Chapter 1: Part 1
The village cried to me in agony, begging me to stop the suffering. My eyes blinked, almost teared up by the smoke that came over, blown by disaster-made wind, to choke me. I was unable to stop, I had gone too far. This was too much that even a simple rain storm couldn’t stop. Fires raged upon the roofs, making roaring sounds, threatening me from taking any more steps forward. The dirt path of the village that I stood in neatly placed houses symmetrically. Each of them made of wood and rice paper, such a perfect ingredient for flames. My mind had decided, and I forced myself into the heart of the village—about six or ten villagers dead as I passed them. This wasn’t something I could travel back in time and stop myself. This was a mistake I had to bear. The destruction of an entire race!
The flames danced wildly upon the roofs of each house, its green flames created orange fire, one house at a time.
I made my way into the center of the village before I was stopped by a familiar voice. “Elise… please…” the man coughed, pleading me. It was the chief.
Why was I so stupid? These people knew me, they trusted me. And yet, I turned their faith against them. I wasn’t their guardian angel, I was the fiend that lied through the bare teeth of this twisted mouth. He didn’t pull his head up, it took too much energy, and at that moment, strength was what he needed to pull the words out of his mouth. His words were quiet, I had to kneeled and leaned my head in. “Within my mansion lie my two precious children. We may be done for, but they still have so much to live for! They will be my future. Save them… I beg of you.” There was a large cut on his back, barely any burn marks. This might be the reason why he was in this state. I looked at him in pity, then it would counter back at me. “I know what you’ve done.” And I know I can’t ever repay this, no matter how many times I torture myself. “But it’s not your fault.”
My eyes widened, lips tightened, and I dared to shout at a man lying on his death bed. “It’s not my fault? I’m the one who started the fire. I’m the one with the Queen’s Flame!” I selfishly confessed to everything. “And you say that it’s not my fault?”
Under his ragged grey hair, his face pointed toward the ground and away from my view, I could feel his smile. He was grinning. The chief moved his head sideways, letting himself watch his village falling apart. “I have told that one day this would happen. We weren’t made to live forever. I have accepted my fate, but I can’t let my children be a part of this. Please, as a favor from a friend, save them. At least… you’ll be able to save a part of yourself with this.”
After continuing to observe him, he no longer moved. The chief was gone. If I saved his children, I would be saving myself? What kind of logic was that? Ah, psychological. My knees straightened and I had gotten back to my original height. Turning on my heels, I was about to head toward the chief’s mansion—to the east—when something suddenly and surprisingly grabbed my ankle. I turned back, shock surging through my brain. It was a soft grip, rather, a dying grip. “Whatever you do, don’t let her spread her wings.”
Don’t let her spread her wings.
Those were his final words.
He was supposed to be dead. And yet it was like the heavens above sent him straight back to his body to let him heed his warning to me. At least I knew that one of his two children was a girl. After the charcoal covered hand released me of my position, I continued onward east. Of course, the chief wasn’t lying when he said mansion. Out of every regular looking house, his mansion stood out like a sore thumb. It was like the city hall, except this was a standalone village that preferred no connection with anybody. This village was peaceful, well, usually. Now there wouldn’t be a tranquil home on the planet of Yuos, the green planet that was surrounded by vegetations, waterways, oceans, and natural-born enemies.
The manor was like a painting, one filled with hatred and the desire to burn everything. The fire already made its way here, quickly eating everything up and spitting out the dust. I’d better hurry. The frames came forth from the ground and up to the seven foot wall, then side to side the structure would connect to keep itself from falling apart. What covered it from the public was rice paper. The brownish red oak shined brighter than it should be. The flames were heading up. Soon, the ceiling that had an arc would collapse with the children under it. I heard enough screams that would last a lifetime. I wasn’t about to have another carved into my brain.
