Chapter 4: Flames of the Past
“Aiden, will you help me find my hat?” Aiden's father Rand said.
“Sure thing,” a young Aiden replied. He lifted himself quickly from his relaxed state in his chair. Aiden, just ten years old, was more than happy to help his father. He began noticing, however, that despite his constant search for the hat, his father wasn't helping in return. He was merely spectating. It made Aiden feel very nervous.
He didn't mind too much, though. He wanted nothing more than to be close to his father. But there was a problem...
Two hours passed.
“Aiden, where's my cursed hat?!” Rand shouted.
“I'm trying to find it, Dad. I've looked everywhere.”
“What the hell can you do right if you can't find a blasted hat? I thought I raised you to be worth something, you little—” He tried to bite his tongue and keep from saying anything more, but steam could be seen visibly forming around Rand. His anger was elevated well past anything remotely sane.
Aiden turned to look towards his mom, who he could see peeking through the crack of her bedroom door. She was too fearful to step out and defend her son.
He looked back to his father. “Maybe if you helped me look for it, we could find it,” Aiden suggested.
“Are you talking back to me now, you worthless little piece of crap?” Rand was heated. Steam continued billowing from his body. He formed fire in the palm of his right hand and aimed it at Aiden—a single blast would be powerful enough to burn him to ashes. He was fueled with so much anger and he just needed to unleash it. But what little sense remained wouldn't let him harm his son. Instead, Rand blasted his door, burning the wooden frame to cinders and stomping out. He continued to storm off, but to where, Aiden did not know.
Aiden was shaking with fear, sadness, and anger.
“Why can't my father just calm down? Why does he have to be so angry?” he thought to himself. Aiden was now left at the house, as good as alone. His mother continued to be paralyzed and would only leave her room when she felt it was needed, such as to get food or to use the restroom.
During his father's absence, Aiden began studying up on his rage magic. He knew he may have to fight his father. Hopefully not anytime soon; hopefully not ever. But he had the feeling it'd come one day, whether he wanted it to or not.
After about a week had passed, Aiden heard heavy footsteps from the outside. Knowing it would be his father, Aiden prepared himself. He had been studying rage magic, although he didn't like it, as it made him think of his father. Nonetheless, he knew it was his only line of defense.
“I'm not going to hurt my dad,” Aiden told himself, clutching his fists. Tears began pouring down his face. He wanted nothing more than his father's love, but now he felt like he had no choice but to fight him. Perhaps then, he and his mother could move on and have a better life.
“I have to beat my father,” Aiden gulped. His body trembled as the footsteps drew closer, closer, closer still.
Aiden, ready to fight, summoned fire around his fists. Then, there he was—his father, Rand.
“Son,” his father said. He looked defeated; half alive.
Aiden immediately released the fire from his hands and let down his guard.
“Listen, Aiden, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have threatened you or yelled at you. You don't deserve that, you deserve someone better. I'm sorry.”
Aiden was still upset, and didn't think he should let his dad off the hook so easily, but he couldn't help it. He wanted to make things right if he had any choice, so he moved in closer. Rand quickly took his hand and clutched him in his embrace. Aiden had felt fire all his life, yet this was the warmest he had ever felt. His vision began blurring from the tears in his eyes. He couldn't see.
“Is everything okay, Aiden?” Rand pulled back to see his son's face, and was met with little Aiden staring back up at him. He saw the pain and sadness in his eyes. Rand felt deeply hurt.
“I'm so sorry.” He continued holding Aiden in his arms. “I promise I won't ever do it again.”
Unfortunately, this wasn't the first time, nor was it the last time he did it.
Chapter 5: Magic Mountain
Luckily for him, the hospital had the best healers in the world. In just the one night, Aiden was completely healed. He lifted himself from his bed.
“Whoa! Aiden, take it easy on yourself, man. I mean, you had your ribs shattered by a gigantic monster last night,” a concerned Tye said.
“I'll be fine,” Aiden assured him. “I'm good as new now. So, what's the plan today?”
“Well, as long as you're sure, then... the plan today is to have some fun! It's not every day we're off, so we're going to make the most of it.”
“Aren't we supposed to have class today?”
“Maybe. Technically. But honestly, what's it going to hurt if we have just one fun day? I feel like you deserve it.”
Aiden smiled. “Alright, that sounds good to me, then.”
