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Authors: Jordan Mendez

Playing With Fire

BOOK: Playing With Fire
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Playing With
Fire

By Jordan Mendez

Text Copyright ©
2013 Jordan Mendez

All Rights
Reserved

Prologue

 

Sparks flew off our blades as they made contact, the force nearly
shoving me into the floor. Velkire twisted his blade around mine, and flung it
away. His murderous grey eyes danced with malice as he pointed his sword down
at me. The black blade seemed to growl almost, as if the thought of my blood
running across its steel gave it great joy. I could only look up at him, and
beg with my entire soul for a miracle.

 “May your soul burn in hell for all eternity,” Velkire hissed,
and brought his blade down on me.

~

No one really puts much thought into how they will die, and I
never did either to tell the truth—despite the fact that I’ve come face to face
with death every week (give or take some). But when you’re staring up the blade
of the sword like I had been, the only thing that really goes through a person’s
head is, “what in the world did I do that led to this?” I used to hear how fun
reminiscing about your life was, and how you would always look back and smile.
But those people probably meant your good memories would make you smile.
Considering the situation, it would have been a bit irrational to be smiling
because this was nowhere near the good times—it was more about making my worst
mistake ever. But before I can tell you about it, I’ll have to start from the
beginning.

The only things that had made life bearable were the four people
I’m closest to in the world, who had gone through thick and thin with me: my
brothers. None of us are really related by blood; the eldest of us, Jake, just
took each of us in when we didn’t have a hope in the world. I was the first one
he found, and ended up being the youngest and only girl. Jake found me as a
baby in the forest which both surrounded the town Laetus and hid our home, The
Warehouse. Jake had given me my name because of the color of my red flushed
cheeks when he had first found me: Scarlet. That had happened fourteen years
ago when Jake was only six years old.

Out of all of my brothers, Al was closest to me by far. And not
just because he’s only a few months older than me—it’s because he is
practically my opposite. Physically we may look a little bit alike—same milky white
skin and pointed features—but our personalities are completely different. Al is
responsible. He uses his head and he hardly ever swears. Now take everything I
just said and flip it around. You’ll have at least half of me if you add
stubborn, fearless, and possibly stupid. Most people would think that Al and I
would go together like oil and water, but when we’re together there’s nothing
that can stop us. Plus, he doesn’t just get me out of trouble; he gets dragged
into it with me.

Darren is the middle child and seems to have dedicated his entire
being to pissing me off and giving me aggravating migraines. Honestly, only
someone with an idiot older sibling can understand. Second to none, Darren is
the perfect example of a smart-mouthing moron. We’ve been at each other’s
throats since day one, sometimes literally. However, like any family we look
out for one another, because we know we’re all we’ve got. In the area of
mouthing off to guards, he’s pretty good. Now if only he was just as good at
getting away, that would make things much easier on us. I’ve caused every bit
as much trouble in Laetus as he has but I’ve never once been caught. The only
thing that poor town knows is that there are a pair of homeless street rats who
seem to be escape artists as well as thieves. Darren can’t take credit for the
many escapes however, because Jake always frees him before something extremely
bad can happen. Although I love him, he’s my least favorite brother. He also
used to be my least favorite person until recently.

Second in command is Seth. Seth is by far the smartest out of us,
and the only one without milky white skin. Instead of our whiter than white
complexion, Seth has dark olive skin that highlights his fig green eyes and
dark black hair. The one major flaw with all homeless children is that none of
them can read—but Seth can. He’s been able to read since Jake found him, but we
never thought too much about it. In addition to being a total genius, he is also
pretty good at medical stuff, which he couldn’t have learned without his first
skill. I’ve had my share of broken bones, stitches and other assorted injuries,
but since my pain tolerance is over the top (which probably isn’t a good thing)
Seth can fix me before my injuries really start to bug me. He’s a good
combination of brain and brawn, but he’s book smart—not street smart like Jake.

The last of my brothers is the head honcho, Jake. As I’ve said
before, Jake was the one who took us all in. We’d probably have all died if it
wasn’t for him. Al, Seth, and Darren would’ve starved in the streets and God
only knows what would have happened to me at the time if Jake hadn’t found me.
Or at least, only God would know what would have happened to that forest with
an infant like me there all alone, but I’ll explain that later. Jake is the
kind of older brother every kid only dreams of having. He’s kind, responsible
and a natural born leader. In addition to all that he’s practically an escape
artist, at least when he’s conscious. Jake would be very handsome if it wasn’t
for an enormous burn that slashed across his face, and I’ve never seen him
without it. That’s because I caused it.

