Chapter 1: A New Brother

The wind whips across her face as she races through barren trees, trying to put some distance between herself and the creatures chasing her! The force of their roars shake the ground beneath her feet! She trips at the edge of a pool of black water, catching a glimpse of her scratched and muddy face in the process.

Female: ...

She glares at her reflection, and digs her unnaturally long fingers into the black soil, pushing herself toward the swirling vortex she's been desperately seeking.

Female: Raaaagggh!

When suddenly the barbarian mob of demons crash through the trees just behind her! Vision darkening, she rolls onto her back as the creatures thunder toward her prone body. Out of options, she throws her hands up, and a searing energy pulses out from her veins, enveloping her whole body!


She lets out a wild, unearthly, feral, untamed shriek that was far more than human as she plunges the land into a world of blood.


Far far away, in a different dimension, in a different realm, a sprawling empire full of brilliant bright colors and flamboyant atmospheres bears itself into the center of a thick woodland, completely surrounded by trees. Buildings with steepled roofs and statues with glowing eyes loom around in the sprawling monarchy. It was named Bellmere. Bellmere Dynasty, and it was home to thousands of residents.

Two-thousand miles north, a huge, black and blue castle rests upon the top of a fairly large mountain. Outside is a light gray platform, which is currently holding nearly three dozen individuals dressed in colorful, tough-leathered uniforms, surrounding a man who stands by himself. Hundreds of people gather around the platform, watching the coronation closely, cheering harmoniously, deafening loud.

A tall, red-headed woman dressed in an arrow-proof, dark blue uniform emerges from the crowd, and slowly appraoches the man, a double-bladed speer fastened around her back. She raises her moon-shaped staff, calling for silence from the crowd. Her name is Lola Fierro. Her voice is strong and dynamic.

Lola: Settle down, settle down, my friends. We are gathered here today for a very special occasion. Today, we grow one stronger. Today, we celebrate together as one.

She reaches into her clothes and pulls out a small, wooden mortar wrapped in soft velvet fabric. A circular lid is sealed over the bottom opening.

Lola: We are here today to anoint a new brother...

She turns to the man's direction, and beckons him over with a signal from her staff.

Lola: ...Jensen Cromwel. A man of courage. A fighter of sheer determination. A defending champion of our homeland.

Lola rests her hand on the mortar's lid and gently removes it from the bottom half, revealing a pile of dark, enchanting-looking ashes resting inside.

Lola: Please step forward and kneel to take the Pledge of Glory.

Jensen takes three steps forward, movements crisp and elegant, until he's almost directly in front of Lola, then drops to one knee. He tilts his head up and stares intensely at his superior with honor and respect, not blinking one eye. Lola watches him for a moment, then continues.

Lola: My tribe has spoken, and the majority of us are in your favor.

A woman with short blonde hair and dark face-wear grimaces and turns her face away in disgust. The man next to her does the same and shakes his head. But most of the members smile lightly and nod their heads in approval or agreement.

Lola: You have proved yourself to us through true courage, cunning wit, and bravery beyond I've ever known.

She gestures her head firmly to the long-metal blade weapon attached to his side. It gleams with an emerald green glow and a shiny silver hilt.

Lola: So long entrusted with the mighty Deadman's Steel, forged in the heart of a dying star. Its power has no equal. Its a weapon to destroy, or is a tool to build. Tis a fit companion, for a warrior.

Jensen's face shines with pride, and he bows his head respectfully.

Jensen: Thank you, Mistress. Your every word grants me great dignity that runs through my blood.

Lola dips her middle and index finger carefully into the mortar, engulfing the tips with the dark, impossibly black ashes. They glow and shimmer as a couple grains fall off the skin and dissappear.

Lola: We have defended Bellmere, shielded the lives of the innocent all across the land. We have fought. We have died.

She takes a single step closer to Jensen, spreading her fingers apart.

Lola: Do you swear to always tell the truth, no matter the consequences?

Jensen: I swear before you, and by almighty God, that the evidence I shall give to you will always be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

Lola: Do you swear to preserve the peace, and protect the empire from all that will do them harm?

Jensen: I swear on the grave of my fallen mother, that I will NEVER commit treason, or seek out war of any kind. I will guard this monarchy until my last breath.

Lola hesitates for a half a second, her final sentence coming out a tad more serious than the others.

Lola: Do you cast aside all selfish ambition, all heedless minds, and to pledge yourself ONLY for the good of the realm? For the good of the people? For the good of the tribe?