The oak and tan-ish white rice paper was no match for my boot as I kicked it down. With the door opened, I searched for these two children, not knowing if they were alive or already burned to a crisp. Ashes flew onto my skin and clothes without me noticing. I was in a frantic state, coughing every few seconds. At this moment, the smoke that caused so much poison would drop a human’s lung, letting them suffer before their body was engulfed. Too bad I wasn’t one; I didn’t plan on being a victim to fire. But there was too much, it was blocking my vision, tickling my throat and causing me to retch like a madman. The green floor was all I could see on the bottom, but the door that released all of this smoke appeared to not be the way. I should leave the guest room and not take the closet door.
Everywhere I searched for these two. Had the chief deceived me? Did he bring me here to die? No, he knew who I was. Piles of burnt wood weren’t going to kill me. They might as well stab my heart with a wooden stake. No, he would never be this… evil. Although I had never seen these children of his, did they even exist? The time that I spent here in this village, I never caught a glance of them. He described them with so much grace in his voice. “They are the most beautiful thing you’ll ever lay your eyes on, Elise. My people say that the color of their hair shows that they are infected. Of all things they decide to tell to the chief, they go ahead and tell me that my children are defects. Maybe I shouldn’t be so nice to them; then again, I can’t be so mean to the people who raised me from child to man.”
“What is the color of their hair that makes them so different from others?” I asked him in return. “Is it such an out of the ordinary for you?”
“Their hair is gold, just like their mother. Heh, before I took my rightful place as the chief, I found my one true love. Like I’ve said before with my children, people had said that she was infected with a disease, something they probably made up to scare me away. But you know what? I didn’t care. Whatever this ‘disease’ might’ve done to her, it did a pretty good job. She was a fair maiden, from my eyes, her blond hair moved with such elegance. I took her in as my wife and she made her end of her bargain and gave me two beautiful children.”
“You tell me much about your wife and children, but I’ve never seen them with my own eyes,” I diligently replied.
The chief smiled, his lips stretched as far as it could go. “In due time my dear friend, in due time.”
I’m guessing that the time is now, right? You probably want me to go as fast as I can before I miss my chance.
Gah, think Elise, think! If I was a girl who had a sibling and the whole house was burning down, where would I be? Was it too smart for them to run outside? How old were they exactly? I presumed that their brain hadn’t fully matured yet, so somewhat young. Maybe the chief had told them to hide somewhere, somewhere in the house, and wait for somebody to rescue them. “Oh, what was I thinking?” the chief wouldn’t think of a plan like that. I was getting too ahead of myself.
Or would he?
I didn’t know where I was anymore. Inside, everything looked the same, and I couldn’t afford to wait and think. The ceiling was starting to break down. The way I came from was now blocked. I started seeing heat waves, it was already this hot? At the end of the hallway, I only had four choices left for me. Easily, I would be able to break out and get myself into the forest. The manor was one of the many houses that had its back embraced by the forest. If I was guessing correctly, I was near the end of the mansion. This was only a guess though, for all I care, I might bring myself out and back to the burning village.
Four choices, so much could be done, but I had no way of turning back and it seemed that the fire would only let me pick one room. I looked down at my feet, almost forgetting my surroundings, and thought, “Elise, you have only one choice. It better be correct.”
But first, I needed information. I had used the Queen’s Flame, one of the only flames with a mind of its own. It will burn and melt through everything, but what it loved the most was flesh, preferably human flesh. However, the Krozamine clan wasn’t human. It was still flesh either way, just like me. I noticed that the flames were gradually coming toward me as the other rest went pass me to head for four rooms. It was crawling by the side of the walls.
The Queen’s Flame was attracted to the flesh, so if I had looked carefully, where was the fire heading? The second to the left, that was where most of the flames seemed to be attracted to. It didn’t bother when it skipped the first room. That was where all my bets were going to.
Darting toward the room, I slid the door open, although it was already opened with the rice paper gone from the fire. I stepped inside, eyes carefully searching. A closet, opened. Fires were heading toward it. And the final hint, a sudden wave of a sunflower hair. She must be there!
