Episode One: Far From Home

Chapter One

Concealed by the thick leaves of a beautiful forest, a small town thrived. Houses lined the thin streets, crowded closely together. Human men and women tarried about, moving to and from a large square in the middle of the town. Every street branched out from this median, which served as an outdoor marketplace surrounded by bustling vendors hoping to sell their goods.

The busy town was always covered in shadows. The tall trees of the forest swayed to and fro, casting dappled patterns of light on the blue-gray cobblestone pathways. But the trees weren't the only things blocking out the sun.

A tall hill was located on the South end of the town, and on it sat a majestic black castle. It towered over the people, keeping them in darkness for most of the day, and instilling a sense of foreboding that none could shake. Inside the castle lived a different race, one of a human-esque appearance, but not of human nature. They locked themselves away, living separate and apart from the humans.

It was not always this way. Long ago, the small town was twice its size, spanning up to the hilltop. But one day disaster struck, and the once-peaceful town was thrown into a tumult.

Many humans died that day, struck down by the magic of the Tribe of Darkness. The Tribe destroyed half of the town, and built their castle on the hill, on top of the rubble. But the magic they held quickly dulled, for a reason unknown. So the Tribe shut themselves away in the castle, staying hidden from the humans.

Because of their history, the townspeople and tribesmen despised each other. None dared to cross the line into the other's territory, and so they grew to become unaware of the vast differences between each other, between the humans, and the Tribe of Darkness.

"Hey! Get out of here, filthy blue-face! Back to your side of the line!"

Blumiere barely dodged a swinging broom that was aimed for his face, ducking his head and muttering apologies. He flinched and held his hands to his face as the woman holding the broom brought it behind her head, winding up for another hit. "Please, ma'am, I mean you no harm! I only—"

He was cut off as the wooden broom veered for his upper body once more. Stepping backwards, he narrowly escaped the blow, but cried out in pain as a sharp object struck his back. Whirling around, he noticed a man standing a few yards away. A pile of rocks was cradled in one arm, and the second was poised at an angle that indicated he was preparing to throw a second stone.

"How dare you show your hideous face here?" the man shouted, hurling the rock at the end of his sentence for emphasis. "Have you forgotten what the Tribe of Darkness did to our town? If it weren't for you, we'd still be living peacefully!"

In order to evade the incoming shower of stones, Blumiere was forced to backpedal further down the street.

"Where do you think you're going? Get back behind the gates; you're not welcome here!"

As he retreated the woman with the broom approached him again, scowling. Distracted, Blumiere failed to notice the rock that was flying towards him. A small yelp escaped his mouth as it struck his shoulder, and in a sudden wave of panic he spun on his heel, racing down the cobble road in attempt to escape his attackers.

Enraged and frightened exclamations from the two humans followed him, encouraging him to run faster. He could see a large outdoor marketplace at the end of the street, crowded with the pale-faced beings. They were going about their everyday lives, naive and unaware of Blumiere's presence.

Regret fuelled each step as he realized he was stuck between a rock and a hard place, and a quick glance behind him confirmed that the man and the woman were indeed pursuing him.

What now? The panicked thought surfaced above the confused turmoil of his mind. What can I do besides… Ah, I hope the people in this market are more understanding…

He veered towards the houses that closely lined the street, hoping to stay hidden. Looking behind him once more, Blumiere was surprised to see that he was no longer being chased. He slowed his pace, scanning the street where the two humans had been just a moment ago.

"Look out!"

Blumiere gasped as he ran full-force into another being, causing both of them to tumble forward and hit the ground with a thud. He landed on his stomach, coughing as the wind was knocked out of him.

"I-I'm so sorry, sir! Are you al-?" The woman he had run into suddenly cut off her apology. Looking up at her, Blumiere noticed that she was covering her face with both hands. Her mouth was open in a noiseless yell, and her brown eyes were wide with terror. Finally, she regained her voice and screamed obnoxiously.

The whole town square seemed to pause as every human in the area stared directly at him. Even the birds and the rustling leaves appeared to fall silent. Then, a low murmur floated about the crowd. Curious and fretful whispers filled the air, gradually escalating into panicked accusations.

