Chapter 0 Animalia

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MichaelKAutumn
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Chapter 0
Little infant Jeremy had never touched an animal. Soundly asleep in his tiny crib it mattered nothing to him. But for the two adults looking over him there was a decision to be made. A decision that would define Jeremy’s life.

The man - known only as the Scholar – would normally worry if indeed the infant had never touched any animal. But the letter in his hand assured him that Jeremy’s parents had made every possible effort to prevent such an accident. Otherwise their decision was meaningless. Completely unchangeable and irreversible. Were it only up to the Scholar, for such an important matter, he would have gotten to know little Jeremy first. At minimum a week. The lady across him would have none of it.

“There’s nothing to discuss here, a simple crow or raven will do,’” said the lady coldly.

“You Veryians! Why must you people insist on the same ghastly creatures over and over,’” said the Scholar frowning. He knew she had already decided. There was no real discussion here. However, a hopeful thought came to mind.

“We need two animals Madeeve.” the Scholar added.

“I know that!” snapped Madeeve.

Parting Jeremy’s hair with her long clawy nails, Madeeve pretended to think. “Yes, yes… Our proud Veryies tradition demands a creature of land and air… A raven… and perhaps…” Madeeve hesitated looking up at the high rafters. The room was dimly lit. Snowy wind howled above creaking the cabin’s roof. Her eyes settled back on the Scholar. “A cobra would be perfect!”

“What? A snake!” exclaimed the Scholar laughing hysterically. “Madeeve, Jeremy has no such blood. His family has no such heritage.”

“Maybe,” said Madeeve. “Laugh all you want Scholar however the opportunity of bestowing upon this child Veries’ most honored creature shall not go to waste. Not in my presence... In fact, I keep a few cobras just coiling for exactly this sort of occasion.” Though the Scholar was not entirely surprised by this revelation, he involuntarily took a step back. He knew Madeeve was like that yet there were sometimes the occasional surprises. Recovering quickly he replied, “It will likely fail, regardless of your desires. And you know as well as I, when it does fail, we will need another animal.”

As the two argued below, an owl watched from above. Hidden in the farthest corner of the roof the owl had tensed when Madeeve had stared its way. “Madeeve did not react,” the owl thought. “The shadows are thick. I am still safe.”

The snow owl was suddenly more aware of its white plumage. Though in immense pain, the snow owl would not miss the events below for the world. To ease the pain, it squeezed on the rafters with its talons. Clearly, Madeeve could not decide on a third animal, even with the Scholar’s many suggestions. So instead they argued about where to get the animals from and how to get them to the cabin. The argument seemed unlikely to end soon and the owl now sweating from the pain could not bear it any longer. It had seen enough.

The cabin they were in was long and large. Its many rooms were separated by high walls that did not reach the celling. Instead, the rooms were interconnected by the open space above. Heading out, the owl crept on a thin beam then flew out of the room on silent wings. After gliding in the roof-hallway for a while, the owl dropped into a girl’s room. The room was completely dark, but the owl’s night vision enabled it to see. Clawing and beaking, the snow owl crawled beneath the blanket.
After what sounded like light cracks of shifting bones and a few breathless spams of pain, a sweaty girl emerged from beneath the covers. Her name was Nisa.
She rested for a while letting her body heal before slipping out of bed and fumbling in the dark. Nisa could barely see her hands. Her body was too weak to use her night vision. Nisa’s hand landed on a bar of soap, perfect. Taking off the bandages covering her wrists, Nisa took a long bath and climbed back in bed.

She stared at the dark room above. It was barely past dark. Sadly for Nisa, nighttime meant she was confined to her room. Nisa sighed. Already the silence began to bug her ears. She thought of Madeeve and the Scholar on the other side of the cabin. They were too far - she could hear nothing. It would take a while before those two slept, she thought. Nisa knew the intense boredom would come creeping back and nearly drive her crazy. Sometimes it hurt her head. Nisa was definitely not feeling up for it. And the fact that the night had only just begun made her moan. So she did the only thing that might ease the pain – tired Nisa drifted off to sleep. She would need it.





