Chapter Twenty Two: Roxy

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I avoided Brae at dinner that night, which was easy enough as Cinaer was desperate to tell me about his own day. I feigned interest as he droned on about tormenting an unsuspecting young Brizan girl. I didn't have to see the Arcan again until the next morning, when the King insisted on us keeping them occupied in one room of the Palace so that he could run more tests. The Brizans and Sephans were out on their tour of the city.

It didn't take long for things to kick off.

We had split automatically into two groups on entering the room, Cinaer and I on one side, Brae and the Arcans on the other.

Cinaer was bored. He sighed and lifted his feet on to a table while his eyes slowly scanned the room. Suddenly, his head turned to look at me, the left side of his mouth pulled up in a wicked grin. He raised and lowered his eyebrows quickly, as if to say, 'watch this'. Then he formed a tiny flame on the palm of his hand and flicked it at one of the Arcan girls, where it landed on the hem of her skirt. There was a pause, as the flame took hold and spread, then the girl realised what was happening and stood up screaming loudly.

"Put it out! Put it out! Somebody do something!" She flapped her arms up and down as though she was trying to take flight, her shimmering silver hair glimmering madly in the glow of the flames.

Brae was the first to react, of course. He looked around, as if trying to find something to put out the flames, but the room was pretty empty. He tried to coax her over to the curtains, which would have smothered the fire, but she was too hysterical to move. "Put it out!" she screamed. "Devon! Cam! Do something!" His face desperate, Brae pulled his shirt over his head and used that to smother the flames.

As the girl continued to cry hysterically, Cin and I tried our best to stifle our giggles. Brae was attempting to calm the girl down and the other Arcan girl got her to sit down and held her hand. "It's ok Imogen. The fire's out now. You can relax."

Brae was too concerned to notice Cin's increasing laughter at first, but when he did his eyes narrowed and his face contorted into what could only be described as livid. "What did you do that for?" he bellowed - actually bellowed. I'm certain the lights in the ceiling shook.

"What's wrong? Can't she handle a little heat?" Cin replied, unflappable as ever.

"Think you're tough do you? Picking on an unprepared girl? Let's see how you handle yourself against someone your own size." His hands went to his sides as they had yesterday, only this time he didn't whip up a gentle breeze, but instead sent a powerful burst of wind at Cinaer, forcing him backwards so sharply that both he and the chair he had been lounging on toppled over. Cin was back up in a flash and sending a stream of fire at Brae. He aimed the hit at his arm - any more permanent damage would have been more trouble than it was satisfying.

But Brae retained the same composure as when he had been burnt yesterday and quickly followed Cin's attack with another burst of wind. The temperature of the room dipped suddenly as he concentrated, but Cinaer countered with his own heat.

He didn't produce any actual fire, instead heating up the air surrounding him, then letting the heat spread slowly through the room. Within a few seconds, the room was sweltering and it was clearly taking its toll on the Arcans. Cinaer kept the temperature rising as he sent another burst of flames at Brae. Brae countered, using his wind to hurl objects in the room at Cinaer. Cin had to duck and dive as cushions, ornaments and even a lamp were hurled in his direction. He was taken by surprise by a heavy hardback, which struck him on the cheek. That got him really mad.

He stopped producing heat or fire and wheeled to face Brae head on. He paused to compose himself but as he opened his mouth, I realised what he was about to try and do. "Cin! Stop!" I grabbed his arm and forced him to face me instead. "This is stupid - they're not worth it - come on!" He swallowed the Control he had been about to attempt as I shot him a look of pure venom. If he'd tried that, he could have blown everything. As soon as they even suspected what we could do, they would be on the first boat out of here and the plan would be ruined.

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