Elemental Blade of Fire
Everything is ready aboard the tramp freighter Alchemist. Xenograg renamed the space ship as a humorous nod to its new purpose. Alchemist is currently station-keeping with Toby’s personal ship, The Lady, high above the planetary orbital plane of the Rhydin solar system. Only four people are aboard the Alchemist: Xenograg, Amaltea, Wyheree, and Toby. All enter the large and almost empty cargo bay. Two room-size containers sit near the entrance hatch.
Xenograg gives Amaltea a hug and kiss then turns towards one of the containers. The other three proceed to the other. Both containers have pressure hatches denoting independent environment systems. Xenograg enters his prepared laboratory container. As a safety precaution, this container can only be opened from the outside.
Xenograg looks through the large window of his container into the matching one on the monitoring station container now occupied by the others.
“Can you hear me?” he says.
“Loud and clear,” comes Toby’s response through a speaker box.
“Let me know when the monitors are ready,” Xenograg says. Toby simply nods in reply. Xenograg turns from the window and inspects his worktable. There is no chair. There are only four items on the table: a rock hammer; a nine-inch long plastic stick; a micro-smelter; and a small, lidded cast-iron cauldron. Xenograg turns on the smelter.
“All monitors are ready, Xeno,” informs Toby.
“Thank you. I will begin shortly.” Xenograg closes his eyes and just breathes—centering himself. He opens his eyes and looks down at his right hand. The ring on his third finger is his oldest possession by decades. Naturally, it is more than a bit difficult get take off. He holds the band in his fingers and speaks to it, softly.
“Thank you, Old Friend, and good-bye.” Resigned to this moment weeks ago, Xenograg does not hesitate. He sets the ring down on its face. With his left hand, he inserts the plastic stick through the band. He takes up the rock hammer in his right. Putting his weight onto his left hand, he firmly holds the ring in place. He lines up the hammer, draws it back, and swings hard.
“Xeno, what are you doing?!” comes Amaltea’s startled question through the speaker. Focused upon his task, he does not answer.
The loud sound of metal-on-metal echoes through the room. The ring is deformed but still whole. Xenograg swings twice more with all his might. Now it is done: the ring is almost flat, and has cracked in two places. He lifts the band with the stick and shakes it into the small pan of the micro-smelter. The ring slowly begins to melt.
Xenograg sets the hammer and stick aside, then finally turns to look at his companions.
“The sacrifice is made. Now I can begin.”
He turns back to his worktable. He intentionally put his back to his audience to keep them from interrupting him with questions and/or demands for him to stop. The next step is the most dangerous. Bringing his palms together before his face, he close his eyes, again. He starts drawing in energy. The temperature of the room noticeably drops.
“Sudden air temperature drop,” Toby reports. “Is fascinating to monitor magic this way.” Xenograg ignores him, too. He just keeps drawing energy into his body which consequentially heats it.
“Your body temperature is spiking,” updates Toby. “Not dangerous. Yet.” Xenograg shows no sign of stopping.
Amaltea turns to Wyheree.
“How dangerous is that?” she asks with the microphone turned off.
“If he goes too far, very,” Wyheree answers. “He surely knows his limit. I presume the risk he warned of is his pushing himself to the brink.” Amaltea can see frost forming around the frame of Xenograg’s window.
“His body temperature has reached 106 degrees,” Toby says, also with the microphone off.
“I want to tell him to stop,” admits Amaltea.
“All his focus is on controlling that energy,” Wyheree says. “He probably will not even hear you at this point.”
Wyheree is indeed correct. Although they cannot see it, Xenograg’s entire body is trembling with tension. He knows he has reached his limit. He opens his eyes and pivots his hands into a cup shape. He takes a sharp inhale of breath but lets it out at a slow pace. The gathered energy flows out of his torso through his arms and into his hands. The room brightens as if a powerful lamp has been lit. Xenograg suddenly feels dizzy. He takes a deep breath but that is not enough. He teeters backwards and half-sits, half-falls to the floor. The incandescent ball of energy—about the size of a billiard ball—remains floating above the table, too bright to look at.
