We Didn’t Start the Fire


We didn’t start the fire,
It was always burnin’ since the world’s been turnin’.
We didn’t start the fire.
No we didn’t light it, but we tried to fight it.
We didn’t start the fire,
It was always burnin’ since the world’s been turnin’
We didn’t start the fire,
But when we are gone it will still burn on, and on, and on, and on.

She had taken to this cat form so easily it was as if she had a second skin. Astra could roam around town, virtually unseen, decidedly unknown even if she were seen, and she had her freedom again. Fenrir had found it amusing, and Scarlet had liked it as well. However, since the argument, Astra had stayed clear of her cousin. She couldn’t have that madness around her, especially if what Scarlet had said was true – that madness would eventually come for her, as well. No, she had to work to be even more calm and normal.

Normalcy, something she had been blessed with her entire life, starting with her mother’s common sense, to the fact that she had been so sheltered in the woods; even on the docks where men were terrible and young women could get hurt. That was before she had really begun to work on controlling her fire. So far it was going well.

Scarlet didn’t see her, hidden just outside of her own home, as she walked purposefully down the road. Astra missed her terribly. She was the only friend the young woman had, other than Fenrir, and she was family, besides; the only family Astra had since her mother had disappeared. Curiosity got the better of her and the cat turned, slinking in the shadows, to follow her cousin through the keep gates, through the heavily barred doors, past the guard who was busy with something and not looking at the panther who stalked up the stairwell following the servants who opened the doors for her where she could sneak in and hide behind the standing blinds and watch Scarlet as she sat in one of the comfortable chairs, putting her hands to her head.

"That big mess I’m running into again," Scarlet wrinkled her nose in distaste. She seemed worried, but Scarlet was always worried. Her eyes were circled in bruises as if she lacked sleep, and she stretched lazily in the chair, stretching her legs out before herself. The guard from below walked through the doors, not noticing the black form against the darkness of the shadows, and strode into the room where Scarlet sat. "Is everything fine m’lady?"

"Salutations, Sir Heinrich," Scarlet looked over to him in tired amusement, "I’m glad you came. I fear I’ll be in deep troubles in less than a few hours."

"In a few hours?" He queried in concern, removing his helmet to allow his long, black hair to flow out and down over his shoulders.

"Loyalty has a price and I bet I will have potential assassins after me."

The man straightened up further, indignantly, "Asassins, here? This is impossible!" Scarlet waved him off, "Don’t be blind and innocent, I’ll start to lose hope on surviving this one now."

"I am here to protect anyone in this keep, I wont let anyone harm you," he reassured her. "If you excuse me, I will get some dogs."


"Search dogs, m’lady."

"As you wish," she waved him off again, wearily, "I won’t step a toe outside this place."

"Very well, if you need anything ask me," the guard placed his helmet back on again as Scarlet nodded, absently, "Thank you. Say hello to your wife for me."

"I will, m’lady," he replied as he bowed out of the room. It only took a moment for Astra to peek back at her cousin once more, and stealthily slip out through the closing doors, following the guard back out of the keep into freedom. As the doors closed she heard Scarlet musing behind her, "Now, now. How will I write this adieu?"

Though she’d gone home, Astra couldn’t get those words out of her head. She tried to practice her spells, tried to meditate to learn to calm herself and control the flames, and even went out to release them on the scorpions and other deadly creatures on the beach – to no avail. As darkness began to descend, she found herself wandering back to the dangerous keep. The king was very kind. She liked him, but she couldn’t get past how his prayer magic had burned her deep inside, when the rock man was there. Everything within her told her not to go back in, but Scarlet was there, somewhere, and perhaps it wasn’t just her cousin’s paranoia that someone might try to harm her. Scarlet was very paranoid, and going mad, and Astra knew she had to stay away from her. On the other hand, this was family, her only family, and if someone really was trying to hurt her, Astra needed to find out more.

The guards let her in without issue, as they always did. They were used to seeing her with the duchess. She mounted the stairs with a nod to the guard who had brought in the dogs, but she didn’t see such animals about. Perhaps he’d changed his mind. She cautiously mounted the long stairwell to the top floor, nervously nibbling her lip, and knocked upon the double doors. Instead of Scarlet’s voice, she heard the king telling her to enter, so she came into the room.

There was Fenrir, seated before the king. Astra wasn’t sure what to do with herself, as she didn’t like interrupting them, for surely it was business, and business, while boring, was important stuff. However, Fenrir patted the seat beside him, and smiled warmly to her, so she gratefully sat down next to him. He was her safety. There was nothing that could happen to her while he was here. The king addressed her, "Hello, miss," and smiled. "Hello," she replied with a shy blush.

