In nature all things work together in harmony. In a storm, lighting strikes a tree, igniting a flame on the brittle branches as they fall to the ground, but the rain extinguished the flame before it could get too bad. The rocks, scorched from the moment there was the heat of the flame, become cooled down by the gentle breeze that the wind brings. The elements work together, but it doesn’t always stay like that if the elements are in the hands of people.
Humans grew to be able to posses the powers of the elements, but no human was powerful enough to wield all four; earth, air, fire, and water. I held a connection with water, as did my little sister, although only our father shared this power and our mother could control earth. You are taught in this world to use these abilities for good, to help others, and if you're a mom who can control earth than to throw a couple pebbles at your children when they argue. But just as there is good in the world, there is always bad. Those that try to use their power to steal or harm others, those like the king and prince who use their fire to burn things to get their way. The good will always fight the bad.
In the distance you could see the smoke, thick and dark against the blue cloudless sky, the men marching and some on horseback, as the king and prince made their way to our town with a small army. The bitter scent of ash made my nose burn as I took in a deep breath. They would be here before too long, and who knew what they wanted with us.
"Jenna." My sisters voice spoke from beside me, her hand reaching for mine as she looked at the rising smoke above the hills with her wide gray eyes.
"I know. Lets find Callan." I broke my gaze and turned to escort my sister away, wanting her to focus on finding our friend over what could possibly be coming. There was only two years between Nessa and I, but I always felt that older sister feeling of wanting to protect her from the world.
We pushed through the crowd of people that gathered to watch as the king and his men would slowly draw closer, chatter rang as some panicked and others acted cocky, pretending they weren't just as scared as everyone else. The wind whipped my light hair into my eyes that I struggled to keep down while trying to look for the familiar tuffs of hair.
"There's my two favorite people." I could hear the smirk before I saw it as we pushed through to an open alleyway, Callan leaning against the brick wall of the building. His light brown hair was ruffled and dirty, blue eyes holding that spark of mischief they always held, and tattered clothes showing he just got off work.
"What are you so smug about, haven't you seen the smoke?" Nessa asked, raising an eyebrow and she smoothed down her own dark hair, the wind being blocked by the building we took shelter between. His smirk dropped.
"I saw. The resistance is barely able to start and I'm worried of them catching wind of it while in town." He pushed himself off the wall and walked closer to where my sister and I stood. My brown eyes widened at his statement.
"You mean the resistance is actually up and running now? We have a leader?" I asked in a hushed tone, making sure no one but the three of us could hear.
"That's why I wanted to meet you two today, we found someone to lead us and he knows more people in nearby towns that can help spread the word. He's estimated a huge crowd for the next meeting, that is, if we don't get caught before barely taking off."
"Who is he? Where did you guys find him?" Nessa asked as the three of us had basically formed a huddle to discuss our new illegal group.
"His name's Ronan, he's a traveler who is currently trying to keep under the radar of the king since he's on the run from the law. Says he got caught with conspiring against the prince so he went into hiding for the last year.
"So he's done this before." I pointed out, my heart racing with excitement.
"And he's happy to do it again." Callan's smirk returned and Nessa high fived me. For years we've wanted to start a resistance, to grow a group and a plan to take out the evil man who ruled over us, but us three teens knew we didn't have what it took to do that, we knew we needed a leader. Now, I felt unstoppable. Like we had a chance, even if this was just the start. Even if there are only ten of us, we had a guide now, we had a chance.
"Tomorrow we get to meet our fearless leader, I think this calls for a little celebration dinner." Nessa smiled, a new bounce to her step.
"I like the sounds of food, what were you thinking?" Callan leaned his elbow on her shoulder, ignoring as she tried to smack him off. A grin splayed on his face as my sister tried to hide her smile with a scowl.
I playfully rolled my eyes and turned back to the main street, leading us out of the alley way while the two bickered about what food they wanted. Callan wasn't related to us, but he felt like a brother, after growing up together, the countless times he's been there to protect us or be a shoulder to cry on, these two where all I had. They were my family.
I wanted to ignore the smog on the horizon, ignore the gloom that would come. We still had one more day before they would be here, and I wanted to spend this day celebrating, enjoying our newfound hope. I let the two go back and forth on a food option, blindly following me while I instead lead them to my favorite place. If they couldn't decide, I could pick for them.
Just down the road was a small little noodle shop, ran by this man and his wife who were travelers and had seen many different cultures and foods, and they decided to bring some of that to our small town. One thing they brought was their noodles, and I took every chance I could find to be able to come here.
Only when I pulled open the door to the building did the two notice where we had walked to, their bickering coming to an abrupt halt as they recognized the soft music playing, felt the familiar warm and soft atmosphere.
"Noodles it is then." Callan smirked, taking the lead to our typical table.
We sat down, walking past scattered tables to the back corner where we always sat, the owner seeing us and giving a kind wave before walking back to the kitchen, calling out to them our usual orders as they never changed. My stomach growled at the heavy scent of spices dancing past my nose, but my nerves finally had a chance to catch up with me and it overshadowed my hunger. Each second we sat here, the closer the king got. The closer he got, the more chances of our group being discovered, especially with a meeting being held right under his nose. We had a lot to lose in such a short amount of time.
"What are those pretty brown eyes staring at?" Callan laughed, snapping me out of my nervous thoughts. I scowled at him, only causing him to laugh more.
"These 'pretty brown eyes' could give you a black eye in a quick second." I raised an eyebrow at him, hearing Nessa smirk beside me while Callan childishly stuck out his tongue.
"Now Jenna, you know very well fighting isn't allowed in my establishment." The familiar, motherly voice spoke beside me and I whipped my head around with a big smile plastered on my face. Maria stood there, grinning at us while holding our bowls of noodles in her hands.
"I was only partially joking." I said, helping take the bowls from her hands.
The second the bowl landed in front of Callan he dug in, causing Nessa to give him a disgusted look and Maria to give her signature, soft laugh. But just as soon as that moment came, it was gone as Maria's face turned serious and she leaned closer to our table.
"I know you guys saw the smoke, know what that means." She spoke, her voice low.
"People are estimating that they'll be here by tomorrow afternoon." I replied, keeping my tone to the same low as hers.
"But I wonder what they could be doing this far from the palace." Nessa questioned, sipping on her broth.
"I heard that now the prince is of age to find himself a future wife," Maria glanced over her shoulders, checking that no one was listening or paying attention to us, "You guys need to be careful, try to hide or stay indoors as much as possible, I can't imagine what would happen if the prince chose one of you girls." Concern washed over her face and I just wanted to reach out and hug her, but we didn't want to draw attention to ourselves so I simply took her hand in mine and gave it a light squeeze. She seemed satisfied with what she told us as she turned back to head towards the kitchen, leaving the three of us speechless and lost in our own thoughts of what tomorrow might bring.