The Lost Cities have fallen. The peace, even after the Neverseen were gone, was inturrupted. And the elves were defeated by a force stronger than they could ever be. A force no one expected. A force that had hiddin light. That had hid in sunshine. That we trusted and believed we're the kind sympathetic creatures that everyone loved. No one expected the gnomes to take over. And now, Ariadne Schur, a rebel elf living on the streets of the Fallen Cities, finds she is more than what she seems. Discover how this could give Ariadne a wealthy and calming life, or she could use her power to break Councillor Oralie's secret daughter out of prison. She could bring the Lost Cities back. Discover how hard it is for Ariadne to make the right choice instead of falling in line and obeying the gnomes like her the rest of the elves. By the author Betsyfrancisdamesmer, a journey takes flight without the Black Swan or Neverseen to help, and all Ariadne has is her street smarts and a few friend to help her along the way.
“Hey, you!” The man at the counter yelled, seeing my poor attempt at smuggling a box of rifflepuffs. Shoot.
“Typo!” I call, snapping my fingers so my Australian Shepherd can pull himself away from the gnome kids petting him and dressing him with flower crowns.
I stuff any food I can find into the pockets of my scarlet coat and dash out of the colorful store.
My dog runs after me, his clear blue eyes wild with excitement like they always are when we steal. Stealing. I shiver, still remembering what my parents would tell me, “Don’t ever steal, Ariadne. Stealings bad. You can always ask first”. But that was years ago. Now they were trapped in exile like the other adult elves.
“Get back here!” I can feel a hand swipe my dark blue hair and realize that I’ve slowed down. I curse and speed up, catching up to my furry friend.
I see a corner and smile to myself. I focus my body language so that it looks like I’m planning to turn. When the corner is only a few feet away I stop, surprising the gnomes chasing me. They look at me questioningly and keep running. I smile, extend my hands, and let the electricity I bury within myself pour out if my calloused fingers.
The gnome's eyes widen and they start screaming at each other to get away. They recognize me now. The Charger who can't control her power. The girl who refuses to go to school. An Elf. The Elf.
I turn the corner and find an alley. I climb a building and look at the electricity dancing across the street. I smile to myself and pat Typo’s head, sitting down on the roof. I can see that a worker from a store nearby is trapped against a building and my electric shocks are inches away from him.
I frown and snap my fingers.
The electricity instantly disappeared and I tense again. I stuff the electricity that begs to rain out of my body in a mental box, keeping myself calm. After a few deep breaths, the electricity inside me calms down and keeps itself contained.
I smile and pat Typo, whose head is curled up in my lap. My smile fades when I notice how skinny he is. “Come on boy,” I say, taking some food out of my knapsack “You can't run if your that shrimpy”.
I toss Typo the food and take out a few different colored dyes. Every time the public recognizes me, I change my hair color and length so it's harder for people to notice me. I look at the colors in front of me: red, orange, blond and purple.
I wash out my navy blue hair to reveal my light brown hair rarely anyone besides Typo sees anymore. I take small streaks of my wavy hair and dye them a milkie blond color.
I then take the scissors I keep in my bag and cut my waist-length hair and cut it so that it rests right above my shoulder. I take the bright orange dye and dip the tips of my hair in the colorful bottle. I then put away the dyes and scissors, then take out the cracked mirror Akila gave to me for my tenth birthday.
I run my hands through my new hair. I've gotten pretty good at cutting my hair without help over the years. I smile at my work and put my mirror away. I take out my blanket and call for Typo.
“Good work today” I murmur to my best friend as he curls up next to me, his colorful fur brushing against my clothes. I shiver when the ice cold wind brushes my shoulder. The freezing wind sings a lullaby I haven't heard since the gnomes took my mother away.
The trees across the street slowly tug at my consciousness, begging me to fall asleep. And soon, Typo’s breath steadies. I look at the star stained sky and the calmness of the night makes the Fallen Cities look peaceful.
