By the age of three, he was fascinated with the dancing flames in the small hearth of the family home. Happily the boy would sit enchanted by the fiery coals and crackling embers, face aglow with the wavering light and unaware of the world around him.
When the fire claimed his mother and home at age six, the boy did not weep. Rather he watched in grim fascination as flames climbed higher into the night, engulfing wood and stone and the flesh and lips that had cradled and kissed him goodnight all the years of his life. His face was a mask of soot, his lungs a nexus of smoke-filled pain, but no tears streaked his cheeks. With the grief-stricken wails of his father filling his ears, it was then the boy vowed to master the fire. He would make it his own.
The forbidden magic was his secret slave by the age of nine, and the fire that once danced to his amazement in the family hearth now danced on fingertips at his command. In the fall, a gypsy peddler attempted to steal crockery from his father’s merchant stall. He burned the gypsy’s wagon and watched with a smile as all the trinkets the man had brought for trade melted into an indiscernible mound among the ashes. That same season he set aflame the home of a rival potter, disappointed that the man himself escaped the blaze unscathed.
His father was forced to relocate them when at the age of eleven he nearly burned another boy to death. There had been an incident in the abode of the village herbalist who acted also as arcane instructor for those who demonstrated magical talent. Details were lost in the confusion, but one thing remained certain—the young victim would never see again.
Father and son left in the night, their wagon filled with enough ceramic bowls, pots, and mugs to sell along the road to eek out a living.
The boy claimed his first life with fire at age fifteen. It became easier after that.
But despite his mastery, despite his passion, Khraxis still did not understand the fire’s power or potential. Nor did he understand its role in his destiny.
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Copyright © 2013 Todd VanHooser