“Xeno!” comes Amaltea’s cry over the speaker.
“I am not hurt. Just dizzy.”
Toby is checking his monitors. The energy ball’s temperature is 107 degrees. Both Xenograg’s body temperature and the air temperature of the room seem to be returning to prior levels.
Wyheree’s attention is on the energy ball—its colors, specifically. She expected green and it is, mostly; but there is also…violet? Two colors means two energies.
“Xeno, what have you done?” she asks into the microphone. Xenograg stands up and smiles at her.
“All shall be revealed! Shortly, in fact.” He turns back to the table but a little to the left. He reaches around the energy ball and removes the lid from the small cauldron. Whatever is in the cauldron is also incandescent; this new light is yellow-orange.
Toby’s monitors alarm again.
“Air temperature rising fast. What is in the cauldron?”
“Vis,” is Xenograg’s answer, though he pronounces it ‘wees’. Wyheree reacts with astonishment.
“Where did you get that?!”
“A gift,” he replies. Holding his hands on either side of the cauldron body, Xenograg slowly lifts his hands vertically. As they clear the rim, a second ball of yellow-orange energy rises out of the cauldron. The room is ablaze with light from these two balls. Xenograg moves the vis until it is beside the first ball. The vis is larger—baseball size. They are now almost touching.
“One last step….” Xenograg mutters. Wyheree is aghast as she realizes what is about to happen.
“…Shit….” she whispers.
Xenograg plants his feet. He puts his hands on either side of the two balls. He takes a deep breath and rams the balls together. As the balls have no mass, his palms smack together; the fused energy between them.
For a moment, both lights utterly cease.
Xenograg quickly pulls his hands apart until his arms are stretched to their maximum span. The energy stretches out, taffylike, as it follows his hands. He then collapses. The floating bar of energy is brighter than the two previous balls combined. It is not just light, either.
“Xeno!” cries Amaltea again. Toby’s monitors screetch a new alarm.
“Fire alarm!” he barks. “Air temperature skyrocketing. That’s not real fire, though. I don’t know what it is, but it is blazing hot and a real threat.” Toby leans over the microphone. “Xeno?!”
“Put the fire out!” demands Amaltea.
“I don’t know if the fire suppression system will even work on that,” retorts Toby.
They see movement in the room. Xenograg slowly gets to his feet.
“Wow,” is all he says. He holds his hand out towards the burning bar. After a moment, it begins shortening at both ends. As it grows smaller, its light and heat dims. Toby’s alarms stop.
Finally, all the extra light in the room disappears. Xenograg stands at his worktable as before.
“It is done.”
“So what did you craft?” Wyheree asks once Toby lets Xenograg out of his laboratory and Amaltea hugs her husband. Xenograg holds up his right hand where a new, larger ring sits on his third finger.
“The Elemental Blade of Fire,” Xenograg replies.
“But, that’s a ring,” she retorts.
“And that is not elemental fire,” Toby adds.
“Yes, and those facts kept me from crafting this for sixty years.”
“I do not understand,” admits Wyheree.
“Firstly,” Xenograg answers, “I did not say ‘the Blade of Elemental Fire.’ It is the item that is elemental.”
“Ah! A crucial distinction.”
“Exactly what eluded me for decades.”
“And the fire?”
“There is more than one kind. In this case, the inner fire of Spirit.”
“So that is what we saw.”
“And what the danger was in attempting this,” says Toby.
“Correct. This literally is a part of me.” Toby frowns.
“If that is a part of you, why am I sensing…?”
“Another psyche?” Xenograg finishes with a smirk. “Yes, it is more than just me, as well.”
“You called it a blade, though,” Amaltea asks questioningly.
“It is,” Xenograg answers, and a short sword was now in his hand. Its blade was not entirely physical; small, violet tongues of flame danced up and down its length. A moment later, the blade was gone. Toby grins.