Indi's horse, Bravadio, galloped quickly away from the village. Rudio, named after the king, her father, was a small village on the outskirts of Rhydo. Two nights ago, the village had been raided by thieves, and the rowdy group of people had taken over the small village of only 20 people. They had allowed no one to leave, but Indi had been sent to get food from a neighboring village. Of course, she was really going to find help. Her hood flew off as her horse quickened his speed, revealing her long, wavy, dark purple hair. She had to go over the next hill to get to the village of Englese. As she began to climb the hill, her horse slowed to a trot and she rose and fell to the bouncy gait. They were both in excellent shape, since Indi was the village's head horsewoman. As the pair got to the top of the hill, Indi saw smoke rising in the sky. "Oh no," she murmured and urged her horse into a canter. She cantered across the large field of tall, dry summer grass. The stench of smoke filled her nostrils and she returned her hood to her head. Englese was on fire. As they got closer, Bravadio reared and refused to proceed. Indi dismounted and ran towards the burning village. "Princess!" Indi turned to see who had called her by her formal name. "Princess Indigo! Please, you must help us!" Indi recognized Englese's head horseman, Zelgadiss. "Gypsies came and caught the crops on fire, and they've spread to the village." "What can I do?" "Go to your village and ask your men to help carry water from the river." "I came here to ask for your help. Our village has been taken over by thieves. We can offer you no help. I am truly sorry, but I must go find help. If I see anyone that can help, I will tell them." She turned and walked away. "What am I going to do?" Indi asked Bravadio as she mounted him again. She knew that the closest village was at least a three days ride from there. She didn't have that much time. She walked in silence for an hour or so, just riding around. She came to the forest, and stopped to think of what she should do. Suddenly, Indi heard a noise. She looked around. Again she heard it. It sounded like someone was crying. She gripped her sword and slowly pulled it out. "Who's there?" she called out into the still night. "Go away," a trembling voice rang out. Indi faltered when she heard this. No one was rude to a woman. "Who are you? Answer me!" "My name is Glare, elementalist. Are you pleased? Now go away." An elementalist? Indi had never met an elementalist, but she had been taught well by her tutor. Elementalists used the four elements: wind, water, earth, and fire, to do magic. "Please help me, sir. My village has been taken over by thieves. Where is your village? Can you get help?" A pause. "I was banished from my kingdom. I cannot go back." Her heart quickened. Why was he banished? Was he a thief? A murderer? She asked Bravadio to back up a few steps and she tightened her grip on her sword. "Show yourself," she said, bringing up as much fearlessness in her voice as she could. He stepped out from the shadows. He had brilliant blue hair that fell to his ears and covered his eyes. He was wearing a dark blue vest over a billowy white shirt with tan, baggy trousers. His face, red from crying, was formed into a permanent frown. He looked to be about 18 years old, but his hardened face made him look older. Indi dismounted and led Bravadio to Glare. He took her hand and kissed it, the formal greeting between a male and female. "Why were you banished?" she asked. "Not very subtle, are we?" He turned away. "No. Now why were you banished?" Another pause. "I caught the princess's quarters on fire. It spread through the palace." Indi learned two things from this. The first was that he was from a large kingdom because of the palace. The second was that he was in contact with the princess, which was normally not possible in a large kingdom. "Why were you in the princess's quarters?" "She was my sister." Indi raised her eyebrows. Glare was a prince? An awkward silence followed his last remark. Indi turned to Bravadio and pretended to be concerned about a thread sticking out from the bridle. "Do you need help?" Glare's voice broke the silence. Indi turned around and studied him. Was he trying to set her up for something? She didn't quite trust him. Glare brushed back the hair from his face, revealing two deep blue eyes that Indi had only been allowed to catch a glimpse of before. A large burn mark ran across his forehead. He turned away, embarrassed. "That's what the hair was there for. I am sorry." Indi pretended to not notice. "I do need help, but what can you do? You are only one." "Still, I am one. Shall we go?" Indi mounted Bravadio in one fluid moment. She held her hand down to Glare. He smiled a shy half smile, the first she had seen from him. It seemed awkward on his face, as if he didn't have much practice smiling. "I am not a horse rider. I will walk." Indi nodded knowingly. He was not the first person she had met who was not born with the natural talent of riding horses, as she