In this chapter, Luca tries to convince Cass to make a trip into her past. Devin has helped him by providing a date, time, and place of particular significance. Luca also recalls when he made his own contract with the Spell Tracker, and we get a better idea of the penalty that's in store for him if he fails to meet the terms.
You can catch up on chapters one through twenty-three via the New series label at the top of this post, and thank you very much for reading 💕.
24 A Contract
returned to the exact moment we’d left. Devin went to class reluctantly, saying
it was only the thought of his college application forms making him do it.
retreated to a quiet corner of the library and sent Cass a message.
“Heard you were sick. Hope you’re OK?”
reply for a long time. Well, she didn’t reply for twenty-three minutes, which
felt like an incredibly long time from where I was standing. Excuse me, pacing.
“No. Sick. Like you said.”
wasn’t the best of replies, but it wasn’t the worst either. She hadn’t told me
to go away.
“When do you think you’ll be better?” I
hesitated. I didn’t want to promise something I had no intention of delivering,
but I had to convince her.
“Why?” she asked again. At least
“I’m ready to test something,” I
“My mom?” Cass’s message appeared almost
“Not quite. Like I told you, this is new for
me. I need to check something first.”
me wait again. I put the phone back in my pocket, hoping it would be more
likely to buzz if I weren’t looking at it. I stared at the nearby book spines
for the hundredth time. When my phone came to life it carried on buzzing. She’s
calling me. Shit.
said, way too enthusiastic. My voice echoed in the space between the shelves and
I screwed up my face in embarrassment.
hi,” she replied. “Can you talk?”
I’m just in the library,” I said, lowering my voice to a more appropriate
you mean—check something?” she asked, getting right to the point.
within your own lifetime is a much bigger risk. You could end up changing all
kinds of things,” I said.
she said. “That’s the point.” She paused, and I heard the sound of a door
closing. “Look. Without wanting to sound pathetic here, I’m not doing so well.
I feel like everything is closing in on me. All my usual coping strategies
aren’t working.” Another pause. “I want to…” She trailed off, then tried again.
breathing sped up. I waited, powerless to help her, holding my phone so tightly
it creaked with the strain.
to see my mom,” she said in a rush, her voice wobbling. “I don’t want to check
anything or test anything. I’m not going to demand an explanation. I just want
to see her and ask her what I need to do to get her to stay with me.”
wasn’t your fault,” I said before I could help myself.
then I’ll fix it,” she went on as if I hadn’t spoken. “I’ll fix it, and I’ll keep
it fixed, and everything will be OK again.” Her voice took on a defiant tone at
the end as if daring me to disagree.
mess this up. “I get all that. I do. But I also want it to work. Wouldn’t
it be safer to try with something less important first?”
silence. My own breathing was coming shallow and fast. I was terrified for her.
She was so close to having her contract enforced. I didn’t know what to say to
keep her on the right side of its terms. Don’t take her. Don’t take her yet.
what?” she asked eventually. I leaned against the shelves, weak with relief.
how about we go back to one of the times you had a blackout and see what really
That’s… not a bad idea.”
I mean—good. That’s good. Do you think you’ll be back at school on Monday?”
sighed. “Yeah. Assuming I feel less like a walking corpse by then. But… the
work on the house isn’t done. It will be another week before I can stay
I had a
counterargument ready. Thanks to Devin, I didn’t need to use concesso. I
didn’t need to look at her life path. Our trip to Rome and his conversation
with Leander had given me enough clues for now. Devin was also going to give me
the date, place, and approximate time of the most important conversation Cass denied
she’d ever had with her brother.
have shouted the information at her a few times to get her to remember,” he’d
admitted. “It didn’t work. But at least it means it’s engraved on my memory so
I can tell you.”
spoke to Cass, I did my best to sound relaxed even though my hand was aching
from clutching the phone so tightly. After our shouting match by her locker the
day before, the last thing I wanted was for her to feel under pressure. “I know
that,” I repeated. “But it will be like when we went to the Globe, remember?
