My book will be published soon. So I thought for those interested I would post the first chapter for you all to read.
CHAPTER 1: We Meet Again
Oreon stared at his fierce reflection in the mirror covered in sweat as his mind was stagnant this morning. He replayed the dream he just had to help gather himself. It plagued Oreon almost every other night it seemed.
It was always the same woman screaming his name, but her face would constantly remain unclear. He could only recall her scarlet curls as she ran through the flames. The only visible part of her face was a mark on her forehead which resembled the letter V. He figured she had to be an elemental like himself, how else would she be able to run through the fire unscathed?
This was always the conclusion he came to. What he was unsure about was whether or not she even existed. He had never met a person with scarlet colored hair.
He couldn’t understand why it always felt so real. If he didn’t wake up, he could swear he was just there.
These thoughts would linger from time to time. Something he didn’t particularly mind, but knew would not have been allowed if his grandfather had his say. He wiped away the sleep and sweat from his face with a towel. His reflection showed his brown skin, relaxed posture and wandering half lidded eyes, along with his thick dreadlocks which hung past his ears. Despite his lean frame, his height along with his broad back and shoulders made him a difficult person to approach for those who didn’t know him.
After a quick shower he made his way through his home. It was actually quite spacious considering only two people had ever lived in it. It was built by his late grandfather before Oreon was born.
He was brought here over fifteen years ago at the age of four. Though his grandfather was gone now, Oreon had grown accustomed to his living situation and felt no need to change it.
He often thought about adding another wing to his house when he was overcome with boredom, but never got around to it. He was pretty handy in things like that thanks to his grandfather, who acted as his only parental figure since Oreon’s mother died giving birth to him.
His father went missing shortly after that leaving Oreon in care of his grandfather. He never once resented his father though. He found no point in wasting any emotional energy on a person he never knew.
Oreon stopped upon his grandfather’s grave. He grabbed the bottle of rum sitting atop the tombstone and poured it on the surface. This wasn’t really a custom in Oreon’s family just his grandfather’s own personal preference.
He always said, “No man should ever go a day without a taste.”
This was one of the many things Oreon chose to ignore while the, Old Man, as he called him still lived. After he died though, he figured it was one of the few things he could do for him.
Oreon took a look at the trophy case standing behind the Old Man’s grave. At first sight it would appear that it was filled with many precious antiques. The objects inside ranged from small to large trinkets, all obscure in shape. To Oreon it always looked like a bunch of junk that the Old Man was too stingy to throw away. The thought of gambling with some of it crossed his mind every now and again, but he figured that they wouldn’t be worth much.
He peered through the case and found one of the pedestals empty. Just then he remembered he had to pick that one up today. This particular item was his grandfather’s crowned jewel. He would always switch around the location. Oreon reckoned it was just one of the many ways the Old Man would entertain himself. Now that he was gone though, Oreon didn’t want to go through all that trouble. He thought it’d be a lot easier to have his grandfather’s junk all in one place.
He decided to throw his old training garments on, it had been awhile since he last wore them. The vest was as light as ever and the pants that went with them still had the extra weight on them. They were designed special by one of his grandfather’s acquaintances. At first he thought they were silly looking, but they grew on him. It gave him his own kind of style. He patted off the dust that had gathered around the base of his pants as he stretched out his legs and arms.
Oreon had not been training much since the Old Man left this world. The hiatus he had took from it was relaxing for him. The Old Man would probably think of the word relax as a myth, because he never let up. He would have Oreon working from dusk ‘til dawn.
He always said, “You’re a One Shot boy you don’t have the luxury to be an average elemental. You have to be perfect in the only element you can handle. As long as I’m breathing you will be.”
One Shot was the name for elementals that could only use one element. Most elementals were born with the ability to use two. Even amongst them though, one element was always stronger than the other. That element was known as the prime. In Oreon’s case, his lone and prime element was air. He didn’t need anyone to remind him of what he was though. He had the birthmark to prove it. All elementals were born with the same insignia, but One Shots such as Oreon had a different one altogether. Oreon never felt ashamed though. His symbol stood on the back of his hand so he never tried to hide it.