was. They started off towards Indi's village of Rudio in silence. Insects chirping and the muffled sound of Bravadio's hooves on the soft dirt were the only things that broke the quiet of the still night. The stars shone high above them in the sky, and a full moon lit the way. Indi saw something in the sky. "Is that a cloud?" Glare looked up and stopped. "No. That is smoke." "It must be from Englese. That is a village that I came to get help from, but it had caught on fire." Glare stood still, and Indi turned Bravadio around to face him. She saw a single tear run down his cheek. He made no attempt to brush it away, and Indi expected him to hide his face. But no more tears came. "Maybe I can help them." He suddenly started running forward. "Glare!" Indi yelled, and he slowed to a jog. She trotted forward. "The village is at least 2 miles away. We can go much faster on horseback." He hesitated for a moment, but then he took her extended hand and swung up into the saddle behind Indi. He hesitatingly put his arms around her waist, but she was not affected. She drove her heels into Bravadio's sides, and he jumped forward in a full-out gallop. They galloped away from the trees, across the dry, empty plain, and into the dry grass. That's when Indi figured out what was happening. "Oh, no," she murmured. "What?" Glare asked, holding on for dear life. Then he realized it too. As they galloped through the grass, the stench of smoke was getting more and more present. The grass was catching on fire. "This could spread all the way to the center of Rhydo!" she wailed. They could see the flames ahead of them. The fire was slowly eating its way through the grass, creeping towards them. "Stop the horse," Glare commanded and Indi did as she was told, he said it with such forcefulness. He slid awkwardly out of the saddle and stood still with his head up to the sky, his eyes closed. He slowly raised his arms up. The crash of thunder made Indi jump, and suddenly, the sky opened up and rain poured from it. The clouds had suddenly appeared, and the world was now dark, except for the blazing fire. It stopped spreading. The huge flames were, luckily, diminishing slightly. Bravadio shied sideways as another clap of thunder and a bolt of lightning lit the sky. Glare suddenly seemed to break out of a trance, and he looked over to Indi. His face was solemn, and his wet hair seemed to glow. Indi was still amazed. Even with the rain pouring down on her, her dark purple hair even darker with long tendrils stuck to her face, she could not believe what had just happened. Glare walked back to Bravadio. The horse's jet black coat was now shimmering. Indi scratched his neck as he hopped nervously from side to side. Glare looked up at Indi. His hair was parted in the middle, and the rain fell off his nose and lip. They both turned forward again. There was nothing left of the fire except smoke curling up into the sky. "That was amazing," Indi said in awe. The rain was slowing down until it was just drizzling. "Yes, it was," Glare said. "How did you do that?" "I was born with the ability, just as you were born as a natural horsewoman. Everyone is born with a gift, even if they fail to realize it until they are too old." He seemed uncomfortable with the conversation. "Shall we go? Lead the way." He made no attempt to get back on Bravadio. They walked slowly through the wet fields. They came to what was left of Englese. It was another small village, and all the people were outside in a circle. The priest was praying to each of their gods. They continued on to Rudio. The world was again silent. The fields stretched out in front of them like there was nothing else in the world. The steep hill rose in the distance. "Why did you stop the burning at Englese if you did not stop it at your kingdom?" Indi, being very outspoken, asked. "Is it your business? You are very nosy, especially for a woman." Indi stuck her chin up and waited for his answer. They walked in silence. Indi figured he would not tell her, and she was not expecting him to. She just thought she should bring it up, to make him think. Finally, he did speak. "I meant to start the fire in my kingdom. It was no accident." He paused, then said, "That's all I'm going to say. You would be smart to ask no more questions." They walked up the hill to the top, and Indi could see her village was only about a mile away. From the top, she could see it was brightly lit, even though it was very late in the night. "This angers me. They should be allowing my people to sleep. Instead, they are up all night, getting drunk on my people's wine." "Do you have a plan?" Glare asked as they walked slowly across the flat land on the top of the hill. "Not exactly. Do you?" "How many thieves are there?" "Probably about 10, but they are all armed with swords and daggers." Glare said nothing for a while. He tilted his head up to the sky and closed his eyes. Indi watched him curiously. Every once and a while, Bravadio would slip on the wet hillside, and Indi would have to check herself. Then they