After a long day at her jobs, Maddox decided it was time to try out her newest find on the Marketplace. She carefully made her way to Elephant Square in Mondrago, found Erehwon and asked her to help Maddox practice her dancing. Since Erehwon heartily agreed, Maddox carefully unwrapped the white-tipped dancing fans and smiled at her friend. She lit the fire fans carefully, holding them away from her and making sure her balance was right. “I want to practice. Will you watch and tell me if it’s good enough for the Casbah, Ereh and guest ?”
Hono was nearby and he was fiddling with his own fans as Erehwon started to clap a beat for Maddox to dance to. The doctor never even noticed the stranger that had wandered up to the Square. She was trying to keep her mind on the flames. And the dance. She had to learn to keep them controlled simultaneously and it was an exercise in keeping herself from falling as well as burning the entire Square to the ground from being clumsy. She was sure that that explanation would work for Ereh, should something go wrong. Besides, she wanted to make her performances at the Casbah a bit more memorable. No one can hide behind beauty forever.
The Magistrate clapped faster as her friend stepped through her floor work moves. Maddie began to dance with the fans, letting her concentration go into the dance first. She was careful to use the fans, as she could readily feel the heat they produced and she the last thing she’d want to burn was her practice dress, as she only had so many. The stranger sat next to Erehwon and she welcomed him to Mondrago, the whole time watching Maddox work. She’d started to dance more and more. As the moves with the fans became more complex, her concentration moved from the fans to the fire. She began to become one with it and let the beat take her away, her hands faintly glowing as well.
Erehwon turned back to watch Maddox, her hands clapping a more complex rhythm. She smiled and said, “Beautiful, Maddie, it is as if those fans are part of you!” And as soon as the words were out of her mouth, she noticed Maddox’s glowing hands. “Wait, Maddie, is that supposed to happen?” Maddox vaguely noticed the stranger sitting next to Erehwon and even less noticed him complimenting her. All she could notice was the movement, the heat and her heart thudding in time with Ereh’s hand claps. Her feet didn’t fail her at first. Her eyes were content to be set on the fire at the tips of the fans and slowly, her hands started to emit a slow flame, but it she had it controlled enough to look like part of her fans.
“Thank you, Ereh… they feel natural…”She continued to dance to Ereh’s complex rhythms, and her attention was fixed on the fire and the rhythm inside her and out, even as the fire began to slowly grow. She barely registered saying, “Is what supposed to happ….” Her words were lost as she kept to her dance, hard and fast to the clapping of her friend’s hands.
Erehwon stopped clapping, and tried again to make her friend see what she saw. She pointed at Maddie’s hands. “The hands onfire part?” At that point in her dance, the beat was still constant and Maddox’s ears were barely aware of Hono chuckling as he watched. It seemed he knew this dance already, and was probably seeing where this whole scene wasleading. But, Ms Yoshikawa shook her head, just in case she was seeing things and resumed clapping. The stranger found himself enthralled, mouth agape, as he said, “I have seen many strange shows in various lands, but nothing like this!”
Maddox’s smile was blissful, she was in her moment, the fire was growing little by little but she was trying her hardest to be mindful of it as she continued her dizzy, spinning dance. “Are they? I…I can’t help but dance… It feels so good…” The dance swirled on, her eyesight being taken up by the flames and she did not notice that one of the rugs is overlapped in a funny way a little ways from her.
Erehwon Yoshikawa: Careful of that rug, Maddie, behind you.
Dr. Maddox S Lionheart: Hmm?
Maddie’s hands were emitting a bit more flame, melding perfectly with the fire on the tips of the fans. She clearly heard Hono’s encouragement. “Heating it up, Maddox!” Perhaps it was because he was close to where she was dizzily dancing, but the smile on his face encouraged her. Perhaps she could do this. Perhaps this would be the thing that she’d be remembered for with fondness… Not that that was particularly what she was looking for. She simply liked things to be interesting. She nodded to Hono and smiled as she continued.
Erehwon started to get a bit concerned. Pulling down her goggles, she decided to see through the glare of the fire.”Maddie, your hands are on fire!” She turned to the fellow on the side of her, hurriedly asking him to find a bucket of water. When he scampered off, (albeit in the wrong direction at first) Ereh turned back to keep an eye on her best friend.
Dr. Maddox S Lionheart chuckles and nods quietly. “This feels lovely…I love it… hmm…”
Erehwon Yoshikawa starts to run towards Maddie, “What do you mean it feels lovely?”
