Hope's Bright!

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Brayden Valero

Pennie was quite surprised that all Blaze and the young man wanted from her was information and a simple meal. Pennie had expected them to turn around and demand for money, which has happened to her a couple of times since they were living in a world where people only care for themselves and only helped people out if there’s something to gain. Since the young man had helped her out of a difficult situation, she decided to take him and Blaze to a diner for dinner. Her mistake was letting him order whatever he wanted. Thankfully, the owner of the diner was an old family friend and gave her a huge discount.

“I’ll let you have everything for half price,” she said to Pennie when they ordered their meal. “I didn’t have many customers today so it won’t make much of a difference.”

Although Pennie initially felt bad, she became relieved as the food on their table may have cost half her weekly rent. There were bowls of different fried chips, thick, salty and so hot that they burnt Pennie’s tongue. The young man and Blaze both ordered chicken schnitzels which were so large that it almost covered the entire plate. All the food made Pennie’s mouth water, but she simply nibbed on the chip and stuck to her small milkshake as she was trying to watch her weight. There had also been some mini grilled burgers but they had been eaten by the young man almost immediately after they were brought out, claiming that they were the perfect snack after a long journey. Pennie watched as he ate with a huge smile on his face. Her first impression of his personality made her think he would messily stuff his face, eating so fast that he would swallow his food whole. However, much to her surprise he was actually eating in a proper manner. Pennie smiled, she had to admit that it actually felt nice to eat out with other people for a change.

“I should probably introduce myself,” Pennie stated. “My name is Pennie Raynhart.”

The young man with green eyes looked up at her as he took a bite of his chicken schnitzel. After setting down his fork, he swallowed his food and smiled at her.

“I’m, Brayden Valero,” he replied.

“You already know who I am so it would be redundant of me to introduce myself,” Blaze claimed. “Regardless, it’s nice to meet you.”

“It’s nice to meet you too,” Pennie replied. “So what brings you to Acqua Stellata?”

“You say that like it’s a weird place to visit,” Brayden stated.

“If you aren’t rich it’s not really an ideal location,” Pennie explained. “Acqua Stellata is a destitute city, not to mention the CSOG have a permanent residence here.”

“Well, I’ve always thought the place looked a little gloomy despite being the surfing capital,” Blaze pointed out.

“Really?” Brayden asked. “I didn’t really notice.”

“That’s because you have a one track mind Ray,” Blaze sighed. “Whenever you seem to focus on something you seem to forget your surroundings.”

“I believe you said that you needed some information,” Pennie stated. “Has that got something to do with why you are here?”

“We came here because of a job. Apparently, a large group of escaped prisoners were spotted around here. We came to inspect the situation and stop them before they cause any damage,” Brayden replied.

“That’s right, do you by chance know anything about that?” Blaze asked.

“Umm, that didn’t actually happen,” Pennie stated. “I recall hearing something about that, but it turned out to be a hoax made up by an accomplice of a serial thief that had plagued the area for a while. Those men were captured by the CSOG about four days ago.”

Brayden banged his head on the table and groaned. “So I rode that stupid train for nothing.”

“Well, I suppose it can’t be helped,” Blaze sighed. “Sure it’s a bit annoying, but going home empty handed isn’t a bad thing after all.”

“I’m still pissed; I’m seriously going to kill that guy. The only reason we came in the first place is because he claimed this to be urgent,” Brayden growled. He lifted his head angrily off the table as he gritted his slightly fanged teeth.

“You’re only upset because I forced you onto that train,” Blaze sighed. “You wouldn’t have cared if we walked all the way here.”

“What’s wrong with trains?” Pennie asked.

“He’s afraid of them,” Blaze stated bluntly. “Or to be precise, he’s terrified of anything that resembles a train.”

“I am not,” Brayden snarled, looking away from Blaze and Pennie. “So some modes of transportation frighten me a bit. Everyone is afraid of something, and you can die on those death traps.”

“That’s actually a valid point,” Pennie said, which made Brayden relax a little. “You guys are from Asteria, right?”

“Yeah, that’s right,” Blaze replied.