He started sprinting to the interior of the village. His house was on the border of the small community. His grandfather built it out there so his training wouldn’t destroy anything in the village. Each stride he took almost felt as if he was gliding through air. He took a coin out of his pocket and shot it from one hand to the other as he continued on. A habit he picked up whenever he was lost in his thoughts. Flashes of the girl ran through his mind as well as where he should gamble at once he picked up the trinket.
The village of Moh was a small place. They weren’t one of the more modernized areas of the world, but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. It was one of those towns where everyone knew everyone so it was like one big family to an extent. Oreon kept it cordial with the villagers and never allowed himself to get too close to any of them unlike his grandfather.
Law enforcement here was pretty much non-existent. The C.O.R.E., organization which stood for Coalition of Regional Elementals was the main acting government and police force of the world. Their officers were easily recognizable with their navy blue and silver uniforms. They didn’t bother placing one of their towers here. The village itself wasn’t important enough. It didn’t contain anyone with any kind of notable prestige. Nothing stood out that gave it any sort of recognition from the rest of the world. This prompted CORE, to leave it to its own devices.
Once Oreon’s grandfather arrived in this place, all crime even the petty ones virtually stopped. He was the only elemental in town and everyone thought he was a retired CORE official at first. Peace had been in effect for so long it just stayed that way.
Oreon was greeted by several people as he made his way to the market.
“Why good morning Oreon,” a small middle aged lady tending to her garden squeaked out.
Looking down at her “morning mam,” he replied with a sleepy look in his eyes.
“You know you don’t have to stay here for our sake. You are still so young go see the world like your grandfather.”
“I know, I know you people won’t let me forget,” Oreon said yawning.
“Obviously you don’t know boy, because your still here ain’t ya,” an older gentleman with a gruff beard bellowed out from behind him.
Oreon had grown quite comfortable here. This is where he spent most of his life outside of being a baby. Part of him felt obligated to stay here, since his grandfather had helped these people for so long. He also could never really find a reason just to up and leave this place.
“I loved your grandfather’s stories. They were so exciting. Anyway when you finally do decide to go do be careful dear. With people like this Menace character running around the rest of the world just isn’t as safe and peaceful as our village,” she said while knocking the older man down.
“Menace,” Oreon asked.
“Yes the Menace haven’t you been reading the papers boy,” said the old man getting up off the ground.
“Can’t say that I have.”
“Well you really should it’s our only link to the outside world.”
“Will do,” Oreon said putting his hands in his pockets as he kept moving.
Most people in town saw Oreon as their new peacekeeper. A title that once belonged to his grandfather. There were a few that didn’t quite appreciate the little things Oreon did do. They always felt that he was just a part-timer that acted when it was convenient for him. They would either call him selfish or lazy depending on the situation, but people would defend him every day. They outweighed those who didn’t much care for him. Most of the naysayers were also those who’ve lost something after betting with him. Oreon never let any of that bother him though. He just didn’t like being compared to his grandfather.
The people were out and about this morning, and the market place was as lively as ever. The vendors were screaming out deals one after another. Several tried pulling Oreon to the side to give him one time special offers, but Oreon was a pro at dodging them at this point and kept them all at bay. He gave them a weak smile, which kind of resembled a scowl due to his natural demeanor. This would usually scare away any others who tried to approach.
After working his way through the crowds he managed to make his way to the vendor he actually wanted. He stopped upon a little petite stand with an old man sitting behind the counter. The thick framed glasses he wore made his eyes appear larger the closer you got to him. Oreon proceeded to get his attention.
“So is it ready,” Oreon asked.
“Ah, yes just give me a moment,” the vendor replied.
“Sure take your time.”
Oreon took a seat at the counter. The figurines in the shop were composed of those with big bodies and small heads with huge eyes that didn’t seem to proportionate well. He couldn’t help but shake the feeling that all the figurines in the boutique were staring at him. He could hear the vendor rustling in the back.