Jensen answers powerfully and solidly, each word enhanced with a dominant effect.

Jensen: I swear by my life, and by my love, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask for another man to live for mine. Everything I do will be for the greater good of Bellmere. I swear it.

And with that, Lola extends her hand down, and draws a tilted waxing crescent symbol in the exact center of Jensen's forehead, the ashes engraving mystically into his skin like a permanent tattoo.

Lola: On this day, I, Lola Fierro, proclaim you comrade of the Northern Moon Tribe, brother of devotion, and friend to all.

Everyone rises to their feet and erupt into a fit of applause, cheering and shouting in praise and encouragement for their new solider. The other moon tribe members smile and applaud as well. Most of them. Jensen stands up to his full height and beams brightly, bowing his head.

Jensen: Thank you, Mistress Fierro. Thank you, most dearly.

Lola bows her head in a curt nod, smiling just a little bit.

Lola: You are one of us now. You will call me "Lola".

Jensen smiles back at her, staring at Lola with a new recognition. A new appreciation. Connection. Relationship.

Jensen: ...Lola.

Deep into the roaring crowd, a 18 year old boy named Abel Burbank watches from his seat. He doesn't clap. Or shout. Or cheer. He just sits there, watching them.

Abel: ...

After a minute or so, he gets up to his feet with a deep sigh and leaves the Moon region, retreating to the village towns. He passes by shops and markets selling piled-high odd-looking foods and jars full of strange pets and creatures. Every time someone takes a product, another one reappears out of thin air. He finds his friend, Elijah Fine, at the back of the line, behind a tall girl with brilliant pink hair and purple eyelashes.

Eli: Hey, Abel. You here about that new Moon warrior getting anointed? Heard the coronation was today.

Abel: Yeah, I...went. It was cool.

Eli: Figured. You always go to everything the Attuned pencil in.

The line moves forward. Abel finds himself barely able to keep up as he feels the weight of something in his back pockets.

Abel: You seen Sasha anywhere?

Eli: She said she'd meet me here in a few. Can't be far. Who cares, anyway? We need to CARBOLOAD.

They reach the front of the line, and Eli gestures across the table piled high with crystalline fruits, egg tarts shaped like cats and toads, and even a whole roasted pig. Abel grabs a giant bowl of yellowish alphabet cereal, the letters shifting randomly in a pool of glittering green-tinted liquid; Prophecy O's. They're more like fortune cookies rather than actual prophecies, but they're still a lot of fun.

Eli grabs a tray of blue sunny-side up eggs with what looks like an eye in each yolk. Yorba eggs. His favorite. They scream when you eat them, but you get over it once you taste the rich, gooey deliciousness.

And on the other side, a tray piled high with bright red sausage links, charred with a golden sear. Dragon links; sausages cooked over dragon flame. VERY spicy, and also Sasha's favorite. The boy's purchase about a half a dozen to give to her when she shows up.

The two friends carry their breakfast over to a less crowded table and dig in. The eyes in the Yorba eggs seem to follow Eli as he sets the plate down in front of him. He punctures the blue yolk, and it emits a tiny shriek as the liquid runs over the plate. He pops a bite into his mouth and grins as the warm and buttery protein slides down his throat.

The letters in Abel's cereal shuffle wildly, zipping around the bowl with renewed purpose. He watches the letters finally slow down and settle, spelling out a short phrase in the bowl.

"Know no bounds"

Abel reads it mindlessly, then shrugs. He takes a bite, scrambling the letters once more. The sugary crunch of the cereal and the slightly minty taste of the milk-like liquid evaporates his taste buds.

As the boys eat their breakfast, a sudden liquid-filled SPLASH pounces through their ear drums.

Abel: What was that?

Eli: I don't care, I'm EATING. You go check it out if you want.

Abel wipes the teal liquid from his mouth and gets up from his seat, following the sound of the splashing water. He rounds the corner of an electric-bolt workshop and stops dead in his tracks when his eyes land on Sasha getting her head dunked into two 4 feet tall barrels filled to the brim with water by two students behind that are gripping the back of her neck. They remain firmly on top of her head, not letting her come up for air! After what seems like forever, they finally let her up, and she takes in a HUGE gulp of desperate air, face dripping wet.


