**Author’s note-It is a rough draft of the very beginning of Warriors of Greecium. Hope you enjoy this little teaser!**
Cyrena’s heart thundered against her ribs. She hoped with every part of her being that she was blessed with the power of fire. She would be crushed if Ares didn’t bless this power onto her. All she ever wanted was to live up to her mother’s name and become the next Commander. To do that, she would need to be a Fire Warrior.
On either side of her stood Orion, her best friend. He seemed just as nervous as her. They both came from renowned Warrior families. So, if they Ares chose not to gift them fire, then they would be a disgrace to their family names. Typically, Warrior families always have at least one child that gains control over fire, but it has happened a few times throughout history when a family’s legacy dies out in the newest generation. This is not common, but it seemed to happen to more families in recent years.
The crowd of people around her, Orion, and the twenty other teens talked among themselves. All the wealthy families stood in front, most of them having one or two servants standing ready for anything they might need. Cyrena tried to ignore the dozens of people watching her and saying her name. She knew they all thought she should follow her mother, Rydia. That she would be the next Commander, and she would continue the glory of the Fire Warriors in Pyralis. Anxiety dug deep in her mind as she prayed to Ares to make her a Fire Warrior.
Finally, Elder Oxys made his way down the line of teens. He passed each of them a small glass bottle filled with a fiery red liquid. A few minutes later, the elder stood before the line of teens with his back turned to them.
He faced the crowd and announced, “The vials have been passed to the next generation of Fire warriors. Now we will see which ones are chosen by our mighty Ares.” His hands reached to the heavens, and he turned to face the teens. “Please sit, uncork the vials, and drink. Do not be afraid of the heat or the pain. Embrace it and listen to our god’s wise words.”
The crowd grew silent, and rhythmic drumbeats pulsed like a steady heartbeat. Quietly, singers began a song praising Ares and his passion for war. Cyrena, now sitting cross-legged, removed the cork from the small bottle. A lovely sweet scent tickled her nose. The smell came from the sugary nectar of the fire lilies found only on volcanoes after they’ve erupted. The flowers were a gift from Ares so the Fire Warriors could be born and remain connected to the heavens. Elder Oxys would grind the flowers into a paste and mix them into boiling water. He would steep the water with the mushrooms the Air Warriors find in their home country. The mushrooms allowed the Warriors to connect and see the gods. The Warriors needed to add something that represented their god to the mushroom broth to see their god.
Cyrena raised the bottle to her lips. She suppressed a flinch from the heat of the liquid as it poured into her mouth, burning her tongue and lips. Other kids groaned through pressed lips, trying hard to hide the pain. The world before Cyrena’s eyes brightened. It felt like the sun was shining directly in her eyes. The colors around her glared angrily as the world brightened. She tried to keep her eyes open as the silhouette of a person walking towards her emerged from the light. The light was almost too bright the closer the person came to her. Her eyes blinked shut for a second to escape the painful light, and when she opened them again, the world was black.
As her eyes adjusted, the world became clouded and grey. Everyone who had been around her had disappeared. The temple of Ares lay crumbled at her feet. Other buildings in the city had been destroyed, and dried blood coated the streets. Ghostly figures roamed aimlessly among the rubble, and cloaked figures stood around her.
Cyrena wasn’t sure what to make of the scene before her. She tried to call out to Orion and her mom, but her lips wouldn’t move. She tried to stand up, but a dark cloud burst between the cloaked figures and rushed at her. It forced her down, then solidified in front of her.
A woman like figure stood there cloaked in a black robe that seemed to melt into the world around her. Her face was covered in shadows from her hood, but she pulled the hood back. Cyrena looked at the woman in fear. The woman’s face was pale, her features sharp. Her eyes, though, drew Cyrena in. Her eyes were black and empty. The darkness of her eyes stretched up to her eyebrows and down to her cheekbones. Looking into the eyes felt like Cyrena’s heart was filled with ice so cold she couldn’t feel the rest of her body. She wanted the woman to take the awful cold away, and she was willing to die for the relief.
The woman’s rosy lips curled into a smile, somehow both kind and cruel. She kneeled to meet Cyrena’s eyes. Up close, the woman was fiercely beautiful. The woman reached a hand up from the ground. Cyrena wanted to move away from the frigid fingers, but she was paralyzed with fear. When the woman’s palm caressed her cheek, a deep pulse pounded in her chest. The woman seemed to feel it too, but when it happened to her her veins pulsed with inky black blood. With her other hand, the woman grabbed Cyrena’s hand and looked intensely at it. It shocked Cyrena to see the same inky black in the veins of her hand and wrist.
“You have the blood of a god in you,” the woman’s other hand follows one black vein on Cyrena’s wrist, “you earned the power of fire by blood right, but I cannot give it to you.” She meets Cyrena’s gaze. Her stare strikes Cyrena with an intensity so powerful, she can’t help but feel her blood race and something deep inside her come alive.
Who was this woman and why was Cyrena seeing her instead of Ares? She was supposed to see the god of the Fire Warriors, that’s what the fire lily drink was meant to do. What had gone wrong?
“You have many questions,” her sweet voice rippled through the air. “The answers you seek are around you, if you search for them.” Her hand rises to the silver necklace hanging around Cyrena’s neck. “Speak to the one who made the three silver jewelry pieces,” her black eyes meet Cyrena’s once more and something faintly familiar called to Cyrena, “and you will meet the father who will give you fire.”
With that, the woman stood up, lifted her hood back over her head, and vanished into the air. The only evidence of her being there was a lingering cloud of black smoke and the cloaked figures who disappeared a moment after the woman did.