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The clouds darkened, filling with rain, dripping hints of what was to come. That’s when it started. The wind broke loose, tearing down anything in its path. The rain whipped across the sky. All around the school Mother Nature unleashed her fury. Thunder rumbled in the distance as the walls shook. The school was barely strong enough to stand up against normal winds, there was no chance it could battle a storm. Especially not one this big. Audrey was on her way into class when lightning struck and the power went out. Wind blew in through the doors and swept her outside, locking the school behind her. The sky was at war with itself, lightning tearing itself in two. Audrey was staring at the clouds as they seemed to come closer and closer, until they were almost to the ground. A strong gust of wind swirled the clouds into a tornado, plowing down trees and cars until it was almost upon her. Then the weirdest thing happened. The tornado melted off the clouds as if they were shedding a second skin, and beneath the whirlwind was a monster. The clouds had formed a giant, standing thirty feet tall, the once white fluffy clouds had turned into thick dirt colored sludge that covered the giant’s body. And his eyes were narrow slits like a snake’s, glowing red, hatred shining through. And that hatred was directed at her. The giant raised its hand, a battle axe forming there from the sky. He brought it down. Hard. Where Audrey had once stood was now a smoking crater. She had no choice. She ran.
Through the playground and into the trees, branches tearing at her arms and legs, trying to hold her back, but she broke through them, never stopping. Audrey could hear the giant behind her, gaining ground. His footsteps echoed through the forest, pounding the fallen leaves. Crunch. Crunch. Crunch. She tore off a branch from a nearby tree, knowing she would soon have to fight. A loud bellow announced the giant’s presence. He emerged from a thicket of bushes and trees, angered now more than ever. His battle axe lept from his hand, bent on finding its target, her. Lightning rained down from the sky all around them, making the stick seem useless, but Audrey still held onto it, hopeful for an opportunity that might arise. The winds swirled around her feet, carrying her upward to meet the giant, face to face. As she reached his height the first thing she noticed was his breath. It stunk of rotten eggs and burning rubber. His face was covered in welts, and bruises. He leaned in closer, and she lunged. Audrey poked her stick in his eye and heard him cry out as she fell. As she hit the ground she saw tree roots spring up from the ground and imprisoning the giant in a cage of roots.
“Well that was a nasty fight. Good thing it’s over with now. Come on Audrey, we better be going, don’t want to be late,” a strange man said, appearing from behind her.
He was wearing a pair of tan pajamas, and he seemed exactly as you would imagine someone’s grandpa to be.
“Who are you? How do you know who I am? What just happened?!” Audrey screamed.
“I’m Danderwall. I know who you are because we watch all young alchemists, and what just happened… well that will have to be explained once we get to camp,” he calmly replied, motioning for Audrey to follow him. She knew not to trust strangers, but she was pretty sure what she just witnessed was so strange that nothing could possibly be strange again.
Oh was she wrong.
Danderwall lead her to the subway, where they traveled to an open field near the water.
“Where are we going Danderwall?”
“You’ll see soon enough.”
Audrey followed Danderwall across a walkway of stones towards a hole in the ocean. Almost immediately Danderwall jumped in, and after considering it, Audrey followed.
When they landed Audrey looked around and saw about seventy or so kids ranging from age ten to age seventeen chattering about. Starting to push herself up, she realized she was on a hill outside a camp of some sort. Looking at the kids she saw that some were dressed in pajamas like Danderwall, but others were wearing jeans and a dark purple t-shirt, with the words Camp Alchemy on them. Danderwall walked over to the group and silenced them.
“Bell! Westfall! Take Miss Audrey Eadla to the training facility and show her around.”
Two boys Audrey’s age came up to her and introduced themselves as Ethan Bell and James Westfall. James offered his arm out to her like a gentleman, and when she looked at him like he was crazy, he just laughed.
“I’m surprised you didn’t go along with it. Most girls can’t resist my dashing looks,” he said, full of arrogance, and Audrey just shook her head at his antics. She looked over to Ethan, and could tell by his reaction that this was James’ normal behavior.
“This way ma’ lady,” James said, gesturing down the hill, deeper into the camp. He lead the way and Audrey followed, Ethan behind her. After walking for awhile they entered a stone building room filled with kids shouting incantations and sparring with each other.
“Hey it’s a newbie!” some kid said, walking up to them.
“Back off Dangora,” James said, stepping in front of Audrey.
“Relax. I just wanted to meet the new kid,” he said.