A half a second later, they dunk her head in again. Sasha thrashes and struggles against them, but they're far too much at an advantage. Abel hides behind a pixie tree, watching from behind with a sorrowful look on his face. They continue to dunk her head three more times until they finally let her go. She chokes and coughs several times before throwing up at least a cup-full of the soggy water.

Student: Payback's a bitch, isn't it?

He grabs Sasha by her hair and smacks the core of her forehead into the rim of the barrel, cracking her skin open.

Sasha: Ungh!

The student snickers and runs off with his friend, leaving Sasha there. She slumps slowly to the ground as Abel withdraws from his hiding place and hurries over to his fallen friend.

Abel: You okay, Sasha?

He helps her to her feet as she grasps at her bleeding forehead, moaning in pain.

Sasha: Yeah, I'm fine. Just some blockheads throwing a hissy fit.

Abel: What did he mean by "payback's a bitch"?

Sasha brings her hand down and curves her lips upwards into a mishevious smile.

Sasha: ...I snuck a Gorgue into his pocket.

Abel: You WHAT?! Sasha, those are dangerous! The claws on those things...

Sasha: He was making fun of my protruding ears!

Abel rolls his eyes and sighs, but eventually chuckles.

Abel: Eli and I just got breakfast. Come on, we got you some Dragon links.

Sasha rubs her hands together and licks her lips hungrily as she follows Abel's direction. He leads her back to the table and they sit down next to Eli. He notices the cut on Sasha's forehead, but doesn't say anything.

Sasha: Finally! I've been exhausted after my gravity spell last night...

Sasha stabs her fork into a sausage and brings it to her mouth, ready to devour the whole thing.

Abel: Wait! Seriously, Sasha, maybe you should start with a nibble.

Sasha: Like hell! I was born eating spicy food. I can take it.

She eats half the sausage in one bite, and immediately her mouth is is ablaze. Steam begins to pour out her nostrils and she lets out a pained roar!

Sasha: Raahhhhhhh!

She punches her chest and belches loudly, then grins satisfyingly as she swallows the rest of the scorching-hot meat.

Sasha: THAT'S why they're called Dragon links.

The three friends eat together for a little while longer, until Eli takes his last bite of Yorba eggs and wipes his mouth.

Eli: Will you guys go with me to the lost and found real quick?

Sasha and Abel nod. They finish up the rest of their food and follow Eli through campus and down a green wallpaper hallway. They didn't have school today, but the grounds were always open. He leads them past several doors and right into a dead end.

Abel: Uh...Eli...?

Eli: Hold on a sec.

Eli presses his palms together, then begins moving his hands back and forth in front of the wall, as if wiping steam from a mirror. With each move, the wall seems to melt away, revealing a door behind it.

Sasha: Whoa, how did you do that?

Eli: Invisibility wards are pretty basic. The key is knowing where to look.

Eli clenches his hands into fists. Then, he presses his knuckles together and takes a deep breath. He exhales and places two fingers against the doorknob. After hearing a satisfying click, he opens the door.

The room is packed full of objects. Boxes overflow with colorful knick-knacks, and shelves bend under the weight of an assortment of curios. To the left, a stuffed raven caws loudly. There's a thin aisle that winds through, giving them just enough space to walk. Eli starts to rifle through the shelves.

Abel: Damn...

Abel's eyes flock about, unable to take everything in. He spots a candle glowing with a bright purple flame, and a large, spiky ball of metal hovering in mid-air.

Abel: What are we looking for again?

Eli picks up a 4-bladed katana, then groans and tosses it over his shoulder mindlessly. Sasha ducks to avoid it.

Eli: My star-tracker! It looks like a silver ball, about the size of a fist, with an onyx button at the top.

Sasha gives him a friendly pat on the shoulder and a reassuring smile.

Sasha: I know it's around here somewhere. Just keep looking!

Sasha trips over a container, and it spills out several multi-colored globes polished and shined to protection. Abel picks a ruby red one up with a grimace.

Abel: Energy orbs? My sister Alice has like 10 of these things. She's on them ALL DAY long.

A bell rings, and after looking around, Abel spots it in the hand of an eerie doll. It smiles down at him from a high shelf, and rings the bell again. Sasha walks further into the room, and catches sight of a jar full of shiny jagged ovals, shimmering in the overhead light.

Sasha: Whoa, guys! Look, dragon scales!

Eli cranes his head over as he sifts through boxes.

Eli: Wonder what they're doing here. That's a lot of money gone to waste.