“Man, you guys are so lucky,” Pennie stated. “If I could live anywhere I’d want to live in a smaller town with an MLC guild I could join. I may not look it, but I am a Summoner Oviri.”

“If that’s the case, why didn’t you use your powers to get away from those guys earlier?” Brayden asked.

“Certain requirements must be met before I can summon something. Besides, I can’t just use magic out on the streets, let alone on civilians. It doesn’t matter if they were in the wrong, if the CSOG caught me I would be the one in trouble. Then I wouldn’t be able to join an MLC guild and I really really want to join one.”

“If you could choose which guild would you join?” Blaze asked.

“Twilight Heart of course. I mean I’d be happy to join any of them, but your guild is the best by far,” Pennie began to ramble. “You guys are so amazing; I have all the songs from the concerts, and I always read anything to do with the guild. I’d seriously do anything to receive the Twilight Heart emblem, and to sing on that stage as a member of Twilight Heart would be a dream come true. But then again it would also be nice to be on the front lines, fighting for the freedom of Oviri. That’s why if I were to join I wouldn’t know whether to be on the performance team or the combat team.”

“Has anyone ever told you that you talk too much?” Brayden asked blatantly.

“What can I say, I’m so passionate about saving Le Alba, and if I get famous in the process, who am I to complain,” Pennie exclaimed.

“That’s a bit elitist, don’t you think?” Brayden claimed.

“Perhaps…” Pennie shrugged her shoulders. “What about you Brayden, do you have any dreams? Is there anything you aspire to accomplish?”

“Hmmm,” Brayden thought for a moment. “Not really.”

“Surely there’s something you want to do with your life?”

“I guess there is someone I want to meet one day, but I guess for now I just want to help out as many people as I can.” Brayden replied.

“Although that is a lovely notion, don’t you think that way of thinking is a bit naive?” Pennie wondered. “It’s impossible to help out everyone. And what if you need help? Will there be someone who will come and help you?”

Pennie watched as Blaze took a sip of his drink and looked out the window, seemingly less interested in the conversation. Pennie turned to Brayden who was thinking deeply over the question she asked.

“I don’t know, but if I do need help and someone does come I’ll be sure to thank them properly and always be there to help them in return,” Brayden said with a smile. “As it is, I kind of feel like I owe you after for buying us all this food.”

“But I did that to thank you,” Pennie replied, feeling slightly embarrassed. “There’s no need to acknowledge me at all, Brayden.”

“There’s no need to be so formal, you can call me Ray if you like,” Brayden smiled. “You’ve been a big help today Pennie, so thank you.”

Pennie sighed, yet she couldn’t help but smile at Braden’s carefree nature.

“I’d best be going,” Pennie said when she noticed the time. “I’ve paid for the meal so you guys can just sit back, rest up and enjoy.”

“Alright, and perhaps we’ll see you again sometime,” Blaze stated.

“Yeah, I hope so,” Pennie smiled. “And thanks again for saving me, Ray. I’m so glad I met you guys.”

“Same here!” Ray said with a huge smile. “I hope we meet again!”

“What’s the matter, Ray?” Blaze asked. “You’ve gone quiet.”

Pennie had left a while ago, and Ray had moved to sit where she sat earlier. They stayed behind to take the opportunity to rest before they made the journey back to Asteria. Since then, Ray had been deep in thought. Something had been troubling him for quite a while. While he spoke with Pennie, Ray could feel some kind of presence watching them but as soon as Pennie left it disappeared.

“Hey Blaze,” He said, looking out the window. “Do you think we should keep an eye on her?”

“Do you think something is going to happen?” Blaze asked. “Or are you intrigued by the fact that she wanted to join Twilight Heart?”

“She said that?” Ray asked, looking at Blaze out the corner of his eye. “When Pennie kept talking like that I kind of lost track of what she was actually talking about.”

“That doesn’t surprise me,” Blaze sighed. “So you think Pennie might be in trouble?”

“It’s just a hunch, but I don’t think we have seen the last of those men,” Ray explained.

“It doesn’t matter what I say, you’ll probably follow whatever you think is right,” Blaze shrugged. “But then again, your hunches are usually right.”