I crawl out of the blanket me and Typo share and sit cross-legged on the edge of the roof. I rub the palm of my hand, careful not to touch the small rash that was growing due to the few minutes when my hand was stuck in a tangle of poison ivy.
Stupid gnomes and their nature.
The wind and the trees have stopped trying to mesmerize me to sleep. I take out my line of cloth from my bag and fiddle with it, trying to keep myself awake. When I feel myself drifting away, I remember the horror on Akila’s face when she saw how the electricity destroyed our home.
I stare at the bright stars, keeping myself awake. I’ve almost torn the cloth by the time the sun starts to come up. I yawn and force myself to stretch, taking in a large gulp of air.
I walk to where Typo’s curled up. “Come on boy,” I say, starting our daily morning wake up.
“Rrrrg” Typo growls, his glacier-blue eyes still closed. I don't have to be a Polyglot to understand what that meant.
“Time to wake up” I repeat, gathering his blanket and putting it in my knapsack. When the Australian Shepard ignores me, I pick him up and yell in his ear: “WAKE UP YA LAZY DOG”.
He jumps out of my arms and growls. I just laugh and pet his head. After packing my bag and dealing with Typos constant death glares, my best friend and I are on the move once more.
I quickly walk as far as I can from the store I just stole from. They didn't catch me, that has to be a good sign. I see a boy about my age looking my way. Staring at me.
Eight years ago I would have giggled and waved at him with a dopey smile. But now I tense. Does this boy recognize me? I start walking faster, just in case.
“Hey!” He says, running towards me. I’m silently praying he's talking to someone behind me, but I know we're in an empty alleyway. An alleyway. Of course. He’s just trying to rob me or something.
I look back at him. He’s not the scrawniest kid, but I can take him down if he tries anything. And I really feel like punching someone today. I stop and turn to him. He’s still trying to catch up to me. Weak.
“Hey,” he says when he reaches me. I give him a hard look, a look like “I’m not the person you should be robbing”. He ignores my look and gives me an adorable smile. I mentally slap myself. Get yourself together Ariadne. He’s trying to rob you. “Are you Ariadne Schur?”.
So he’s not trying to rob me. He knows who I am. And that is so much worse.
“Who wants to know,” I say, narrowing my fierce eyes. Thousands of ideas run through my brain. He could be a black market salesman. He could be a… telepath? I just changed my disguise, there is no way anyone could have recognized me that easily.
“I’m taking that as a yes,” he says proudly, interrupting my thoughts. “I’m Tyler, you can call me Ty”.
“What do you want” I growl, Typo isn't moving. He usually attacks anyone who comes this close to me.
“Woah, calm down princess,” Ty says with a smirk “I have to take you somewhere” he grabs my wrist and I pull away.
“Don't touch me” I growl. “I’m not going anywhere”. I start walking away but he grabs my wrist again.
“Please” he begs “I need you to come with me. Jafabia will kill me if he knows that I found you and didn't bring you home.”
“Look,” I say, turning towards Ty “I don't know if you're going to arrest me or kidnap me, but I don't want anything to do with you and Jeffrey”
“It's Jafabia” he corrects “and who said anything about you getting arrested? Your father just thinks it's time for you to learn about whom you're going to have to be one day”.
“I shouldn't have come here” I whisper to Typo, looking at the large marble castle that Ty light leaped us to. I know what your thinking. “Ariadne, don't you know not to light leap with strangers?!” and “He could have kidnapped you!”. But when a boy tells you that your dad may be alive and living in a giant castle, you don't really have a choice but to light leap with him.
Ty leads me through the lush green garden (but every garden is lush due to the gnomes) and a door bigger than my old room. I gasp at the crystal chandeliers and diamond tiled floors. I haven't seen a place this fancy since our house was destroyed.
Suddenly, Ty’s gone. A girl I never thought I would see again, stands in front of me. Tears dance across her pink cheeks and she wraps her arms around me. “Akila?” I whisper in her ear "Aki? Is this really you?".
Is this a dream? Did I fall asleep? The gnomes took Akila years ago. How is she here?! I pinch myself, but I don't wake up.