Chapter 1
Mount Ragpae was a tall mountain with ragged peaks, steep ridges and rocky terrain covered by heavy snow. On the side of the mountain was its only flat surface – a broad patch of flat earth. Two long cabins were built there – far apart and facing each other. A small forest grew in the surrounding and a garden spread out to the north. It was the only place Nisa had ever known and she had an unpleasant name for it – The Haunted Orphanage.
Though strange, creepy and very isolated the orphanage was not haunted – it was more prisonlike. In the eastern cabin lived the Scholar, Madeeeve with her five equally cruel assistants and Nisa. The western cabin on the other hand hosted nearly two dozen teenagers, all who were much older than Nisa. Nisa simply owed her young age to living with the adults, not privilege.
Sleeping arrangements however were not the only way Nisa was separated from the teens. Madeeve’s strict surveillance meant Nisa had very rare interactions with any of the teenagers. And the few interactions that they ever managed to have were always about - well - escape. The teenagers seemed convinced that Nisa knew an escape route that they did not. From a young age, Nisa had had the impression that she was imprisoned. The teenager’s question and pleas had made that all too clear.
Only one adult in the orphanage was in the same predicament, the Scholar. Nisa knew he was a prisoner. As the one person closest to her, it came as a surprise to Miss that he would never admit it to her.
Despite not revealing his freedom status, the Scholar however had unlocked some mysteries about the orphanage that Nisa had been unable to solve or discover herself. Yet he was selective in what he revealed. For instance, he would not tell her his exact role at the orphanage. Nisa only knew he worked closely with the teenagers. It was among the things he claimed Nisa knowing would put both their lives in danger. With Madeeve in the picture Nisa believed him. He insisted many times over the years that he would always tell her what she needed to know, nothing more or nothing less.
But it was one of those things that the Scholar had not revealed that came to haunt Nisa in her sleep later that same night little Jeremy had arrived. In her nightmare, Madeeve plucked Nisa’s owl feathers questioning what she was. A question Nisa had no answer to. When the nightmare eventually passed, it was the eerie silence of the night that woke her. When asleep, Nisa’s owl hearing came naturaly without any pain.
She sat up in bed. It was normal for the silence to wake her when nothing stirred in the dead of the night. Nisa had read that some owls – while perched on treetops – could hear mice scurry several inches beneath the snow and then accurately caught their prey. Nisa could attest that that was true. Over the years she had read many facts about owls. Like how their wing design helped them fly silently – something Nisa was always grateful for. Noisy dove or pigeon flight made her shudder – it would have made her flight difficult.
Nisa flicked on a flashlight she got from beneath the pillow. Everyone was asleep so it was safe to use the flashlight for a short while. The nightmare had made her nervous. She got out a strange coin from her pocket and stared at it. Her face was carved into it. Rubbing on the coin sometimes reduced her anxiety. It was the first thing the Scholar had ever given to her. She was six at the time and it had come with strict instructions.
“Always have it with you. Never lose it. But above all, never let anyone here catch you with it.”
At the age of six, Nisa was already distrustful of everyone else in the Haunted Orphanage. The mysterious coin with her face on it became an exciting secret mission. But it was also a major challenge – especially when she eventually realized she could tell no one. Keeping it with her all the time was no easy task either. Only later, with the Scholar’s random checks, had she realized it was a test. Almost a year afterwards, she had apparently passed and so on her seventh birthday, the Scholar rewarded her greatly.
Early that birthday morning, the Scholar slipped a package under her door. Opening it, Nisa was disappointed. The gift was a pair of seemingly old bandages. She thought about them the whole day as she worked alongside Madeeve’s assistants. When the opportunity arose between the day, she examined them for clues. The puzzle was beyond her. Only later that night did the Scholar get a chance to slip a note.
“Sorry, completely forgot… Try wearing them on your wrists”.
Nisa wrapped the worn out bandages around her arms, up to her palms, covering her wrists completely. Half the night, she toyed with the bandages not knowing what to expect. Nisa tried everything she could think of. Then it happened – something totally unexpected – she managed to morph for the first time. As a baby owl, she tried to fly. It was only towards morning - when the day was at its coldest – had she learnt to fly.
The first thing she ever did was to try and escape. Managing to fly only slightly above the trees that surrounded the orphanage, she fluttered unsteadily. Nisa never got far and within no time she fainted from the pain. At sunrise, she found herself asleep in her room with a note on her nightstand.
“It’s impossible to leave the orphanage by flight. Always be in bed by sunrise. Getting caught risks both our lives - I will take them back if you faint in the forest again. Happy birthday, Nisa.”
Rubbing the coin between her fingers, Nisa could not shake away the nightmare. Seeing the infant and hearing the argument between Madeeve and the Scholar had probably triggered it. What was she, Nisa wondered for what felt like the millionth time since she first morphed. She could not help but picture herself as Jeremy many years ago. Maybe Jeremy was like her, she thought. That would explain their need for animals. But something did not make sense. It was clear Madeeve would have never chosen an owl. So what exactly had happed when she had arrived ten years ago? And why did they need two animals?
There was only one place Miss felt like going to whenever she felt confused. It was her favorite place in the entire orphanage. It was also the why she mostly never went back to sleep when the silence awoke her.
Nisa tucked the coin in her pocket, got up and used the flashlight to get to the nightstand. A mirror above the nightstand showed her reflection. Nisa had brown eyes, golden skin and was of average height for a ten year old. She had long oily black hair which from the front – looked like two sleek walls on the sides of her face.
Snapping out of it, Nisa thought of what she needed. A bundle of keys, she remembered. Nisa always carried them whenever she snuck around. Prying a floorboard beneath the nightstand, she got them. If she were ever caught the keys would explain how she had managed to get into a room she was not supposed to. However, their use depended on if she could morph back to a girl fast enough. They were also not a get out of trouble card – only a reduced sentence one, well at least that’s what she hoped. Nisa dreaded getting caught.
She wrapped the bandages on her wrist. Though there was no one in the room, simply the thought of eyes seeing her change meant she preferred to morph beneath a blanket. The morphing would hurt, it always hurt. And Nisa had never morphed twice on the same night. Either way, she would only have limited time before the pain became unbearable. Still within minutes an owl slipped out and flew into the roof-hallway.
The snow owl stopped near the center of the cabin. Balancing on a wooden beam, Nisa looked down at a down at a room filled with two long rows of bookshelves.
What she did next would have marveled any viewer, had there been one. Like all the other rooms at that moment, the library was dark, so when the owl dived down from the beam – it was only a white blur. Nisa glided between the two rows before abruptly arching into the left row. Flying horizontal to the shelves, her wings spanning out vertically, Nisa snatched a book from a shelf with her talons, balancing it with her claws midair. She then emerged from between the two shelves placing the book on a desk at the back of the room. The entire flight had been a single swoop. One could tell she had done it many times.
The owl pulled down a lamp’s beady switch with its beak. Light shone on the desk revealing two books. That startled Nisa. The library was the Scholar’s personal space - no one else entered it, not even all powerful Madeeve. And the Scholar never – ever – forgot to return a book in its rightful place among the shelves. Nisa stared at the second book, she had never seen it before. Which was strange since she had perused all the books at least a dozen times over the years in search for clues. The book was definitely new to the library. It had a leather cover – dyed orange. Written at the top in cursive was a single word.