“Yeah well she doesn’t want to meet you.”
They walked out of the training room and down towards the mess hall. There were kids everywhere, sitting at five tables, though one was empty. Audrey sat at the Cabin Five table with a few other new kids she had met earlier that day. They all seemed excited to have their Cabin decided, but Audrey was just confused. She didn’t understand why Cabins were such a big deal.
In the middle of the mess hall were four bowls. They held coals, water, dirt, and one held nothing at all.
“Attention. Would all new students from this week please come forward?” Danderwall said, gesturing towards Audrey and the other kids from Cabin Five. Danderwall called Audrey up and instructed her to place their hand over the bowls to determine her cabin.
Audrey had no idea what the bowls had to do with her cabin, but she did as she was told and the bowl holding water burst into flames.
She was so surprised she leapt backwards, falling down. Luckily Ethan came over and helped her up before the room could start laughing.
“Relax. It’s just telling you what cabin you’re in,” James said with a laugh, as Ethan lead her over to the Cabin Two table. When he saw her confused face he elaborated, “Each cabin shares a specialty in powers. Cabin Two is water, so you’re with us. After dinner we’ll show you to our cabin.”
After dinner Audrey followed James, Ethan, and the rest of Cabin Two away from the mess hall and down the trail into one of the five cabins on the edge of the beach.
“What’s the fifth cabin?” Audrey asked, pointing to the extra cabin and remembering how she sat with other kids from Cabin Five.
“That’s where kids live until the end of the week when they’re chosen,” James replied.
The next morning after breakfast Ethan and James came up to her, laughing about something from earlier.
“Oh hey, Audrey,” Ethan said, “Come on, it’s time for class.”
On their way down they ran into Dangora, as he pushed past them, casting an evil stare at them, over his shoulder.
“Who was that?” Audrey asked, once they was out of earshot.
“That’s Kylo Dangora, Cabin One, fire,” James answered, as they walked over to the lake for practice.
In the middle of the lake was their teacher, manipulating the water around her to create a dry area. As the rest of Cabin Two filed in the teacher turned around and started class.
“Alright class, today’s topic will be Water Manipulation,” the teacher started, before going into a long explanation of how to control the water to do your bidding. The rest of the group started practicing more advanced water manipulation while the teacher taught Audrey the basics. She practiced moving water from one jar to the next but to no prevail. By the end of the session she had given up and was ready for alchemy.
Alchemy took place in a cool dark cave near the beach. Danderwall stood at the back of the cave, facing rows of tables filled with kids. On the tables were bowls, and flasks, and an assortment of other alchemy tools. Students were partnered up and challenged to make a potion of positive use with the following ingredients: mint leaves, honey, tree sap, and spider poison.
Audrey was partnered with Ethan, and he helped guide her in making a poison curing potion. At the end of class each pair presented their potion. Everyone had come up with a good potion except for James, who had been partnered with Kylo. They had spent the entire time bickering about amounts to mix in, and what the final potion would become. In the end the only thing they managed to create was a large explosion that sent everyone running.
That night at dinner Audrey asked James and Ethan why there was one table always empty in the mess hall. Both of them were silent for a while sharing a look.
“What is it?” she asked.
“Well… it’s just that it wasn’t always empty. Cabin Four is, I mean was, air. But a few years ago, they turned on the camp. They thought that air was the superior power, and they broke off from camp, and no one’s heard from them since. But there are rumors that they’ve been planning their revenge on Camp Alchemy to destroy us and let only the supreme element reign,” Ethan explained.
“The cloud giant,” Audrey murmured.
“What was that?” James asked.
“Oh, nothing,” Audrey replied, busying herself with her food. She trusted James and Ethan, but something was telling her to keep this to herself.
They were just finishing up dinner when the skies opened up and let the rain pour down. Everything was soaked in a matter of minutes. Campers ran toward the cabins, but they were stopped by an unknown force. A swirling torrent of wind swept through the camp and herded everyone into a tight prison. No one could get in and no one could get out.
Campers were yelling and screaming, pounding the air, trying to escape. It was a mass of chaos, noise filling the air, but in a single second it was silent.
A teenage boy, around nineteen or so, walked towards the prison. Gasps rang out through the crowd. They all knew who he was, whether they had met him in person, or they had heard the rumors, but either way there was no mistaking this man for another. He had pitch black hair, singed at the ends; two colored eyes: one blue, one silver; and one long white scar, starting at his left eyebrow, and snaking its way to his neck.