The Elementals

Before you hear my story, you need to listen to our past. Long ago, we were just regular humans. Then, we discovered the Elementals, a group of spirits that controlled the balance of the Earth. They represented Fire, Ice, Water, Earth, Nature, and Air. Humans being humans, we began to worship them, abandoning all other religions and beliefs. Decades passed, and they began to trust us. Each taught a thousand people different magic, each responding to the Elemental. However, this exertion of power left them weak, so they sought out locations known by nobody and began their sleep. We waited for years, hoping they would come back to us.

Soon, we realized they weren’t coming back and began building our society. The different regions soon became paranoid that the other areas would want their magic. So they split into six different regions and lived separately. Centuries passed, and everybody adapted to the powers and areas they lived in.

The Fire region is a vast desert with little water and scorching heat 24 hours a day. It never gets cool there. The people adapted by evolving to survive the heat of up to 200° Fahrenheit. They also learned to survive without water for days on end. They live in adobe huts.

The Ice region is a frozen tundra with freezing temperatures and little vegetation. The only source of food is the wildlife consisting of elk, seals, and fish. The people’s bodies adapted by growing a thick layer of blubber under their skins, allowing life in a freezing climate. Their teeth also grew pointed to help with their diet of meat. In addition, they used ice to build beautiful buildings and structures.

The Water region is an ocean, leaving the people there to become amphibious, growing gills, webbed feet, and hands. They learned to swim extremely fast and blend in with the water to avoid predators by becoming nearly invisible in the water. They bent the water to allow large air bubbles on the ocean floor to build on.

The Earth region is dangerous, with large mountains and steep falls. So the people made large and spacious caves to escape the elements. Their skin was toughened so falling rocks wouldn’t hurt them, and they became three times stronger than most people. However, the little light there left them all unable to see in bright areas, so they all needed unique kinds of goggles to let them see clearly.

The Nature region is a beautiful jungle filled with trees and wildlife. As such, the people there are beautiful as well. They evolved like our similar relatives, monkeys, to have prehensile feet to hold onto branches and climb better. Their hands and feet grew microscopic spikes, allowing them to cling to most surfaces. They built homes in the trees.

Then there’s my region, Air. We live in the clouds, and our bodies have not needed to change in any way. However, to avoid having our bodies adapt to the sun being closer, we wear tan cloaks that drop just above our ankles. We live like the old humans, except we’ve solidified the air below us, allowing us to walk on it. However, only the most skilled of us know how to do this. It will enable us to walk on any surface, using the air to walk. I am one of those people.


Now about me. My name is Nick. Just Nick. I do not know my last name or anybody in my village. I’m a man of average height with olive skin, a large head, and big dark eyes that are always on the lookout for trouble. My hair is thick, curly, and dark brown. It’s usually pulled back into a tight ponytail. However, when I use a lot of power, it gets loose and floats around my head as if somebody is pointing a hairdryer at it. I’ve lived on the streets for as long as I can remember, but don’t mistake me for some poor homeless guy.

I can fend for myself perfectly fine, earning money by working. However, I don’t have a house. And that’s my choice. So I like to live in the streets, moving constantly. Besides, I don’t have to pay taxes. I am one of the most skilled people in my village at only 20 years old, and perhaps the most powerful, second to the Chief of our region, Chief Egill. He is the most powerful in a century, so he leads us. However, he’s a very kind soul and can recognize talent when he sees it.

Today is a big day for me. Today I left my home for the Center. The Center is a new city, only about 5 years old, where all the region’s people can mingle and live peacefully. Teaching others your magic is still strictly forbidden, but we can live together peacefully. I’ve decided I want to live there. I pack all my belongings into a bag and head towards the local shop to pick up supplies. I quickly stop at a small crevice in a wall and pull out my prized bow and sheath of twenty arrows. I am a master in archery, and it helps me direct where the arrows go using wind. I can make them go anywhere and at very high speeds. My record was about 948 miles per hour.

Once I get to the store, I buy a tent, two weeks’ worth of food, a sleeping bag, a canteen, and a map. Then I head to Chief Egill’s house to say goodbye.

I arrive at the chief’s home. “Well, well,” says Chief Egill as he opens his door. He looks me up and down with an amused expression, then chuckles. “I see you’ve been busy.”

“Yes, sir,” I reply. “I’m leaving to make a life for myself.”

The chief smiles broadly, clapping his hands together in delight. “Now that’s what I like to hear!” he exclaims happily. “Adventure! That’s just the thing we need around here. Come inside so I can give you some advice before you go.”

Chief Egill sits beside a low table covered with maps and charts. Several books are also open there, along with a large parchment. The chief gestures for me to take a seat across from him.

I sit down. The chief clears his throat. “So, where are you headed?” he asks.

“The Center,” I answer.

“Oh yes,” he replies. “That’s quite a ways away, isn’t it?”

“Yes, sir,” I reply.

“And why do you want to go there?”

“To live there.”

Egil nods thoughtfully. “Mm-hmm,” he murmurs. “I think it would be safe enough for you to go there. But what about after that? What will you do once you reach the Center?”

“Live my life. Maybe meet somebody.”

“Excellent,” says Chief Egill. He leans forward and looks at you seriously. “But don’t forget this: if you ever find yourself in trouble or stranded somewhere, there’s no shame in asking for help.”

“Right. Anyways, farewell.”

“Goodbye and good luck,” says Chief Egill. “Remember, you’re always welcome back here.”

“Yes, sir, thank you.”

And with that, I leave and begin my journey. I walk down to the ground as if on a staircase. But, of course, there’s no staircase, just me walking on air. As I walk, I summon a mini tornado and throw it around like a boomerang. Once I reach the ground, I dismiss the tornado and begin walking. I only stop when it gets dark. But as I’m setting up camp, I see a figure walking towards me out of the reflection of one of the glasses I set down. I spin around and send an arrow flying at them out of instinct. She ducks and dodges it. I eye the person wearily.

“It’s not very nice to attack somebody you just met, is it?” the figure asks.

She walks into the lamplight, and I look at the woman standing before me. She is dressed simply but elegantly; her dark hair and eyes are a deep blue. She looks about my age but a bit taller than me, with pale skin. She radiates beauty, and I know instantly where she is from. She’s from the Nature region.

“Why did you sneak up behind me?”

“I didn’t mean to,” she replies.

“That doesn’t explain anything,” I say.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you. I was on my way to the Center and saw you. Maybe I’ll come with you if you’re going to the Center.”