Animalia

Nisa beaked the book open. A letter was taped on the first page. It was written in the Scholar’s handwriting.


Dear Nisa,
A child arrived today, his name is Jeremy. His arrival reminds me of our own arrival here when you were just an infant like him.


Our arrival? Nisa puzzled. She had come with the Scholar to the orphanage? Nisa read on.


Seeing Jeremy forced me to remember the night we were captured. A dark night in which I lost someone close to me. Jeremy made me realize just how much you have grown and more importantly reminded me that you cannot stay here forever – you deserve better. When we were captured I only agreed to work here if they kept you alive. My work is complex and important to them so they could not refuse, however cruel they have been. My job is by no means for a good cause which is why I have never talked to you about it.
Leaving this place will be difficult. Though I have no idea how to accomplish this yet, the only options available mean I will not be able to guide you when you leave. But I will find a way, soon.
You and I come from an island called Aust (everyone else in the orphanage is from Veries). When we left things were bad, there was a terrible war. After all these years, I have not heard from anyone on our side, though I always hoped they would find us. They likely think us dead – which is both a good and bad ( I will explain later). I am not sure if things have gone for better or worse. This complicates matters more which is why I have always held back from attempting an escape - especially because you will need the help of fellow Austins to survive there.
I am sure you have always wondered what you are. This book explains that. Everything you need to know is a lot. Hopefully, this book sheds a little light.
P.S. There is a note on the back that you should read.

This is it, Nisa thought, I finally get some answers. She flipped the page. On the cover page, at the top was the title – Animalia. There was a signature that looked like the Scholar’s, singed in the middle. I was addressed to someone with the initials Q.A.K. Nisa could not think of anyone’s name that began with the letter Q. At the bottom of the page was the author’s name – Lewis Cradle.
If the Scholar had signed the book, thought Nisa, maybe he had written it. Then his real name would be - Lewis Cradle?
Nisa turned the page and began to read the book.