We’ll return to the exact same moment we left.”
to you,” I added. “Whatever.” Stop talking, Luca.
mean… yes. Let’s do it on Monday.”
I did my
best not to sigh too loudly with relief.
I agreed. “Er… I hope you feel better.”
She disconnected the call.
down on the floor and leaned my head back against the shelves. I wished I were
in the guardians’ library so I wouldn’t have to steer my way through the life
lessons from memory. I was an experienced guardian, but I wasn’t infallible. It
was unheard of to complete an assignment without support.
just have to be the first, won’t I?
paths were unique in the combination of lessons and potential outcomes they
contained. There were hundreds of lessons and thousands of scenarios.
the criteria for success were hard-and-fast. The magic did not permit
deviation. No matter how chaotic the earthbound dimension might appear, there
was an underlying logic and system of rules no magician could escape. Succeed,
and you are rewarded. Fail, and you pay a penalty. A penalty you signed
up for by engraving its terms into your magic.
penalties weren’t too bad and were also rarely paid. Magicians following
regular life paths usually graduated. If they failed in one incarnation, they
would likely succeed in one of the subsequent ones.
the extraordinary life paths that had a higher failure rate. In order to practice
as a Spell Master or a Healer, a magician had to prove his or her worth by
risking everything. Those professions were revered for good reason. The
potential penalty was severe when you made a deal with the Spell Tracker. It
was supposed to deter magicians more concerned with reward than sacrifice.
course, rules were no more infallible than I was. Loopholes inevitably existed.
The High Council had no spells in place to prevent what I had done because they
never considered a guardian might choose to do such a thing.
willingly contracted with the Spell Tracker, the enforcer of life-limiting
contracts. I had offered myself in exchange for one chance, on his
terms, to save Cass. I didn’t regret it. No matter what.
to discuss a contract,” I said.
raised one eyebrow. “The pleasing thing about my contracts, Luca, is that
there’s nothing to discuss. The terms are fixed. And I enforce them.”
Spell Tracker turned back to his map, signaling that he was done talking to me.
Most of the wall behind him was covered in dimension-fabric, glowing with dots
of colored light. As he moved his hand across a section of the map, threads
extended outward from the lights toward his palm. He frowned, closing his thumb
and slender forefinger on a particular thread and pulling on it.
than I’d expected,” he murmured. The dot of light at the end of the thread was
flickering. Faint. A magician about to fail his or her life path. “Let’s see,”
he continued, stepping back. His surroundings shimmered. The earthbound dimension
became visible as an overlay of energy, surrounded by symbols from the
underlying spells. The magician whose contract he’d been checking had no
chance. One casual gesture from the Spell Tracker and his earthbound covering
watched, magical energy escaped from the earthbound body. As soon as the heart
stopped beating for long enough, the binding spell lifted. The transfer from
one dimension to another was disorienting but relatively fast.
failed to impress me. Magical dimensions operated on a much higher frequency,
and the covering acted as an anchor to keep us earthbound and oblivious. As soon
as that anchor detached, our consciousness and our magical form were free to
split second, the magician was filled with joy at the reminder of where and
what he was. Then he saw the Spell Tracker. “No,” he said, backing away. “Please,
Spell Tracker tilted his head as if considering a strange new species. “Are you
going to resist your contract? Because that would be wonderful.”
magician continued to move backward. When he reached the doorway his expression
flickered, hope and fear mingling together. He was so close. Two steps and he’d
be outside. Has he forgotten? The Spell Tracker’s chambers had only one
point of entry and exit. Just one doorway. Except… not just a doorway.
It was filled with a thin layer of the Spell Tracker’s magic. Harmless to most
magicians, myself included. But if you belonged to him you could not
pass through it.
magician stepped into the doorway and screamed. His body struggled, trapped
inside the magic. It went on and on. Pain and terror swirled around me and I
made a small noise of protest.
said the Spell Tracker. “I didn’t realize you were still here. Please leave. I
have work to do. Christopher wasn’t even one of your assignments, was he?”
just want to discuss a contract. I want to enter into one. With you.”
