Prelude

Prelude


History. If you don’t learn from it, you’re doomed to repeat it.

My father and I were standing on the roof of his theater. It was not the one in Cratersville. This was his other home. The one that suited his style best. Why we didn’t end up here in this big city of lights instead of the sleepy little desert community in Cratersville I would never know.

It was well past midnight, yet the city was still alive and sparkling, noisy with taxi horns and sirens. The quietest thing in the city was us. Two people, who could play their parts, yet had run out of things to say.

The decorum of this town was ’20s to ’30s twentieth century. It had the foreboding of the American era on which it was fashioned—interwar anxiety, economic depression, building oppression overseas, speakeasies.

Nevertheless, somehow this icon-city had gone from being merely shaded by its era to living its fear. The decorum was cracking, allowing the theatrical existence of this metropolis to become all too real.

My father exhaled and snuffed out his cigarette. He always smoked after his performances—a deadly ritual. He still crackled with the energy he had harnessed for his show, though he had long since removed his stage makeup and changed into his street attire appropriate for the era.

I was not appropriate. I was dressed in one of my usual rebellious styles, not grunge, not goth, more like rainbow defiant. I had charmed my hair black with rainbow highlights. I wore a black, leather skirt with rainbow-striped shirt. Usually, in late January, I would have been wearing a coat to cover my sin against the decorum, but it was unusually warm—another sign that nothing was quite right.

He said nothing of my era-breaking. I had arrived in the shadows and would leave the same way via my own secret portal. I was a ghost, a phantom, an all too striking and haunting image of him. I was destined to follow in his footsteps, though I had yet to discern what those footsteps would be. That’s why I was here.

“So, when do you fight to change things?” I asked, already knowing it was a tactic I would not choose, yet knowing—from things my sister Poppy had told me—that it would certainly be a choice I would have to face.

“Perhaps you should ask not when, but where.” He turned to me. His look was grim. “Your fight is not here, despite the chaos you sense around you.”

My breath caught, just as it did when Poppy had hinted the same. “Where then?”

“In a realm you do not know.”

“You mean the Creators Realm,” I clarified what he had left unsaid.

The Creators Realm was a realm of legend—at least according to the inhabitants of the icon worlds. No one believed it was real.

History in the icon worlds was scripted, decorum was followed, and people living under “the enchantment” never seemed to question why things never changed.

The concept that the worlds were created long ago by Creators and Magicians working with a powerful Magic was the stuff of lore.

My sister, Poppy—being a Traveler—had known that the lore and legends were true. She had educated me in the arcane.

My father was more cryptic. I believe he couldn’t speak of who he really was or what it meant for me, anymore than Poppy and I could divulge the various shenanigans we had been up to or what it meant to the icon worlds at large.

It was part of working with the Magic—one of those minor binding clauses you didn’t break.

“How do I get there?” I asked, knowing he wouldn’t know.

“That knowledge is not mine.”

I took a leap. “Have I been there before?”

“You were born there,” he said. “I am convinced you will return.”

“And it’s there that I will fight?”

“Yes.”

“But, what if I choose differently?” I said, not to ask, but to make my position known.

“I believe you will find that you do not have a choice.”

Somehow, though I knew his words to be true, I also knew that my soul would not let me repeat his story—his history.

I was the Bard. I was determined to write a new script. Even if it killed me.

—Jellybean Reds, Creator of Little Creatures

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