Introduction to Animalia
To best understand what an Animalia is, you must first understand their tradition – a sacred ancient tradition known as the Ritual of Identification.
The ritual is performed when Animalia are babies. Infancy is the single most important period of an Animalia’s life.
Animalia are best described as a species of human creatures with the ability to change into animals. The reason why the Ritual of Identification is so important is simply because the first two animals an Animalia ever touches since birth – are the two animals they can change into in future. Hence the ritual is performed as soon as possible after birth. Accidents are known to happen to Animalia children. This can happen if Animalia children touch an animal(s) before the ritual is performed or if no one knows they are Animalia children in the first place. However, the most common accidents happen to Animalia children born into families with no history of Animalia relatives.
A study conducted by scholar’s from Baxia found that many Suh accidents resulted in a variety of animals. One significant factor was location. Animalia children born in urban areas (towns, cities) would more likely have touched household pets – cars, dogs, hamsters the like. Those born in rural areas were more likely to have touched domestic animals cows, sheep, horses the like.
The study discovered that pure random luck determined a lot of cases, regardless of location of childhood. There were the occasional rare and unfortunate cases of rodents – mice and rats thought to have snuck into cribs. Others were luckier – trips to the zoo in their early years resulted in many different animals. Amon those documented are even lions and bears. No reasonable explanation has been established to date for such incidences given that all parents or guardians in the study had no idea that their children were Animalia. It is even more remarkable considering the fact that the animal must be alive when touched; simply using hair, fur and feathers does not work.
Also documented in the study are cases of animals visiting Animalia children’s rooms or simply being in the right place at the right moment. Though scholars are uncertain why such events oçcur, it is believed that the natural bond Animalia’s have with animals may be the reason.
Apart from the study however – accidents are rare. The overwhelming majority of Animalia have their parents or guardians to thank or loath for the animals picked. For most Animalia, the decision is made during the Ritual of Identification.


Nisa stopped reading. The pain was getting worse faster than usual. It had started as soon as she had morphed back in her room. That much was normal. Nisa had learned how to manage the pain for sometime. What worried her was that the pain was intensifying faster than normal. Apparently, morphing twice in the same night speed up the pain process. Still, she felt she could read some more and she wanted to. There were so many questions in her head. The most pressing one so far was; What was her second animal? The next paragraph she read however brought more questions than answers.


The actual process of changing into animals is commonly known as - morphing. Although an Animalia’s animal abilities are chosen at infancy, the morphing ability only begins at exactly the age of ten.


That couldn’t be right, thought Nisa. She had first morphed on her seventh birthday, so there had to be an explanation. She perused a few pages looking for exceptions. She found none. Miss decided that there was probably an explanation farther of. As she was flipping the pages Nisa had noticed a summary of sorts. Knowing she only had limited time – Nisa started reading there.


Summary of Animalia History & Types
History
Animalia originate from ancient Egypt thousands of years ago. It is there that the first Animalia are believed to have morphed for into animals. This is evidenced by their synx which is a pair of ancient mummy bandages from the first Animalia. All synx originate from tombs spread out in pyramids all over Egypt.


Nisa could not decided if she was more disgusted by the last fact she just read or I it was cooler.


Originally, the first Animalia could only morph into three animals – the snake, the mongoose and the owl. The three animals -all regarded highly in ancient Egyptian tradition – are known as the original animalia. Over the centuries, however, Animalia developed the ability to morph into any animal.
Types of Animalia
There are four types of Animalia – the Snake Animalia, the Mongoose Animalia, the Owl Animalia and the Common Animalia. The first three Animalia – the Snake, Mongoose and Owl Animalia are known as Pure Animalia. They are known as Pure Animalia since the ability to morph into a snake, mongoose or owl is only passed down by blood. One must have ancestry linking to the first Animalias ever to have this trait.
The Common Animalia is the current majority of all Animalia. Pure Animalia are somewhat rare.
Among the Pure Animalia only the Snake and Owl Animalia exist. The Mongoose Animalia – believed to be the most powerful of all Animalia ever – is extinct. Legend has it that Snake Animalia (which are many in numbers among Pure Animalia) wiped out the Mongoose Animalia during a war more than a thousand years ago. Having sheer larger numbers is believed to be how they managed to exterminate Mongoose Animalia.
For Pure Animalia, the Snake Animalia has a snake as it’s first animal, the Owl Animalia an owl as it’s first animal, and the Mongoose Animalia a mongoose as it’s first animal. However, a Snake Animalia can have an Owl as its first animal and an Owl Animalia can have a snake as it’s second animal. After Mongoose Animalia’s extinction, no Animalia – ever – has been able to morph into a mongoose.