would continue for a few minutes and it would happen again. During the recovery of one of these slips, Indi watched with horror as Glare slipped, flipped head over heels, and tumbled down the hillside to the bottom. He lay motionless at the bottom. Indi urged Bravadio forward and he slipped and slid down the hill. She jumped off and ran to Glare. She flipped him over. He lay still for a minute, then opened his eyes. He gave her a hesitant smile. "That was rather embarrassing. But, on my way down, I thought of what we can do. The thieves are all drunk, right?" He proceeded to tell her the plan, then they continued the rest of the mile to the village. When they were close, as close as they thought they should get, Indi got off of Bravadio. She grimaced before laying down on the muddy ground and rolling around a bit. She stood up, mud and grass sticking to her face, hair, and clothes. "So how do I look?" Glare smiled and bent down. He picked up a handful of mud and wiped in all over Indi's face. She looked at him calmly and grabbed some mud. She put it on top of his head. "There. I think we both look fine." She gave him a leg up into Bravadio's saddle. Then she ran to the village. As she came into the village square, the sour scent of alcohol filled her nose and she held her head down. Voices rang out through the night. One of the thieves saw her. "Where's our food?" He yelled. His voice was slurred, and he walked, limping, towards her. "I met a strange man on my way there. He stole my horse, and he's outside. He's planning on taking over the village. You had better go make sure he doesn't." The man laughed loudly and called to one of his friends. He told him the story. They got the rest of the men to follow them, and, all of them wobbleing, walked towards the path that led out of the village. With them gone, the village was quiet except for the large bonfire in the center crackling. All the inhabitants of the village were inside, probably not sleeping but trying to. Indi shivered for no reason and ran to catch up with the men leaving. When they came out into the open, Indi saw Glare on top of Bravadio, silhouetted against the moon. Bravadio reared for effect, and Glare struggled to hold on. As the men neared Glare, daggers in their hands, he held up his hand. The sky suddenly lit up and slowly diminished until Glare was holding a ball of swirling light in his palm. Out of it shot tiny bolts of lightning, and he struggled with the energy to aim it at the men. Two were hit and they fell. Glare threw the ball at one man and he screamed in pain before he collapsed on the ground. Glare then held up his arms, and the earth suddenly shook beneath them. Indi struggled to stand, and she saw 4 of the men run in terror. That left three. They looked at each other in horror, but didn't run. Bravadio reared again out of terror, and Glare slid off. He landed on his feet and tried to pretend he had done it on purpose. Bravadio ran to Indi. "You're not afraid yet?" Glare yelled out to the men. He held up both arms again and a huge gust of wind came from no where. Indi buried her face in Bravadio's mane as it blew past. And suddenly, a tiny tornado seemed to come from the ground itself beneath the men and they were thrown into the air. They yelled a few choice words before running away, screaming in terror. Indi looked up as they ran away. "We did it!" she exclaimed excitedly. She ran to Glare. He was on his back on the ground. "Are you ok?" Indi asked as she knelt beside him. He opened one eye and nodded. "Just exhausted." She pulled him up and engulfed him in a hug. He hesitantly hugged her back. "We did it!" she yelled again. She then ran to the village, pulling Glare behind her in one hand and Bravadio in the other. She ran to the town square and whistled loudly through her fingers. From the large cottage at the farthest edge of town, she saw someone walk out the door. "Father!" She ran to him and hugged him. "They're gone! We got rid of them!" The king smiled widely. People were coming out from both sides of the street. "Did you get the king from Englese to come?" "No, someone better. A young man named Glare. I met him in the forest. He's an elementalist." "Well, let me see him." Glare was standing shyly near the entrance. "Glare, this is my father, King Rudio. Father, this is Glare." The king smiled warmly and shook his hand. "I'll tell you the details later, but can Glare live here? In one of the empty cottages?" Glare opened his mouth in protest, but Rudio hushed him. "If he has no where else to live, he's welcome here. It's the least we can do for saving our village." Indi looked at him, daring him to say no. "Well, I guess I can stay for a while." "Fine then, it's settled. Tomorrow we shall have a banquet in your honor. Now, though, I would like to get some sleep. I have had none in days." Bravadio yawned widely, and the three laughed at him, mostly out of relief. There would be more problems, but at that moment, everything was perfect, and their laughter rang through the once again still night.