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Kumai

((WR-October)) Friendship is Magic

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Kumai kneels at the edge and trails her fingers in the lava, her arm flickering with fire magic as she does. She avoids coming back here in the waking world, but in her dreams, she finds herself here more often than not. The lava hisses and bubbles as it slowly moves, and for those who know how to listen, a voice can be heard. "Come. Come home," the lava whispers.

"Pass," Kumai says in a voice she only hears in her sleep, a voice that hurts to hear between her ears.

Usually in these dreams, she speaks with fire as she used to, before she realized she was speaking to herself. The dreams have a satisfying feeling to them, like she works out problems in direct conversation with her own consciousness. But this dream feels off, feels different.

"That tabard is going to get you killed," the lava whispers, echoing words she heard a few weeks ago, words of warning she heard many times before first deciding to wear it.

Kumai frowns. Fire knows nothing of politics, of petty grievances, and her own voice has dealt with this problem already. "Why?" she asks in her painful voice, not expecting any answer.

"Look," the lava whispers.

Kumai looks up and sees a silhouette approaching, red eyes, big hair. Kumai sighs. "She is a friend. She does not get me killed."

"No?" The lava hisses.

Ninorra's silhouette steps into the soft glow of the lava, though her eyes still shine from a face hidden in shadow. The silhouette offers a hand to Kumai. Kumai smiles at the gesture and takes the hand. "See. Friends."

The shadow Ninorra's grip is iron and cold. "Friends," it echoes with a crackle of fire. A spark of pain jolts through Kumai's hand and she looks down at it. The shadow's grip glows with green flame, melting away Kumai's skin, but rather than the flesh revealing bone beneath, it falls away to show silver metal filigree, at the center of which glows white purple magic. "What friends do for friends," the shadow says. Kumai tries to pull away, panicking, but the grip on her hand is impossible to escape. Elegant, elaborate curves of metal creep up her arm, replacing her skin as it burns away, slowly, past her elbow, past her shoulder, as she struggles. 

"No!" Kumai cries out, then the flesh of her throat burns away in the fel fire's wake as it spreads to her body, her voice reduced to a flash of white-violet in a filigree cage. The fel fire moves down her chest, burning away her clothes, her tabard, until her frantically beating heart stops, dissolves, and is replaced by a slow pulse of white magic within the metal curls and curves of her new ribs revealed by the fel fire. There's nothing inside her, nothing left but the cold calculus of the arcane.

"This is what you wanted," the lava whispers at her side. "Isn't it? Now you are heartless, too."

--

Kumai starts awake with a gasp, her blankets damp with cold sweat. She flinches when her arm touches the wall and finds stone instead of wood before she remembers where she is. When she does, she calms herself, forcefully, but her attempts to convince herself to go back to sleep result in tears, until she decides to wake up and get some air.

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