A New Ally

Cynder laughed.

It was ironic, really, that spirits should be presumptuous, he thought.

With a fiery breath, Cynder enveloped the Behemoth. The darkness surrounding it evaporated as Cynder's cleansing fire purged it of Herothi's influence.

And then Cynder coalesced into a person - a noble, handsome, straight-backed man, with blazing blond hair, sitting proudly astride his steed, which now glistened a noble gold.

The heart of fire beat like a bright light in Cynder's chest.

"Wow," said Mexii with awe.

"How?" said Juliexus, open-mouthed.

"This creature is my servant," laughed Cynder, almost gleefully. "I send him out while I reside in my volcano to inform me of events in Karmine, and to smite down my enemies. As Herothi didn't claim the heart of fire, his allegiance remained to me, and Herothi's influence was not strong enough to maintain its possession."

"But where's Herothi?" said Mexii, looking around.

"He will have gone for Thunder," said Cynder darkly. "And if he claims it, we will be hard-pressed to beat him, even with  our current assets."

"Well, then, let's go!" said Mune loudly, turning to retrace their steps down the volcano.

"Wait," said Cynder. "My steed will transport us."

"What?" said Mune, a shocked expression on her face. "How do you expect us centaurs to ride another beast? What an absurd suggestion!"

"You need not sit on his back," said Cynder, chuckling again. "Simply rest a hand in his mane."

Mexii grabbed a lock of the Behemoth's mane gently, and felt a wave of warmth wash over her. The Behemoth's paws began to flame, surrounding them with ribbons of fire that stabbed Herothi's darkness away. The fire whirled like a stormcloud and the Behemoth rose majestically, crackling wings stretching away into the inky sky.

Mune and Juliexus whinnied with shock as the ground fell away from their hooves, and Gray's face brightened to a happiness Mexii had never seen there before. They soared across the heavens, a train of flame riding behind them. And the citizens of Karmine looked up to the sky to see a streak of white flash across the moon - a shooting star, a good omen that light and hope would soon come to oust the darkness.

The End

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