a.n. All unnecessary crying has been removed, thanks to my helpful reviewers. I also apologize for the incessant changing of titles, but the original 'Fire Feather' did not suit my liking. This title, however, will remain. I know that the story starts out all sinister and menacing, but you'll see as it progresses that the lovely main characters (yes, they are a lovely bunch) help the story develop a more lighthearted theme. Yah.
Augustus Froghorn peered over the bars of his sleeping daughter's cradle. She lay there basking in the moonlight, innocent as a cherub wrapped in a blanket of clouds.
"We must go now, Augustus," said a cloaked figure by the nursery door. Its voice was slightly hoarse with age.
"One minute," whispered Augustus, reaching one hand out to the infant to stroke its head.
"You asked for this," the figure said quietly, but not in an accusatory manner. It stood somberly, silhouetted against the light of the torch on the wall behind it. A sudden skirmish between emotions broke out from within his chest. Augustus's hand stopped an inch from the baby's face.
"I'm coming, Garth," he said in a strained voice, withdrawing his shaking hand from the child's resting place.
His child. His little girl. The same girl that would grow up not knowing the man whose chromosomes took part in her creation. Would she resent him? Would she grow up bitter and disdainful of the image she would create of him? He only wished you could know.
But he had chosen this for himself, in one way or another. It was the only way, and he could not back out now. "Watch her for me, won't you, Garth?" he asked, turning to the figure. "Promise me you'll watch her grow up into a fine young woman."
Garth bowed his cloaked head. "I promise, Augustus."
"Promise me you'll make sure she knows what kind of man her father was," he said desperately, on the verge of hysterics. "Tell her everything when she's old enough to know."
Garth sighed heavily. "You know I will, how could I not?" He walked over to the defeated looking man and put a firm, calloused hand on his shoulder. "I promise, Augustus, and you know I do not go back on my promises." Augustus nodded. "But right now, we must go to the dungeons."
Pale and feeling slightly woozy, Augustus swept from the room.
Quickly, the two hurried to the ground floor. The experiment was ready. One final sacrifice was left.
Augustus inhaled deeply as the flickering grew around him. Ashes shot through his nasal passages, delivering a sensation of intense burning from within his lungs, but he didn't cough. All of his body's defense mechanisms had resignedly shut down, awaiting its fate without struggle.
Garth stood a safe distance away, swaying slightly as enormous flames erupted to the top of the twenty foot tall ceiling. He stood there for a long time, waiting for the flames to subside.
As they collapsed into mere embers, a glowing form was revealed. It shivered, smoking slightly, delivering something like a cough.
"Augustus," said Garth faintly. The form lifted its fierce eyes in the direction of the voice.
Outside the night was calm. The moon hung patronizingly in the sky. All was still, save for a sudden anguished call that shook the atmosphere, chilling the hearts of all those who heard it.