Morning seemed to have crept up on Yanira as she awoke from inside the temple. Yanira immediately changed into her priestess robes and then bowed before the statue of the braided man.
“Please bless this kingdom.”
Yanira bowed one more time and then ran out of the temple, while typing her hair up into a ponytail. She ran through the forest like area before finally reaching the door leading to the inside of the castle.
The moment Yanira entered, she was surprised to see two guards standing before her.
The guards didn’t even bother to bow as one of them said, “We were just about to retrieve you, Lady Nira.” Yanira bowed before them saying her thanks and then followed them. She was led all the way to the place she recognized as the throne room. She immediately took notice of Damario, but she also took notice of a girl standing near him.
Yanira had never seen this girl. This girl looked to be around her teens. She had long black hair let loose and her eyes were golden just like Yanira’s. She wore a bell like sky blue dress draped with silver bells on the skirt. Yanira’s first impression was that this teenage girl was a beauty for the eyes.
“Pretty,” Yanira muttered, but flinched when the girl suddenly asked, “Is this the girl that claims to be the new priestess?”
“I am the new priestess,” stated Yanira and bowed slightly adding, “My name is Nira.”
“Nira, such a pathetic name.”
“I find the name given to me quite lovely. I would love to hear your name, my Lady.”
The girl smirked pushing a strand of her black hair behind her ear.
“My name is Christine Balder, the rightful priestess of this kingdom.”
Yanira remembered the name Christine: the one who would become priestess if Yanira failed to gain recognition.
“Lady Christine, I was given the title of priestess by the previous priestess of this kingdom.”
Damario suddenly stood up from his throne looking at Yanira and Christine with a serious look.
“Ladies, you must understand that the people need to recognize you as the new priestess, so before claiming the title of priestess, you must prove yourselves before the masses.”
Christine and Yanira were silent before nodding. Damario led them out of the throne room and then to the outside where a carriage was waiting.
“Get on,” instructed Damario. Christine climbed on first followed by Damario and Yanira. There were two seats available, so Damario decided to have Yanira and Christine sit next to each other, while he sat across from them. Damario ordered the driver to move the moment the carriage door was shut.
As the carriage rolled along, it became obvious that Christine loathed being near Yanira, but Yanira showed no discomfort as she glanced through the crack of the curtain of the carriage window. Damario glanced at Yanira and asked, “What are you looking at?”
“The trees, sky, the land…all that is outside of the castle.”
“I see, this is your first time being off the castle grounds.”
Yanira nodded and then glanced at Damario asking, “So where are we heading to meet the people?”
Damario crossed his arms saying, “We will be meeting them in the farming grounds.”
“The farming grounds?”
“That’s where the people gather during the day before most head to open the market stands at the main square.”
Yanira nodded and began to wonder if her companions would be hidden among the people. She hoped that there would be a way to contact them if they were within the crowd.
Yanira’s gaze suddenly landed on the bracelet on her wrist. She lifted up her hand showing the bracelet to Damario.
“If I am to prove myself to the people then I need my power as a priestess, so please remove this, your majesty.”
Damario nodded and slipped the bracelet off her wrist as if it were soft as butter.
“If you fail, the bracelet will be placed on you again,” stated Damario. Yanira nodded as she rubbed her freed wrist. As she did so, she felt a slight prick on her left arm making her cringe. She glanced at Christine and asked, “Did you poke me, Lady Christine?”
“I have no idea what you are talking about,” stated Christine with a sneer. Yanira slightly frowned rubbing her arm wondering what Christine pricked her with.
The carriage suddenly slid to a stop and they began to hear the chatter of people from the outside. Damario looked at Christine and Yanira and ordered them to stay still as he stepped out from the carriage. Yanira and Christine could hear the applauding of the people followed by Damario’s voice.
“My people, I appear before you to ask for your help in recognizing who the true priestess of this kingdom should be.”
“Lady Christine should be priestess.”
“She is the fairest and the most qualified to be priestess.”
Yanira could hear the support the people were giving to Christine and she didn’t fail to notice the condescending smirk on Christine’s face.
“See, the people already recognize me as the true priestess, so step down you bloody commoner.”
“I refuse,” stated Yanira with puffed cheeks and peeked out of the carriage. She saw the crowd of people that Damario stood before and gulped in nervousness.
I can do this…I know I can.
“I know most of you want Lady Christine to be priestess, but lay eyes on the girl who claims that she was chosen by Priestess Sapphire first before you make your judgment.”
Damario headed back to the carriage and opened the door ordering Christine and Yanira to step out. Christine stepped out first and then Yanira slipped out blocking the sunlight from her eyes. The moment her feet touched the ground, she removed her hand from her eyes and stared at the crowd of people.
