Chapter 3: Unmasking Reality

When I regained consciousness, I found myself lying in a bed, enclosed in a room unfamiliar to me. I was warm under the sheets, but the atmosphere felt so cold, being surrounded by stone walls. It lacked the emotional comfort of what I had once called home. "I'm glad you came to. Otherwise, Zandor would have never forgiven himself." It was Matterick. "Here, I made some soup." Having not eaten for the longest time, I devoured it in an instant.

"So the kid's awake, hm?" Renee approached. "You must be famished by now. I'll make you a sandwich. You're not allergic to anything are you?"

"No," I replied, "How long have I been here?" I had lost all sense of time.

"A couple of days," She responded. "You were pretty badly wounded. That must have been one harsh battle." She went on as she began preparing my meal. "How are you feeling?" It was a typical question to ask.

"Better," I told her. "About the battle, what-"

"Not now." Matterick interrupted. "You have to focus on recovering. Don't worry about something you can't change." He made a good point, but I couldn't help it. What happened after I left? Are mom and dad still alive? It was only natural for me to wonder what had come to pass.

"Here you go." Renee handed me a sandwich.

"Thanks, it tastes great." I complimented as I munched through it. It didn't take me long at all.

Throughout the day, thoughts of my parents, Sillentil, and what happened there kept coming to mind, and it was quite evident to the others, especially when I constantly mentioned it. Finally, Renee came up to me. "You can't change the past, but if talking about it makes you feel better, why don't you tell us what happened?" She suggested.

"Well, okay," I began the story. "It happened in the evening, and I had just finished eating. I was practicing knife throws until I heard a scream…" I went on, sparing the bloody details. I did however run into the part where I knocked down the Commander.

"That's a death sentence back at Pyro Plaza." Renee cut in with concern.

"Pyro Plaza?" I asked, unfamiliar of the place.

"It's a huge city where Flamers come from." She explained. "Did they get your profile?"

"I-I don't think so." I responded with some hesitation. "I left pretty quickly." Proceeding on with the various events, I mentioned how I rode on a motorcycle, and also how I drove off a cliff.

"So that's how you came to drive this thing. It rides well." From where I was lying, I had my back facing the room's entrance, but I could tell it was Zandor. "Take this, you'll recover faster." He told me as he handed me some medicine. "Back to your story, how did you survive?" He questioned with a hint of curiosity.

"It was strange." I recalled, "A strong current drifted me to safety. It was like a dream, except I knew it really happened." I took the medicine and continued, "Then I found out that the wind was actually an incoming tornado. I'm not sure when it comes to how that happened. Tornadoes aren't very popular where I come from." I still pondered on that bizarre occurrence.

"Was it cold that night?" Zandor asked me.

"Yeah…" I answered, uncertain of the question's purpose, "Why?"

"Well, when cold air and hot air intermix, wind is produced. It it's strong enough, a tornado forms. It was getting quite cold when the sun was going down, and the intensity of the heat from the Flamer's blades must have caused a stir." He explained to me. I could only look at him long and hard. Where did that come from?

"Don't mind Zandor," Renee remarked, "He's a science freak. It's all he really cares about most of the time.

"I see…" I didn't know what else to say regarding the topic. "Well, that explains a lot." I said with some satisfaction. I carried on with my tale up the point when our paths crossed.

"You know, if you were looking for a city, you were very close." Matterick informed me with optimism, "The city we're in not is only a few miles from where you fainted." I could have done something. I was so close. I thought, feeling frustrated, "But don't be too hard on yourself." He continued, sensing my reaction, "There wouldn't be enough people or the proper transportation anyway."

"This city- is that where the bright light came from?" I brought up.

:"The bright light you're referring to is an element. We recently discovered it. Come to think of it, it does give a glow." He responded, "It's where we headed after finding you. It was quite an exhausting trip."

There was something uncanny about the conversation we had, something that didn't feel right, and I could sense it. Questions remained, Who were these people? Where did they come from? How did they know so much about Flamers? I had to know something, "I've told you my story. Why don't you tell me yours? I suggested.

"Uh, where do you want us to start?" Matterick asked.

"I don't know; how about where you come from." I wanted to know something about them beyond their names. My intuition was right. I sensed some uneasiness amongst the three. "Is something wrong?"

"Not at all," Matterick replied almost immediately, but the way he moved and acted was a giveaway. He had the same reaction when he had attempted to explain why my parents lied to me. Was it more bad news? "It's just that it was a rough time. We were attacked by Flamers too. Our homes no longer exist."

"That's awful." I remarked, "So is that why you saved me?" I asked.

"Sort of, at first, we just wanted to jack your bike, but leaving you lying their bruised and bleeding may have gotten us charged with murder." Zandor responded.

"Don't listen to Zandor; he's just messing with you." Renee explained.

Right…" I said thinking twice about his cynical sense of humour. "By the way, what city did you come from?"

"Oh, no city you would have known if you hadn't met us." Renee replied. When I insisted on a name, the awkward silence came again.

I was growing quite tired of this routine, "What are you keeping from me? You want me to trust you, yet you have so many secrets!" I exclaimed.

"That's quite a bold statement for someone who won't even tell us her name. "Zandor retaliated. "We have been nothing but honest with you. We told you what your parents could not, and we took you into our home. Do you think we would take this long to harm you in anyway?"

