Rumors about a hidden city had been spreading for centuries. A secret Utopia, if you will; but rumors were all they ever were. No one actually believed that such a city existed. It was just a message of hope passed down from one generation to the next. Hope of a better future. Of better times ahead. Ambrosia knew the stories well. Probably a little better than most. Her family was always moving around. With every new city came the same story. Sometimes with little differences between them. Some were completely new versions she hadn’t heard before.
They were never in one place for to long. Her father was convinced that this city was real so he was always collecting the differences and plotting out their next move. Every passing year, though, Ambrosia grew less confident in the story and more cynical toward what it represented. To her it was false hope. Some gleaming shimmer of light that was quickly extinguished as soon as you started moving towards it.
Ambrosia’s mother was so in love with her father that she didn’t care what they did or where they went. She was the loyal companion that would follow him to the ends of the earth and back. She loved that about her mother, but after the sickness, it was just her and her father.
She didn’t mean to, but Ambrosia blamed her father for what happened to her mother. She was about 13 when they moved to Ballard just south of The Plains when the sickness hit. It took down a quarter of the population in one fell swoop, her mother being one of them. After hearing news of the sickness spreading, any cities that weren’t affected closed their doors to keep it from getting in. The city they just traveled from was one of those cities. Not one of their residents got sick. No one died. In her mind, her father moving them to Ballard was her mother’s death sentence, and she didn’t know if she could forgive him for that.
Her father was never the same after that. They remained in Ballard. The last city he and his wife had lived together. The light in his eyes went out. He became a hermit and never left the house. He put away all his books, journals, sketches; anything that had to do with the hidden city. He didn’t want to be reminded of the unobtainable dream of living there with his family. The hope it held out for him for so long didn’t seem to matter anymore.
Ambrosia was sad for her father and what he had turned into, but she was also happy that he had given up on the hidden city. Never did she have to endure one of his stories about the promises of the city. It’s treasures and protection. She all but ignored them when people in the city would share their versions. Not many tried to tell her anymore. They all knew. Knew not to try and share.
That all changed the day she met Killian.