All fell silent as all eyes fell on Yanira. Yanira felt nervous, but she just held her hands together and bowed before the people saying, “I am pleased to see you all. My name is Nira.”
Silent still filled the air, until a small girl no older than six said, “Lady Candace has returned.” The moment those words left the girl’s mouth, all the people began to speak all at once.
“That girl has the same red hair as Lady Candace.”
“Is she the new flame Anyion?”
Yanira stood there wide eyed, until she remembered Candace, the Anyion of the spirit of the flame, shared the same hair color as her. Yanira was about to clear up the misunderstanding, but Damario stood before the people saying, “She is not the flame Anyion. She is a foreigner.”
Everything grew silent once again, but Yanira caught the look of discontent of the people. It made her wonder if being a foreigner was such a crime to these people.
“I know it is strange to have an outsider become our priestess, but please see how she will prove herself before you judge.”
Damario held his hand toward Yanira and Christine saying, “Now let them prove who deserves to be priestess.” The people applauded, while some still chanted Christine’s name.
Christine volunteered to go first as she walked briskly before the crowd.
“I, Christine Balder, will now demonstrate my power as a future priestess of this kingdom.”
Christine pressed her hands together and then pushed them forward. A great pressure rushed toward the people, but then a light emitted from the fields closes to Christine. The fields began to sprout leaves of green. It was as if the Goddess of Spring had arrived just to bless their field. The people exclaimed in excitement as the harvest sprouted waiting to be picked. The chanting of Christine’s name grew louder. Christine tossed her hair black hair over her shoulder with a bright smile, but sneer as she looked at Yanira.
“Try to beat that, you faker.”
Yanira frowned as Christine returned to her. Yanira already felt that this girl was unlikable, but the people seemed to support Christine like she was a princess. Yanira shook her head and stepped forward. All fell silent as eyes of disdain fell on her. Yanira had never felt so much hate directed toward her, but Yanira took a few deep breaths, before taking another step forward.
Yanira moved her right hand as if she were pushing back something and then did the same with her left hand. All was still silent, until the flame torches began to flicker making some of the people jolt in surprise. Yanira began to spin around with her arms outstretched and the flames on the torches suddenly exploded making the people scream in panic.
“Lady Nira, what are you doing?” yelled out Damario as he attempted to approach her, but flames suddenly surrounded Yanira forcing Damario to step back and shield his eyes. It was like an inferno had invaded. The people began to scatter, but the flames suddenly surrounded the fields preventing any escape.
“She’s trying to kill us all!”
The panicked voices even made Damario’s heart race. Was Lady Nira trying to kill him for imprisoning? Was she taking out her hate at the people? These types of questions raced through his mind. As the flames grew higher, he thought the end was near. Suddenly the flames covered the entirety of the fields and the people including Damario and Christine.
Damario and all the people expected to feel the heat of the flames, but surprisingly felt nothing. They looked all around as the flames danced all around them like the waves of water. At closer inspection, Damario realized that the flames were light blue with a trace of gold in it.
“What is this?” Damario muttered and then looked back at Yanira. Yanira was still spinning, but then he heard her mutter, “Agnika Akailondu No Kayishu Fibimi Sino.” The flames erupted once again, but instead of feeling heat, the feeling of something soft surrounded the people. It was like they were in a warm spring.
A man within the crowd showed his large arm that had a long scar, but the scar was beginning to vanish. Not only that, but the people began to notice that the crops were beginning to blossom and some crops that were about to die seemed to be healthy once again. All the fatigue the people felt was beginning to melt away.
Yanira soon stopped spinning and pushed her hand up making the flames rise above into the sky. The sky lit up in a golden light before returning to its original color. All was silent as they stared up at the sky and then their eyes fell on Yanira, who still stood before them with her hand above her head with her eyes closed. Yanira opened her eyes as she lowered her hand and then bowed before the people.
“May the kingdom of Rheolis prosper.”
After another moment of silence, one person began to clap followed by many along with cheers. The people that once chanted Christine’s name began to chant “Lady Nira” till it covered the crowd.
As the people cheered, Christine clenched her hand with anger clearly in her face. At that moment she wanted to murder Yanira for humiliating her before the people.
On the other hand, Damario approached Yanira and asked, “What spell did you use?”
“It was a spell I just learned yesterday from one of the books in the temple. It is called the Flames of Healing Spring. Flames are usually for destruction, but I learned from the books here that certain flames can be used for healing, but only through the use of a priestess. The flames of healing spring require the Priestess to purify the air first and then spread the flames, while chanting the spell that would create the flames for healing. I thought it would be appropriate for this occasion considering that this is the kingdom where flames are worshipped.”
