Little People: Chapter 3

They had defined the Alior as Family.

It wasn’t translated from any specific language so Kashmir didn’t understand where it came from. He thought it was ironic, though, seeing as families were usually synonymous with love and not so much violence.

There had been six of them, and they had believed that it was their job to spark the revolution. That had been across the ocean, over a lifetime ago. Kashmir didn’t like remembering it. Now, he wasn’t sure whether that was because of the pain of the memories or the confusion.

His father had filled his head with all these ideas of how terrifying the Alior was, how harmful their beliefs were. Kashmir had begun to think that those words were not spoken out of anger or any kind of strength, but out of fear.

Fear was many times too-great a motivator.

But the Alior had been fighting for peace. A dictator had risen up in the middle of Qurdoba’s struggles—he had called himself Jakori Makievich and said that he could “save them”. Most likely, no one knew exactly from what they were being saved, just that they were unhappy and wanted a way out.

It had sparked a civil war. Kashmir had been too young and too-well hidden away during the fighting to formulate his own opinion, and in the many nights he’d lain awake thinking of it now—safe, in a new home, surrounded by new people, with his own “Alior” of sorts—he had changed his mind more times than he could count. It had gotten to the point where his head hurt just thinking about any of it.

There was only one thing that had really led him to start thinking that Makievich’s ideals may not have been entirely innocent—magic. Magic hadn’t existed in Irloqin before this point, but that was Makievich’s plan—his big secret and the key to saving his country from ruin. Somehow, he had discovered it, and he planned to harness it, use it to his advantage. Kashmir still wasn’t sure how that was supposed to have worked, but it hadn’t, so he assumed he didn’t have to try to understand.

The rest of the world had been gifted magic instead. Gifted was most definitely too nice a term, but it was the one Kashmir preferred—magic had cursed Qurdoba and blessed the rest of Irloqin in its stead.

Of course, not everyone was given magic—it seemed to have been distributed at random. The way his father had explained it was that magic was like a ticking bomb. It had been captured and held in a cage and, eventually, it would explode.

And that is exactly what happened.

It exploded, and all of a sudden, all around the world, families were waking up to find themselves with extraordinary children, and children were waking up to find themselves with extraordinary families. The change was immediate and catastrophic and irreversible. Some had loved it, some couldn’t care less, and some—like the king and queen of Atija, like Myrin Ochoa—had despised it with all they had.

Some had reasons—Myrin was Qurdoban, her father had been killed in the civil war, and magic had been the cause. Kashmir didn’t like how this hatred had built in her, but he couldn’t blame her for its present. Cassius and Adaline Santora, however, had no reason behind the lengths they went to to stifle magic from their lands.

Kashmir’s father had told him this would happen, that some people just weren’t meant to understand. These were the people who didn’t deserve the gift at all.

If it wasn’t given to me, then no one should have it, and I will burn villages to the ground if it means preserving ourselves from such dangers.

It was ironic, Kashmir thought, to have one’s biggest fear be fear itself, and yet that was always what he had believed his to be. Because fear manifested in so many ways, took so many forms and led to so many disasters—how could he not be afraid of it?

The worst of all these disasters, though, he knew had to be the anger. The hatred that came from not being able to understand something. That was the worst devastation of all. He had seen it with his own eyes and he would forever wish, pointlessly, for it to vanish forever from his mind.

But Kashmir had come to learn that memories didn’t work like that. He kept forgetting, which made it ever the more painful when he remembered.

Some things you just never forget.