Nisa stopped reading. She was having trouble breathing. Nisa remembered the letter she was supposed to read at the back of the book. Maybe she could read that first. And also return the book she had picked. A jolt of pain ran through her body, Miss instantly knew she had to fly back to her room fast. There was not time for anything else.
Not wasting Tim, Nisa grabbed the Scholar’s book with her talons. It was the one thing she could never leave behind, she would not lose it. It was very heavy for a book - that was the pains doing she knew. Still Nisa clamped her beak bearing the pain and flew back to her room.
Crashing with the book on the bed, the snow owl blacked out.
Mount Ragpae was a tall mountain with ragged peaks, steep ridges and rocky terrain covered by heavy snow. On the side of the mountain was its only flat surface – a broad patch of flat earth. Two long cabins were built there – far apart and facing each other. A small forest grew in the surrounding and a garden spread out to the north. It was the only place Nisa had ever known and she had an unpleasant name for it – The Haunted Orphanage.
Though strange, creepy and very isolated the orphanage was not haunted – it was more prisonlike. In the eastern cabin lived the Scholar, Madeeeve with her five equally cruel assistants and Nisa. The western cabin on the other hand hosted nearly two dozen teenagers, all who were much older than Nisa. Nisa simply owed her young age to living with the adults, not privilege.
Sleeping arrangements however were not the only way Nisa was separated from the teens. Madeeve’s strict surveillance meant Nisa had very rare interactions with any of the teenagers. And the few interactions that they ever managed to have were always about - well - escape. The teenagers seemed convinced that Nisa knew an escape route that they did not. From a young age, Nisa had had the impression that she was imprisoned. The teenager’s question and pleas had made that all too clear.
Only one adult in the orphanage was in the same predicament, the Scholar. Nisa knew he was a prisoner. As the one person closest to her, it came as a surprise to Miss that he would never admit it to her.
Despite not revealing his freedom status, the Scholar however had unlocked some mysteries about the orphanage that Nisa had been unable to solve or discover herself. Yet he was selective in what he revealed. For instance, he would not tell her his exact role at the orphanage. Nisa only knew he worked closely with the teenagers. It was among the things he claimed Nisa knowing would put both their lives in danger. With Madeeve in the picture Nisa believed him. He insisted many times over the years that he would always tell her what she needed to know, nothing more or nothing less.
But it was one of those things that the Scholar had not revealed that came to haunt Nisa in her sleep later that same night little Jeremy had arrived. In her nightmare, Madeeve plucked Nisa’s owl feathers questioning what she was. A question Nisa had no answer to. When the nightmare eventually passed, it was the eerie silence of the night that woke her. When asleep, Nisa’s owl hearing came naturaly without any pain.
She sat up in bed. It was normal for the silence to wake her when nothing stirred in the dead of the night. Nisa had read that some owls – while perched on treetops – could hear mice scurry several inches beneath the snow and then accurately caught their prey. Nisa could attest that that was true. Over the years she had read many facts about owls. Like how their wing design helped them fly silently – something Nisa was always grateful for. Noisy dove or pigeon flight made her shudder – it would have made her flight difficult.
Nisa flicked on a flashlight she got from beneath the pillow. Everyone was asleep so it was safe to use the flashlight for a short while. The nightmare had made her nervous. She got out a strange coin from her pocket and stared at it. Her face was carved into it. Rubbing on the coin sometimes reduced her anxiety. It was the first thing the Scholar had ever given to her. She was six at the time and it had come with strict instructions.
“Always have it with you. Never lose it. But above all, never let anyone here catch you with it.”
At the age of six, Nisa was already distrustful of everyone else in the Haunted Orphanage. The mysterious coin with her face on it became an exciting secret mission. But it was also a major challenge – especially when she eventually realized she could tell no one. Keeping it with her all the time was no easy task either. Only later, with the Scholar’s random checks, had she realized it was a test. Almost a year afterwards, she had apparently passed and so on her seventh birthday, the Scholar rewarded her greatly.
