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  • Writer's pictureFiona Hamilton

Chapter 1: Knives and Spies

Updated: Dec 10, 2023

It was a quiet afternoon in Rienna’s home. Her cats Xio and Xia were asleep and school had been canceled due to an outbreak of the Jevvian virus which was highly contagious and caused terrible coughing fits. Her parents did not want the day of learning to go to waste and had assigned her extra homework. She didn’t mind and had spent the entire morning doing math and reading assignments.

Rienna was a mature 10 years old and lived in the small town of Telivier in the northwest district of the Suppression where she and her family tended to an apple orchard. The Suppression was a magical dome that bordered the kingdom of Vieryen. It was created by the ruler of Vieryen, Sovereign Jenni. The Sovereign was the only person known to control magic powers and was worshiped and feared greatly for it; magic was both cherished and considered malevolent. Only the Sovereign could control magic and she used it to protect the kingdom from outside of the Suppression, or the Alyene. Most people pronounced Alyene like “a lean,” but the nobles, always wanting to seem superior to the peasants, decided that it was better to pronounce it like “alien-yay.”

The Suppression kept out unwanted magic and suppressed the magic of any magical creatures inside its shimmery dome. Rienna’s cats Xio and Xia were some such magical creatures. Xia could control how much she weighed as well as some of the wind. She used this power to fly and to prevent people from moving. If she lived outside the Suppression, she could likely create a tornado, or make someone else float into the sky and be destroyed by the fire fairies called “stars.” Fortunately, the Suppression prevented her from such abilities while also taming her and making her more obedient. Her son, Xio, could not control wind or weight. Instead, he was showing signs of being able to understand the human language and potentially, in the future, the ability to speak the human language as well. This was still uncertain though, as he was still very young.

Rienna stood up from her desk to get a drink of water, accidentally bumping and suddenly waking the cats. Startled, Xia jumped and hit her head on the ceiling three feet above Rienna who rushed to catch her, “You silly cat! I barely even touched you!”

Xia glared at her and started grooming her tail in embarrassment before jumping down from Rienna’s arms. She, of course, landed on her son Xio.

“MEW!” Xio yowled as his, now 30 pound, mother stepped on his paw, “MEOWRRY?” He mewled. Rienna, not wanting to get in the middle of a cat fight, tiptoed out of her room as Xia licked the hurt paw in apologies while stepping on yet another one of her son’s paws.

Rienna traveled down the hall and into the kitchen. There she grabbed a cup and started to fill it with water. Looking out the window, she saw the edge of the Suppression which was shimmering with the intense light of the king of the fire fairies called the sun. Rienna couldn’t imagine how bright his light would be in the Alyene. Inside the Suppression, the brightest lights always came from the fire fairies that were stuck in wax and were under the control of the Sovereign. Their common name was candle fairies, which no one knew what the meaning of the word candle was other than it was probably the type of wax that the fairies were stuck in.

Rienna gazed at the hazy mountains placed right outside of the Suppression. She blinked in surprise.Walking toward the Suppression were two soldiers dressed in iron armor. The helmets that obscured their faces each had a purple circle on top. It was said that the Sovereign granted immunity to fairies such as the sun, stars, and moon to the most elite guards in the military. These guards were called fairyeld guards. All fairyeld guards had a black helmet with a purple pin in the shape of the kingdom, which, because of the suppression, was a circle and wasn’t super interesting. But when you are the only human kingdom left, or when there is no contact with any other kingdoms, it doesn’t really matter how cool your flag is or if the shape of the kingdom looks neat.

The fairyeld guards were likely traveling to the Sovereign’s fortress outside of the Suppression or perhaps to magical crop fields that were Vieryen’s main food supply, which were also outside the Suppression since their magic made them grow faster.

Rienna quietly opened the front door and tiptoed out. She then quickly ran to one of the farm’s apple trees and climbed it so that she could spy on the guards. Rienna watched as they approached the shining barrier. The two guards didn’t even flinch as they passed through it. The guards walked through the shield and left burning holes in the barrier. As soon as the guards completely passed through the Suppression, the holes snapped closed with a crack making the guards seem like mere blobs.

Rienna sat in the tree astonished and confused; in her five second glimpse of the Alyene, she saw color so bright and beautiful. Why was such color removed inside of the Suppression? There was also blinding light from the sun fairy that would have killed the guards if they didn’t have protection. I guess it is a good thing that we don’t have such light and colors within the Suppression. She thought regretfully, If only there was a way to have everyone in Vieryen have immunity to fairies and other such magic. It’s too bad the Sovereign isn’t that powerful.

“Mow?” Xia and Xio suddenly appeared under the apple tree with questioning looks on their faces, “Meowis mwea!” mewed Xio, who was perched on top of Xia like a parrot. They started to walk farther into the orchard, gesturing with their tails for Rienna to follow them.

Confused, Rienna followed the pair of cats deeper into the densening orchard, closer and closer to the perimeter of the Suppression. Finally, they reached the end of the orchard and the edge of the Suppression. Xia held her kitten by the scruff and easily jumped into a nearby tree, meowing at Rienna to come up the tree with her.