My defence mechanism rushed in, "I can't be sure. You may not know my name, but you know where I'm from, my family background, and what I've done. The real question is who are you? I know nothing about you, or our whereabouts." I was quite outspoken for my age, that, and I often had to defend my actions when I executed pranks around the neighbourhood. The group said nothing, "Well, where are we?"

"…Actually, we're not so sure ourselves. This city doesn't have a name yet." Renee bashfully admitted, probably experiencing some guilt.

"Do you not know, or will you not tell me?" I was fed up. "I'm going home."

"Why you ungrateful-"

"Zandor, watch your words." Matterick reminded him.

"You're not going anywhere." He was there to stop me and I was unarmed this time.

"You know, you're not my keeper." I calmly countered, but the situation was getting awkward; I was feeling nervous.

"Why don't you take a walk?" Matterick suggested. "We'll deal with it."

Zandor looked at me, "Sorry," and he left.

"What's with him?" I really wanted answers now. Things were getting weirder by the minute.

"We'll talk about that later." Matterick seemed sincere. "I don't want to prohibit you from anything, especially when it comes to returning to Sillentil to find the truth firsthand yourself. My question to you is do you really want the truth?" Before I could respond, he continued, "I want you to think about this very carefully. You must accept two terms of understanding: The truth is often what you don't want to hear, and once you know the truth, there is no turning back."

"I want to know." I looked him straight in the eye. It was all I had to say, and I awaited his move. He looked at Renee.

"You're best at this." He told her. She nodded.

"Before I tell you, you must promise that you won't run away." Renee told me.

I could no longer bear the suspense. "Okay, okay, just tell me already." What could be that bad?

"We're from Pyro Plaza." She finally confessed.

"You mean you're Flamers?" I didn't see that coming, but I was beginning to understand why they had held back when it came to detains about themselves.

"It's not what you think." Renee protested, "We may be from Pyro Plaza, but we have nothing to do with the Flamers who are invading small villages.

"Then you lied about your village being invaded by Flamers, and how you said you came from a place I didn't know about. How can I trust you?" I was not convinced.

"I know you're not one for technicalities right now, but in our defence, we didn't say that." Renee reminded me, "First of all, we said our homes were destroyed by Flamers, and that could also mean we lived in Pyro Plaza. Secondly, you never heard of Pyro Plaza before you talked to us."

The more I came to know them, I learned to watch the smallest details of their phrases, since they were at times, misleading.

At seven years of age, I had seen war, no longer had my parents, almost died falling off a cliff, with a grasp of a tornado, and now, this. It was too much. I couldn't bear the burden.

"I want to go home." I protested with some homesickness. Everything I had been through since had an artificial taste. Home was the one place I knew was real. "I'm feeling better, I think I can go." I eagerly added.

There was more hesitancy. I looked at them with pleading eyes. Matterick sighed, "Alright, I'll take you there. I have to tell you though. Sillentil is a very long drive from here."

"I can handle it. After all, I did drive here, didn't I?" I stated.

He smiled, and we got ready to go. "I'll drive. I know a short cut." He joked with inside humour. I had made quite an uneconomic trip while trying to escape the tornado. I sat behind him. "Do you want to know more about this city?" I nodded. "I'll tell you on our way there.

The engine wasn't' very loud, so it wasn't too hard to hear what he was saying. "This city is made up of surviving villagers who escaped the Flamers?" I asked, making sure I had heard him correctly.

"That's right, they're just like you."

"But how come they all came to the same place?" I asked, still wondering what the odds were for a large number of strangers coming together and settling in cone place.

"It's similar to how you got here. They were led to the site by the element's glow. Matterick raised his voice against his competition. My reaction of interest triggered him to carry on. He told me everything that had to do with elements and how they were linked with true forms. "It's something you're born with." I already knew some of the background information, but there was no rush. My destination was a set time away. "No one knows what kind of element it is, but we're almost certain it possesses a power within." I loved that line. They mystery intrigued me. What other stories did he have in store?

Before I knew it, we had arrived, but it lacked the satisfaction of returning home by far. There was nothing left. Wooden houses and fire were not a good mix. Scattered throughout the urban village were the remains of houses that had collapsed on its victims. The area was fairly dry, and it was saturated with smoke and burnt corpses, but that didn't stop me. I ran to the cottage that I had known as home for seven years. Matterick followed.

My findings could easily be compared to the outcome of my short life. Tears ran down my cheeks when I say my mother and father lying lifeless in a burnt dry pool of blood. Matterick comforted me, like and older brother I had never had. He told me they had found peace, that they were still watching me, that they would always be with me in spirit. I never fully believed him, but soft words had a way of coaxing a difficult situation.

There was a village tradition to only bury relatives that had been clearly identified, for it was believed to bring bad karma for those who never found the bodies of their families. A burden of dissatisfaction could eternally hang on their souls.

With respect to that, I dug a grave for my parents, buried them proper, and paid my respects.

"I'm sorry." I hear Matterick say to me. He would have helped me dig, but I refused. He did however help me lift the bodies in and cover up the site.

"Thank you," I finally said, "for bringing me back I mean," He nodded. For some time afterwards, we stood together saying nothing.

I was getting tired and Matterick could tell. "Are you ready to go?" He asked.

I nodded, "Call me Morry."