Early that birthday morning, the Scholar slipped a package under her door. Opening it, Nisa was disappointed. The gift was a pair of seemingly old bandages. She thought about them the whole day as she worked alongside Madeeve’s assistants. When the opportunity arose between the day, she examined them for clues. The puzzle was beyond her. Only later that night did the Scholar get a chance to slip a note.
“Sorry, completely forgot… Try wearing them on your wrists”.
Nisa wrapped the worn out bandages around her arms, up to her palms, covering her wrists completely. Half the night, she toyed with the bandages not knowing what to expect. Nisa tried everything she could think of. Then it happened – something totally unexpected – she managed to morph for the first time. As a baby owl, she tried to fly. It was only towards morning - when the day was at its coldest – had she learnt to fly.
The first thing she ever did was to try and escape. Managing to fly only slightly above the trees that surrounded the orphanage, she fluttered unsteadily. Nisa never got far and within no time she fainted from the pain. At sunrise, she found herself asleep in her room with a note on her nightstand.
“It’s impossible to leave the orphanage by flight. Always be in bed by sunrise. Getting caught risks both our lives - I will take them back if you faint in the forest again. Happy birthday, Nisa.”
Rubbing the coin between her fingers, Nisa could not shake away the nightmare. Seeing the infant and hearing the argument between Madeeve and the Scholar had probably triggered it. What was she, Nisa wondered for what felt like the millionth time since she first morphed. She could not help but picture herself as Jeremy many years ago. Maybe Jeremy was like her, she thought. That would explain their need for animals. But something did not make sense. It was clear Madeeve would have never chosen an owl. So what exactly had happed when she had arrived ten years ago? And why did they need two animals?
There was only one place Miss felt like going to whenever she felt confused. It was her favorite place in the entire orphanage. It was also the why she mostly never went back to sleep when the silence awoke her.
Nisa tucked the coin in her pocket, got up and used the flashlight to get to the nightstand. A mirror above the nightstand showed her reflection. Nisa had brown eyes, golden skin and was of average height for a ten year old. She had long oily black hair which from the front – looked like two sleek walls on the sides of her face.
Snapping out of it, Nisa thought of what she needed. A bundle of keys, she remembered. Nisa always carried them whenever she snuck around. Prying a floorboard beneath the nightstand, she got them. If she were ever caught the keys would explain how she had managed to get into a room she was not supposed to. However, their use depended on if she could morph back to a girl fast enough. They were also not a get out of trouble card – only a reduced sentence one, well at least that’s what she hoped. Nisa dreaded getting caught.
She wrapped the bandages on her wrist. Though there was no one in the room, simply the thought of eyes seeing her change meant she preferred to morph beneath a blanket. The morphing would hurt, it always hurt. And Nisa had never morphed twice on the same night. Either way, she would only have limited time before the pain became unbearable. Still within minutes an owl slipped out and flew into the roof-hallway.
The snow owl stopped near the center of the cabin. Balancing on a wooden beam, Nisa looked down at a down at a room filled with two long rows of bookshelves.
What she did next would have marveled any viewer, had there been one. Like all the other rooms at that moment, the library was dark, so when the owl dived down from the beam – it was only a white blur. Nisa glided between the two rows before abruptly arching into the left row. Flying horizontal to the shelves, her wings spanning out vertically, Nisa snatched a book from a shelf with her talons, balancing it with her claws midair. She then emerged from between the two shelves placing the book on a desk at the back of the room. The entire flight had been a single swoop. One could tell she had done it many times.
The owl pulled down a lamp’s beady switch with its beak. Light shone on the desk revealing two books. That startled Nisa. The library was the Scholar’s personal space - no one else entered it, not even all powerful Madeeve. And the Scholar never – ever – forgot to return a book in its rightful place among the shelves. Nisa stared at the second book, she had never seen it before. Which was strange since she had perused all the books at least a dozen times over the years in search for clues. The book was definitely new to the library. It had a leather cover – dyed orange. Written at the top in cursive was a single word.

