Ember

“Byron once said to me that I must learn to be patient, for that which burns brightest burns fastest. I say damn right! I will burn brightest of all, and my light will shine long after I’m gone!”

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Taken from initial case study notes for Field Project #71, code-named “Firechild,” Section 1, article 3b: “Genealogy reports and divinations prove that the Norris family line can be traced back to Djinn directly from the Elemental Plane of Fire. It is unclear how the bloodline has weakened over the generations, but the recent capture of the original Djinn has proven that powerful sorcery lies in the heritage of this great Sultan. Therefore, we propose to the nobility of Cumberland that we place into careful observation the newest of that bloodline. Preliminary findings suggest the newborn daughter of Lord and Lady Norris possesses the closest arcane make-up of the power scale of the Sultan who sired her family line. With the permission of the nobility, we would like to make her childhood a constant experiment into the nature of not only her powers, but her psychological capabilities as to determine whether or not she could serve Cumberland in a capacity the Sultan would not. Every “friend” she will make will be agents in our employ in an effort to completely immerse herself, as it is critical that we get realistic stimulus from the subject.”

Taken from transfer papers written by an unknown representative of project Firechild: “Inmate #2’s parents were generous contributors to the facilities less…legal programs, and it is a shame that inmate #2 took the lives of Lord and Lady Norris in that tragic fire. Or so the records will state. Inmate #2 must not be made aware of the setup that led her to our facility; her weakened mental state is critical to unlocking the true scope of her powers, and she must be made to believe she murdered her family.”

Taken from prison ledger of Cumberland’s secret prison facility: “Inmate #2’s birth name is Evelyn Norris”

Taken from prison ledger of Cumberland’s secret prison facility: “Inmate#2, at the time of her incarceration in this facility, is 15 years old”

Taken from the session notes of Cumberland royal psychologist Trina Winstead during the first session with inmate# 2: “There is something about the way Evelyn enters a room that suggests she is more aware of her efreeti heritage than even the most learned members of project Firechild. She has a presence that speaks of great power which clashes with a wild look in her eyes to chilling effect; it is as if she is constantly riding the tide of immeasurable power, and it is not always clear just how in control she is.”

Taken from session notes of Trina Winstead during the second session of inmate# 2: “She seems to be emotionally incapable of putting out a fire. She says it is murder to douse a flame before its time. A curious symptom; I am recommending that we start up the shock therapy sooner than initially projected.”

Taken from the session notes of Trina Winstead during the third session with inmate# 2: “For all the psychological trauma Evelyn has sustained by now, it comes as a great surprise to see her as exuberant as she is. Despite all that has happened, she still possesses a child-like enthusiasm for new tasks, and seems genuinely awed by the complexities of existence. However, this comes sporadically, as she also goes through bouts of hysteria, screaming nonsense and flailing about wildly; sometimes with her sorcerer powers as well as with her fists. I am beginning to suspect that she may harbor a dual-personality, though whether that is in relation to her Djinn heritage, or a product of the emotional duress sustained as part of project Firechild is impossible to discern at this juncture.”

“If ever there was an exemplar of the sin of wrath, she is it. Any provocation is answered with fists if they are lucky, fire if they are not. She is very much like the efreeti from which she claims heritage; quick to anger and eager to burn all she touches.”

Taken from the session notes of Trina Winstead during the fourth session with inmate# 2: “Inmate#2 shows signs of split personality and mild schizophrenia since her incarceration. She refuses to answer to her given name, instead responding only to the name given to her by her fellow inmates, “Ember.” Preliminary psyche profiles suggest that inmate #2 does not realize that Ember and Evelyn are the same person.”

Taken from personal journal of Trina Winstead: “Ember, a nickname given to Evelyn by fellow inmates after an incident in her cell, shows no signs of remorse for the burns she caused her cellmate. Such disregard for human life for the sake of self-preservation lends itself well to the psychological parameters outlined in project Firechild. Dehumanization of the subject is proceeding on schedule.”

Taken from the session notes of Trina Winstead during the fifth session with inmate# 2: “When she first got here, Evelyn used to cry herself to sleep every night over the guilt of killing her parents, but now it seems she almost revels in the power she commanded that ultimately claimed their life. It seems beyond doubt now that Ember and Evelyn are indeed two distinct personalities, and the repentant ritual Evelyn displayed at the dawn of her incarceration has since turned into a twisted reflection of perverse pleasure.”

