Chapter 1 -The beginning
The Citadel of Meli was immersed in thick opaline mist. The night was chasing the second sun from the titian sky while the merchants were rushing to gather their products and leave Thelos plaza. Bessa glanced to her right, hoping to spot her fellow merchant, but she had already gone. The girl sighed, for she dreaded going home alone, and she lived two miles away, on the city’s outskirts.
Bessa waved her hand over the bracelets, necklaces and rings made with precious stones from the valley of the Pricca river. Crystals were shining in the candlelight, borrowing the pale ruby of poppies, the purest blue of the sky, the pearly colour of Omega, and the green of the freshly sprouted leaves. The jewels moved in boxes under the girl’s magic. She observed as everything was aligning quietly on the cabinet shelves and the doors closed shut, and for a second, her eyes glittered with red, blue, silver, and green. Her mother forbade using magic in public, and she complied. And yet she broke the rule tonight. Once won’t matter. She did basic tricks only. This way, nobody would know she is a turan witch, a witch that brought the dead back to life.
Then, the girl sealed the stone hut, and slightly discouraged, she covered her claret-red hair with a fluffy woollen shawl and left the plaza behind. She could hear voices in the distance, arguing over a royalty matter. The King’s oldest son was getting married to a charming princess. A woman said the future bride came from another realm, but the second voice disagreed since the other worlds were known to be uninhabited.
Terrified by the sly shadows creeping in the dense mist, Bessa hastened her steps. The fog often showed up because of the waters surrounding the city suburbs. The murky waters were sheltering sinister creatures called chimaeras lurking in their depths. They would feed with corpses and emerge at night, under the mystic light of Megalot and Omega, devouring animals in people’s households. Humans would go missing now and then, and everyone believed chimaeras were responsible.
The girl was panting while struggling to spot the bridge’s lights. The bridge linked her neighbourhood to the commercial areas. Finally, she detected the night lights and gasped—halfway from home.
She glared at the waters, silvery and mysterious, and her heartbeats increased. Then, a splash followed by a sharp sound made her stop in fear. Instinctively, she searched for a place to hide, but the bridge had none. Only a few trees sheltering the river bank could help her
I could hide there. Or use magic.
Another splash echoed, and a sharp sound followed. Then, somewhere behind her, steps hollowed, and Bessa gathered her courage and sprinted forward. The follower increased their pace, and the girl increased hers as well. Drops of sweat emerged on her upper lip, and her temples flustered. Now she was running, the wooden boards whining under her feet.
“Miss Bessa? Miss?”
The girl halted, her voice lost between gasps. “Who is it? Moes? Is that you?” she said, recognising the boy’s guttural voice.
“Yes, it’s me. Are you in a hurry? Why are you running?” The lad finally caught her up. He ran his hand through his bleached hair and propped his palms on his knees while taking a deep breath. He was pretty handsome, tall and fine-boned, and Bessa fancied him.
“It is the mist. It scares me,” the girl cried, her hand lying on her generous chest to calm down the snappy heartbeats.
“Oh,” the boy said and chortled. “Then I’ll join you.”
Bessa agreed, even if she knew his house was in the opposite direction. Moes smiled and grabbed her hand. They were walking in silence, and she wasn’t afraid of the mist anymore. She was listening to the boy’s precipitated breath and softly squeezed his hand as they reached her house. Bessa stared at him, amazed at how tall he was.
“I’ll wait for you to get inside.”
She whispered, “Thank you.” For a second, her eyes wandered on Moes’s generous lips. She looked aside, her heart pounding like crazy. Then she smiled and pushed against the massive entrance door; it opened with a stridulous sound. A few seconds later, a powerful knock echoed. Still smiling, Bessa opened the door widely. She had no time to see them. She only felt the blunt object smashing her left temple, and everything went black.