Animalia

Nisa beaked the book open. A letter was taped on the first page. It was written in the Scholar’s handwriting.


Dear Nisa,
A child arrived today, his name is Jeremy. His arrival reminds me of our own arrival here when you were just an infant like him.


Our arrival? Nisa puzzled. She had come with the Scholar to the orphanage? Nisa read on.


Seeing Jeremy forced me to remember the night we were captured. A dark night in which I lost someone close to me. Jeremy made me realize just how much you have grown and more importantly reminded me that you cannot stay here forever – you deserve better. When we were captured I only agreed to work here if they kept you alive. My work is complex and important to them so they could not refuse, however cruel they have been. My job is by no means for a good cause which is why I have never talked to you about it.
Leaving this place will be difficult. Though I have no idea how to accomplish this yet, the only options available mean I will not be able to guide you when you leave. But I will find a way, soon.
You and I come from an island called Aust (everyone else in the orphanage is from Veries). When we left things were bad, there was a terrible war. After all these years, I have not heard from anyone on our side, though I always hoped they would find us. They likely think us dead – which is both a good and bad ( I will explain later). I am not sure if things have gone for better or worse. This complicates matters more which is why I have always held back from attempting an escape - especially because you will need the help of fellow Austins to survive there.
I am sure you have always wondered what you are. This book explains that. Everything you need to know is a lot. Hopefully, this book sheds a little light.
P.S. There is a note on the back that you should read.

This is it, Nisa thought, I finally get some answers. She flipped the page. On the cover page, at the top was the title – Animalia. There was a signature that looked like the Scholar’s, singed in the middle. I was addressed to someone with the initials Q.A.K. Nisa could not think of anyone’s name that began with the letter Q. At the bottom of the page was the author’s name – Lewis Cradle.
If the Scholar had signed the book, thought Nisa, maybe he had written it. Then his real name would be - Lewis Cradle?
Nisa turned the page and began to read the book.


Introduction to Animalia
To best understand what an Animalia is, you must first understand their tradition – a sacred ancient tradition known as the Ritual of Identification.
The ritual is performed when Animalia are babies. Infancy is the single most important period of an Animalia’s life.
Animalia are best described as a species of human creatures with the ability to change into animals. The reason why the Ritual of Identification is so important is simply because the first two animals an Animalia ever touches since birth – are the two animals they can change into in future. Hence the ritual is performed as soon as possible after birth. Accidents are known to happen to Animalia children. This can happen if Animalia children touch an animal(s) before the ritual is performed or if no one knows they are Animalia children in the first place. However, the most common accidents happen to Animalia children born into families with no history of Animalia relatives.
A study conducted by scholar’s from Baxia found that many Suh accidents resulted in a variety of animals. One significant factor was location. Animalia children born in urban areas (towns, cities) would more likely have touched household pets – cars, dogs, hamsters the like. Those born in rural areas were more likely to have touched domestic animals cows, sheep, horses the like.
The study discovered that pure random luck determined a lot of cases, regardless of location of childhood. There were the occasional rare and unfortunate cases of rodents – mice and rats thought to have snuck into cribs. Others were luckier – trips to the zoo in their early years resulted in many different animals. Amon those documented are even lions and bears. No reasonable explanation has been established to date for such incidences given that all parents or guardians in the study had no idea that their children were Animalia. It is even more remarkable considering the fact that the animal must be alive when touched; simply using hair, fur and feathers does not work.
Also documented in the study are cases of animals visiting Animalia children’s rooms or simply being in the right place at the right moment. Though scholars are uncertain why such events oçcur, it is believed that the natural bond Animalia’s have with animals may be the reason.
Apart from the study however – accidents are rare. The overwhelming majority of Animalia have their parents or guardians to thank or loath for the animals picked. For most Animalia, the decision is made during the Ritual of Identification.


Nisa stopped reading. The pain was getting worse faster than usual. It had started as soon as she had morphed back in her room. That much was normal. Nisa had learned how to manage the pain for sometime. What worried her was that the pain was intensifying faster than normal. Apparently, morphing twice in the same night speed up the pain process. Still, she felt she could read some more and she wanted to. There were so many questions in her head. The most pressing one so far was; What was her second animal? The next paragraph she read however brought more questions than answers.


The actual process of changing into animals is commonly known as - morphing. Although an Animalia’s animal abilities are chosen at infancy, the morphing ability only begins at exactly the age of ten.


That couldn’t be right, thought Nisa. She had first morphed on her seventh birthday, so there had to be an explanation. She perused a few pages looking for exceptions. She found none. Miss decided that there was probably an explanation farther of. As she was flipping the pages Nisa had noticed a summary of sorts. Knowing she only had limited time – Nisa started reading there.


Summary of Animalia History & Types
History
Animalia originate from ancient Egypt thousands of years ago. It is there that the first Animalia are believed to have morphed for into animals. This is evidenced by their synx which is a pair of ancient mummy bandages from the first Animalia. All synx originate from tombs spread out in pyramids all over Egypt.


Nisa could not decided if she was more disgusted by the last fact she just read or I it was cooler.