“What? Why?”

She shrugs. “I don’t know. I guess I’ve never really seen anyone else that isn’t from the Nature region before.”

I smile at her. “It’s okay. You can come with me. And you’re right, nobody from the Nature region comes here.”

“Really? Where are you from?”

“I’m from the Air region. My name is Nick. What’s yours?”

“My name is Emily. Emily Aston.”

“Nice to meet you, Emily.”

We shake hands.

“You got a place to sleep, or were you just wandering?”

“Oh, I have a tent,” says Emily. “I just wasn’t sure how far I am from the Center. So I thought I’d try to get there today.”

“Well, I’m going to bed. I’m leaving at 8 tomorrow. If you’re not up by then, too bad.”

And with that, I drift to sleep, putting a barrier around me, just in case. When I woke up and packed my things, I turned and saw her staring at me.


“Yep,” she responds eagerly.

As we walk, I question her about her region, never having heard more than the basics of their history. She tells me how their magic is split into two categories, those who heal and those who train in combat. The healers use their magic to grow medicinal herbs and food for the people. They specialize in helpful and beautiful plants. Then there are the fighters. They focus on using their powers for offense and defense. They grow trees and thorny vines to aid them in battle. For example, they know how to develop a tree to block the path of projectiles.

Emily explains how her people choose at the age of only 13 which category they want to work on. She decided to be a healer. However, if one is promising enough, they master one quickly and learn the other. They are the best in the region. Emily explains how her brother is one of those people. She speaks about him with so much admiration. As I warm up to her, I tell her about my home. She squeals in delight as I show her my walking-on-air trick.

“Wow, you’re really powerful, aren’t you?” she exclaims when I land on the ground again.

I grin and ask her, “ So why do you want to go to the Center?”

“Because I’m curious. I’ve never been anywhere else. So I wanted to see what it has to offer.”

“Seems fair enough.”

“I hope it’s interesting.”

“Yeah, I think it will be.”

Emily and I talk nonstop for a while. But as we approach the Center, all conversation ceases. I stare at the majestic city standing before me. Gates made of the gold stand before the city. It’s bigger than I could have thought and stretches as far as I can see. There are giant skyscrapers that loom over everything. I glance over at Emily, who is staring mesmerized at the city.

“Well, let’s go in,” I say.

I walk to the gates, where a group of people is waiting to be allowed in. I look around them, taking in all the different clothing and appearances. In my region, everybody has relatively dark skin thanks to being closer to the sun. So we all wear thin clothes, and always simple shirts and shorts. But here, I see people wearing jackets covered in ice or dirty, stain-covered jeans and work boots. As I’m looking around, two people near the back start arguing.

“I don’t care! Don’t make me wait any longer! You have no idea how long I’ve waited here!”

“Calm down. We’re almost done here.”

“Just let us in already!”

The man sighs and looks over at his friend. “That’s it, I’m going in alone. You stay here.”

“No, I’m coming with you.”

“Fine, but don’t complain when they throw you out.”

They go in, and sure enough, he walks out a minute later, cursing at the guy standing inside. It sounds like he tried to yell at him about being left waiting instead.

“Sir, I will let you inside once you calm down,” the guard said.

The man’s fist starts smoking as he shakes it at the security guard.

“Let me in, or you’re going to regret it!” shouts the man as his fist catches fire.

He swings his fist and sends a fireball toward the guard suddenly. His eyes widen in surprise, caught off guard, and he throws his hands up to shield his face. Then before the fireball hits him, a wall of ice appears. The man looks around to see who did it, and a young man steps out of the crowd and faces him. He seems a few years older than me, with bright white hair. He looks at the man with a carefree look.

“Back off before you start trouble,” he says with a surprisingly deep voice.

“Or what?” the older man sneers. “You think you can take me? A little boy like you? This is going to be easy.”

“Then prove it,” says the younger man coolly.

The man hurls a fireball at him in response. But, before it hits, another ice wall appears. Then, the barrier shatters, and the young man lunges through it with a fist covered in a thin layer of ice. Faster than I could think possible, he punches swiftly and hits him in the chest. The man exclaims in anger as ice quickly encases his body. In a matter of seconds, where he stood was now a statue of ice. The younger man waves a hand over to the wall, and two guards pick up the man frozen in ice and carry him away. He begins to walk away, and I run over and stop him.

“That was incredible!” I exclaimed, staring at him.

He simply laughs. “Thanks. Never seen a user of Ice magic, have you?”

I shake my head, and he extends a hand to me.

“Name’s Zach Wilcox. Nice to meet you.”

“That was amazing!” Emily exclaims, staring at the ice shards on the ground. “How did you do that?”

Zach grins at her and says, “Well, I’d better be off. I’m staying at the gates to care for people like that guy.”

I nod, and Emily and I walk away from him towards the city. We have no problem getting through, and as we step through the golden gates, we both gasp. I had never seen so many different people. There were people from all over the world here. Two burly men were standing in front of a bar, chatting in a language I didn’t understand, while right next to them were two strange-looking people with fins and gills! So many different people, all in one place. I glance over at Emily.

“What do you think of it?” I ask her.

“It’s so cool!” She exclaims. “So many cool things! This place is amazing!”

“So, I guess this is it? We’re going your separate ways now, right?” I ask her, looking down.

She’s silent for a moment and looks like she’s thinking deeply about something. But then, she seemed to have made up her mind and looked at me.

“Actually, is it fine if we stick together? This place is so big, and it would be good to have a friend with me,” she asks tentatively.

I grin and say, “Sure, why not? It does get pretty lonely sometimes. So what are we going to do here?”

“First, I want to find a house to live in here, so let’s find a place,” she says. “I wonder how much houses cost here,” she says thoughtfully.

“You don’t have to pay for a house here, didn’t you know?” I tell her. “The rule is you make your own. And as long as it’s not just in the middle of the street, I guess.”

“Really? That’s so cool! Let’s go build one!”

Emily grabs my arm and drags me toward an empty piece of land. Then she kneels on the ground and takes a seed from her pocket before planting it in the middle of the lot. Finally, she closes her eyes and hums a melody as the seed grows into a tree, as if something hit the fast-forward button. In seconds, what was just an empty lot now stood an enormous oak tree. I turn to Emily, who still has her eyes shut.

“I’ll be right back. Just wait here.”