As close as she was to finishing her practice, Maddox danced around Hono, as well as dangerously close to that funny overlapped piece of rug. Was she finally doing it? Was she finally able to concentrate on more than one thing and keep it together? Perhaps she’d tell Stormy about her triumph when she saw him… But she was celebrating a bit too soon. Her eyes were not on her feet and in the dizzying blindness of feeling the fire become whole in her hands and body, she tripped on the overlapped carpet and started to fall.
Thankfully, Hono was closer to her and he darted out to catch her from hitting the ground, but the lit fans were not so lucky. They fell to the carpet, making burn holes where ever the lit pieces touched. Erehwon was looking through the goggles and saw that Maddox’s hands unharmed as she caught the fall in front of her. “Maddie! Are you alright?”
There was some joke that Hono found in the whole thing, because he was grinning ear to pointed ear at Maddox as he helped her back up to her feet. Erehwon picked up the fire fans, trying to find a place to douse them safely. Meanwhile, Maddox looked at Hono, almost lost as she blinked. She had been snapped out of her reverie and she was looking at Hono questioningly. “What…what did I do?” When the stranger returned with his hat full of water, Ereh doused the fans in it and she turned to her friends, looking for something to ask.
The firebrand smiled and quipped, “I thought I was the only hothead around here.”
Unfortunately, Maddie was still scared of her actions. “Hono… What happened? Did I burn someone? Please tell me I didn’t burn the rug….” Hurriedly, Ereh tried to scuff a visible burnhole away and told her that it was nothing as she drew her goggles back up her head to examine Maddox’s hands. She was perfectly intrigued by Maddox’s fire and wanted to know how it worked.
Erehwon Yoshikawa: Let me see that hand?
Dr. Maddox S Lionheart:
Oh…. Oh dear… I suppose I should have paid more attention…. It
just felt so good to dance with them…
She gave Ereh her now non-flame hands, and as the stranger offered his waterlogged hat to her, Ereh found there was nothing on her friends hands. Not a scratch. Not a blister.
Dr. Maddox S Lionheart smiles and shakes her head. “N-no thank you,sir. It…” She blushes. “I’m afraid that fire is natural.”
Erehwon Yoshikawa: Maddie, how did you do that?
The stranger shook his hat out and returned it to his head.
Dr. Maddox S Lionheart: I…. Ereh, do you remember the night I was looking for Helio through the fire? How I almost burned the house down?
Erehwon Yoshikawa: Oh dear, yes, I do.
Dr. Maddox S Lionheart: That…. that is because fire is my element and if I get too concentrated on it…. it tends to get away from me. That night, I was more worried for Helio’s safety… and I overloaded myself.
Erehwon Yoshikawa: It was lovely until you tripped on the rug.
Dr. Maddox S Lionheart: Today…. today I tripped on a rug. Perhaps I should practice more before I bring this to the Casbah…. I don’t want to trip on the rug there too…
Erehwon Yoshikawa: Maybe practice that in the sand of the souk?
Dr. Maddox S Lionheart nods. “Maybe. If I can spend some more time out here, I will definitely try that.”
Erehwon Yoshikawa: Well, the building is stone.
Dr. Maddox S Lionheart: Yes, but the tapestries and chairs are not.
Erehwon Yoshikawa: But Mrs. Peterman might be upset if we burned those.
Dr. Maddox S Lionheart: Of course. I just wish I weren’t so clumsy with it…
Her mind was racing as she tried to figure out why something so dangerous felt so good… And at that moment, she was left with no conclusive answers that sounded sane. After they sent the stranger, whose name happened to be Mister Bad, to a hostel around the way, Ereh turned back to Maddox. “Maddie, it might be a good idea to have Arnold or Helio watching or at hand when you practice with the fire. If that’s possible and doesn’t break your concentration.” Maddox agreed and hugged her friend.
They all parted ways and Maddox kept trying tothink. What had gone wrong? Was it the rug? Was it that her attentions were only in two places at once? What was it? As she made her way back to the house that she shared with Arnold next to the Square, the questions in her head were making it hurt. Too many variables all at once. Perhaps when she woke from her rest, she would go back to Babbage, look up Stormy, find her husband and her familiar. She wanted to be good at controlling her fire and be able to use it to entertain. She did not, however, wish to burn down half of the places sheloved trying to do so. Perhaps she was still behind in learning how to make her gift work in her favor. Her father had said the fire was the most interestingthing about her family. The only thing she could think was, Is it really? I must ask Father more questions. I must find out and satisfy this feeling that has been nagging me since we spoke.