Originally, the first Animalia could only morph into three animals – the snake, the mongoose and the owl. The three animals -all regarded highly in ancient Egyptian tradition – are known as the original animalia. Over the centuries, however, Animalia developed the ability to morph into any animal.
Types of Animalia
There are four types of Animalia – the Snake Animalia, the Mongoose Animalia, the Owl Animalia and the Common Animalia. The first three Animalia – the Snake, Mongoose and Owl Animalia are known as Pure Animalia. They are known as Pure Animalia since the ability to morph into a snake, mongoose or owl is only passed down by blood. One must have ancestry linking to the first Animalias ever to have this trait.
The Common Animalia is the current majority of all Animalia. Pure Animalia are somewhat rare.
Among the Pure Animalia only the Snake and Owl Animalia exist. The Mongoose Animalia – believed to be the most powerful of all Animalia ever – is extinct. Legend has it that Snake Animalia (which are many in numbers among Pure Animalia) wiped out the Mongoose Animalia during a war more than a thousand years ago. Having sheer larger numbers is believed to be how they managed to exterminate Mongoose Animalia.
For Pure Animalia, the Snake Animalia has a snake as it’s first animal, the Owl Animalia an owl as it’s first animal, and the Mongoose Animalia a mongoose as it’s first animal. However, a Snake Animalia can have an Owl as its first animal and an Owl Animalia can have a snake as it’s second animal. After Mongoose Animalia’s extinction, no Animalia – ever – has been able to morph into a mongoose.


Nisa stopped reading. She was having trouble breathing. Nisa remembered the letter she was supposed to read at the back of the book. Maybe she could read that first. And also return the book she had picked. A jolt of pain ran through her body, Miss instantly knew she had to fly back to her room fast. There was not time for anything else.
Not wasting Tim, Nisa grabbed the Scholar’s book with her talons. It was the one thing she could never leave behind, she would not lose it. It was very heavy for a book - that was the pains doing she knew. Still Nisa clamped her beak bearing the pain and flew back to her room.
Crashing with the book on the bed, the snow owl blacked out.





Note from the Author

This book is a sample written to raise funds.
Although this book is the best fantasy fiction novel you have read in a while (at least I hope – a guy can hope), the book is currently incomplete. I have simply written this sample in order to raise money which will help in its completion.
The book also needs a professional editor which I hope to get soon.
I currently reside in a country that is not supported by any of the good crowdfunding sites, which is why I have opted to raise funds this way. If someone could start a GoFundMe for me, that would be great.
If you read to the end and like the story so far, please do not hesitate to contact me. I will appreciate any feedback.

For donations my PayPal account is:
[email protected]
Any contribution will be highly appreciated.



To contact me:
My Email : [email protected]
My Twitter account: @MichaelK_Autumn

Thank you



Excerpt 1

Nick looked like he was just about Nisa’s age. Although Nick had just saved her, Nisa was not sure if she could trust him. Lately Nisa kept meeting with very untrustworthy people. She stared at the sky avoid eye contact.
“Why do you think the sky is blue?” Nick asked following her upward gaze.
“I don’t know,” said Nisa.
She had never really thought about a reason.
“Well, I think it’s blue because we are stuck in the middle of the rainbow.” said Nick.
“What?” asked Nisa now looking at Nick.
“Well, if you think about it, at sunrise we see the colors at the top of the rainbow… all the bright ones.” Nick explained. “And at sunset, we see all the dark colors found at the bottom of the rainbow. Blue is somewhere in the middle of the rainbow, so the sky is blue.”
Nisa had never thought of it that way. She tried not to but she smiled. That’s interesting, Nisa thought. She looked at Nick, he was almost exactly her height. Maybe, just maybe, Nick was one of the good guys.


Excerpt 2
The chestnut centaur with the red mane gave Nisa an arrow – it had bright red feathers at the back.
“Nisa, these red feathers are phoenix feathers.” said the centaur. “We - the Phoenix Knights - are gifted by the Phoenix. It grants us with its feathers. A sacred gift.” The Centaur took a phoenix arrow from his quiver. Using his large oak bow, he aimed the phoenix arrow upwards towards the sky.
“But only if we are in favor with the Phoenix,” added the centaur, “will it grant us its magic.”
With that the released the arrow. It flew up a few meters, before bursting into flames lighting the night sky.
“And that is only possible,” said the Centaur. “if a Phoenix Knight is true to his duty.”
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