Chapter II - New Mantra / New Savage

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The flame’s call awoke the other men and women from their sleep. The group came running to see where this great noise was coming from. A loud gasp overcame them as their eyes looked upon the dancing flame for the first time. Taka did his best to calm their discomfort, showing them that this was not a monster, but a tool.

The crowd’s tense excitement slowly subsided, as the flame’s warmth hit their cold skin. They moved closer, smiling and laughing, realizing the beauty that was in this strange phenomenon before them. Placing sticks into the fire, Taka showed the group how the flame lived and breathed, just as them.

One of the women, named Etu, took a stick from the ground and held it over the dancing flames. She watched as the branch turned from a dark brown to a bright mix of orange and red. Pulled from above the flames, the stick burned brightly at the end; still held firmly in the woman’s hand. A large smile grew on Taka’s face as Etu walked throughout the grove, illuminating the forest with her flaming branch. Taka began to motion the others as they gathered branch after branch, lighting the forest with standing torches. The once dark forest, illuminated, now felt much more comforting. The still forest glowed with the flame from the branches and the glow within the humans themselves.

Though the forest was full of light, the light from The Figure’s flames began to slowly dwindle. With the flame’s energy being spread across the forest, the original source began to lose its luster. “Feed me,” called the flame. Taka’s body filled with panic.  He began to throw leaves and branches onto the pile as quickly as he could. Taka’s new followers mimicked his lead, frantically feeding the dwindling flame. Once the ground was bare of branches, they ripped them from the living trees above their heads, throwing them onto the fire. The still green leaves and branches sizzled and crackled as the flame consumed them.

Cheers rang out, as the flame regained its size and strength. Taka and the group encircled the fire and watched as the flames continued to grow. Soon, the warmth grew unbearable, moving the circled observers backward, step by step. It was different this time, the pain did not subside. Ashes and sparks filled the air until the large pile was fully engulfed. The grove, now filled with a thick smoke, caused every observer to fall to their knees, coughing and struggling for air.

Etu, realizing the growing danger, moved close to the fire and began to kick dirt and rocks onto the pile, hoping it would calm the flame. However, her efforts were too late. Etu’s attempt was quickly thwarted as the flame continued to grow. Flames kissed Etu’s skin quickly turning it a bright red. Small bubbles of pus formed on her skin’s the surface. She let out a great scream that echoed across the entire forest as she fell to her back. Taka rushed to her side, stood her up, and rushed her as far away from the flame as he could. Exhausted from the rescue, Taka’s knees grew weak, causing him to fall and Etu to collapse along with him. The two coughed and wheezed as their lungs filled with smoke.

The flame’s great height caused the two to look up in horror as ashes landed amongst the treetops. Painful and fearful cries filled the once still forest. Everyone ran from the flame. Still in immense pain, Etu laid on the ground at Taka’s feet. Though Taka’s fear was strong within him, there was still something within that caused him to not look away from the beautiful, luminous flame. Taka knew he could not stay, but even as the flame consumed the forest, its call continued.

“Feed me. Feed me.”

A few of the people rushed to Etu and Taka and lifter her pained body. They ran with Etu in their arms, and shouted at Taka to follow them to safety. He turned hesitantly and followed the rest of them out of the grove to a hill made of rocks. It became evident that the only safe area in the grove was the hill of rock. It became the human’s safe haven. Taka watched as the entire grove glowed with the flame and smoke billowed from the ground. Though they sat far across the valley, the flame’s call and warmth continued.

Taka grew impatient and restless while he watched The Figure’s flame consume the grove. This same restless feeling is what lead to this uncontrollable burn. But Taka had only just begun to understand the flame and only saw the power it yielded. What all could this simple man accomplish once the flame was fully under his control? The flame’s call rattled harshly inside Taka’s skull, while it consumed the last fragments of the grove.

“Feed me. Feed me.”

Vibrations from the flame’s call became too loud for Taka to ignore. He stood in front of his tribe and screamed, “We must return! The flame calls to us!” The other humans gasped as Taka’s voice echoed across the valley. The Figure’s words now found themselves in Taka’s mouth. The valley grew dark as the flame from the grove subsided.

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