The Ember Etch
The Ember Stamp landed. Root felt the quickening press of it in her palm. It was warm. So warm. So wonderfully, magically warm. It tingled with power, sending hundreds…millions of energy pulses through each eager layer of skin. She felt heat swim the veins of her arm, up to her shoulder where it spread like a balmy sunbeam into muscle and tendon and heart. A wild eruption of goosebumps overtook her entire body. Now she understood what Fledger had meant by sweet fever.
The Stamp lifted. Root opened her eyes and looked at her palm. The Ember had left a mark, a living, breathing, ever-moving stencil in her skin.
“It’s called an Ember Etch,” Fledger said. “It will continue to change for some time as you develop your skills, until it finds its perfect pattern, one that will best reflect who you are.”
Root smiled. Her heart felt enormous in her chest, as it if were too big and might seep through her ribs. She lifted her hand into a slant of moonlight and stared, trance-like at the swirling dance of etching in her palm.
Root felt a pinch in her palm and held it aloft to the starlight. Her Ember Etch had shifted into a tangle of ambiguous lines. She wondered if it was reflecting the same tangle she felt in her breath.
The moon dared no appearance as Root fumed in her bed. She looked at her Ember Etch. It had shifted into a dark and twisty knot, like a dead tree.
Root looked. Her Ember Etch had settled at last. It was an oval shape, deep red with many facets that looked to both draw in and reflect light.
“What is it?”
“It’s a carbuncle,” Jorab smiled and looked her straight in the eye. “One of the strongest gemstones in the world.”
Well, the heart of little Miss Root Karbunkulus swelled right then and and she beamed as if she’d swallowed the whole sun.