The Fire Queen – Jovee Winters

Burn. I watched it all burn. What had once been a thriving habitat full of chirping insects and cawing birds was now nothing more than a barren wasteland of char and destruction. Always the villain. That’s what I was. When fire destroyed the lands of the above, I was spoken of in such ugly, vile words. Devastation. Ruin. Death. They never saw it as I did though. Never saw the fire as not crippling, but healing. Never understood that for healthy and mature growth to occur the land must first be bathed in my flame. That in order to prevent a wildfire that blazed out of control one must rid the land of the infection of dried brush. I wasn’t destruction. I was hope.

But no matter how hard I fought to show the world what I really was, the potential of who I really could be to them, it was all for naught. To the humans, and even to the other gods I was anathema. Called upon only when they needed a bit of warmth on a cold winter’s night, but not tolerated for much else. Tears slid from my eyes, instantly evaporating from the natural heat that emanated from my body. Peabrain, my minion (but truly more of a child to me than anything else) reached up a hand to take hold of my own. He clasped on tight with his tiny gnarled ones. His skin was mottled, and deeply wrinkled—a byproduct of living in such a harsh climate as the fire realm all his life. But he was loyal and seemed to understand my moods in a way none of my other fire imps did. “We leave now, mother?” he asked in his usual soft sibilance. We were on Earth, roaming the outlands of the globe, cleansing the fields for new growth.

I’d not returned to my fire lands for many years, not since Aphrodite’s farce of a games stole what was left of my passion from me. What a fool I’d been to imagine I would truly ever find my own happily ever after, after the countless centuries of begging my sister—now Calyssa, once Calypso, she’d been transformed again, or so I’d heard—for just one crumb from her table. I was tired of always being forced to stand upon the sidelines. Tired of being shoved to the side, told I would never be as good, or powerful as Calyssa. My other sisters did not care, then again, they’d never cared about our family. Aria was as flighty as the air kingdom she called her home, and Tiera had turned to stone eons ago. She’d long since stopped caring about anything but remaining stationary and set, stubborn as a mule that one, I still hadn’t the slightest idea how Caly had managed to bring Tiera onboard when she’d gone on her rampage through Olympus. But I was fire and could not help my passionate nature. My desire to burn brighter, hotter, and more intensely than all the rest of them. Why Calyssa had found her more and I had not seemed a cruel and terrible joke played upon me by Gaea herself.

Maybe this was punishment for my crimes. My past, a dark stain that I desperately wished I could forget but knew that I never would. The Titans were long gone, but the memories of the gods endured forever. I watched the land burn, wishing that its flames would make me feel cleansed. Whole again. But all I felt was antipathy. I’d been assured by the one called Harpy that I would eventually be rewarded for my sacrifice in the games. They’d all believed themselves inside of a game true. One built by Aphrodite herself to find partners for all of us. But the Harpy had visited my dreams, whispered strange truths into my ear.

And for reasons I still couldn’t quite fathom I’d willingly agreed to help. True, I’d helped avert the devastation that would have been wrecked upon Kingdom once The Blue Fairy actually realized the truth of her nature and the curse she’d been given, but I did not make my home upon Kingdom. Saving it hadn’t saved me. And being forced into constant and close proximity to a male deity day in and day out had left me shaken and frazzled. Especially since my only other experience with a male had very nearly destroyed me. Xolotl been in on the farce too. I closed my eyes, hugging my arms to my chest, trying to recall his image in my mind. He’d been tall. Dark-skinned, like molten bronze dusted over with flakes of gold. Hair shaved close to his perfectly shaped head.

With an ornamental necklace of concentric circles upon his chest that was nearly as big as his stomach. Loty, as I’d taken to calling him in my head, was a sun deity. Where I controlled the fires within the very earth itself, he’d been the god of monstrosities and the caregiver of the sun of his realm. Xolotl—and I’d never been able to pronounce his name properly on account of it being far more exotic and tongue twisty than any other name I’d said before—had been otherworldly and wholly unique. A far cry from the gods of the Greek and Roman pantheons I’d grown up close to. At first, we’d not spoken to one another much. Well, we’d never much spoken at all. Until the very end, when I’d sunk through a field of ice and he’d raced in behind me. I still didn’t understand why he’d done it. Only that one second I’d been sure I’d be killed in those infernal games, because I was supposed to realistically lose to the bloody chicken witch—for the gods knew what purpose— and the next I was wrapped in Loty’s powerful arms and when I’d blinked awake I’d been back in my home on Fuego.

