A Burning World

Chapter 1

The world was said to have had a sweet simple name once upon a time. It had green lands, blue rivers and oceans. Cities, towns and settlements decorated it like a tattoo, and everything was fine. People were born, lived their lives, did what they wanted, then died. Simple and sweet, and easy as can be. Well, that's what I heard. All I knew about the world before it changed, was taught to me by people who spent their life guessing and trying to piece together the puzzle of the past, but even I knew there was too many pieces missing to understand what had happened. They thought that humanity had grown too advanced, grown too quickly in knowledge, population, too everything. We had created machined to destroy land and ourselves. We had polluted the earth and air. And somehow, over night, hundreds of citied were levelled to the ground, there wasn't even a trace left, they had crumbled and vanished as though they had never existed. People vanished as well, and the ones who didn't died soon. Because when it appeared the earth was erasing us all, creatures that were only real in nightmares came out. They are said to be demons that crawled out of the cracks in the earth finally loose from the fires of hell, or the remnants left behind of the humanities evil and cruel designs on this world.

I just knew one thing though, these creatures, were hunters, predators like the wolf and falcon. Only they didn't hunt animals, they hunted us, the last few of humanity's legacy. Five thousands years and we had survived, we had gone back to basics mostly, living in small pacts as tribes, branching out on the little fertile land left, avoiding the dry rock lands and sandy deserts. The sea was said to have been less than half of what it was used to be, but like everything else that was only a guess. We all lived around the land surrounding Zarinthia, the one city we had managed to build and keep standing, it was where the Queen and King lived. The rest of us stuck to ourselves and fought to survive.

Easier said than done, when the demonic creatures, known as Normak saw you as food and blood sport. Zarinthia would send out warriors, armies of brave men to fight the creatures and protect the few people, not many of them ever came back. But that was because the King was treating the situation all wrong. He was treating it like a war. My people the Kylerions lived as a small village on the hill lands near the outskirts of Zarinthia's domain. We would see the Normak's on a weekly basis. We would see them and kill them, use every dirty trick we could, not use the honourable way, because you wouldn't see a mouse salute to a cat as it was about to eat it would you? Because that was what this was, we were prey, the mouse, and they were the hunters, the cat. It was nature really, the oldest law, fighting for survival, and the King tried to be diplomatic about it. That was his failure in all of this. Us Kylerions weren't cold hearted, we just understood the planet more than others. We fought with our hearts, were as honourable as you could be when fighting a creature that had every advantage against you as it could. And the Normak's were superior. Dark black or grey skin, a uniform of leather with crude metal armour dotted around it, long blades lined each forearm for its weapon, but it didn't really need them. It had teeth sharp as any blade, nails that could dig through bone, strength and speed that could out match any average man. That was why they were the hunters. But the Kylerions understood that, and we grew tough enough to be one of the last villages to be wiped out from the hill lands. But for some reason the King didn't send any army to come and help us. Maybe he really was afraid of me and my people after all.

I walked up to my mother who was standing in the doorway of our wooden hut. She was wringing her hands together and looking up at the top of the hill ahead of our village. She had a worried look on her face yet her pale blue eyes were calm as she waited for Papa to come back. I tugged on her dark red ruffled skirt to get her attention, she turned to pick me as I rubbed my eyes, her worried look gone.

"And why are you up young lady? You should be in bed." She asked as she held me close whilst still looking out the door.

"I couldn't sleep, I had a bad dream and I thought it was real. Mama, where's Papa?" I asked as I looked out at the hill with her.

"He went with the other men to see how close the Normak's are getting. It seems like they're going to try and attack us." She said whilst rubbing my back. I was use to these attacks, they didn't bother me anymore. We always one and we always would. Us Kylerions were hard to kill, and as the world changed so did we, a few of us were gifted in absurd ways that couldn't be explained.

"Why don't the King help us?" I asked as I yawned and cuddled into her shoulder.

