Hope's Bright!

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The Calm Before the Storm

“Just admit it Brayden, we’re lost!” Lynx growled.

“We’re not lost! We’re just not there yet!” Ray replied with a snarl.

“No, we are lost! We’re in the middle of nowhere right now!” Lynx complained.

“I agree with him, I come from Lurra and I’m pretty sure we are heading in the wrong direction,” Dimetrios stated.

Pennie sighed. After, being transported to safety by Visola, the members of Twilight Heart had found themselves in an unknown location. Thankfully no one was hurt, besides from Visola who had fallen unconscious from using the Beginner spell. According to Ray, they were transported to the Astra Plains and that the only city that was nearby was Lurra. However, the city on the border of Luminea and Tierra was still quite away from where they had landed. They had been walking for over a day and it still seemed like they were going nowhere. As it looked like they had gone in the wrong direction it was likely there was going be many more hours of walking to come.

Dimetrios, who was carrying Visola on his back growled, “You are hopeless Valero! Carrying this woman is getting annoying.”

“Hey, you didn’t even have to come in the first place. Besides, I offered to carry her several times and you refused.” Ray pointed out.

“Why should I let you do something that I can do better?” Dimetrios stated with a smug look.

“Ray you wouldn’t have been able to carry her all this way,” Noah stated, who was being carried by Pennie. “Weren’t you injured?”

“It was just a graze so I’m fine now,” Ray claimed. “Perhaps if people stopped complaining we could get there faster.”

“No, we would get there faster if you didn’t get us lost!” Lynx snarled.

“That’s enough,” Kaela barked. “We are all tired and sore, but this is just some bad luck. We should be thankful that we are all still alive.”

“But I don’t think we are anywhere near Lurra,” Pennie stated. “All of our phones are dead, so we can’t call anyone for help. Can we really say that we’re okay?”

It was silent for a long time. No one knew how to answer Pennie’s question. Whether it was because no one knew the answer or that they were afraid to tell her what they actually thought but no one dared to say a single word. After nearly two minutes Ray broke the silence.

“Sorry... If I didn’t lose my temper, none of this would have happened,” he said. “I couldn’t think straight, and I didn’t think things through like I usually do. I was just too blinded by rage, so it’s my fault...”

“Brayden, this isn’t your...” Kaela began.

“No, it really is. Had I been paying attention, we would have gotten away in time and we’d be home by now,” Ray stated.

Pennie looked over at Ray who wore a solemn expression on his face. She wanted nothing more than to comfort him, but she couldn’t find the words. Ray told her about what happened during his Akumu state when he didn’t think anyone else could hear. He told her about Azaliea and the small town he believed he may have grown up in. He also said that he wanted to find that town to discover more about his past and he’d do anything to find it. However, Pennie couldn’t help but feel that he was hiding something. Something painful that he couldn’t bring himself to talk about. They walked in complete silence for what felt like hours. It was Lynx who had been watching Ray silently that spoke up.

“You’re right, I guess this kind of is your fault,” he claimed.

“Lynx!” Pennie shouted, knowing that Lynx was about to make things worse.

“Thanks…” Ray muttered.

“I’m just being honest. It’s not like you to be so worked up, if you relaxed, we would have been fine,” Lynx continued. “But you know what? We are used to getting dragged into your mess and everything seems to work out fine. This is way better than the alternative.”

Much to Pennie’s surprise, Ray smiled. Somehow Lynx had managed to make Ray feel better.

“You’re making me sound like a jinx,” Ray laughed. “But I guess you’re right, things could be worse.”

“I have to admit it would be nice to see my hometown again,” Dimetrios stated. “Oh, by the way, did I tell you that in Lurra...”

“Yes, you did. Several times in fact,” Ray interrupted with an annoyed growl.

“All we’ve heard about is how amazing your hometown is, so shut up already,” Lynx snarled.

“This is an interesting one, alright!” Dimetrios stated. “I was going to say that there are rumours that there is a hidden village a day’s walk away and near the border of Liwana. The rumour goes as far as to say that it belongs to some kind of Elementals.”

“I’ve heard of that one, it’s called Valo Village,” Kaela claimed.

“Well, in that case, since we are going in the wrong direction, wouldn’t it be cool if we just happen to find it,” Lynx said. “It might be easier than making it to Lurra.”

