Rafe reached out with his mind and almost recoiled. He’d grown up on a world that he was starting to understand was a very old world, slowly dying beneath an unforgiving, harsh sun. This world was so much younger and more active, and when he reached for living rock he didn’t have to drive forcefully down hunting for narrow veins of it. It felt like it was sitting just below the surface of the world, huge and unquenchable, a roaring force that was just waiting for direction. He couldn’t believe that people in this world could be so blind to it. He reached out again, just touching the surface of the fire with his mind, feeling its rage and inchoate anger. It burned and bubbled and yearned to be free. There were difference in it as well, that he tended to think of as flavours for want of a better word. There was, in some way he was still trying to understand, different kinds of fire present in this world, and he suspected that isolating them might prove interesting.
“Rafe?” The woman who spoke was white-haired and wrinkled, shorter than him and leaned on a stick. He had been told that she was powerful, but as far as he could tell she couldn’t feel the fires beneath the earth’s surface at all. When he’d tried reaching for the wind was found the roaring, howling madness that existed in the atmosphere here he’d seen a reaction from her, and he suspected that she was some kind of weather specialist. He tried not to think too badly of her for that. “Rafe, can you find anything? Do you think you can do your… magic here?” The hesitation before she said magic annoyed him, it was as though she didn’t believe him.
He picked the fire and let it find a path through him, burning along his muscles and through his veins, suffusing and infusing him with its energy, and he felt tiredness burn away, toxins evaporate and a healthy glow form around him. He opened his hands, letting the fire rush into his fingertips, and shaped it as it let loose. Only then did he really realise how much of it there was. Though he’d cast this spell hundreds of times before, he expected it to produce a ball of fire that would fit in the palm of his hand and illuminate the inside of a goatskin tent. This time he produced a ball of fire twelve feet in diameter that filled the room, forcing the audience to press themselves against the walls. The heat it gave off was like the desert at noon, and it was so bright that he could see it even through his thin, horny eyelids.
He dropped the spell, feeling the fire subside, and the ball of flame persisted for seconds, so long that he worried that it had taken on an independent existence. Then it winked out and air rushed into the room to fill where it had been, rustling cloaks and dresses and providing a welcome cool breeze.
The woman with white hair was lying on the floor. Her stick was a line of ash on the floor and she appeared sunburned. As two of the younger women gasped and then rushed over to her, she levered herself up onto an arm and looked at him, meeting his gaze.
“That was impressive,” she said, “but I don’t think it’s what you intended. You will need to learn control.”
Rafe nodded. He knew that for a fact.
“But it was only fire,” she said. “There are many other aspects of magic as well.” She waved one of the girls out of the way because she was blocking the white-haired woman’s view of Rafe. “I would like Lord Despeke to show you an aspect, I think.”