Updated Chapter 1

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So you may be wondering why I decided to update Chapter 1. I didn't really love the first chapter of the book, and I am not really sure if I love this version either. However, I do think it is better, and I hope you like it!

It is still set from Aspen Mayfair's point of view in the Democracy!

Querencia (n.) a place from which one's strength is drawn, where one feels at home; the place where you are your most authentic self

I was born in the city of words.

It is a place where minds run free and where thoughts are let wild and left untamed. It is the epicenter of freedom and self-expression, the quintessence of art and literature, a hub of discussion and debates, and the heartbeat of hope. Our city is a hive of ideas and incessant improvement. It represents the core of humanity, the idea that we are individual entities fighting for the truth in a world of lies.

My first memory of this city was sitting in the Forum, watching with fascination as people circulated throughout the political arena fighting for their own version of truth. Thousands of people sitting in the stands and hundreds of people moving around like the steady flow of a stream as they partook in the duty they were given at birth: their right to their own belief. Every day, the Forum hosted debates where people were given the chance to speak their mind on whatever topic they wanted, to propose new legislation to be considered, to debate what they believed, and to fight for their rights as an individual.

I wanted to stand on that stage and battle for my own version of the truth, to present facts and speeches that shook the feet underneath even the greatest orators, bringing down the pillars of their beliefs.

It was in the Forum where I felt the most at home. I could feel my strength drawn from the massive stage upon the hill, a cobblestone circle giving way to stands that rose hundreds of feet into the air. It was the most majestic sight I had ever seen, a shining city upon the hill, a beacon for all mankind.

These debates were amazingly intricate to watch as they switched from side to side, a constant game between the opposing arguments. Sometimes, on a normal day, there would be just two people. Other times, when the twice monthly public debates were held, there would be two hundred people standing on the stage. Regardless, I always watched with bright eyes and an open mind.

There was one day, when I was twelve years old, that my entire perspective on life changed. It was such a powerful day that others paled in comparison.

The Proedroi was my mother that afternoon. As the Proedori, it was her task to oversee the debates and to ensure that every person got the chance to speak their mind. Her voice was deafeningly loud when she announced the topic that would be discussed.

"It has been proposed by Amdir Havens to discuss sending a search party beyond the gates."

A hush fell over the crowd, like a blanket that snuffed out the sound of even the slightest whispers. We all knew that, beyond the stone wall, there was a world entirely unknown to us. Besides the forest outside the gates, we knew nothing about what lay beyond. We grew up hearing rumors of terrifying beasts and unproclaimed horrors, prompting every citizen to hold a fear of what lay beyond. It was a topic that was not discussed lightly. It was heavy, a discussion that carried with it the burden of the unknown, a fear so crippling that many were left pondering what lay beyond without ever wishing to search for the answers.

Whenever I asked questions, I was quickly silenced, provided with an unsatisfactory explanation. People told me that what lay beyond the fence was dangerous. The fence was our protector.

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