire again, but it was simply impossible for her. As she went to school, her grandmother came with her, promising support and protection. She was last into class, and firing smoke and tiny flecks of flame from her fingers as much as she could. At last, entered Miss Flame. All the girls completed their homework, and as they did so Ember struggled to light her fireplace. Nothing. Nothing. Her turn came. She stood at the fireplace with the 19 other girls and Miss Flame watching, and prayed. She prayed in the name of her grandmother, of Queen Fyora, and all she held dear that she could do this. She breathed deep, and shot. Shot nothing but smoke. A black plume flew around and she rushed at the fireplace, hidden. She struck a match and dropped it in. She tried to light the fire again and then stepped back. The thick smoke cleared and everyone looked at the fireplace. Nothing. Blank as it had been before. Ember tried again and again to make it work but nothing happened. Suddenly, she felt herself shrink and glass walls surrounded her. A massive cork stopped the top of the bottle and she wheeled. A blue Lupe grasped her bottle in his paw and then ran. Balthazar had another Bottled Faerie.

     Ember screamed and pounded on the bottle. Tears streamed down her eyes. Her grandmother was firing fire at Balthazar but he had some kind of shield. Ember saw everything vanish as the Lupe ran around the door. Ember wanted to be free. She tried to fire flame but nothing happened. She sat down and cried. Suddenly she looked up. Her grandmother was flying after the Bottled Faerie and her captor. Suddenly, the magical clouds ended and Balthazar had nowhere to run. The Haunted Woods, black and forbidding, loomed below. The blue Lupe saw the elderly Fire Faerie tearing up to him. He wheeled to the edge of the clouds and dived down with skill that would have shamed an Olympian. Rolling in the air perfectly, he waved the bottle at the horrified grandmother floating above.

     An Eyrie Carriage with two owners inside flew past. Balthazar was so surprised he lost grip on the bottle. The Bottled Faerie Ember dropped into the carriage, landing in the girl's bag. The blue Lupe roared in fury and his massive paws swiped the air. But Ember was safe, for now.

     The Eyrie Carriage met up with a massive space shuttle and the pair of owners stepped in. The girl nearly forgot the bag but at the last second ran back and grabbed it. Ember could see nothing, but she knew the girl was in the space shuttle going to the Space Station.

     After ten minutes of gut-grinding shuttle flight, the boy, girl, and bag got out into the Space Station Terminal. The girl suddenly sneezed violently and dropped the bag. Ember's bottle rolled out. Her legs flew and she struggled to maintain stability. Finally, the bottle stopped rolling. Ember found that if she moved her legs, she could roll the bottle all by herself. She rolled into a door with a massive black splat on it. The door opened and she fell in, crash, onto a hard floor. The bottle broke and Ember was free again.

     To her surprise, several other Faeries were there watching something. Ember went to join them. She looked down onto the pitch and her mind went blank. Six or seven pets stood in a ring, passing a bright blue ball around. The ball pulsed unhappily sometimes and then, it broke! Around and around the new ball went, and then broke! Ember knew she had to do that, it was so exciting! But she didn't know what the game was called. She turned to the Air Faerie next to her.

     "Hey, you're gonna think I'm stupid and all that, but what's this sport thingy called?" asked Ember nervously. The Air Faerie sniggered.

     "Gormball. Everyone knows what Gormball is. Hey guys," she turned to her friends, "this weirdo doesn't know what Gormball is!"

     "Hush, Breatha," said a Water Faerie nearby. "Don't be so mean." But Ember heard none of this and she spoke again:

     "I've gotta do that. I'm gonna play Gormball!" she cheered. All the Faeries nearby mocked her, but Ember didn't care. She couldn't make fire, but this could be her way to fame!

     Ember walked out of the stands and entered the next round. She put her name down on paper and dressed herself specially. A bell sounded and she took her place in the circle.

     Quickly she learnt how to play and what to do. She wasn't that good at first, but soon she became a pro. Within days, she had been nominated for the World Tournament. Ember had found her new buzz. She had never used magic, so what was it to her if she was soaked in gooey water once or twice a day? The dying embers of her life had at last come alight.

The End

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