[ab initio mundi]

A distant hum of crickets echoed the sounds of clanging swords, firing arrows, and battle cries. The sky above the woods had turned a soft shade of pink, causing the shadows from the trees to fill the spaces between one another. Darkness was eminent, but that didn't stop Tessa.

The daughter of Poseidon peeked out from behind a bush, her crystalline eyes scanning her surroundings. No sign of invasion, which was good. But she was not adapted to seeing in the dark, which was bad. Thankfully, she still had an hour before the forest was completely shrouded, which was also good.

Keeping a tight grip on the leather hilt of her sword, Tessa crept out from her hiding spot. Adrenaline pumped through her veins as she padded through the mossy forest floor, searching for the flag—and any red soldiers set out to apprehend her.

As the daughter of the sea god, the opposing team knew that keeping the flag anywhere near water would be a bad idea, considering Tessa's powers. However, they underestimated how much she didn't always need to be around it to win. And boy, were they about to find that out.

Heart racing, Tessa continued on through the forest, her ears keen on picking up any sort of ambush. She heard nothing and continued forward.

Then she heard talking, and a smirk stretched across her lips. She swung her sword around in her hand, and prepared to charge.

"Going somewhere?"

Tessa jumped, nearly fumbling her sword. She whirled around and found the tip of a golden sword under her chin. She followed the blade with her eyes up to the hand holding it, and the person it belonged to. She scowled.

Kaden Gray. Son of Aphrodite and Captain of the Red Team. A soft smirk laced his lips, his emerald eyes glinting in the dim light of the forest. Like Tessa, he wore a bronze breastplate, greaves, and a scabbard around his waist. The helmet upon his tousled brown hair had a scarlet plume, unlike that of Tessa's, which was a deep blue.

Tessa narrowed her eyes. "Yes, actually," she said in response to his question. "I was about to win the game. Wasn't it obvious?"

Kaden arched an eyebrow. "Oh, it was obvious. But I was astonished to find just how easily you left yourself open to ambush. I've been following you for about the past twenty minutes."

Tessa blinked in stupor. "No, you weren't. I would've heard you."

"You underestimate my stealth."

"You underestimate my strength."


While he was caught off guard, Kaden's sword dipped away from her. Tessa took the opportunity to kick him square in the chest, recovering her own weapon.

"That's what I meant." Tessa smirked in satisfaction. "Now, Kaden, it's been great but I've got a flag to capture."

Before he could regain his composure, Tessa bolted off. She wove in between trees and found herself in the clearing near Zeus's Fist. The cluster of boulders normally would have intimidated her, if it weren't for the billowing red flag at the top.

The sound of twigs and leaves being snapped behind her shook her out of her reverie. She scrambled towards the rocks, and would've began to climb up them if it wasn't for a sudden blow to her back. She started to fall, but caught herself and rolled into a kneeling position. Tessa glanced over her shoulder and saw the horrified visage of Amelie, daughter of Hecate.

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