Pennie walked towards her home in good spirits. After meeting Ray, she had found the motivation to make her video. The plan was to send the video to Twilight Heart, and hope that they would contact her and give her an audition. She planned to make it as soon as she got home.

“If I get into Twilight Heart, maybe I’ll ask if Ray could join too,” Pennie said to herself.

She enjoyed her dinner with Ray Valero and hoped that she could hang out with him more. Since he was friends with Blaze, Pennie thought it was possible to convince Ray to join the guild with her. She stopped to think for a moment.


Pennie felt as if she had heard that name before. However, before she could think carefully about it, her train of thought was disrupted when someone grabbed her arm and pulled her into the darkness. They placed their hand over her mouth to prevent her from screaming for help. Pennie tried to fight against the attacker, but she couldn’t break free from their firm grip. Not seeing any other option, Pennie bit their hand to free herself.

“Oww, you bitch!” the man exclaimed as he let Pennie go.

Pennie turned around to see the leader of the men who had attacked her earlier that day and the other men were close behind him. She realised she had made a huge mistake. As it was dark out, she shouldn’t have let her guard down as she made her way home. Allowing herself to get distracted, even if it was just for a second, it gave the men the opportunity to attack her.

’What do you want?” Pennie asked preparing to run.

It was simple, all she had to do was summon one of her creatures, and it would be able to distract the men until she got away. However, as Pennie began to prepare her stance to summon she realised she could not move.

“Why can’t I…” Pennie muttered.

“I see you’ve realised that you can’t move,” the boss smirked walking up to her. “Let me tell you a secret…”

The men walked closer as the boss whispered into her ear. “We are Oviri too, Miss Raynhart. And not just any Oviri, we also happen to be ex-CSOG soldiers.”

Pennie realised the situation had worsened. If they knew she was an Oviri, there was no telling what they were planning to do with her. Knowing that they were ex-CSOG soldiers made fear tremble down her spine.

“How… how do you know who I am?” she asked fearfully.

The boss stepped back and laughed. “Did you really think we picked you at random? With your wealthy background and appearance, you’d fetch for a high price on the black market.”

“You won’t get away with this,” Pennie growled.

“Oh I think we will,” the boss smirked. “You see my friend here can research any target, so we know everything about you. We already know that you have no connection to that boy who came to save you earlier. No one knows your missing, and no one ever will.”

“No…” Pennie muttered, trembling with fear.

“And I wouldn’t bother screaming,” the boss continued. “My other follower stops sound travelling past five metres, and mine stops you from moving. There is no escaping us, and this time no one is going to save you.”

The men came closer as Pennie feared for the worst. She knew that there was no hope, yet she shut her eyes tightly and prayed.

“Please save me…Ray.”

Suddenly, something fell from the sky and landed with a large crash. Pennie opened her eyes to find Brayden Valero crouched in front of her.

“You people don’t know when to give up,” Ray said as he stood up and cracked his knuckles. “This time I’m going to beat you until you do.”

“Ray…” Pennie gasped. She was shocked that he managed to find her, not to mention how he fell from the sky and landed without injuring himself. “How did you find me? I thought you and Blaze would have left for Asteria by now.”

“I thought you may have been in danger, so I told him to go without me,” Ray replied. “And looks like it was a good thing I did.”

“And just what do you think you can accomplish?” The boss cackled. “You don’t stand a chance against the three of us.”

“I can’t believe people like you still exist in this day and age,” Ray growled. “It really pisses me off that you think you can get away with treating another person this way.”

“Oh yeah and what are you going to…” the boss began as his henchmen stood in front of him and blocked him from view.

Before the boss could finish his sentence, Ray ran towards the two henchmen and punched them so fast and hard that they collapsed onto the ground with a thud. Pennie was surprised to see how strong and agile Ray actually was. However, as he approached the boss, the malicious man smiled evilly.

“Watch out Ray!” Pennie shouted. “That guy is an Oviri who can stop you from moving.”

It was too late; at that moment the boss was able to slow Ray’s movement.

“What the…” Ray muttered before the boss kicked him so hard that he went flying into the nearby wall.

“Ray!” Pennie screamed.

