A chilling wind blew through the village, as the sun sunk into the earth signaling the approach of night. The other villagers hustled to close their doors and windows, one by one, until not even a single flicker of light could be seen down the dirt road. The animals too, seemed to sense the approach of the menacing force which came with the darkness, and hustled into their homes. Squirrels skimmered up trees, birds snuggled their eggs in their nests, even the night owl was reluctant to leave its abode to hunt for prey. All hid away, waiting for it to leave. All except a young man, who sat upon…a cloud! Yes, the boyish man sat patiently waiting upon a small, fluffy white cloud, floating only a few meters above the ground. His hair was dark and messy, which complemented his oval, yet slightly chiseled, face. He seemed to be quite short and retained a rather youthful appearance despite his eighteen years of age. But why was he here?
The answer to that question came quite quickly as a wolf like creature emerged from the woods. While it did have the shape and appearance of a beast, it was most certainly worse than that. The creature was black as the night itself, its form a slightly denser shadow in the night, only visible through the light of the full moon. It growled at the man who returned a small chuckle.
“Human, why have you come here?” asked the wolf.
The man replied “Is it not obvious? I have come to vanquish the wraths of you. The villagers told me of how you terrorize them. Of how you force them to forsake their little riches to you. And of how, you once ate a child whole when his parents could not give you anything.”
The wolf let out a wicked grin, revealing shadowy teeth engulfed in an aura of red flame. It then said “And what of it? I have claimed this village and will do with it as I please! If you have qualms with my ways then I’ll swallow you whole as I did with that child.”
“You may try.” The man invited as he forged another cloud, this one was much larger and formed a hardened fist. “Well, what are you waiting for?”
The wolf lunged forward, its eyes filled with rage and flame, and its jaws opened wide as it tried to swallow the boy. But the boy simply punched the creature backwards with a shove from his massive fist. “Is that all you’ve got?” mocked the boy as the wolf fell on its back and quickly scrambled itself on its feet.
The wolf growled. “Impudent human!” he shouted as his teeth blazed in the red flames and he lunged forward again. And again, he was pushed back. This went on for a bit of time until the man became bored. “You know, as fun as this is, I think I’ve had enough.” He said as he conjured a massive cloud that engulfed the wolf, crushing it until nothing but black ash remained.
The remaining of the night went by quietly. The boy returned to the inn he had been staying at and slept soundly through the star lit night. In the morning, he was greeted by the mayor of town – a maggot of man, bald with a grey bushy mustache. “You have our thanks, we are truly indebted to you.” Thanked the mayor, his hands shaking as he held the boy’s palm. “I only wish we had more to give you. But I’m afraid that the wolf took all that we had. If you had not come when you did, it would’ve taken our lives as well.”
“These provisions are more than enough thanks,” replied the boy, dressed in a brown, hooded cape and hanging a sack of supplies over his back. “and that’s not even mentioning the apple pies Misses Punnet baked for me.” He sent a small smirk at the plump old woman standing at the far right, behind the mayor.
“In that case, all we can do for you now is wish you a safe journey.” The mayor expressed as he removed his hands from the boy’s palm.
“Will do!” replied the young man as he summoned a small, puffy white cloud and hopped on. “Cya!” he shouted as he flew off to the horizon.
“Travel safe Evan Stronghold!” shouted one villager. “Make sure to give those Gifted at the capital a piece of your mind!” shouted another. And so the shouts continued, until Evan Stronghold had disappeared into the far distance, nothing but a speck to the villagers now. “Stay safe, Evan Stronghold.” Muttered the town mayor as he ordered the villagers back to their daily tasks.
The capital was a hectic place. Down in the lower town, where the common folk lived, people scurried about, some shopping, some gambling and playing games, and some simply trying to navigate through the bustling crowds. Vendors shouted from their little stalls, using scheming phrases to attract customers such as “Buy one, get one free!” or “Half off on anything you see!” Evan observed all of this from above, sitting peacefully on his little cloud. But Evan wasn’t interested in the way of the commoners, at least not at the moment. He had come to the capital determined to meet his father, among other things. And that is what he would do.
He approached the massive castle, flying downwards to where two guards awaited at the castle gates. “Halt there!” shouted one. “Who are you?” asked the other.
Evan replied “Evan Stronghold, second son of Emrit Stronghold and Mohan Regalia.”
The guards looked at each other in disbelief “I’ve never heard of such a person.” Said the first guard. “Tell us who you really are.” The second commanded, his lance set in attacking position.
“I speak the truth. However, I omit a part. I am a banished child, I bear no official relations to the Lord Emrit but I am his child.” Evan replied. “Besides, you have no right to refuse entry to one such as myself. One who has the chosen blood of the Gifted running through his veins.” Evan said as he flaunted his power to the guards, manifesting a cloud of mist around himself.
“So be it.” The first guard said, his head bowing. The other guard did the same as he ordered the gatekeeper to open the gates.
Of course, Evan could have simply flew over but he found this method much more entertaining. As such, Evan Stronghold had successfully entered the compound of the castle of the capital city of Efidel, the home to the Gifted. Evan immediately continued to the building to the far right, ignoring the grand castle in front of him. Soon enough, he arrived at the enormous indigo, rectangular building made of stone and other riches. Evan walked up to the stairs that lead to a elevated platform, and then looked up to the roof above him being held up by massive pillars that mounted fierce lions at the top.