She nods, and I walk off to the nearest store that sells housing items. While inside, I grabbed a lot of wooden planks and some things you’d find around a house, like a couch, kitchen appliances, stuff for the bathroom, and other things. When I return to the tree, Emily is waiting for me up in one of the branches.

“Alright, let’s start building!” She exclaims excitedly.

I use a gust of wind to send the planks up and line themselves up. Soon, we will have a box-shaped house in the tree. Next, I send a few more planks to make a roof and cover it in the shingles. Emily stared at it for a minute before deciding it needed some decoration. She waved her hand, and flowers erupted from the wood, covering the walls with them. Then she pulls her hand down as if grabbing a rope, and a vine falls from the tree’s tallest branch, and she climbs it to the house. I follow her, waiting to see how it looks.

Once I bring all the other things I bought in, it looks like a natural home, with four sections, a kitchen/ dining room, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a living room. I look at Emily, who’s beaming at our new home.

“So, what now?” I ask.

“Let’s go exploring!” She answers immediately. “There must be lots of places to visit!”

I nod and follow her as she runs out and swings off the tree using the vine. I follow her, not wanting to get left behind. As we go, I notice Zach walking his way back from the gatehouse; though he doesn’t seem to recognize us as we pass by him, then again, maybe he did. He goes in the opposite direction than we’re heading, so I’m sure we’ll meet each other soon enough. After a couple hours wandering through the streets, we come across a lake near a cave. There is no doubt there will be animals, maybe bears, hidden within its depths, which makes me cautious.

“This should probably be avoided,” I say, even though Emily keeps nodding in excitement.

“Yeah, you’re totally right.”

Then she starts running towards it.

“Wait! What are you doing! Get back here!” I yell after her.

She ignores me and continues onward until I can barely keep up with her when suddenly, she leaps over a pile of rocks and lands in front of the lake. Then she turns back to face me, happily waving her hands.

“It went so well! No monsters came out! Yay!” She says cheerfully.

I sigh and shake my head before following her to where she landed. But then, I freeze when I see the water isn’t covered with dirt or grass. Instead, the surface is clear and blue. My mouth hangs open as I stare at what appears to be hundreds of fish swimming in the lake. They swim past various plants, giving the area a beautiful appearance.

“Wow…” I whisper, staring at them.

Before I realize it, a sudden wave hits me, making me fall on top of Emily. We both push away the pebbles and brush ourselves off while laughing about the random splash. It had been such a peaceful moment that I hadn’t noticed any movement under the water. Then, suddenly, another wave splashes over us. I looked over and saw a shadow beneath the water. I flung it up into the air to see what it was.

Now dangling in the air, the young boy is still laughing hysterically. He’s shorter than me, with seaweed-colored hair alongside a set of gills and webbed hands. He stops laughing, then looks at Emily’s shocked face and begins laughing again.

He drops onto the shore, landing next to us. His clothes are made of a substance that looks similar to seaweed. He seems younger than me, judging by his height, probably between fifteen and seventeen years old. A huge smile spreads as he laughs, rubbing his stomach.

“Oh, sorry ’bout that!” He says, wiping tears from his eyes. “I saw you two lovebirds and thought you needed to cool off.”

Emily blushes furiously as he continues grinning. I can’t help it. I start laughing too.

“Whoa! You scared us!” I laugh. “But what do you mean, lovebirds?”

The boy chuckles. “Y’know, people who kiss a lot. Like… couples.”

Emily turns redder than before, looking around at the surrounding trees.

“We’re not a couple,” I say, glancing at Emily again.

“Sure you aren’t.” The boy smirks.

“What’s your name?” I ask him.

“The name’s Tim Shelby. Nice ta meet ya, missy and mister!” He extends his hand to me, which I take hesitantly.

“Do you have plans for dinner tonight?” He asks.

“Um, no, but why would you need to know that?” I reply, surprised.

“Because if you don’t mind, I’d love to join yah, Miss Emily and Mister Nick.”

“You want to eat with us?” Emily gasps excitedly. “How nice of you!”

As the three of us continue talking, we decide to go fishing since we’re already outside.

“No need!” Tim says gleefully and jumps into the water, returning a few minutes later with a net full of fish.

“Where did you get a net?” I ask him.

“Bought one during the first day. Figured I might as well bring it along. Glad I did now ’cause this place sure doesn’t lack in fresh seafood!” He grins widely.

Soon enough, the sun sets entirely, and night comes upon us.

“Well, Emily and I should get home. We’ll come and see you tomorrow, alright?” I tell Tim.

“Anytime!” He replies enthusiastically.

“See you tomorrow!” Emily chimes in.

He then swims away, leaving me and Emily alone.

When we reach our new home, we climb inside. I look over at Emily and give her a slight nod. She returns it with a grin.

“That kid was weird,” Emily remarks once we step inside.

“What? Why?” I ask, confused.

“He told some pretty funny jokes!” She giggles.

I roll my eyes and shake my head as I flop on my hammock and fall asleep, still thinking about Tim.

“Hey, sleepyhead. Wake up!” I hear Emily calling out to me.

I groan and sit up, stretching.

“Come on, wake up! Breakfast’s ready!” Emily calls again.

“Alright, alright. Just let me finish getting dressed!” I holler back.

Once I feel presentable, I get up and make breakfast with Emily. After eating, she starts cleaning up, and I wash the dishes. Once everything is clean, we leave together. After a long walk through the woods, we finally arrive at Tim’s lake.

“Ah, there you are!” Tim exclaims happily when he sees us.

“So, uh, where exactly does this thing lead?” I ask, pointing to the cave.

“This leads right down under the ocean floor, where all the best stuff lives!” Tim informs us.

“Really?!” I gasp.

“Yep, really! And if you wanna learn how to dive, I gotcha covered!” He tells me.

“I know how to dive pretty deep,” I say. “I can make an air bubble around my head.”

“Well, that’s fancy and all, but I think I’m gonna meet you there. See ya!”

And with a final laugh, he dives into the water and disappears. I look at Emily, who shrugs and walks to the water. I put an air bubble on our heads before we both dive in. Once we hit bottom, I look around for Tim. I can’t see him anywhere. Then I turn to look at Emily, who’s starting to go purple in the face.

“You can breathe, you know,” I say.

She gasps for air and looks at me.

“Sorry, just not used to it. Feels weird to breathe down here.”

I chuckle and keep looking for Tim. Finally, I turn and yelp in surprise to see him upside down in front of me. He laughs and spins around, pointing at me.