The two, along with a few of their other friends, spent the entire rest of the day at Magic Mountain—a theme park located atop (you guessed it) a mountain. They played spelltag and rode several rides, including roller coasters, magical cups, and beyond.
Nighttime approached quickly, and the group grew tired. Everyone went their separate ways, leaving Tye and Aiden as the last ones to leave, which was typical.
“By the way, Aiden... where did you get that?” Tye pointed to Aiden's neck. Around it hung a strange, golden necklace topped with a skull.
“Oh, this thing? I actually don't know. I just woke up with it on me and thought it was pretty cool. Not to mention I feel a bit stronger when wearing it.” Aiden proceeded to flex his muscles, knowing he wouldn't impress Tye, but it at least was amusing for himself.
Tye laughed. “Sure, whatever you say.” Aiden joined in laughing, and they both kept at it to the point of tears. This type of thing happened a lot between the two of them. Laughing nonstop over the silliest of things.
After it died down, Aiden looked at Tye, face to face.
“Thank you,” Aiden told his friend. In the background, the lights from the theme park painted the night sky.
“For what?” Tye was puzzled.
“For everything. You're the best friend a guy could ask for.”
“Oh! It's not a problem, I'm always happy to be here for you. Someone's got to be. Who knows what you'd do without me?” Tye winked and lightheartedly punched Aiden in his shoulder. “On that note, I guess it's time to split. I'll see you tomorrow, man.”
“Yeah, see you tomorrow.”
The two began walking their separate ways. But after only a few minutes, a loud explosion could be heard.
“Tye?” Aiden immediately thought. He whipped around to see a giant dust cloud.
“Tye!” he shouted. Aiden began running back to where Tye was, only to find him thrown over the shoulder of a tall man wrapped in bandages. He wore many staves on his back, and had yet another in his hand.
“Put down my friend or else.” Fire started emitting from Aiden's hands.
The mysterious man retorted with a strong voice, “Don't make me laugh. You're no threat to me.” He aimed his staff at Aiden. Blue runic spells conjured around the end of it and fired toward him; the blast held his feet to the ground, bringing the rest of his body down. It was as if gravity itself had increased to such a severe amount. Aiden could barely move.
“You're not yet ready, but soon.” The man turned, Tye still held hostage, and teleported elsewhere.
Aiden, struggling to move, finally felt the clutches of the gravity spell release him. He shouted as he fell forward, “Come back!” Fire erupted around him with the fury of his emotions, and a strange, helix-like symbol appeared where his heart was. It glowed gold, and so did his eyes. His body lifted into the air, hovering just a few inches above the ground. He felt an immense amount of pain and an odd sense of pleasure all at once. A contradiction.
The glow began to fade away, and with it, the power. Aiden found himself back on the ground, breathing heavily. Fire encircled his fists.
“I'm useless in long range with anyone,” he thought.
Remembering his father's prized possessions, he snuck into his parents' house and found the twin fury spellguns. Rand was never very good with them, but he was quite proud having them be a part of his collection.
“These will work,” Aiden breathed. His body felt so weak; he was dizzy and could barely sort his thoughts. The rest of the night was just a haze.
Weeks passed and Aiden still didn't know what happened to Tye, nor what happened to his body and why he still hadn't recovered. He tried his best to work through the pain and find Tye, but couldn't. He tried writing down his thoughts each day, but it didn't help at all. He just felt empty—like he had even less purpose than before.
Chapter 6: Where The Sun Sleeps
After six months had gone by, Aiden still hadn't forgotten about the incident. He thought about his friend practically every waking moment.
A strange and sudden vision appeared inside his head one day, a voice accompanying it.
“If you want to see your friend, meet me in Ghost Town where the sun sleeps.” The voice sounded eerily familiar. It was the voice of the man who took his friend.
“It's time,” Aiden said to himself. Loading up his guns, he at last started to move forward, eager to get his friend back.
As the sun began to fall, eclipsing behind the incredibly large gravesite that was Ghost Town, Aiden felt a little nervous. Even still, he was determined. Before him, he saw a portal open up and a man step through it—the bandaged man who took Tye.
“You there!” Aiden exclaimed. “Give me back my friend!”
“Your friend?” The man seemed puzzled. Aiden began assaulting him with a hail of furious shots from his twin pistols. The fire he conjured was now able to be projected with more power and accuracy than he could ever pull off before.
The fire tore through the darkness, illuminating its path towards the bandaged wizard. With a twirl of his staff, a portal opened and swallowed up the assault, only for another to open and send it right back towards Aiden.
