I wove my way through the large crowd. People all around me chattered about their lives since the invasions of the Arcadians. They talked of the cruelty of the aggressors that forced their way into our kingdom and commenced to cause conflict. Ataraxia, my kingdom, had relatively peaceful relations with the Arcadians but alas war is inevitable. I never fully understood the need for war, although sometimes there were justifiable reasons- such as defending one's homeland. I did not comprehend those who started wars out of greed. The Arcadians were greedy, their king, although merciless had established a rather diplomatic relationship with our kingdom. He showed benevolence to us- it was very rare- but it occurred every now and then. The only rationale I could point his recent behavior towards his desire for wrath.
He was not the worst of them. A man who burned everything in his path had been the worst. The son of an Arcadian king's concubine, illegitimate compared to his brother, and tired of being treated as scum for his birth disappeared. His name was framed with stories of unfathomable terror, Ignocet, wreaked havoc among many kingdoms. Rumor said where he walked absolute destruction would follow. This took place about four centuries ago when barbarous wars were being fought all over the continent. Obviously the cold-blooded son of the merciless king was dead, a relief to all. We just prayed that this king wouldn't be as ravenous for blood as his predecessors.
Ataraxia was on the brink of war as tensions continued to rise. The city in which I resided in was closest to the palace, therefore, the safest. Although, ocassionally conflicts occured. Either some Arcadian attacked a guard, a civilian, or stole something from the market. Approximately a month ago, a bit after sunset, civilians were robbed when a group of ten Arcadian bandits appeared. They were caught almost immediately by the royal guards and were not spared. Since then more and more Arcadians have invaded the lands.
My old shoes clacked against the eroded stone beneath my feet as I made my way past many stands, small markets, inns, and salesmen attempting to pursue people to buy their merchandise. The urban part of the kingdom was rather pleasant even if it was frequently crowded with people. The city-although antediluvian-was relatively well maintained, except for the roads. The homes and shops were primarily made of wood, some could afford brick for sturdier homes. Flours and talismans adorned the balconies around me.
I walked closer to the small wooden stand that had variety of fruits and ripe vegetables. Many people gathered around the stand and began to exchange their coins for many fruits and vegetables. Indeed, the sun was almost setting and people were desperate to return home to their families; especially since many of the Arcadians sought conflict in the early morning and after the sunset.
The man behind the stand was rather short and heavy for his age. He wouldn't move fast nor see if I stole anything. I just needed the proper timing and stealth so I could bring home some food for my mother. I drew closer to the stand and wedged my way behind another woman. The woman was dressed with similar attire to me, a large hood on her head with a cloak that flowed downwards. My hood concealed most of my feminine features and hid my long black hair, leaving only my sapphire eyes to be seen. When the shopkeeper accepted money from a man and had his attention focused far away from me, I took some carrots, eggplant, and potatoes. That would be sufficient for a few days.
I put everything into a hidden pocket sown into the inside of my cloak. When the shopkeeper looked back to where I was, I was already gone. I did not like taking other people's food, but it had to be done- we barely had any food left and the money went to paying the kingdom's taxes.
I saw the forest a considerable distance away from me. It was a vast, with colossal trees and lovely wildlife. Not many people entered the forest, afraid of the beasts that roamed in it. My mother and I enjoyed to bask in the privacy and tranquility the forest brought us. The sun had set quickly and two pearly white moons began to appear in the navy sky. People saw the night as darkness encasing the world and taking away anything that held beauty. Nighttime was one of the most ethereal occurrences I had ever seen.
Before the invasions of the Arcadians, people use to sit on their stone roofs and watch as the townspeople played lively music and danced in the streets. My childhood was rather uneventful until my mother brought me to Ataraxia. I didn't remember much before then, only flashes of vague memories. My mother was very conscientious of my freedom and I became tired of her senseless restrictions. As a child, when I realized that my mother was asleep or out in the marketplace, I would sneak out of the house and discover the endless forest and town. I would find myself out in the town dancing to loud music and enjoying the annual festivities the town offered. My mother never directly confronted me about it, but I now I believed she knew about my whereabouts.
"Thief! In the cloak up ahead! Thief!"
My eyes darted around their surroundings quickly, most of the dense crowd had disappeared leaving me wide open to attacks. I looked behind me and saw three guards running towards me and a tall man in an obsidian uniform behind them. He was tall, rugged, and danger radiated off of him in tangible waves. I looked up and his luscious raven locks shined in the moonlight. What caught my attention was the golden crest carved into his armor.