You’re probably thinking, ‘what the heck is this girl talking
about?’ so I’ll explain myself now. As I’ve said before I’m irresponsible, I
don’t think things through, and I don’t necessarily speak ‘proper’ or
‘polite’  like most girls should. If asking a local in Laetus, I’d be
categorized as ‘a rude street rat’. But I’m not all bad. I’m braver than most
girls and I’m the best fighter in the family. But there is one thing that’s a
little bit ‘different’ about me. And when I say different I mean from the
average human.

 
I can control fire
. Freaked out yet? And I don’t mean
like petty circus tricks you see in carnivals, I mean literal bending to my
will control. Freaked out now? When I was younger and Jake found me it was out
of control and tied to my emotions. That’s how Jake got his burn. But as the
years went by I’ve gained control over it and can pretty much do whatever I
want with it, anytime and anywhere. I can even pull it in and out of existence
or let it consume me completely without so much as getting my hair singed.
Physically, making large amounts of it frequently doesn’t take a toll on me but
mentally it wears me down and exhausts me, but that hasn’t happened for years.
Anyway, that’s the one thing that separates me from normal people, that and my
grey eyes. Apparently during the time I was an infant all children, adults, and
teenagers with grey eyes were killed by strange creatures or some serial
killer. I’m supposedly the last one with grey eyes.

Not that I care. I don’t care about anything outside of my family.
It might seem selfish, but you probably haven’t been rejected by most people
you meet. I thought my life would never change from that. I was wrong. When you
go through so much in so little time, a lot can change. Call it growing up if
you will, but I doubt most adults will ever go through what I did. The funny
part is, it all started with a game. Well, if mugging people can be called a
game…

Chapter One

 

The
full moon illuminated my path; its light felt more deadly than beautiful. A
jungle of grass hid me from my quarry as I stalked through the terrain with
ghostly silence. Sitting on a stump about three yards away from me was a boy
around my age, humming a simple tune as he twirled a piece of red cloth across
his fingers.

Silky
black hair fell over his innocent dark brown eyes, despite the fact that he continually
brushed it back. The boy’s pale white skin glinted faintly in the silvery moonlight,
making him seem angelic. As I closed in on my target I could make out the tune
clearly: an old nursery rhyme that I had long erased from my memory. I scowled
to myself at his naivety. The boy had always hoped for something that would
never happen. My hand drifted to my coat pocket, until finally my fingers made
contact with an ice cold dagger hilt.


It’s
time to end his miserable life,’
I thought as a demonic smile slipped over
my face.

I
screamed like a banshee as I lunged at my stunned prey, my hand gripping the
dagger hilt tightly. I landed on his back and immediately clung to him, shoving
my hand with my weapon to his throat, disabling any movement he could have
possibly made.

The
boy struggled to free himself, but to no avail.

“Would
you rather say your prayers now or talk to God directly?” I said in an evil
mocking tone.

“Yeah,
like I’ll lose to you again Scarlet,” the boy said while sucking in a breath.
Before I could react, he threw me off, sending my bladeless hilt and me into
the grass. I adjusted myself while still airborne and landed on all fours. As
soon as my limbs touched the hard dirt I snapped my head back up to my prey,
and gave a cocky smile to my favorite brother. Al was standing with his fists
up, ready to fight his way to victory. I got to my feet and chuckled
halfheartedly.

“You
owe me a new hilt Al, that was my last one,” I said with my hands on my hips. A
smile slipped across Al’s face, obviously amused by my comment. Neither of us
had money and Al swore an oath never to steal.

“I’ll
think about it if you beat me,” Al joked.

I
shrugged and snapped my fingers. Fire immediately engulfed my hand and
illuminated the night with a warm orange glow. Al’s smile faded and was
replaced by a look a five year old might give you if you told them ‘no you
can’t have a cookie’.

“That’s
cheating!” Al protested in a whining tone. I rolled my eyes and made the flames
snake up my arm, just to mock him. Al groaned, but instead of saying anything
he sprinted into the forest surrounding the field. “Coward,” I hissed under my
breath while I raced in after him.

