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Beads of sweat dripped off my forehead as I ran. Weaving my way through alleyways, swimming canals, and jumping roofs; I tried to shake my pursuer. I ended up in a dead end alleyway, the cloaked pursuer right behind me. Flipping open a pocketknife, I pressed my back against the wall. Suddenly, the knife grew hot and forced me to drop it. The pursuer came closer and closer. The air was heavy; I could hardly breathe. His head was now next to mine. It emitted no warmth or presence but a cold empty feeling. He whispered something in my ear, and my ears began to ring. My eyesight blurred; and before passing out, I saw the pursuer walk out the alleyway engulfed in flames and disappear.
The next morning, I awoke in the alleyway. The damp morning air filled my lungs. Normally, this was a pleasant feeling; I loved waking up and breathing it in. However, today the damp air seemed to burn my skin; and even though it wasn’t very cold, I saw steam coming from my body. I rushed home, stopping by the bakery to get some breakfast. I rounded the last corner along the canal; and there was the small, abandoned boat shack I called home. Every day, I would help out others to try and earn enough money for food and maybe some other useful materials. Recently, there had been several thefts and murders throughout the town; and yesterday, I thought I was next.
By midday, it had warmed up; and the sun felt good beating on me as I lay in a small boat in the canal. The heat seemed to continue to increase, and it almost felt like I was regaining energy. I went into town with what little money I had left and bought some food for the day. It was a Friday; and the weekly arena challenge was beginning, so the square was empty. From the corner of my eye, I saw five hooded figures run out of an alleyway keeping to the shadows and into a restricted entrance of the arena. Curious, I followed and entered an ominous tunnel. Every ten feet, it seemed like there was at least one other tunnel leading into different parts of the arena. I turned and followed one of them finding myself behind one of the stands. Surprised that I was able to sneak into the arena without paying, I sat down on the closest bench.
The first match had already begun. There were three fighters each one fighting to the death. The match went on for five minutes before the arena master got bored. He released several beasts, their arms like a praying mantis’s except they were barbed and obviously poisoned. Most of its body was white save the crest on his head that ran down his back and the arms, which had a dark violet hue to them. They had an amazing jump to them, so much that a cage was lowered over the main arena. Each of the beasts leapt at the humans ripping them apart with their arms. The third fighter evaded the attack creating some distance for himself. This was of no use as one of the other beasts released barbed fleshy tubes from its mouth. The tubes hooked into the fighter; and with immense strength, they were whipped back into the mouth of the beast.
The beasts were about to be retrieved when a sudden bolt of lightning struck the cage from within the stands. There stood the five, cloaked figures I saw entering the arena through the same entrance I had. One of them was holding an odd sword that was emanating a strong aura. The cloaks were engulfed in shadows and disintegrated. You could now see clearly that the five figures were not of this world. Their heads were that of an elf in the ancient stories and the same with their ears. They wore armor made of an almost magical cloth and bones. One by one, they killed the townspeople watching. The beasts leapt from the arena and began to tear people to shreds and eat them. Anger began welling up in me; and for a strange reason, I began to feel hotter and hotter.
Slowly, the five figures walked through the stands as if they were looking for something. I became furious and unable to move from shock as I stood there and watched as they continued to kill people. My hands were burning by now, and one of the figures glanced over. When he saw me, he said something to the others; and they all came towards me. Frightened, the heat inside me only grew. When I regained control of my body I saw that there were flames swirling around my hands. They grew more and more deadly with every step the figures took until the one with the sword was right in front of me. I had nowhere to run as I was already in a corner. He pointed his sword straight at my heart, and I felt the heat turn into soothing warmth. He then said, “Well, hello; I’m glad to meet you. You see, a few days ago, one of our allies left us. You’ve probably met him, and that’s why you have his powers to control fire now. Also, you’re one of us now.”
