When Ryan and Alex made it up the final hill, the city unfolded before them. They were in the Bridge Twin East, and just across the river was the Bridge Twin West. The buildings were alive with their classic purple shimmer, a characteristic that came from the tint in the marble that had been used to build them. For a city dedicated solely to the people of the Joined, it was a magnificent place. Amaray had always been known as the Kingdom by the Sea, for its housing of a ruler and its worship of the ocean; Eresther had always been a place of exquisiteness and bustling joy, filled to the brim with trade and deals and wine; Tuzedo was known for its exotic nature, a place where newcomers could visit and find themselves enthralled with the women and food and silk. But the Bridge Twins… Ryan loved them because they, though tilted toward the expensive and magnificent, were always for the people. Uvella understood that, and as the unofficial queen over the Free Territories, she honored the rural country people behind the Heavenly Barricade. The Bridge Twins were filled with farmers and other simple folk, yet the cities remained upscale to suit the guilty pleasures of those who worked all day.
“We’ll have to cross the bridge,” Ryan said to Alex, reining in his horse.
“I was hoping,” Alex said, eyes wide and filled with the gleam of the lantern light.
They made their way through the city, dodging large carts heading north for the country, and couples dressed like the finest in Eresther. Ryan smiled at all he passed, his body tingling with the scents and sounds of a place as familiar and welcome in his heart as his family.
They followed the gentle road to the start of the bridge. So high up, Ryan’s blood raced through his veins. As they slowly crossed, on either side of them the cities leaned down away from the bridge and into the distance, disintegrating into green fields.
“Beautiful,” Alex murmured.
“Have you been here before?” Ryan asked, soaking up the view. His nose caught scents of sweet breads and glazed meats, his skin prickled with the warm breeze, his eyes remained lit with the light from the painted paper lanterns.
Alex shook his head. “Not once. Elise always took care of the rebels in the free territories, so I have little knowledge of the area aside from Eresther.”
“I grew up here. For a while, it was all I knew.” Ryan tossed his hair out of his face and looked outward again.
“I would be fine not knowing anything but this,” Alex said. “My life has been too filled with travel and adventure that I have a deep appreciation for the lives that these people live.”
“My life wasn’t full of enough exploration,” Ryan said.
Alex chuckled. “I too have an obsessive love for roaming.”
“Alex, do you ever feel fear toward this rebellion?” Side by side, despite the carriages and people, Ryan felt private riding with Alex.
“Every day,” he said.
Nicole J. Persun started her professional writing career at the age of sixteen with her young adult novel, A Kingdom’s Possession, which later became a finalist for ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year Award. Aside from novels, Nicole has had short stories, flash fiction, poetry, and essays published in a handful of literary journals. Her inspiration is drawn from the latest studies and findings in biology, astronomy, archaeology, psychology, and any other form of scientific, historical, or artistic discovery. She often speaks at libraries, writer’s groups, and writer’s conferences across the country. Currently getting a degree in creative writing, Nicole lives in Washington State. For more information, visit Nicole’s website at: http://www.nicolejpersun.com.
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