The Warmth of the Hearth

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“Go.” As Noah finishes, the Academy becomes flooded with explosions, the smell of gunpowder filling the air as the fiery chaos ensues.

They spring into action, jumping from the roofs to get over the school walls. Their defenses have failed, Noah the one to thank for its cause by sabotaging it from within. The great Academy crumbles as it loses its once magnificent glow.

Ethan Skye grasps a confused Elizabeth, pulling her away from the now thrashed reception towards the main hall. “This way.” He tells her as they walk to cover, avoiding panicking students along the way. Numerous masked men appear from the shadows, subduing students that dared to fight back. They pass through bloodied individuals, their fine getups now torn apart, tattered pieces of fabric now barely resembling what they once were. A couple students attempt to fend off the attackers, a feeble attempt as they get blasted away by their opponents.

“What the hell are you doing Skye?!” Elizabeth exclaims, trying to break free from Ethan’s hold. “They need our help!”

“They’re already dead, Fjord.” Ethan abruptly replies, his eyes restless as he scans the room, taking a turn to the hallway leading away from the commotion. “This is genocide, with whoever it is that survives being chosen to live on to the new world my father has laid out.”

“Your father is crazy!” Elizabeth screams, now away from Ethan. “He’ll kill everybody for this… this mad dystopia he wants to achieve?!”

Ethan doesn’t react to the thrown attacks against his father, his heart knowing full well that what Fjord was saying is true. “I agree, and I of all people know that going against my father is a death wish.” His eyes lower to the floor, ashamed for what his father has become. “We need to save Kein, it’s the only way we get his plans to fail.”

“Kein?” Elizabeh asks, the name not ringing a bell. “Who is this Kein and why are they after him?”

“Principal Loft’s bodyguard, the guy in the black suit. I have no idea why they’re after him as well, but I am certain that they need him.” Ethan replies, anxiousness now evident in his voice as their time runs out. “I need you to trust me on this Fjord.”

Elizabeth looks at him, trying to determine whether or not he could really be trusted. There was sadness in his eyes, the presence of guilt and regret. “Alright.”

Carson makes his way through the back of the main hall, following the directions given to him by Noah. Numerous familiar faces step in front of him, Younger students attempting to keep him from making progress. He senses the fear emanating from them, as if they were trying to make sense of what was going on. Carson doesn’t move, hoping that they all back off before anybody gets hurt.

“Get him!” One shouts, throwing a spear made of sharpened water. The rest follow, projectiles launched at Carson from every direction. They were nothing compared to Olin, compared to Skye. He pulls out an enormous wall of crimson flame, taking the brunt of the attack as it swirls all over him. A living shield.

Fireballs approach Carson, ones he easily dodges as he launches back one of his own. It splits into three, each finding a target. The rest falter, giving him a chance to launch a heat wave that knocks all of them to the ground as he slams his arms downward. Silence follows, the unconscious students lying still below his feet. “Forgive me.”

He runs past their bodies, making his way to the location of Kein. The once famed Main Hall of the Academy was now in shambles as the scuffle continues on. Dozens of students lie bloody on the ground, some of them no longer breathing. “Up ahead Carson.” Noah speaks through his ear, the tether still connected to both of them. “Get to work.”

“Thora!” Kein scurries to find Thora on the other side of debris, fending of several attackers at once. In swift motions, Thora impales them with her spears, elusive blades made out of wind that cut cleanly through them.

“I’m alright.” She speaks, her voice soft as she sees the worried look on Kein’s face. “We need to protect the kids, I’ll meet you at the ballroom.” Kein nods at her, scurrying away as she makes haste towards the children. Who could it be? Thora suspected Skye, along with the other houses that seemed restless with her being on top. With Kein around?

She sprints down the staircase, using her wind to cut her dress short, freeing her legs to move. Her eyes spot Ethan Skye, running with Elizabeth Fjord towards Kein’s direction. A fear creeps up in her chest, the fear of once again, losing Kein. No. The mark of their bond sears, lighting up as an intense burning sensation causes her knees to buckle. Kein!

“Finally, I have found you.” Noah Skye laughs, standing face to face with Kein. Carson barges into the room, his built stature evident beneath the torn cloak. “Well done Carson.”

A dark smoke seeps from within Kein, his eyes glowing a violent black. Darkness threatens to flood the room around them as he prepares himself for a fight. “I should’ve known.” Kein speaks, dark mist entangling themselves around his arms, clouding him. “What are you after Noah?”

Noah smiles, his eyes locked onto Kein as a crackling white sparks from within his eyes. Heed me, my Storm. Shards of lightning run through his skin, an enormous amount of power surging within him. “Your head, Kein.” He raises a hand against him, the final key to all of his dreams, standing in front of him.

“You leave me no choice.” Long sharp claws made out of dark smoke appear on the tips of Kein’s fingers, his body tensing up in anticipation. Noah was not one to be underestimated, capable of sending him off at a moment’s notice. I cannot let him win. If he loses here, Thora’s dreams, the peace that she wanted to give everybody, the future they were working towards, would crumble. “I will not let you have your way, Skye.”

“Very well.” Noah replies, posturing himself for a duel. “Shall we dance?”

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