Damario stared at Yanira wide eyed. He had never heard of this spell and he knows that Priestess Sapphire never used this spell. With this type of power, the fields of the kingdom would always flourish. Damario felt elated that this type of spell existed, but Yanira suddenly cringed making him look at her.
“It was my first time using the spell, so I had no idea that it would drain me so much.”
“Are you hurt?”
Yanira stepped away from Damario and stood next to Christine, who was still shaking in anger. Damario glanced at Yanira, before facing the crowd again and asked, “My people, who do you believe deserves to be the priestess?”
The answer was clear as all began to chant, “Lady Nira” repeatedly. The choice was made as Damario smiled and announced Yanira as the new priestess of the kingdom of Rheolis. Yanira smiled as she was led to stand next to Damario. Yanira looked at all the happy faces, noticing that even the soldiers that looked at her in suspicion before including Molech, were now facing her with admiration. Yanira felt like her heart would burst with happiness.
Yanira did a small wave in gratitude, but fell still when she noticed a familiar figure hidden in the crowd. He wore a hood, but she could never forget the face of the red eyed Anyion: Farkas.
Yanira was about to run to him, but she saw him shake his head and place a finger to his lips. It was clear to Yanira that Farkas wanted to remain hidden, so Yanira kept her ground and just waved toward him with a smile. Farkas nodded back before vanishing within the cheering crowd.
Yanira felt a sense of lost as she stared in the direction Farkas was in before, but was made to turn away when Damario placed a hand on her shoulder and ordered her to enter the carriage. Yanira did as told glancing over her shoulder hoping to catch another glance of Farkas.
Damario boarded the carriage too, but when Christine attempted to get on, Damario glanced at her saying, “Your father offered to drive you back when the choice was made. Thank you for your time.” With those words, Damario shut the carriage door and allowed the driver to drive off.
Christine was frozen stiff and then began to tremble. She felt so humiliated. She was about to be led off by Charnak, who was standing by, to a separate carriage, but she turned around in a haste trying to punch Charnak to vent her anger, but to her surprise a great force stopped her fist and pushed her back making her fall on her bottom.
“Are you OK, Lady Christine?” asked Charnak as he tried to help her up, but Christine only avoided his touch as she got up and then entered the carriage slamming the door behind her.
Charnak stared at the closed door of the carriage in puzzlement wondering why Christine had stopped in her attack and fallen down instead. At that moment, he remembered the stone that Yanira had lent to him. He pulled the stone form his pocket and saw it give off a small light befre returning to its normal form. Charnak slightly smiled, amazed that the stone that he had planned to toss had protected him from harm. He was about to toss it into the crowd thinking it had already completed its duty, but paused and stuffed it back into his pocket.
Just a little while longer.
Christine, on the other hand, was trembling in the carriage as her father, Salome, looked on.
“Christine, I’m sorry you weren’t selected, but the people have made their choice.”
Christine glared at her father yelling, “Their choice? You told me that their choice was made even before this. You told me that they were determined to have me priestess and you even paid some of them to have their vote, so why was their decision changed? Why did they choose that stranger?”
“…I’m sorry, but even I felt that she was the true priestess after seeing that display.”
“SO EVEN YOU ARE AGAINST ME FATHER?”
“I feel that your talents lie elsewhere…as queen of this kingdom.”
Christine’s eyes widened as she said, “Queen? Is that true father?”
Salome nodded adding, “The plan was for you to become priestess to get his majesty’s attention and then become queen, but I see no problem in skipping a step to become queen.”
“Is that even possible?”
“His majesty still doesn’t have a queen, so having you take that role will be good for this kingdom.”
Christine’s anger seemed to melt away as a smile crept onto her face. She suddenly felt that being priestess didn’t matter anymore. Being queen was the best role for her.
Meanwhile, in the carriage heading back to the castle, Damario and Yanira sat in silence. Damario attempted to strike up a conversation with Yanira, but Yanira remained silent as she continued to stare out the window of the carriage. He didn’t know why, but Yanira looked like she was waiting for something ever since they left the fields.
“Lady Nira?” Damario asked in an attempt to have her speak, “Is there something wrong?” Yanira finally faced him with a small smile saying, “I’m fine, just a little tired.” Even though Yanira was smiling, Damario noticed that she still looked forlorn. He felt that Yanira was saddened by something, but as for the cause, he could think of nothing.
Yanira turned away from him, but as she did she suddenly became dizzy and fainted on the spot. Damario gasped grabbing hold of her unconscious form.
“Lady Nira, can you hear me?”
Yanira didn’t answer as sweat began to pour down her face. Damario ordered the driver to get to the castle faster as he cradled Yanira in his arms. As the carriage moved faster, he suddenly noticed the purple bruise forming on her arm. He recognized this all too well: a sign of poisoning.