Sasha flits her eyes over to a bright red unicycle propped up in the corner, face brightening up. Abel wanders over to an open box full of unusual objects and starts picking through it. He finds a bejeweled beetle scarab, a shiny golden lamp, and a purple crystal ball. As he picks up the scarab, the jewels shift colors, cycling from soft purples to bright oranges and everything in between. It's surprisingly warm in his hand.

Abel: I bet the professors used this for Attunement placement.

Sasha joins him, peering over his shoulder.

Sasha: That makes you say that?

Abel: The Sun-Atts tribe usually have a connection with scarabs, since they're a symbol of Ra, the Egyptian sun god.

Sasha: I guess that makes sense...

She picks up the crystal ball and notices a jagged crack running along one side of it.

Sasha: Wonder if I could see the future out of this thing...

Eli: Can't, it's broken now. That's probably why it's down here.

Sasha stares into the crystal, but it just reflects the light in the room. She sighs disappointedly and throws it back in the box, tendrils of white smoke curling inside the glass.

Sasha:'re right...

Eli reaches into the box and lifts the lamp, noticing an intricate carving along the side of it, spelling words in a language none of them recognize.

Eli: Huh. A Djinn exchange student must've left this here.

Sasha: I'm about to get some wishes!

She takes the lamp from him and rubs it, but nothing happens.

Eli: Sasha, I know you're new to campus, but seriously? Djinn don't actually grant wishes.

Abel: Wait, they don't?

Eli: No. REALLY, you two? They use lamps as a way to hide from danger. But if someone DOES manage to find them, they offer them a "wish." Which really means they do a bit of magic. It's really no different than the kind of stuff our lazy asses can do.

Eli dumps the lamp back into the box tediously and walks further down the aisle, squinting at the shelves. Abel opens some desk drawers, a metallic glint catching his eye, and he picks up a silver ball.

Abel: Hey Eli, I think I found your silver...thingy.

Eli drops whatever he's holding and flounces over, taking the ball from him.

Eli: NICE! I knew inviting you two along was a smart move.

His thumb slides over the diamond-shaped piece of onyx at the top, and, with a click, several panels pop out on all slides. Abel and Sasha look up the ceiling, and see the lights in the room have dimmed, and all around the room, sprinkled across the clutter, are...

Sasha: STARS!

Eli: I told you, it's a star-tracker. It maps the rotation of stars. They're a tool for Astroweavers mostly, but I found this one here a while ago.

Abel: Astroweavers are for Air-Atts, right?

Eli: Precisely. The Wind tribe also uses them.

Sasha: What's your guys' favorite tribe? Mine is definitely the Sun-Atts.

Eli answers immediately with no hesitation.

Eli: The Shadow tribe. For sure.

The two look to Abel, who bites his lip nervously.

Abel: I guess...the Moon tribe... maybe...?

Eli: Makes sense. Your dad was one of them.

Abel sighs and hangs his head at the floor, lips straining to attempt a smile.

Abel: Yeah...

Eli holds out his hand for the star tracker and presses the onyx button again. The panels fold in, and the stars dissappear.

Eli: We should get out of here. I don't like to leave the ward on the door down for too long.

Sasha and Abel nod in agreement, following Eli out of the lost and found. Sasha watches the unicycle longingly as they go.

The trio exit off the campus grounds together and make their way back to the village streets.

Abel: Alright, I better get home, guys.

Sasha: What?! But I wanted to visit the Mysterium before 11:00 Ch'Koas!

Eli: Mysterium? That barbie doll place you're always going off about?

Sasha: Come on, you're my best friends! We just went to the lost and found for YOU, Elijah.

Eli: Call me Elijah again and you'll see my fist up your ass. Also don't compare your worthless errands to my important ones.

The two start bickering angrily. Abel squirms uncomfortably then clears his throat.

Abel: I'm with Sasha. It sounds fun, and I'm sure it'll be quick.

Eli smacks his forehead.

Sasha: Yes! Thank you, Abel, thank you! I promise you won't regret it.

A short while later, the three friends emerge into a bustling Penn Square.

Abel: So where is this "Mysterium"?

Eli: Pretty sure it's somewhere behind that wall of animals over there.

He points down an alleyway to a line of people wrapped around the block.

Sasha: Nevermind the line, my dear friends.

They follow Sasha past the line of waiting people and right up to the security guard at the door.

Guard: Line's back there, kids.

Sasha: I think you'll find my friends and I are in the right place.

Guard: I'm sure the people in line behind you would disagree.