"Look at him… look at his skin…"

"He's… blue… One of those darkness wizards, no doubt…"

"What is he doing here?"

"What if they're planning to invade? They'll take even more away from us!"

Blumiere shrank back, overwhelmed by these accusations and ridiculous insults. He raised one hand to his face and studied the dark blue color. It was certainly different than the pale skin of the humans, but… why did that matter? He understood that his family was the reason so much of this town had been destroyed; the cause of so many humans' deaths. But that was far in the past, and the Tribe's power had lessened significantly with his great-grandfather's passing; no one had been killed since. Well… Except for…

A fiery string of enraged expletives jolted him out of his thoughts. He scrambled to his feet and turned to see a woman approaching him. Noticing the cleaning utensil in her hand, Blumiere realized this was the same broom-wielding woman that had attacked him earlier. She continued yelling insulting and racist things that likely echoed the words of everyone's thoughts; things they were too afraid to say out loud.

Blumiere stepped backwards, apologizing quietly. As soon as he moved, the humans fell silent again. He could feel the terrified stares of everyone in the square, watching him with fear-filled gazes, wondering what he'd do next.

But what can I do? He thought desperately, I have to get out of here! Glancing above the humans' heads, he spotted a road on the opposite side of the square. It was currently empty, and appeared to lead out of town. Is that my only option? Figuring he'd better do something before these people attacked him, he went against his better judgement and dashed towards the crowd, hoping to make it through to the other side.

As soon as he moved towards them, the mass of humans erupted into panicked gasps and screams. The entire square was thrown into chaos, and the pale-faced beings began to scatter, running in every direction except towards Blumiere. It was as if he were running through a parted sea, with swarms of humans on either side. He was able to reach the other side of the clearing with ease.

Once he stepped onto the road, he paused momentarily to glance back at the crowd. I've done nothing to you! was his exasperated thought. And yet you run about…

Horror stricken parents herded their young ones inside their houses, frantic vendors tried to salvage their crops, and casual shoppers scrambled back into the streets outside the square. Soon Blumiere was the only being that remained.

The empty town lay before him. The elegant forest loomed behind him. In this moment he had a choice to make. Should he go back through town and risk being attacked by the humans, or try to brave the forest and risk getting lost?

In the distance he caught sight of something moving, and as he held the cold gaze of a pale-faced man he knew the decision had been made for him. Without a word he turned around, unprepared but willing to face the unknown.

Blumiere wandered aimlessly. It had been merely fifteen minutes, and already he felt as though he were lost. But his priorities were not on finding the right direction. He was too busy mulling over what had just happened, and finally he stopped walking altogether, sitting down beneath a large tree.

Once again he examined his hand. He quite enjoyed the dark blue color; it complemented the Tribe's protocol of glowing blue eyes and jet black hair. Briefly he imagined what it would be like if his skin matched the pale golden color of the humans. If I were human… What if I were a human?

With this thought he slumped his shoulders, sliding down the tree until it caught the back of his silk shirt and stopped him from going any further. Humans were inconsiderate and rude.

But why are they like that? He pondered. With a shake of his head, he realized the answer to that was too obvious. The humans still hadn't forgotten what Blumiere's ancestor had done.

Nearly two hundred years ago Merlumio, who was only thirteen years old at the time, stole The Dark Prognosticus from The Tribe of Darkness' predecessors, The Ancients.

The Dark Prognosticus was a prophetic tome that foretold the destruction of all existence. It sought out hosts who it deemed worthy of its power and corrupted them. Merlumio was the first to be swayed by this corruption, and he used the book's magical power to destroy half of the town and craft a castle in its place.

The castle became the home of The Tribe of Darkness, and the prophetic tome's power was passed down each generation to the previous wielder's firstborn son. The one who held the power was viewed as the Tribe's king, and, up until Blumiere's grandfather's reign, the king was responsible for organizing attacks on humans who tried to invade.

Rene was a peaceful man, and his first order as King was to create a barrier between the humans and the Tribe, so neither of them would have to trouble the other. So long as no one crossed the line, no one would get hurt.