“You shoulda seen your face! Ha haaa! You looked so scared! It was hilarious!”

His words flow freely, making him seem more cheerful than usual. I laugh and playfully punch Tim in the arm.

“I’ve found something,” he announces after spinning himself upright.

The next second, Tim grabs a giant crab off the ground with his hands and throws it toward Emily, causing her to yelp loudly. The crab hits her square in the chest, and she falls over in surprise. I swim over to help her while Tim swims behind me.

“Are you okay?” I ask quickly.

“Yeah, I’m fine… But what happened?!” Emily shouts.

“It was just a joke!” Tim exclaims. “Don’t be such a baby!”

I snort laughter as we stand back up.

After a few hours, we head back up to the surface. When we do, I notice that the sky changes colors rapidly; the sun will soon begin setting. As we walk towards the exit point of Tim’s lake, Emily spots something glowing on the side. She points excitedly at it and runs over to investigate further. I follow her, calling her to come back. Instead, she runs around the corner before I can catch up. I slow down and look around the corner. There, I see Emily lying on the ground.

“Emily!” I shout as I run to her.

She stirs slightly but otherwise doesn’t react. I shake her and feel her body warmer than usual. As I check to see if she’s alright, I think the air behind me gets hot, and I leap away, using the wind as a boost. I turn around to see a young boy that looks almost precisely like Tim, but he has a glowing ball of fire in his hand and dark, ashy skin with no gills or webbing. He cackles and tosses the fireball at me, yelling, “Catch!” I roll away and whip around to face him. Then, without thinking twice, I use a gust of wind to send a stream of sand flying directly at his face.

He rubs his eyes as I fly toward my bow. I grab it, fire a blunt arrow at his face, and, using wind as a guide, send it into his temple. He goes white and crumples, unconscious. I hear running behind me and spin around with another arrow loaded. Tim runs around the corner with his net raised.

“Wha’s going on?! Who’s fighting in here?!” He yells, looking around.

He looks at me, then Emily, then Emily’s unconscious assailant. His eyes widen in recognition, then anger. Before I can question that look, he runs over to the boy and pulls out a water flask before dumping it over his face. He splutters back to life and looks around before Tim slaps him across the face.

“Tommy! Ya jerk! You know I know them! So be nice for once!” He says, shaking him.

Tim tosses some water on Emily, and she wakes up and quickly rushes behind me. I turn to stare at Tim.

“Tommy? You know this guy?” I ask him.

He nods and says, “Of course, I know him. He’s my brother.”

I look at Tommy, who is showing amusement at all of this. “How? He knows fire magic, and you know to water. How did he learn it?” I ask Tim.

“Well, here’s our story. Our parents were not from the same place. Our mama’s from the water region, and our dad from the fire region. They would sneak to the border and meet each other. This went on for years, right? But then, one day, our mama found out she was pregnant with us both. We’re twins, see? Then when we were born, we each went our separate ways with a parent. Eventually, we learned of each other and met up, and not a week later, the Center was opened. So we left home and came to live together. We found this lake and got a friend to dig a cave for Tommy. I guess he was waiting for you guys to find him before saying hello.”

Tommy grins wickedly and laughs. “And y’all found me! Airhead got really scared!” He cackles with glee. I glare at him.

“Say it again,” I snarl. “I dare you.”

He smirks and repeats, “Airhead,” sounding out the word. “That’s you, right?”

I lunge at him and roar, “You’ll pay for that, you little-“

Before I finish my sentence, I’m suddenly unable to move. I look down and see my legs frozen in ice. I hear light chuckling from near the entrance to the cave and look over. Zach is standing there, leaning against the wall.

“Try not to fight in public, boys. I don’t want to have to lock you up.”

“Zach! What are you doing here?” I exclaim.

He shrugs. “Just strolling by and heard you guys. Decided it’s not best to let you fight a kid.”

He reaches into his jacket pocket, pulls out a few brochures, and hands them to the four of us.

“What’s this for?” I ask him.

“It’s for a college class that starts in two weeks. I’ve decided to endorse you all. You all need to learn some more. Especially you and Tommy. It’s not the best idea to fight each other. It’s an obvious match, and you’ll only be embarrassed, Tommy. Besides, who’d turn down free college?”

“Me,” Tommy says, crumpling up his brochure. Zach raises an eyebrow.

“You sure? I know you’re a tad young, but you’ll like it. You’re a smart kid.”

Tommy makes a rude gesture, and Zach straightens up.

“Listen to me, kid. You don’t want to cross me. Try anything, and you can be jailed.”

“Hah!” Tommy laughs. “I’d rather die than go to jail. And believe me, I will if I ever get caught fighting someone weaker than me.”

Zach starts laughing softly at first, then louder, his voice echoing through the cave. Then he stops laughing and stares at Tommy coldly.

“Weaker than you? You really think that? How big of an ego do you have? There’s a reason I’m one of the top security guards. I am a million times stronger than you. Do not forget that.”

“Yeah? Well, I’m smarter than you, so no matter how strong or small your brain is, mine is bigger,” Tommy replies.

“You’ve got some brains but no guts. You can’t do anything with your intelligence but fight, and that won’t help you,” Zach replies smoothly. Tommy glares at him. “Now listen carefully, boy. If you keep talking to me like that, I’ll show you just what I mean about my strength. Understand?”

Tommy looks away, visibly shaken. Zach walks towards Tommy and grabs him by the shirt collar hard enough to leave marks.

“Never, ever pick a fight with me. I’m not as merciful as your friend here,” Zach snarls.

Tommy stares into his eyes, trying desperately to figure him out. Finally giving up, he nods quickly. Zach releases his grip and steps back.

“Good, now try not to tick off anyone else while we’re here,” He says, clapping his hands together. “Now, what classes should I sign you all in for?”


I lie in my hammock, thinking about school tomorrow. My thoughts wander, and I start thinking about Zach. Is he really as powerful as he said? I shudder. The thought of somebody that strong is worrying. As I begin to drift off, Emily walks into my room. She sits next to me and starts talking without even looking at me.

“So, I saw you earlier, practicing. Then there was something about…” she pauses, glancing at my head. “…you know…the thing with your hair?”

“What thing?” I ask.

“You were practicing your powers, and your hair was floating underwater. Why?”

I sigh and lean back. “It’s just something that happens. When I use a lot of wind, it blows my hair around like somebody is attacking me with a hairdryer.” Then I sit up and look at her. “Why were you watching me in the first place?”