Fenrir looked over to Adair, "This is Lady Astra, the one whom I spoke to you of." Adair nodded, looking back to her again, "Yes, I believe we met the other day."

"Yes, the rock," she reminded him. He rubbed his temple wearily, as Fenrir inquired, curiously, "Rock?"

"Yes, a uhm, possessed rock that turned into a man, or something," her nose wrinkled. She wouldn’t forget the pain for a long time, if ever.

"Sounds like a nusiance more than anything," Fenrir decided, to which Adair agreed, and Astra also nodded her assent. The men went back to their business, and her attention was actually drawn to it, this time. It was boring, but less so when she was listening to Adair inform Fenrir of his duties, and how they would mix with her cousin’s affairs.

Suddenly the king’s attention was back on her again, "So I hear you are interested in joining the Academy?" She blinked softly in surprise, then blushed again, nodding, "I am. I … learned the other day with the rock thing how little I actually know. I mean, saying words is one thing, knowing them is completely another."

"I encourage you to follow your dreams regardless what others suggest for you," Adair smiled to her, reassuringly. It was very hard to not like this man, Astra decided, despite the fact that he was Light and had hurt her. Surely he hadn’t meant to. He didn’t know her secrets. "Fenrir thinks it’s a good idea," she informed him. Fenrir smiled to her, and her world lit up again as he patted her arm, gently.

"My mother used to say, let no one withhold knowledge from you," Adair told her, "and my father used to say ‘Aye, beat it out of them!’" She giggled as he smiled. His smile lit up his entire face, and it was a nice face. "It’s been a foundation of mine for many years," he concluded.

"I never got hit," she mused, and she thought of Adair getting hit before her mind traveled to her cousin, whom she was sure had probably been hit a lot. Their family wasn’t the best when it came to not hitting people, except for her mother. The realization of how blessed she was encompassed her.

"Well, you are seeking knowledge yes?" Adair broke her from that small reverie, and she nodded. "I believe you are the one to do the beating," he continued.

Her eyes widened a moment, then she blinked gently, "I don’t want to beat anyone."

"Ask Fenrir, sometimes you have to, to get what you want."

She looked up to Fenrir and smiled, utterly reassured, "Fenrir can beat them for me! He’s very good at beating things!" As he looked back to her, there was a sparkle in his eye, and she wasn’t sure exactly what he meant when he informed her, "Sometimes it is indeed necessary to work someone over to get what you need."

Astra felt there was something she was missing as Adair sighed, "I guess it’s a lesson still to learn my dear. If you aren’t willing to do the work yourself, then you don’t deserve the prize. However, I digress."

He looked back to Fenrir, "I’d like to know about the dogs. You can-" But Astra broke in, with a bright smile, "Oh! Dogs! The dogs in here you mean?" Adair’s brow lifted, looking back to the girl, "Oh, ok, well that was hard. Yes, yes the dogs in here." He seemed almost amused as Fenrir added, "We found some dogs in here, within the bedroom, this office, the training room."

Aha! This was why she had come. Maybe they knew something she didn’t. Maybe they could tell her if someone really was going to hurt her cousin, or not, or if Scarlet was simply, truly mad. Any more she didn’t know what to believe coming out of Scarlet’s mouth. "Oh, because Scarlet thinks someone is going to asassanate her. So the guard brought in dogs, to sniff things out, and I was sneaking, watching her, and I left so they didn’t sniff me out," she informed them. Besides, she was certain that if someone was after Scarlet, and it was true, perhaps they’d be after other people, as well. Not only that, but if the king was aware of it, he could protect Scarlet! Much better than Astra could ever.

Fenrir frowned, thoughtfully, " I wonder why she feels that way. I know no one that harbors ill will towards her, not openly, at least." Suddenly he stood up, "I must take my leave for now. You two be careful." He smiled gently to Astra, though she could see the concern in his eyes, and squeezed her hand. She tried to smile back, to reassure him as well, but his hand faded from her own and he was gone, just like that.

Slowly she looked back to the King. She was alone with him. Her eyes widened at the thought. What if he did his prayers!? Could she control herself? Would she burst out? She couldn’t burst out, she couldn’t let that happen. It was almost a prayer in itself, a mantra as he looked to her seriously. Would he remember what happened when she fled the rock man?

"Anyway, this is worrisome," he said. Astra winced. If he’s worried, maybe there’s something to really worry about! "That was why I came, to see if you knew about someone trying to assassinate her, or if it’s just another of her fears," she admitted.

Adair smiled, wryly, "Well, before we get to that, I have a few questions, my dear."

She blinked softly in surprise. Questions? What questions? She didn’t know anything. Did he suspect her? Was he thinking about the rock man? How could she get out of this? Fenrir had left her! She wasn’t safe!

[To Be Continued]

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