A/N: This is the back story of Brooke Swiftriver, one of my O.C.'s from The Destiny of Fire's Song. If you haven't read The Destiny of Fire's Song, you might want to. There may be some references to that story, but not huge ones that will disable your ability to understand this story.
Disclaimer: I don't own Wizard101. Lame. I can do better than that . . .
Thanks to my beta reader, Dylexia! :)
"Brooke, where are you?"
"In here, Mommy," the eight year old called back. She was sitting in her special chair (the blue wooden one, with a purple cloud on the back) and was flipping through a cookbook. Brooke had her knees pulled close to her chest, using them to prop up the large, indigo book. The thick pages sometimes stuck together, and she had to pry them apart. There was a very specific recipe the girl wanted . . .
"What are you doing?"
"Nothing!" Soon enough, Brooke stumbled across what she had been looking for: waffles. "There they are!" Her father, Terrence, had just returned from a long day at work. He was a supervisor at the Storm Mill, and the other employees got on his nerves frequently. Her mother, Azura, ran a bakery, and her hands would get tired easily from constantly squeezing pastry bags filled with bright colored frosting. They were both exhausted from work, so Brooke had decided to make them dinner. Her twin siblings, Calder and Cascade, were only five; too young to help. She had learned to read (slowly) at the Triton Avenue pre-magic school, so reading the recipe would be easy as pie. Or waffles. She slid down from her chair and started gathering utensils and ingredients.
"Are you sure?" Azura's tone was skeptical; Brooke was sometimes a little too curious for her own good, and more than one accident had resulted in her curiosity and adventurous spirit.
"Yes!" The eight year old squinted at the cookbook. She was pretty sure THAT word was salt, and that one was . . . maybe eggs? She'd never even heard of "gsura." Maybe it was some sort of spice? She rubbed her head, frustrated. All those weird words. Brooke had no idea there were so many foreign ingredients in waffles. nilvala, gsura, and roflu? What the heck were those? "Hey Mommy? What's 'gsura,' 'nilvala,' and 'rolfu?'"
"What? Brooke, what are you reading?"
"I'm just looking at the labels on things in the cupboards!"
"Bring whatever it is here," Azura sighed. Frantically, Brooke looked around. She found a big bag with "gsura" on it, another with "roflu," and a small bottle with "nilvala," and she brought them into the living room. Azura immediately burst out laughing.
"Those aren't . . . whatever you said, Brooke! They're sugar, flour, and vanilla!"
"Oh," she sighed, feeling her cheeks grow hot.
"From now on, if you want to read something, ask me to help you," she said, still laughing a bit. "Dyslexia is a pain, I know, but someday you might learn to read better."
"What makes me not read right?"
"Dyslexia. It means there's something missing from your brain, and so you can't understand words very well, remember? The doctor told you last month."
"The doctor explained it weird. It didn't make any sense when SHE said it."
"Go on, go back to whatever you were doing in the kitchen. Let me know if you need me to read something for you."
"Okay, I will." Brooke skipped back into the kitchen.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Half An Hour Later - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Brooke stared uncertainly at the plate of waffles. They were completely flat, for one thing. Some were burnt to a crisp, others leaked batter from the insides when she pressed on them, and all of them were a strange orange-y color.
"Brooke, what in the Spiral-" She spun around, and behind her stood her mother.
"I was trying to make waffles, but I don't think I did it right," she admitted, staring at the miserable pile of food dejectedly. Azura laughed.
"Oh, Brooke, what are we going to do with you? You put in orange juice instead of milk!"
"Oh. Oops." Her mom smiled.
"Here, Brooke, why don't you help me make some more waffles? After dinner, I can help you make a pictures-only cookbook so you can follow the recipes easier." She put an arm around her daughter comfortingly, and the eight year old smiled.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Late That Night - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Brooke couldn't sleep. She thought that she could smell something strange, but she didn't know exactly what it was. Her bedroom was uncomfortably hot, and her night-music had gone off, leaving her in complete silence. The room was lit only by a small nightlight, which cast an eerie, pale yellow glow on the walls and floor. Her dresser, desk, and C.D. player cast shadows that loomed over her like monsters, and she clutched her dolphin-print sheet tightly, covering her head to avoid the sight. She desperately wanted to turn on her music, but the C.D. player was across the room, and to get to it, she'd have to get out of bed. The thought was far more terrifying than the silence. She peered out from under her covers, and she thought she saw a strange something in front of her door. It was a cloudy looking snake, one that wove its way lazily through the room, slowly, calmly. It wasn't afraid when she tentatively threw her teddy-fish at it. Her heart pounded against the inside of her chest, beating so loudly that Brooke was sure the snake could hear it. Her breathing was fast and shallow, her eyes wider than bowls. Her tangled black hair was damp with sweat, and her hands were so tight on the sheet, she could barely feel them.
The snake got thicker, and longer, too. It looked more like a big gray mass than a little thing. The smell had gotten stronger, too, and her room was stifling. There was a crackling noise coming from the hallway, and a strange, flickering light was seeping under the door. Brooke knew instantly what it was: fire. She threw back her sheets and scrambled out of bed. The fire was blocking her door; she'd have to use a window. One window was a straight drop to the ground 10 feet below. The other opened onto the roof, which was a gentle slope for about four feet. Six feet was still a far drop, but it was better than 10. Brooke kicked the wall as hard as she could, the wall between her parents' bedroom and her own. She kept kicking it, harder and harder, until an answering knock came.
"Mommy! There's a fire," she shrieked in terror, staring at the flames, which were beginning to creep under the door. Soon, a muffled reply came from the opposite room.
"I know, Brooke. Go out through the window. We're going to get your brother and sister out. Run next door to Mrs. Blueblossom's house and ask her to call the Pyromancer Department. Okay?"