“You know your grandfather was right about this thing bringing me some good fortune. If I would have started my business with this figurine as my charm I’d already be a very rich man,” the vendor called out.
Oreon looked a little confused. The vendor was speaking as if the object his grandfather lent him was like all the others he had on display. Not wanting to over think it, he figured it was probably due to old age that he thought this way. That or maybe his vision was starting to go and everything just looked the same to him.
The vendor came out with a pyramid shaped object in hand. Oreon took a look at it and compared it to the items sitting on the shelves and just shook his head.
“What’s the matter young man is this not the right one?”
“No it is never mind me, I was just wondering why your figurines are shaped like that?”
“These are art, as well as dummy cases,” said the vendor.
“Yes perfect for concealing things as well as just putting them on display.”
Oreon looked at the figurines once more and just nodded in agreement as the vendor continued on.
“She’s a beauty isn’t she? I kept her shining like a pearl in your grandfather’s absence. A shame to see her go.”
“I’m sure he would appreciate it,” Oreon said as he picked it up. Once Oreon made contact with the object a soft glow emitted from it.
“So you can do it too huh,” said the vendor staring at the dim light.
“Oh this, yeah it just does that.”
“I couldn’t figure it out for the life of me. Must be something about you and your grandfather.”
“Yeah, I doubt there is anything special about that Old Man,” Oreon said with a light chuckle.
The market place started growing rowdier than usual, which prompted the vendor to look down the road.
“I wonder what’s going on over there,” he asked.
Oreon decided to take a gander himself. They both started hearing the shouts of the crowd that had begun to gather.
“It’s the Menace,” they screamed out.
The crowd looked like they were chasing someone headed in Oreon’s direction. As they drew closer so did the person they called the Menace.
“Get her everyone, get her!”
A girl with scarlet curls, black shorts, a black top, black boots and a grin buzzed by. She rushed past Oreon and the vendor. Her eyes were fixated on the object in Oreon’s hands. As the villagers were running by, she looked Oreon in the face and blew him a kiss. The crowd continued to chase her out of the village until Oreon lost sight of them.
“What’s the matter with you boy,” the bearded man yelled at Oreon, “You could have stopped her all on your own.”
“My bad, I guess I wasn’t really thinking about it. Besides you guys had it handled.”
The bearded man had a disgruntled look on his face.
“That isn’t the point. It couldn’t hurt you to help out more than once in a while,” said the bearded man as he spat on the ground in disgust.
Oreon took his coin out of his pocket and showed it to the man. He wanted to place a wager on the outcome of the Menace appearing here. If heads the result of her passing would be harmless and nothing to stress over. If tails, it would be his mistake and something he would have to take responsibility for.
“So what do you say,” Oreon asked.
The man shook his head. He warned Oreon some things in life shouldn’t be left to chance. If there was something you could do you should do it.
“Not leaving anything to chance here. You should know by now most of my bets are safe ones,” Oreon said smiling.
He flipped the coin and walked away. The man still stood shaking his head without either one of them seeing the result of the coin toss.
Oreon made his way back to the edge of town. Lost in thought he ignored the jeers of some of the village folk. He could feel the dissatisfied vibes they were sending his way nonetheless. The scarlet curls he saw on the Menace were familiar to him, but he wasn’t the type to quickly jump to conclusions. His home was in view now as he muttered to himself.
“The Menace huh, I’ll probably never see that weirdo again.”
“I’m not weird,” a voice called out.
Oreon stood alert, a reaction brought along from his training.
“Who said that,” he asked.
He could hear the rustling of leaves. A red headed woman hanging upside down from a tree appeared in front of him.
“I did and I’m not weird. You of all people should know that.”
“Wait what? First off hanging from a tree classifies as weird. Second I think I’ll have to add crazy to that list because I don’t know you,” Oreon replied confused by her words. He continued on past her before being cut off by her once again.
“Crazy? Your grandfather said that’s the worst thing you can call a person right,” she said while swinging back in forth from the branch she was hanging from.
