I wake up the next morning not wanting to talk to anyone. I get up, dress, and pick up the suitcase that I had packed last night.
Putting it next to the door, I sit down at the table and Zane sits next to me.
"What's up, freak!"
"Zane, I'm no different now than I was before I got... branded." I whisper the last word.
"Then why do you have to leave, huh? If you're still the same come, help us with the farm today. Oh, but you can't, you might turn into a chimera!"
Red tinged energy begins to seep off me, frightening Zane but I don't notice it.
"Zane, shut up!"
As I yell this fire bursts out of me in all directions, scorching his face and setting his clothes aflame. The table also looks marred by fire. My face turns red from shame and embarrassment.
"See that, that's not normal."
I jump out of my chair and begin to beat on Zane. Rage running through me, I punch him in the face a couple of times. My dad and uncle burst in and pick me up, off Zane.
"No, let me at him! He deserves it!" I scream and kick.
"Settle down!" The booming voice of my grandpa surprises and startles me, causing me to calm down. "Now everyone will sit down at their places, we are going to have a civil and polite breakfast before my grandson leaves and you all have figured out the reason."
We all comply; Grandpa has earned that right. When breakfast is set he is the one to pronounce the blessing and while we eat, his makes an announcement.
"My family, there is something I have never told you that I believe, in light of recent events, deserves to be heard. I had a brother." This evokes gasps from around the table. "His name was Joshua. A dragon branded him when he was exploring the caves to our south-west, the same area that Zane has told us they were when the sandstorm hit and they hid.
"Well, I was angry with my brother at first, like you are now Zane and he did the same thing: fire and a beating. I don't claim to be an expert on the branded ones but I assume strong emotions have a connection with their powers. Nevertheless, he left on a bad note." Grandpa looks down, as if regretting a thing done long ago. "Well, he found his mission and completed it, successfully. But he never came back."
"Do you know where he is?" My uncle asks.
"Yes, he has been enlisted by the king to be in his personal army. I know this because they went marching through one day while you kids were still young, and I swear I saw Joshua. Now, I don't want Matt thinking that there is no home for him here. We are a family, and always will be, and no power can come between that bonds. And Matt, if you are down and on your last breath, know that we will always be here for you."
Awkwardness grips the table as no one wants to break the peace with the noise of clacking cutlery. But, eventually we do finish the meal.
When it's time for me to leave the whole family is there to wish me luck, except Zane. Breaking away from the crowd, I find Zane in his room, sitting on his bed and staring at the ceiling.
"Are you okay?"
"No, no I'm not. But why does it matter to you?"
"Because you're like a brother to me, and always have been. I've always looked up to you."
"Just leave, I don't want to talk to you."
Rejected and sad I leave the room and holding back my tears I go back to my family. Eventually, I grab the suitcase I had packed last night and walk out the door with my dad. We get into his truck and drive off toward town.
Awkward silence fills the truck, he didn't know what to say, and neither did I. I didn't even know what was going to happen.
When we got to town, we exit the truck and my dad embraces me. Telling me that he loves me and he'll miss me when I'm gone. Tears coat his face as he trudges back to his truck and drives off, driving off with my heart.
I walk around the city and find my way to the marketplace where there is a duo speaking to a large crowd on the platform in the middle of it all. Recognizing them from my dream, I quicken my pace, running to them. When the woman with a brand on her cheek sees me, she walks toward me.