While their lovemaking was intense, it took only so long until Solana noticed something was wrong. Seeing the whole room engulfed in flames, and both of their bodies surrounded by fire was a weird experience for her. Partially because she was still so excited that she couldn’t feel fear. Despite how slowly her mind was working, she noticed that the flames weren’t actually burning anything, and despite being surrounded by flames, she had never felt this good in her life. And not just because of the sex. Solana focused back on Neleh, when she heard her making a disapproving sound over Solana stopping.
“Neleh love, were on fire.” Solana tried to get Neleh’s attention.
“Yes we are! Now put your face back there, so you can put out some of those fires inside me.” Neleh was clearly not paying attention to her surroundings, still gripped by the compounding effect of the bond.
“No, honey I mean were literally on fire. Look around you.” Solana said with a bit more force.
Something about the urgency in Solana’s voice pierced the haze clouding Neleh’s mind, and she finally paid attention to what was happening. She was instantly serious, and all thoughts of further sexual escapades flew out of her mind. She had seen these flames before. In fact they were very, very familiar to her. It was a sight she’d seen often in her previous life. She also knew the only being on this world capable of producing those flames was herself. It was something even beyond the abilities of Michael or Gabriel. It was something she had thought had been left behind when she had been reincarnated.
She quickly sent her senses inside of her body, and found the problem. Her previously closed access to her mana was now partially open. Partially because the mana could flow through her, as it was now doing, but she had absolutely no control over it. This was a big problem. Her mana was going wild and producing effects beyond her control. They had been extremely lucky that the mana had chosen this method of manifesting. Fire was her element. She had been an expert in all things magic in her old life, but fire was special. She had been born in fire, lived in fire and fire had been her life. No matter how balanced your magic is, there’s always one element you feel more natural with than others, and fire had been her element.
So it wasn’t luck that her mana had chosen to manifest as fire, it was almost a certainty that it would. The problem is that out of all the elements, fire isn’t particularly known for being the most environmentally friendly when it came to its different uses. Flames of Life was among the very few manifestations of fire’s power that didn’t burn up everything in the vicinity. That was the lucky part, although that again had less to do with luck than one might think. Since Neleh had been very aware of her role as a destroyer, she had yearned to perfect a way to turn her beloved fire into something used for positive purposes instead of simple destruction. Flames of Life had been the answer to that yearning. She had spent decades on perfecting it, so it was no wonder her mana chose that as its first manifestation. But Neleh wasn’t so sure how long that would be the case. She needed help and fast.
‘Elune, is there any way for you to stop my magic from working?’ (Neleh)
“Not really. You know the power of deities is not a precision instrument, when not wielded by a mortal in the deity’s stead. If I tried what you suggest, the effect could cover the entire city, and that would do more damage than you will in your current condition. For the record, I did try to warn you, but you were having too much fun to hear my voice.” The goddess sounded almost sulky. Time for plan B.
“Solana, listen to me, this is very important. I need you to do me a big favor, and it needs to be done just right.” Neleh said while putting her hands on Solana’s cheeks to focus her attention.
“Alright. Whatever you want.” Solana had quickly fallen back to a sort of submissive role, now that Neleh was back in control of her faculties.
“When I give you the signal I need you to strike me unconscious, dress us both and take me to the grand temple.” Solana was clearly not thrilled about striking Neleh and was about to protest. ”No! Listen! I need you to bring me to Nimue and give her a message. She needs to put me inside one of those magic formations that are used to block any magic from being cast inside of it. The stronger the better. And Solana, I need to stay unconscious until I’m inside the circle. If I show the slightest indication of waking up, you need to make sure I stay unconscious, whatever it takes!”
Solana was crying at the thought by now, but realized the seriousness in Neleh’s voice. She was an expert warrior, so it wasn’t too hard to knock Neleh unconscious with minimal damage. The fires surrounding them winked out immediately. Neleh’s assumption about the mana needing her to be conscious despite being out of control had been correct.