“Crap!” Aiden tumbled to avoid the redirected attack.
“This is going to be tough,” he thought to himself. “I've never faced a mage like this before.” Nevertheless, Aiden was more ready than ever to fight.
He continued firing at the enemy. It seemed there was no end to the flames.
“Enough of this.” The bandaged mage hit his staff atop the ground, and the fire dispersed and faded into the still night. He pointed his staff at Aiden, who became locked into place, unable to move. Weight began crushing him. It was the gravity spell again!
“You will pay for taking such a grave toll from me, rage mage,” the bandaged man said as he approached Aiden. He was still unable to move with his bones being held under so much weight.
“What toll? What are you even talking about?!”
The man went to read Aiden's mind, but there was a disturbance, something he had never felt before.
A blast of wind raged forward, sending him flying into the air. His spell lifted from Aiden, able to move once more.
The girl with the blonde braids, the one Aiden kept running into, approached. She moved her hands around—she was the one controlling the storm. Lightning began flashing in the sky, arcing its way toward the bandaged mage. He deflected two of the attacks, but the third delivered a powerful strike on him, sending him tumbling through the newly formed hurricane.
“Thanks for the help!” Aiden cried out to the girl. “I got you now, bandage face!”
He began firing a bullet storm into the wind, crippling the mage, who then gestured his hand to open another portal. He teleported himself outside the range of the hurricane. Blood poured from his bandages.
“Looks like you're going to need more bandages once we're done with you,” Aiden quipped. He readied his guns at the man; however, in the corner of his eye, he saw the girl was conjuring another spell—though it didn't look like she was aiming this one at his enemy, but at him!
The girl grinned, and frost shards began flinging at both Aiden and the bandaged mage. Aiden dodged most of it, but still took some scrapes and cuts.
“Dammit,” he cursed. Aiden realized this girl wasn't there to help, but to kill both him and the other mage. Readying his guns at each side, he began firing at both of his enemies.
The bandaged man's cuts and wounds diminished. As he stood up, he negated Aiden's assault of fire and retaliated with fire of his own, aimed at the girl. A radiant shield of many colors formed around her, his attack also being negated.
With a flick of the girl's wrist, a rain of daggers began falling from the sky.
“What the hell?!” Aiden's body, as if on its own, began to move at an incredibly fast rate. “What is this?” he thought to himself. His body glowed red, and he was now twice, no, three times as fast. With his fire fueled, he continued his onslaught at the two other mages; in turn, they continued deflecting and counterattacking.
“Listen,” the bandaged man called to Aiden. “We are not enemies. This girl has staged this. She didn't want me to, but I was able to read both your mind and hers. I see your innocence. She's the one I'm after. So I ask that you leave and let me handle this.”
Aiden was surprised. Could this man be telling the truth?
The girl bit her lip and thought, “Damn. I must have let my mental barrier down trying to kill these two.”
“No, listen to me, Aiden. This man is a liar. He's a powerful wizard. I've come to help you, but he's been controlling my actions. He took your friend and now he's trying to kill your only help, so you will have no way to defend yourself.”
Aiden's left fist glowed with fire. A burst of flames surrounded him, burning the graveyard they all three stood in.
“Alright.” Aiden stood up with immense power, his twin spellguns left on the ground. The bandaged mage prepared to fight two on one.
Aiden yelled and went for a fake out attack. He projected all of his rage at the girl with the blonde braids.
“What?! How dare you!” The fire launched from Aiden's fist at a faster speed than any gun could project, and an inferno the size of a skyscraper engulfed the girl before she could do anything to stop it.
“You'll pay for this!” she screeched. The flames vanished, leaving nothing but charred ground and an empty circle where the inferno hit.
Aiden, out of breath, said to the mage before him, “I knew she wasn't my friend. She was lying through her teeth.” He continued panting. “Now, the question is, are you friend or foe?”
“The name is Kyugen,” the mage said. “For now, I'm your friend, though I can't promise we will hold any sort of alliance. I suggest you continue training and honing your abilities. It seems there are powers beyond us that are plotting something.”
“Yes.” Kyugen opened a portal and stepped through.
“Wait!” Aiden cried, but Kyugen didn't care and continued through the portal. It closed, leaving Aiden to fall to the ground, exhausted.
“I still need to get Tye back,” he said, clutching the dust on the ground, though he knew no one was there to hear him anymore. Then, everything went black