By the time I stepped outside, the leaves were on fire. I heard screams, but the echo was swallowed by the crackling of fire and screams. Horrified screams, but the source was unknown.
Fire was pouring out of me, immersing my entire body in flames. It quickly seared my thin clothing, burning the fabric with ease.
But it didn’t burn me. I didn’t even feel the warmth of the flames whose mission was to devour everything in sight.
The bright death-sentence transferred to the walls of the castle, eating them away, scorching them until fire and smoke was the only thing to see.
All I could do was watch in traumatism as the uncontrollable flame roared into a bonfire.
Every breath had me inhaling immense amounts of smoke, and my fuzzy surroundings blurred intensely. Everything was muddled, but my adrenaline made everything seem slightly sharper than I would think.
“I can’t stop it!” I shouted to the tortured soul who was likely doused in fire, my voice hoarse from terror and the ever-so-threatening smoke. The emotion seemed to feed the fire.
I tried running away, pivoting on my foot as I sprinted through the courtyard. I was trying to tame the flames, but the beast had a mind of its own. Parts of the raging blaze trailed with me, coating my body in a suit-like form, leaving a trail of smoke in my wake.
But the rest was unforgiving. An explosion from behind caught me off guard, sent me back at least a hundred feet. I landed on my back, pain shooting through it, worsening my dilemma. The anonymous screeching continued as I searched for the source.
Although my condition did all it could to keep me from interpreting my surroundings, I could still catch a glimpse of the victim.
It was a young girl, drowned in a blanket of fire, shouting for help as the flames licked her gorgeous dress, her terrified eyes a beautiful purple - the sign of a high social status. She was a Royal.
I tried to rescue her, but smoke erupted from the ground, stronger than ever.
I crashed into the metal gates, the force knocking the wind out of me. Black started spotting my vision as I slumped onto the searing hot floor. And as the darkness swallowed me, I experienced a peaceful silence, but it also meant something greater.
The screaming had ceased.
My vision was blurred as I awoke to a dimly lit stone room. There were candles dotted on the wall, wax dripping from their crowns. I was in a metal bed, with a fluffy blue blanket draped over me - one that I could never afford.
I heard footsteps clicking against the brick floor and I squeezed my eyes tight instinctively. I perceived a woman’s cold voice echo off of the walls, as muffled as it was, I was able to make out a few sentences. “She can’t be a Rare, she’s a Rag!” and “I refuse to believe it!” I winced. Was she talking about me? I didn’t do anything, that fire was just a dream! Right? It would explain why I couldn’t feel anything. Yes, of course, it was a dream. I opened my eyes to witness the door creaking open.
Two women walked in, and the first was easily the most beautiful person I had seen. The woman had almond skin without a freckle in sight and toffee colored hair swirling into a slick bun resting on her head. Her kohl rimmed blue eyes - the sign of a Rich - were narrowed and looked frustrated. Her red lips were twisted into an exaggerated frown. She had brown eyebrows raised as if inspecting me like I was a piece of sculpture. As for her outfit, I could tell that she was a Rich even without peering into her eyes. Her fuschia dress was dripping with golden adornments. Her fingers and neck were coated in expensive jewels, and perched on her head was a golden barrette. She might have been stunning, but she also looked - cruel.
The second woman was in all white. Her eyes were brown - she was a Rag, and she appeared to be a healer.
“Who are you?” The first woman asked coldly.
“I’d like to ask you the same thing.” I retorted, but my hoarse voice did nothing to help my comeback.
She huffed, then replied haughtily, “I am Laiba, and talk to me like that again and you’ll regret it. Now please be so kind to inform me who you are.”
I wasn’t intimidated by her remarks. I rolled my eyes, and took a deep breath before saying, “I’m Avani.”
The second woman coughed, and whispered something into Laiba’s ear while staring at me.
Laiba nodded, and then proceeded to pull my soft covers back, revealing my now cold torso and legs, framed in a white nightdress.
“Come with me, Avani.” She commanded. I reluctantly obeyed, placing my feet on the frigid stone flooring. She opened the creaking door, revealing a long, dark corridor, illuminated with candles.
“And you. Tend to the sheets.” She instructed the second woman. She nodded furiously, and then scrambled towards the bed.
Laiba turned on her heel, and strutted out of the dungeon-like room, beckoning me to follow. We walked through the long corridor, and I cautiously looked around, nervous that something would stealthily snatch me and immerse me in shadows. If I did die, I don’t think Laiba would care. After walking in silence for what seemed like hours, I nearly tripped over a staircase placed right in front of me. I was staring at the floor and I didn’t see Laiba ascend, so the staircase wanted revenge for my inattentiveness. I climbed the staircase, my legs burning, and when I finally reached the top, I was greeting with beams of sunlight shining through the windows down the bright hall. There were doors everywhere, and only one was opened, it was the farthest from my position. Laiba took the lead, and started walking to the end of the corridor, and placed there was yet another staircase, but going downwards instead. I abruptly tried to keep her pace, scrambling to stay with her. As I passed the door, I peered into it. I saw an old woman conversing with a little girl about 7 years of age- who looked familiar, but I couldn’t quite place it.
“Now tell me what you’ve learned, darling.” The lady looked down at the girl with caring eyes.
“Rags are the lowest social status. They have barely anything. Regulars have enough money to get by, right?” The old lady nodded in approval, and the girl continued. “Riches have a lot of money and jewels. Royals are heirs to the throne of this kingdom, Ragar. And lastly, the Rares are very uncommon. And they are rumored to have special abilities. Did I get them all right?”
The woman nodded, and said, “Did you know the color of your eyes determine what you are? Brown eyes are Rags. Regulars are green. Riches have blue eyes. Royals are purple, and Rares are rumored to have-” That’s when the nostalgia hit me like a cannon, blocking off all sound. The girl was… the one in the fire. The one who was dying. How is she still alive? I pondered to myself, before suddenly getting interrupted by a sharp bark.
“Avani! Move!” Laiba shouted at me. I jumped, and then took large strides to meet her at the edge of the staircase. It swirled around a column, decorated with tapestries of all sorts. I decided to focus on those rather than my current dilemma. Once we reached the bottom of the spiraling staircase, we were greeted by a large wooden door adorned with a sturdy brass knob. Laiba grasped the knob in her right hand, and turned the door, which opened with a groan.
I entered the massive room and my jaw nearly dropped to the floor. The room had large glass stained glass art placed strategically on the wall so that at this exact time of day, it would shine onto the magnificent golden throne with velvet purple seats - the centerpiece of the room. Guards were planted at the very edge of the purple carpet leading up to the seat.
Sitting on the throne was queen Victoria, with understanding lilac eyes, golden locks, and a flowing purple dress. I felt like the rag I was in front of her.
“Ah, yes, our visitor.” she said in a clear, flowing voice. “Avery, was it?”
“Avani.” I muttered, earning a look of disapproval from Laiba, who had likely never heard etiquette that wasn’t as perfect as she was.
“Well, Avani, you seem to be different from your kind. Let me take a look at you.” She murmured. Laiba shoved me towards the queen, causing me to nearly stumble onto my face. I took a few steps toward the queen until I reached the throne. I produce an overdramatic bow before standing right by the queen. She inspects me carefully, before proclaiming the twenty words that would change my life forever. “Darling, your eyes actually have a little green, which means they are hazel. You’re not a Rag, you’re a Rare.”