The Kingdom, formed the year of Sparks' birth, was a part of a larger empire that was allowed to break away. It is small, only a small fragment of the Empire and separated from it by a mountain range. A river starting in that mountain range breaks off into countless smaller rivers and streams that crisscross across the Kingdom, eventually culminating a few miles from the ocean. The castle lies in the exact center of the Kingdom with the largest town spanning miles amongst the western fields. Other towns have cropped up along the coast and the winding road leading to the Kingdom's second largest city. The Kingdom has enough land full of rich soil for growing plenty of crops, and the coastal towns provide enough fish and opportunities for trade. The rest of the Kingdom, however, is uninhabitable. The north is all marshland, more water than land. The south is sandy plain of rocks and desert grass, with one or two small streams that took a wrong turn and eventually dry out. There is a rumor that the marshlands house an powerful serpent that attacks everyone that disturbs it. Because of this, the marsh is rarely set foot in while the plains are used as training grounds for the Kingdom's knights.
Because of his abnormally sensitive skin and eyes Cassidy is not allowed to go outside while the sun is shinning. This has caused him to develop an unorthodox and unpredictable sleep schedule. Sparks deals with this well, waking when his charge does and staying awake until the younger passes out from exhaustion. Exhaustion brought on by trying to experience everything, even with the limitations placed upon him. At nine Cassidy is a ball of unchained energy. A firecracker with a desire to learn everything. And Sparks obliges as best he can. He's only a few inches shorter than Colin,who folds in on himself and makes himself seem smaller than his four foot three stature. Sparks continues to tower over them both, much to their chagrin.
Cassidy's voice rings through the air. Laughter of pure joy escaping his pink tinted lips as he runs across the sandy dunes of the south. Colin is chasing after him, hazel eyes narrowed and lips drawn into a thing line of determination. Sparks stands on a high rock staring down at them, a fond smile placed teasingly on his face. His hair is one again unbound tendrils of fire. There is a gentle breeze that carries the smoke from his hair off into the distance. It's a few hours yet to sundown but the sun is hidden behind an unusually thick fog. Sparks breathes in the cold air. His flames dance in protest, growing longer and singeing the fabric of his shirt. He brushes them off and gnaws on a twig he broke from a pear tree growing along the outskirts of the western fields, close to the castle. The flames calm, accepting the branch as a sort of payment.
A ray of light pierces the fog and glints of something in the distance, close to where Cassidy and Colin are playing. Sparks tenses. Steam rose form his body to spiral in the air above him. The flames in his eyes broke free. The smoke mingled with the fog, creating a dark halo above his head. He hops off the rock and onto the loose ground. He took a step forward, allowing the sand to carry him down the dune. He took long strides across the sand and grass. Eyes scanning the area. He had lived in this place for five years. It hadn't changed much, but he found he couldn't remember it. His feet had walked miles of this ground. The burn felt good against his feet as he walked.
Colin turns sharply in pursuit of his friend. A laugh turns into a startled cry midway as the sand slips beneath him. He falls, sliding down a low incline. Cassidy spins around at his friend's outburst and skids to a stop.
"Are you okay?" he calls. Colin gives an unsteady smile in return. He attempts to stand but find himself pulled back to the sand roughly.
"Colin?" Collin asks, taking a step. Colin struggles to lift his head.
"Don't come any closer!" he orders. Cassidy pauses, staring in fear at the older boy. A chattering noise begins to sound in the plains surrounding him. He whimpers, looking around him frantically.
"Cass, run." Colin's voice is high with barely constrained fear. Cassidy turns to stare at Colin only to see a giant black spider crawling up beside him. Its fangs are the size of his arm and dripping with poison. It's eight eyes are fixated on Colin's squirming body as he tries to break free from his bonds. Cassidy screams.
Sparks feet pound against the sand as he runs. The ground is scorched where he touches it. Heat rolls off of him in roaring waves. The fog burns off in the air around him. His eyes are twin suns pulsating against his skin. The fire of his hair raises like a dog's hackles. Reaching out to the sky, shouting a warning to all.
"Cass get back and shut your eyes!" Sparks orders. Cassidy immediately complies, slamming his eyelids down so hard his lashes felt like needles. He throws himself onto the sand and curls up, protecting as much of himself as he can. He hears the spider screech. It's chattering growing louder. He hears the answering chatters of other spiders and the shifting of the sands beneath their lanky limbs.
Sparks stares the spider down. He knew there were more coming. His eyes darted to Colin lying helplessly on the web glinting in the light of Sparks' fire. He is growling, a steady rumble escaping from behind clenched teeth. His canines flash in his own light. Out the corner of his eyes he sees two more appear over the dunes. He lets out a hiss from between his teeth. He is unsurprised when little flames escape. He takes a step forward. His foot makes contact with the spider's web. The spider chirps in anger and fear. Sparks smirked. He shakes his head, sending embers flying from his mane. They land on the fine strings and stay there, unmoving save for brief flickers in the wind.
"Don't worry, Colin. I won't let you get hurt," the eldest of the three assures the boy as the flames spread along the translucent lines. Colin whimpers as the flames pass close too him, but they never touch him. The spider backtracks and attempts to run, as do its friends on the nearby dunes. The flames follow it. Chasing the beast and overcoming it. It screams in terror before its life is cut off. Burned to death. Sparks points at the other two spiders. Beams of fire erupt from his hands, channeled by his fingertips. They spiders in engulfed by the fire in a matter of seconds. They burn in rapid succession. Their cries sing out over the barren landscape. Music to the nocturnal mammals often prey to the large arachnids. Smoke rises from the bodies and gathers in the sky. Sparks moves forward and frees Colin form his bindings. He gather's the frightened boy into his arms and holds him there. Cooing words he had cooed to Cassidy when he was a baby. Colin lets out a sob, gripping the half elemental's shoulders painfully. Cassidy scrambles from his place on the ground and barrels into them. His own tears mixing with Colin's on the burnt ground. Sparks winds one arm around him and pulls him closer. They remain there, huddled together until rain begins falling. Brought on by the thick smoke Sparks had conjured.