Spell Tracker blinked. He huffed a short laugh. “Is this a joke? A test? Can I expect
one of the Master Mages to walk in and rank-strip me for even entertaining such
serious. I need a physical covering and I need to be invisible to the other
guardians. You’re the only magician with the skills to enable that scenario.”
I also knew that the magical core of a Light
Mage was the one prize he wanted most and also the one prize he was unlikely to
acquire. He considered my words while his victim continued to suffer behind us.
I wanted to intervene, but I knew I would make things worse if I did.
well. I’m intrigued. Let me just set things up with Christopher here, then I’ll
listen to your proposal.”
things up,” as he so casually put it, involved taking Christopher into one of
the holding cells and transforming it into his worst fear. This fear would then
play out on a kind of magical loop, over and over, refining itself based on
feedback the terrified Christopher would unwillingly provide.
construct was unique for each victim, usually involving extreme physical and
emotional pain, followed by death. Or not. Depending on which the magician
feared most. Sometimes they had to watch it happen to someone they loved. Other
times someone they loved would appear as their executioner. If a magician didn’t
know what their worst fear was—if they were kidding themselves they didn’t have
one—no matter. The Spell Tracker, as a Shadow Mage, knew how to find it and
bring it to life.
magicians attempted to resist the illusion, believing their mental strength was
equal to the task of repelling the Spell Tracker’s magic. But his particular
brand of personalized torture overcame all obstacles. He loved the fear. He savored
it. It was his reward for taking on a job the High Council had decided to
delegate almost as soon as they’d created it.
rewards for graduating as a Spell Master or a Healer were many, and the associated
life paths had to be tough to ensure only magicians with the right qualities
succeeded. Magicians on the make paid the penalty. In the earthbound dimension,
without magic or memories, no one can fake it.
penalty was the forced removal of a magician’s magic, and there was only one
method with a one hundred percent success rate. Enter the Spell Tracker.
He weakened the conscious mind to the point of surrender so the bond between magic
and magician would be faint enough to shatter.
course, no magician’s life lasted very long without their magic. It was a death
sentence in all but name—something the High Council refused to openly
acknowledge. The harvested magic was recycled and the victims were returned to
their families to die.
in front of the dimension-fabric. I refused the Spell Tracker’s offer of
refreshment. The holding cells were at the other end of the hallway leading off
the main chamber, but I could still hear Christopher’s sobs, and they were
escalating. He was pleading for mercy, not yet accepting there was none to be
said the Spell Tracker. “Very… interesting. He is one of mine, you say?”
glanced at the map and I nodded. “I came across his energy signature in the
life path records.”
The guardians’ library contained copies of all life paths.
We were permitted to cross-reference our assignments when their lessons were
codependent on other magicians’ choices.
across?” he repeated, smiling. “Don’t lie to me, Luca. There’s no point. Our
contract will not permit it. How many years have you been searching for him?”
time,” I admitted.
thought so. Go on then. Show me.”
up and reached out to his map with my magic. We had our own map in the
guardians’ library, but, in the same way his showed only those magicians
contracted to him, ours was customized to ensure each guardian could only use
it to locate their own assignments.
There. I found him quickly. A school in North
America. I closed in, exploring the layout and committing it to memory. I
wanted to take a look at his physical covering, but the Spell Tracker stopped
me. “That’s enough,” he said.
down again, waiting while he examined the energy signature I’d identified. “What
is this magician to you?”
to know everything, Luca. If this opportunity means that much, you’ll
hesitated. His eyes narrowed. “You know the High Council does not permit me to access
the life paths of guardians.” His voice took on a sarcastic tone. “We must
protect the delicate Light Mages from the big bad Spell Tracker.”
was the reason I became a guardian.”
