"Sean." The voice echoed so sweetly, so serenely, through the sleeping boy's ears, "WAKE UP!" Eyes opened wide and Sean leapt from his bed, almost knocking over the wooden bed-stand next to him. "Owwww..." He moaned, rubbing his elbow which now was a shade of crimson,

"Why are you such an ass, Blaze?" His brother showed a toothy grin and walked out of the room. Sean growled and went to get ready for this new day, "Oh yeah!" Blaze yelled, sticking his head back in, "The village elders want to see us, so try and look nice: for once." A sudden rush of excitement washed over him, the village elders were revered so greatly, but they almost never left their hut in the middle of the village and even if by chance you did see them, it was considered most disrespectful not to drop to your knees and bow. But Sean didn't even understand, of all things, why they were so respected, but he figured he'd learn one day. The only times to elders did permit people to enter their home was when something of great importance was happening, a festival of celebration for example, or when something of danger to the village, such as the summer two years past when the Wolforines attacked the cattle herd. Fearsome beasts with rows of razor sharp teeth and dagger-like claws, fast too, but blindingly stupid gits. The Black Smith was called upon during that time and he forged great weapons with a material that the elders had hidden in their hut, and the Wolforines were driven off. But that was only one case, another time... "Sean, hurry up!" Blaze hollered from outside, "or I'm leaving without you!" Sean sighed and ran out the door as fast as he could, while trying to pull on his pants at the same time.

The fresh spring air felt crisp and wonderful against Sean's face as he ran to catch up with Blaze. The sky was blue, Krattle Birds could be heard singing in the distance, and while they sounded beautiful, they were quite deadly with their long beaks. The sun shown brightly as ever, but the world felt as cool as the winter.

"So what do you think?" Sean asked as he stopped his run into a walk next to his brother. "I don't know," Blaze began, "Maybe the Olexs are getting into the crops again. They did call us out for that." Sean shuddered at the memory of those puffy fuzz ball things that raped their crops, nearly starved the village until someone decided to try and eat one. That fixed that problem for a good while. The elder's hut came into view, and Blaze stopped, pointing Sean's face towards the orange smoke rising from the hut, "This is serious, we better hurry." Blaze said, taking off into a sprint with Sean close at his heels. Both young minds raced to guess the cause of the problem, and as they charged over the bridge that led onto the elder's island, they noticed there was no water in the river that flowed circular around the isle before continuing its straight path. No water in the river meant no water at all; it was their fresh water supply: this was urgent. Sean slowed up and Blaze noticed and spoke up,

"Don't worry Sean." Trying to comfort his younger brother, "It's probably nothing too bad. They probably just need help moving rocks or something. Sean nodded and hurried along, even though he was not thoroughly convinced because he knew that worried look in Blaze's eyes, but he trusted his brother. And besides, if it was something as menial as moving rocks, the adults would have gotten it done by now, Sean feared it was much worse: much worse.

"You can go right in boys." The guard said as the brothers entered the front door, and passed through a small hall to a second room. Sean couldn't help but stare in awe at the massive, round room that seem illuminated from the giant orb imbedded in the floor in the center.

"Ah, the young ones..." A voice spoke and Blaze took a knee, then grabbed Sean's shirt and pulled him down with him as well, whispering into his ear, "Don't offend them or I'll kill you myself." Sean detected a sarcastic tone in his voice and feigned a grin as a bead of sweat fell down the side of his face. Shadows crossed the floor beneath the brother's bowed heads, and the voice spoke again, "Rise Blaze, rise Sean." And they did so, keeping their downs,

"You may lift your heads boys." A scratchy feminine voice continued. The brother's heads arose at the same time and their eyes fell upon the three cloaked elders; roughly ancient in their age, they seemed to be in their 80's, but Blaze could sense something inhuman about them, therefore they could easily pass for 200 and beyond, and they were triplets. The eldest sibling, a male named Prosper, stepped forward and spoke,

"Boys, there is not much time; our fresh water river has been cut off as you may have noticed upon your entrance here. There are no able-bodied adults free of their time to aid us with this, so we must ask you two to help. Please bear in mind...we have no saved water in our supplies." He stepped back, and the middle child, a female named Forlorn came forward:

"Boys, please stay safe, take caution, and be careful. We are not sure of the circumstances there, so it may be quite dangerous, so we have had these weapons prepare for you." Forlorn stepped back and the youngest sibling, another male named Sabre, came forward with two swords; one, a double-edged long sword, the other, a double-edged great sword. Being the strongest, Blaze took the great sword heavy, sturdy, and full of power; Sean on the other hand took the long sword, light, agile, and swift (because he wasn't nearly as strong as Blaze). Sabre stepped back and Prosper returned, "Now go boys, hurry, the village is depending on you."

"Do you think they're telling the truth, Blaze?" Sean asked as the brothers headed up the dried river's side. Blaze didn't respond, he didn't want to worry Sean, but he was no longer sure they could trust the elders at all. The trip to the end of the river would take only minutes, but there they would have to scale the dried up waterfall (merely twenty-feet high), and then just walk into the cave. Sean turned back to the town as they reached the wall, looking at his home with a loving gaze, but little did he know this would be the last time he ever saw it. Sean sighed and slumped against the wall, only to be hit by a stray pebble; and upon investigation, found that Blaze had already scaled the wall and was trotting into the cave as he pondered his own thoughts.