Nimue was woken by an acolyte and dragged into the grand temple proper. There she found an unconscious Neleh being carried by the crying Solana. She knew something serious had happened when she heard Neleh’s instructions from Solana. The girl seemed fine except a moderately sized bruise on her left temple, and a smaller one on her right. Solana was getting hysterical now that she had managed her part, so Nimue knew she’d get no details out of the woman for a while. Nimue did note with slight interest that there was a certain smell about both Neleh and Solana, a smell that got even Nimue a little excited.
Nimue knew that the Inquisition had the best magic formations designed to suppress magic, so she took Neleh to the Inquisition headquarters. The Inquisitors on stand-by quickly took them to one of their prisons designed to hold a magician, and sent a word to the Grand Inquisitor Yunalesca. They were aware of the girl’s approval into the Inquisition, and even if they hadn’t been, the use of the restraining formations was not a minor affair.
It took twenty minutes for Yunalesca to arrive, and she immediately recognized Nimue, and Neleh inside the restraining circle, held by a fiery-haired Sun Elf. Yunalesca had some faint recollection about the Sun Elf being an exiled member of the royal family of the Sun Elves and that she now worked as a warrior trainer in the academy. The woman clearly cared deeply for Neleh the way she was holding her. Yunalesca approached Nimue.
“What’s going on? Clearly something happened.” (Yunalesca)
“I don’t know much either. I was woken up from bed and managed to squeeze some details out of Solana before she went all hysteric. Apparently Neleh gave the instructions about the magic restricting circle before falling unconscious. I used my senses to probe the girl, and she seems to be fine except having two bruises at her temples, as if she was knocked unconscious. She did have an abnormal amount of magic flowing through her body, but I could find no cause.” Nimue explained in a serious voice.
“I suppose we’ll either have to wait for either the girl to wake up, or until the woman gets a grip.” Yunalesca gave a small grin. “Wanna make a bet on which one happens first?”
Both of them, being experienced Inquisitors, had already gotten used to a little levity in serious situations. A coping mechanism of sorts, in a profession where they had to watch a lot of people die around them.
“A hundred gold on the girl waking up first.” Nimue had already learned to always bet on Neleh, and intended to take advantage.
“A hundred gold? Aren’t we confident? I’ll happily take your money.” Yunalesca assumed a warrior like Solana would be able to get herself under control fairly quickly.
As it happened, Nimue was hundred gold richer about ten minutes later. Solana was still cradling Neleh’s head when Neleh started blinking her eyes open. She took a look around and noticed both her location, and the presence of Yunalesca.
“Inquisition headquarters. Makes sense. I should’ve thought of that myself.” Neleh said with a little headshake.
“Want to clue us in on what’s going on girl?” Yunalesca asked, surprisingly in a gentle tone.
Neleh gave a small cough. “I suppose I should. I’m fairly certain I just experienced a partial Awakening.”
Both Yunalesca and Nimue were shocked. Spontaneous Awakenings weren’t completely unheard of, but they were exceedingly rare. It took usually took some significant event, usually involving trauma, and enormous magical potential for it to happen.
“Details please?” Nimue asked.
“Well, I don’t want to go too much into detail on what was happening at the time…” Neleh started.
“No kidding, I can still smell it on you two. You must have been really going at it.” Nimue said with some amusement.
“As I was saying, while I was…otherwise engaged, I experienced what I believe to be a partial Awakening. My magic is going wild, and because the Awakening is only partial, I have no control over it. Hence the need for a magical formation to stop anything from happening. I didn’t want to burn half the city down.” Neleh said without a shred of embarrassment.
“A fire user, eh? How much damage did you do before you were knocked out?” Yunalesca asked. She also noticed that unlike Neleh, Solana had gone completely red from embarrassment. “Suddenly I’m also very interested on what was going on, that caused your Awakening. Maybe it’s a method we can use more often?” She teased.
“Surprisingly nothing was burnt. I happened to stumble on the very rare fire spell that doesn’t result in a pile of ashes. Also my method is my own, and I’m not sharing.” Neleh finished with a wide grin, while Solana was blushing even harder.
“Jokes aside, what’s the plan now? You can’t just spend the next few years here.” Nimue asked, already sensing the answer.
