The Importance of Saying Goodbye
The first thing Teal Auras remembered dreaming about was fire; bright, blossoming flames igniting the childhood home he loved. As a child he and his brother Cyan had lived with their mother and father in a lighthouse on the edge of a town called Aest, in the southern most island of an archipelago called the Arms Islands. They lived a peaceful existence until one night, a cold one as Teal remembered, a terrible inferno burnt the lighthouse to the ground. That night hadn't just been the night he lost his home, however; two summoners had been found deceased and holding on to one another near the front door. Teal stood clutching his brother's hand with tears in his eyes as he watched his home burn. Watched his parents burn.
Nightmares about this night haunted Teal for years to come, long after he and Cyan watched as men from the village retrieved his parents' bodies; long after the brothers had been forced to move to the north most island- to Krionel. On that island the brothers found themselves living in a village called Lower Tome. It was a small farm village in the shadow of a towering castle city named Upper Tome, the capital of their gathering of islands and a city where the rich ignored the poor and politics were everywhere.
Both the rich and poor were protected by a group of warriors known as 'The Guard'. Once an elite crew of trained knights and heroes from realms apart, the old Guard was revered for ensuring the safety of the world, Excel, from threats ranging from maniacs who would abuse magic for personal gain to monsters and plunderers alike. Now, decades later, The Guard was a shell of its former self full of volunteers and lacking the spark of heroism.
Still, tales of The Guard filled Teal's youth, and stories of heroes were almost as vivid in his head as that horrible night. In one tale, a small group of heroes had been tasked with defeating a horrible monster known as the 'Beast' and had gone on a crusade to the very top of the world, only to be betrayed by one of their own and vanish. The Beast was left to ravage the world and left it in shambles, with a third of the world's population dead or missing. Teal hated this story because the man who betrayed his allies was a summoner, and upon learning this The Guard considered such magic forbidden. This led the people of Excel to discriminate against summoners in such a way that when the lighthouse in Aest burnt to the ground, not a single villager stepped in to save the two that were trapped inside.
Teal and Cyan had grown up hearing about these stories from their aunt Dreda, a sour woman who seemed to loathe her sister for the 'curse' she brought upon the family. Teal's mother bore the mark of the summoner since her birth; one eye of green and the other blue, which caused the family to be frowned upon and the sisters to grow up with harassment from others their age. She was always comparing the two brothers to their father, both having blonde hair and dichromatic blue-green eyes. She made Cyan keep his hair long so his fringe would cover his right eye, while she told Teal to never look an adult in the eyes. Cyan always laughed behind her back at how bitter she had become, but Teal always felt sorry for the woman.
When Teal was eight he met a red-haired girl, Scarlette, who lived nearby. She, Teal and Cyan became inseparable and would play from dawn to the very last beams of light dusk provided. Three years later the trio met Aureolin, a boy with white hair and golden eyes who had wandered into town one day with amnesia. Cyan took Aureolin under his wing and though they were close, eventually Scarlette and Aureolin became closer. Aureolin lived with the brothers and their now bed-ridden aunt for the next three years, but when he was fourteen his aunt passed away. Cyan was now an adult and had completed training to join The Guard, and he rose in rank to Captain in a short two years. He made enough money doing tasks for villagers and collecting monster bounties from the King to keep Teal, Aureolin and himself warm and fed, and when Teal turned eighteen he and his friends also began training to become members of The Guard.
Throughout his training and the next few years, Teal kept one thing with him; on her deathbed, his aunt had gifted him with a few parting words.
"Please promise me that you won't forget to say goodbye. Every chance you get." It was these words that helped Teal see that she had never hated he and his brother, she had just been sad. She never hated her sister because of her summoning magic, she hated knowing it was why her sister hadn't been rescued.
Teal knew how she felt all along. If he could, he would jump into the fire to pull his parents out and would have gladly given his life to do so. Cyan had joined The Guard to protect Teal, and Teal knew his reason for joining was similar.