There was absolutely no way I could be one of them I thought and how could I control fire? Although if it was true… I lifted my hand up as if I was observing the fire; then feeling confident I faced it towards the five figures and released a burst of fire. There was a puff of steam and a short laugh from the one holding the sword. “Same as always you fire users, you think that we’re evil or something and attack at will. Besides, you’re already growing the points on your ears. Why not join us before you are ‘mistaken’ as one of us and exiled.”
“Alright, I’ll join you” I said with disgust. I was already living on the streets and my life couldn’t get any worse.
“That’s great! We’ll be leaving at dusk; by the way, my name is Sevverre,” he responded with an odd look on his face. For some reason, something just didn’t feel right.
At dusk, we all met at a small campsite in the woods north of the town. From the looks of things, this was going to be a long night. The trip must be long as they had packed so many things. Each of them was working on some kind of orb of what seemed to be their element.
“So what exactly do you guys do?” I asked realizing I have no idea what their goal in life was and their reasoning to need me to be part of them.
“Well, we travel a lot; and in our free time, we try to perfect the soul stone of our element. In addition to that, we hold many competitions among ourselves,” answered Sevverre.
“Lies,” I said, “that can’t be the only things you do.”
Sevverre sighed and responded, “We protect people who live here from those beasts that you saw in the arena. There are many different types of them, and they genetically change themselves to grow stronger or more capable for certain tasks.”
“Then why did you release the beasts in the arena and kill those people?” I shouted furiously as they were killing innocent people.
“That was necessary,” Sevverre said obviously getting annoyed. “We needed to find the last person for our group to be complete.”
“Couldn’t you have done it another way?” I said.
“No!” Sevverre shouted. “Now shut up and get your things; we’re leaving.”
I turned away, grabbed a small bag with all of the money I had, a knife and some food, and then returned to camp. We all left on foot each of us wearing cloaks keeping in the shadows.
“We have sentries all over the world that give us updates once you meet one I’ll have you make a symbol with them so that they can notify you if anything comes up. However, you’ll have to become more familiar with your element first as you must be able to sense that symbol from all over the world. For example, we received a notification from a man in Callia which is on the other side of the world. To get there, we combine each other’s powers; and we would travel directly through the planet; but you are incapable of that at this point in time, so we will find an easier route,” Sevverre explained. Over the course of the walk, I realized that Sevverre would explain and do all of the talking while the others would focus on their soul stones. Also, he gets very irritated if you ask too many questions.
We reached a small river, and one of the five entered the river and sat down on top of it. The water quickly froze into a small boat with an opening at the end. We all entered the boat with the Karn in the back because he controlled water and allowed us to move. I later found out that it would be my job to keep the boat warm without actually melting it. In about five minutes, we had ended up in a mountainous area. We all entered another vehicle-like thing in the ground which we used to tunnel through the earth to a small town where we had received the notification.
When we arrived, there were ten of those beasts ravaging the town; people were doing the best they could to keep them away and avoid dying. The five quickly set up in formation and released their elements fighting the beasts off. Electric ice shards flew into the beasts paralyzing them then water softened the skin while earthen spikes erupted from the ground killing them. Suddenly, one of the beasts leapt over and tried to attack me. I dodged left and tried to summon a flame. All I received was a small spark so I drew my knife and continued dodging. I waited for an opening and tried to summon the flame again. Finally, I received an opening and thrust my knife at the beast. It was to no avail as it barely left a scratch. Three ice spears plunged through the beast. “Help the villagers get to safety; we’ll hold them off!” yelled Lorne.
“Got it,” I replied and rushed to help the villagers. “Everyone, please make your way into the woods; they will allow you to hide from those beasts and give you a better chance at avoiding their attacks!” Everyone rushed into the forest as I watched the five fight the beasts without any worries; they were able to get rid of the ten in less than twenty minutes without breaking a sweat. The villagers thanked us for our help and fed us as well as giving us some money. After the food, we all met in the woods and rested. In the center of the forest, there was a small lake to where I went and figured I would attempt to summon a flame. It took me the next half hour before I could even create a spark consistently. Frustrated, I slammed my fist down; and streaks of fire erupted from that area lighting the grass on fire. I started to panic and try to absorb the fire but to no avail, and it was spreading very fast. Suddenly, it was hard to breath; and the fire vanished. I turned around, and Hephio was standing there leaning against the tree.
