Phoenix Flame - Sara Holland
A BRIEF INTRODUCTION TO THE ADJACENT REALMS
Most of Fiordenkill is encased in ice and frost. Ethereal in its beauty, Fiordenkill sparkles with ice bridges and palaces of packed snow. It seldom sees the sun, but the sky is bright with auroras and thousands of stars. Soldiers ride on wolves, and great bears roam the woods; enchanted fruits grow on the trees, immune to the frost encasing their bright skins.
But beauty can hide secrets, and Fiordenkill is no different, its darkness concealed beneath the glittering ice, in the shadows where the brilliant starlight doesn’t reach.
The massive world of Byrn swelters under the heat of two suns and three moons. Enormous, long-lived storms batter the deserts, the roiling seas, and the lightning plains, so that the ground seems to shift constantly beneath one’s feet. Millennia of elemental magic, unleashed without care for the consequences, have ravaged the world and left most of it uninhabitable to Byrnisians.
Years ago, the Silver Prince used his immense magic to tame the storms and erect a wall around his city-state, Oasis. For a time, he ruled in peace, keeping the storms at bay. But now the lightning, hurricanes, and burning wind batter at the wall, and the people grow discontented. So the Prince has begun to cast his sights elsewhere … to Havenfall and all the other worlds to which it connects.
Little is known about Solaria, a tiny, sealed-off world that is a hotbed of powerful, highly volatile magic with a blazing golden sky. Solarians can take many shapes, and they can walk in any world without sickening. But one of their powers—the ability to bind magic to matter—has been weaponized against them. A magical trade has sprung up, with Solarians held captive and forced to use their magic to enchant objects for trade. Each enchantment strips away a bit of a Solarian’s soul, which is then trapped in the object alongside the magic.
The doorway to Solaria remains closed, but with the soul trade now out in the open, many believe its people should no longer be considered enemies at Havenfall.
Haven is what we know as the human world. It is the only realm without natural magic, which is why the people of other realms call it Haven—a safe place, a neutral place. The existence of other worlds has been kept secret from humankind. Humans can’t live in the other Realms; their biology prevents them from surviving conditions outside of Haven.
Omphalos: The Inn at Havenfall
All the realms intersect at Havenfall, through a series of doorways connected by tunnels hidden beneath the Rocky Mountains. These doorways have been guarded by a long lineage of Innkeepers dating back as far as anyone can remember. There is a radius around the doorways within which people from all realms can breathe safely and not sicken, as people usually do in worlds not their own.
The Inn at Havenfall was built on this spot, as was the town of Haven—so named because, to the people of the realms, the town and the inn represent our whole world.
There used to be many more worlds accessible from the inn, but over the centuries some doorways have closed due to the inscrutable forces that govern the realms. Only the doorway to Solaria has been sealed shut on purpose, for the protection of the Last Remaining Adjacent Realms.
The Annual Peace Summit
On the longest day of our year, Fiordens witness a blazing, multicolored aurora in their dark sky, and Byrn undergoes a simultaneous eclipse of its three moons. This is the solstice. On this day every summer, travelers can pass safely through the doorways into the Inn at Havenfall—the neutral realm that serves as host to them all.
During this special time, the inn holds its annual peace summit, where delegates from all the realms negotiate trade and political agreements by day and dance in the ballroom by night to celebrate the diversity and unity of all the inn’s guests.
THE KNIGHT TRAVELER
A FIORDEN FAIRY TALE
Once in the land of Myr in the world of Fiordenkill, there lived a knight and a lady who fell in love and promised to never part. The knight was often in danger, defending the capital from the beasts that roamed the forest. So his lady gave him a pendant of ice and stone imbued with healing magic.
After that, though he crossed sword with claw countless times and suffered many injuries, the pendant healed him and sustained him, so that as long as he wore it he would never fall.
One day a great plague swept through