“I highly doubt that,” Ray stated bluntly. “It’s called the hidden Valo Village, so we’ll never find it.”

“You don’t even know where we are!” Lynx growled, getting annoyed at Ray once more.

“I do so,” Ray argued back. “We are… We’re nearly there, alright!”

“Nah I still think we’re lost,” Noah claimed.

“Hey, I thought you were my friend!” Ray growled.

“Even I can’t ignore how you nearly messed things up,” Noah claimed while flying out of Pennie’s hands and into the air.

Suddenly beams of light came hurtling towards them. The light shaped as arrows narrowly missed them as they moved side to side, dodging the attacks.

“S-stop right there!” a small voice called out.

A small girl with pale pink hair tied up into a ponytail jumped out of the bushes. She looked no older than fourteen and was dressed in a long white top and black shorts. She positioned a bow and arrow made of light in their direction.

“Y-you will not move any further!” she shouted with a stutter, “I am Cianna Kaden the Light Elemental, and I’m here to stop you. No one will invade our lands!”

“Invade…?” Pennie wondered looking towards Ray for an answer.

“If I remember correctly, the Light Elementals have always been a target of the CSOG because of their medical abilities,” Ray explained with a sigh. “My knowledge of history is not very good, but I believe the CSOG and Occultists have tried to destroy the Light Elementals to get ahead of the MLC. As far as I’m aware, the Light Elementals of Valo Village are the last ones left, so they barricaded their lands. It’s like a Light Elemental only policy.”

“Then are we close to Valo Village?” Pennie asked.

“That does seem to be the case,” Kaela stated.

“Look, kid, we don’t have time to play around!” Lynx growled walking towards the girl. “We are tired and hungry. We just need a place to…”

“Stay away!” she shrieked, closing her eyes and firing her arrow which narrowly missed Lynx’s head.

“Oh, nice going, Valero!” Dimetrios growled. “Not only did you get us lost but you got us into this little girl’s trap.”

“Okay, this is not my fault,” Ray argued. “I’ve never been in this area before so how was I supposed to know?”

“Huh… Valero…” Cianna wondered opening her eyes and walking towards Ray. She blinked in surprise by the mention of Ray’s last name.

Pennie breathed slowly. She wondered what possibly could go wrong next. Everyone froze as he watched the little girl move slowly with a puzzled expression.

“Is your last name Valero?” Cianna asked leaning towards Ray.

“Err yeah…” Ray said nervously, evidently uncertain what was the best way to respond. “Why do you ask?”

Cianna’s expression filled with excitement as she lowered her weapon, “Oh my gosh!”

She grabbed his hand and started to shake it, “I am extremely sorry for my earlier rudeness Mr Valero! Wow, I can’t believe I get to meet an amazing Fire Elemental like you. This is like the best day ever!”

Everyone including Pennie stared at them in shock. With one mention of Ray’s name, the young girl went from being timid and protective to easy going and excited.

“Did I miss something…?” Lynx claimed in shock.

“What are you doing out here Mr Valero?” she asked.

“Mr Valero seems weird… just call me Brayden or Ray is fine too I suppose,” Ray sighed nervously scratching his head.

“Mr Ray…” Cianna frowned. “If it’s not too much trouble. Could you help me?”

“That’s still… Never mind,” Ray said. “What’s wrong?”

“It’s my village it’s in danger,” Cianna replied.

“So you poor dears were just wandering around in the cold?” The old lady asked.

The young girl named Cianna Kaden had brought them to her grandmother’s cottage just outside Valo village. When they arrived, they were greeted not only by her grandmother but also her father, who upon their arrival made a quaint evening tea. They gave up a bed where Visola could rest and had a hamara heal her injuries. The family also made sure each person was comfortable after their long and tiring journey.

“Thank you so much for taking us in Ma’am…” Ray began.

“There’s no need to be so formal my dears!” the old lady said with a smile. “You may call me Nanna Kaden!”

“Nanna Kaden why do...” Lynx tried to explain before Nanna Kaden gave him a cold stare.

“You, Mr McMarne, may call me Mrs Kaden.”

Lynx stared at the old lady in shock. Ray couldn’t help but laugh at him.

“What did I do?!” Lynx exclaimed.

“You mustn’t take it too personally,” Cianna said nervously. “She is just a traditionalist…”

“I don’t understand why she would be so cold though,” he muttered.

