“Wake up, sweetie!” A scrawny, pale woman with thin, hay colored hair, dark green eyes, and a beak-like nose shook a small body laying in bed. “Good morning, mom.” The figure moved, getting up from the covers and letting out a hearty yawn. He had messy blonde hair, almost like a lion’s mane, and bright green eyes. “Lionel, dear. Get dressed for the day. I’ll be preparing breakfast shortly.” His mother stated before getting up and leaving his room. It was just another day. Nothing out of the ordinary. The boy got up, walking through the granite-covered, windowless room. He made his way to a smaller wooden dresser and grabbed his clothes for the day: a white button-up, a black tie, and dress pants. Pulling on his clothes, he let out another yawn as he stretched his arms. Pushing the oak door open, he walked down the dimly lit hallway, covered with ivory and marble. Ornate statues and crystal chandeliers garnished the large path which the boy made his way through. Eventually, he arrived at a corner, a white all next to where the spiral staircase leading down was. Each ivory step was embedded with diamonds, rubies, and other precious stones, finished with gold. He took a second to admire the chandelier, that was covered in the multicolored gemstones. Alexandrite, was it? It was a very sought-after mineral, according to his geology lessons with his mom. He never understood why he had to learn about these gemstones, but his father insisted that it was important. They purchased this property, and created this manor from the alexandrite his father had inherited. Their property, a large plot of land called the Fangnis. They were secluded from the rest of the world. Only a bridge connected the manor to a road, that spiraled down to the nearby village of Regensberg. Lionel often wondered what it was like to live with the villagers.
From a distance, Lionel could smell the waft of breakfast. Shredded potatoes, fried eggs, crispy bacon, just-melted gruyere cheese, and toasted croissants. Hearing his stomach rumble, He made his way down the steps, and through the manor’s inner atrium. Walking through one of the doors, he finally made it to a smaller room, garnished only with a small oven, a small stove, a pantry, and a wooden table with four chairs. “Breakfast is ready, sweetie.” His mom chimed loudly. Her voice echoed through the entire estate. “I can’t wait to eat!” Lionel beamed, crawling into his seat. “Well, you have to wait. Your father would not like it if you started without him.” She warned. Her hands tightly gripped his shoulder when she said that. “Okay, okay.” He nodded sheepishly, keeping his hands beneath the table. Footsteps boomed as they grew louder. The door to the kitchen bust open, and a large man with straw colored hair with a silvery-gray fringe and dull blue eyes entered. It was Lionel’s father. “I’m here. Where’s my food?” He growled, glaring at his flinching wife as he sat down across from his son. “Yes, dear. All of the food is here.” She turned back around, holding a tray of food. She placed it down in front of him. Greedily, he snatched up his food and starting inhaling everything. “Here, sweetie.” She placed the food down in front of him as well as Lionel began to eat. “She gave you too much.” His father looked at him, snatching away his potatoes and croissant. “You don’t need that much food. You’ll grow up to be a morbidly obese embarrassment.” He cackled, devouring the stolen provisions. “How is it dear?” His mom squeaked nervously. “It’s alright. Too much butter on the croissants though. Are you trying to kill me, lady?!” He barked at her, as she cowered. Getting up, the man stormed off.
“Remember, you have to come back to the library by no later than 9 o’clock, okay?” His mother looked at him. “Alright. Thanks, mom!” Lionel nodded, running out into the backyard of the mansion. More accurately, past the fountains and gardens, and to the outskirts of their land, where a single tree sitting on top of a large grassy hill overlooked all of Regensberg. Sitting at the base of the tree, he stared down at the cliff in front of his, and admiring the sight unfurling beneath the veil of clearing morning mist. From that point, you could see the faint outlines of buildings, and small specks that were presumably the townsfolk. Lionel has never been down to the village before. They almost never interacted with them. They hardly needed to. All of their produce was delivered in the morning, and picked up by his mother. Besides that, nobody else would ever bother to approach their estate. Lionel himself has never even met anyone outside of his parents. He does not remember a life outside of Fangnis. His earliest childhood memories were being in the fountain area, falling into the water. Seeing these different looking buildings, and the small figures frequenting them, it piqued his curiosity. But he did not know how he could even reach that village. The only way out of the property was through the front bridge, but his father would often sit there. He claimed it was to protect them from the outside. Lionel thought about trying to scale the cliffs, but he was a twelve year old boy. He was nowhere near physically capable of doing or handling that. “Lionel!” He could hear his mother calling out to him. “Coming!” He got up, and darted off. He could not keep her waiting. He has to attend to his daily five hours of education. The next stop for him was the library.
