The village was desolated and becoming ashes swept away by the cool morning wind. Gentle heat caressed Dawn's body and she didn't welcomed the fire caused by hatred and alienation. She saw all around him the wings of Death wrapped around each villager and soldier alike, distinguishing none of them at the time of it taking their souls away and leaving their bodies to rot. For a moment, it was peaceful, like the moment before a storm. But this time, the storm was over and the air wasn't the smell of petrichor, but of rivers of blood.
Dawn stood amidst the flames on the only remaining green patch. Experienced and skillful water wielders could wield anything liquid. Most of them opted to learn the skills of blood wielding; controlling other people through their blood flow in their bodies. This skill required tremendous amount of concentration and energy because the slightest mistake would mean the death of the host or puppet. The other was nature. Everything was made of some percent of water, especially the plants. Dawn had studied, for a very long time, nature around her. And eventually, she learned to tame it. What kept this patch of green was the halo of water she was casting around her to prevent the fire to come any closer to her.
"Kill him, don't let him live!"
Dawn's attention snapped. In a split of a second she was rushing toward the source of the voice, preparing to swing down the battered stick on another's soldier head. When she got to the scene, she faltered, coming slowly to a stop. Her eyes grew in horror as she was blood all around her, and very pale soldiers, with their blood drained from their bodies.
"What has happened here?" She whispered, staring at the crimson blood icicles sticking from a dead soldier's body.
A maniacal laugh followed after a plead for mercy, then there was a scream, and unbearable silence again. Dawn saw him, his red hair and his crimson, cynical red eyes. He licked his lips after every slashed; he enjoyed killing.
The stranger held the last soldier from the hair, sneering at him and mocking him.
"Please, please let me go. I swear I didn't want to kill these people, I was just following orders." The young soldier pleaded.
"I don't care about these people," he jeered. "The only thing I care for is killing. You have served your purpose, that of entertaining my interest this morning."
Dawn raised her hand, sure that if she didn't do it, the stranger would strike the soldier first. The water whip hit the face of the stranger and he staggered back, loosening his grip on the soldier. The soldier didn't lose any time and scrambled away.
The stranger's head slowly turned toward Dawn. His expression was unreadable, but he was annoyed, that much she could discern.
"You don't need that type of blood in your hands," she said, after motioning the water whip back to her. "Where is your mark, Water wielder?" She had a bitter taste in her mouth after admitting that he was a water wielder, and a good one to that matter.
"I don't have one, and even if I did, I would not conceal it." He turned to go. "You shouldn't be here among ruins and ashes."
"And you should've opened your eyes. Innocent villagers lost their lives because of your insane game of killing those soldiers. Now there's nothing left." There was profound sadness in Dawn's voice.
"There was nothing here to begin with," said the wielder, who kept walking and never turned back.
Dawn was left there alone again, and she wondered where she should go. She was both excited and fearful of the wielder, it was the first one she had seen in months. However, she never expected any water wielder to be so violent and blood-thirsty like he was.
"War always changes everything," she lamented to herself.
For three days Dawn had been walking, keeping close to the forests. She had no idea of where to go and she had no one to stay with. She didn't belong anywhere and for some time she was glad of that. One day she passed a burnt down earthen house but kept walking because where fire scorched, there was nothing left. On the fourth day, she arrived at Tenfain, the economical center of the North.
She walked through the bustle of streets with merchants stumbling into her. She kept careful of her kerchief, lest it should reveal her mark. The noise was comforting and relaxing after days of silent neglect. She almost missed it from her childhood.
"I heard they're auctioning the kids of captured wielders," she heard one merchant said. "They don't have any of that accursed magic their parents but the seller is giving them away at a very low price."
"Make haste, make haste!" another merchant said, "we should buy one before they're all gone!"
Dawn cringed on the inside. Human nature sickened her sometimes and the only thing she wanted to do at that given moment was to tear them apart. But she kept to herself and silent. Her parents had given their life for her freedom on the night they were captured and branded.
She had ran as fast as she could and didn't look back, like her parents told her to do.
She breathed in and blinked away the tears that she knew would never come. She composed herself and strode over to the auction with one objective in mind. It wasn't fair that these children had to suffer because of the ill-minded nature of human beings, they had had enough with their parents death. Her water pouch was full, she unscrewed the cap.
Dawn pushed her way to the front of the line. The children were locked in cages, with chains on their necks, binding them like cattle. Many were crying and begging to see their parents. Their fearful and tear-stained faces was all Dawn could focused on at that moment.
The seller kicked a boy for crying, the crowd laughed and cheered. The seller, sensing encouragement, took a stick and started beating the boy.
Dawn's jaw tightened. Her left hand gripped the water pouch while her right hand was circling the opening of the pouch.
"Don't," a calm and pleasant voice said behind her.
A hand had reached out from behind her and was now holding down her wrist.
Dawn turned around and a woman standing behind her. Her slightly tanned skin reminded Dawn of Earth.