My name is Filynora Gwanell Raeloc. Strange name for a Human, right?
My mother told me when I was little that she was not quite sure why she picked my name, but there had to be a reason. She was always like that. She once said that there has to be a reason for every little gift we have when we are born. That some higher power is at work. I never really understood that, and I used to wonder if I ever would. Shadows of hints on the one piece of parchment in Paxtonvale, the village nearest to my home, hinted at that, and I thought for a long time that was probably where she got it from. The parchment was the last piece that the cloaked men hadn’t gotten ahold of.
I guess I’m getting ahead of myself. I should explain the war. I’m not sure how good it will be, as I am not well versed in history that is not my own, but I will give it a shot.
A long time ago there was a Great War. Starting at the edges of Human territory, villages were attacked, but what we were attacked by is lost to history. One by one, the towns and villages began to fall. The attackers worked their way inwards towards the cities in the middle of our territory. By the time they had reached them, our race had an army situated within them to protect them.
Needless to say, they failed.
Once our great capital city was invaded, the king was killed and our new leaders took his place. Who, or even what, our leaders were is not remembered, but they were called the Dark Ones. From all the legends that I’d heard as a child, I thought that they were most likely Elves, those dark, evil creatures that devour children in the night, or Dwarves, Human-eating creatures that look like children. According to the little news we got from our capital, they were never seen by any of the Humans there. The laws are posted and enforced by the mysterious cloaked figures that swarmed the larger cities, but they rarely came to our village.
My mother never let me go into the village when they were around. They made all the animals on our farm jumpy and nervous, and even the bravest men shrank from them. What chance did I have? I was only a fifteen-year-old girl after all.
In spite of my mother’s odd beliefs, which she never really discussed with me no matter how many times I asked, we lived without trouble for years on our farm, nestled away from the rest of the village in between a swath of trees and the edge of a forest. Of course, when I say trouble, I mean that we have avoided fights. In a way, we are always in trouble. See, my father disappeared when I was really young. My mother has no brothers and never bore any sons and father was not from around Paxtonvale, so nobody really knew his family or even where he had come from, not even mother. That meant that there was no man to take care of her or, by extension, me.
We were not only persecuted for not having a man on our farm, though. What seemed even worse, to the villagers at least, was that we raised Elementals. Elementals are creatures that have some significant amount of control over an element, be it earth, fire, water, or air. Most people try to kill Elementals on sight on the rare occasion that they come into contact with the creatures in the wild, but my mother and I loved them dearly. They are so wild and free, no matter how fenced in they actually are.
My absolute favorite Elemental was my Kindle Wolf. A Kindle Wolf looks like a normal wolf, except they are bigger and their fur is thicker. Their coat is usually black or smoky gray with orange, red, and/or yellow markings that start at the tip of the ears and go down the spine. Ember is black with deep red markings. Another difference is their eyes, which glow like smoldering coals. When agitated, or trained like mine is, the markings burst into flames and smoke pours from their nostrils and open mouth, framing their white-hot teeth, which drip a hot, burning substance. My Kindle Wolf was very peaceable, though, unless my mother and I were threatened.
Shortly before I turned sixteen, mother disappeared, and I couldn’t help but be worried. Occasionally she went off in secret, but she had always, always been back within a week. Ember didn’t even hear a thing. None of our Elementals did. At least, I assumed they hadn’t. There was no noise to wake me that night. I just awoke the next morning and she was gone, with no clue as to her whereabouts or what took her except a dark, grimy substance splattered on the walls that made Ember start growling and smoking. If she didn’t come back soon, I knew I would go to find her. She and the Elementals were the only family, and consequently friends, that I had.
What chance did I have against the cloaked figures, the creatures that took her? I was soon to find out.