Off to the side of the gardens and fountains was a musty old building. Sitting about two stories tall, with dirty, cracked windows, covered with ivy, was the library. Compared to the mansion, it was evident that this building was not nearly as well-maintained. Opening the creaking wooden doors, Lionel made his way inside. There were thin rays of light from the windows, illuminating the dust-ridden interior. Book shelves lined the first floor, while a large wrought-iron ladder on wheels led up to the second floor. “Are you ready, sweetie?” His mother was seated at the furthest wall on the first floor, on a desk stacked with textbooks. “Yes.” He nodded, walking over. “So we’ll start where we left off on yesterday with history. We were reading about the establishment of alexandrite as a prime ore used in our land.” She started. Every day, they would spend two hours on the history of Regenstuhl, and three hours on geology. The reason why they focused so much on history and geology was because his father stressed its importance. He regulated all of the curriculum that his mother would teach, making sure to keep a strong focus on what made their family so wealthy to begin with. So far, between his history and geology classes, Lionel has learned about how they would farm alexandrite crystals from their property, and that was the reason why they were able to afford to build a mansion on such a faraway hill. Their ancestors just happened upon then land and since then, claimed it and farmed it for its riches. Alexandrite was the most valuable and sought-after mineral in the land, and was used to purify streams and create beautiful jewelry for royals in distant lands. For generations, their family has been selling these jewels and accumulating fortune. Even with the locals, they would barter for produce using the gemstone. However, the only person who would ever even knew how to harvest the gem was his father, and even then, he would only do it sparsely, just to keep it a secret from everyone else.
“Well, that’s it for your geology lessons, sweetie.” His mother closed the book, as they got up and left the library together. “You can go play now. Make sure to come back when the sun sets.” She warned him. “If you need me, I’ll be cleaning up the house.” “Thank you. mom!” Lionel waved as his mother left. It was now his free time until dinner time. “Where to today? Maybe the garden?” He muttered to himself, wandering off. Laying in the garden, he decided to soak in the foliage and flora. Besides the occasional bird, and his parents, plants were the only other living thing that Lionel was ever in contact with. He often wondered what other things, considered living, there were. He only ever heard about the idea of life when his mother accidentally mentioned it. She was not supposed to teach him about the idea of what was living and not, but that was before his father banned teaching him biology. There was no need for that, where they were. All he needed to know was that he needed food, water, and air to live. Nothing more, nothing less. Getting up, he wondered what make these fragile, verdant things alive. They do not move, they definitely do not seem to breathe, and what do plants eat anyways? From his point of view, nothing about plants being alive made sense. Then again, what did he really know about that? He only ever got one hour to life science. It did not matter, he supposed. He never really focused on living things. Just rocks. Rocks and history. Within Fangnis, nothing else mattered. Alexandrite was king.
“Dinner, sweetie!” His mother called. Lionel rushed back into the manor, and returned to the kitchen. The sun was setting, and the entire land was cast in a dusky hue. Purples and reds flooded the skies as the sun sank below the grassy, mountainous horizon. Dinner was smoked trout. It was the usual. Lionel had to be careful when eating them, because he was allergic to fish, but that did not matter to his parents. The alternative to not eating, he shuddered at the thought. “What’s wrong, sweetie? You haven’t touched your dinner.” His mother sounded as if he had just greatly offended her. “Eat the fish. It’s expensive, you brat.” His father snorted, inhaling his portion. “Your cooking is crap, wench. That’s why he’s not eating it!” He barked at his wife, who shrank in fear. “Eat up, dear. If you love your mother, you’ll do as she says.” She insisted frantically. Slowly, Lionel took a small bite out of the edge of a cake, trying his best to swallow it quickly. It did not matter how quickly or slowly he ate the crab though. The moment he consumed it, he could feel a warm numbing surrounding his arms as red spots started to form. Hives. “Good, good, dear. Keep eating. I want to see clean plates.” She smiled nervously. “He’s not eating it fast enough.” His father frowned, snatching up the two filets of fish off Lionel’s plate and proceeded to devour them. They would eat these almost every day for dinner, because they were his father’s favorite. It did not matter that he was allergic. He had learned to accept that for dinner, he would need to prepare not to eat. Going to sleep on an empty belly is hard, but breaking out in hives was worse, while the alternative when his father was in a bad mood, unspeakable. Leaving the dinner table, he readied himself for bed as his mother put away all of the dishes and cleaned up the kitchen.