Kythorn 18th, 154 AE
Byron always spoke of how beautiful the outer planes of Celestia would look; of its ever flowing fountains, its endless groves of peach trees and smiles on every denizens face. He always spoke of it with such longing that he made it seem something of a cruel fate to live, knowing that such a paradise awaited those who passed on to the great beyond.
But I passed on, and I did not see Celestia. I saw a place I have seen a thousand times, late at night when I am lost in my dreams. It was the brass palace, only this time, the throne was not empty as it had always been. Seated like a regal being of complete and utter nobility, a man of fire that I immediately recognized stared back at me, unapproving.
“You are dead,” he simply said.
“My spark remains,” I said, my lips moving independently of my brain. I didn’t even think that; how did I know to speak it?
“So it does,” he replied, his posture taking on a more attentive pose, “which is why you are here.”
“I know.” What? I have no idea why I am here! Is Ember speaking?
“You know nothing, broken princess. Not yet, but if you value your vengeance, you will learn,” he mused as though my thoughts were borne before him.
I took a knee as though commanded by an unseen will, and answered, “Yes, Father.”
The man of fire waved away my gesture as though it were an annoyance. “Yield not to such pleasantries. The ember born from a raging fire does not bow to its forebear; it conquers it, if it can.”
“I am such an ember, both in name and in spirit,” his words were like a hearth pulsing in my soul.
“You are such an ember, but ONLY in spirit. Your name, broken princess, is Evelyn. Evelyn’zhar. You are my grand-daughter of too many generations to count, yet you burn with the fires of your homeland in a way not even my wife could match. It is here where you will rule, but not now. Now, you will be made whole; or at least, as whole as anyone can make you. The rest, you will have to sculpt for yourself.” At this, he stood, but did not move. He waited, and after a moment, I confessed aloud.
“I do not understand” was all I could say.
To my surprise, he took on a fatherly smile, patient and calm, as he said, “One of you does.”
At that, a heat too intense for words or pain rose up through me, and Ember broke through in the most physical way I’ve ever felt. Flames danced along my skin, my eyes smoldered and my fire tattoo pulsed to the beating of my heart. Rage, anger, vicious hatred all boiled over me, scalding me in its fervor, and I didn’t even have to think it, I just charged.
The man of fire effortlessly grabbed me by the neck, choking the life out of me as his grip burned against my throat. I flailed wildly in his hands, but heard his every word spoken in a devilish whisper. “You have the temper, but you lack the direction. Something is holding you back, and you let it kill you. You had the power to slay that spider, yet you held back. Why?”
My answer came as an inaudible gurgle.
“WHY!?” He raged, his hands tightening. He began to shake me violently, his arms barely flexing at the effort.
Then I exploded. It wasn’t a physical transformation; at least, not at first. There was a bright light, and then suddenly I could breathe again. When the light faded, I saw the man on fire slumped in his throne, smoke rising from his shoulders as though an impossible heat had charred him from within. He noticed me watching him, and smiled a smile that made my body tighten in places I did not feel comfortable with.
“Ah, you were afraid he was right. You were afraid that you would burn out if you shone too bright. But you are no ordinary woman, Evelyn. You are the grand-daughter of Sultan Jal’zhar, the once true King of the Elemental Plane of Fire. A fire does not burn half-heartedly, and nor should you. Nor should a woman be at war with herself, split into halves of a greater whole. Now you are as complete as I can make you, Evelyn’zhar. Now, you are ready.”
“Ready for what?” I asked with a newfound certainty.
“To become the woman you were bred to be. Your memories were taken by the same group who conditioned you to be their inferno, but in their arrogance, they forgot that fire obeys no will but its own,” the man of fire patted his shoulders, and the steam ceased.
“Who did this to me?” Though I never thought to ask this question before, I knew its answer was the answer to everything I was missing.
“The same people who murdered me. They are scheming, but not invincible. When you burn them, you will have conquered the last vestiges of your mortal weakness, and you will be ready to begin your ascension to the Basalt Throne.”
A long pause passed as he seemed to have said all he wished to say, and I pondered the weight of his words. Finally, he looked as though he was ready to depart, but he addressed me a final time as he faded from view. “You fought, and died, to discover who you are, and now you know. What happens next, Evelyn’zhar?”
Though he was already gone, and I could feel the sharp pain of my consciousness re-entering my body, I whispered into the nether, “I make the people pay who thought a fire could be tamed.”