Behind them, a few people grumble, and they hear some whispered voices throwing out the name "Mistry".

Sasha: Aaannnddd I'm sure your boss would be VERY displeased to hear you turned Sasha Mistry away at the door.

Guard: Mistry? Excuse me, miss, of course.

He unhooks the rope and lets Sasha through, but when Abel and Eli try to follow, he bars their path.

Guard: As for the rest of you, I'm afraid I can't let you in.

Eli: What?! But-

Abel: You've got to let us in!

Guard: Yeah? And why's that?

Sasha: They're my business partners.

The guard nods, flustered, and immediately lets them through.

Eli: I can't believe that worked...

They all enter the Mysterium, which is crowded with people and covered in a dense cloud or orange smoke. They follow the hostess to a secluded table in the corner, and on the way, marvel at the multicolored lanterns bobbing near the ceiling. At the table next to them, a group clusters around a bright red lantern. As they light it, it starts to overflow with smoke-filled bubbles until the whole table is obscured by them!

Eli: So THIS is a Mysterium? A place where lanterns make bubbles?

Sasha glares at Eli and wrinkles her nose defensively.

Sasha: They don't just make bubbles. They're all laced with potions that have different effects! I went to one once, and the smoke from my lantern played out an entire Shakespeare play!

As they take a seat at the table, three lanterns drift down from the ceiling. One is an emerald green, another is a cerulean blue, and the last one is a deep, solid gray. Sasha beams excitedly and gestures to Abel.

Sasha: Abel, why don't you go first?

Abel: How do I know which one I should pick?

Sasha: You don't! That's why it's called a MYSTERIUM!

Abel shrugs his shoulders.

Abel: Guess I'll go with the blue one.

The cerulean lantern settles onto the table with a gentle thunk. Abel reaches in and pinches his fingers around the wick, lighting it.

Abel: Here goes nothing...

Suddenly, gallons and gallons of crystal clear water cascade out from the lantern! Soon, everything dissappears around Abel as he's completely engulfed in the water! He opens his mouth to scream, expecting to swallow water, and finds that he can breathe!

Sasha: Check it out!

Abel looks down to see that the floor and couches have been replaced with a sparking coral reef, and out of the lantern swims a school of colorful fish!

Sasha: Hey, that tickles!

Sasha giggles as a few of the fish tangle in her dark blonde hair. Behind her, Eli is investigating the coral reef below.

Eli: Abel, over here.

Abel swims over to him and peers inside one of the reefs. He pokes an odd looking nodule, which squirts out a cloud of bright pink ink.

Abel: Whoa!

After a while, the illusion fades away, and the trio finds themselves back in the Mysterium. Eli moves his arms as though swimming, and Sasha giggles and flips her hair like a madwoman.

Abel: Okay, I'll admit, that was AWESOME. Great idea coming here, Sasha. Should we get another?

Eli: No. Please, no.

Sasha: Fine. How about a quick game of Snaps and then we'll be on our way?

Abel sits up straighter and grins.

Abel: Yes. I'm in.

Eli scoffs and rolls his eyes, holding up his index finger.

Eli: Fine. ONE round.

Sasha: Okay, on the count of three, we snap an element and the winner gets to ask the losers any question they want.

Abel: Right, right.

Eli: Ready? One, two, three...SNAP!

They all snap their fingers at the same time. A small, swirling vortex of air appears in both Abel and Eli's upturned palms, while Sasha opens her palm to reveal a bright red flame.

Sasha: Ha! Fire. Fire always wins. Now, what to ask...

She eyes the two boys mischeviously, a sly grin spreading across her face.

Sasha: Which one of you would win in a fight?

Both Abel and Eli speak up simultaneously.

Abel: Eli.

Eli: Me.

They glance at each other and laugh.

Eli: Sorry, man.

Abel: No sense in hiding the truth.

Sasha claps her hands together happily.

Sasha: Bravo, bravo! Should we go for another round?

Abel: Another time, Sasha. I gotta get home for lunch.

Eli: Me too. As much...ahem, FUN as it's been hanging out with you guys this mourning, I really gotta jet.

Sasha slumps her shoulders with a groan.

Sasha: Aw. You two go ahead then. I'm gonna stay and try out the green lantern.

