Chapter 0:


Children of Cinders

“The night is always a time for rest. A time of reprieve from the hardships of the day. Families would spend their nights eating dinner, friends playing about, girls talking the night away. There’s always something to do before you close your eyes. But pray tell, what happens to those whose eyes are shut permanently?”

Amidst the fireplace, a man was bound on the floor, his head bleeding from a cut and his mouth gagged. He was surprised to find a boy sitting by the hearth, a stack of papers was towering as tall as the stool that held a glass filled with clear liquid. The dim flame was enough to cover his features, all that remained was a gaze from his dark orange eyes.

"Fire is your fate, yet water can be a poison. Steel can be your limbs, and the air can be your shackles."

The man shuddered at the boy reciting strange things as he tried to pry his bound hands free. The grip of fear was evident to his eyes, his breathing was rapid, his eyes scanned every nook and cranny of the room where he was detained. In a matter of minutes, the boy undid the gag and he let out a disgruntled gasp of air.

“You feckless, insolent brat! Do you know who I am?!” The man shouted. But the boy’s expression remained stoic. “My men will find you and dispose of you!”

“You mean Jack, Lou, and Luiz? They won’t be walking anytime soon I’m afraid… Or talk. Or eat.” The boy said as he sits down and topples a stack of files in front of the man. The man looks at them and his fears escalated.

"Remember the children you took in? Remember the hope that lit up in their eyes?" The boy asked. “You promised a home, but what you gave was far from it. You sold them away as soon as you gained the donations from charity.”

“Y-you have no proof of this!” The man said, he was trying to inch away but he finally noticed it. His limbs were shackled by a cloth like binding, everytime he struggled, the binds tighten ever so often.

“Proof? Do you think I need proof? Or the better question is, do you think I will make you walk away from here alive?” The boy said as he motioned his left hand and the bindings began to light up from the end. “Ulysses Ercen, you emaciated and sold off children for their body parts to underground doctors, sold them to slavery, and embezzle the public off of their money; your crimes are too severe for a correctional facility or exile. May the embers of sin purify you.”

When the man hears that phrase, his eyes showed recognition and tried to talk but the boy snapped his fingers and dark red flames engulfed the man, his screams pierced the silent mansion. Bodies of guards and mercenaries lay on the floor. But no child nor servant were harmed.

He walked towards the mansion’s main foyer, and he looked back at the grand portrait of him and his ‘children’. The smile in their eyes, the hope that was engulfed the by the cold shackles of greed and lies. The boy then turns his back, but not before saying thus:

“Rest in peace; fratelli, sorelle. May the spark guide your souls.” The boy said as he also engulfs the mansion in flames, leaving nothing but ash and soot in his wake.

He arrived in a different mansion this time when the morn came. He was home at last. To the outside, it was an orphanage. But for the Children living there. It was the Garden of Cinders.

Someone was there to greet him, a tall man with black hair, he was smiling, but it had no emotion. The man towered over him, and his cane was supporting him, his half open magenta eyes scanned the boy of any injuries or mishaps.

The man was Padrino. To the boy he was his superior, his savior, his guardian. His “Godfather”.

May the everflame mask our plight.” The boy said as he asks for the man’s hand and he places it on his forehead as if asking for a blessing.

“May the hearth burn eternally, mi fillio.” The man said and pets the boy’s head. “I trust you dispatched the target?”

“Ulysses is no more. He will no longer supply Egerno the body parts he needs for the reanimation cycles. As for the patients I have found in the cellar. I had Firefly take them to Locust for examinations.” The boy made his report and the man gripped him cane firmly.

“Egerno is not our primary target mi fillio. No, this stems far greater, outside Calesto. Rest fillio, you have done an admirable job. I shall call upon you when the time comes for your new assignment. Retire for the Night... My moth.” Padrino said and dismisses the boy.

The boy made it his way to the boy’s dorms, everyone was sound asleep. Children ranging from 4 to 9 made it their home, for him, who has lived in this place for 10 years, he was the eldest. And to the children here, he was their dependable “Fratello”.

“Moth?” A kid, who looked six, groggily wakes up from the sound of his footsteps.

“Did I wake you Caterpillar? Sorry, I should’ve been more careful.” Moth said. "Get some more sleep."

"Did you get the bad guys?" Caterpillar asked and Moth gave a smile and he tucks Caterpillar in. He waited until he fell asleep and he walked towards his private quarters.

To be someone who has a different name than a Larva, you have to commit your life for the Garden. That's why he became Moth. The boy removed his night uniform and revealed countless scars and wounds. By his mirror, he saw his figure. Dark Orange eyes that burn like cinders, ash brown hair like burnt up coal, and a somber and sad expression. Even though he was only ten, countless lives were taken by his hands.

He looked at the door that leads towards the room of the others of the Garden.

"Live. Live and survive Caterpillar. And maybe someday... If you join the ranks. Allow me to preside over your kindling."

With a sigh of resignation, Moth lay on his bed. Wondering if his nights will forever be plagued by death and smoke.