It all started when Alastair heard a crash in the kitchen. The thirteen-year-old was still tending to his burned arm when he'd heard it. Just an hour ago his father had forced him to hold his arm in the fireplace as punishment for not bringing him any alcohol from the tavern despite the fact that his father hadn't given Alastair enough money to buy the drink in the first place. Another loud crash sounded from the first floor Alastair was worried for his sister who he knew was in the kitchen with their mother but he was smarter than to involve himself if she was being punished and he knew Charlie wanted him to stay out of trouble. It was only when he heard someone scream that he ran to see what was happing. It was normal to hear Charlie scream their parents took particular pleasure in tormenting her, but Charlie, hadn't been the one to scream. Their mother had. Alastair rushed downstairs but even the slightest movement made his arm scream in pain and forced him to slow his pace. By the time he got to the kitchen, he was met with a grisly sight. The first thing he noticed was the blood but that wasn't the only thing out of place in the room. The table had been flipped into the fireplace and had begun to burn knives, broken plates, and discarded mugs all lay strewn around the room in the back corner lay his mother's body a knife in her chest. and in the center of the room, thirteen-year-old Charlie wrestled with their father. Her thick brown hair which she usually kept tied back was stained red and tangled around her face to the point that Alastair only knew it was her from the glint of her red eyes shining through it. It looked like she'd been hit by a tornado. Her clothes were just as bad. Her pants and shirt were both torn and covered in blood. His father, on the other hand, was in a much better condition. His black hair also hung around his head but it was clear that while his sister was losing her energy his father was just getting started. He had managed to pin charlie to the ground and was raining punches on her Alastair wasn't sure what to do. he couldn't leave his sister there. Charlie was the only family he'd ever really had but he couldn't fight his father either, he'd lose. Charlie had managed to get out from their father and delivered a few blows of her own before he rolled over again and pinned her to the ground. This time Alastair knew that his father planned to kill his daughter. He used one side of his body to hold Charlie to the ground and with the other knee and hand broke her arm. His sister's scream forced Alastair into action. In a single motion, Alastair was behind his father and in one fell twist, his father fell to the floor, His neck bent at an unnatural angle.
Charlie looked up at her brother as he brushed his hands together as if he did this every day.
"Is he dead?" she asked trying to stand. Her mother had not gone down easily and her knife had cut deep. That combined with her father's beating and a broken arm was making it very hard for her to stay awake. She didn't feel bad about stabbing her mother. She knew it was the only way and she was positive that their life would be better without her but Charlie did feel bad that her actions had forced her little brother to murder his own father. Alastair chuckled as he glanced out the window to where their neighbors were gathering in the street. The simple action did make Charlie feel a bit better and a small grin stretched across her face. It was funny, all of their neighbors knew what their parents did to them but no one had ever bothered to try to help Charlie or her little brother. Now that they had helped themselves and the windows were covered in blood everyone was suddenly willing to acknowledge the problem.
"We should go." said her brother ignoring her earlier question. Charlie stared at him. She'd seen her brother like this only once.
When they were younger a group of older girls started picking on him and Charlie had moved in front of him to try and stop them but that had been a mistake. The girls ganged up on her and while she did land a few good punches and kicks the girls swiftly overtook her. It was all Charlie could do to let them kick her and wait for them to leave. Then one of the girls screamed and fell to the ground cradling her leg. Alastair had intervened and silently snuck up on the closet abuser. They were on the ground before anyone knew what had happened. He had been crying a minute ago but in that moment his face had become so cold and emotionless that Charlie was sure he was about to kill someone. He didn't even say a word, he just smirked daring the girls to stand up to him. None of them did and they all started to scatter but someone else got their way. At the end of the ally stood a tall girl. Her black hair was tied back in a long ponytail and both her green eyes and light metal armor sparkled in the sunset sunlight. She also wore a blue cape sporting the symbol of the Riverstorm guard but at the same time looked no older than fourteen or fifteen.
"I could have you arrested for picking on pair of kids like that." The girl laughed grabbing one of the attackers in each hand by the collar as they tried to flee and throwing them back into the ally (she was much stronger than she looked). "But I think it's better if I just let them handle you themselves. They're clearly more than capable."
Alastair laughed as his emotions returned to him. "I appreciate that," he said helping Charlie to her feet. "but I'm not really in the mood for a brawl. Just let them go."
"As you wish." The young guard answered, stepping aside to let the teenagers flee.
"Aren't you a little young to be a guard?" Charlie asked when everyone had fled.
"Technically yes, but my father is the captain so I get to wear the uniform as a guard in training." The girl replied.
