The Blooming: A Scene From the Cinder Falls Rewrite

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While this was originally written for the summer anthology of FANTASCI while I was still a member, it is also a part of the Cinder Falls rewrite. It is the only story content I will have on this account. If you are interested in becoming a BETA in the future for these stories, please message me!


The third night of the Twice Moon Festival fell upon the small village of Sabel when the flowers bloomed under the dying of the third summer sun. Ember's light from the first night still blared in the center square like its own solar planet. The mage lights floating around it could never compare to the brilliance of such beauty, but nevertheless, they worked together in perfect harmony to enliven the village. Their light brought the flowers to life once the sun's rays no longer touched the lands.

The Blooming had commenced.

Kiliar's eyes watched the blazing entity in the center of the square, and his fingers twisted around the ring of flowers in his hand. Had he the courage to move away from the edges of the crowd to the girl in the center of the square, he would be giving her a ring. Instead, he watched the blasted Fawn, who danced with her the night before, interrupting her conversations with Aunt Vivala.

Since the first night, Ember had been the center of Sabel's attention. A creature like her, a Finnit, had not been seen for so long. Her power and gentle nature were made clear when she let her light emblaze the hearts of these people. The men would seek her out to give her a ring of flowers, just as tradition entailed they do for the one they wished to court. The women would bestow their roses of adoration. Already, her hair was twisted with so many blooms.

Ember's eyes widened at the sight of the flower ring the Fawn offered. Her cheeks flushed just enough to match the pink roses in his hands. Her doe ears flicked, and she turned back to Aunt Vivala.

Kiliar frowned, the cinnamon stick between his teeth turning sour. His hands trembled, and he pulled the ring around his wrist to reach for his tin. The scent of the spices alone caused his hands to calm and his breathing to settle. He replaced the stick between his lips with a new one and proceeded to follow the line of villagers exchanging their gifts.

But his eyes trailed to Ember every time a break in bodies allowed them to. His aunt kept her occupied and happy. Her laughter flitted to his ear often enough to prove that point.
His traversing the crowd brought him to the other side of the fountain. He sat down, careful not to disturb his flower ring, and leaned so his elbows rested on his knees.

"It seems you've had quite the journey," he heard Vivala say to Ember.

"It would seem," she agreed in her quiet voice. Somehow it never reached far above a whisper, yet Kiliar could hold onto every word she ever spoke. "I can't remember traveling farther than the Fawn's home city. Everything here is so different."

"I hope my nephew treats you well enough," the older woman said. "Despite his title, he was raised to know better when it comes to kindness."

Much to his surprise, Ember laughed yet again, and he sat up straight to hear her response.

"He has been princely, just as his true title commands he be. I'm not one for particulars."

His neck warmed and he scowled at his restless hands, picking at his callouses. His teeth clamped down on the cinnamon stick, and it cracked. 'Particulars' meaning his bastard prince title, his assassin title, his half-breed title, perhaps even the title those who saw his addiction gave him?

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