Fire Petals Chapter 3

Cunae Non Sunt

By Edenne

A glistening new sun was just beginning to rise over acres of pine trees, bright orange fading to white and then angelic blue in a cloudless sky. A beautiful, worriless morning to some, but one of certain dread mixed with excitement for another.

Seifer turned away from the gigantic window and headed down a blue glass corridor, his boots clicking on the floor. Everything was glass in this palace, even the damn floors. He had been assured that it was no ordinary, fragile type of glass -- some kind of alloy or chemical combination or some crap like that -- but still it's fragile appearance made him feel uncomfortable. Hell, he realized, maybe that was what they wanted.

He stepped onto an elevator, flipped up the cover of a code key pad, punched in some numbers. Only he, the sorceress, and a few bodyguards knew that code. It was an honor to have such an advantage.

At the end of his ride, Seifer walked down yet another hallway and finally came to a door at the end, big and ocean blue, carved with hundreds of pictures and inlaid with magical rhinestones. This elaborate design would have taken twenty men at least a year, he was sure. He sighed at such a waste of time.

All of the black-robed guards watching the entrance were staring at him -- they knew exactly who he was and of his importance to the sorceress. Afraid that they would sense his nervousness, Seifer shouted with a rock-hard expression, waving his gunblade around, "What the hell are you people looking at!?" His words were like a knife.

The guards jumped slightly and averted their eyes to the floor, followed by a chorus of "Humble apologies, Sir Seifer."

"That's better."

One of them pushed a button that caused the door to open quickly but silently. Seifer took a deep breath (for it was the sorceress' personal chambers he was about to enter) and headed inside.

The room was empty. The woman always loved to keep him waiting, knowing that he didn't dare say a word about it. He sat down on an unbelievably comfortable padded bench and looked around.

The walls were as elaborately decorated as the door, only this time in wood. On one wall, a battle scene from what looked like the first sorceress war was carved; on another, a dragon with rubies for eyes and opal scales downs it's back. It grinned at him menacingly, and he stared right back. Pillars climbed the walls to an indigo ceiling like the sky just after dusk, with tiny diamond stars. A gigantic ebony chair sat against the far wall, with a table in front of it, and then the bench where he sat. The wall behind him was nothing but window. He had to admit the room was beautiful, though he couldn't understand the expense for something so useless. All of those craftsmen could have been used as warriors. He couldn't stand to see such a waste of time and energy.

He stood up and walked to the window. One thing he liked was the beauty of nature. So many creatures lurked about, ready to be sliced in two with his gunblade.

The high turret containing this room allowed him to see further past the horizon than anywhere else. The palace was surrounded by a tall black-barred fence far below, then by pine trees -- miles and miles of "haunted" pine forests. They helped to hide this place, though the most effective camouflage was the invisibility shields mounted on each fence post. He couldn't imagine anything more perfect than the invisible dome over the palace -- no one, not even that asshole Squall and his team, could find this place.

"Seifer, there you are."

Seifer whipped around, startled, his overcoat cascading out behind him. It was the sorceress, of course, only a few feet away from him. She radiated authority, humbling him in an instant. He nodded once.

"I'm impressed." She allowed a faint smile to appear on her lips, "You're right on time."

"Of course." Seifer said calmly, feeling quite proud of himself. "I follow your orders as best I can."

"Do you even know my name?" The woman asked, out of the blue.

"W-what?" He asked, bewilderment written all over his face.

"My name . . . do you know it?"

Seifer thought for a second and though he feared the truth might get him in some sort of trouble, he decided to tell it: "No. I just refer to you as 'the sorceress'."

"MmHm." The woman mumbled. Seifer peered at her questioningly. For the first time he'd ever seen, her gaze was averted to the floor, and she actually looked . . human.

After a few minutes, Seifer asked, "Is something wrong?"

"Mayaden." She replied, then in her usual stern tone, said, "I suppose I should show you . . ."

Seifer didn't ask what that was all about, though he was dying to know. So, her name's Mayaden . . ." He knew it didn't matter, though. He could never call her by her first name.

Mayaden held out her empty left hand, palm up, towards him. He didn't have to be told to watch.

A spot of white light appeared an inch above her palm. It gradually grew to the size of a quarter and turned red. The light danced on their faces and then disappeared, leaving behind a small, transparent, turquoise orb.

"What is that?" Seifer asked, peering at it.

"This is your gift, the device, designed by Doctor Odine, my best researcher."

"This little thing?" Seifer was obviously unimpressed, though he tried to hide it. He scratched his head.

"Pick it up." said Mayaden, daring him with her mischevious gaze. Seifer looked at her, at her hand, at her, at her hand again. "Go ahead." she whispered.

Seifer reached over with his right hand and picked up the ball. Immediately he dropped it back into her hand, fighting the grunt of pain in his throat. "It's hot!"

The sorceress smiled. "It burns with a powerful magic you have not yet learned to control. Never underestimate anything because of it's physical size."

Seifer looked at his index finger and thumb. They had already blistered and hurt like a sonovabitch. *Damn. My blade hand, too.* "So, what do I do with it if can't even pick it up?" he asked, trying to shake the pain from his fingers. He wished he had worn his gloves today.

"You mustn't be so impatient. We will work with it. Your training has already begun." She chuckled. "And you've failed the first test."

"What?. . . How!?"

With the touch of a finger to his chin, Mayaden brought Seifer's face inches from her own. Seifer's heart thudded loudly in his chest and he was sure she could hear it. "Things aren't always as they seem, Seifer," she breathed, "Remember that."

"I-I will." Seifer croaked as her icy hand landed on is collarbone, over the chain choker her wore, gently shoving him back away from her. He nearly stumbled and fell.

"Good." Mayaden turned to leave. "Visit Odine's laboratory," she instructed, "He will teach you withstand this powerful magic." The far wall, the one with the dragon on it, rippled like thick oil as she reached her hand towards it and then passed right through it. When she was gone, the wall returned to normal solid wood.

Mayaden was the only one Seifer knew of that could use such magic. Her and Edea. He coughed at the name. She was a disgrace. Couldn't even beat students from a lowly garden. Mayaden (he mouthed the word, tasting how it felt in his mouth) was much more powerful.

Seifer then left for Odine's lab, Mayaden's name still on his lips.


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