Abel and Eli get up from the table and head out the doors as Sasha reaches for the green lantern. Eli walks with Abel all the way until they appraoch his house. They part ways as Abel enters through his cottage-like steepled-roof home with reflecting windows and cheetah-hair rugs. He turns to the right and finds his older sister, Alice, smoking out of an electric-blue hookah. Sparks crackle at the base of her lips each time she sucks tobacco through the long flexible tube. She's holding a sunshine yellow orb in her hands, talking to her friend, who's face appears in it.

Abel: Alice, where is mother?

Alice: Go AWAY, Abel! I'm talking to my friend, Sheila.

She snaps bitterly at him, clearly annoyed.

Abel: I need to know where she is.

Alice: WELL GO FIND HER THEN! Seesh...

Abel rolls his eyes and heads down the hall, passing by several paintings. An elegant, serpentine creature pops out from behind a frame, cooing softly and coiling around itself. As its wings rustle, the air around it ripples as though charged with energy.

Creature: Hsssshcaw!

Abel reaches down and lets the snake-like creature coil around his arm.

Abel: Peaches!

Peaches is Abel's pet Lumian. Lumian's are wary of danger and will alert their owner's at the first sign of trouble, making them highly prized as both guards and companions.

Peaches: Krrrrr!

She chips cheerfully and winds up his arm, finally perching on his shoulder.

Peaches: Hisssss!

Abel continues searching through the house until he enters the kitchen, finding his mother, Moira Burbank, and little sister, Matilda Burbank, baking a multicolored six-layered cake together. Matilda mixes several different bowls full of strawberry, blueberry, lemon, vanilla, and chocolate batter with a wooden spoon utensil covered in thick buttercream.

A cookbook flies off the shelf and hovers in the air in front of Moira. She squints her eyes through her tinted monocule and turns a page as she dabs some baby blue baking powder into a bowl of pixie flour. It explodes in a small eruption up in her face, and she dissolves into a fit of giggles. Abel grabs some paper items from the back of his pocket, holding them behind his back.

Abel: Mom, what's this for?

Moira: Oh!

Moira jumps up, startled, and the cookbook drops down into the bowl of fine grains and particles. The monocule dissappears from her eye as she turns around, dusting off her apron.

Moira: Hi, honey. Um, this is for Alice. Her birthday...

Abel had completely forgotten about Alice's birthday. It was about a week away and they hadn't done anything to prepare. She was turning twenty-two.

Abel: Oh, uh, right.

Moira grins widely and chuckles awkwardly as she picks up the cookbook from the dusty bowl. She blows the powder off of it and rubs the rest of the grains off.

Moira: Would you like to come help us, dear? We could sure use an extra pair of hands.

Abel takes a few dismissive steps back.

Abel: No thanks...

Moira closes her mouth and nods her head, like she's embarrassed. Peaches takes off from Abel's shoulder and flutters around the kitchen happily. Matilda laughs and lets her take licks from the spoon.

Moira: So, did you need something, or...?

Abel shifts uncomfortably and clutches his elbow, shoving the papers back into his pockets.

Abel: ...No. Just wanted to say hi.

Moira forces a smile and nods.

Moira: Okay.

Abel walks briskly out of the kitchen, every bone in his body cracked with stiffness. He speed-walks past the living room to another hallway towards his bedroom. Alice speaks up from the couch, blowing a smoke ring out of her mouth.

Alice: Hey, dickface, where you going?

Abel rolls his eyes and cusses lightly under his breath, voice strangled with anger.

Abel: My room.

Alice: Make sure you lock the door.

Alice snaps her hand out, and Abel's wooden bedroom door flies open, smacking right into him!

Abel: OAF!

The force knocks him off his feet and sends him sprawling onto his back. Abel groans in pain and grasps at his forehead as he staggers to his feet. Alice laughs in delight and whispers to herself as she goes back to her energy orb.

Alice: Ah, the joys of being Wood-Attuned...

Abel enters his room and slams the door furiously behind him. He reaches into his pockets and pulls out the few singular paper items he's been hiding in his clothes all day.

They're tickets. Three tickets. Icy blue and fiery red tickets that increased and decreased temperature rapidly in his hand. They were tickets to a festival. Abel takes one and stuffs it into his back pocket. He takes the other two and lays them flat out onto a table. He closes his hands into tight fists until they feel warm and begin to glow a faint red, feeling heat grow deep in his veins. It consolidates to a point in the center of his palms, and blossoms into a small fireball that spins and hovers just an inch from his skin. He takes his hand down and grasps the tickets. They burn in his hands and crumble to ash.

To Be Continued