“It's not a dream” I realize that Akila’s said this, not me. I pull away from her and get a good look at my older sister. She's dressed in a flowing gown, and her dark blond hair is put in a fancy twist. Her eyes sparkle a royal blue.
“W-what's going on” I manage to say, realizing Ty’s just walked in with a handful of maids.
“I’ll explain after you get out of… that” she waves a hand at my coat and tights. She points to a maid “Antoinette, show Ari to her room. I have a meeting with my father to attend to.”
Before my older sister walks out the door, she turns to me “If you need anything, just call the maids and they’ll fetch me” she hugs me once more and disappears through the doorway, leaving me stunned.
The next thing I know, maids drag me into a fancy room. It reminds me too much of my old room. I groan at the sight of bright colored dresses with layers and layers of jewel-encrusted silk.
I get dressed in the least sparkly dress I can find. I then tie a bow around Typo’s head, which he takes of right away. I wash out my blond and orange hair. I have to admit, I want to impress father. And Akila. And Ty. Wait, what?
My hair’s brown now. And I hate it. I want to take every die out of my bag and put them in my horrible brown hair. I want to take out my scissors and give myself a non-fancy haircut.
I pat Typo’s head “What am I doing?” I ask him. He gives me a look like “I’m hungry, lady. That's why we're here”.
I sigh and open the door to find Ty leaning on the doorframe, waiting for me. “What are you doing here” I narrow my eyes at the brown haired boy. I can see Ty’s face fall, but the sadness disappears as soon as it had come.
“I’m taking you to dinner! Akila and your father won't be home for an hour or two”.
I give him a glare “I’ll wait for them”. I shut the door just in time to see Ty’s face, flushing with negative emotions. I try not to think about him.
It turns out Akila took longer than a few hours. She came by my room to apologize, saying that her meeting with father took longer than expected.
“Come on,” she said, taking my hand “You’ll love the dinner cook prepared for us”.
We walked down the marble staircase, and I couldn't bring myself to ask any questions. For half the dinner (which was the best thing I've had in a long time), I just stared at Akila (father still hadn't arrived) in wonder and tried to ignore Ty, who was staring at me.
Finally, I was able to ask a question. “What's going on,” I say “Dad and Mom are supposed to be in Exile, and so are you!” I take a bite of the mallowmelt on my plate (gods I haven't eaten homemade mallowmelt in so long).
Akila just smiles “Father was a spy for the gnomes,” she says, and I notice a hint of pride in her calm voice “they built him this house and he works for them now. Mothers still in exile, she was loyal to the elves or something like that”.
It takes me a moment to register what my sisters just said “Wait what” I say, a hint of worry creeping through my calm tone “Are you going to arrest me?”.
If father wasn't caring enough to spare his wife from Exile, he won't protect his daughter. My thoughts thunder so loud in my head, I can barely hear Akila’s response. “No silly” she laughs “You're going to be queen”. I can see a hint of jealousy in her expression, but soon it disappears.
“Queen?” I ask, majorly confused “Of what? And why not you?”.
Akila smiles “Of the Fallen Cities, of course,” she says “Well, not right away” she added quickly. Relief floods through me. “First, the wedding has to happen!”
I spit out my mallowmelt “W-WHAT!” I say, locking eyes with my sister “I AM NOT GETTING MARRIED”. I push my plate to the middle of the long marble dinner table “I’m sixteen for crying out loud” I say bitterly “And… WHY CAN’T YOU DO IT”.
Akila is giving me a look that says “aw, isn’t she oblivious and cute, but I’m still not going to tell her anything because I want to enjoy seeing her emotional breakdown”, and Ty’s just looking very uncomfortable.
“Oh, come on,” my sister says “Don’t be all dramatic. You're not even marrying a jerk. He’s kinda cute”, she shrugs.
