Worthy of the Flame
What really happened with Luna during Lexa's conclave? In this one-shot, Titus remembers the events that would lead to Lexa's ascension - with a twist.
“What happened to number eight?” Clarke asked Titus. He sighed, averting his eyes. “There’s another Natblida, isn’t there?” insisted Clarke.
“Yes," Titus finally admitted. "She fled. She’s a coward and a traitor to the Blood.” Tears appeared in his eyes but they did not fall. “Lexa refused to let me hunt her down.” His voice trembled when finally looked straight at Clarke. “She’s unworthy of the Flame.”
“More unworthy than Ontari?”
“I’ll train her!” said a young female warrior with a smile, putting her hand over a seventh kid. The little girl looked at the warrior and nodded at her with a small smile. The warrior knelt down and smiled back at the girl, stretched out her arm in front of her and said, “my name is Anya and I want you to be my second.” The little girl took Anya's arm to return the greeting. “My name is Lexa.”
Anya smiled at Lexa. “We’re going to win the conclave”. The little girl laughed. “You can’t say that, it’s the spirit of the Commander that will choose the winner.” Anya stood up. “And her spirit will choose you,” Anya said. She then watched Titus walk to a Natblida girl with curly hair.
“Luna, my hopes are with you. Not just as your parent, but as the Flamekeeper, too.” The curly hair kid smile proudly at Titus. “Dad, I promise I’ll be the next Commander.” Titus nodded as he looked over to his son standing next to his sister, watching them sadly.
“You can’t treat your son like that, Titus,” said Anya seriously. Titus looked straight to her. “My son isn’t strong enough. You have seen him. He can’t even wield a sword as he should.” Anya was going to reply but Titus interrupted her. “Have you seen Luna? She’s brave, confident, strong, fast, and agile. She’s the perfect warrior.”
Anya took a step to face Titus. “But he’s your son, Titus, and we have to care about our own!” Titus was surprised, “I never expected you to say that”. The bald man turned his back to Anya. “Even so, if Luna doesn’t win, it'll be Lexa. She’s clever.” And with that, Titus started walking away, feeling Anya staring at his back.
“Wait!” shouted the girl. Titus turned, waiting. “I know you, Titus.” The Flamekeeper looked Anya straight into her eyes. “What do you mean?” Anya got closer to him. “You love your son.” Titus looked away. “That’s why you can’t see him.” Only a few inches separated Anya from Titus now. “You can’t look at him without thinking of his death.” The man looked stricken. “That’s not true!” Anya smiled. “You can’t say goodbye to your son.” Titus wanted to lash out in anger, but turned around and left the room instead.
“Let the Conclave begin!” said an old man with a deep voice. There were eight warriors, eight Natblidas. There were to be four fights to the death in the first round, one on one. The second round would then have the four winners fight each other. In the final round, the two remaining Natblidas would fight each other, to be chosen by the spirit of the Commander.
It was supposed to be easy, it was to be Luna. She won the first fight easily and was fighting with brother next. It surprised Titus to see his son winning his first fight. He internally thanked his trainer for that. He had actually become a good warrior, if not a perfect one.
But the conclave took an unexpected turn when Luna killed her brother. She won, she did it, she was going to the final round, but then she heard a little girl in the crowd asking, “did she just kill her own brother?” The girl's mother replied gravely, “yes, it’s the way to become Heda. There can be only one Heda, Gaia.” Luna saw the little girl nodding, before she looked at Luna as if she was nothing more than a heartless killer.
Luna then looked at her fallen brother on the ground, and while everybody was cheering for her win, her brother lay dead in front of her, her own trident stacked in his belly. She removed the weapon and looked at her father. “I’m darkness,” she said kneeling down, caressing her brother’s face one last time.
Tears started to fall from her eyes. She never noticed how much they looked alike: the same eyebrows, the same unruly hair, the same toned skin… "I’m no good, dear brother," she said with a broken voice.
Titus walked over to her and put a hand on her shoulder. “Go Luna, you did well. The next fight has to start.”
Luna started crying and bent over, resting her forehead against her brother’s. “Luna, leave the arena!” Titus repeated himself harshly. The girl shook her head and said, “I don’t deserve to be the next Commander. Death is all I know.”
Her father, feeling the pressure of everyone watching, his son lying dead at his feet and his daughter being weak, shouted, “don’t be a coward! If you win, you deserve to be the next Commander!”
Luna looked up at Titus angrily. When she stood, she threatened him with her trident. “I won’t be the next Commander because I’m not finishing the conclave.” Titus tried to reason with her. “You’re not darkness, Luna. You’re doing what you’re supposed to.” He pushed into her trident. “If you are darkness, kill me.”
The distraught Natblida wielded the trident with more force, but her hands started shaking and she looked down. “See, you’re good.” Luna looked at him and nodded, leaving her brother's side to wait for the final round.
“This is it, Luna,” said Titus. Luna nodded once and walked back into the arena. “I trust you, Luna,” called her father. She stopped briefly but said nothing, before heading towards her destiny.
Waiting for her, Lexa smiled as she approached. “The spirit of the Commander will choose wisely.” She stretched her arm out in greeting, but Luna didn’t return the gesture. “I’m not going to do this.” Lexa looked at her, confused. “Mebi oso na hit choda op nodotaim, Heda.” Luna gave her a little smile, content in knowing that Lexa was going to live, that she won’t have to kill anyone else. And then she ran.
She ran away, through the crowd of people looking at in shock and surprise. “Mom, why did she ran away?” asked little Gaia her mother, who put a hand on her shoulder and explained, “she’s a coward. And cowards don’t deserve to be Commanders.”
Titus, shocked by his daughter's actions, found his anger returning upon hearing that comment. He took a breath and started to run after Luna, only to trip and fall flat on his face. When Titus turned turned around, he found Anya smirking at him. “Sorry,” was all the warrior said.
Titus groaned at his misfortune of knowing the infuriating Trikru girl. Just as he got up to chase after Luna again, someone else called, “Titus, stop!” He looked back and saw Lexa walking up to him. “Let her go,” she demanded. Titus did not understand. “She’s a coward and a traitor to the Blood!” Lexa took a final step and said, “I’m asking you as your Heda!”
Titus realized that it was true, that Luna leaving the conclave meant that Lexa was the new Commander, and a clever commander at that. He knelt down and paid reverence to Lexa, and the crowd gathered following suit.
The girl nodded and gestured everybody to stand up. She had never seen Titus close to tears, but she knew where they came from. He had lost both of his children on the same day, he was heart-broken. Lexa knew that Luna would find a way to survive, but Heda was also sure that they were not going to see her again.
“Out of my way!” shouted Ontari. Suddenly, Murphy came tumbling down the stairs “She’s here,” he proclaimed as he came to a halt on the floor.
“Clarke, hide,” ordered Titus, hoping that Ontari was not going to get the Flame. Clarke was right. Luna may be a coward, but she was his daughter and definitely more worthy of the Flame than Ontari.