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  • Writer's pictureFiona Hamilton

Chapter 2: Hidden Crystals

Rienna stumbled onto soft moss as the opening through the Suppression closed and the spy yelled angrily, unable to pass through the magical barrier. Her head hurt from hitting her head on the root of a nearby tree and when she looked up the bright light of the Alyene blinded her.

A soft furry object touched her head, “Are you okay? The spy didn’t hurt you, right?” Xio mewed. He batted her forehead, eyes, and face in general, many times, trying to decide if she needed help.

“Ugh…” Rienna pushed Xio off her and sat up, blinking. She gasped in surprise, “It’s beautiful…” The world she saw around her was full of bright colors and light. Songs of birds chirped loudly in nearby trees, each trying their hardest to be heard over the others. And the trees, their leaves danced heartily in the breeze, shining with light hitting the sparkling dewdrops from the morning rain while their flowers bloomed in full joy, emitting soft floral scents that she had never smelled before.

Rienna looked farther out at the forest ahead, a bright cheery green with colorful birds soaring above. Larger trees stood over their children, lending them shade and protection. The birds were playing together, tossing pink flowers into the air. The mountains in the distance were full of towering glory and ancient stone spires from the giants of old, their majestic beauty bestowing command over all below. When she finally looked at the Suppression itself she saw that it shimmered with the fierce, magical energy of the Sovereign and gave a deep, regal purple glow. It radiated heat, and protected Rienna from the cool breeze.

She stood up and breathed in the air. It was so clear, so pure, out in the Alyene where the wind spirits ran rampant. She had never realized it, but the air in Vieryen was clouded and polluted from the fires of thousands of candle fey, “I can’t believe it!” Rienna exclaimed, “How could such a beautiful world full of color and joy be so… so… so evil?!”

“What are you talking about!” Xio exclaimed, his speech much improved by the magic environment, “What makes you think world is evil? All these creatures and plants, they live in perfect harmony, helping each other thrive! What so evil about that?”

“But the Alyene, isn’t it… aren’t all magic creatures dangerous and evil? Not you I mean. You’ve been tamed.” Rienna stammered. Surely, of all creatures, Xio and Xia’s instincts would tell them the dangers of the Alyene, “We are surrounded by the Suppression for a reason. Many… so many, magical forces out here will kill us on sight!” Then she realized something, “Quick! Get under this tree before the Sun sees us and destroys us!”

“You no speak sense. The Sun can’t see us, it’s far, far away and doesn’t care for small beings like us.” Xio said, thoroughly confused at Rienna’s ignorance, “Even if the Sun decided to even look at us, what makes you think he would destroy us?”

Rienna, who had scrambled to, and up, the tree, looked down on the cats with wild eyes. They don’t know what they are talking about. The transition through the Suppression and into this environment has muddled their thoughts. There is a reason the Sun has been patrolling Vieryen everyday since the start of this. “Please… just get under the tree, I will tell you everything then.” she said intensely, “I just need you to just get under the tree.”

Xio rolled his emerald eyes, “Okay. Whatever.” He mewed to Xia, who had flopped in the middle of a flower patch full of sunshine. Her ears perked up, and a bewildered look was on her face. She hesitated, but eventually wandered to the tree.

“Thank you.” whispered Rienna, relieved that they were finally out of sight of the sun, “Here’s the deal. I know you think otherwise, but we were taught this in school. The sun is evil. It has been circling my kingdom since the Suppression was made. It wants to wipe out all of my kind.” Rienna glanced up at the sun’s rays piercing through the leaves above. She knew they were always searching, always hunting, preparing for the day when a foolish human wandered outside the protecting barrier, readying for the time when the Suppression was at its weakest and it could finally kill the last of humankind.

Rienna shivered, “He shouldn't kill you, but you’ve been within the Suppression, you could be considered threat enough.”

“Threat of what? Why would the sun think we, or you, are threat?” Xio mewed, still convinced that the sun was harmless.

“Um…” they hadn’t covered that in school, “I’m not sure actually… but why else would it patrol my kingdom every day? It … it is evil. I am sure of it.” she said uncertainly.

“Get down from tree Rienna, we going to need to find food.” Xio said impatiently, “I am tired of this game.”

“THIS IS NOT A GAME!” Rienna yelled. She cringed at how loud her voice sounded and returned to whispering, “Let’s just go around some of the Suppression and go home. I have the crystal, let’s go.”

“Wait. Do you have the crystal?” Xio said confused, “I don’t see it in your hand.”

Rienna gasped in surprise, “Where is it! I need it so that I can go home.” she jumped down from the tree and started searching through the tall, soft, grass. “Oh no! It could have dropped anywhere after I stepped through the Suppression!”

Xio mewed to his mother, asking for her advice. She mewed back and he turned back towards Rienna. “We will help you search for it, but please, stay out here with us a little more, not everything here is evil.” Xio said. He then bounded through the grass, his short kitten tail sticking straight up in excitement of a fun game for him to participate in.

Xia mewed after him, telling him to slow down. He was so short compared to the grass that he was hardly visible. She then trotted forward, her long, silvery fur flowing behind her majestically.

I can’t believe that I lost the crystal. She thought miserably. She wandered around the tree, searching for the magic object, How could I have lost it? She suddenly tripped and fell on a root. “Ouch!” She yelled.

Then she had an idea. The trees out here could be sentient. They could have grabbed the crystal because it was so shiny! Rienna looked around her, trying to decide which tree to check first. Fortunately there were only three possible trees. She decided to start with the tree that she tripped over, “Give me my crystal back!” She yelled, kicking at the tree, “You evil monster!” She kicked it, punched it, and pulled at its branches until she collapsed from pain and exhaustion. Perhaps I should’ve stopped before I hurt myself this bad. She sat up and leaned against the tree and stared at the sky. It was after noon, the cats were right, they were going to need food and make a fire, especially if they couldn’t find the crystal.