I turned around and ran. Footsteps thudded behind me as I quickened my pace, heading for the forest. I would lose them there. No one knew my name nor my mother. We lived on the outskirts of the town in the forest. I would have to be careful to not lead them to my home.
"Stop boy or your punishment shall be worse!"
Funny how they thought that only males could be thieves. I continued running. I entered the thick dense forest and took a right turn away from my home. Their footsteps began to stop as I took multiple right and left turns leading them deeper into the forest. Adrenaline pulsed through me making it easier for me to keep up a fast pace without tiring.
"What are you men waiting for? Find the boy I won't tolerate laziness!" A male voice ordered coldly. His powerful voice pierced through the forest and sent shivers down my spine.
I pushed myself to run further to find the hideout I created for myself since I was a child. As I neared the clearing, someone grasped my arm and turned me around. My hood fell off with the abrupt motion, my obscured features finally brought to life.
A filthy guard with mud coating his suit and face looked at me and slowly the corners of his mouth turned upwards. A lewd smile reached his face. His eyes filled with desire as he his eyes wandered down my body. His yellow teeth and lust filled eyes filled my body with uneasiness.
"Its not a boy its a wench!" He hollered and returned his attention towards me.
More footsteps drew closer to where I was and fear began to creep up my throat. His arm grabbed the back dress and and yanked me backwards. I acted quickly, swallowing my fear. I swung my body towards him and propelled my left fist to his face. My fist hit his nose and I felt a crack. I rapidly swung my other fist below his chin and kicked his side. He fell to the muddy floor with a pained scream as my blows made contact.
My fist hurt from the blow I inflicted upon him; not being experienced in combat, it was the best I could do. Looking to my sides, the next two guards were about to pounce on me. I tried to evade them, but they were too fast. They grabbed both my arms and held them behind my back. I heard a crunch and the guard twisted my arm. An agonized scream left my throat. One guard yanked my chin up roughly and I gritted my teeth.
"Well, look at this, Jonah was right, it is a wench. A very pretty one at that. What do you say we have some fun with her?"
A wave of desperation and anxiety crawled at my throat. Immediately, I knocked my head against one of the guards. He didn't expect my sudden action, and as my forehead collided with his he lurched backwards. I tried to land a successful hit to the other guard but failed. The remaining guard grabbed my hand and smashed it in his grip. I cried out and winced. The other guard who was recovering from my blow came by next and punched my side. I screamed in pain when a felt a sharp object plunge into my stomach. The other guard began to stand up and set his murderous gaze on me.
"That's what you get you disobedient bitch." The guard to my left hissed as he tugged on my injured arm. My stomach was bleeding, my arm and wrist crushed.
I would not die today.
As both held my arms tightly making my throat close with bubbling pain and my eyes sting with bridled tears, I resorted to my last tactic.
I closed my eyes and attempted to calm myself down. I let my energy flow through my body imagining currents of water pass through my body much like blood would. I felt myself grow more powerful as my newfound energy coursed through my body. A sigh of ease left of me as I tapped into the immense power I had repressed for so many years.
I opened my eyes and looked to the guards around me. Their grip tightened as a voice called out,"I hope you have detained her, or else the consequences will be dire."
I didn't waste a moment and blew my icy breath into the guards face. He flinched backwards and let go of me. I called the water beneath the earth and held it around me. I blasted the other guard into a tree. He groaned upon the impact. I touched both my hands to the floor, calling upon more water, the grass began to grow darker and wither. This was sufficient.
Surrounding myself in a halo of water, I shot out ice shards all around me. I could see the fear in the guards eyes as the ice hurled towards them. Serves them right. Once the ice hit their targets the forest went silent. I collapsed to the ground holding my stomach. The floor around me was frozen solid and my blood dripped down onto the white floor.
Tears flowed down my supple cheeks as I fought to walk. My abdomen ached with severe pain and my arm throbbed. I stepped slowly towards the direction of my home when an odd silence came upon the forest. The birds ceased their chirping and the breeze flowing through the forest stopped. My hair whipped around me as I turned around, the general from before had come back. He stood about six meters away from me. When I made eye contact with him he raised an eyebrow and walked towards me. Immediately, I put myself into a fighting stance, trying to prepare myself for more.