“A long time ago the Light Elemental clan didn’t get along well with the McMarnes,” Mr Kaden explained, walking into the room with a tray of tea and some small sandwiches. “Whereas we were once very close with the Valero family. They came to our aid on several occasions. It’s nice to meet all of you I’m Galen Kaden.”

“Your family seems to have quite a history. Did you know any of that?” Pennie asked Ray.

“What do you think?” Ray sighed, annoyed at the question in which the answer was obvious. “But we’re going off topic.”

“Brayden is right; we must get back to the task at hand,” Kaela agreed, crossing her arms and closing her eyes. “According to Miss Cianna, your village is in danger. What seems to be the problem?”

Nanna Kaden became serious, “Well, these may just be rumours, but we think an Anti-Gov Guild may have snuck into our lands.”

“Anti-Gov Guild? What is that?” Pennie asked.

“It’s an Anti-Government Guild,” Dimetrios explained. “Basically, they are terrorist organisations who want to destroy both the CSOG and MLC. They’ve been causing all kinds of problems lately.”

“Precisely. Although many don’t seem to agree with us, there is evidence to make us believe that these rumours were true,” Nanna Kaden continued. “That is why we must be so bold as to ask for your help.”

“There’s something I don’t understand. Why would you need our help?” Ray asked. “I mean you guys are Elementals, surely a whole village would be able to take on an Anti-Government guild on their own.”

“Unfortunately, that’s not the case.” Mr Kaden stated, taking a seat, brushing his pale pink hair from his face, “Not many of us can be considered full-fledged elementals anymore. My daughter and I are the only ones that bear that title. Besides Light Elementals are the weakest kind of Elemental. We are more useful as a support group rather than fighters.”

“What do you mean? I thought this was a village especially for Light Elementals,” Noah asked.

“In past years, yes. However, most people within our community have no magic or can only use a fraction of healing magic. Elementals are a dying race after all, especially after the Toivoa incident.” Nanna Kaden explained. “And if there really is an Anti-Government Guild here, there’s not a doubt in my mind that they are planning to awaken the Toivoa Destroyer.”

“What’s a Toivoa Destroyer?” Ray asked sitting up straight.

“Before the Eighty-year war ended, a weapon was created to protect the remaining Light Elementals as Occultist were destroying all Elementals. However, when the occultists arrived, it turned against us and attacked killing our population, giving it the name Toivoa Destroyer, or the Destroyer of Hope.” Nanna Kaden explained.

“But why create such a dangerous weapon in the first place?” Kaela asked standing up and walking towards the window, gazing out of it.

“As far as I know, our leader at the time begged an old friend to help them fight the Occultist. However, back then she openly refused to use any of her magic. She said that fighting was pointless and if we relied too much on our power that we’d lose everything. Eventually, she agreed to create a spell for them, to help them gain victory. The legend goes that they ignored her warnings and turned her spell into a metal warrior. As she had predicted, they lost almost everything,” Mr Kaden explained.

“But how did they manage to survive?” Ray asked.

“The girl who invented the spell was a powerful soldier. She took down the Destroyer and the Occultist on her own. She became a hero we all adored and worshipped. However, after the Toivoa incident, she went on a journey stating that she wanted to find the something and was never seen again.” Cianna said, standing by her father.

“And who was this person? Have we heard of her before?” Dimetrios asked, suddenly interested in the conversation.

“A.V. Rank One of the Starlight Knights and the strongest Oviri in the world.”

“No way!” Pennie, Lynx and Ray exclaimed in shock.

“Wait... A.V the creator of Stellatrium and the person who took down the Dark Oviri was a girl?!” Noah exclaimed.

“I don’t think that’s the point, stupid hamara,” Dimetrios said with an annoyed sigh.

“Though now that I think of it there has been some activity near the sacred grounds. Could that be the Anti-Government guild?” Cianna asked giving her father a worried glare.

“That is highly likely,” Kaela said not removing her gaze from the window, “In that case, we must be ready for anything.”

Ray looked down at his hands. He couldn’t shake the feeling that something extremely bad was about to happen.

“Is something the matter Mr Ray?” Cianna asked, her light blue eyes shaking with fear.

“I have a hunch,” he muttered, focusing his gaze on the fire beside him, “Let’s just hope I’m wrong…”

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