He walked to the door, which were as massive as the castle gates. They were no guards here. Evan had heard from his mother that his father found it an insult to have been protected by weaker beings so he just got rid of them. But he did have a point. Those blessed with the blood of the Stronghold family were all Gifted with incredible strength, others having more to booth if their other parent was also Gifted. But obviously, Evan didn’t possess such strength which is why pushing open the massive door was quite a task.
“Now how do I open this?” Evan thought to himself. He could try pushing it with his clouds but he doubted that it would work. His clouds were good at supporting weight not exerting force. But still he tried. He summoned two clouds which transformed into clutched fists. He then pulled them back far away and rocketed them straight to the door landing with a loud bang. But the doors didn’t even budge.
“Hey, who are you?” asked an unfamiliar voice from behind. Evan turned around to see a blonde, tall man with ocean blue eyes standing behind him.
“I’m…me.” Evan replied, nervously. He could bluff his way around the guards but if another Gifted found out who he was, then he would be sent away immediately. And Evan was sure that this man was Gifted by the attire he wore.
“And who might that be?” the man asked again, reaching closer.
“I’m Evan… Aquaran. Seventh son of Arrone Aquaran.” Evan lied, as he forged a misty looking cloud. “See, mist.” Evan nervously tried to show that he had power to control the water element, which was true to some extent.
“How come I’ve never heard of you?” asked the man, as he neared his eyes closer, as if he were inspecting Evan’s face.
“My father doesn’t talk about me a lot.” Evan lied again.
“I can see why.” Said the man, seeming somewhat satisfied. “But what brings you here?” he asked.
Evan replied, “I’ve come with a message from my father. I hope to get an audience with Lord Stronghold.”
“I see. Well, come on now.” Said the man as he effortlessly pushed open the doors. “Oh and by the way, my name is Lias. Lias Stronghold.” He added as he walked down the massive hallway.
Evan followed his half-brother down the corridor until he reached a large room, where his father was sitting on a black throne, watching what seemed to be a dancer performing in front of him. Immediately as Evan entered the room, his father’s eyes became perplexed and the lady dancer ceased her act. Evan also noted his father’s missing arm and the man that stood beside him, who bared a great resemblance to both Evan and the Lord Stronghold.
“Who is that, Lias?” asked Lord Stronghold.
“He is a messenger sent by Lord Arrone of Aquaran. Or so he claims. I strongly believe that he is lying.” Replied Lias, blatantly.
Lord Emrit replied “I see.” He then continued, focusing his attention on Evan “So who are really boy?”
Evan, having no more cause to lie, confessed the truth “I am the son of Lady Mohan, thus making me your second son. And yes, before you ask, I am the baby child you banished along with my mother. But nevertheless, I am your son.”
“Nonsense.” Said the Lord calmly. “I don’t know why you’re here but this matter was settled years ago. If you were my son, you’d possess even an ounce of my strength. Lias, get this boy out of my sight.”
“Father, I beg of you. Please reconsider it. My power is strange but even a blind man could point out the similarities between us.” Evan stated.
“I am not your father. You can ask that whore you call a mother who it was that made you.” Stated his father. “Lias, get rid of him.”
“As you wish, father.” Lias bowed and then walked towards Evan.
“Do not address my mother as a ‘whore’! She has done nothing but been faithful to you! Even after you banished her because I lacked your strength, she has never been with another man.” Evan shouted in anger. “That’s more than a fool like you would ever deserve!” he continued and then proceeded to walk away, his brown eyes watery and dark.
“Hold on!” Lias grabbed Evan’s arm. “You will not address my father as a ‘fool’, apologize.” Commanded Lias.
“I will not.” Replied Evan.
“Then I shall force you.” Lias threw Evan back to the throne room, Evan reacted quickly forging a thin cloud beneath him to bring him to a halt.
Evan laughed. “You know. It’s quite a hot day today.” He began. “It might rain later.”
“And what of it?” asked Lias, as he lunged forward, aiming a low drop kick in midair at Evan, which the boy dodged by flying higher.
“What of it? How about I show you?” replied Evan as he closed his eyes. Lias watched in confusion, wondering what the boy was up to. And soon enough he found out. From the glass paned windows high up on one of the throne room’s walls came a white puffy clouds, shattering the glass as it entered. And before anyone could react, the entire throne room was filled with a large, white cloud.
“Whatever, you’re doing. Desist at once, boy!” shouted the Lord Stronghold as he stepped out of his throne to escape the cloud. The man beside him followed.
“Don’t worry father, I’ll stop him!” Lias shouted as he took a great leap forward, his bones breaking from the pressure and then immediately healing. His aim was Evan, who was seated safely above the massive cloud but he was stopped as the cloud expanded and pulled him inwards. It slowly begun to absorb him. Lias struggled, trying to force his way out. But no matter how much he tried, more clouds covered him. “Let me out of this anomaly of a cloud, this instance!” Lias shouted.
Evan chuckled. “But why? You seem so comfortable.” Evan mocked.
“That’s enough!” shouted the man which stood behind the Lord. “You’ve proven your strength. Now, leave. We will not try to stop you. And get rid of that cloud as well.”
“Fair enough.” Said Evan as he flew out of the broken window, taking the massive cloud with him. When he exited, he returned the cloud back to the skies where he took it from and then proceeded to make his way to the castle.