That got Oreon’s attention. He turned around and faced her. Her red eyes were beaming as Oreon looked into them. He never met anyone outside of the village that knew the Old Man.
“How do you know my name, and what do you know of my grandfather and his words?”
She jumped off, landed on her feet and walked up to Oreon.
“Only what you’ve told me of course.”
“Told you? I’ve never met you before in my life. Was I not clear the first time?”
Laughing she replies, “yes you have you just don’t remember. I didn’t think it’d be this bad though. I can’t believe you really forgot me, but it’ll be alright. I’m here to fix you up good as new.”
Oreon a bit annoyed now replied, “I don’t know what you’re talking about and I don’t think I want to.”
He started walking towards his home ignoring her words.
He muttered to himself, “She is definitely crazy.”
“I heard that,” she cried out.
Oreon couldn’t help but recognize the next words that left her lips. He caught himself mouthing the same thing word for word.
“The worst thing you can call someone is crazy. It’s dismissive, you don’t understand them so that makes them crazy? Maybe the environment is a little sick,” she called out.
“That’s how it went right,” shouting at him now.
Oreon kept walking. He arrived at his home a bit bewildered by what just happened. He made his way to the training ground and opened the trophy case. He placed the trinket inside letting out a sigh. He started to recall his encounter with the Menace in his head, as he took a seat next to his grandfather’s grave. Her voice did sound familiar he thought to himself.
“Just like the one in my dream, but no way they are one in the same,” he said out loud as he shook his head.
“I think I’ll just leave this one alone Old Man. They call her a Menace for a reason.”
“Leave what alone,” a voice called out.
Oreon looked behind him, only to find the Menace standing in front of his grandfather’s trophy case.
He rose up and said, “How did you get back here?”
“I walked,” she replied.
“That’s not what I meant. What are you doing here? Leave me alone.”
“I can’t do that until I fix your memory. I told you already, and stop calling me Menace. You know I don’t like that. My name is Menice, but I’ll forgive you since you can’t remember right now.”
She started messing around with the junk in the trophy case.
“All those rude people never ask me for my name and just shout Menace. I have feelings to you know,” she pouted.
Oreon sounded unsympathetic in his reply.
“My memory doesn’t need fixing I’m fine.”
He started to push her off his property and she began to slide against the dirt. She rose her hands up and came to a complete stop. Oreon could feel his muscles starting to strain as he continued to push. Meager specks of sweat started to form above his brow. He noticed Menices’ feet had been rooted to the ground. She switched the position of her hands and they started to move in the opposite direction. Oreon fell back and Menice jumped back in front of the trophy case.
“You’re an elemental,” he said.
“Correct. I’m really strong to, so you should stop being stubborn and just listen to me.”
Oreon rose to his feet a little bit more cautious of Menice. He began to search her body with his eyes and shook his head in disappointment. Menice noticed this and took off her left boot waving her foot in Oreon’s eye sight.
“Is this what you’re looking for,” she asked.
Oreon didn’t give her a reply even though it was indeed what he had been looking for. It was her mark of the elemental, but unlike himself she was no mere one shot. Her mark was significantly different from the one on Oreon’s hand. It was of a true elemental signifying she had two elements at her disposal at any given time.
“So are you ready to listen to me,” she asked.
“Why would you being an elemental have any effect on me listening to you?”
“It won’t, but this might,” she said revealing the pyramid shaped object she took from the case.
“Alright you’ve had your fun now put it back,” Oreon said sternly.
“No thank you,” she replied teasingly.
“I don’t want to have to hurt you.”
“Hmm, I don’t think you can.”
Oreon got into a fighting stance.
“If you attack me and I get away with this, you’ll chase me won’t you,” she said with excitement in her tone.
He stayed on guard observing Menice as she paced back and forth slowly in front of the trophy case.
“You’re not leaving here with that,” he replied.
Menice put the trinket in her back pocket and closed the case back up. She quietly whispered her respects to the grave next to her before facing Oreon. The situation had become tense. Oreon knew one of her elements had to be earth because only they could manipulate the ground the way she did earlier. The mystery was her other element.
