Posted March 29, 2020 at 12:00 pm

"You look at it as though you are seeing something else."

The brief sensation flashed through Liya of standing silhouetted against a wall of fire, arms around herself, bent almost double, looking around. "I am, I guess," she said honestly.

"Would you like to learn, er, metalworking?" Milou asked, and waved her over. "Come, come."

Liya stiffened, her hands unconsciously clenching the fabric of her clothes. "Uh, I...I dunno."

"Why not?" Milou wanted to know. "We are all afraid of fire at first. Fire has destroyed much in our history. But we use it still. Come, it will not jump out and bite you."

Reluctantly, Liya got up and joined Milou at the forge, rolling her sleeves up as she did. Milou shuffled to one side, holding the tongs with one hand, offering them to Liya. "Hold this. Careful, it is heavy."

Liya wrapped her hands around the upper half of the tongs, but as Milou let go, it became clear that they were a lot heavier than Milou made them look--Liya had to brace the end of the tongs against her chest, and it took some effort to keep them held up at the level that Milou had them. She said nothing, though--she just focused on her hands, wrapped around the metal, and not the blazing fire a foot or so away.

"There, you see? Nothing to be worried of," Milou told her. The memory of that other fire shot across the front of Liya's mind, but she just kept holding the metal, furrowing her brow and bracing herself against the strain of holding the tongs up. "I'll fetch you an apron."

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