However, thanks to this act of peace, the Dark Prognosticus' power began to fade. His father's generation was no longer able to craft buildings magically, and Blumiere's generation was provided with magic that was almost non-lethal. By the time he had children, Blumiere guessed his offspring might not have any magic at all.

But in his opinion, the 'peace' was a fair trade for lessened magic, except for the fact that Blumiere hated being trapped in a castle every day of his life. Not to mention he was the youngest tribe member, save for his cousin's daughter, who was not yet a year old.

But this was a bad idea, he decided. I never should have left the castle, especially… without Father's permission.

Indeed, he'd left on a whim. His father had very strict rules, and staying on castle grounds at all time was one of them. It was perhaps the one he enforced the most, but he was not without reason. I know Father will be upset if he discovers I've gone. And there's nothing left to do here. I'd best find a way back home.

He started to make his way through the trees again, pushing through bushes and stepping over branches. As the undergrowth grew thicker and the insects buzzed incessantly louder, Blumiere realized he had no idea where he was going. His stomach twisted in fear of being lost, and so at last he stopped to lean against a tree, overwhelmed. Absentmindedly he raised his hand to his face, still studying the color.

Anger brewed inside of him. All of this, everything that had happened…it was because he was blue. He was attacked, scorned, shunned and now lost. Just because of his skin color. He closed his fist in frustration. When he opened it, a small black orb had appeared in the middle of his palm, rotating slowly. With little effort Blumiere was able to make the orb levitate. He moved it about a meter away to where an orange wildflower was swaying gently in the breeze. The orb dropped right into the center of the bloom; immediately the stamens withered and turned black. Soon the whole flower was corrupted, and it crumbled to the ground, now a tiny pile of ash. Blumiere sighed, closing his hand and replacing it by his side. He was dangerous, indeed, but he'd never use his magic to harm another being. Never.

Blumiere's dilated magic included these projectiles, a more dangerous contact-magic that polluted the bloodstream, and underdeveloped teleportation.

Even if he was confident in his teleportation skills, using it to get him back home was a terrible idea, as every time he moved from one location to another it set off his 'soul signature.' His father would know immediately where he was, and where he had come from.

So what do I do? He thought desperately. What can I do?

He didn't have to linger on that thought. Suddenly, the ground began to rumble rhythmically, and the sound of snapping branches reached Blumiere's ears from a distance. The blue man scrambled to his feet, feeling his stomach lurch in terror. What…? What is that? As the massive vibrations grew more and more intense, distinguished thuds could be heard, as though the creature was jumping repeatedly. Whatever was making this noise was drawing closer… But for some reason Blumiere could not move; it was as if he was rooted into the ground right where he was standing.

A singular, explosive bark sounded and the thing burst through the bushes. Just a glance was enough to send Blumiere scrambling away. Yelling, he spun on his heel and ran as fast as he could.

The thing; a gigantic black sphere with sharp, silver fangs, insane eyes and a bark loud enough to shatter eardrums, didn't hesitate to give chase. Blumiere ran blindly through the trees, weaving about sporadically in attempt to get further ahead of the crazed beast, all the while screaming like a mad-man.

Without warning, his foot caught on a twisted tree root. He lurched forwards, sprawling head over heels and rolling down an inconveniently placed slope. Thorns and briars scratched his skin on the way down, and he landed hard at the bottom, the air driven out of his lungs. Gasping, he saw the creature appear at the top of the slope. It bounced a few times, as if pondering what to do, and then finally turned to go back into the woods.

Blumiere sighed in exasperation and sat up. He was now in a small, sandy clearing that was surrounded on all sides by trees.

"What now?" he muttered aloud, leaning forwards and holding his head in his hands. Now, not only was he lost, but he was also in danger. That beast could be anywhere, waiting for a chance to chase after him again. A glance at the unobstructed sky revealed that the sun was beginning to set, and with a start he realized that the tribe's evening meal was approaching. Father will realize I've gone… he'll come looking…

With a cry of exasperation, Blumiere stood up again. He had about two hours to make it home. And if he didn't make it…

I'd better get moving, Blumiere thought, or I'll never get there in time. As he took a step towards the endless canopy of trees around him, the blue-skinned man sighed heavily.

He should have stayed home.