“If you decide to chase me you won’t have a home to come back to,” she said softly.
“I already told you you’re not leaving here.”
“Sorry, but I don’t have a choice.”
“Fine have it your way.”
A stream of air burst from his hands towards Menice, who rose a pillar of earth, which impeded the blast as she shifted her hands once more. The impact caused the pillar to crumble. Dust and debris flew in every direction. When the dust settled Menice was gone. Oreon groaned in annoyance as he wiped the dirt off. He rose to his feet and noticed her footprints going back towards the village. He decided to head in that direction.
The villagers cry of the Menace grew louder the closer he got.
“Where did she go,” he asked.
The bearded man confronted him.
“Finally boy you’re taking action. Your grandfather would have dealt with her when she first showed herself.”
Oreon looked down at the man.
“She made this personal alright. So don’t go getting the wrong idea. Now where did she go?”
The man pointed towards the forest which enveloped the entire village. There was only one road that went through it. Unfortunately for Oreon, Menice took off in the opposite direction.
“Good luck finding her in there boy. It’s not like you’ve ever been anywhere but this village.”
The vendor from before also called out to Oreon once he caught sight of him.
Oreon ignored them both as he took off into the forest. He didn’t want to admit it, but the man was right. He never really spent much time outside of the village. The time he did spend out of it however, was almost predominantly inside this forest. He knew first-hand how hard it was to navigate through it.
Finding Menice would be no easy task, or so he thought. He found a row of collapsed trees and headed down the path they created.
The forest itself was like a maze. It was easy to get frustrated and feel as if you were going in circles in this place. This was something he figured the Menace was experiencing first hand. The evidence came from the destruction she was leaving behind. The path she left was obvious enough that Oreon knew he was being manipulated. He didn’t care though because he knew how much that trinket meant to his grandfather. His neglect for training showed as he found himself out of breath after traversing the maze for a bit. Luckily he caught a glimpse of the red head as soon as the next tree fell.
“Stop right there,” he yelled.
Menice came to a halt and looked back at him smiling.
“I guess I made it a little too easy for you. This was nothing like the first time,” she replied.
“Look it’s hot and I’m not really conditioned for this. So if you could just give that back there will be no hard feelings alright.”
Menice had begun waving her arms around.
“I can’t, not yet,” she said sorrowfully.
Oreon took this opportunity to rush her. Just as he was about to reach her the ground under him gave way. His feet slipped off the surface as he tried to find a foothold. His hands reached for something to grab on to as he continued to drop. He broke his fall by creating a cushion of air between himself and the floor. He looked up after falling down fifteen feet. He could hear Menice laughing at him from above.
“You remember this one don’t you Oreon? This is the same thing I did to you before. Please tell me you remember.”
Oreon shook his head and replied, “I don’t know what you’re talking about. Now get me out of here and give it back.”
Menice put her head down in disappointment and walked away.
“Hey! Don’t just leave me here,” Oreon groaned. He looked up and started talking to himself.
“You must be loving this Old Man. This must be punishment for all the training I neglected. Now I’m back in this stupid forest and of course it would have something to do with you.”
Oreon had never been too fond of this forest and its maze like attributes. Mainly because his grandfather’s idea of training was throwing Oreon in here in the dead of the night. No food, water or provisions of any kind.
He would often say, “Only men survive off you go.”
The only problem with that was he started doing this when Oreon was five. He always felt as if this forest was alive and days would go by before he was finally able to wander back to the village again.
Only reason he was able to follow Menice so far was because of all the trees she knocked over which is a simple task to an earth elemental like herself. Fortunately for Oreon though, pitfalls like the one he had dropped into had become somewhat of a second home to him so getting out was no problem at all.
He dropped his hands to his sides and propelled himself out of the hole. Once out he collapsed to his knees gasping for air. Gripping the grass, he looked up and Menice was nowhere to be found. He slammed the ground with his fist before rising to his feet.
“I’m never going a day without training again this is ridiculous,” he said as he took off once more.
Xavier A. Blake – © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED