Authors: Kate Copeseeley
Tags: #griffin, #young adult fantasy, #dystopian fiction, #magical girl, #kate copeseeley, #young adult romance, #compis
Text Copyright © 2011 by Kate Copeseeley
Cover Image Copyright © 2011 Bethel Stoddard
All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of the publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior permission of the author.
The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.
Nikka (Ni like Knee -Kah)
Zyander (Zi like High -and -er)
Alea (Ah -lay- ah)
Luka (Luk like Luke -ah)
Adjudah (Ah -Judah ) The D is silent
Jilli (Jill like the name -i is a long eee sound)
Alys (Like Alice, but with a long aaa sound)
Hama (Hae like day-mah)
Koen (Koe like Roe -en like hen)
Ryd (like Reed)
Joah (like Noah)
Etho (long e -th -long o)
Luba (like Tuba)
Kanae (Kan like can -ae like day)
Tribes and Titles:
Aquis (Aqu like aqua -is like hiss)
Aeris (Aer like air -is like hiss)
Terris (Terr like air -is like hiss)
Ignis (Ig like big -nis like hiss)
Sanguis (Sang like sang –gu like the gu in iguana -is like hiss)
Divinaris (div like divide -in like in -aris like Aeris)
Compis (com like comma -pis like hiss)
Duor (sounds like drawer without the r)
Roaneu (roan like loan -eu like ewww)
Lumenta (lum like loom -en with a short e -tah)
Praete Lines (like plate with an r)
Praetra (praet like plate with an r -trah)
Abira (Ah -bir like beer -ah)
Awatha (Ah -wa like wall with an l -thah)
Akme (Ahk -me like may)
Napalin (Nap like nap -al like all -in with a long ee sound like between)
In the first season, Polya Nimba, when the Aquis were born, they were blue and they rained.
In the second season, Magna Venta, when the Aeris were born, they were white, and they flew.
In the third season, Esta Inferna, when the Terris were born, they were green, and they grew.
In the fourth season, Astra Cida, when the Ignis were born, they were gold, and they burned.
In the fifth season, Friga Hiema, when the Sanguis were born, they were red, and they bled.
Children's Song (Sung at the Close of the Year)
Zyander stood in the center of the crowd, cursing his existence. The day was a hot one, as it was every year when the tribes gathered together for the Initiation ceremony and the council immediately following. It was a day that some looked forward to all year. Not him. Perhaps if he were not of the Ignis tribe, he would be excited instead of standing there, in a sweating crowd of people, wishing he were anywhere else.
The Initiation ceremony was an important day for all the tribes. Or had been, until his tribe had been relegated to the smallest and most insignificant of all the five. Maybe if he was one of the Sanguis, he wouldn't feel depressed.
Initiation is a joke
, he thought.
It was a cosmic joke, sent by Iam to vex the Ignis, to punish them for whatever crime they had committed so long ago. The Ignis tribe were once one of the most powerful in the Five Tribes, perhaps even the greatest. Their numbers were large, the Initiation always seemed to favor them, and all the other tribes clamored for their wares.
Then, the great sickness came and things changed for them. The women stopped having babies until only a few Ignis were born in a year, two or three. Soon it was even less than that. At the same time, Iam's will seemed to be turning against them. Though all the other tribes gained numbers through the choosing, the Ignis got less and less. No new Initiates meant that their lessening proliferation became a double curse and their numbers dwindled down to a few thousand.
The tall spires of our tribe's great cities have crumbled and broken down to dust in neglect,
he thought, picturing the many decayed halls of Labaria in his mind. Whole buildings remained empty, weeping in agony over what they once contained—the greatest tribe in all of the Five Tribes.
Then, as if all that were not enough, the once great and powerful tribe Ignis was filled with weaklings, members who could barely use a spell, much less create one of the many glorious works of literature or art crafts of their golden days. He would weep if he had to watch one more of his tribe struggle to create the spell of
, since it was the most basic of all their spells.
Shuffling forward, he tried to get a better look at the first in the series of ceremonies to occur over the coming week. The stage in front of him started at the height of his shoulders and reached high up towards the tower of the great meeting place: the Citadel. It was shining glass with patterns and pictures carved and wrought into it.
Behind the great stage, he recalled the small meeting room from his own Initiation days. To the left of the stage, further back, was the giant dome that led to the meeting hall of the council meetings.
He'd just come from the market and its dust lingered in the air among the audience, wafting from behind him to fall over those in front. He tried not to think about the many comfortable inns with their prosperous patrons and his tribe's tents and horses perched in their vacant field. Instead, he concentrated on the festivities before him.
There were flags and banners hanging over the square, and many people around him waved the colors of their tribe. Red, gold, green, blue, and white flapped and swayed in every direction, and the air was full of their chants, songs, and excited clamoring. Starting from his right, the crowd quieted, and Zyander looked over to see a long line moving along the front of the stage. It was the Initiates, filing in for their releasing.
Zyander saw his sister Alea, the miracle child, in the center with her golden robe shimmering over her. There were twenty-nine Sanguis in crimson robes, over seventy Aeris shining in white; sixty-five wore green—they were Terris, and finally the mild mannered Aquis wore blue. He scanned their faces, wondering and hoping if any one of them would change the tide for his tribe and be chosen one of the Ignis.
