I quickly ducked behind the crumbling walls. They had found me. I swore as the group of armoured people fanned out around the abandoned town. Someone from the last village must have tipped them off. I tried to stuff my dark red hair further into my hood. I loved my unique hair, but it was the bane of my existence. It was the explicit identifier of a fire weaver. I couldn’t shave it; it just grew back overnight. All I could do was hide it and hope no one saw it. Clearly, that didn’t work.
I couldn’t hear what they were saying. I could have manipulated the wind to carry their words if I was an air weaver, but air weavers were extinct. All weavers had been hunted and killed or converted. The Angel Society took no mercy on weavers while the Shadow Society enforced compliance… with or without your consent.
I tried to calm my mind and heart. I could feel warmth ebbing from my hands as my anxiety peaked – I couldn’t control the flames much longer. I had to run. I had to escape and pray they wouldn’t notice.
I ran as fast as I could, curling my hands into fists to hide the uncontrollable flames from erupting. I was never able to train, never able to master my abilities. It was always unpredictable and tied to my emotions. Surprisingly, I couldn’t sense anyone chasing me, but there was a 50/50 chance I’d escape. I desperately tried to stem the fire ebbing from my hands and plunged them into the freezing cold water. It fizzled, and steam erupted but quickly faded as the cold water suppressed the flames. I collapsed by the riverbank, legs exhausted.
I jumped to my feet and frantically whirled around. I clutched my hands close to my chest as my red eyes connected with stern ocean-blue eyes. Tousled blue hair framed his rough features, and a shabby hood had been pushed off his head. “A water weaver?” I breathed.
His eyes narrowed. “Fire weavers are extinct.”
It was a statement, not a question. I didn’t know how to respond. My entire village had been ransacked, and my mother, the last fire weaver, had been killed. She’d taught me enough to hide my abilities from the guards before sacrificing herself to save me… but what she taught me no longer worked. My powers grew as I did, and when I was a teenager, my father shunned me from the village. No one else knew of my existence.
He took a step towards me. “How do you exist?” he questioned. “There have been no fire weavers for 15 years.”
I cleared my throat. I wouldn’t let him intimidate me. “My mother was the last fire weaver killed. She hid me. The Angel Society recently found out about me and is hunting me. Don’t worry, the fire weavers will probably be extinct soon enough.”
He frowned. “Fire weavers are needed. We thought we were doomed, but now…” he drifted off, brow furrowing in concentration. “You need to come with me.”
The man tried to grab my arm, but I jerked backwards, sparks emitting from my palms. “Don’t touch me,” I hissed.
He stared me down. “This is not the time or place to be stubborn.”
“I don’t even know you, and you expect me to go with you? You could be a member of the Shadow Society, taking me to an air weaver to manipulate me. I’m not being stubborn; I just have a brain.”
He sighed. “I am not a member of the Shadow Society or the Angel Society.”
I narrowed my eyes. “I’m just supposed to believe you, am I?”
A chuckle escaped his lips. “If I were part of either society, you would not still be standing,” he said. He combed his fingers through his hair. “Perhaps we met on the wrong foot. I am Kayden – one of the last water weavers and a member of the underground rebellion. And you are?”
I curled my hands, trying to force away the heat pulsating in my palms. “Arabella. Call me Ari.”
“Well, Ari, I am glad I followed the Angel Society this way. You do not have to trust me but trust that if I were a part of either society, this conversation would not be happening.”
He wasn’t wrong. There’s no negotiation on either side. “What is this rebellion?”
“This is not the place to explain it. The members will track you. We must go underground; I will explain everything there.”
I glanced back at the ruins. I didn’t exactly have much of a choice if I wanted the chance to live. “Fine. But I expect a full explanation.”
He grabbed my arm. The first time someone had touched me in years. Smoke fizzled from his touch, but he didn’t react – he’d be immune to the heat and fire as a water weaver. I felt my body relax, and the steam soon flowed away as the fire within me calmed. He hurried towards another figure standing nearby, a young girl with deep green hair and eyes. Her eyes flickered between me and Kayden before she shrugged and carefully opened a tunnel into the depths of the earth. A water weaver and now an earth weaver – what was going on?
Kayden led me through the tunnel, and we emerged into an underground city. It reminded me of the cities of old – before the war on weavers began. Streams of water ran through the city centre, and houses lined the streets. “What is this place?” I gasped.
A sly smirk flickered across his face. “Sanctuary,” he replied. “Where weavers are safe. For now.”
He pulled me further into the underground city before finally entering a large building. Inside were many people standing around a table. They stared at me in disbelief as Kayden gently lowered my hood.
“How is this possible?” murmured one of the women, a silver-haired air weaver that looked around 60. “Fire weavers are extinct.”
“Or so we thought,” replied Kayden. “The Angel Society was hunting something… viciously. I knew it had to be something important. I never dreamed of finding a fire weaver.”
“We can complete the ritual!” exclaimed a green-haired man.
“What ritual?” I asked. Every person standing in the room was a weaver of some kind. Green, silver, and blue hair surrounded me. I hadn’t seen these sights in a long time.
The elderly air weaver stood forward. “We needed a weaver of each element to cast a protection ritual. To hide us from the societies completely.”
“It couldn’t be permanent.”
“No,” she agreed. “But it would buy us years, decades even, to find a way to win. Without a fire weaver… we are already so close to being discovered.”
Kayden cleared his throat. “She is untrained. Fire ebbs from her without control.”
“She doesn’t need control for the ritual,” replied a blue-haired woman. “Kayden, you can control the fire with your water so it doesn’t get out of hand. Once the ritual is complete, we can try to train her abilities as best we can.”
I took a step backwards. “I can’t do some ritual. I don’t know any of you. I can’t control anything and…”
Kayden gripped my shoulder tightly, steam escaping his touch. “Stay calm,” he said. “Fire feeds off emotions.”
“Please help us,” murmured the green-haired girl who had opened the ground above. “I don’t want to die.”
Fear sparked within me as all eyes focused on me. I’d been alone so long it felt strange to have people watching me, talking to me. “I can’t guarantee I won’t hurt anyone.”
“I can guarantee you will not,” said Kayden. “I know you do not trust us, but we can earn your trust once this ritual is complete.”
I let out a sigh. “Fine, okay. What do I do?”
“Just let out your fire, and we will do the rest.”
A water, air, and earth weaver took position near me. I closed my eyes and prepared myself as I mentally dropped the barrier within my mind. I felt the heat and the flames I’d suppressed for so long gleefully sprung forth. Peace and joy flooded my body, and my flames were released. I felt something cool gripping my arms, and suddenly water doused my entire body. I opened my eyes in shock, staring at the culprit. Kayden had clearly drenched me. The weavers stared at me for a while, unable to speak.
“You are powerful,” said Kayden after several moments. “The ritual is complete, but you need serious training.”
The others murmured in agreement. “Teach her control, Kayden,” said the elderly woman. “You are the best for that.”
I saw him tense before shaking his head. “Let us get to work,” he said, gripping my arm tightly. “It is going to take years.”