The leader laughed as his companions got to their feet to stand with him.

“Did you really think stopping movement was my only trick? No, I can also control my own movement to make my attacks stronger.”

Pennie wanted nothing more than to run and see if Ray was okay, but the boss’s magic still kept her from moving.

“I must say, you surprised me,” Ray’s voice filled the night sky. “But now that I know you are an Oviri I don’t need to hold back.”

“What?!” That attack should have knocked him out cold.” The boss growled.

Flames suddenly erupted from where Brayden had crashed into the wall. Ray stepped out from the ashes with a wicked grin. Flames circled his wrists as he ran towards the men.

“It can’t be… that kid can’t be an Elemental!” the boss growled in fear.

Pennie watched in shock as Ray easily overpowered the men. The boss who has Pennie paralysed with fear, could not land a single hit or block any of Ray’s fiery attacks. That was when she remembered where she had heard the name Valero. Ray was none other than the infamous Flame Valero, the Fire Elemental of Twilight Heart. Pennie was amazed as she watched him fight the three men.

“Now it’s time for you to learn your place,” Ray said creating a huge ball of flames.

They became larger and brighter. They were the most amazing flames Pennie had ever seen. He held the ball of fire over his head and prepared to throw it.

“Atomic Fireball Blast!” Ray shouted.

Pennie had to close her eyes to protect them from the blazing light and heat as the giant fireball hurtled towards the three men. When she opened her eyes, she saw the three men laying on the ground, completely out cold. Pennie sighed with relief when she could finally move again.

“And that’s how it’s done,” Ray gloated with a huge smile.

“That was awesome!” Pennie exclaimed as she ran up to him.

“Really?” Ray asked as he looked at her.

Pennie nodded. When she looked up at Ray again, she noticed that he had an anxious look on his face, focusing on something behind her. She turned to see what he was looking at, she shrieked with shock at what she saw. The two buildings that surrounded them were ablaze.

“You set everything on fire!” Pennie screamed.

“Oh crap!” Ray exclaimed, grabbing onto Pennie’s wrist. “I messed up with how much power I put on that. We need to leave before we get in trouble with the CSOG.”

As sirens filled the night sky, Pennie ran behind Ray as they ran back into the dazzling lights of the city.

After an hour passed, Pennie and Ray sat on a park bench and sighed with relief. The fire that Ray had caused had been put out by the firefighters, and they managed to get away from the scene without getting caught.

“I apologise again for that trouble,” Ray sighed. “I have a bad habit of going a bit too far. I really have to get that fixed.”

“No it’s fine,” Pennie shook her head. “If it wasn’t for you, I don’t even know if I’d be alive right now.”

“Well it’s a good thing I didn’t leave,” Ray stated. “Well, all’s well that ends well.”

“Yeah, I can’t thank you enough for saving me,” Pennie smiled.

Ray got to his feet and sighed. “I best be going then. Although I’d rather not have to take the train home, the last one leaves soon if I want to get back at a decent hour.”

“Oh, well I guess this is goodbye…” Pennie frowned looking at her feet. “Despite all that happened tonight, I really enjoyed speaking with you, and Blaze of course. I don’t have any friends, so I guess I’m going to miss it.”

“Then why don’t you move to Asteria?” Ray asked.

“Huh?” Pennie said as she looked up at Ray.

“If you’re not happy here, why not leave and take the chance to follow your dream,” Ray smiled at her. “It’s your dream to join Twilight Heart, right?”

“Yes,” Pennie nodded.

“Then let’s fight for a brighter tomorrow,” Ray exclaimed. “As Brayden Valero, the Fire Elemental of Twilight Heart I promise to help you achieve your dream no matter what. And a Valero never breaks a promise.”

“Really,” Pennie asked. “You’ll do that for me?”

“Sure what are friends for!”

Pennie smiled and nodded. Words couldn’t describe how happy she was, especially when Ray called her a friend. Her dream was finally about to come true. Joining a guild with extraordinary warriors, dangerous enemies and Brayden, the powerful and headstrong Fire Elemental. Pennie did not know what the future had in store for her. However, there was one thing she did know; her life was about to be filled with adventure and excitement.

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