#2nd Place in fantasy, Sweet and Spicy Awards. In a Kingdom located in the furthest South, some secrets are revealed by the one person who shouldn't know them. ____________ Cerissa's past life has been blotted out of her head leaving her to make decisions in a present that is sabotaged by her past, make friends her past marked as foes and walk herself to a trap her past constituted for her. She experiences love, loss and betrayal. _____________ "I've never seen trees like this, so many and so thin," I say, breathing the chill air as I look at the immense sublime trees standing in front of us on the other side of the brook, with movement of a whirlwind but look of a witch and I try to give myself a distraction not waiting for him to say anything but he does. "Legend says every tree encloses the soul of someone who died in the revolution, chastised by the king." "That's a gruesome thought." I shiver at the thought, and it occurs to me. He remembers. Yet I'm too onerous to state it. I don't want to concern myself with the reality, because the reality states that I'm an outrageous person, I slaughtered the hearts of so many innocents and that's one thing I don't want to believe. I also don't want to stop the velvet conversation as he tells me a few other legends that are less gruesome, ones about the hills surrounding the Hamlets, and a story about The Alpine Thudris, which I've never heard of, which also became the footstools of the gods and holds the magic of the stars. "Where'd you learn all these stories?" He shrugs, darting his eyes off the flickering flames to his lap, a furrow deepening over his brow for a minute. He finally lifts his chin with a proud air. "I grew up with them." And he ends the conversation, the only thing lulling my hideous thoughts to rest, saying it's probably time that we get some sleep. Cover image credit to: Unknown.