Skip to content


Dorian led Aurora further into a hallway that became a tunnel that became an opening. A turn became a hill, the ground became a floor and then a ground again. Dorian had either made this trip a thousand times or none at all. Aurora couldn’t tell. And the only light came from a torch Dorian carried that never seemed to waver.

“Hold this, dear” Dorian asked while handing her the torch. They’d come to the opening that required his full attention.

Unburdened by a single torch, Dorian held his hand outstretched in front of the opening until it changed from a doorway to a mirror – and then back to a doorway again of a different type. Aurora understood this to mean that a new door would now open to a new place – but understood little else about why or how this magic worked.

“Are you ready?” Dorian asked.

“Are we ever?” Aurora asked back.

With a grin in Aurora’s direction, Dorian opened the door.

On the other side was a great public square of white marble and stone. Steps at the outset of the square lead to what was either a castle, a station, or a church – and large monuments stood in nearly every glance. A hero, a god, a gargoyle; monuments to memories that grew into legends. Wind carried articles of dust and sunlight in what Aurora quickly realized was another quiet place. A grand place, yes – but noticeably quiet and weathered by inattention. There were alleys and roads connected to other points of the area, and more doors that would likely lead elsewhere with magic. But the smell… It was subtle, but something in the air was old and out of place – as though the wind around them was gray and not transparent.

Aurora’s discomfort grew further looking up toward the empty building on top of the marble stairs. The cathedral loomed over her, silhouetted against the fading light of the day behind. Its spires pierced the sky like sentries, casting shadows that chilled as Aurora walked through them.

“This is Secrets of Eden. Built to withstand time itself. Though where they got the nerve to challenge time, I’ll never know…” Dorian explained.

He was watching Aurora ignore him and examine the city, taking her time to take the place in.

“The scientists here created magics that were a category of their own, we grant them that. We’re in the center of the city built by that magic; held together by the same secrets that went into every stone and carving. Secrets held deep within this building…Aurora!”

Aurora turned, taken out of her gazing.

“Do you hear me?” Dorian asked.

“I can hear you without listening if that’s what you’re asking.” Aurora answered.

Time was quiet for a moment.

“Where is everyone? Why is the city empty?”

“Secrets upon secrets upon secrets.” Dorian replied. “The question you should be asking is whether the city is empty at all. Years ago, the secrets here went underground from this building; scared of the Queen today or the Queen before – but buried further to protect themselves.”

“So we’re going underground? To find them?” Aurora asked.

“In a way. Finding secrets depends on looking where you never thought to. They’re almost always a surprise, aren’t they?”

Aurora could feel how pleased Dorian was with himself. Revealing nothing while implying everything.

“Shall we?”, Dorian requested, pointing to an alley covered by the shadows.

“We’re not going into the building?” Aurora asked.

“The entrance here is the one they’d rather we use, yes. But if you’ll indulge me – I prefer the route that leaves us most alive”.

Dorian once again led the way, taking Aurora through a labyrinth of narrow streets, each twist and turn adding to the complexity of what would be required to return. Old baskets hung from windows, and golden nets and lines like spider’s webs connected one building wall to another. The walls of the alleys grew gold vines, vibrant like thin trails of a river in sunlight.

“As the name would again imply, the city holds many secrets, Aurora. But to uncover them, we learn to see beyond the surface.” Dorian stopped.

“Here, help me.” He gestured that Aurora bend and help him turn a stone embedded in the ground. It took up the width of the whole alley – a large stone plate with segments divided along the rim. Aurora could barely get her fingers into one of the slits of the segment – and found herself pushing with her feet on the wall to get it turning. But the stone did give way to turn – and in the stone’s turning, the width of the alley grew – and the setting sun began to center at the end of what was now becoming a large avenue.

“Keep turning!” Dorian shouted from the other end of the stone – until the stone finally stopped, clamped, and locked in a new position.

The sun was centered down the avenue. Beautiful and framed by the new position of the buildings, setting downward and downward.

While Aurora sat and stared at the sight they’d created, Dorian put his head down and began what Aurora could only describe as praying. His words were mumbled and foreign to her but as he continued, the sun began to appear larger and brighter, its hues spreading and rolling into the avenue until the color and light consumed the alley, the avenue, the buildings, the city itself. Staring at the rolling light, Aurora screamed unsure to be terrified or thrilled; and closed her eyes before Dorian rushed over, and covered her body with his.

When Aurora felt comfortable opening her eyes again, she saw that they were in a room.

A room very much like a palace lounge. Tapestries, beds, plants and light; gold dishes and tiled floors with patterns that shifted and played.

“Get off of me!” Aurora pushed Dorian as he laid back onto the polished ground.

Aurora stood and again marveled at a new world. One of wealth and comfort. A place she could see herself in, her every care taken care of, her every worry gone.

“What is this place, Dorian? Where are all the people?” she asked, her voice echoing against the backdrop of peace and silence.

Dorian’s gaze was inscrutable. But he replied, “This city is unlike any other. More like a riddle than a city. Every corner holds beauty and darkness. But if you wish to truly understand it, you need only open your eyes.”

Aurora frowned, frustrated again by Dorian’s cryptic explanations. What did he mean by opening her eyes?

“My eyes are open”, Aurora countered.

“Your eyes are open now, yes. And they look to find what you hope to find. Safety, a way home, the secrets to this place. But like I said before, secrets are found in unexpected places…I’m curious what happens when you choose to close your eyes and open them again without intent. Without a hope of what you’ll find…”

Aurora stared back at Dorian. Reluctantly, she shut her eyes tightly – so tightly that the darkness shot bolts of light that grew and danced for her. She thought about her Gran, she thought about this place, she thought about everything she wanted and the normal life she wanted back. She thought about these things – and as best she could, in one fell swoop, she let them all go.

When she opened her eyes again, she gasped.

The once-beautiful room transformed to a grim and abandoned place. Aurora saw the walls lined with bodies and bones, torn tapestries and spoiled ruins. Dirt and dust and worse littered the floor – and the once sunlit room was now a despaired and deathly twilight.

Aurora staggered backward, her heart pounding in her chest. “What… what is this?” she managed, her voice trembling.

“This is the Secret of Eden,” Dorian said, staring curiously at Aurora. “A city cloaked in illusion – hiding its ruin from prying eyes. But you, Aurora, have the power to see beyond it all… You can see the truth here…”

“What truth? That everything and everyone is dead?” Aurora asked.

“Perhaps – but what truth indeed – that’s the right question. What truths still hide and linger in this place? What layers go beyond this one? You can see behind the illusion, Aurora – you can find what the secrets have hidden here. What their work has done, what they have planned – “

Aurora felt a sudden pressure and heat coming from her necklace, which glowed in the dark, highlighting shadows of the death that surrounded them.

“With a push, with more focus, you and I can continue here and discover how to save our world, our gardens, our seas – “

Overwhelmed, Aurora grabbed onto the necklace, and saw a glimpse of Queen Ilysia turning and opening her eyes.

“You can help us, Aurora. You can help us destroy what is secret – “ Dorian continued.

“Why, why should I do this with you? Why should I agree to any of this..” Aurora asked.

“Because no one else can,” answered the Queen.