Under a leaf covered sky, the cold winds of Nortreiln blew, following the flows of magic, scattering snow from the sides of sleeping snow dunes. This was one of the unnamed snow deserts of that windy continent, in all of Kigan no wind was more merciless more chilling than the wind in these places.
Still, there was life, even amid these winds that could cleave an ordinary mortal in two. Massive armoured bovines, dire aurochs had their shaggy heads lowered to the ground. The wind clattered against their horns. Although these were devourers of snow not grass, these dire aurochs still huddled together for shelter against the elements.
These creatures were not the only thing present in the desolate desert, there was another being, one not usually native to the surface of Nortreiln.
“Go to Nortreiln master said, temper yourself Jaul, create a shadow flame he said”
The bitter speaker sneezed.
“Truly encountering master was my greatest misfortune” Jaul lamented.
It was actually a man covered in orange scales, with a triangular lizard’s head and tail to boot. This was clearly one of the Vasshes, the descendants of the Yorth, who purged their bloodline of their dragon heritage. Normally they live in places with a great deal of heat or at least lots of sunlight.
Neither Vlahros or Ollan cast light with much strength on the lands of Nortreiln.
Jaul sneezed again.
Most shocking about this lizardman was the fact that, in this cold windy weather, he wasn’t wearing much more than a leather loincloth. He wasn’t even shivering. Clearly he was powerful mage or warrior.
His eyes had within them burning flames lapping around his pupils instead of irises. With these eyes he wasted time looking enviously at the dire aurochs in the distance.
“Ahh… this stinks.”
Jaul rubbed his hands together and sparks flew off as if two swords had clashed with each other. He was not standing on the snow, instead he was sitting crosslegged in the air, bobbing up and down with the air. This showed the limits of Jaul’s power. If he had been stronger, he would have been motionless in the air.
With a breath his hands ignited, and with a clap the flames vanished. After this, Jaul gazed at the shadow below his feet.
“Shadow is cast by flame, but shadow fears flame, it flees from it… just how am I supposed to mix the two?”
Jaul scratched his head, prompting a cascade of more sparks. This brought a frown on his reptilian features. His tongue lashed out in irritation.
“My control is bad here. Just how is it supposed to be good for my cultivation to be here?”
His tongue licked the air.
“Barely any hint of flame other than me here”
Jaul sneezed again.
He breathed into his hands again, and flames gently arose from his palms. Staring deeply into the flames, no enlightenment was forthcoming. His mind didn’t enter into a flickering like flame state, even what he did understand of the nature of fire was hard to reach. All he could think was how cold it was, and the wind, the accursed wind.
Another sneeze this time with a gout of involuntary flame, one that even hurt his nose.
Jaul fell from the air and tumbled into the snow, provoking outrage from minor frigid spirits that had been sleeping below. The spirits quickly scattered once they felt the power of fire emanating from the lizardman though. They didn’t want to risk getting messed up by changing state to water and then frozen water again.
As it was the spirits should have probably feared becoming steam spirits, as the snow around Jaul quickly evaporated. He began to feel his body uncontrollably heat up, his blood beginning to boil. This was a terrible situation, if he didn’t gain control of his power of fire, it would burn him alive.
What Jaul was learning what he was training in was a martial path known by many names, but he knew it by the name of The Furnace of Self. Countless warriors had lost their way and been burned to ashes by their own power. It was not an uncommon end for cultivators of this path.
Jaul went for the most direct method of dealing with an instability like this. He looked up into the sky and opened his mouth, a torrent of flame howling forth from his throat.
Gradually the wild torrent calmed down until only smoke coiled out of Jaul’s mouth. He coughed and he sneezed.
“If master wanted to kill me, why couldn’t he have done it himself instead of sending me to this wind cursed land!” Jaul complained hoarsely.
He pounded the earth with his fists in anger, but quickly stopped when his power of fire threatened to run wild again.
Jaul took a deep breath and crossed his legs sitting on the ground, snow began to pile around him now that he was in control again.
“Just how is this place supposed to help me, there isn’t any flame here, only cold and endless… wind?”
There was almost an audible click as Jaul made a blindingly obvious realisation. He laughed.
He rose into the air as smoke rises, still he was laughing. The power of fire within him blazed.
“Wind feeds fire!”
The howling winds of Nortreiln whipped around Jaul, and were consumed, gradually his body began to turn white hot and flame leaked out between his scales.
Jaul laughed one more time before closing his eyes and sitting crosslegged in the air. He still bobbed up and down with the wind however.
Days passed as Jaul was in this state, his body, his furnace being tempered by the absurd flame that was being fed by the winds of Nortreiln. Although he did not know it, he shadow grew deeper darker and heavier.
This continued until he was broken out of his training by a truly pungent smell. Jaul gagged almost falling from the sky. His eyes widened in surprise as he saw that a massive herd of dire aurochs had surrounded him, not only that, but there was a reddish tint to their armour and fur. The animals had benefited from his power of fire!
Jaul felt very exploited.
“Well, at least I’ve progre… wait, I’ve still not got a clue how to make a shadowflame!”
Jaul’s howl of dissatisfaction greatly startled the dire aurochs.