“We leave at dawn,” he said and walked away.
The next morning, we set out; I continued to practice summoning along with learning how to use a sword. I received help from Sevverre and the others about the basics of using the element and how to feel it flow. Sevverre wanted me to train with a sword as he saw that I patiently waited to strike the beast and how I was able to find the opening in the stance. Supposedly, Sevverre believed I have great potential.
Two weeks later, we received our next job request. I had begun controlling the basics of my flame and was able to summon a small amount. I had spent most of the past two weeks summoning flames and somewhat on handling a sword.
We arrived at the site shortly after we received the notice. It was a barren plain, not a single piece of life; and the air felt heavy. Surprisingly, I felt very energized and read for the attack. The ground rumbled and erupted fifty meters to the east and west as two enormous beasts arose from the ground. Their mouths were gaping open with toxic venom leaking out. Hard scales covered their bodies more like giant crests upon their heads and back rather than those of a snake. Bone-like spikes frilled from their tails and served as a deadly weapon. They looked entirely stripped of skin as bones covered their entire bodies. Six giant claws like a scorpions legs served as arms. The creatures towered a good thirty feet above our heads, moved extremely fast, and were very deadly. In addition to that, there were about a hundred smaller creatures coming in at us. Some resembled those in the arena while others were simply like small dinosaurs with claw like arms.
In less than five minutes, we were swarmed with these creatures; and every five minutes, new ones appeared. I summoned a mid-sized flame and provided support with it and my sword as the five attacked the larger creatures. I was stuck in a swirling flame sword flying through the air blocking oncoming creatures and eliminating them one by one. Then several of the beasts shot out the fleshy tubes at me hoping to throw me off guard. I dodged all but one when I was caught at the back. Pain burned through my back, and I lost control of my flame. An earthen dome covered me with,”rest here we will do it ourselves” written in the wall.
Furious, I felt flames welling inside me. There was no way I could be that useless. I slammed my fist into the ground; rocks dug into my fist, and blood started to seep from my wounds. Cursing at myself, I slammed my other fist down; this time, I felt no pain. The ground around the dome erupted like a volcano; the dome melted under the heat, and I was engulfed in flames. Roaring flames swirled around each beast as they were slowly being incinerated. More creatures kept coming from far in the barren plain. Jets of fire propelled me as I flew to the hive of beasts.
With a bird’s eye view of the hive I unleashed torrents of flame at the ground. A faint hissing noise arose then instantaneously became an ear shattering explosion. Magma flowed from the earth’s core melting everything in its path. Monstrous bio-formed towers and nests were swallowed as daemonic screeches and howls resonated through my head. Toxic fluids were incinerated, and the heat was unbearable to any solid form within a hundred meter radius. The stench of burning flesh along with smoke filled my nose fueling even more of this horrendous power through me.
I awoke the next day utterly confused, I instinctively stood up in a defensive stance realizing I was only in the five’s campsite.
“Ah, I see you’re awake. You should rest after the battle you had yesterday,” Sevverre said; his calm voice soothed me and brought me back to full consciousness. “You showed an amazing display of power when you single handedly took out that entire hive. However, we still need to work on your control over the fire and keeping your head level as you went on a rampage. It was quite a site; you cremating those horrid creatures and incinerating the barren plain until it was no more than a colossal pool of magma. We had a hard time getting to you and safely returning you to your calm state; but over all, you did well.”
Emotions rushed through me realizing what I had done. Happiness and joy, pain and anger, even distress and fear. I thanked the five and fell to the ground; I was still exhausted, but it was well worth it.
“We’ll be heading off at dawn tomorrow so rest up. We’re counting on you this time!”
“Thanks,” I said as I lay back. Flames flickered through my eyes; my hair changed to a slight crimson color, and my body was encased in a thin layer of fire. I could get used to this life I thought; a small spark flashed then faded from my heart.