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   Return of the Fire Child, by John D. Hartman  
 
  Novel, first publication in December 2008
 
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      He felt the heat encompassing his body, a warm glow, not unpleasant, more therapeutic in nature, and he lay in the warmth and it was soothing and he relaxed. "You feel how good it is, Fire Child?" He opened his eyes and looked up and the old man stood before him, suddenly and mysteriously, as he always did. "Yes," he replied. "I feel so strong." The Old One nodded. "The strength comes from within you; it is always there, has always been. The fire reinforces it and brings it to the surface." "Why does this power come to me?" The ancient one smiled. "You are growing wise. Everything given is presented for a purpose. A gift has no worth if it is not only useful but also used." "And I am to use the fire." "To save the others, you must." "I cannot kill. Don't ask me to do that." There was sorrow in the voice. "You cannot kill something that has no life within it." He reached into the air, snatching at invisibility, and his hand lowered with the palm and the fingers blazing. "Fire is a purifier, my child. It is up to you to cleanse this world." The boy raised his arm tentatively and, as the old one had done, he snatched at the nothingness and watched as his hand glowed like a torch. The fire was cool to his touch but he knew its fatal power. He looked over at the Old One and again uttered his plea. "I cannot kill. Please, don't make me do it." The old man simply nodded. "You will do what is necessary when the time is right." Given his mission to protect the world that he has adopted, the Fire Child returns to his own land to battle the evil that threatens all that he loves. It is a land filled with strange creatures led by one so powerful that it has already destroyed all who have crossed its path. Now only the Fire Child stands in its way and it waits for his return.

     
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