The day I met Isaz and Hale was the same day my life had changed. After our encounter with the officers, Isaz led us to a secluded village between East and North Black. It still felt strange after he said he was my grandfather. The last time I saw him was when I was three and I couldn’t really remember his face. Dad said he went to the Black Division after he passed the authority to my father. Dad . . . Two years had already passed yet I could still vividly remember how they were killed by Pierre. I still had nightmares about them and the pain continued to linger in my heart, yet I couldn’t shed tears anymore. It was a long and excruciating walk, as we avoid officers and allies of Flame Spectre, but I let out a gasp when he said we had arrived. I furrowed my brows upon looking at our view—there was nothing besides barren land. “Where is the village you are talking about?” I asked but he just smirked in return. “It’s right there,” he retorted. “Huh? Are you ma—!” “Whoa,” the boy mouthed in awe. And then suddenly, the air became distorted. The barren land transformed into a gate fortress and two people appeared in front of us. “Sir Isaz,” they greeted. “H-how . . .” “Mirage,” Isaz noted as he continued walking. The boy and I hurriedly followed him, as staying with those guards might not be a good choice. “Mirage?” “Those with Wind attributes could manipulate the air around, creating some superior mirages,” he chuckled. “Nandito na tayo.” Wind attributes? I sidestepped to see what he was talking about and my mouth hanged open when the village came into my view. The upper half of the walls surrounding the village had crumbled, but they could still conceal what was inside. There were old barracks on the left side and an open space which seemed like a training ground on the right. But what caught my attention was the old manor in the middle. There were five flags hanging on the manor, fluttering in the wind, and my heart sank when I saw our family emblem in the middle. “This is now our starting point,” Isaz remarked as he stared at the flags. Several people went out of the barracks and two elders who came from the manor greeted us. “Isaz. Is she . . .” the old woman said as she looked at me. His lips curved upward. “Winter Alveria,” he introduced while holding my shoulders. “The new chief of the rebellion.” I turned around, confused and surprised by his words. There was suddenly a crowd around us, whispering about what he had said. “W-what the heck are you talking about? I’m not—” “Yes. You are not yet ready,” he said. “But you have to. As the successor of your father, and the inheritor of the strongest Ice attribute, you are destined to command our tribe.” “O-our tribe?” Instead of replying, he just smiled at me. His expression hardened a second later and he faced the crowd. “Huntres!” he bellowed. Chills began creeping through my body as I watched their eyes changed into different colors: brown, purple and crystal-blue. Among them, I could tell that the two elders besides Isaz were strong, as well as the man standing behind them. “The will of Yllka and Ivankov will live on. The Alveria family is still here.” He looked at me and I suddenly felt too intimidated. “Winter Alveria, the heir of Ark Alveria, descendants of Yllka and Ivankov, we pledge our loyalty to you.” “Hail!” they yelled in unison. Their intensity overwhelmed me and my knees almost buckled. This was not what I had expected. After years of living alone and pathetically, I was suddenly a leader of hundreds of people. And I didn’t deserve to lead them, at all. *** I couldn’t sleep last night. Isaz led me to a room in the manor and gave me a book about our history. It was written in strange symbols and I had to decode everything for hours. To be honest, I already had an idea about the content after what I had witnessed for the past several years but I started reading it. Despite the power I had and the things I had seen in the White Division, I was still shocked upon learning about our ancestry. Apparently, we are part of a race called Erityian and it is divided into four tribes: the Senshin, Shinigami, Huntres and Custos. Those who possess elemental powers are part of the Huntres tribe, and the Alveria family has been the ruler of the tribe since our ancestors’ time. Isaz said the history and the truth about our powers would be passed down to children either when they reached twelve or when they manifested a bit of their attribute. Reading the books in this room explained a lot of unanswered questions. I stared at my hand as ice crystals forming at the tip of my fingers. I remembered the time when my attribute first manifested. It was when Krystal and I got separated. My mind was overwhelmed with rage that I froze everything on my path. Krystal . . . I knew she was alive. That kid wasn’t weak and I’m sure, after everything she went through, she must have triggered her powers, too. “I hope you’re safe,” I mumbled. “Please, just be safe.” A loud knock dispelled my thoughts into thin air and Isaz entered my room. “Ayos ka na ba?” he asked in a gentle tone. Despite being my grandfather, I still couldn’t bring myself to call him one. In addition, he told me to address him by his name because of my position. “Honestly, no,” I answered. “I’m still bewildered. I don’t know what to do. I’m not even sure if I really deserve to be here. And . . .” “And?” “And I have to find my sister.” “With how things are going on right now, that would be difficult,” he said. “But I promise, we will find her.” After that, he told me the Division leaders wanted results within three months. I was about to ask him but I suddenly felt a chill. The next thing I knew, a long and sharp icicle was already impaled on the wall behind me. “They want to see if you are strong enough to carry the weight of our family name.” “W-wha . . .” “Starting tomorrow, Riyo, Hilda and I will personally train you,” he stated. “Magpahinga ka ngayong araw para handa ang katawan mo kinabukasan.” He left after saying those words, that sounded like a threat, and left me dumbfounded. I was silent for a few minutes. After I lost everything, all I wanted was revenge. But reality showed me it was futile. I was powerless against them. So I decided to find Krystal, but that, too, was difficult because of the close monitoring of the officials from the White Division. Maybe, with the guidance of Isaz, and with the power of this army . . . maybe I could fulfill both. *** “Stand up! Is that your limit?!” I felt like my bones and muscles were slowly breaking and tearing. The kids, including the boy who came with me, had already fainted after training with Riyo and Hilda, the heads of the Water and Earth Divisions. I yelled as I stood up, my hands and feet bound by weight bands, and walked toward his direction. It was grueling to carry 40 kilograms while trying to tag someone who wasn’t wearing any bands. My body was already at its limits but my mind wasn’t even close on giving up. ‘Damn it all. I’m not giving up. I’m not weak,’ I thought and I halted when I heard someone inside my head. ‘Oh. So you can already use your inner voice. Impressive.’ Isaz was looking at me, a subtle smile escaped from his lips. ‘Your will is strong, but your body has to keep up.’ The next thing I knew, I was already up in the air, but the weight bands pulled me back to the ground. I saw orbs circling around me upon the impact and I felt like my ribs had been shattered. ‘You’ve lasted for four hours. That’s quite a feat given you’re still young. But as an Alveria, you need to do better. Now, sleep and recover.’ As if on cue, my eyelids became heavy and that night, instead of the usual nightmare, I dreamed about Krystal.