The Book of Myths.
Cyrilla reads this book using the rays of light that peek in through the cracks in the wooden floor above. It is a book full of mythological creatures and alien occurrences based on documents written by the first explorers. She has read every myth hundreds of times over and she loves every one of them. From the Agkiskeren, snakes with multi-colored scales that make them look like tiny rainbows, to Zephyr Island, a place where the wind is ever-gentle and even magical creatures are docile.
Cyrilla covets this book above everything else in her life. It is from this book that her hope reflects, blessing her with dreams of exploration and being able to discover which of the myths were true. What brings her back to reality are the booming footsteps that pass above her head. She can’t allow herself to be caught with the book, it isn’t learning material. Non-learning materials are luxuries and only the upper class are allowed to own luxuries.
The floorboards have kept Cyrilla safe since she was brought here a few months ago. She hasn’t even told the other girls about her hiding place, it is her spot to be secure with the book given to her by her late mother. Cold sweat runs down her dirtied skin and her bruises swell, a feeling she has become too familiar with. The boot settles on one of the cracks, slightly bending the floorboards down and blocking the light from entering.
“You might as well come out. You won’t be let off easy this time, don’t make it even worse for yourself,” a gruff, masculine voice threatens.
Cyrilla knows this is a trick. If she goes out, they figure out where she hides and besides, no one ever gets let off ‘easy’.
The man sighs and a beat passes before the boot elevates from the boards, the light knowingly peers into the crack and he walks out of the room. Cyrilla pushes the book into a little hole that she had previously dug out for it and waits. Even though she can’t avoid a beating, there’s a worse fate for the kids who disobey more than they’re worth. Once she’s certain the man has gone, she pushes the floorboard above her up and climbs her way out into the bedroom above. She makes sure to put everything as it was and brushes off the dust and dirt she had gotten on herself.
“Stop him! He’s got our tomes!”
Cyrilla panics at the sound of shouting, she immediately looks for a place to hide before registering that she is not the cause for this alarm. She shuffles over to the window and peers out, just enough that she can easily duck away from view. Through the polished pane she barely catches a glimpse of the bald, muscular man who runs by. A light-blue streak of energy follows in his wake, emanating from tattoos that decorate his exposed upper half. Far behind him are the sounds of boots slamming on dirt as the instructors and border guards struggle to keep up with the man’s speed. Cyrilla is enamored, though not so much so as to stick around while the instructors run past. What she sees as she turns around are the ill-tempered eyes of the instructor that was looking for her earlier. Cyrilla freezes up, as if he wouldn’t be able to see her if she didn’t move.
“So, you were in here,” he affirms as he steps closer. His hand grips around Cyrilla’s shoulder, cold upon her red and fearful skin. He takes a look out the window as the other instructors make their way by. “What’s going on out there doesn’t concern you. It will never concern you,” his voice grows harsh. “All you should be thinking about is training to serve the upper class, you understand?”
Cyrilla wants to kick and scream, she hopes that maybe the tattooed man will run in and save her but no such thing happens. Being caught is the worst thing that can possibly happen, it makes her look less compliant than if she just turns up late. Her bruises ache again.
“Do you understand?!” The instructor bellows as his grip tightens.
“Yes…” Cyrilla quietly concedes.
“Good,” the man’s hand slightly eases. He looks Cyrilla over again and comments “your dress is wrinkled. The upper class wouldn’t take you looking like that, sort yourself out.”