In the world of Aldara, element wielders are branded because of their supernatural abilities. And in recent times, taxed, persecuted, hunted down, and incarcerated for what they can do, and others cannot.
The morning sun pierced through the clouds hovering over the skyline of Aldara to the East, dispersing and thinning them, casting the ramshackle dwellings into the cool glow of the sunrays. The night mist and fog left remnants upon the leaves in the form of dew, sparkling like crystals in the lush green fields surrounding the small village of Tieran. Aldara had seen many sunrises and sunsets, but none like this morning, filled with cries of horror, pain, and ash-filled sky.
The feeble houses made from cheap, natural material were consumed by flames and crumbling down into a pile of discard as the roofs fell over the heads of sleeping children, unaware of the brutality acting upon Tieran. Cries of horror and enjoyment mingled together, coming from a single race: people. The villagers pleaded for their families and their lives, begging their oppressors to leave the village after their greed was satiated. However, that was never the case with men who came under the name of Aldara’s government and with the excuse to replenish their supplies due to the inexistent ongoing war.
Indeed, this small army of ten men had breached from a larger battalion marching West, back to the Center after their victory at quelling fire wielders insurgence in the East. After their exhilarating victory, they felt powerful and with the false pretention that they could undermine a peaceful settlement out of whim. They had marched into Tieran at dawn and ransacked the village restaurant. The owner had fought back, and in desperation, wielded fire. The men, after confirming that the fire wielder had not been branded by the government in the forehead, as every wielder should be, took his family as hostages and forced him into doing deplorable things by sunrise, like the burning of his own village.
“Remember filthy villagers,” the commander of the army, a burly officer with long black beard, bellowed over the cacophony of cries and screams. “It was a fire wielder who burned down your houses and killed your children, not the government!” He laughed raucously and killed his family before killing him, then threw him into a pile of lifeless bodies next to where the fire wielder had ignited the first spark. From that first burning house, the army took torches and burned the rest of the abodes.
The villagers took their rudimentary plowing tools in an attempt to protect their families, but the effort was futile, as the men slayed the husbands, fathers, and sons alike with their cold sword blade. Ultimately, what was left to do was to take their families and run into the woods, away from the nightmare they had awoken to. Not many escaped and many refused to leave their village without a fight.
“Dawn, Dawn.” The voice was urgent and frightened. The strong red glow was coming closer; he had heard the cries of death before watching the fire licking and voraciously devouring the houses of his friends. He shook the young woman sleeping in the cot of his humble home; his family was huddled close to him and just as scared. He shook her violently until finally; she opened her eyes and regarded her benefactor with curiosity. Seeing the alarm in his face, she quickly jolted upright.
“Barda, what’s wrong? What is that I hear outside?” Dawn gracefully leaped to her feet and walked to the window and faltered. Outside was hell on land, the second one she would have to live through. Unconsciously, her hand touched her forehead, concealed behind a kerchief tied around her head. One word was clear to her: survival, the word that insured her life.
“I don’t know Dawn,” Barda whispered, “but we have to leave before…”
A flaming torch was hurled inside the house from the window and everything was catching fire quickly.
“Outside, quick!” Dawn shouted, sweeping one of his children into her arms and running for the door. Barda followed with his wife, who was holding a sleeping baby.
Once outside, they met with a sneering officer, holding a sword bathed in blood, like a precious trophy for his cruelty. Barda stepped in front of the two women, acting as a human shield. The officer laughed insolently at his chivalry and thrust his sword, jamming the blade on Barda’s shoulder. He cried in pain when the officer dislodge the sword, and stumbled on the ground, holding his bleeding shoulder.
His wife cried and the child wailed.
“Bastard,” Dawn cursed, setting down the child, who immediately ran to his crouching father. One thing she couldn’t tolerate was the oppressing forces of the strong imposing their rule, tyranny, and cruelty over the weak. She stretched her arms, she wasn’t expecting to kill before getting something to eat, but if the survival of this family depended on it, then so be it. “What have these people done to you?”
The officer stroked his beard. “This village brought doom to themselves by housing an unmarked fire wielder.” His eyes lingered on the concealed forehead of Dawn. “What are you hiding behind that kerchief?”
“That’s none of your business,” she replied coldly. “Mr. Barda, please take your family to safety.”
“But…” Barda protested.
“Go.” Dawn’s tone was serious and dangerous, as if warning them to leave before witnessing something unpleasant. Barda understood the message of his young friend and stood up, mustering enough energy to carry his child and taking his wife’s hand, and running away.
The officer tried to catch them before they escaped, but Dawn stood in his way. He snarled at her and thrust his sword at her. She had seen the movement and sidestepped it, she lift her arm and drove her elbow down on the officer’s arm. He howled in pain, dropping his sword. Her knee connected with the office gut with great force, and he arched grotesquely. The officer fell on the ground, groping for his sword. Dawn kicked it away from his hand. She had considered killing him, but she was out of practice. Instead, she kicked him into unconsciousness and rushed to the aid of the people who needed her.
The houses were piles of ashes, and the burning of skin and blood permeated the air. The villagers had managed to kill some of the officers, and some were still fighting. Dawn joined them, taking a wooden stick as her weapon. She walked into what was going to be her reality forever, a reality filled with bloodsheds and destruction, where the strong would always reign over the weak, and the Element Wielders were branded, hunted, and killed for their abilities.
The dew from the grass was gone, as the Dew from her innocence.