"Quite a show you put on back there," his voice drawled out casually.
His rigorous, but sedulous, gaze swept through the forest. It stopped when it landed on the bodies of both guards who were dead, ice shards piercing their bodies.
I still hadn't responded to his comment. I contemplated my next options. I wasn't here to be noticed, although now it was too late for that. He had seen my magic which was dangerous, I could be punished for not verifying my magical abilities to the kingdom. Everyone was required to have some form of identification verified by the king's officials. My mother never took the time to do so.
My mother never took much time to talk about the kingdom. She never talked about her lineage or mine specifically. She always told me to stay away from the King's officials and to not involve myself in any way with the kingdom. She believed they were poisonous vipers ready to sink their teeth into their prey.
The general, whom had been quiet for some time, seemed to be silently observing me. I didn't know if I stood a chance against him with my injuries. If I overexerted myself I would pass out and bleed to death if my wounds weren't treated promptly. I knew the man in front of me was very powerful, not solely from his appearance, but from his demeanor and the way he presented himself to others. He displayed a fearful amount of power that dominated the space around him.
His soft footsteps, almost inaudible, brought me out of my stupor.
I clutched my abdomen with one hand and held out the other ready to defend myself. One hand worked to stop the bleeding from my wound by manipulating the flow of water in the blood. It was on top of my cloak which concealed the wound, it gave me little reassurance that he didn't catch the entirety of my gift. He was stronger than me, but if I could immobilize him for a for a small amount of time it would be enough to flee.
He appeared to be rather nonchalant and unperturbed, as if he was prepared to successfully evade my attempts at incarcerating him at any given moment. He seemed like he had a plan to strike back, only much harder. That worried me. I needed to get out of this alive and away from the confines of anyone associated with the kingdom.
My magic wasn't at its full potential and I was losing energy. I hadn't used magic in a very long time and I was battling against an adept fighter with far more experience. With one hand numbing my stomach with ice the other worked to manipulate more ice. The ice crystals touched his throat. I saw nothing but indifference and I finally threw my last string of power. I commanded hundreds of ice shards to fly at him and before I fled into the clearing I swore I saw something like approval in his eyes.
I struggled to run with aching pain and worked to numb my body with ice. The clearing had a waterfall with a deep cave behind the falling beads of water. The cave was submerged underwater and led to sanctuary. It would have to do. I pumped my legs to sprint towards the water, adrenaline fueling my body to reach its goal. My hard steps thumped against the twig ridden ground and blinded my ability to hear my surroundings.
A quick agile snap of fingers rung out.
A wall of scalding fire appeared in front of me and I jumped to the side gasping. Another wall of fire appeared to my side and when I tried to escape it was too fast. The fire surrounded me. Sweat beaded down my neck and the blistering heat was overwhelming.
Through the crackling shapes of the fire I could see him. He was not even two meters away from me. Fire surrounded his body like a second skin. It was much like a hue of color accentuating the body of a painting.
His countenance was one of utter tranquility. While I was panting, attempting to keep standing up he was stoically calm. The fire around him lessened as he stepped closer and I used that to my advantage. He couldn't kill me because of the potential I had shown with my power. I would be useful to him and the kingdom.
I let go of my stomach and closed my eyes for a moment. I felt the energy of the running water nearby and the water running through the trees and ground. I felt the bliss of my element running to my fingertips. With a swipe of my arm all of his fire was put out and he was blasted backwards into the forest but he recovered quickly. A groan of discomfort and the sound of a chuckle made me uneasy. I didn't stop to look back and sprinted as fast as my legs could carry me.
I could hear an explosion and the trees around me shook at it. Clouds of smoke surrounded the forest obstructing my vision. I coughed loudly at the repugnant smell of the stoking smoke. I tried to sprint faster but my lungs couldn't take in any clean air. I gasped and choked.
My vision was turning hazy. And my breathing was extremely sparse and insufficient. I could see the waterfall. I was almost there. I stumbled towards it.
The water would save me.
I was almost there.
Only a few more steps.
Another blast of fire rung out in the silent forest.
A tendril of something burning hot fire slid arounf my leg, but I had made it to the waterfall. Quickly, I morphed water around me, putting out the tendril, and becoming one with the water.
So I'm going to try and give this another shot, Hopefully the first chapter is ok-ish. I've changed the direction of where I want this to go a little bit. :)
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