The Initiates stood looking out at the audience of watchers, while the Divinaris walked in behind them. There were five of them, one for each tribe, all clothed in silver robes. They stood in a circle and started chanting the words of the tribe release. This was the time when the Initiates became tribeless.
Without Tribe, without family, without preconceptions, we come to you now, oh great Iam, and ask for these to become tribeless.
As the Divinaris chanted, the Initiates raised their arms to the sky and the colors in their robes seemed to bleed from the cloth, leaving behind the same silver color as the robes of the chanters behind them. Now they became, symbolically what they truly were, without tribe and without family. By the end of the Initiation, they would have a new tribe and a new family.
The audience, as they were wont to do every year during the ceremony, gasped and applauded when the robes changed color. Zyander was too jaded for that. He turned from the rest of the proceedings and edged his way through the crowd, trying to get even closer to the stage. Finally getting close enough to catch Alea's eyes, he gave her a smile and a wink. The tense and serious expression on her face faded as she gazed down at her brother. She stood a head taller than most in line with her. Ignis bred true.
A flash of silver caught his eye—a bracelet worn by another of the Initiates, a girl not too far down from his sister. She was as petite as his sister was tall, and true to her tribe in coloring, as well—Aeris, or he was much mistaken. Her face was delicately boned, with high sweeping cheekbones, a smooth nose with a slight turn up at the end, a small pointed chin, and pert pink lips that were pursed in concentration. His stare lingered for a moment, then as his eyes were moving back toward his sister, the girl turned her head and looked straight at him.
Zyander felt like he'd been kicked in the stomach. Her large gray eyes searched his soul, weighing and measuring what she saw in him. She cocked her head, smiled a half smile, and almost seemed about to say something; then he blinked and realized she wasn't even looking at him. His sister, however, was still looking his way, but now she was frowning. He shook his head to clear it.
What was that?
He met his sister backstage afterward, trying not to let his eyes wander in search of the mysterious girl. This was Alea's first gathering and she was excited to go see the market and the different tribes' exhibits.
That's only because she hasn't seen what our tent looks like compared to the others. Our tent is patched and worn in at least a dozen places. Whereas wealthy tribes, the Sanguis for one, had a display tent of the best crimson silk with ropes of rubies and other precious stones to decorate it.
At least he had the comfort of knowing that Alea would be coming home with her own tribe at the end of the ceremony. It was the one blessing of being Ignis. If you were born in the tribe, you would die in it. His thoughts wandered again to the girl and he found himself wondering if this would be the year they gained new members to their tribe.
“Zyan, what are you staring at?” Alea asked, grabbing the sleeve of his best shirt and giving it a firm yank.
He realized that his eyes had been looking for that girl again, and that as if acting on instinct alone, they'd found her. She was standing in the crowd with two of her tribe's members, laughing and talking.
He turned back to his sister.
“Sorry, Lea, my mind was wandering,” he said.
“You mean your eyes were,” she said, laughing. “I see you noticed Nikka.”
“Neeka,” he said, tasting the name.
“She's nice. I met her this morning, when they told us what to do for the ceremony,” Alea said.
“What's the point of her being nice?” he said. “It doesn't matter how
she is. She could be the kindest person in the whole of the Five Tribes, and it wouldn't do me a bit of good, would it?”
“Zyan,” Alea said, and laid a comforting hand on his arm. He shrugged it off.
“Come on,” he said, and pulled on her hand as he led her away from the mob and toward the market.
Nikka had risen early that morning, unable to sleep through her excitement. She bounced up and out of the bed in the room that her father rented for her that she shared with her cousin. Throwing back the blanket, she stepped over to the other bed.
“May,” she said, voice lowered, “May, wake up! You can't possibly sleep today!”
A groan rose up from the pillow-covered head on the bed. The form turned over, away from her, and a voice from underneath it, said, “I can and I will. I look forward to sleeping much more than I do waking.”
Nikka smiled and brought out her secret weapon, “The sooner you get up, the sooner you'll be able to see Luka.”
May's head popped up, her gold curls tousled around her perfect oval face. She propped herself up on her elbow and squinted at the morning light. Her blue eyes matched the color of the early morning sky. May's curved legs swung over the side of the bed, and she kicked them back and forth.
“Do you think he'll be up already? I wonder if he wants to eat breakfast with us.”
“I'm sure he's waiting downstairs, pining away for the very sight of you,” teased Nikka.
May threw the pillow at her. “In that case, I should hurry up and get ready!” She ran to the bathroom.
While May was in the bathroom, Nikka looked through her bag for what she wanted to wear before she had to don her ceremonial robes. She pulled out a fitted gray silk shirt with billowing sleeves that cut off mid-arm, and a long white skirt with gray flowers embroidered around the hem. She clasped on her favorite bracelet, a silver one with little bird charms flying around it. Birds were one of the most favored animals in the Aeris.
Today is the beginning of my new life,
she thought, both excited and sad. After this week, who knew if she would see any of her family or friends again. She could be Aquis or Terris, she could be wearing the crimson colors of Sanguis. Yet, she found herself wishing that she wouldn't have to go anywhere. She could stay with her parents and her sister and learn the magic and the secrets of her tribe, which until now she'd been kept from.
The chances that she'd be chosen for her own tribe weren't good. Aeris were prolific, true, but they were also the most likely of all the tribes to be chosen for a tribe other than their own. At least she wasn't counting on getting into the same tribe as someone else, as May was. May and Luka were both Initiates this year, and they were hoping to get into the same tribe.