"But Barron Valkner is the captain of the guard ." Charlie said. "that would make you the next ruler of Riverstorm."
"Yup," The girl answered simply.
"Alright, But what are you doing here then?" Alastair asked.
"Well," The girl answered. "Everyone in the guard including myself lives within the Silver Wall so I put on my outfit and come out here to try and bring some semblance of order to my city. Just because the people on this side of the wall aren't swimming in gold coin doesn't mean they're not members of Riverstorm."
"You sound very noble," Charlie replied. "But it's all just talk and you haven't even given us your name yet."
"Oh right, My name's Niki, Niki Pyre." The girl said giggling to herself. "As for my speech being nothing but talk, allow me to prove my good intentions. You're pretty beat up anyway and the man I have in mind can definitely heal your wounds."
"Very well," Alastair said with a small grin. "Lead the way." Charlie had a feeling that he was putting too much trust in this girl and she didn't like it but Alastair had just saved her from what was bound to be a harsh beating so she was willing to trust his judgment.
Niki smiled and lead them to a small cottage near the Silver Wall it was not a short walk and Alastair and Niki began to chat while they both helped Charlie limp towards their destination. The conversation had started with exchanging names but had quickly spread to numerous other topics as well. By the end of the walk, the two had talked about everything from the best taverns in the city to whether the gods and demons of legend really existed and they, it seemed, had already become good friends. Charlie didn't fully trust this other girl but she couldn't deny that she was making her brother happy and if what she said was true, she really did want to make things better for everyone.
"Here we are," Niki said when they reached the small cottage. She gently lad Charlie against Alastair and knocked on the door. A tall man dressed in a grey robe that perfectly matched the color of his long grey bread and hair greeted them at the door. His blue eyes shone with a strange light as if this old man knew much more than most men ever would. "Hello Children, I've been expecting you." The man smiled. "I am the wizard Infendren, please come in and tell me what brings you here while I heal Charlie's wounds."
The memory faded and Charlie was reminded that she had always been a little scared of this side of her brother but now that she was thinking about it Alastair's dark side was only used to protect her and the realization started a fire in her chest. Her brother had killed his own father (no matter how horrible that father had been) to protect her. Charlie wasn't about to let that go. If he was willing to shut his emotions off to protect her then she would turn her rage on anyone who would endanger him.
Alastair stirred rousing Charlie from her thoughts. Without saying a word he pulled Charlie to her feet and slung her unbroken arm over his shoulder silently walking her out the back door and into the dirt ally behind their house. Then he started walking, not seeing any other option Charlie let her little brother lead her wherever he was going. They walked in silence for a long while until Alastair stopped at the back door of a small house near the edge of town. Charlie knew this house and once she recognized it all her pain disappeared and she hugged her brother for his genius. or at least she tried to. all she managed to do was swing her broken arm into his burned arm causing both of them to yelp in pain. Alastair glared at her and she flashed him a shy smile as she blushed at her own stupidity. Alastair's face softened and he kicked the door since his legs were the only working appendages he had left. A moment later Infendren opened the door. Alastair waved at the old wizard as if this were totally normal and Charlie gave him the same shy smile she had just given her brother as the pain finally began to overtake her and she felt herself fall into unconsciousness.
When Infendren opened the back door he was not surprised to see Alastair and Charlie. The two siblings had often come to his house seeking someone to tend to the many injuries their parents inflicted upon them. As the years had gone by, However, the kids had begun to visit him less often as their parents kept a closer eye on them. He was usually happy to see them but today it took him only a moment to realize that something had gone horribly wrong. The first thing he noticed was that both siblings were covered in blood, and the second was Charlie's broken arm, but the thing that most disturbed him was the color of their eyes. Infendren doubted that Charlie knew that her eyes were once as blue as her brothers had been. She would have been too young and her brother probably hadn't noticed the change either.
Infendren was an old wizard, however, and he had lived in Riverstorm for many years. The usually dormant magic that settled in the city could be very potent and Infendren had learned that as Charlie's anger at her parents (and life in general) had grown her eyes had begun to change color. As time went by her eyes had slowly shifted from sky blue to flame red. Infendren believed that this change was caused by the magic of the ley line that the city was built on and the shifting had always bothered him but he also realized that her anger was justified and decided to do his best to calm her whenever they met rather than directly act on it. Now however he noticed that not only had Charlie's eyes changed, but her brothers had as well. All four of the eyes looking at him were blood red and Infendren was busy dreading what that might mean when Charlie fainted, her weight nearly pulling Alastair to the ground as Infendren caught them with a small levitation spell and floated into his house.