Ifrit

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Ifrit is one of many jinn born from the Plane of Fire, a time-space made purely of molten flame, like the explosive beginnings of the universe, or like the deep heart of ancient stars. If Bombs are the destroyers of my village, than Ifrit is the destroyer of worlds. His hellfire can rip crusts through the earth as readily as Titan's fist, and can similarly rupture even larger places, especially with the help of other jinn.

If he wanted, Ifrit could explode our tiny star, the Sun.

I am scared to meet an Eidolon capable of exploding the Sun.

Yet I manage to walk on my doll-elongated legs. I must be brave. I force myself to stand at the entrance to his fiery hut. Be brave, Rydia. Make Mom proud of you, the last of Mist's summoners.

I raise my hand to the doorknob. The smell of barbecue and ash splinters off the embers of the smoldering red bricks around his rooftop; brimstone wafts from his shingles. A part of me keeps screaming, Go back! Go back! Go back, damn you!

I don't listen. Sometimes, you just gotta tell your fear, You're not the boss of me.

Instead I cup my hands over my mouth and whisper, "Blizzard," creating a pocket of pure, icy air like a mask over my lips. Even my face feels different; the bones beneath my cheeks, longer—what weird human have I become in my walk through Leviathan's stomach? This girl needs a mirror. My kingdom (or total lack of a kingdom) for a mirror!

What parts of my body has Shiva seen, that I have yet to learn?

I blush at the thought of it.

Then I knock my bundled hands on the door like a hammer, before I hurriedly pull them back over my mouth. My tiny Blizzard tickles around my nose; an icy wind plays with my nose hairs. When I close my eyes and think of Shiva, the Blizzard almost kicks up to a Blizzara, keeping me nice and cool, sweet and chill.

I start to stress out just as Ifrit swings the door open, slamming it on the wall, shaking a trail of fire from the rooftop. As fire roars around the edges of the doorway, I duck, lifting my Blizzard-hands over my head. His fiery body snuffs the Blizzard out.

I am not going to die here.

But it's like I am nothing.

Not true!—you are everything!—you are—

"Daughter of Mist?" Ifrit roars.

I can't tell if he's greeting or threatening me.

When he smiles, he bares teeth made of hot coal. "Come inside!"

Now I don't know if he's inviting or commanding me. Eff my life. I look over my shoulder. Shiva is a soft blur of light through the ripples of heat surrounding me on all sides. I can't make out her face, but I know she's waiting there. She believes I'll make it out of this hut.

I wait for Ifrit to clear the entry, walk by his molten table and chairs, and sit on a ball of fire in his fireplace. His butt fits in the fireplace, but the rest of him doesn't, so as he sits on this ball of fire, it gives the illusion he's being born—or getting sucked back into—a crucible shaped like a kettle.

A crucible?

Did I hear Shiva saying that earlier?

Am I just absorbing every word, every thing, purely from contexts?

What kind of superhuman learning machine am I evolving into, exactly?

I smile a little, despite the world melting around me; I like the idea of developing a language superpower. "Hey, Ifrit," I mutter as I wander in. I decide to stand in a corner opposite of the fireplace, several yards away, since the fire isn't too hot here. "What does crucible mean?"

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