"Paz," a soft cry comes from the floor below a half-asleep teenage boy's bed. "It is light out and your breakfast is getting cold!"
He mumbles something incoherent and gently stirs in his straw bed. A tanned hand rises from under his thin covers and scratches at his head. The door to his small room opens lightly and one eye searches out the noise. One foot dangles off of the bed and sits calmly, half-asleep, on the dark wooden floor; his shirt is riding up his back with his every movement.
"Who's there," he slurs, making his words sound more like, "who's'ere".
A short giggle awakens him immediately. "Sarah."
"Hi Paz, you have awakened I see." The slightly older woman sits on the edge of the bed that isn't occupied by the teenager.
Rubbing the sleep from his eyes quickly and pushing back his mangled mess of brown hair, he nods.
Sarah laughs heartily. "Why must you look so surprised? You knew I would be coming!"
"Mother said you would be, yes," he looks up at her shyly, "but she didn't mention that it would be so soon."
"Well," Sarah gets up suddenly, her sleek blue dragon skin pants rustle with her every movement. "I am here and I want to have some fun brother!"
"Fun?" Paz is spellbound by his sister. He always has been.
"You don't understand," Sarah is on the corner of the bed once more, her energy exudes magical innocence. "I have been locked away in school for nearly dozens of fortnights and I need to be freed."
"Have you told mother of your sudden, er, need for freedom?"
She looks aghast. "Me? Of course not!" She looks at Paz suspiciously. "And neither will you, correct?"
He smiles and reveals dimples emphasizing the tattoo on his cheek. The half star-half sun tattoo has always been part of him, the colors occasionally change depending on his mood. It had been the bane of his existence as it had brought mocking and frightened stares from the villagers.
"Melia is such a large place, Paz." Sarah continues, "I just want to know what the real world is like."
"I understand that Sarah," Paz finally lifts himself up off the bed and walks towards the window in his room. "But mother has different plans for you. Plus, think of the dangers awaiting you!"
The view from his room is spectacular. To the immediate right of the village, Salvacion, is the meadow that leads into a different realm; the realm of Salud, where everything is serene and uninhabited. He often sits by the great lake that occupies most of the realm on the days when he does not have lessons to read his books. Up ahead are the ever-changing skies of Cristo, the mountains of the unknown. To the left of these mountains sits a silent village that had been evacuated because of the wars that are taking place in Melia.
"Paz," cried up a man wearing garments much like his sister, Sarah. "How are you doing? Long time no see, eh?"
Paz smiles down at the man and waves frantically while turning around to face his excited sister.
"--To see all the realms that have yet to be explored and save all of the people who command--"
"Sarah, you didn't tell me that Leonard was coming with you?" Paz can hardly keep a smile from his face as he interrupts his sister.
"Why, yes." She says, deflated.
Without another word, Paz rushes out past a surprised Sarah.
The young man with bright red hair walks beside Paz, his small knife is twirling in his hands as he speaks. "These are difficult times Paz, Melia is going through a lot of great changes."
"Is that why you and Sarah are back?" Paz asks, jumping over several rocks in their path.
"Yes," the young man says, "we are meant to fight the forces working against us."
Paz stops walking and the young man stops as well and stares back at the teenage boy. "What is the matter?"
"Leonard," Paz announces, "I am putting you in charge of my sister."
"What?" Leonard nearly gives a cry of surprise.
"She wants all of these adventures and all of these journeys, but in truth, I see her only getting hurt. Please," Paz walks towards his friend, "promise me that no harm will come to her."
"Why Leonard, Paz; what are you boys whispering about?" Sarah suddenly emerges from the direction of her house.
"Nothing." Paz murmurs and quickly smiles at his older sister. "Sarah, do you remember our little game?"
"From before you left to that fighting school of yours!"
"The one where I would always come in at the wrong time?" Leonard asks with a grand smile on his face.
"Why, yes," Sarah laughs and starts chasing Paz around a willow tree. "It was exactly that one."
"I have always been the fastest of the two, Sarah could never catch me."
"We'll see brother!"
They run in circles around Leonard, their feet crushing through the softly layered grasses of the field. In the trees, the cries of the bright eyed corazone birds fills the bright blue skies as the siblings continue their childish game. Leonard becomes tired and sits in the center, his eyes never straying from Sarah's amused expression as her brother evades her successfully.
"Of all the things taught to you," Paz taunts, "could your teachers never teach you how to catch your younger brother?"
A loud scream erupts suddenly from the heart of the village and both brother and sister pause immediately. Leonard is all ready on his feet and his small knife is straight at his side. Before Paz can blink, the two of them are running quickly towards the commotion.
The inhabitants mile around something out of the line of sight of Paz. Sarah, with the help of Leonard, pushes through the crowd. Several other young adults wearing red tunics rush towards the scene and a soft cry can be heard from the center.
"What has happened?" Sarah's voice is quiet. "What has happened!"
"Sarah," Leonard tries to calm her, his voice a sign of mourning.
Paz pushes through the crowd and sees the frightful sight of his mother on the ground. Her hair is covered in mud and her cheeks are rosy with surprise, but not life. Her mouth is open and is cursed to forever utter a silent whisper. "Oh no," he cries out. "Who has done this?"
"Paz--" Sarah suddenly forgets her grief and looks down at her younger brother.
"You did, boy!" The butcher, Thesal Gloy, accuses.
"What?" Sarah looks back enraged at the large man's pointing finger.
"Did no one else hear it?" He continues, "The man who stole poor Myra's breath away was looking for the boy with the tattoo. Who else but this boy fits the description?"
"That's right," yells Sapphire Heirs, "I heard it as well!"
"Yes, it is all true!"
"I must agree!"
The crowd soon merges together in the accusations and Paz sits quietly numb beside the corpse of his adoptive mother.
"This is ridiculous, how could this be the fault of a child?" Leonard bellows over the crowd. "Be reasonable fellow villagers, he is but a boy!"
"Oh yes," whimpers Clara Crystal, the village's witch. "The boy who will bring our destruction!"
"If Clara speaks it, it will be done!" Cries Serena Limpston, "Ever since Myra brought that thing here, nothing but terror has entered our village!"
"Yes! That marking on his face is his curse!" Someone in the crowd yells.
"Silence!" Sarah warns, "Or I will make you all swear your apologies to my brother!"
"You, miss Sarah," the farmer from outside of the village walks slowly forwards, "still call this child, the bringer of your mother's demise, your brother?"
Sarah looks taken aback and blushes away in embarrassment.
Suddenly a silence falls over the group as Paz stands and walks away from the corpse and towards his house. A loud intake of breath is heard as he pauses.
"I will retrieve my things, then I shall go."
"Paz..." Sarah whispers.
"I have no family; I am an orphan." He continues to walk towards the shadows of his home.
Moments later he vanishes from the village of Salvacion, his possible future forgotten and his past all the more ahead of him.