"Okay. You promise you'll be out behind me?" For a moment, there was a horrible silence, but soon her mother replied:
"Yes. The four of us will meet you outside. Now go! Get out of the house!" Brooke ran to the window and pushed it open. She crawled out, pushing the blue curtains aside as she hastily escaped her room. She inched down the roof, like the Pyromancer Department had taught her class in pre-magic school, and then hung from the end, being careful to hold on to the gutter. When she was hanging as low as she could, she squeezed her eyes shut, begged the Tritons to save her, and released her death grip on the roof.
The impact with the ground wasn't nearly as bad as she'd thought. In fact, since she landed on the grass, it was a moderately painless landing. As soon as the dizzy feeling had faded, Brooke stood up and stared back at her bedroom. She could see the flames through her window now, and they were getting bigger and bigger. She remembered her mother's words: "Go and call the Pyromancer Department."
"Okay, Mommy. I'm going," she whispered to herself, turning from the awful sight. She ran towards the pale blue house next door, pushing aside the lilac bushes that bordered the elderly woman's property. Brooke ran around to the white front door and pounded on it. There was no response for a minute, but she could see a glow coming from a downstairs room. A shadow passed the window, and another light flickered on. A moment later, the door opened, revealing the old woman's daughter, Kelly Greenstar. The young lady was dressed in purple silky pajamas, and her long, golden brown hair was pulled back in a messy ponytail.
"Yes? What is it, Brooke?" Kelly was her babysitter.
"Our house is on fire! My mommy said to come to your house and call the Pyromancer Department," she replied tearfully.
"What? Are your parents and siblings okay?"
"I don't know! They're still inside! Mommy said that she was going to get Calder and Cascade out of the house, and she said she would be out right behind me."
"Come inside, quickly!" Kelly ushered Brooke into the dim house, brought her into the kitchen, and sat her down on her favorite high stool, the one she always sat on when she was at Mrs. Blueblossom's house.
"Mom?" Sabrina, Kelly's 10 year old daughter, wandered into the kitchen, rubbing her eyes sleepily. "What's going on?"
"Go back to sleep, Sabrina. Brooke just came over because there's a little problem at her house," Kelly informed her daughter softly, picking up the phone and dialing a number.
"Okay." The girl turned around, and a second later, Brooke could hear footsteps going up the stairs.
"Pyromancer Department, please . . . yes, I'd like to report a fire at Number 15, Triton Avenue. . . . As far as I know, only one has gotten out. There are four more inside . . . eight . . . four, four, and two parents . . . Swiftriver . . . Terrence and Azura . . . Cascade and Calder . . . yes, I have Brooke here . . . " Brooke tuned out after a few minutes of that, her mind wandering to more important things: Were her parents, brother and sister okay? Had they made it out of the house yet? Would the Pyromancer Department get there in time to save her house? She thought those questions over for a while, wishing that none of this had happened.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 10 Minutes Later - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Brooke jumped when she heard the wailing of a siren. She ran over to the front window and pushed aside the curtain. She could see four big vehicles with flashing lights, all of them parked in front of her house. Two were painted bright red, each one with glowing letters on the side. Brooke couldn't figure out what they said. The other two were green, and they had more glowing letters and a big, metallic green leaf mounted on the top.
"Kelly? What do those trucks say," she called. Kelly walked over and peered outside.
"Those two red trucks say 'Pyromancer Department,' and the green ones say 'Theurgist Department.'"
"Why are there trucks from the Theurgist Department? Aren't the Theurgists healers?" Kelly's face was sad as she replied.
"The Theurgist Department is here because . . . well, your parents and siblings have been in there a pretty long time. They might be hurt, and they would need to be brought to the Theurgist Department for healing." Her tone was tentative and slow, like she was trying not to reveal anything to Brooke.
"Oh." Brooke paused for a second, and then continued. "Can we go see my house? I want to see it again." Her babysitter hesitated for a minute, and then nodded.
"Come with me, and don't let go of my hand for a second, okay?"
"Okay." Kelly took her hand and opened the door. The two of them stepped outside and walked down to the street, and then they turned to face Brooke's house. The girl gasped, her eyes widening in horror. She felt tears forming in the corners of her eyes as she stared at her house. Huge, ravenous flames leaped from every corner of the house. They were coming from her window, the kitchen windows, and . . . her parents' bedroom window.
"MOMMY," she screamed. "DADDY!" There was no reply. The tears spilled over, drenching her face. They had to be okay . . . they'd promised that they would be right behind her! Brooke tore her hand from Kelly's grasp and ran towards the house.
"Brooke! Get back here! It's too dangerous!" Brooke ignored her. She had to find her parents . . . had to find Cassie and Calder . . . they might need her. She had to find them. As she ran past the trucks, a strong hand gripped her arm.
"Hold on, little girl," a gentle voice said to her. She turned, trying to fight the strength of a woman dressed in green robes. Her jade green eyes were pitying, but Brooke didn't want pity.
"Let me go! I have to find my mommy and daddy," she screamed.
"It's too dangerous, Brooke. The Pyromancers are getting them out right now, and you would just get in the way." The woman looked up as someone called to her, and she nodded. "Brooke, I want you to sit inside the truck, and don't move until I come back, okay?" Seizing the opportunity, she nodded and climbed into the truck. The woman rushed away, and as soon as she was gone, Brooke jumped back out of the truck. She ran around the line of vehicles and up to her house. She hid behind a bush as several people walked past, staggering under the weight of a stretcher. On it was a person that looked like her father, but with a big mask on his face.
"Mommy's still inside. So are Cassie and Calder," she whispered to herself. She waited until the way was clear, and she ran into the burning house.
A/N: How was it? Please review; I like to know how I'm doing with my writing.