“DO YOU THINK I CARE” I yell “AND-wait. YOU ALREADY PICKED SOMEONE I HAVE TO GET MARRIED TO?!”. I stand up, slamming my fork on the table “AND WHY DO I HAVE TO GET MARRIED WHEN YOUR SIX YEARS OLDER THAN ME”.
Akila sighs. “Long story short, father’s your father. He’s my step-father, or that’s what humans call it” she says, shrugging “and the Fallen Cities need a queen by blood. So… Congrats”.
I just stand there, fuming and majorly confused. But I let it pass.
I sigh “I’m going to bed. AND WHY ISN’T FATHER HERE YET!”.
I don’t wait for an answer and instead storm up the stairs. Sadly, I trip and fall, only catching myself with the marble railing. I try slamming the door to my room, but it gets caught on my dress and hits me in the face.
“I HATE YOUR FANCY MANSION” I yell.
Akila rolls her eyes “Be sensible, dear” she says so calmly it makes me angry “It’s a castle”.
That night, I feel like sleeping a lot. Which you think would be normal for a sixteen-year-old girl who hasn’t slept in eight years. When I sleep, the electricity inside me flows out, and the last time that happened, my house burned down. And I really want to burn down this castle/mansion thingy.
Instead, I let Typo take over my feathered bed and sit in front of a mirror.
I give my chocolate brown hair a look that might have burned my locks off if I hadn’t stopped so soon. After giving my hair death glares, I take everything I have in my knapsack and spill the contents on the sea green vanity that matches my large eyes.
As I dip large strands of my hair in the dyes spread around me, I notice a silver bottle across the room. I don’t know what it is, but you never know until you try!
After I finish turning my hair into alicorn poop, I take a bit of the silver contents and rub it in my hair.
When I look into the mirror in front of me, I gasp. My hair is now below waist length and the longest I've ever seen it. Surprisingly, the assortment of dyes in my hair has grown with it.
I run my hands through my new hair. No knots. "Cool," I mutter to myself.
I take the navy curtains in my hands, forcing myself to stay awake, but somehow, the sleepiness that I've always been able to ignore is more powerful tonight, and I don't have time to fight the force tugging at my consciousness.
And then I fall, my back landing softly on the ground beneath me. My head resting on my arm. And for the first time in eight years, feel peace late in the night. I'd forgotten what sleep felt like.
I wake up with a jolt, my dreams had been full of princes and fancy people. It was horrible.
For a second, I feel like I'm dead. Everything feels too bright, the noise outside is too loud, Typo's fur is to ruff.
Being awake feels horrible.
And then I remember. I had fallen asleep. I scramble up, bracing myself for the bright sparks of electricity around me, the wild flames that must be swimming around my room, maybe even the entire house. But all I see is Akila, smiling at me from the door.
"Hello, dearie," my sister says "We put a bed in here for you, not the animal", she points to Typo, who's grooming himself innocently on the bed.
"Wha-Why-" I stutter, looking around my unburnt room.
"We put a containment sedative in your mallowmelt-" Aki started
"YOU GAVE ME A SEDATIVE".
My sister sighs "The future queen needs her sleep, don't you think?"
"You are just asking to be punched in the face"
"Your Majesties," a maid says, peeking her pale out the door "He's waiting".
"Ah yes, thank you, Beatrice" my sister responds with a smile "Come on Aria, your prince is waiting!"
After being dragged out of my room in a short tea green dress, I was escorted to a tree garden. Aki called it an arboretum, but I think I know a tree garden when I see one.
The trees have jewels hanging from their branches and are fruitless, I scan the garden, and see a boy under a large tree tossing a jewel from the tree up and down.
"That's him" Akila whispers in my ear.
I roll my eyes "Really? I had no idea" I say.
My sister gives me a look "When you meet him, only say a few words. And try not to act... sarcastic? mean? Just... don't act like you".
I walk towards my future lover, ignoring my sister's orders.
"No! Ariadne, what are you doing? Not yet!"
But the boy's seen me already, and I don't hesitate as I reach the tree he's sitting under.
"Hello, you must be Ariad-" the boy starts.
