Tori R. Hayes
Book 1: The Crown Trials
A thick substance coursing through our veins, supplying each cell in our body with vital oxygen and nutrients essential for life—something that science has yet to replicate.
The first blood was as red as the petals of a crimson rose, but three thousand years ago, that changed.
Today, blood is not necessarily inherently red, and in our world, that color defines us. The change originates from a mysterious mutation that modifies the genetic code of our DNA.
It alters the color of our blood and grants us abilities previously believed to be limited to mere fairy tales. Yet, not all are affected.
The mutation is irregular and isn’t passed down from parent to child. It doesn’t target specific people or affect us at birth.
It is impossible to predict who will receive its gifts and when, making it as random as life itself.
Although, it may not be as random as we are led to believe.
One individual is guaranteed to receive the gifts—the golden heir.
It is an exception to the rule that has left generations to wonder about its mysteries.
Scientists have grown old before their time, attempting to unravel its secrets; travelers have become lost, seeking the place rumored to be its origin.
All have so far failed to produce any conclusive answers.
Only one truth remains certain: the beginning—a narrative passed down since the last drop of crimson blood solely shaped the world.
Details may have been lost, and elements may have changed through modern translation, but we all know that Jonathan Pavo was the first of us.
It all started long ago, back when the world was still divided by culture and language.
According to the scribbled legends, Jonathan was once a young explorer scouring the wild sea for treasures claimed by the untamed spirits.
One day, he stumbled upon a cave hidden beneath the ocean’s peaceful waves, undetectable to oblivious eyes from above.
Despite his disciplined ability to hold his breath for longer than humanly possible, he found himself breathless when a sight of riches and beauty surrounded him.
Gilded stone, shimmering in the dim light from his ancient dive lamp, covered every surface of the cave’s heart.
Looking closer, Jonathan soon realized that while the stone resembled the desired element that would make any man richer than the gods, it was different.
It wasn’t gold but something else—something new.
Jonathan brought a sample with him to study his new discovery, not knowing that he would change everything we once knew to be true about the laws of nature.
Mere days after returning to his island, Jonathan found that his blood had become the color of the ocean depths, gifting him the ability to make water bend to the will of his mind.
Remarkably, Jonathan wasn’t the only one affected by the stone’s power.
Once the stone had come into contact with the air above, particles separated from the material and became part of the air we still breathe.
The miracle spread like wildfire, blood colors changing in every corner of the past world, and magic shifting from fantasy to facts of existence.
Jonathan then sold everything he owned to travel the world and write about his findings.
In his notes, he described the many people he met who didn’t all share the same color or ability.
Some wielded air, while others controlled the blazing fire. But, it wasn’t only the four elements.
Jonathan once wrote about a woman who could make plants grow from her gentle palms and a man able to heal the wounded from the deadliest injuries.
A link was established between the abilities and their respective colors. These people became known as the Iridis—the colored.
While sailing across the vast seas, Jonathan spent his time training hard to master his element and understand its limits with the ocean as his untiring companion.
Then he met Adeena—a Fire Iridis whose beauty was as eternal as her soul was kind.
Her eyes burned like the fire igniting in his heart when she fluttered her long lashes.
Her skin was as brown as the furrowed bark of the chestnut tree, tinged by an orange glow from the blood coursing through her veins. And her coiled hair was as black as night.
Her blood implied that she could wield the smoldering fire without burning.
Then she revealed that she could rip open the sky with electrifying lightning and manipulate the light that saturates the universe, which paved the way for a new system.
Jonathan had merely brushed the surface of his potential during the years he’d sailed the seas.
Adeena taught him to heal wounds and freeze water to solid ice, proving that elementals had the power to master other abilities similar to their element through hard work.
She then joined Jonathan on his journey, and together they traveled the world, educating their fellow Iridis about their new reality and abilities.
They attracted many followers and were soon treated like gods of the new era—the era of Heliac.
To symbolize this new era, the world was divided into four realms: the Inferno Realm, the Ocean Realm, the Sky Realm, and the Terra Realm.
In addition, twenty-four Iridis academies were established and spread throughout the realms.
Peace reigned for years until the first uprising began.
Fearing enforced slavery and dictatorship, the First-bloods rebelled, demanding a promise of power and control.
Death and despair spread as war and bloodshed painted the streets of the once-peaceful world.
That war lasted for years before Jonathan finally accepted that Iridis and First-bloods would never find a peaceful compromise. At least not without an intermediary to remind them of their kinship.
