This prompt was about fire–myths, practical use, and such. I like playing Dungeons & Dragons, so this is where my mind went. 🙂

Image from WikiMedia.

“Look, officers, I didn’t mean to set the building on fire.” The sorcerer pushed a lock of long, blond hair out of his face, adding another smudge of soot across his freckles.

“You set four buildings on fire,” the watch captain corrected, taking a seat behind her desk, and glowering at the sorcerer. The officers who’d escorted him, none too gently, into the room, left after she nodded at them.

The sorcerer watched the guards go, booted feet tapping, and hastily stilled when the Captain’s red eyes narrowed in a glare so scorching it could start a new blaze.

“I set one on fire,” he explained, “when I firebolted the orc trying to crush my skull in, and he went crashing through the window of the tavern. Which had, unfortunately, a straw-covered floor. The tavern caught the building next to it on fire. I would’ve put the fire out before it spread, had I not been arrested.”

The captain’s glower intensified to the point where her bushy eyebrows met over her nose. “You were arrested for good reason!”

“Was I supposed to let him crush my skull in? Would you have let him crush your skull, if you’d seen him swinging that huge spiky hammer thing at your head?”

“No,” the captain said, “I’d have kicked him in the balls.”

“And I’m sure he’d have been very sorry if you did so.” The sorcerer shrugged. “If I’d have kicked him in the balls, he’d have hit me anyway.” 

He wobbled a hand across his body in a way that indicated his scrawny arms, dusty and less than impressive legs, and complete lack of anything resembling armor or a weapon, other than a small eating knife on his belt.

For a long moment, the captain considered him. The eating knife wasn’t even particularly large. “So if we hadn’t arrested you…” She trailed off invitingly.

“I didn’t expect the orc to get up, still on fire, and run out into the street. Or for him to flounder into the wall across the street, which maybe shouldn’t have that much dead vegetation in front of it, really–” he paused as the Captain’s expression turned murderous again.

“But I have spells to extinguish flames,” he continued hastily. “I could have–and definitely would have!–extinguished both him and the tavern, just as soon as he stopped trying to flatten me.”

“Wizards. The whole lot of you should stay in your towers, and quit causing problems for the rest of us.”

“I’m not actually a–” the sorcerer began, then shut his mouth. “I’m very sorry?” 

“You’re sorry,” she said.

“Yes. Very, very, very sorry. I don’t have much money, for repairs… but I can, say, speed the growth of trees for lumber. Or summon food that will make it easier for people to make repairs. Or, I heard there’s a manticore with some treasure in the forest, and I could help–“

“We’ve had more than enough of your help,” the Captain said. “I don’t particularly want you in my jail, however.”

“I don’t want to be in it! I’ll make it untidy, probably.” He ran a hand through his golden hair, caught his fingers on a twig, winced, and untangled the vegetation. He stared thoughtfully at the twig, with two battered-looking leaves clinging on, and then held it out with a hopeful smile. “See?”

“Stop your nonsense. I won’t be charmed.”

He nodded, and folded his hands in his lap, trying to look penitent and somber, and achieving a sort of pained expression.

“You’re not going to be sick in here, are you?”

“No, no,” he traded his efforts for an attentive look.

The captain leaned away from him, face twisting in disgust. “We’ll be seizing your assets to defray the cost of repairs. I’ll send someone to speak with you about what you can contribute for the rest. It’ll be someone who knows magic, so don’t go trying to pass off a spark in the pan spell, mind.”

“I would never!”

She growled, the sound making him shrink in on himself.

“Okay, okay, I might. But I absolutely don’t want you to hunt me down and kill me. If you don’t believe in my integrity, believe in my self-preservation.”

The Captain stood, hands on the edge of her desk, muscles shifting in her arms and she dug her nails into the wood. “I don’t like it. I don’t like you. But you’ll do as you’re told.”

“Of course!”

She sighed, straightening.

He tried to keep a blank expression, his other efforts having failed so spectacularly.

“Olerin!” She bellowed, and a delicate face leaned around the door frame.

“Yes, Captain?”

“Deal with this–” she clicked her teeth shut on her next word. “Deal with this. The wizard’s promised spells for repairing the four burning buildings he damaged.”

“Yes, Captain.” The elf stepped to the side of the doorway.

“Get out of my sight, wizard,” the captain snapped.

The sorcerer scrambled out of the chair, though he couldn’t resist tossing over his shoulder. “I’m a sorcerer, it’s different, because–” his words ended on a yelp as Olerin yanked him away from the office.

“If you’d like to see tomorrow, I suggest you learn to do as you’re told. What did you do to that orc, anyway?”

The sorcerer brightened. “That’s kind of a funny story, really…”

“Summarize it in ten words or less,” Olerin said, his slender fingers tightening painfully on the sorcerer’s arm.

The sorcerer thought, his fingers twitching as he counted and recounted. “He couldn’t take a joke?”

“Oh, great, you’re an idiot. Come on, let’s see what you can manage that isn’t burning down half a street.”


About Caitlin Stern

I have a MA in English, and have so many fantasy/urban fantasy WIPs it's not even funny. I'm an avid reader of science fiction, fantasy, mystery, romance, biography, fiction, and anything else that catches my interest. I collect books, and bookmarks I find that are visually appealing and useful.

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