Sixteen Years Later.
Auras, Quarter Kingdom of Elementis.
In a secluded, small, cottage in the remote village of Auras, Ember chopped a basket full of carrots into small pieces before throwing them into the boiling pan of water above the fire. She knew that she could quite easily heat the water herself but she had to keep her talents hidden. If the wrong people found out that she was from The Fire Clan, herself and her daughter Zara would be handed over to the Greenkeep to be neutralised.
“I’m home, mother.” Zara called as she skipped through the door and into the kitchen with her own basket full of fresh vegetables. Zara looked very similar to her mother. She had the same long and wavy, dark brown hair, with pale white skin. But she had the eyes of her father, Luka, a mesmerising electric blue that could capture the attention of almost anybody. Both Ember and Zara were lucky to have not inherited the olive skin of the Fire Clan. If it weren't for their difference in looks, they would not have been able to hide so well with the People of Air.
Ember smiled warmly at her child as Zara handed her an apple. Ember raised an eyebrow. “Did you steal that from the baron’s orchard, Zara?” She said sternly.
Zara glanced down at her bare feet and sighed. “Yes. But I only took one! I know how much you love apples.” She tried to smile sweetly at her mother in an attempt to not be punished. Ember laughed as she split the apple in two and handed one half back to Zara. “Thank you,” she smiled. “But no more stealing! We can’t afford to be exposed to the Air People. You know that if King Rahven gets word of any living Blackscor children, they'll be killed.”
"I know." Zara nodded, "But what about the people from SapphireBay? They can't want us dead too?"
Ember took Zara's basket and placed it on the old wooden table."I know it's hard to accept the fact that you can't be who you really are, but it's better than being dead." She kissed the top of Zara's head. "Remember, you can't trust anyone."
Zara nodded as she curled her toes around to shield them from the icy chill that the stone floor was providing. Her feet were covered in dirt and were damp from the light rain that showered over her whilst she was out collecting the ingredients for the soup.
“I’m going to go clean up before dinner.” Zara said dismally before taking a large bite out of the apple.
"After supper I can teach you more about the four elemental sections of the Kingdom, if you like?" Ember smiled hopefully as she folded the clean dresses that she had washed for some of the other women in the village to make what little amounts of money she could and into a neat pile. Ember knew that Zara would never be able to have a full life like the other girls in the Kingdom, but being alive was enough.
A small smile curved upon Zara's lips "Okay."
Zara padded into her small room that contained only a straw bed and an apple crate stood up vertically to be used as a bedside table. On the table was a black, leather bound book with small red rubies engraved into the cover. She slowly sat down onto the mattress and rubbed her feet gently to add a bit of heat to them before sliding out a large wooden chest from underneath her bed. The chest itself bore intricate carvings of dragons emerging from flames and could only be opened by the touch of a true Partem Draconis. The tips of Zara’s fingers began to emit a soft warm glow as she ran them along the seal of the chest. She heard the familiar click as the chest unlocked itself and she carefully lifted the lid to reveal what was inside. Buried in a nest of scarlet coloured velvet, lay the remaining half of her Dragon Egg. Zara wondered if she would ever get to meet her Dragon sibling. It was unlikely since the village of Blackscor was destroyed by the Greenkeep men and only the fires of Blackscor could release a Dragon from its egg. She had heard that all of the Dragons had since been killed and there was no more left. Zara sighed in awe as she gently held the egg in the palm of her hands. Her hands continued to glow as she hoped that one day she could hatch her Dragon and take back the land that once belonged to her family and people. No longer would she have to hide.
From the kitchen, Zara heard a loud clang of clattering cutlery and pans. Cautiously, Zara placed her Egg back into its chest and crept around the corner to the kitchen. Zara could see no one but the pan of soup smashed over the stone floor and two empty supper bowls splayed in two separate directions. “Mother?” Zara whispered.
A muffled cry made a response and Zara tiptoed further into the kitchen. She heard the cry again, this time more urgent and louder. “Mother?” Zara called again. Suddenly two large men wearing the Greenkeep armour burst into the kitchen holding Ember in a tight grip with a giant, paw like hand covering her mouth. "I knew I recognized you from that night in Blackscor." The man with a disfiguring scar over his left eye sneered. "Oh look, its your little Dragon girl all grown up." Zara glared at the man as his eyes raked over her body.
Ember wriggled desperately and began to glow as the fire writhing within her singed the flesh of the Greenkeep soldiers giving her enough time to call to Zara. “Take your Egg and the book! Release your Dragon into the fire of Blackscor! Novate liberum.” She cried.
The other armed man with a puckered scar across the left side of his face, who was not wrestling to hold onto Ember lurched forward and swung his arms out to try and capture Zara. Alarmed, she slickly evaded his attempt and ran back into her bedroom. Zara slammed the door shut and pushed her bed and apple crate against the door leaving scorched hand marks on the wood. She knew it wouldn’t hold for long, but it would be just enough to provide her with time to get her Egg and climb out of the small window. She grabbed the book from the table with her left hand as she fumbled with the lid from the chest. She could hear the two men slamming their bodies against the weakening wooden door that was the only barrier between them and the last ever Dragon of Blackscor.
Finally, Zara scooped the egg from the velvet and clutched it tight to her chest as she scrambled up and out through the window with the book in her other hand, just as the door gave way and the Greenkeep men burst through the door. Zara turned back for one moment, only to wish she hadn’t, because led on the floor outside of Zara’s bedroom, was Ember. A trickle of blood slithered out of her mouth and pooled on the stone floor beneath her chin. Zara let out a pained sob as she willed herself to run.