Taken from the session notes of Trina Winstead during the ninth session with inmate# 2: “Evelyn has show a great mistrust of the number 2, most likely in direct relation to her label as inmate# 2, though how she came across that information is beyond my ability to reason. As a result, she refuses to be second in line for anything, the second to attempt a specific task, picked second for any activity, and so on. If given two choices, she almost always goes with the first, unless there is a clear threat to her personal safety. Ember, however, seems to disregard this unusual taboo, though admittedly, it is getting increasingly difficult to tell the two apart. Though this may be to the lament of project Firechild, as a psychologist interested in the fortitude of the human mind, Evelyn represents a fascinating subject in trauma recovery.”

Taken from Warden Walton Wallace’s resignation statement rendered after the escape of inmate #2: “The escapee likely died in the destructive aftermath of her escape attempt, but should additional pursuit be warranted by the newly appointed warden of this facility, she would be 19 years of age, easily distinguished by long, unkempt red hair. She has a marking that seems to be natural running up the length of her left arm from elbow to shoulder, though it did not appear until she turned 16; it is a creeping vine of flames.”

Taken from Trina Winstead’s personal journal: “If she survived, if she comes into her full power, if she releases the mental blocks the scholars put in place, I hope I am no longer here. If she lives, and if she ever finds out who did this to her, Cumberland will burn. Though there is little chance she lived through the blast, I would be surprised if the new warden does not dispatch a group of ‘recovery agents’ just to verify the claim if true, or collect her if she DID somehow survive.”

Taken from progress report# 1, signed by Acolyte Byron Placard: “This young woman seems traumatized beyond my ability to comprehend. She screams and sobs uncontrollably, and it fills even my wizened heart with something less than noble to think that someone did this to her on purpose. Still, despite it all, she seems to bear no ill will to people in general; for all the damage to her psyche, she is capable of accepting that just because select people did this to her, not everyone is beyond trusting. It is an impressive foundation, and one I will base the bulk of her treatment off of.”

Taken from progress report# 2, signed by Acolyte Byron Placard: “Ember, as we believe her to be called, has a very strange fear of sleeping in an enclosed space. We are now into the fourth day of her recovery, and she refuses to sleep willingly in a designated chamber. With the aid of magic, she can be put to bed, but she does not rest. This presents a most curious dilemma.”

Taken from progress report# 4, signed by Acolyte Byron Placard: “Her temper is a wicked thing, uncontrollable and unpredictable. She almost killed a horse today when it bucked her off for spurring too hard. Were it not tasked me by my superiors, I might have listed her as unrecoverable, but I am nothing if not patient. She is a roaring flame, but even she must come to realize that which burns brightest burns fastest.”

Taken from progress report# 5, signed by Acolyte Byron Placard: “A bishop of Bahamut came by today, offering to divine through Ember’s mind and help guide us in her rehabilitation. Inside her mind, the bishop discovered terrible tragedies of slavery and intense psychological trauma. He assured us that this child had suffered like no other, her mind a shattered place where only fear and rage could grow. It was in his divinings that we discovered her true name, Evelyn Norris, and that she possessed a very deep-seated fear of fire. There were conditional blocks placed on her mind from an unknown source, but the divinations revealed that Evelyn used fire magic so often as a means of expelling it from her body. How could anyone be so cruel to another human being?”

Taken from progress report# 7, signed by Acolyte Byron Placard: “Her temper has evened out considerably since she came to us, but she still has issues keeping her calm. She is a fire on the hearth; pleasant and inviting to look upon, but if stoked the wrong way, will burn the hand that tends it.”

Taken from progress report# 11, signed by Acolyte Byron Placard: “Today is her first day as an official metalworker of the clergy. Though my superiors were hesitant to put in her such close proximity to valued materials, she has proven not only trustworthy, but an asset to the organization. Her affinity for the flame has manifested in a very respectable trade, as she has show great promise with the forge. Today, we had a local weaponsmith come to appraise her work, and it was determined that she was an excellent craftsman, even as a novice. She increased our treasury by 275 gold her first day with the fire! But more importantly, the focus required in forging seems to give her clarity and peace; she works the fires of the furnace as well as the fires in her soul, as if she gives a little piece of herself in everything she creates.”

Taken from progress report# 12, signed by Acolyte Byron Placard: “She seems to have developed something of a professional rivalry with her metalworkings. A local apprentice to an esteemed dwarven smith, a gnome by the name of Ignacious Fergulken, has proclaimed that he works metal stronger and faster than Evelyn, while she claims that speed is no real substitute for true craftsmanship. I have personally sampled the work of Ignacious, and while serviceable, I admit it lacks the beauty of Evelyn’s work. It is obvious that she truly does put a part of herself in every creation. Still, their rivalry seems innocent enough, and it has certainly promoted competition, which is good for the local economy.”

