Chapter 1: A Burning Beginning

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Agraea was burning. Our once merry village would soon be nothing but ash, blown away by the strong eastern winds. All that was once good in these lands had long disappeared. For months there had been nothing. No food, no happiness, no hope. Just crumbling shacks, dying crops and starving children.

Only my father and I had survived through to this harsh winter. Mother was the first to leave us, plagued with a dark illness. With only one parent, we ran out of money in a matter of days. As'ad and I were too young to work, and every time Yasmine, the eldest, thought she had found work, she was tuned away. The next to pass was my sister, partly due to the lack of food, partly due to the guilt that she could not supply for us. They were all long dead.

Crystal tears slid down my bloody face, breathing heavily as we ran from our home. Father gripped my hand tightly as he led me up the left slope of the valley. When we were young, father would bring the three of us to this peak and we would watch the blazing sun set. He would tell us stories of great heroes and would sing us ancient folk songs. Sometimes, we would all fall asleep on the hills grassy bed, and would be woken by the heavenly music of the thrushes. Music that hasn't been heard in years.

"Lenai." Father's hoarse voice was barely audible over the chaos. Kneeling, he looked at my with his shining violet eyes. "Lenai, you need to listen to me." He whispered with a hint of desperation. "You must get away from here, far away. Promise me-" He coughed furiously, the smokes effects were clear.

Unknowingly, I began to tremble. "W-what are you saying? You're coming with me, you can't leave me alone." Breathing became harder as I realised what I'd said; he was going to leave me. The last thing I had left was about to depart. "Please father, no!" Any hint of fear that I was hiding spilled out, and I through myself into his arms.

He shushed me as he did when I was young, holding me close. "Of course I'm not leaving you." He said softly. "I will never leave you Lenai, I swear. I just need you to be safe." His last words scared me. I wasn't a children anymore, it was clear what he meant.

Kran, an old farmer and friend of my father's, appeared out of the the smoke behind us. "Zyndir, we must go, now!" He called to us, gesturing back at the village. I tried to speak, to tell him not to go back. It was dangerous and foolish. But I couldn't force the words out.

"Give me a moment!" Father looked at me, tears in his eyes. It was unclear if it was because of emotions or the clouded air. I sighed, begging my tears to hold back. If this was the last time he saw me, I wanted to be strong. He kissed my forehead lightly, the blood from the scratches coming away on his lips. "Get as far away as you can. I will come and find you soon."

"P-promise?"

"Promise."

He ran into the black fog, Kran and a few other following closely behind. My dirty nails pierced my palms as I tried not to cry. It felt like an eternity that I spent kneeling on that hill, forgetting to breath. I was only brought to by the screams from above me.

From the top of the valley, inky shadows began to advance. By the time I noticed them, three monsterous figures had taken shape. Each one bigger than anything I'd seen before, engulfing the poor souls that attemped to escape. The largest one crept towards me, staring into me with a cruel pair of burning eyes. I couldn't move. Chaos erupted around me, villagers trapped between an angry blaze and this black force. From inside, I began to turn cold.

And then I was eaten by the darkness.

The End

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