She turns to look at me. “Oh, uh, well, when I looked outside, you had disappeared. So I checked where you might have gone and found you there. I didn’t want to interrupt you.” Her cheeks turn a bright shade of pink. “Anyway, why did you disappear?”

“Because I wanted to practice in private. It’s not exactly safe to have another person around when somebody powerful like me uses wind magic. They could get blown away, or worse.”

Her cheeks return to their normal color. “Oh! Okay. Sorry again. Bye!” She gets up and runs out of the room.

I laugh. Sometimes she confuses me. There’s no point trying to go back to sleep, so I slip outside and head over to where I usually train. I take the band out of my hair and let it loose before taking off my jacket as well, leaving me wearing only a white undershirt and some blue jeans. I fly a couple of feet into the air, embracing that wonderful feeling of flowing wind. I spin around and make a grabbing motion to a nearby tree, and as if it’s being grabbed by an invisible giant hand, uproot it. I then rip it in half before throwing it into the air and flying towards it. I make a slicing motion, and the tree is cleaved into quarters. I throw them upwards again and watch them fall apart once more. Then I start flying higher. My hair flows freely behind me, bouncing lightly against my skin.

I float down gently onto the ground below as I come to a stop after several minutes of flight. A gentle breeze ruffles my hair slightly. I walk around a little, working out any muscle kinks. After stretching, I notice someone standing by a tree next to me. Looking at them, I freeze. Emily is standing there with her arms crossed. 

She scowls at me before saying, “It’s nearly 11. You shouldn’t be up practicing this late.

I roll my eyes and say, “I don’t need anybody telling me what to do. And besides, it’s too early to call it a night yet. Besides, who cares how long I stay up?”

“I do. I don’t want you falling asleep during class tomorrow.”

I shrug and ignore her, practicing the movements but careful not to use magic. 

“Besides,” I say, still facing away from her. “I’ll be done in a couple minutes.”

She rolls her eyes, saying, “Fine, but if you’re not in bed in 15 minutes, I’m gonna go get Zach.” 

She walks away, and I feel slightly angry. I came here to be free, with no rules holding me back. Now Emily is giving me bedtimes! I stop in my tracks and feel ashamed. She’s just watching out for me. I’m home before I know it. I fly up into the tree house and head to my room. On my way, I see a faint light emanating from Emily’s room. I look through the crack in the door and see her holding her hand over a potted plant as it glows and grows at a fast rate. I shake my head, hop into my bed, drift off to sleep, and think about school again.

I wake up to Emily shaking me and saying, “Get up! Get up! It’s our first day of college!” 

I groan and get up before checking the clock next to me. It reads 8:00. One hour until school starts. Emily rushes downstairs, and I point at my closet as a stormy gray shirt and jeans fly into my outstretched hand. I get changed before walking downstairs, reading the brochure Zach gave me. There are multiple boxes on the back where you’re supposed to check what classes you want to take. Mine reads history, geography, advanced combat, and advanced Air magic classes.

“Well, that’s interesting. So this says we don’t need any supplies for any class,” I say to Emily, who’s busy at the table. She’s now wearing a black sundress with a sunflower print. “Hey, speaking of classes, what classes did you sign up for?”

She grabs her brochure and reads, “History, geography, beginners combat, and Nature Healing class. But isn’t it cool that we only have four classes? We’re going to be done so fast!”

I shake my head and say, “Our first two classes take about an hour each, and the classes regarding our magic take about two hours each. So it’s about six hours of school.”

Emily rolls her eyes and starts to climb down the ladder. “Let’s start heading there.”

I nod and glide out of the tree house to the ground. Emily grabs my back, and I fly off with her to the college. I nearly fall when I see the building. It’s an enormous, painted white building with a vast green courtyard behind it that stretches on for what looks like a quarter of a mile. Emily gasps when she notices it. I tell her to hold on tight, and I dive down to the front entrance, where hundreds of people are waiting. She hops off and twirls around, looking around. I look around, amazed. Finally, I feel a hand on my shoulder and turn around to see Tim.

“Heya, bud!” He exclaims. “Glad ya could make it. Tommy was plannin’ on skipping, but Zach came by to ensure he wasn’t. He’s over there someplace,” he says, pointing over to a group of what looks like Fire users.

“What classes do you have?” I ask him.

He looks down and reads, “Geography, history, combat, an’ Water class.”

I compare schedules with him and say, “Well, it doesn’t seem like we have any classes together.” Then, a firework shoots into the sky, and people start heading inside. “Oh, I guess that’s our cue to go. I’ll see you later.”

I walk into the building and almost fall over. It’s the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. This school is fantastic with marble floors and walls and its roof so high off the ground. I see balconies above me with no apparent way to get up, but I can see people flying up there the way I do. There’s a grand lake in another corner where people are diving into. On either side of it, there’s just a giant hole in the ground that people are jumping into. Next, there’s a large steel room with steam and a massive tree with a wooden box near the top. I look to my right and see another steel room, except this one is so cold I can feel it from 10 feet away. I feel a cold hand on my shoulder and hear Zach’s voice behind me.

“Amazing, isn’t it?” He asks me.

I just nod my head as I stare around.

Zach turns me around and says, “You should get to class. You have maybe two minutes.”

I nod and jump into the air, letting the wind carry me to a room down the hall and enter it. I see Emily at a table with a person I don’t know, and I go to sit next to them. 

“Oh hey, Nick!” Emily exclaims happily. “I want you to meet Troy. We’re all gonna sit together!”

Troy stands up to shake my hand. He’s tall, standing at maybe 6’6. He’s well built, too, with his muscles showing through his stained brown shirt. His head is shaved, and on top is a set of black goggles with tinted glass. Those must be the goggles I’ve heard all the Earth magic users wear. Despite his rough look, he has warm brown eyes. When I shake his hand, it’s rude and calloused. However, he has a firm grip, and when I let go, my hand has dirt on it. “Hello. I’m Troy Jackson, from the Earth region. It’s nice to meet you,” he says with a deep, booming voice.

“The pleasures are all mine,” I say. “Nick of the Air region.”

“What’s your last name, if you don’t mind me asking?” He asks me.

“I don’t know. I’m just Nick,” I respond.

He starts to say something, but a firework erupts again, and we all sit down. An old man sits in the middle of the room and pulls out a textbook. 

“Welcome to history class, where you will be learning about the history of the Center and all the other regions,” he says in what seems to be the most monotone voice possible.

