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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Thriller/Suspense · #2217899
Prepare yourself for the Fire.
Darkness falls upon shoddy mud huts built within a mass of trees. Moisture hung in the air, adding to the sweet scent of green plant life and nutrient-rich soil. Deep within the heart of the settlement, sparks fall upon a large dugout pit, filled to the brim with kindling. With a flash, the pit was engulfed in flames and blazing wildly, golden tendrils licking at the leaves of the forest canopy.

The initiation ceremony was about to kick-off, for those who were ready to cross the line between the Light and the Shadow.

Tribe members gathered around, dressed in tattered clothes made from animal hides and fur. Silence hung in the air as they stared at the flames, listening to it roar and consume.

Four contestants stood naked before the Fire, covered in war paint and ready to battle their element. Within the ceremonial fire, was a balance of all the planetary elements: Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. The Earth and the Air worked together to make the Fire. The Earth beneath the flames was so moist that it steamed upward, giving off an effervescence of the dirt. The elements were powerful enough on their own, but deadly when combined.

Each contestant wielded an Elemental Weapon. Their childhood lives led up to this moment, training with their chosen element in preparation to fight within the Fire.

Battle drums began to emerge from the outer edge of the crowd.

Building tension and giving life to the Fire, the sound was awakening the Elements within. Heaving now, it looked as if it was breathing slowly, pulsing brighter with every stroke of the drum mallets. The tribe began to grunt in sync with the drums, perpetuating the Fire’s life as it breathed deeper.

Remaining silent, the contestants looked around at their tribal family. Scars with different symbols and colors covered the faces of each onlooker, signifying the element they chose back when it was their turn to cross the line.

The symbols in the flesh weren’t just masks, they gave power to the one who wore them. When a contestant emerged from the Fire in triumph, their element permanently bonded to them by clawing a part of itself onto their face. In a sense, you got to choose your family; bloodlines made no difference. The Fire was the ultimate judge as to whether the contestant was worthy or not.

If a contestant failed, they did not emerge at all and were consumed by the Elements. A deadly chance to take, as every ceremony required a sacrifice, someone who was destined to be absorbed by the Elements. The Fire, itself, electing which one to devour, and sometimes it took more than one.

Jobiah was the first of the four to battle. Everyone knew the element he had chosen just by looking at the color of his war paint. Blue, which represented the Element of Water.

He threw his arms out to his side, embracing the warmth of the flames. In doing so, the Fire burst upward, blanketing the whole tribe with heat as the chanting increased in volume.

In the heart of the massive inferno, a portal opened. Yawning with great intensity, it beckoned Jobiah to dive in with his weapon and face the Water within the Fire.

Word Count: 534
Written for "Musicology Anthology

So ya
Thought ya
Might like to go to the show
To feel the warm thrill of confusion
That space cadet glow
Tell me is something eluding you, sunshine?
Is this not what you expected to see?
If you want to find out what's behind these cold eyes
You'll just have to claw your way through this disguise
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