Framing Device

It’s gotta be somewhere,” Mark stuck close to the wall as he shuffled down the narrow, bright hallway. White marble floors and whiles reflected sunlight throughout the hall. Mark needed to squint to avoid the bright pain. “Where the hell am I?

“There you are!” An angel wearing a black and gold robe emerged from an unseen hallway and rushed to Mark’s side. “It’s time for the ascension exam.” The angel grabbed Mark’s arm and led him forward. “It might be, ‘just a formality’ but you should still take it seriously.” Mark stopped letting the angel lead him.

“What are you talking about? Where am I?” The angel rolled his purple eyes and shook his head.

“I can’t believe you went out drinking the night before your big day. You know how foggy you get.”

“No, I didn’t!” Mark argued. “ow…” His own loud voice reminded him of his headache.  The angel gave Mark a stern look.

“You’re going to tell me you didn’t go out drinking last night?” he asked with a raised, silver eyebrow. Mark shook his head.

“I didn’t have a big day planned today…,” he said.

“NOT A BIG DAY!?” the angel yelled. Mark flinched and brought his hands up to support his head; he worried it was ready to fall off. “Not a big day?” the angel repeated the question with a softer voice. “I said it was just a formality, but you’re still becoming a king.” The angel grabbed Mark’s arm and pulled him forward again.

“King? Who’s a king?” Mark asked while trying to keep up with the angel.

“Keep it together, man. Look, it’s simple. The exam is just to prove you’re of royal blood, and we both know you are. All you have to do is walk out there and show them your flow.”

“Flow? What flow?” The angel sighed heavily.

“You forgot how to use your flow?” Mark shrugged.

“You got the wrong guy, I never had it. I don’t even know what it is!” Mark nodded politely at the angel. “I hope you find him, I’ll see you around.” He walked away from the angel but was stopped by a jet of bright orange, blazing hot magma hitting the white marble wall ahead of him. The jet, coming out of the angel’s hand, melted a large hole in the wall. Then he closed his hand to interrupt it.

“It’s called Plasma Flow. You just have to try.”

“Try what? To shoot fire out of my hands?” Mark complained. The headache seemed to make the situation worse for him, he was running out of patience. “I don’t know magic! I don’t even know where I am! It’s not like I’m just gonna raise my hand at the wall and pour fire out.” Mark raised his hands as he described the motion, then a small, thin stream of bright blue liquid fire poured out of his palm. It melted the floor under him. The angel lifted a silver eyebrow at Mark. “What!?” Mark shouted in surprise, but he had enough sense to close his hand.

“Now do you believe me?” the angel asked.

“What the hell…” Mark whispered to himself while inspecting his hand.

“Come on!” The angel yelled and yanked Mark forward. They turned around one corner, then several more. The angel led Mark through the maze of bright marble hallways until they reached a large, tall metal door. It stood over twice Mark’s size and he was not a short man.

“I know you’re not all here, it’s fine. Get through this first and I’ll yell at you later. When they ask you who you are, you say…,” the angel gestured at Mark.

“Uh… Mark?” The angel shook his head.

“You say, ‘#35 La Estrella, Mark.”

“I don’t know what that means,” Mark shrugged.

“You do when you’re sober. It’s what they want to hear. When they ask you to prove it, show your flow.” Mark half-heartedly lifted his hand and bright blue plasma poured out onto the floor. “Try to be more impressive,” the angel sighed. “Pretend it’s a water hose.” Mark lifted his hand to try but the angel stopped him. “Inside. Aim for the big angel with white wings,” the angel turned his body to show Mark his left wing. “…like mine. That’ll really wow them.”

“Okay. And then?”  The angel smiled and patted Mark on the shoulder.

“That should be more than enough. If there are any doubts left, remind them that you represent the White Dragon Army. Got it?” The angel asked. Mark grinned.

“I’ve always wanted to be a king. This is awesome!”

“In you go,” the angel shoved Mark toward the door. The confused king-to-be slammed into the door.

“ENTER!” a deep voice echoed from inside the room. Mark steeled himself and pushed against the tall door. He pushed the door open, into the room, enough to step through, then he turned back to the angel for reassurance.

“You’ll be great,” he gave Mark a thumbs up gesture. “Remember, like a water hose.”

“Right,” Mark nodded. He disappeared into the room and the door closed behind him.

Better go,” the angel thought to himself and started down the hall. After turning the first corner away from the main hall he heard someone call his name.

“Prince Julius!!” an angel shouted in front of Julius. The winged-man rushed over. “There’s an intruder! Get to your father! I’ll raise the guard!” Julius stopped the angel with a hand on his shoulder.

“I leave my father to you, I’ll get the guard!”

“But my Prince?”

“I’ll keep those White Dragon bastards away from my father. Spread the word: All agents of the White Dragon are to be killed on sight.”

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