Brother Flame … you can do great harm and great good to those whose lives you choose to touch. But you have taken for your fuel the dwellings of others. Your smoke sears our eyes and lungs. I ask you, return to the places where we hold you with gratitude. Harm no more of our people.
The fire answered. This elemental was but one of many who were angry and erratic, fierce and uncontrolled.
No, we do not wish to return to the confinement of the bonfires or braziers or small family hearths. We like being free; we want to race across this place and consume all in our path.
Thrall felt a flutter of worry. Never before had such a direct request of his, one from the heart and filled with concern for the safety of others, been so flatly refused.
He asked again, putting more of his own will into the query, emphasizing the damage that the element was doing to people who had ever welcomed it into their city.
Reluctantly, sullenly, like a sulky child, the blaze began to die down. Thrall sensed his fellow shaman lending their aid, their concentration, their pleas as well, and was grateful if unnerved by the incident.
The fire did consume seven buildings and a great deal of personal property before it finally subsided. Fortunately, no lives were directly lost, although Thrall knew that several were affected by the smoke. He would—
“No,” he whispered. A spark, dancing defiantly, was wafting on the wind, heading for another building, to wreak more havoc. Thrall reached out to the spark, sensed in its erratic intent its refusal to respect Thrall’s entreaty.
His eyes were open now, watching the path of the tiny flame. If you continue your path, little spark, you will cause great harm.
I must burn! I must live!
There are places where your glow and heat are welcome. Find them. Do not destroy the dwellings or take the lives of my people!
For a second the spark seemed to wink out of existence, but then it blazed back with renewed vigor.
Thrall knew what he had to do. He lifted his hand. Forgive me, Brother Flame. But I must protect my people from the harm you would cause them. I have requested, I have begged, now I warn.
The spark seemed to spasm, and yet it continued on its lethal course.
Thrall, grim-faced, clenched his hand hard.
The spark flared defiantly, then dwindled, finally settling down to nothing more than the faintest of glowing embers. For now, it would no longer do anyone harm.