"Wait for me!" Sean hollered after Blaze, mumbling 'ya bastard...' under his breath as he scrambled up the jagged wall. Topika's fresh water supply was brought in by a river which led from a multitude of caves which interlocked all the way from the Alcha Mountain chain, more specifically, Nova Mountain (a dormant volcano). Sean pulled himself over the top of the cliff eagerly and heard footsteps echoing in the cave, Blaze had really gotten worked up over this, and unsheathing his sword, he charged in after his brother.

Running up next to his brother, Sean cracked his neck as he slowed to match Blaze's pace. A circle of light surrounded them as they proceeded into the furthering eerie cave, though wet, cold, and damp, Blaze completely unphased while Sean continued groaning how his shoes would be ruined by the time this was over. In the distance of the cave, Blaze made out a small flickering bit of light, and began to jog...which turned into a run...which fast-forwarded into a sprint. Not only was Blaze older and stronger then Sean, as he had proven many times, he was much faster. Sean moaned as he tried to keep up at first, then slowed and kept walking, waving a hand at Blaze in a most displeased attitude. Yawning and stretching, blade still in hand, he went on to mumble about how it was too early for this work, someone else should be doing it, and a multitude of other meaningless rants. Then Sean realized Blaze had the light and he was drenched in darkness.

Running into a wall, Sean dropped his sword with a loud CLANG and then proceeded to fall backwards over a rock, and then have his face put in something that did not smell of this century. Quickly seeing the light at the end of the tunnel where Blaze had gone (and after groping the floor for his sword), Sean took off in that direction, easily wishing to forget what had happened by now. He ran for awhile, it seemed so much further then he thought, and occasionally stumbling he maintained a slight jog until he heard it...the ear-splitting, piercing siren scream that caused him to drop his sword and run like the wind.

Sean burst into the light with a great bound and then time seemed to freeze at a standstill...as he watched Blaze's body fall from the air and collide with a cavern wall, his sword falling feet from him. Not paying attention to anything else, Sean ran to his brother and dropped to his side, clinging to him as tightly as he could without injuring what obviously appeared to be not only sword wounds, but magical wounds.

"Blaze..." Sean choked on his words as he tried to speak, but Blaze hushed him and coughed.

"I'm...s-sorry S-Sean...I s-sh-shoulda stayed with you...we wo-woulda had a chance..." He coughed again, casting blood from his lips to the cold floor of the cave.

"You...you can't leave me Blaze! I need you!" Sean cried, "I can't live by myself! You're my only brother, I love you! I'm sorry I'm such a pain, but if you live, I promise I'll be better!" Blaze's eyes began to close, and then abruptly, they opened wide. He looked at Sean and threw him off his body:

"FLARE!" Blaze's screamed echoed throughout the entire cave as he was engulfed by a mass of flame and light, which immediately shot from him and through the air, erupting in the center of the cave as if it had collided with some kind of invisible force, sending a shower of flames and sparks everywhere. But that was that, Blaze fell back and he was gone. Sean crawled to his side, tears streaming down his face like the river they were to be fixing right now, but they hope had long since left Sean.

"Damn child..." Raspy...yet deep at the same time...the voice sounded old to Sean, but he knew better, it was not age and wisdom the voice spoke with, it was malfeasance and evil that tarnished his vocals so. With tears still flowing, Sean griped the hilt of Blaze's great sword and stood up straight, then turned around while simultaneously swinging Blaze's sword. However, there was nothing there to hit, as he soon found out when he nearly fell over due to the weight of the sword.

"Show !" He screamed in no general direction, and at first, he received no response. Then, the shadows of the room seemed to all twitch at once, and upon further inspection Sean realized they were gathering on the far wall. A figured emerged as the shadows stopped moving, a dark figure, cloaked in what appeared to be the Grim Reaper's attire, but tattered and charred beyond rational thought: he (or rather, it, so far) stopped walking mere yards from Sean. As its head rose, Sean noticed one glowing red eye, and Sean bellowed in rage that this thing dare masquerade itself around him and his fallen brother.

The caves began to tremble and the rocks began to dance in circles on the floor; chunks of the ceiling came crashing down and a peculiar wind began to surround Sean's body. Dust kicked up and seemed to form a tiny, semi-lucid tornado around his body. Energy flowed throughout his whole, a dormant energy, a kind unlike that of which he had never experienced before in his life, and one of which little people ever get the chance to; him and his brother being two of those lucky ones. Flames spurred into the tornado and the shadows of the cavern dissipated instantly, the demonic soul had nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, it was all over now. Little did Sean know, as his energy raged on, his foe had been chanting a special spell and now, he was powerless to stop it.

"Since I obviously can't kill you now...I'll finish you later." And Sean's world went black.

"Auughh..." The incomprehensible words slipped from his lips like velvet, velvet that was also on fire. Sean's body ached, his head felt as if it was in two, his eyes watered as he attempted to open them, and the floor he lied upon was odorless but hard and cold nonetheless. Hastily, Sean jumped to his feet and glowered at the area round him...the smooth blackness of the room he was in was no cave...and he saw no Blaze...no cloaked foe...only surrounded four doors. Sean cautiously approached the doors; each seemed to be engraved with a different symbol: the one to Sean's 'North' was marked with a water-drop shaped symbol, the eastern was a flame, the western a rock, and the south a cloud. The water-droplet glowed with a slight blue hue, unlike the other doors, which remained cold and colorless. Taking a deep breath, Sean had to think rationally, there was no use staying here as he would have to leave some time...so why not now? Taking Blaze's great sword up with both hands and putting it over his back, Sean placed both hands against the door and pushed.