Escaping the Heat

‘What have you done?’ one of the guards gaped, eyes turned towards the blaze at the centre of the town. He turned back, stifling a yelp as he saw me sprinting towards him.

I launched over his head, tapping into a current of air and letting it carry me higher than the reach of his sword. I landed ten feet away, legs spreading to take the mild impact, and turned around to give him one last grin before I pulled up my hood and flew into an alleyway.

‘After him!’ the guard I’d left barely conscious on the ground called, trying to stagger to his feet. ‘Get after him, now!’

The two guards I’d jumped over shook themselves free of their stupor and clanked off in the direction I’d just been. I watched all of this from the safety of a rooftop above them, having clambered up the side of the alleyway as soon as I’d broken their sight. It was a trick I’d learned back at the monastery, when I’d gotten too big to slip out during the ducted heater servicing – Canberra proved that it hadn’t failed me yet.

My smile, broadened by my success, faltered slightly at the thought of the monastery.

‘Pssst!’ came a hiss from beside me, and I turned around with a frown. A dark shape was pressing itself against the terracotta tiling of the roof, waving for my attention.

‘Kowarr?’ I frowned, gliding over to them.

‘Who the hell else would it be?’ she grumbled. ‘Was that you?’

She pointed to the rapidly-spreading flames. I didn’t even try to look innocent. She punched me in the arm.

‘I knew it,’ she scowled. ‘That’s the last time I let you slink out after you say something cryptic about performing a heating repair local to Canberra. You’re not even qualified!’

‘It had to be done,’ I said quietly.

‘How many people got hurt?’ she snapped.

‘None!’ I shot back. ‘That’s why it took me all night.’

Her frown softened slightly, but she was clearly still annoyed. ‘This isn’t how we do things, Aan.’

‘Why?’ I asked, nodding at the blaze. ‘Look at the results.’