"Because we don't like to take orders, none of us really know who made who Kind when the world ended, but maybe that was where we went wrong. We don't want a ruler, we want a friend. And since none of the Kylerions would join his army, he feels a little annoyed at us, so he wont help us, he has too much pride for that. We'll be fine anyway."

Mama started to walk out of the house and went to Linia, her black horse by the water trough as other people walked around finishing their chores of the day as dusk began to settle.

It was just a normal day, but that went to hell fast the minute Papa came running in to the village with three men. Papa ran straight to us and pulled us into the house, shouting for my brother Drake at the same time. Once we were in the house and Drake had come in from play fighting with the other boys Papa closed the door.

"An entire army is coming to destroy the village. We saw them coming across the red sands, there's too many for us to fight and survive, but we are going to make a stand." Papa crouched down to rest his hands on Mama's lap as she sat heavily on the fur covered bed. I went over to drake and held his hand. We're we going to die? Was this it? I knew death was a regular thing just like the sunrise, but I wasn't sure if I wanted to die yet, I was confused about what was happening and Mama was nearly crying.

"It'll be okay, I'll keep us safe." Drake said as he wrapped his arms around me and held me close. I hugged his legs believing that my big brother would protect me from anything and everything."My love, it is your choice. I will stay and fight, what happens to you and the children is up to you." Papa said in a quiet voice, throwing a quick loving glance at us.

"I will fight right by your side, the children… I want what any mother would want for them. I want them to live."

"Very well then." Papa whispered as he lent forward to kiss Mama. I suddenly had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I clutched a little tighter to Drake.

"Drake, you're going to have to take Alicia and ride into the woods. The Normak's are in front of us, if you stick to the hidden paths, you should reach Zarinthia in a day or two. You're going to have to take care of you little sister for us." Papa said as he calmly started packing a small skin pack with food and other stuff I wasn't focusing on. I was too busy trying to stop Mama from putting me in my travelling clothes. The hard wear and tear ones that I always wore when we went on long travels to visit friends or to go trekking in. I tried to wiggle away as Mama wrapped the fur jumper around me and pulled my fur lined boots over my brown leggings."I don't want to go Mama. Please don't send me away." I whined as tears leaked from my eyes.

Mama pulled me close into a hug as she walked out of the hut with me in her arms to Linia. "I know sweetie. But it's to keep you safe, me and Papa wont be around much longer so you've got to be a good girl and listen to your brother. When you're older and you've grown into a proper Kylerion you'll understand. So behave and remember we both love you." She whispered into my ear as she put me on the horses saddle at the front.

I clung to the horse unsure on what to do. I didn't want us to split up, to Kylerion family was everything to us, we fought and lived together, we even died together. So why was I going? Drake cam out of the house with Papa and after giving him a quick hug and giving Mama a kiss he tied the packs to the saddle and sat behind me on the horse. Papa tied two of his swords to the back of the saddle along with a bow and arrows, I even saw him slide in a few family heirlooms, into the pack. It was as though we were taking the family legacy with us.

Shocked and afraid I snapped my eyes to my mother . "MAMA-!" She cut me off as she put her necklace around my neck and tucked it in my shirt. It was a simple thing, a amber coloured pendant gem with an intricate silver swirl wrapping around it in a gentle embrace. On the gem stone itself there was writing, it was Kylerion and it looked like it was branded into the stone. But I couldn't read yet so I had no idea what it said."Bring this home when its safe. And take care of each other. Be happy." Mama said as she led Linia to the back of the village by the woods. We past the small circular gathering ring in the middle of the village. That was where the Worship Pole was, it was made from the oldest and strongest timber. And carved on it where animals of the forests and sky. It was said to hold the voices of our ancestors, and whenever a family member died, they're sword or similar weapon was placed in the ground around it. All Kylerions had a weapon that was personal, we were all warriors, and we celebrated around the memories of our dead, hoping that our liveliness would keep them alive in a way.

I barely noticed the other families getting ready for a battle and sending their children away, whether on bare foot, by horse, or even in small boats along the shallow river that ran past our village. Everyone was going. It was like they had already given up.