Loty had bowed, and given me a look that I’d not been able to comprehend then or now. And then, I’d never seen him again. He’d been only the second male I’d ever been in such close proximity to. And nothing had gone as I’d expected. With a sorrowful sigh, I turned to stare at my wee Peabrain’s balding head full of sun spots and nodded. “Yes, little one. It’s time to go home.” My baby knew me well, his lower lip trembled ever so slightly. “Mother cries again.” I shook my head.

“No, mother does not.” I sniffed, and pretended it was merely dust that I wiped from my eyes. “Mother is happy. Happy with her Peabrain and her fires. Fear not, little one. Now,” I put on my best imperious goddess tone and straightened my shoulders, “time to take you home to your brothers and sisters. Come.” I clutched at his hand, taking whatever strength I could from him. I still had my children to think of. Mother could not be sad.

My minions took their cues off me, if they thought I was sad they would move the heavens and earths to make me happy and had oftentimes accidentally caused a worldwide plague in the process. Not their fault, of course. They had the mental acuity of a five-year-old. But it made my life hell cleaning up their messes. Flashing open a travel tunnel with a flick of my wrist he and I stepped through. Time to go home. I’d been gone long enough. ~*~ Peabrain Mommy was not happy. And I did not like it when mommy was not happy. She did not give good belly rubs when she was not happy.

There was only one solution for Peabrain then. Fix this. Fix her and belly rubs would be better again. Mommy did not like me to travel without her. Said I got into too much trouble. But I was smart. And I knew I could make her proud. She could not know though. Oh no. Not, not know.

If she knew she would stop me. So, when I fixed her dinner that night, I put some sleepy powder in it. Just a little. Not too much. But mommy was sleeping now. And the frowny lines between her eyes weren’t there no more. She looked pretty again. Well, mommy was always pretty to me. But when she was sad, she did not look so pretty. I looked at my sister Mugwart.

She was wringing her hands. “Peabrain, I do not know about this.” I shook my head. I was a big minion and I knew what I had to do. I brushed my hands down my finest silk vest. I had to dress nice for where I was about to go. “Mugwart worries too much. Peabrain can fix this. Peabrain will fix mommy.” “Mommy is sad,” she agreed and I nodded, now she understood.

A wrinkle married Mugwart’s ugly hairy brows. My sisters and brothers were so ugly. Thankfully I got mommy’s looks. “Be careful, Peabrain. And eat anyone who tries to hurt you.” I nodded. “Of course. Peabrain is hungry. I will not be stopped.” She smiled broadly.

“Then go, find mommy’s boyfriend again. I liked him. He was funny.” I nodded. Mommy had no idea but when we’d been in those games sometimes at night Loty would steal away and come play with us. He’d chase us in his animal form. And we’d scream and sometimes wet ourselves with fright, but he would only lick our cheeks and then chase someone new. We figured out pretty quickly the animal beast did not want to eat us, only play. After that we stopped pissing ourselves. Mugwart was right, Loty was a nice being.

For a god anyway. I’d never wanted to eat him again after that first night of tag. I’d never been to Loty’s realm, it was a different world from Earth, but minions had the powers of gods and with a snap of my fingers I was able to pull at the intra-dimensional strings of time and space and a doorway now floated before us. The door was open and a billion stars winked back at us, on the horizon I saw the burning jewel of Loty’s red sun. I flicked a smile at Mugwart. “Wish me luck.” “Luck, Peabrain.” She smiled. I nodded. Mugwart gave the best lucks.

Reaching for the rope on the table, I tucked it into the eternal pocket sewn into my vest and then I stepped through. I was going to kidnap a god.

.

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