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Pine seeds

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The smell of oil and accelerant alone don't quite tug on the memories and nostalgia like they do when mixed. The work added another layer of familiarity; Packing a tinderbox just so, making sure the first licks of flame would find oxygen and have a place to eat and grow, consuming and rising like the bonfires of his youth. If oil and accelerants were nostalgia, burning wood and the scent of clean smoke were a stroll into another time in mind at least, if not also body.


"Clean smoke." Was there such a thing? The clouds coughed out of the manufactories and the ironworks certainly made it feel like there was. Nature propagated fire on its own; Brushfires and dry patches and the seemingly-random bolt of lightning. Plenty of ways for things to go up in glorious flame. Mankind had been managing fire for eras and eras; and it was still one of the most dangerous creatures that sometimes walked the world. It could be harnessed or manipulated but never tamed, never controlled. The whole damned world nearly ended in fire a few short years ago, and that would have been okay. If the world had to go up in smoke, it would be best to do it literally.


First, smoke. Tiny warnings of building heat, the first sign things were going right. Then moments later, moments that took an eternity to pass sometimes, the soft sound of cracking twigs and popping air pockets. A small effigy to unending hunger and then the box is engulfed and the table it was set upon, the piled papers doused with chemicals designed to spread faster than oxygen alone would allow. Over the floor and up the walls, and moments ago there was only the smallest hint of smoke, the first tantalizing scent of woody smoke and now you have to be getting out, the flash of heat sometimes was so strong you wondered if you'd been bitten by the snake you just birthed into the world. From silence, a dull roar of the world eating itself. From darkness, a bonfire visible in the sky even blocks away. From order, a small bit of chaos that always did the same thing.


You know, the way it was supposed to be.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Reading was overrated. A person could get by in the world just fine without needing to learn more than a few marks to draw or recognize. The letters of your name, for example. Location on signboard. If you didn't know how to feel the weather, you could memorize the lettering for "rain" or "snow" or "heat." None of it necessary, but sometimes convenient. There was one other word you could sometimes look for, and the letters always seemed to stand out even if the rest of the nonsense didn't.


You couldn't make out that the squiggles and lines talked about Norin's Knickknacks or the history the establishment had eked out. Last chance at making a living after the Calamity, some nonsense of shoddy goods ending that dream years ago and the person in charge of it refusing to pack up and go. It didn't matter what the words said beyond a few letters, the ones you took to first and always seemed to notice even if you weren't looking. It's not like you chose them, it happened the opposite way in fact.


You could remember back before the fireball, quiet summer evenings out at dusk. It was equal parts ritual and childhood mirth, building the cone out of branches and sticks and waiting for it to be dark enough to matter. Pile it with combustibles, sprinkle a touch of oil, toss a spark and whumphf. Light in the darkness, and it always seemed to reach towards you. At first it was just the wind maybe, but every time, no matter where you happened to be, you could see it. Fire just drew to you, not the other way around. Those alchemy sticks to quickstart something aflame would flicker and dance in your direction no matter who held them. Shows of juggling fire and sitting around a cooking pit were the same. Even in your dreams, the ones where you saw the long tunnel with the torches on the walls, they would lean towards you as you passed through, so it wasn't like any of it was really your fault.


The rest of the words on the page don't interest you, but you fold it up and keep it anyway. It's thin, it's dry, and you can feel it calling. It's not weird, it's just nature.

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  • 1 month later...

Now it isn't your fault, but the first one was personal. Don't get the two confused, now, because it can be both. Anyone else in that situation would have done something of a similar mind, and it doesn't make any sense to get mad at something for doing what comes naturally. Coeurl's gotta hunt, fish gotta swim, water's wet, and fire burns.


It's sort of like separating and disposing of the chaff. You know how crops wither after the harvest and needs replanting? Well, that doesn't just happen to plants. It's all sort of things in the world that do it. Balance is an integral part of the world, you know, and sometimes we need to act to help keep that balance. Hunters know to not shoot everything in the woods or the fields that jumps out. Kill too many wolves and the vermin'll eat your whole spring's planting. Kill all the vermin and the wolves starve out and die. You can see where I'm going with this, can't you?


Sometimes there's too many people, too. There's only so much land in the world, and it's not like it's getting any bigger. Only so much space to build on, only so many places that'll make for good soil. Crops can only feed so many, and we've got a whole lotta people sharing already-crowded space. I know what happened a couple of years ago was bad, I know it. The world's still recovering, but that's what nature does. You might be able to argue that the whole reason we had to go through it anyway was because of our own folly, you might indeed. It's not like the moon just fell out of the sky on its own, is it? That's not natural.


So I know what happened back then changed a lot of things. I know you suffered for it. I know it hurt. But you can't get mad at the world for being the world. You can't get mad at water being wet. You can't blame the coeurl for doing what comes naturally. I don't blame you for burning it down, and you shouldn't either. There was too many people there as it was, and not enough food to go around for all of them. It's easier for the rest of us now.


You're just giving nature a hand.

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