"Papa, Mama please." I begged as fearful tears leaked out of my eyes.

"Love you Alicia, be a big girl now. Drake, be brave my son." Dad said as he kissed our foreheads and hugged us right before he slapped Linia into a run through the woods. I cried out for my parents and tried to turn back to them. This was all happening faster than I could comprehend. I caught a last glance of my parents standing arm in arm watching us go, they vanished from my sight and I turned into Drake's chest as I hid my face and cried. Dimly I realised he his chest was shaking and even though he was holding me and trying to be strong for the both of us, he was only twelve, the tears wouldn't stop running for him either.

It wasn't a bad memory to take of my parents, if it hadn't been destroyed. Hours later around the middle of the night, Drake stopped so we could rest in an alcove in the mountain face. The only problem was the mountain looked out over our village and all we could see were golden flames and smoke as the Normak's slowly burned everything to the ground. We could faintly hear screams and neither of us could do nothing but hear them. Even when I covered my ears I could hear them echoing through my mind. I cuddled closer to Drake for warmth under the coarse blanket, we couldn't have a fire because the Normak's would find us, so we hid in the dark.

Drake held me closer to him and kissed my cheek as I was drifting into sleep, despite the nightmares dancing behind my eyelids. "I'll keep you safe Alicia, I promise I will protect you. I promised Papa I would."

For two days we travelled quickly and quietly, sometimes getting lost trying to follow and remember the nearly nonexistent trail that led to Zarinthia and safety. I didn't know what we would do when we got there but I was just trying to get there first. We had run out off food by now and we were only running on water. Drake was topping up the canteen in a small stream as I was slowly sliding off the horse. Exhaustion was taking me over and my limbs felt like dead weight. Drake had at some point tied some rope around my waist and chest to keep me on the horse. It was the only thing keeping me slumped up. The ropes were a little too tight and they had seemed to have rubbed through the fabric to my skin, making it raw and sore. I fidgeted a bit as I tried to loosen them. I could hear animals moving in the bushes, they were probably we didn't see them and try to have them for dinner."You okay Alicia? Are those ropes a bit tight? Give me a minute and I'll loosen them for you, you should have said something earlier." Drake sighed as he slung the canteen over his shoulder. He adjusted the sword that Papa had been using to train him with on his waist and started to walk out of the water.

The bushes where I had heard the animal suddenly became louder and a dark figure burst from them. There was a inhuman screech and I saw the flash of silver.

"Run Alicia. GO!" Drake shouted. Linia was sidestepping and I was trying to realise what was going on. Then I recognised the creature that was lunging at Drake with two blades poised for strike whilst he tried to draw his weapon. A Normak. I screamed for Drake just as he uttered a single word that had Linia cantering away from him and the creature and in the general direction we thought Zarinthia was. "Kolen." It was the Kylerion language, and the only commands Linia would listen to. He had told her to run. And she would, until I was far away and somewhere safe. My mother had trained Linia and she was the best we had, but I didn't want to run away.

I turned and twisted ignoring the rope burns that held me, or the blood that was slowly seeping through my clothes. "DRAKE!!!" I cried for him not wanting to be alone anymore than I was. Before the trees gathered around me and obscured my view I saw Drake fall to his knees, the sword falling from his hands and the Normak raising its blade to Drake's neck. Then the trees made everything vanish and all I heard was the shing of metal and Drake's shout.

My mind froze as I became numb. Numb to the world, the pain in my sides as they bled, the aching of my empty stomach, the pain of losing my family. I just lost myself in my mind in an endless black maze. I was all alone, maybe the last Kylerion. The last of my family. I didn't want to go to Zarinthia, I wanted to be with them. The tears blurred my eyes into sleep. The last thing I remembered was a man restraining Linia as a blade cut through the ropes holding me. I feel into strong arms and was wrapped in a cloak. I didn't respond to anything. I wanted to be dead like my family. What was the point in me living without them.