Al
made the smart move. Darkness isn’t my favorite thing in the world, even if I
do love night more than day. The trees of the forest were extremely tall, and
had branches that blocked out all light possible at night. During the day it’s
fine, but at night you can barely see a foot in front of yourself on all sides.
For normal people like Al, they would have to use their other senses to get
around, which to my disadvantage, is Al’s specialty. People like me, on the
other hand, set stuff on fire. I wasn’t concerned about being seen by Al or
setting the forest on fire. A flame about the size of an apple popped on the
tree beside me. It wasn’t much but it illuminated the forest like a bon fire. I
leaned up against a bristly tree and scanned the perimeter of light. Al
preferred to stay close to people, even if it meant getting caught, which is
how Jake found him in the first place. I was about to give up searching when a
black figure zipped in and out of my sight.
‘Bingo,’
the words of
victory chimed through my head cockily. I darted in the direction I saw the
figure go, confident that it was Al. I didn’t need light at this point.
Whatever I was following was making enough noise so that even I could follow
it.

Moonlight
flooded through a crack in the trees up ahead and revealed a pale skinned boy
with a head of black hair. I didn’t observe longer than a second before I
hurled myself towards him. Hitting someone midair is not a smart idea,
especially if you're smaller than they are. The minute I hit him all the air in
my body was knocked out of me, causing more pain when hitting the ground past a
break in the trees.

“I
win Al!” I yelled with delight a second after we hit the ground. Instead of
responding, the boy whipped around and shoved me off of him. One look at his
face and I knew he wasn’t Al.

For
one, this guy’s skin was like a flawless white veil stretched across an agile
figure, and was as picture perfect except for an assortment of cuts and
bruises. Instead of Al’s slightly childish face this boy’s was sharp and
sculpted, and his chin seemed a tad raised with a sense of pride. It reminded
me of pictures I’ve seen of powerful lions in the books Seth read to me
occasionally (I tended to space out if there weren’t enough pictures). He was
dressed in what was probably once a nice black cape and garbs but they had
become ripped and stained a dark reddish brown like that of dried blood. His
hair was pitch black, long and spiked down the back while the front was messily
thrown over his face. It looked as if he had just rolled out of bed, but
nonetheless, it fit him perfectly. His hair covered some of his face above his
nose, yet still revealed piercing, ice-cold blue eyes. He looked to be around
my age, maybe a year older, but he had a fierce hatred written on his face,
that was currently directed towards me. It made him look dangerous, and
determined to kill whatever got in his way. Or maybe it was the dagger that he
had at my throat that made it seem that way.

“Who
are you?” he hissed at me in a deadly tone. I was too stunned to reply. Not
that I would have had time to anyway.

As
if cued by the sound of the boy’s voice, a sharp ear piercing shriek cut
through the air. My hands shot to my ears as I winced in pain, but the boy
didn’t copy my actions. A quick sign of fear raced through his face, but was
gone in a second, leaving me to question if it had ever been there. He looked
at me.

“If
you want to live, fight with me,” the words put a chill down my back, wondering
if whatever had made that sound was about to show up. I nodded feebly and the
boy lifted me to my feet. “Take this,” the boy handed me the dagger he had been
holding before and drew a short sword from a hilt I had never realized was
there. “Do you know how to use it?”

I
looked down at the dagger and nodded. I had experience with any kind of knife,
half because Jake had taught me and half because I had to fend off a gang with
nothing but a stolen kitchen knife about a year ago. I hadn’t killed anything
but animals before then, and even that made me feel a little bit guilty.

The
next few seconds were probably the longest I’ve ever experienced in my entire
life. It was as if the world was holding its breath, waiting for something to
happen. It felt more like an eternity than a blink of an eye.

The
first things that I saw were two cloaked men with their hoods down, preventing
any view of their faces. Beside me I heard the boy suck in a breath sharply, as
if just the sight of them terrified him. I didn’t blame him. I was scared out
of my mind, even though I didn’t know who they were.

Before
I could think, the boy charged at them, sword in hand, ready to kill. He got
about half way there, until one of them moved. Faster than lighting the one to
the right darted towards the boy and slugged him in the gut, halting him in
less than a second. The boy didn’t back down. He slashed his sword at it, ripping
its cloak off and revealing the monster within.

It
may have looked like a man with the cloak on, but underneath was an entirely
different story. Its skin was pitch black and completely hairless. The creature
had the figure of a starved gargoyle. Where its eyes should have been were
empty sockets like bottomless pits that made you feel as if you were falling
forever. Its mouth was lipless, revealing sharp, blood stained, dagger-like
teeth. It had no nose, just two holes where it should have been, and I
questioned how it even found the boy with no senses. The creature’s hands were
almost normal, but instead of fingernails it had sharp grey claws.

