Lightborn - Chapter 1

The second she was through, she snapped her fists shut, closing the portal. It cracked closed so close behind she could smell her burnt hair.

It was such a risk to run, but she hadn’t been left with any other options. Being taken from her home and delivered to the Brotherhood was her worst nightmare.

Anya had always tried to be careful with her Light, knowing that if the Brotherhood found out what she was capable of, they would use her power to abandon the world to darkness and decay.

She was what they had been looking for, and she was their ticket out. So when they locked her in that room, she threw caution to the wind and ran.

Opening a portal without preparation was dangerous. Anya used to jump through with such ease, but these days, she really had to focus. She knew she couldn’t wholly guarantee where she would end up, which would make getting back even more difficult. But it was worth the risk.

Anywhere away from the Brotherhood was safer right now.

She knew she would need to lie low for a little while and keep her Light under wraps to not to draw unwanted attention, but in her frantic state, there was no way to be sure of when or where she would land.

All she could hope was to get away and hide. Then she could focus and make it back to the safety of the Ludus. Mr. Parks would know what to do.

Looking around, she had no idea where she was. She thought she was going somewhere her parents took her as a child, yet nothing looked familiar. Surrounded by trees, she could just make out some lights in the distance and decided to run. But she’d taken no more than a dozen steps when she heard a familiar sound piercing the quiet.

Afraid to turn back, Anya froze in place as the Light burned into the night behind her. Daring a glance, her mouth dropped open at the sight of the orange sparks. It was cutting into the air exactly where her own portal had been.

But that wasn’t possible! Nobody could have traced her jump once her Light was out.

She’d purposely not jumped far to keep her Glimmer as small as possible.

And she was alone in the room! How did they even know she was gone?

With no time to think, she sprinted from the Light and towards the town. If she could just find a place to hide, maybe they wouldn’t find her. Maybe she could slip away somehow and put some distance between them that they couldn’t trace.

Behind her, the orange shimmer burned in the darkness, and a new portal opened in the same spot she’d come through. Brother Anwar stepped out slowly, looking around with a smile before following his prey toward the town.

As she ran, Anya tried to think of a plan. He was already hot on her heels and knew now what she could do. There was no way he would let her get away without a fight, but using her Light would draw too much attention if any other Lightborn were close by. They would come running at even the smallest spark, leaving her completely outnumbered.

But she was being chased by one of the Three, and her Light was all she had. If she could just catch him off guard, maybe she stood a fighting chance.

The town was getting closer, but Anya knew she wouldn’t make it in time. The trees were too thick, and Anwar was likely to attack any minute. She was recklessly considering another jump when suddenly the lights in the distance went out, and the earth moved beneath her feet.

Anya fell, slipping across the ground as everything shifted. Her mind seemed to move with it, leaving her dizzy and nauseated. When she looked up, the trees in front were noticeably shorter and thicker.

“Just stop,” his voice breathed from somewhere dangerously close. “You’re not escaping. You’re just wasting my time.”

Anya covered her ears and stopped running.

Was he that close or just in her head?

She squinted into the darkness and felt a wave of confidence radiate from within. As she lifted her arms, she let out a steady breath and extended her fingers. The streaks and sparks of her Light bounced in the air, illuminating the forest in a blue-purple haze.

They progressed through the surrounding trees until they hit Anwar, standing on a hill behind her, hands on his hips. When her Lightwave passed over, he seemed to stumble back.

“Nice trick, but I can do better.”

Before the last word was out of his mouth, a surge of fire flew from where he stood. Anya felt the heat before it reached her and had no choice but to protect herself.

With everything she had, she threw her hands around her body, feeling water and wind enveloping her like a blanket. When the flames hit, she heard the burst of heat hissing loudly around her.

Crouching low, Anya focussed on nothing but her protective shield. She wanted to look up and see if Anwar had moved but was afraid she would lose focus and burn.

“Stop!” She begged into the storm.

Her hair whipped around her face, and she couldn’t see beyond her own reach.

“Enough!” She yelled again, only this time, she stood and stretched her arms wide.

Everything stopped, rushing back from where she stood in a wild dance of water and flame, each trying to overpower the other. The trees and grass were left both scorched and wet.

Anya looked up, searching for Anwar, but he was gone. She flinched when he spoke again.

“I’m impressed, Anya. The Nightless, indeed. You have more Light than I thought.” His voice was a whisper in her ear, but she couldn’t see him.

“I’m not here to impress you. Just leave me alone.”

“You know that’s not going to happen. Not now. Not after that.”

He was at her side before she could react, his hands on her arms, pinning them to her side.

“So much Light. How?”

Anya turned her face and clenched her fist, but before she could do anything, Anwar raised a hand and struck her across the face. She fell to the ground at his feet, blurry-eyed and defeated.

“It’s over, Anya. Stop fighting.” Brother Anwar, one of the Three, crouched down and lifted her chin to see her face. He saw the rage in her eyes and chuckled.

“I won’t help you! Not ever!”

“You will. You’ll help us do whatever we ask of you. Because if you don’t, you and your family will burn with the rest of them.”