Chapter One

Gentle raindrops fell lazily onto the tree branches. A cooling breeze wafted through the forest, lifting tree tops and blowing grasses around the woods.
Rain began to fall more steadily, now. The wind began to howl, picking up speed and sound as the minutes passed. Soon, all that was heard was the roar of wind and branches cracking, as if they were possessed by some foreign spirit, fightling for control.
Caladwen slowly peered outside. It was early in the morning, she had been woken from a sleep by the noise echoing into the small house. The glass in the window trembled, shuddering, as she stepped to it, tucking a blonde wave behind her ear.
And then- a noise. Distinct from the rest, a howl, a shatter. Caladwen darted into a corner, drawing her dress tighter around her, as the door slowly leaned open. She waited for a breath stealing second, heart racing, as she waited to see what had happened. Nothing. She slowly released the grip on her dress as she stepped closer to the door. It waved back and forth, open, but there was nothing else there. The wind, perhaps?, Caladwen thought as she looked outside once more.
Again- a moaning, creaking noise. She stepped back, and called out, “Ada?”
Her father didn’t answer her.
Caladwen stepped back inside, bare feet scraping against the floor. She quickly stepped into the back of the house, calling again, “Ada? Ada, the door. It is-”
The door to her father’s room opened, and Caladwen let out a sigh of relief. “Ada, did you not-”
A flash of light blinded her, followed by a stunning boom. Caladwen tumbled back, surpressing a scream, as she saw the figure that stood in the doorway. Stocky, muscular…
…holding a long, bent sword in his hand. The seraded blade was dripping with red blood.
Caladwen lurched blindly back as the sword swung. “Ada!” She shrieked, rolling back and hitting the wall. Another flash, another book, and then she saw fire billow before her eyes. Smoke filled her lungs as she stumbled towards the door.
Caladwen lurched to the ground, hard and painful. The attacker had grabbed her hair and pulled her to the ground. She felt the sword harshly penetrate her shoulder, and she screamed, loud. She blindly kicked and connected with something, and, foot stinging, she rolled to her feet, stumbling along towards the door.
She paused, turned back. The flames seemed to be beckoning her forward, singing, Come, come this way, you will be warm…you will be safe…
Sparks flew, and Caladwen ducked her head. There was a burst of fire that enveloped the whole area, and she screamed once more, desperate and afraid, “ADA!”
Then her feet left the floor, and she was falling, falling hard onto the ground, wounded and now, alone.
She was only 12 years old.

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