“Well I see two options. Either you give us some privacy, and me and Solana will try to see if we can’t finish my Awakening, or we perform my Awakening ceremony ahead of schedule. The first method is definitely more fun, but the ambiance here isn’t the best, and there’s no guarantee of success.” Neleh kept teasing Solana.
“Do you think the goddess will approve of the ceremony? I’ve never heard of an awakening being performed early, and Elune’s power is needed for the whole thing to work. Also, you’ll miss out on the party.” Yunalesca asked with some curiosity.
“Oh I think we won’t have to worry too much about the goddess’s approval.” Neleh said with a small smile. ‘Right?’ She asked the goddess.
“I could be persuaded.” Elune said returning to the ever present amusement.
“As for the party, do you have an item or something, which I could wear to suppress my magic while we change the locale? Not that your dungeon isn’t lovely and all, but we could at least do this in a temple or something. Nimue, could you do me a favor and invite mother and those of my sisters that are available for the ceremony. I don’t care about a party, but it would be nice to have my family there at least. Ask lord Alduin and his wife to attend too. They’ll hate me forever if I leave them out.” Neleh got nods as answer both from Yunalesca and Nimue.
Neleh turned to Solana while the two others went to set things in motion. “Are you alright love? I know this whole thing was a bit overwhelming.”
“You have no idea. But I’m fine.” Solana answered. “Can I attend the ceremony too? You said family, but I would very much like to be there for you too.”
Neleh answered with a bright smile. “Of course you’ll be there. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Besides, you’re partly to blame for this whole thing. Not all that many people can say that they were so wild in bed, that their partner Awakened in the middle of sex.”
The ceremony itself took place in a small side building in the grand temple area. The whole thing didn’t have the normal ‘important party’ feeling that all other Awakening ceremonies had. Neleh was dressed in the same half decent looking clothes she wore to her date with Solana. The only people in attendance were Solana, Asheara and her sisters, aside from Selvaria who was still busy with the army training, Alduin and Maylin and surprisingly Rachiel, the celestial observer assigned to watch over Neleh. How Rachiel got wind of the ceremony was a mystery to Neleh, but her evaluation of the celestial’s skills went up as a result. Nimue and surprisingly Yunalesca were officiating the ceremony.
Everyone else had this sleepy look about them, due to the early hour of the morning, while Asheara was blushing heavily. The mood was still somewhat jovial, although the guests were wondering why the ceremony was happening now. Nimue had given a cursory explanation without mentioning any details. Neleh knew the whole ceremony would go sideways soon enough anyway, so she didn’t bother with explanations. Everyone would forget about minor details soon enough anyway.
Neleh was standing in front of a large crystal orb, in the middle of the magic formation used to inhibit magic and cheating during the ceremony. She’d of course had to leave even her spear outside the magic circle, because the heavy magic on the spear would’ve really sparked the circle. All parts of the ceremony called the examinee to lay their hands on the crystal orb, which then showed the result to the examinee and also projected the result above, for everyone to see.
Nimue started the ceremony. “We know the child is blessed, so we will start with revealing her blessings and their effects. Neleh Khalidor, you may lay your hands on the crystal.”
Usually the blessings were shown with their rank and a small message from the god or goddess giving the blessing. Usually the message was just a generic telling of the effects, but sometimes the gods took a more personal touch. And if the god or goddess was feeling like a dick, he or she might decide to be cryptic about the exact effects of the blessing, just giving hints and leaving the rest for the person to find out.
Such was the case here as well. Although the list of blessings still caused a huge stir among everyone present. Shouts of “That can’t be right.” and “Impossible!” were heard from everyone that wasn’t stunned to silence.
Chosen of Satai
May the Destroyer take wing once again, and may her power save us all from the clutches of Death.
Friend of Elune
May the loving arms of the Elven lands shelter you from all harm, and who can say where the friendship might lead?
Greater Blessing of Iarus
May you be unafraid of Death, for she holds no power over you, and may the spirits choose you as their own.
Greater Blessing of Alarae
May light serve you in all things, and may you bring Order wherever you might tread.