Taken from progress report# 13, signed by Acolyte Byron Placard: “We have made great progress here in the temple of Bahamut in curing the psychological ailments of the young woman we rescued from raiders just three months ago. It took great effort, but she now rests calmly through the night; where she would once thrash about in her sleep, mumbling constantly of brass palaces and plains of fire, she now rests gently for 6 hours of uninterrupted slumber. Upon waking, she always looks out to the rising sun, and builds a small campfire a safe distance away from the temple. With it, she creates unique smoke signals. When asked who she is trying to signal, she always replies with the same prayer-like answer: “My true father, the king of kings and granter of wishes to those who guide him on his journey home.”

When asked where his journey home leads, she always takes on a warm smile, and answers “To the horizon.” If one is curious, she is always eager to tell tales of how the sun came to be, birthed from a hole in the elemental plane of fire. Her fascination with such a distant land is unusual, but harmless.”

Taken from progress report# 15, signed by Acolyte Byron Placard: “Through great effort, and no small amount of fire damage to the south abbey, we have conquered Evelyn’s fear of fire, but it has been replaced with an irrational fear of the absence of her ability to command it. I invited her to sup with the servants while I dined with a visiting dignitary, and as per the request of that dignitary, an anti-magic field was erected. Evelyn, now devoid of her ability to summon forth what she calls the “sacred flame” broke down, curling into a ball and sobbing uncontrollably. It was not until we removed her from the effect of the field that she recovered, seemingly unaware of how she had reacted. It is almost as if there is a part of her that ceases to function when her magic is denied her, and as such, she will not consciously enter a place where her magic will not function.”

Taken from Acolyte Byron Placard’s final evaluation: ““Clearly she is a sorcerer. She commands magic innately and with natural precision, and I have never seen her study from a book as is typical of Wizards. Still, she maintains that she is a Firespeaker, someone who communicates with the heat and flame and requests it do her bidding. I have seen her call on magic not directly associated with fire, so I know she is capable, she just prefers not to, it would seem. Rest assured, she is a sorcerer in every sense of the word.”

Though she does not abide by all our customs or participate in our rituals, she is a true friend to the church of Bahamut. She takes his prayers seriously when spoken, and seems to think highly of his clerics, which is why I have arranged for one to play as companion to her as she makes her own way in a world that has done nothing but torture and torment her.

Though she thinks she is past it, I still hear her murmur in her dreams some nights. She speaks of strange things, mentioning key phrases over and over, such as “Broken Princess” and “The Vizier.” She says she knows nothing of it when I ask the following morning, so perhaps it is just recurring dreams…

…then again, perhaps not.”

Bahamut is no advocate of slavery, but Evelyn seems to hate it even more than the church. In fact, her animosity is so great, that if the church ever found itself in need of freeing slaves, she would almost certainly aid us without question.”

“Against all odds, Evelyn has learned how to call people friends. For all the pain caused to her by her fellow man, still she is capable of letting someone in close. It was not easy, and it was not without its setbacks, but I believe she looks at me as a father figure, and she the daughter my vows never allowed me to have. There is a real bond between us that goes beyond the survivor and her rescuer; a kinship that borders on true familial love.”

Taken from Acolyte Byron Placard’s personal journal: “I love her. Perhaps more than a father should. Seems I am still a man, even beneath the cloth and holy symbols. Yet I cannot act on it, lest I risk undoing all that I have fought so hard to accomplish in healing her. Still, there is nothing she could ask that I would not do for her. And though it should fill me with concern, the fact that she told me today that she would do anything for me has stroked my heart in a way no mortal ever has before. I will say ten additional prayers tonight to help banish these wicked thoughts from my mind.”

“She leaves us now a woman of 21 years of age, and oh, what a woman she has become.”

Taken from personal conversation between Acolyte Byron Placard and a travelling caravan: “She’s capable in a fight, though a bit unusual in the ways of etiquette and how a lady should behave. She’s friendly enough, just try to stay on her good side. She’s something of a wild child when nervous. In fact, best to say that if she starts on fire, get out of her way.”

Taken from Acolyte Byron Placard’s personal journal: “Before she left, Evelyn crafted a Falchion that she said was her finest work. It did not look like much, but she assured me that, like people, it is what is on the inside that counts. Touched by her gentle candor, I did not push the issue further, save to ask if the weapon had a name. She calls it ‘Fahrenheit.”

Ember

The Melekar Chronicles CrankyPelican