Rienna climbed the tree and sat on a high branch with her cats, “What do you guys want out of me?” she asked them, perplexed, “We’re at the edge of the Suppression, if we get too close to it we will be reported to the Sovereign who will lock us in a dungeon!”

Xia looked at her like she was the dumbest creature she knew. She craned her neck to look at Xio and mewed in his ear. He jumped off her back and onto the branch above. “Meollo!” He coughed, “Hello!” he mewed enthusiastically, “The close we is to the shiny, the betters our magic.”

Rienna almost fell off the tree. “You’ve learned to speak!” She was astonished; she had expected Xio to take another 6-7 months to learn how to talk. Now, all of a sudden, he could speak in full sentences that were startlingly understandable.

“I just told you, the closer I’s to the shine, the betters our magic! Now listens.” He inched as close as he could to the Suppression while still being on the branch, “Seven so days before now, me and mom see a weird, mysterious human like you come out from this orchard. We do not recognize him so we investigate. Every day around now time, he comes through the shine. We decide that you should know. We think he is not one of your human officials. Don’t let him see you when he comes.”

Rienna sat in surprised silence. They seemed to believe that whoever was coming through the Suppression wasn’t authorized to and hadn’t been detected and trapped as they passed through. They were probably talking about a fairyeld guard that took frequent trips to the Alyene she reassured herself. Her kingdom would become overrun by magical creatures if the Suppression was losing power, so they had to be mistaken. Yet for some reason, she believed otherwise.

Thirty minutes passed. Rienna started to believe that she had been imagining Xio talking and that she was wasting her time. Just then a humanoid shadow appeared behind the shield. She watched as it raised its hand, which was clutching something intensely, and traced a large circle in the barrier. The Suppression within the unseen circle shone brightly before gradually fading away.

Rienna crouched lower on the tree branch to better hide herself while she watched the stranger. He was wearing all black and he wore a cloth mask and a hood that hid his face. Rienna held the tree tighter as he walked toward the tree that she was perched in. He’s a bandit! Or a thief! Or some sort of rouge! And he is going to see me and rob me of everything I own, Rienna thought as the stranger arrived at the base of the tree. Without noticing Rienna, he tucked the object in his hand into a small hole in the tree. He then walked away and disappeared into the orchard.

Rienna and her cats waited another fifteen minutes before jumping down from the tree. Xia mewed and stared at the spot where the man had put the object. Rienna walked up to the tree and analyzed the object and the hole. Thoroughly wedged in the tree was a red-violet crystal that practically shined with magic. She dug her fingers into the bark and pried at the crystal as hard as she could, yet failed to remove the crystal from the tree. “UGH!” Rienna exclaimed.

"Is magic! What do you expect.” Xio said impatiently, “When we have seen him, he use special word. He say “Order of the Jevvitan” and then the tree opens. We no understand but it is how.”

“Fine. ORDER OF THE JEVVITAN. Now open,” said Rienna. The tree creaked and the crystal fell onto the ground. Rienna quickly picked it up. I wonder if this crystal will give me immunity to the fairies and I will be able to go into the Alyene like that bandit could! she thought to herself. She pondered for a while and decided that it was not worth it. She couldn’t risk losing the crystal and becoming vulnerable to magic. Also, her family would report her as missing and she would later go to jail for leaving the protection of the Suppression and risking the lives of others.

“Let’s go!” Xio mewed enthusiastically, “We go out the shiny!”

“No Xio! It is forbidden and the sun and stars might kill us, or at least me,” said Rienna.

“The sun and stars might kill you? What are you saying? Stars aren’t evil.” Xio mewed confused, “They can not any-”

“HEY! What are you doing with my crystal?!” the bandit who had come out of the Alyene jumped down from a tree, blocking Rienna from the rest of the orchard, “That crystal only belongs to the spies of the Jevvitan!”

“Quick! Use crystal and go in the not shield!” Xio yelled, jumping onto his mother’s head, “Spy are weird! Likely have knife.”

Flustered, Rienna just stood there in confusion. Then the spy started to grab a sharp shiny object from a sheath in his belt, “WHAT!? A KNIFE!?” Rienna screamed, confirming Xio’s statement, “NOPE. NOPE NOPE NOPE.” She hurriedly traced a large circle in the Suppression, trying to copy the movements she had seen the spy do earlier. “Open! Please open. Order of the Jevvitan! Open!” Rienna yelled as the circled Suppression started to slowly fade away revealing a bright colorful landscape of flowers, trees, and rocks.

Xia jumped onto the spy’s face with as much weight as possible, knocking him down and giving him a severely crooked nose. By the time the spy was able to stand back up, the circle had faded away and the cats had leapt into the Alyene.

Rienna hadn’t left though, hesitating. This is against the law, she thought.. If I stop now I can’t get in trouble. Yet she couldn’t see much other choice; a spy with a knife was standing in the only other exit, and they were part of some weird order that could be a cult for all she knew. As the circle started to turn opaque once again, she turned and cautiously jumped through the circle and into the light.

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