It
turned its head towards me, apparently losing interest in the boy, and hissed.
I hadn’t noticed, but the whole time I had been staring like a brain dead
idiot, and I was probably going to regret not helping. The creature charged at
me with inhuman speed, giving me almost no time to react. I could faintly hear
the boy screaming at me to run, but his efforts to help were like trying to cut
down a tree with a dull spoon.

It
swiped its claws at me, but I leaned back, and it missed me by a fraction of an
inch. My brain turned back on and I returned the favor by slashing the
creature’s stomach with the dagger, not deep enough to do a lot to damage but
enough to slow it down.

Out
of the corner of my eye I saw the boy get to his feet again and engage the
second creature. Instead of attacking, it dodged all of the boy's attacks,
probably to tire him out, but the boy showed no signs of weakness. He was
giving it all he had, even though the creature was just toying with him.

‘What
the heck,
’ I thought. ‘
If you’re going to fight for your
life, why not have a little bit of fun?’
  A smile formed on my face. I had
never used my power to fight with, but it wasn’t a bad time to try it. If
you’re wondering if I’m insane, the answer is possibly. Fire engulfed my dagger
and my arms, immediately I felt invulnerable. With new-found confidence
powering my body I slashed at the creature with such grace and speed I
surprised even myself. The creature was surprised too, because it withdrew with
a sudden fear. That didn’t last long. It came right back at me with its other
hand. I danced out of the way with ease and even laughed a little bit.

I
might have been somewhat disturbed if I had been thinking clearer, but I wasn’t
really in a position to think about that, at the same time I couldn’t help but
wonder if it was just a dream due to the absolute insanity of it. I got cocky
and tried to strike it with my fist, which in my opinion was the dumbest thing
I did all night. Instead of making contact, I missed and my arm sailed
harmlessly through the air an inch from its head, leaving the rest of me open
for attack.

The
creature didn’t hesitate to take advantage, and before I could react it locked its
deadly jaws onto my unguarded shoulder. Pain shot through my shoulder completely
shattering any notion that it could have been a dream, and I shrieked. The boy
shot a glance at me and his eyes widened as he saw my flames. I took my free
hand and grasped its neck so it couldn’t get away. “You’re going to pay for
that,” I hissed through clenched teeth while wincing.

The
other creature caught on faster, because it turned from its prey and dashed to
the aid of its partner. It would have made it and probably killed me if it had
been a second quicker. But I guess I’m just lucky that way.

In
the blink of an eye a small inferno engulfed me and the two creatures,
illuminating the night, making my own personal daytime. The funny part is I
felt completely fine. Not even my clothes were being singed. Five short seconds
later I released my tiny sun and the burnt body of my attacker fell to the
ground while another lay in front of me.  Regaining my breath, I released the
smoking dagger and let it fall to the ground as I surveyed my handy work. And
then, as if waiting to piss me off, my shoulder flared in pain again.

I
clutched it tightly to try and slow the bleeding and fell to one knee. I lifted
my blood soaked hand to see the damage. My coat and white button up shirt were
stained crimson. The rusty smell of blood made me slightly dizzy. Through the
teeth marks in my jacket I could see a bit of the damage that was done. It was
only a flesh wound, but it would slow me down if I didn’t do something. I
really hate having to treat my wounds myself, partly because it’s painful and
partly because I do it completely wrong. I can get burned if I want to, but
using it to treat wounds is extremely stupid and dangerous. Carefully easing my
jacket off my shoulder I hesitantly shifted part of my shirt to be able to see
the full wound. A bloody mess of gnarled flesh traced teeth marks, but it
wasn’t too deep. Flames traced my hand as I pressed it to my shoulder again,
and I sucked in a pained breath as my wound burned shut. The cold night air
stung my skin almost as bad as the flames did, so I hurriedly put my long
jacket back on.

I
got back up to my feet and brushed the ashes off my clothes. I only remembered
the boy who’d got me into this when I had the feeling I was being watched. I
shot my gaze up to find the boy staring at me wide eyed with his mouth gaping.

“What?”
I asked slow wittedly. He just stared at me more and I started to get annoyed.
“What are you, a pervert? It’s rude to gawk at ladies you know!”

“How
did you do that?” he asked unaware that I had just insulted him. I rolled my
eyes.

“Why
do people always ask that? Does no one say thank you anymore?” I replied
sarcastically.

“I’m
sorry, thank you,” he replied back and then added quickly, “My name is Vaze.
It’s nice to meet you.” This guy did not get sarcasm at all. I scoffed at his
stupidity.

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