"I hate you," I say plainly.
The boy has dirty blond hair and glacier-blue eyes a lot like Typo's. He gives me a very confused look.
I turn to Akila, happily noticing her horrified expression "There we go" I say "I said a few words, can I go back now?".
"ARI!" my sister yells angrily "Excuse my little sister, she's lost-"
"I am not!"
"Please ignore her"
"-we still need to teach her proper manners and etiquette as well as cleaning her up a bit".
"Well, excuse me!"
"I think she looks beautiful," the boy says politely, kissing my sister's hand.
"Well, now I'm just offended".
The boy turns to me and gives me a bright smile "I feel we should start over, my names Cydney-"
"CYDNEY," I say, even more impolitely "Isn't that a girls name?"
"ARIADNE SCHUR-" Akila says, giving me a dangerous look.
"It's fine," Cydney says happily, but I can see a hint of pink on his cheeks, "My parents thought I was going to be a girl, so they were going to name me Sydney-"
"Yeah I really don't care"
Aki groans "All right, I have a meeting to go to so you two can chat. And Ari? BEHAVE YOUR SELF".
I give her a smile "Why wouldn't I?".
Seconds after my sister disappears into our palace I start walking away from Cydney.
"Um... what are you doing?" he asks
"Going back to my room"
"Princess Akila said we should talk"
"And? I've never done anything I don't want to do"
Silence fallows so I start climbing the stairs to my balcony. When I get to my room, I sigh and close my eyes, falling on the bed.
"What am I going to do Typo?" I say, running my hands through my dog's soft fur. "I thought I had everything, and then Ty comes along and-" I freeze.
Cydney is sitting on the chair of my vanity, admiring the half-empty bottles of dyes that I used last night.
"WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN HERE" I yell, surprising him.
"Oh, um, Akila told me to stay with you at all times," the prince said nervously.
"Of course she did"
An awkward silence lurked between us.
"So... where are you from"
"That was funny."
"Thanks, I'll be here all week"
"I'm from the palace if you were wondering"
"My father's a waiter, my mothers a cook"
"The rest of your family?"
Cydney hesitates "My older sister worked with the gnomes"
"She died a few years ago"
"I'm so sorry"
"Yeah. The gnomes took my parents and Akila away from me eight years ago. I thought they were dead. But they were just living in a giant castle. All but my mom. She's definitely dead"
"I'm so sorry"
I turned away "I don't need your pity"
"Okay, know you made me sad"
Cydney laughs softly, "Ability?"
"Charger. You may have heard of me? Girl Charges Rebellion in the Cities, Uncontrollable Charger, etc"
"The one and only"
"My sister loved you"
I give him a look "But she worked with the gnomes?"
"Yeah, she was killed for supporting the rebellion"
"It was her own fault"
"I'm sad again. Your ability?"
"What about your dog?"
I narrow my eyes "What about Typo?"
"Where'd you get her"
"It's a him"
"Where's you get him?"
"I found him half-drowned on the beach"
"ARIADNE SCHUR!" a familiar voice yells from the garden "Where is she!? Ty, you're supposed to be watching her!"
"Yay. The monsters back" I groan "You can go now"
But my sisters already stomping up the stairs to my room. Akila flings the door open, "WHAT ARE YOU- oh hello Cydney".
I shrank against the wall, pressing my fingers against my lips.
"Have you seen my sister?" Aki asks, not even glancing towards my hiding place.
"Yes- I think she went to the kitchen for a snack"
"Thank youuuuu!" she says, walking out the door.
"Okay, she's gone" I exhale.
"AHA I FOUND YOU!" Ty says, appearing in the corner.
Both me and Cydney jump.
"TY" I yell "WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM".
After being given a lesson on why I should follow my sister's orders, Aki finally let me have some alone time with Typo.
Like any normal person would do after a horrible start of the day, I took a nap.
When I woke up, something was resting on my nose.
That's when I read your first note. The note that would change my life forever.
"You have till midnight on your dreaded day, free me and we can set your life right."