Arev had been the thorn in the villagers’ side for as long as he remembered. It was probably due to the fact that he was the only one without a family but Arev suspected otherwise. Although he had lived at the village since he was a baby, Arev was despised and treated poorly by everyone for a reason he had absolutely no idea of. Not that it really mattered to him since Arev was going to leave the village as soon as he was old enough. Before he could do that however, they came.
They were a group of bandits who had been pillaging neighbouring villages and had a notorious reputation for killing without reservation. Everyone at Arev’s village had hoped fervently that the bandits would give their village a miss but apparently their prayers were not answered. The bandits rode into the village one early morning while everyone was still asleep and started setting fire to everything they saw. The villagers who rushed out in panic from their burning houses were cut down immediately by the merciless bandits.
Arev who had sleeping in the village inn’s stable woke up with a start when the horses began to stir uneasily in the smoke that had seeped in. Arev’s eyes started to water as he coughed his way to the stable doors. Nothing prepared him for the senseless butchery he was to see when he threw the doors open. Screams of horror and pain clogged the already smoke-filled air while the bandits chased down their victims with expressions of mad glee. Suddenly one of the bandits spotted him and Arev froze while pure terror took over his mind and locked his limbs. The bandit grinned, revealing rotten teeth that never saw a toothbrush and rushed at Arev swinging his broadsword. Just as it appeared as if Arev was going to be done for, something snapped within him. Reason fled while the instinct to survive took over. As if controlled by a mind that was not his own, Arev’s eyes turned a gleaming red and raised his hand to summon flames from a nearby burning house. The bandit skidded to a stop when he saw the transformed boy before him. Gone was the pale and terrified prey the bandit had targeted, a red-eyed monster holding a ball of fire now took his place.
Roaring with a voice that he barely recognised as his own, Arev pulled back his hand and hurled the ball of fire at the bandit who now stood rooted to the ground with fear. Unable to move an inch or even whimper for help from his fellow looters, the bandit was immediately consumed by the ball of fire and reduced to a pile of insignificant ashes. A sudden pause fell upon the village as the bandits realised a new threat within their midst and stopped their killing spree. Only the cries of the injured and the grieving could be heard as every single one of the bandits turned towards Arev and stared at him with trepidation.
The bandits’ looks of fear fuelled the sense of power that Arev had never experienced before in his entire life. He could manipulate fire and make it do whatever his will demanded! He was no longer helpless and subjected to the whims of others! Fired by this knowledge that he now possessed; Arev clenched his right fist and willed another ball of fire to appear, this time hotter and bigger than the one before it. The bandits backed away as one.
“I think that’s enough for one day, don’t you think?” A green-eyed young woman materialized beside Arev and startled him into losing control of his fire. A cool wind swept through the village and put out the raging fires while Arev stared at the mysterious newcomer beside him.
“And this should hold you gentlemen until you’re dealt with,” A young man with long dark hair suddenly appeared behind the bandits with a lazy smile and snapped his fingers.
The gigantic water bubble enclosed the stunned bandits without warning and left them floundering in their watery prison. The young man then approached the bemused Arev with a friendly twinkle in his dark eyes and took his arm.
“The soldiers that the King has dispatched to deal with these bandits would be here in a little while so let’s make a move while we can, shall we?”
“But…but why?” Arev asked confusedly as the young woman took his other arm with a reassuring smile and their surroundings blurred into nothingness.
Arev blinked and found himself in a strange forest when their surroundings came into focus again.
He shot panicked looks at the strange couple who had appeared out of nowhere and spirited him away from the only home he knew, “What is this place and who are you people? Why have you brought me here?”
“He does have a lot of questions, doesn’t he?” The young man observed with amusement.
The woman threw him an irritated glance before she gave Arev a comforting pat on his shoulder, “Don’t be afraid, we’re not going to hurt you. I’m Joxena and this is Von. We’re here to help you control your Talent before you hurt someone or yourself.”
“My talent?” Arev asked slowly.
Joxena nodded, “Don’t you remember the way you controlled the fire with your mind? You’re a Fire Element just like I’m an Air Element and Von is a Water Element.”
Arev was stunned. He had heard tales of people who could manipulate elements with their minds but never had he imagined himself to be one of them!
“Now do you understand why we had to leave your village in a hurry? The soldiers wouldn’t understand that we’re there to help them. They would only see us as freaks and burn us at the stake for having abilities they could not explain away,” Von said with an odd bitter look in his eyes.
Arev did and realised with a start that he could never return to the village again. Although the majority of the villagers were slain by the bandits, enough of them had seen what Arev could do and would be sure to report him to the King’s soldiers when they arrived. Perhaps even before the bandits’ arrival, the villagers had somehow sensed that he was different from the rest of them and treated him accordingly.
Deep within his heart, Arev knew there was no turning back so he looked up at Von and Joxena with a determined expression on his soot-covered face.
“Please take me somewhere I could truly belong then,” Arev said.
Von and Joxena nodded.