I immediately start to zone out. I already know the history of the Center. I taught myself all of it before I moved here. After several minutes, I look at Emily and see that she’s already fallen asleep. So much for staying awake during class. I lean my head back and fall asleep, thinking about lunch.

I look down at the man beneath me, begging for mercy, and laugh. This man thinks he could convince me to spare him? Ha! As if. I flick my hand to the left, and the man is hurled to the side and into a wall a few yards away as if he weighed no more than a feather. Oh, how it feels good to be this strong. I hear the sounds of fighting and see flashes of light in the distance. I roll my eyes and sigh.

Someone bursts through the door. She looks almost like a twin to me, but still the opposite. Her wings seemed brighter than usual and kept high above her head. She has short white hair, opposite to mine, with blue specks in it shining brightly. Her blue eyes shine with anger at me. She’s dressed in her “angelic” robe, glowing as brightly as her skin. She claims it’s angelic, even though she knows angels are a myth.

“SHADOW!” She bellows in that annoying voice of hers. 

I roll my eyes again and say, “What do you want now? Can’t you see I’m busy? Or are you too interested in those humans to pay attention to your dear brother?

She flies up into the air and draws her glowing spear. I roll my eyes once more.

“WHERE IS HE?!” She screams once more. 

I lazily grab a cup of wine from the shadows. “Where’s who? And put that spear away. We both know you won’t use it.

She scowls but lowers it slightly. “You know who I’m talking about. That human I liked.”

Oh, him. Nice fellow, wasn’t he? He participated in my games, of course. Did he never tell you?

She glows brighter. “This better not be one of those twisted games. You know he’s basically defenseless!”

I laugh. “Little sis, that’s the fun of it!

“I’m not gonna ask you again. Where. Is. He.”

Somewhere to your left. Oh, and I’ll tell you he lost the game now.

She sprints to the man I threw earlier at the speed of light and grabs his limp body.

“WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!” She shouts at me. “All of your twisted games, what’s the point of them??!”

I shrug. “I get bored. It’s only sometimes fun being all-powerful. Oh, wait, yes, it is,” I say. “Now, excuse me, I’ve got things to do.

“GET BACK HERE!” I hear her yell as I walk into the wall, blending into the shadows, and everything goes dark.

I wake up and look around, shaking my head. What a crazy dream. I look at Emily and Troy. Troy’s wide awake and talking to somebody behind us while Emily snores. I quietly sneak in front of her before sending a gust of wind flying at her face. She wakes up and yelps, her hair flying around her head as I start dying laughing. She whips around to face me.

She frowns at me and says, “What was that for?! I just minded my business.”

“To wake you up,” I say between breaths. “Class is almost over.”

She stops frowning and begins to laugh a little too. “Okay, that was kinda funny. But do it again, and I’m putting a Rafflesia flower under your nose.”

I smile as I hear fireworks go off again and head to the geography. I have about 10 minutes before class starts, so I go to the cafeteria to see if I can get any food. I walk into the cafeteria and am once again blown away. 

“Wow, this is amazing!” I exclaim to nobody in particular. looking around at all the different foods. There’s meat, vegetables, fruits, breads, pastries, cakes…it goes on forever. At the far end of the room, there is even a buffet-style area with tons of meats and cheeses. The smell of spices and sauces fills my nose and makes me hungry. I look at the counter and see an Asian girl behind the counter. She looks like she’s around 18.

“Can I help you?” She asks politely. Her red hair flows down to around the middle of her back. She’s wearing a red apron and a chef hat decorated with red roses. She has a name tag that reads Cam.

“Can I just have a sandwich?” I ask her. 

She nods and hands me one. I quickly eat it and rush to my next class, thinking about my dream. That was weirdly realistic for one of my dreams. And who exactly was I? I had said that the glowing lady was my opposite. I blink several and rub my eyes. Doesn’t matter. I walk into the classroom and am impressed once again.

The room is built like a dome, with stars on the ceiling and grassy floors. I can see Emily some distance to my left, crouched on the floor with her hand on the ground. Flowers erupt from the ground around her hand. She stands up and smiles, satisfied. Then she turns and sees me.

“Hey! Over here! I saved you a seat!” She calls out to me. I smile and walk over to her.

“Where’s Troy?” I ask her. She shrugs.

“Dunno. I think he has his Earth class next. But come sit down with me. I found Tommy.”

She led me to him and the same girl working in the cafeteria. Tommy glances at me, then looks down at his desk, which he’s burning his initials into. The girl from earlier looks at me and smiles before sticking out her hand.

“Cam, wasn’t it? It’s nice to see you again,” I say, shaking her hand. “I’m Nick.”

“Xin chào!” She says. “It’s nice to see you too.”

There’s the boom of a firework, and we sit down. Our professor, a short and pudgy old man, sits down in his chair before looking over us. He begins talking in a monotone voice about our walls. I groan and feel somebody smack the back of my neck. I turn to see Cam glaring at me. She starts muttering something in Vietnamese. I tilt my head, and she sighs before scolding me in English. I shake my head and turn back, thinking about my dream again. If I fall asleep again, I can continue it.

I open my eyes. It worked. I’m back in that room. But why am I on my knees? I suddenly feel a cold encase me, and I look up. There sitting on a throne of darkness, was a man. Or something like it. He was just a black outline of somebody, almost like he was that girl’s shadow. Except his eyes glow a deep purple through the darkness surrounding him.

“W- who are you? What are you?” I ask him, a sense of dread creeping over me.

He laughs, a cold laugh that is deep and high at the same time and coming from every direction.

Who am I?” He asks. His voice sounds like a mix of everybody I’ve hated, loud and booming. “The question is, who are you? Not every human just has a vision of me, especially not twice. So tell me, Nick.” I shudder when he says my name. How did he know? 

I know your name because you saw what happened earlier. How did you see it? Oh, and don’t bother lying. I can read your thoughts. I can even read your fears. Wanna see?”

I’m suddenly flying through the air, free as usual. I go to steer left, but I can’t. So I start slowing until I fall, desperately trying to fly. I land in the cold room with the shadow man laughing again.

Oh, you’ll do perfectly fine for my games. And maybe those friends too!” He muses. I struggle to my feet and grab an arrow and send it at him as fast as I can, so fast I can’t even see it. He raises a finger, and a wall of purple and black flame encases it, turning it to dust. He looks at me out of the corner of his eye.