It didn’t matter though, Rienna had tired herself out hitting and kicking the tree. So she sat for the next half hour, watching the tails of her cats poking out of the grass in the distance. She finally got up when her stomach growled angrily. Normally at this time of day she had already eaten lunch and a snack, depending.

“Guys! I’m going to search for something edible, I’ll bring it to you to make sure it’s not poisonous before I eat it, but I don’t think I am going to last another hour without some food.” she called to her cats. She looked around, deciding where to go, “I won’t go any farther than a foot into the forest, so if you find the crystal, don’t go searching into the woods.”

“Okay, Rienna!” Xio called back, “Don’t worry, we’ll find the crystal. Eventually.” He jumped at a blue butterfly fluttering past, “First I need to catch this flimsy flutter thing.” He reached up with a paw, showing off his pink little toe pads, trying to catch the butterfly on his claws. His mother just watched him, amused.

“Now, where would I find food in this place?” Rienna whispered to herself. She peeked past the line where the forest abruptly started and into the trees. There were some white flowers here and there, but otherwise the forest trees had nothing besides leaves on them. So she looked down at the forest floor, looking for bushes that may have berries or something else edible. But all Rienna saw were tiny sprouts that came from the seeds of trees overhead.

The apple trees! she realized, The spy could have accidentally brought some apple tree seeds through the Suppression! she hurried to the edge of the Suppression and inspected all of the trees nearby.

The first few trees she looked at were definitely not apple trees and contained no fruit, but the fourth and fifth, which were farther away from Rienna but closer to the Suppression, were more promising. She climbed up the first one and searched for apples. She wasn’t entirely convinced it was an apple tree as it leaves looked somewhat different, but it did look like a fruit tree, and she did find some fruit, but sadly it was still very, very green and still unripe. Although, Rienna didn’t know what sort of fruit they were anyway, so it probably would’ve been a bad idea to pick any ripe fruit as they could’ve been full of magical energy that could kill her.

She walked to the next tree, eyeing its collection of bright, happy green leaves as well as its deeper and darker, older leaves. This tree was definitely an apple, and it was large enough to produce fruits. She didn’t see any apples straight off the bat though, but maybe they were at the top of the tree. She climbed it, her hands tightly gripping the rough bark.

When she reached the highest point in the tree that she could go to, she looked around her, searching for some form of apple, whether green or red. She had a lot of experience in apple trees because of where she lived and what her family did for a living, so she was confident that she could find any ripe apple, even if it was hidden carefully between leaves.

There was nothing.

Rienna sighed and climbed back down the tree, defeated. As soon as she touched the ground and her hands were no longer gripping the tree, she realized the blood. She winced as she looked down at her stinging hands. They were covered in scrapes and dirt from climbing and punching all the trees. She decided not to climb, or punch, anything else as long as she was in the Alyene.

 She walked back to the part of the Suppression that she had originally entered from. Where could the crystal be? She sighed, having stopped her search for food. I give up. I guess I’ll just follow my cats around in this dangerous realm with no other humans to talk to or trade with. She headed towards the tree she had originally climbed up because of her fear of the sun. I guess he’s only focusing on what is within the Suppression right now. She walked forward more and stepped on a sharp object a couple feet away from the tree and fell. She instinctively pushed her hands in front of her, forcing them to land painfully on the base of the tree. Why does this world hate me! She thought miserably.

Rienna turned onto her back and saw even more blood, this time on her feet. Why couldn’t I have grabbed a pair of shoes before following those ridiculous cats?! She thought angrily, Why did I have to kick that tree? She looked back at the object that had tripped her. The crystal! She had of course tripped on, of all things, the crystal she had spent the last hour looking for. The entire time that she was kicking and punching trees, it was here on the ground, right next to the first tree she had climbed up.

“Xio! Xia!” she called to her cats, “Come back here, I found the dumb crystal!”

Xio looked back at her, his eyes wild and his fur a wreck, “Awesome! I caught the… um…um... dumb flutter thingy!” He then jumped onto his mother’s back and meowed. Xia understood and bounded back to Rienna.

“I can’t believe that it was right here the entire time!” Rienna said, both relieved and annoyed, “Now we can go back home!”

“NO! We do not want to go home. Please, you are so ignorant about this place. Spend a night here, we can teach you cool stuff!”

“Xio, there’s no food here! We need food! Plus, it doesn’t make sense to stay overnight, I’ll get in ginormous trouble. And just because I’m only 10 doesn’t mean I can’t go to some form of jail. This is highly, like crazy, highly illegal, and dangerous!” Rienna reasoned, “And I can’t allow you to stay out here.”

“Rienna, either your authorities are deceiving you, or they don’t know it themselves, this world is not dangerous, there are so many wonderful magic out here. I said this before, the creatures out here live in harmony, they do not kill unless necessary, only for food, not for evil.”

“My government is not deceiving me.” she said firmly.

“Which means they not know what they are saying. This place is not dangerous.” He mewed, “Please, just one night.” He looked up at her, the saddest, most vulnerable, expression pasted on his face.

His mother joined in and Rienna couldn’t resist, “FINE! One night. No longer. I’ll just say I was camping out in the orchard.”

“Yay!” Xio jumped up and down with the beautiful, enthusiastic, joy of a kitten, “How about we travel around the barrier a bit and open the shine. You can grabs some apples for food and then come back out here. Just, we should go around a bit because of spy.”

“Okay, I’m good with that. Let’s go” Rienna said and Xio mewed happily and ran ahead, ready for the upcoming adventure and fun.

Rienna smiled and ran to catch up with him, Xia not far behind.

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