I woke with a start as I pulled out of my dreams. I always dreamt of memories, it was as if my mind was trying to keep those few memories alive for me. No matter how much it hurt me to revisit the painful times of when I went from having everything that mattered to me to noting at all.

I rubbed my eyes and pushed my long blonde hair out of my face. I had grown into what my guardian had said was a dine beauty. But every time I looked in the mirror I only saw scars, some hidden and some not. Everyone else saw a cover. The long pale hair, light blue eyes and delicate features that covered a bleeding soul, and a desirable feminine body that hid strength that I used whenever I could. My features were the mark of my people, but the thing that definitely marked me as a Kylerion was my tribe tattoo. I had a tattoo of an intricate black rose looped in vines across right shoulder blade. All of us were marked on our third birthdays, the women had black roses and the men had black feathers, it was almost like our signature.

Since I had lived in Zarinthia I had found no other Kylerion who had survived that massacre. It was as if I was truly the last of my people. But I was use to the thought so it didn't sadden me much anymore, or if it did the effect wasn't as strong now.

I rolled out of bed and padded across to my mirror leaning against the wall on bare feet. I was wearing light fabric shorts and a short vest, the days were getting hotter as we were in the middle of summer, and living in a double four poster bed with extra big duvets and netting was a pain even in the winter let alone the hottest days of the year. But my guardian was always worried about me. He had found me when Linia had carried me to the gates of Zarinthia, he had lost his wife years ago and took me under his care. I was ill the first few years I lived here with him, a sickly child that seemed like would die when I even caught a cold. So I couldn't really blame him for being over careful, I had made him like that in a way.

I held the pendant necklace my mother had given me all those years ago and kissed it lightly. "Good morning you guys. Hope its not as hot wherever you are like it is here." I murmured.

I glared at my reflection in the mirror noting the flawless skin and the ugly long scars wrapping around the sides of my waist and ribs. Reminders of that day. The day I finally lost it all.

Ignoring my daunting thought I grabbed a long jacket and quickly wrapped it around myself, it was brown leather and buttoned to my waist whilst the back continued down to the back of my ankles. Everything I had now seemed to be better in every way compared to what I had as a little girl. Yet I still preferred my hand made, grubby stuff compared to this expensive shiny lifestyle.

I slipped on a pair of soft shoes and padded down the grand staircase. I could hear metal clashing and huffing and panting. I walked through the marble hallway, past all the exotic plants, fine furniture, architecture and painting out onto the patio on the outside of the stone mansion I lived in. I sat down on one of the wicker chairs by the table where breakfast had been laid out, I watched as two men fought with swords. The youngest man lost his balance and the elder man through a kick at his hand sending the blade dancing across the lawn and away from him. He held his long sword at the throat to the young man on the floor. Then he burst out laughing.

"Not quite there yet Rio. Maybe in a week or so you'll get the move down right. For now I'm going to have breakfast, I'll see you at the guardhouse later on." The elder man laughed joyously as he helped the fallen man to his feet and patted him on the back, smiling all the time. Then he turned to walk to me and join me at the table.

"Morning Alicia." He said as he took some toast off a rack.

"Good morning Jeb." I replied as I reached for the bowl of fruits, trying to decide which one to have this morning.

Jebediah Odesa, my guardian, was a forty eight year old man with light brown hair just starting to grey, a strong body that showed his years of hard work and training, laughing green eyes and a personality that was wonderful for any father. He was also the best known fighter in Zarinthia, Captain of the Guard, and the King's best friend. Fate must've taken a shine to me to have him as my guardian. It was no wonder we got on so great especially when he taught me how to fight like a guard, but my Kylerion linage mad e me fight like a predator, which was why I was so different. And that was why Jeb had isolated from everyone in the city. But not for long. Soon they would know and hear of me.

A/N This is a story I'm working on, I'm sorry for any mistaked and stuff but I am working to improve, more action comming up and a little romance but too much for a while. Review to just let me know what you think please X)