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Jositari was a sight to behold. Tall, elaborate buildings covered in glistening metals and flashy architecture. The capital was the most advanced out of all the regions. The mixing of elemental cultures expressed through clothing, decorations, and food was beautifully crafted. Bion felt as if he was in a different world even though he recognized familiar aspects of Marinel. They were foreign when mixed with the other regions.

The streets were crowded, bustling bodies hurrying to their destinations. Everywhere he looked he spotted someone his age, all of them there for the same reason. Any conversation he eavesdropped on was the same, the legendary spirits.

Their hosts lived longer than anyone else, their power was immense and only challenged by each other. Never in history have two legendaries died just before the ceremony, history was being made and everyone wanted to be a part of the experience. Hopeful youth from both the fire and earth regions whispered in hopes and prayers that the spirit would choose them. All Bion prayed for was to keep his family together.

His father gave him a heavy hug, no words needing to be said. “I love you.” The words melted his heart as his father placed a kiss on his forehead.

“I love you, too.”

Areti hugged him next, tears already spilling from her eyes. She was very young when their brother was taken but she remembered it as well as the rest of them did. “Hey, don’t cry. I’ll come back.” Bion wiped her tears away with his thumb, “I expect you to make me some sweets for celebration, okay?” The girl laughed as they shared another hug.

He watched as the two of them left Bion and his mother to go and find a spot to watch. Only family members of those in the ceremony could watch and this time around, it was going to be packed. Bion met his mother’s gaze, the tears threatening to fall as she shared a soft smile. “Let’s go get you dressed.”

The ceremonial robes were almost as important as showing up. They were the connections to the realm of the spirits. They opened a window into the soul, allowing a spirit to decide if one was worthy enough to host them. Each ceremonial robe differed from family to family. Those within the higher ranks of their regions were more extravagant, embellished with jewels and embroidery.

Bion’s robes were simple. The light blue color signifying his home region, gold and silver, dusted the long garment’s bottom. Small, colorful beads rounded his collar and lined the front of the robe. His shoulders and arms were exposed, the brisk air nipping at his skin. As his mother made the finishing touches to his robes, Bion’s thoughts were focused on what was to come.

Butterflies erupted in his stomach, his nerves pilling up, worried that this would be the last contact he would ever have with his family.

“Oh, my boy is all grown up.” His mother’s words did little to comfort the fit inside of him. He watched as she hastily wiped her tears away as she looked at him. The unspoken feelings loomed between the two of them. Worry, fear, love, and hope mixed between the two as they shared a smile.

The shrill sound of the center gong rang in their ears, signifying to all the ceremony was about to begin. His mother wasted no time showering him with heartfelt words and giving him her best. Bion wanted to cry. He wanted to break down right there and tell her not to go, but he knew it would only make it harder on her.

Watching her fleeting figure, Bion was ushered with the others from his region. Denik found him as they were placed in their seats, a wide smile on his face. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you look so cleaned up.”

Bion glared at his friend, punching him lightly. “Yeah yeah, at least you finally got rid of that fish smell.” The two laughed, his nerves lessening.

“Woah, look up there.” Denik pointed above them, his attention following across the ceremonial stage. Four seats decorated in rare jewels and minerals stared back at him, decorated individually for their inhabitants. Two were occupied, the other two, vacant.

The legends always overlooked the ceremony. From his understanding, it was part of their duties. Log and meet all the new hosts that entered their regions. Ardel Minoli was a woman Bion was familiar with. She attended the same ceremony as his brother and was blessed by the Water Dragon spirit. It had been ten years since she replaced the previous host, and from what he understood, she was terrible. She was conceited and unapologetically biased. The water region had suffered since she became the host and many voiced their disapproval. However, once the spirit chooses its host, nothing can be changed.

The man next to Ardel was a man Bion only knew by name. Fanilley Jiso. Now the oldest legend at one-hundred and eighty-eight years old. The Heaven Kitsune, ruler of the skies. Bion knew nothing about the air region or any of the other regions aside from his own.

Vacant seats for The Unicorn and The Phoenix stood ominous, looming over the whole stage. A masked man stood at the center, wearing garments and accessories from all four regions. Silence overtook the large space as not a single word was spoken. Silence was demanded except for the low beat of drums, a welcoming invitation for the spirits.

The first youth stood, all eyes focused on the girl’s small frame. Each movement she made was watched with thousands of eyes. The lights fell dark, only a small spotlight illuminated the center stage.

A large, dark cauldron filled with water rose from the ground as the girl approached. She was from the fire region, her red robes shining in the light. The masked man signaled for her to begin. Poking her finger with a small needle, a drop of her blood sunk into the water. Immediately the air shifted around her, a small, wispy shape rising from the cauldron. The red tones overpowered the rest of the room.

“I offer my body to thee.” The ceremonial words echoed from the girl’s lips. The wispy spirit changed form at the girl’s words, a slithery form overtaking the previous. A fire-born snake wrapped itself around her arm, imprinting itself on her body.

The youth around him became more animated with the fact she was not blessed with the legendary phoenix. Their chances were now greater.

Next a young man dressed in embellished, yellow robes approached the center. The region of Air. The same process was repeated, the man obtaining the spirit of the hawk. Most hosts were chosen by spirits of their region. They were most familiar with the powers and rituals of these spirits, it was only natural.

The process continued from person to person, each wishing for the legendary power. The ceremony was a full-day event, starting early in the morning and only ending when the last youth had completed it. As he watched each ritual pass, his stomach knotted tighter and tighter. He felt nauseous.

Hours into the ceremony, a young man dressed in green from the earth region approached the cauldron. The same tense air overflowed the stage as his blood mixed with the water. The spiritual mist rose from the mixture, retaining its pure color. For the pure color to stay, it meant one of two things. Either no spirit wanted that human as a host, or the spirits were fighting over the human.

Finally, the color illuminated a bright green. The strong color and presence told everyone what spirit it was. The repeated ceremonial words echoed everyone watching the form change into the legendary Unicorn. Noises erupted from all around him, the sacred silence now broken as everyone celebrated to welcome the legendary.
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