I rushed and raced against the fire which appeared to be ignoring my presence. Though this was a bad idea, I ripped the door open. I didn’t think I’d have the patience to just open it gently. Inside sat the two golden haired children, just like what the chief had said. I found the similarity from his daughter, whose eyes stabbed me in my black little heart. She delivered a low growl with an intimidating aura that would drive away even the most fearsome creature; however, there wasn’t time for me to be scared. I pushed myself toward her, picking her up and dashing out of the room. The Queen’s Flame followed me, it was quicker than usual.
This was the luxurious meal it had been waiting for, and I was taking it away from it. I would be mad too if my delicious dinner—that would be in my stomach soon—was being stolen right in front of my face. The end of the hall was to the right this time, and I made no sluggish kick to the wall. It broke, and it looked like it would just tumble down without me using force. With that, I saw the forest. It would be foolish of me to bring the Queen’s Flame to the forest. However, the Darkling of the Underworld would come soon and bring this flame back to its cage. I made haste with my escape. And it was even harder to run with two children on my arms. Oh, if only I could shoot fire until it died out. I would waste my entire clip on it.
I felt a sharp pain in my shoulder. The girl was biting me! It had started bleeding. Although once I had gotten far enough for the flame to lose interest, the girl kept struggling. And jeez, her teeth hurt as if somebody was repeatedly stabbing an old wound of mine with a pickaxe! After having no more patience with her, I forcefully threw her on the ground, and let her brother down gently. The wound that she gave me healed in no time. “Look kid, I’m saving your life here!” I growled at her.
Yet like a beast, she made no reply and tried to attack me once more. I had to hold her down; she was probably at a stage where she thought everybody was an enemy. It was a survival instinct for the Krozamine clan. Her brother, on the other hand, just stared at me with those gleaming blue eyes of his. For some reason, it felt so much better than the dagger reds from his sister. The girl was young, but she didn’t look like she was in her childhood stage. Her brother was, for sure. She was much different… ahh… what was her name? Oh, right, the chief never told me. He only praised them on how beautiful they were.
What about their mother? I didn’t see her in there with them.
Oh, but the chief only told me to save the children. Had his wife already died?
“What’s your name?” a sudden question. This was from the boy, his face looked eager to find out. What was up with him? Why was he so happy while his sister was in a rage? “My name’s Elliot!” he continued without hearing mine. Then he watched this sister, who was still being held down to the ground, and pointed at her. “Her name is Natasha. She’s a demon year older than me!” This girl was a hundred years older than him?
Somehow, hearing the cheery voice of her brother made her resistance stop. The girl blinked, and tears were formed. The moment I saw that, I went off of her. I sat down on the grass, somewhere a tad far from those two, and I gave my answer, “The name’s Elise Suzanne. I’m a friend of your father…” and the woman who destroyed your entire village. “I just happened to come here on a visit when I saw this whole place burning down.”
There I went with my lies; I just let it seep through my teeth without regret or anything. “He told me a lot about you two, although most of them were about how beautiful your hair was. I actually never met you two, and I never thought that I would meet you like in such a crisis like this.”
“Our father is kind!” the boy randomly shouted.
“Yes,” I couldn’t help but to smile at his thick-headedness. “I know that.”
The daughter refused to say anything, she only watched her brother as he happily conversed with me while his village was burning in the background. We were far, I ran fast, but the light of the fire was visible even from here. I wondered, “Was he talking to me in this tone so that he could hide the depressing side of him?” Surely, some part of him should be crying—like how some part of me should be regretting.
It was nice to talk, but I needed to move. I needed to be back on my ship. I needed to talk, but not to these two. “Come,” I said, “we better get moving.”
Elliot—that was his name, correct?—nodded, not knowing what I probably meant, and stood up. I walked a few steps before looking back. He was pulling his sister up, saying, “Let’s go with the nice lady, Natasha.”
It almost looked like it was a reverse role of older and younger siblings. However, Natasha was mature; she did care for her brother. To her, the boy was already in my grasp and somehow trusted me. And she wouldn’t want him to be alone with me no matter what. So Natasha had no choice, she had to follow.