“Like it? I call it shadow flame. Named after me, of course.” He pauses for a moment. “I never did tell you my name, did I?”

I slowly shake my head, and he shrugs. “Ah well, memory gets worse over the ages. You need only call me Shadow. I think you can tell why,” he says, chuckling. 

He turns and walks away towards something in the distance. I take my chance and send every arrow I have at him at max speed. He turns, and his eyes glow brighter as something different destroys each one. First, the shadow flame, then what seems to be liquid darkness, then some kind of black ice, then a black ore that comes from the ground to swallow it. I fall to my knees, exhausted. He walks towards me, laughing louder than ever.

“That’s right! You don’t know my powers yet!” He exclaims. “Well, let me show you. Let’s start with the liquid.”

He grabs me by the back of my shirt and brings me to a lake of viscous black liquid. He waves and tosses me in. It’s thicker than water, with a more sludge-like texture. Pitch black and suffocating. I struggle to swim up before being thrown into the air by some force.

“Have you ever touched shadow flame?” He asks, a crazy gleam in his eye. “It’s very, very hot.” 

As I’m tossed into the wall, something throws me back. With a blinding light, the lady from my last dream runs it. She looks at me and appears at my side.

“You must go. Wake, Nick. I’ll keep him distracted once you’re gone.” She touches my forehead, and I wake with a yelp.

Emily stares at me and asks, “You ok?” 

I nod, sweat trickling down my forehead. “Yeah, just a nightmare.”

Cam looks at me before sympathetically patting my shoulder and saying, “Bạn vẫn ổn. It’s just a dream. We cannot stop them.”

“I know that. What time is it?”

Cam looks at her watch and says, “We have about 10 minutes before lunch.”

“Hey, you gonna be working or eating with us?” Tommy asks, and I jump. I’d forgotten he was there.

“I think I’ll be eating with you,” she replies.

Tommy nods and turns back to his book as Emily faces me. “So, what was your dream about?”

I shrug. “Nothing much, just a dream. I don’t remember the details very well.”

We sit there talking for the next 10 minutes before the firework goes off, and we leave for lunch. We walk into the cafeteria, and Emily practically explodes with excitement.

“This is so cool!” She squeals, and Cam bursts out laughing.

“She’s very energetic, isn’t she?” She says between laughs. 

“Tell me about it. But, unfortunately, I have to live with her,” I say, poking her forehead.

“Hey!” Emily protests. “You’re not exactly a perfect roommate either!”

We all laugh and get in line. Once we get our food and sit down, Tim walks over to us.

“Hey! How were your classes?” I ask him once he sits down.

“They were great! How bout yours?”

“Very enlightening,” I reply sarcastically. “What are you studying this semester?”

Tim smiles. “I dunno. Haven’t started anything.”

I hear Tommy yelp and start complaining loudly. The rest of us chuckle, looking at him, swearing profusely at the food he spilled all over himself as we get to the library for a while. It’s not nearly as impressive as the other classes, but it’s still a fantastic room. Each wall is covered by bookshelves, with chairs and couches to read on. Finally, everybody runs off to do their own thing, and I’m left alone. I start scrolling through a section of the shelves until a book catches my eye. I take it out to look at him.

The title reads “The 10 Elementals.” The title art shows a shadow with purple eyes standing before a group. I open it immediately and begin to read.

There’s a legend that states there were 10 Elementals. We know the six elements of Darkness, Light, Sound, and Time. They all worked together to create interstellar life. Working together, they made the Earth and watched as everything evolved. Eventually, the Elemental Fire decided to pay earth a visit, where humans discovered him. Fire called Earth, Ice, Water, Nature, and Air to come down. Thus began the history most people know. But while the six were on Earth, Darkness was making other plans.

Darkness had always been the crazy one. But as time progressed, he grew from crazy to maniacal. Finally, he started playing with the humans, forcing them to participate in his twisted games for amusement. Sound tried to stop him by challenging him to a duel, aiming to defeat him forever. Unfortunately, sound severely underestimated Darkness’s strength and loss. Darkness then took her prisoner and forced her to play his games. Once she lost, she was locked up forever.

Shadow then sought to be even more powerful and went after Time next. The fight lasted for months with no end in sight. Eventually, Darkness outsmarted her and locked her away as well. He then forced her to give him years of training in seconds so he could have the other’s magic. She agreed with the promise of freedom. However, once he had learned the magic, he refused his promise and left her there, chained with the magic rope that prevents the use of magic. With his new knowledge, he enhanced his new magic and made a dark version of them.

He was later banished to his own realm after being defeated by Light, who beat him.

The page ended there. There was nothing else, just the page ripped apart. I flip through the pages. The rest had stories about the other Elementals, and a bunch of pages ripped out. Darkness isn’t mentioned anywhere else. I start skimming through the entire book again when somebody grabs my shoulder. I turn to see Emily.

“What’s wrong?” she asks me, a look of concern on her face. “You’re so pale.”

“I’m fine,” I said hastily. “I just fell asleep.”

“Oh, ok then. Just checking.” She pauses for a moment. “By the way, our next class is about to start. I’ll see you after school,” she says, walking off. 

I sit for a moment before returning, heading to the grounds outside. I fly up into the air when I see another person fly past me and stop. It’s one of my old roommates, Ryan. His dirty blonde hair flies in the wind, and he zips around me, flexing his speed like always.

“Hey Nick!” he calls out to me. “Race ya!”

I nod, and we shoot toward the grounds at breakneck speeds, repeatedly crashing into each other. Finally, he flies behind me to grab my leg, and I do a nosedive. I pull up at the last second, with him not being so lucky. He’s about to crash when he lands on some invisible cushion. I turn to see another student there, wearing the tan cloak I’m used to seeing worn by Air magic users.

“What are you two doing? Are you trying to get us in trouble?” She demands. “The teacher’s gonna kill us!”

“Who said I’ll do that?” rings a voice behind her. She jumped, and we looked to see a man hanging upside-down on a tree branch. He drops down, and I look good at him now that he’s standing. He’s tall and well-built, wearing only a set of black pants. I look down at his feet and can instantly tell they’re prehensile. He’s a Nature fighter. He looks us over before stepping towards us.

“So, you’re all advanced at combat?” he asks.

One student steps up and says, “I’m not even sure why I’m here. I’m only here ’cause there’s nothing better. I’m clearly the strongest here.”

The teacher just shrugs. “Then you won’t mind a match against me.”