Greater Blessing of Sydonay
May you fear no darkness, and may you always live for your own ends, serving no one. Let the Lords of Chaos rule.
Greater Blessing of Medea
May water and ice serve you well and may you be safe with them.
Greater Blessing of Sinir
May fire serve its master and may your spear find its mark.
Greater Blessing of Lulu
May your sight always show true, and may your feet find the right path.
Beloved of Aphrodite
May your beauty cross all boundaries and may your life always be filled with love.
Greater Blessing of Loki
May you always control the soul of deception, and may your life always be interesting.
Neleh had a feeling that the last one sounded more like a curse. She had been correct in assuming the ten symbols above her sex were the marks from ten different gods. One from each of the major gods in addition to Aphrodite and Loki the god of deception and trickery. The hubbub around her was most likely caused by the number of blessings and the rank bestowed by Satai the God of the Dragons. Satai’s message was quite ominous, if one didn’t know that it referred to her old life and the Enemy that might come in the future.
‘What’s with the Friend? And what’s with the veiled innuendo?’ Neleh asked Elune.
“You liked that, didn’t you? Snap to it! The people around you are getting unruly. And it’s not like you’re finished shocking people.” Elune answered, yet again amused.
Neleh raised her voice significantly. “High Priestess Nimue! Can we get on with the rest of the ceremony? I have a feeling there’s more surprises to come. We can hash out everything once we’re done.”
Nimue looked Neleh sharply. She had known the girl had something shocking in store for the ceremony, but even she hadn’t expected all of this. And the surprises weren’t finished yet?
“The blessings have been revealed. Neleh Khalidor put your hands on the crystal again. Once to have your awakening and once to reveal your magical potential.” Nimue’s voice was a bit shaky.
Neleh followed the instructions. She could feel her magic snapping back under control after the Awakening was complete. Her magical potential was shown above the crystal. Another commotion was created. Neleh would’ve expected a little more restraint from friends and family. She knew Yunalesca and Rachiel would have a big reaction, but the others really were too shocked. Although Neleh could suppose there was some reason. Magical affinities were evaluated with a letter grade ranging from F to SSS. F being no ability, and SSS signifying maximum ability possible. Magical power was given a full worded evaluation, from Abysmal to Deity. Abysmal of course signifying no current power at all, and Deity signifying a God or a Goddess.
Neleh’s magical power was evaluated as Very High, which was about what she had assumed. It was a very good result but not good enough to cause the commotion that was going on. Neleh didn’t actually want too much power anyway. Magical power was simply what powered the spells. The important part wasn’t how much power you had, but how you used it. A magician with even a mediocre amount of power could cast everything but the very highest level of spells with enough skill. What ‘surplus magical power’ provided was margin for error. The more power you had, the more room you had for error, and the more you could rely on non-optimal use of magic. Neleh wasn’t’ a big fan of either.
What really created a stir were her affinities. Her affinity in spirit magic, that was usually restricted to humans, was S, which was kind of expected. She had never really studied spirit magic too hard, but it’s not like she was ignorant on the subject. That in itself would have been worthy of a stir, but the rest of her affinities aside from fire were SSS. Just as she had assumed they would be. This is why she knew the Awakening ceremony would cause her trouble. It’s hard to beat hundreds of years of research with the strongest beings in the universe. Just to highlight how absurd the whole situation was, her fire affinity was ranked XXX. A ranking that didn’t exist on this world.
Yunalesca was marching towards Neleh with a sharp glare in her eyes. “What did you do? These kinds of results are not possible. What are you?”
The ending of Yunalesca’s question was drowned out by the large sound of the temple doors being broken, shrapnel falling to the ground. Everyone turned towards the door and saw a majestic golden celestial woman walking in. Neleh suddenly broke out in sweat.
“I finally found you. You have no idea how hard you’ve made me search, Little Flame. I quite like your new look.” Gabriel said with a wide grin that was definitely more evil than amused.
Author's note redux: Yes I'm leaving you with a cliffhanger. It's cuz I love you. And because I'm evil.