1 Prologue: Soul Searching:

The girl watches as her mother runs into the field, a great dark sphere floating in the distance. The lake there had once been crystal clear, but it was now almost black. The reflection of the sphere is so large, it appears to cover the valley. It rattles and shakes, as if a ball of lightning is being swallowed up into its black swell. It seems to have an inner entity that twirls and reacts to the presence of the woman beneath it.

The woman, also known as Gaea, shoves her hands upwards, a bright blue light exploding from them. It appears to shimmer off her skin, leaking into the air like floating paint. Her mouth speaks words to aid in her power, but they only anger the black soul above.

It lashes out, a hot bolt of white-blue lightning strikes and slices the woman's chest. It resembles a whip, but also a monstrous arm.

Not human, the woman's chest bursts with azure, part of her soul aura releasing from its host. It leaks out in ripples, popping and freeing itself to the earth whence it came from. The mother of earth—the mother of all. She knows the time has come. The girl, usually confident in her mother's skills, frowns.

"Mother?"

The woman does not look back but uses the sign of their first language. Her hands move behind her back, and the child quietly watches. She is the most obedient, reliable, and purposeful of the children. Gaea twists her fingers in their language, hoping the youth will flee.

"Go to your siblings."

"But mother—"

"Go!"

Gaea stomps her foot in frustration, knowing her daughter has not moved. The azure soul jumps at the action, fizzling out of Gaea's chest at a rapid pace.

The end is near.

"Mama," the girl cries before leaving the spot. Her feet feel heavy as she runs, like hefty boulders weighing her down. She can smell the release of her mother's soul and knows this is the last time she would see her in the flesh.

Stopping in her tracks, the girl turns and looks back at her mother.

She can see the blue light floating faster from Gaea's chest, and watches as it moves with purpose towards the black sphere.

She immediately understands what is happening.

It is a suicide mission.

The soul of her mother is no match for the beast.

She watches and memorizes the colour of her mother's hair, and of the blue soul leaking from her chest. The way her shoulders shake with determination, but also pain.

"Goodbye, mama," she cries. "I love you."

The girl turns, running as fast as she can to find her siblings. As she moves further into the forest, a great flash of light bursts from behind her. It is like a flash of lightning in a storm—a hot, white flash. The wind smacks against her back from the fight far behind her, and she knows the blue soul has finally left its host.

She turns and witnesses the grass wilting from a vibrant green to brown. The branches on the trees snap and start breaking, falling to the earth. The girl screams and continues running. As she maneuvers through the forest, she uses her training to avoid being crushed to death by a fallen branch. Soon, all the trees will start collapsing.

The forest is dying.

She sees the cottage, her home, and pushes forward. Her legs are weak now and shake from the effort of standing. Her siblings stand out front, their eyes on the forest with horrified expressions painted on their faces.

"Caius!" She screams, rushing towards him. He is her favourite out of all her siblings, and always listens to her when she wants to be heard. Her eight other siblings sneer at her in anger, but Caius' face crumples at the sight of her pained eyes.

"What have you done?!" The others shout, turning to point at the forest as the trees start falling. She watches them raise their hands, the colour of their souls leaking from them. As trees fall, they bounce off the new shield covering their home and crash elsewhere.

"I have done no such thing. Mother—she is gone. The earth is saddened by this, as am I," tears leak from her eyes.

"Mother is..."

Caius wraps his arms around his sister, comforting her but also himself.

"A great beast has risen. Mother's efforts were in vain," she sobs.

Her siblings cry together, and she uses Caius' warm chest as a means of comfort. A flicker of a flame ignites in her chest, and she can tell the others notice it in their own.

"What is..." Caius speaks, but stops when his soul colour shimmers from his entire body. His has changed from grey, to the colour of their mother's. The others notice this change as well, and they watch with great envy, but also pity. An azure blue light symbolizes power but is also cursed.

He would know great pain in his life.

She squeezes his arm, trying to comfort him, but it is no use. His eyes speak more than his lips could, and tears pool in his eyes. He knows what this means.

"Do not fret brother," she cries with him, "I will protect you."

He does not smile at her and pushes her away slightly.

"It is not I who will need protecting." He points in the direction of a human village nearby.

The others gasp, and the flame in her chest grows. She understands what this means.

"We must protect them," Caius says with determination.

"At all costs," she nods, feeling her own soul colour—a shimmering white, glowing from her body.

They stand there and watch the black orb rise high up into the sky. The sphere ripples, and globs start falling to the ground.

Screeching noises echo throughout the forest, and it causes her to hold onto Caius' arm tightly in fear.

They take fighting positions and watch the forest with serious expressions. The orb is no longer visible in the sky.

It has taken form now.

Thundering footsteps, sounding like an army rushing through the forest, meet their ears.

And they wait.

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