No Iridis or First-blood stood a chance once his mighty waves washed through battlefields, forcing every living soul to listen to his word.
“When a child is born, red blood is the first blood to flow through their veins. We all begin the same, and no one’s future is guaranteed. We are the same, no matter the color of our blood.”
True to his placid element, Jonathan had brought a peaceful end to the worldwide war, saving countless lives and forging a better future.
A contract of negotiation was signed, and a final realm was created—the Golden Realm, where Jonathan and Adeena ruled.
The rulers of the Golden Realm were to maintain peace in Heliac, ensuring that the other realms could communicate and follow common rules.
Jonathan spent the rest of his mortal life writing laws and regulations to protect all life representing Heliac—Iridis and First-bloods alike.
Then Jonathan died, and the system crumbled.
Hierarchies and classes spread throughout the kingdom. People became greedy and hungry for power.
With her dying breath, Adeena begged her children to restore order and preserve their late father’s wish.
They did what they could, but only their firstborn, Orion, had been blessed with powers. The rest had remained First-bloods, and their children were still too young to be of service.
However, no Iridis, not even Orion, wielded a fraction of the power Jonathan once did.
The world slowly improved, but nothing became as it used to be under Jonathan’s reign.
First-bloods were never enslaved, although Iridis became favored in most corners of Heliac—including my home.
The golden family has, till this day, remained fortunate that the firstborn of every generation has been gifted.
Still, not even the Pavos could rest assured that fate would favor them with this advantage forever.
To ensure that the Pavo descendants remained able to maintain the peace, the Crown Trials were founded—a competition held in the months before the golden heir’s twenty-second birthday.
Each of Heliac’s twenty-four royal academies was asked to choose their strongest contender to represent their name, granting these suitors a chance to prove their worth and win the golden crown.
The event was initially designed to test the individual contender’s qualities through a series of trials and interactions, but it has since become a royal show of entertainment.
Last season, an Air Iridis from the Storm Academy won the Crown Trials and the title of Heliac’s queen.
She was strong and beloved by the people. Or so they say.
I don’t remember her.
I was young when she disappeared, but my parents often tell my brother and me tales of her beauty and kindness.
Everyone in Heliac suffered a great loss the day she disappeared. Sorrow swept across the world, leaving a hole in people’s hearts that wouldn’t mend for decades to come.
Our home was the exception.
The announcement of Heliac’s loss was broadcasted on the same evening as the day my blood turned pale blue.
I was eight when I came home, crying after scraping my knee against the gravel behind our house.
Drops of pale blood had trickled down my leg, slower than the salty tears down my drenched cheeks.
I still remember the stinging pain from the nasty bruising and my parents’ celebratory laughter as I stood bewildered in my ruined dress.
At the time, I didn’t understand why my parents had been laughing despite my pain. Now, I know I’d become a child of the Iridis—a blessing unlike many.
Not only was I a child of the Iridis—I was an elemental. The air would become my friend, and my companion like water had been Jonathan’s.
A child like me would ensure a good life for our family—a life of riches and luxury.
My family came from a long generation of First-bloods, so we didn’t have much. My parents struggled daily to earn enough money to fill our empty stomachs.
Sending me to an academy would change all that.
Then a cruel reminder of our flawed system drew a nightmarish expression across my mom’s face.
The sound of laughter dying and smiles turning into glossy-eyed creatures of grief still haunts my dreams to this day.
Notifying the guardians of my new blood would not only tether me to an academy and bring us wealth, but I would not be allowed to see my family until I’d gained control of my growing powers.
That could take years, if not decades.
My parents couldn’t do it. I was too young and impressionable for them to leave me in the hands of people they hardly knew.
I was their daughter, not a means of salvation.
When I came of age, it was too late. My powers had grown too strong for anyone to believe a lie of new blood.
The dungeons would become our new home if anyone found out my parents had been harboring an untethered Iridis for so long.
My blood, therefore, became a secret.
Koa is the only person outside the safe embrace of my family who knows the real me—my best friend.
We were born in the same hospital on the same day, leaving him only a few hours older than me. We have been together ever since.
For the past twelve years, Koa has been helping me keep my powers at bay.
For twelve years, I’ve felt them growing stronger with each passing moon, and I’m not sure how much longer I can keep suppressing them.
I know the consequences if I don’t. I can’t afford to lose control, especially not now.
I turned twenty last month.
Tomorrow will be my first day working with my mom as a maid at the Iridis mansion. We’re running low on money, and my younger brother can’t work yet, so I’ll have to work hard to earn enough.
And be careful not to reveal my true colors.
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