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Her Elemental Dragons: Light the Fire: Chapter 4

Blane scooped up his fireworks while the rest of us rushed across the sand back toward Sparkport. Another earthquake swept through the land, this one so strong it made me stumble into Derel, who caught my arm to steady me. Fear made me scramble back up again, along with worry for my family. That rumble had been so loud and there was so much smoke rising into the sky, it made me nervous the volcano could erupt at any moment.

As we entered the village the crowd was screaming and running about, the mood changed from festive to chaotic. The music had stopped, the stage where the dancers had been was on fire, and worst of all, a crack had formed down the middle of the town square. Not large enough to truly injure anyone, but not a good sign either.

Derel kept his arm around me as people shoved and pushed against us in their frenzy, but we lost the other men in the crowd. He didn’t let go until we found our family’s stalls, where my mother threw her arms around me.

“Calla! I was so worried.”

“I’m okay.” I gave her a squeeze, and then hugged Krea next.

“Thank you, Derel,” Mom said. Now she’d never let up on us getting married. He gave us both a nod, before moving to speak with his own parents at their stall. Mom turned back to me. “Have you seen Loka?”

“She’s not here?” I glanced quickly through the crowd, but then remembered seeing her at the docks with that girl. “I think I know where she is. I’ll get her quickly.”

Mom grasped my hands tightly. “Please be careful, and head back to the house as soon as you find her.”

“I will.”

I slipped back through the crowd, which was quickly dispersing as people ran to their homes or found shelter in case the volcano began raining lava, rocks, or ash from the sky. We’d all heard tales of when the Fire God was displeased with his subjects and had nearly destroyed the entire Realm with his wrath, and how it wasn’t just the lava that had taken so many lives but the poisonous smoke and the fiery rocks that descended on the land. We were close enough to the volcano that if it did erupt and the lava flowed in our direction we could lose all our homes—and possibly our lives.

Long ago, the five Gods had created this world, and each one represented the elements of earth, air, fire, water, and spirit. The Spirit Goddess was their leader, and took the other four Gods as her mates. Later they created the five Dragons to act as their representatives in the world, and then the Gods vanished. Now the five Dragons—Black, Crimson, Azure, Jade, and Golden—ruled over the different Realms and its people, but many people believed the Gods would one day return. I’d never thought it would happen in my lifetime, but now I was starting to change my mind.

I ran back toward the dock, but when I arrived I didn’t see a single soul, only the fishing boats tied to the wooden pier. “Loka?” I called out. “Are you here?”

When I couldn’t find her I headed down the beach in the opposite direction from where Blane had hidden the fireworks, hoping Loka and her girlfriend might be scared and hiding somewhere. I continued around the bend, calling her name, climbing onto the large rocks where she’d liked to play where we were kids. But I didn’t see her anywhere.

She must have gone back to the town. I probably just missed her. Or so I hoped.

As I turned around to head back to Sparkport, I felt a blast of heat and smoke. I blinked it away and came face to face with a giant made of fire, who’d suddenly materialized in front of me.

I screamed and scrambled back, slipping on the wet rocks and falling on my behind with a sharp jolt. I couldn’t get away fast enough, my fear causing me to stumble over the rocks and back onto the sand in a mad dash to escape the fiery thing in front of me.

At first I thought it was an elemental, but the one Roth and I had encountered looked like an upside-down teardrop made of swirling water, with arms and glowing eyes. But this was different—it clearly was male, at least in shape, but made entirely of flame and as tall as a house.

And it was coming right for me.

“Calla of the Fire Realm,” a voice bellowed out of his burning mouth. He took another step toward me, his flaming feet turning the black sand to glass. “Are you willing to serve your God?”

I froze, panic making my throat clench up, as it slowly dawned on me who was standing before me. The Fire God.

Could it really be him? No one had seen or heard from the Gods in centuries. They were myths and legends, the Fire Temple had been abandoned years ago, and even though I prayed to the Fire God like a good daughter, I could hardly believe he was standing in front of me.

As the shock wore off I considered running and screaming for help, but then he let out a roar. A circle of fire burst up around us, blocking out the rest of the world. Heat coated my skin and terror consumed me, along with sheer awe. Was he going to strike me down?

The blazing eyes seemed to look deep into my soul as he spoke. “You asked for clarity. You wanted a path. You prayed for my guidance. Do you refuse it now?”

Somehow he knew what I’d written and thrown in the brazier. It truly was him. I dropped to my knees, my gown pressing into the sand, and bowed my head at the Fire God. As the terror faded away, I finally found my voice. “What must I do?”

“You will come to the Fire Temple and serve me as High Priestess. Bring four men to serve as your priests and your mates. Once you arrive, I will give you further instructions. Do you accept my offer?”

“I…” My voice trailed off as his words sunk in. I’d asked for a sign as to what my place in the world would be, but I’d never expected this. He was asking me to give up my entire life and walk away from everything I knew to live in the Fire Temple on top of the volcano and serve as his priestess. It was impossible to consider, but he was a God—could I even refuse? Would he strike me down if I did?

And why me? My mother was much more devout than I was. There were many days when I hadn’t believed the Gods existed at all, or if I did, I’d cursed them. I had no idea what being his High Priestess even meant. Not to mention, he wanted me to bring four men with me and take them as my mates. I certainly knew the four I’d want, but I couldn’t ask them to give up their entire lives for me.

Yet as the shock wore off, a sense of purpose and wonder filled me, like nothing I’d ever known before. I would serve one of the Gods—there was no higher calling than that, especially if they were awakening after all this time. But how would I ever convince the others to go with me? Derel would never leave behind his family’s business, Blane was definitely not priest material, and Roth could barely spend a moment alone with me anymore. The only one who might do it out of loyalty was Falon, but I had a hard time seeing him going anywhere without Derel.

“Why four men?” I managed to ask.

“The Spirit Goddess has four mates. The Black Dragon has four mates. My High Priestess must also have four.”

I supposed that made sense and, if I was honest, the idea of being with all four men excited me, assuming they would ever agree to it. But they would never consider leaving as long as Sparkport was in danger, and neither would I. “What of the volcano? I can’t leave my family behind if there is a risk of it erupting—and I wouldn’t be able to reach the Fire Temple if it does.”

“Once you arrive at the temple the volcano will become calm again.”

I glanced back in the direction of the village, though the rocks blocked it from view, and then sighed. This was my destiny, like it or not. “Yes, I will become your High Priestess.”

“Then rise.”

I pushed myself up on shaking knees and faced the God in front of me. He moved close, singeing my dress and my hair, and my skin felt like it was going to peel off me. Before I could pull away he reached for me, and then all I knew was fire and heat. It raced along my skin, tore at my flesh, and melted my bones. I was taken apart and reformed. I died and was born again. I was ash and flame, smoke and lava, sparks and coal, and then I was whole again.

As the fire faded away and vanished, I stumbled back—but the Fire God was gone.


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