“Game on!” the student says with a cocky grin. “Don’t hold back anything, ’cause I won’t!”

They both step into a ring and start circling. Suddenly, a tree shoots out from behind the student and smacks him in the back. He crumples, and the teacher rockets forward as if propelled by something to put him in a headlock.

“Yield! Yield or you’ll pass out!” the teacher shouts.

“I- I- I Yield.”


“I Yield! Get off!”

The teacher gets off the boy. “Still think you’re too good for this class?”

“No, sir,” the student says quietly.

“Does anybody else have a problem with my class?” the teacher asks the class, looking around. Nobody made a sound, and he grinned.

“Well then, we can do a proper introduction. My name is Mr. Dalton, and I’m from the Earth region. I’ve been practicing combat since a young age and decided recently to teach you all about it. So who all here is skilled at combat?” 

About half of the class nervously raises their hands, and Mr. Dalton scowls. “Wrong answer. All of your hands should be up. You wouldn’t be here if you weren’t a skilled combatant.”

Mr. Dalton looks around again. “Today, we’ll be starting simple. A competition to see how powerful you all are. Remember, if you fail a fight, you’ll be able to fight more. Once you all finish, I can sort you into groups depending on your power level. Everybody gets into groups depending on where you’re from. Stay in a line to make it easier to choose you.”

We all sort into groups and stand in a line, waiting for him to partner us. Instead, he walks around, pointing at people and telling them to fight a particular person. Once he gets to me, he looks me up and down and smiles before pointing to a girl next to me. Once he leaves, I glance at her. She looks younger than me but has a wizened look about her. Her long black hair flows to her waist, and her eyes are a violent shade of violet. She looks at me and smiles serenely.

“Everybody step forward and get with your partner,” Mr. Dalton says.

We both step forward as he speaks again. “Start fighting whenever you wish. Just try and make it quick. Weapons are allowed. Just please don’t aim to kill.”

I propel myself a few feet back to get distance and stare at her. She hasn’t moved in any offensive way at all. She instead sits down and closes her eyes. Her hair starts flying around her head, and the hairs on my neck stand up. As she begins to float upwards, I grab my bow and fire an arrow at her at blinding speed. To my surprise, she reaches up and holds it like a ball tossed to her. Her eyes had a dangerous yet calm look. She smiles.

“Catch,” she whispers quietly, and my arrow comes whizzing back at me. I shoot to the side before it grazes my forehead and slices a long, thin line across it. I stare in dismay at her before flying up and shooting toward her myself. Faster than I could see, she rockets to her feet and steps aside quickly. I growl and kick her head, but she ducks as easily as I can walk. As I fly by her, she chuckles, which only makes me more enraged. I shoot towards her, my hands aimed for her throat, but she twirls around me, grabs the back of my neck with a surprisingly firm grip, and slams me face down in the dirt. I rocket out of her grasp and turn to face her. 

“How?” I splutter, and she laughs again. Suddenly she lunges at me and puts me in a headlock with my own arrow at my throat, and I throw my hands up, surrendering. She lets me go, and I stand up, looking around. Our battle lasted about twenty seconds, but people had stopped their battles and stared at me, bewildered.

“What are you all looking at!” I snap at the crowd as they continue to stare. Then, finally, I hear somebody roaring and turn to see Mr. Dalton doubled over laughing. I scowl at him, and he stands up, still laughing.

“Forgive me, Nick. I knew you were powerful and thought it a good idea to send you against her.”

I turn away, red in the face from anger and embarrassment. I’ve never lost a battle like that, and in front of my class, no less. I hear another person laughing and practically teleport in front of him, and he stops laughing and yelps. 

“If you find this so funny, then maybe you can go against me next,” I growl, and he goes pale, looking to Mr. Dalton for help.

“Can’t turn down a direct challenge, I’m afraid. Once everybody finishes their fights, you must fight Nick.”

The boy looks terrified, and as the bell rings for round 2, I fly towards him instantly, knocking the staff from his hand and grabbing him by the throat. It’s all over in about 2 seconds. The boy throws up his hands in defeat, and I drop him to the ground, where he starts gasping for air. He looks at me reproachfully and stalks off. One hour and 13 fights later, I stand by a water cooler, drinking. I only lost the first one. All the others were finished in seconds. Except for my last one, where an Earth student had hidden in a pile of rocks, and after about 30 seconds of boulder removal, I found him crying in fear. The girl from my first fight walks up to me and leans against a tree.

She glances at me and gets some water. As she steps past to get another cup, I feel a faint gust of wind surrounding her. I turn to face her.

“How,” I say simply. She smiles but doesn’t say anything. 

“You’re Nick, right?” 

I don’t say anything as she continues. “You’re still somewhat of a prodigy back home. Strongest in our generation. Brilliant mind. The fastest attack speed is seen in a long while. Too bad you never learned to dodge.”

My face flushes red. “I can dodge perfectly well.”

The girl tilts her head. “You didn’t dodge that rock.”

I look at her, confused. “What ro-”

Before I can finish my sentence, a small rock smashes into the back of my head. I grunt and fall forward, my vision suddenly covered in black spots. I spin angrily and see Ryan looking at me. He walks toward me until he sees the look on my face and zips off, shortly followed by me. We fly high into the sky and begin clashing. Repeatedly slamming into each other, we slowly raise higher. I fly for his throat, and he drops a few feet to dodge. He lands a kick against my leg, and I stumble. He takes advantage of my moment of weakness, flies a few feet above me, and slams his fist against the top of my head. I rocket to the ground, but just 10 feet before I hit the ground, I fly back up, grabbing him by the throat. His eyes shine, and he kicks me between the legs in retaliation.

I grunt and loosen my grip just enough for him to get out, and he flies back, grabs his spear off his back, and holds it in front of him as if about to spin it. I recognize his attack and wash up, the forceful wind just missing me. I fly down to the ground for a split second, just long enough to take a short word from a classmate, and fly back up, brandishing my new weapon. Ryan sneers.

“Is little Nicky scared now? The great prodigy, scared of me,” he taunts, having to shout over the rushing wind.

We stare at each other for a few seconds, then suddenly lunge at each other with the ferocity of lions. Our weapons clashing, I stare into his eyes. He looks horrified for some reason. I fly back and look at my sword. The blade has blood on it, and Ryan isn’t wounded. I look down and see a gash on my hip that’s bleeding heavily. Then something inside me snaps. I feel a rush of wind, and that’s all I remember before it all goes black.