Spell Tracker lifted a finger to his lips as if to press away the faint smile
that appeared. “Indeed? This is too perfect,” he murmured.
at me with an expression I couldn’t decipher. Excitement? Anticipation? I
pushed away my misgivings. His reaction was to be expected. This was the
contract of his dreams.
accept,” he said. “Maximum penalty. And I’ll do my best to ensure you pay it.”
My stories are all based on the existence of magic. Although the rules and worlds are different in both series, there is an underlying premise that magic is real and for various reasons it is hidden from view or protected somehow. I've always enjoyed the idea of secrecy and magic, ever since I first read about Narnia and Neverland as a child. It was appealing to think there might be worlds just beyond my reach where spells and enchantments were commonplace, where animals could talk, and people could fly.
Now I'm an adult, I'm less inclined to think the back of the wardrobe could be a magical doorway. But I still believe in the power of imagination. Stories can be so many things: a way to escape, or a learning experience, or a comfort, or an inspiration. And the power of storytelling comes from the willingness of our minds to accept an alternative reality. Today's blog post is a short collection of quotes that describe the meaning of magic in a way that resonates with me. I hope you enjoy them, and thank you very much for reading 🙂.
“M is for magic. All the letters are, if you put them together properly. You can make magic with them, and dreams, and, I hope, even a few surprises...”
― Neil Gaiman
“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”
― W.B. Yeats
“I believe that there is luminosity hiding in the shadow of the mundane. And things that hover at the periphery of our vision. If that’s magic, then I believe in it.”
― Natasha Mostert
“You know what the issue is with the world? Everyone wants a magical solution to their problem, and everyone refuses to believe in magic.”
― Lewis Carroll
“Words and magic were in the beginning one and the same thing, and even today words retain much of their magical power.”
― Sigmund Freud
“When you are writing laws you are testing words to find their utmost power. Like spells, they have to make things happen in the real world, and like spells, they only work if people believe in them.”
― Hilary Mantel
“Books are a uniquely portable magic.”
― Stephen King
After the events of the last chapter, Luca/Avi wants Devin to go and talk to Leander. Luca can't do it himself because Leander thinks he's dead. And it's still a risky plan given that Devin is from the twenty-first century. But there's a good chance the events in the Colosseum have some bearing on the current day and the reason Cass is struggling with her life path. Both Luca and Devin think it's worth a try.
Warning: there is reference to gladiatorial combat and character death in this chapter.
You can catch up on chapters one through twenty-two via the New series label at the top of this post, and thank you very much for reading 💕.
23 A Coincidence
with a sword?” I said.
don’t mean that. I mean… she’s a boy. How is she a boy?”
same way you are. Because her life path says she is.”
nodded. “You could be a girl next time. Most lessons have to be learned as more
than one gender.”
that makes sense.” He looked back at the arena. “She got a bad deal, didn’t
she? It looked like you were allies. I hope some of her other lives were
depends,” I said.
“On whether the lesson she won’t learn can be traced all the way back to my
what I was afraid of. If it were true, it would mean her current situation was partly
my fault. I’d thought I was saving her, not condemning her. I pushed down the
guilt before it could take hold. Irrelevant, Luca. This is not about you.
possible?” asked Devin.
we find out?”
could talk to her. Ask her some questions.”
frowned. “How can I? She doesn’t know anything about this.”
I meant, you could talk to him.”
eyes widened. “You want me to talk to the gladiator? Could… could I do
can’t,” I said. “I’m dead, remember?”
looked at me, then back down at the body in the arena. The sword had been
removed, along with the helmet, and there were rose petals strewn everywhere,
hiding its injuries. Its hair was dark with sweat and a line of blood ran from
its lips halfway down its neck. Cass took a feather from her own helmet and
kissed it, before placing it on the body.
put his head on my shoulder for a second as if making sure I was still there. “Avi.
That boy down there with you. Did he… did he love you?”
never said it. We promised we wouldn’t. Not until we’d won our freedom.” We
shouldn’t have waited.
said Devin again, his voice low. He put his arms around me and I leaned into
him. Then I felt ashamed at how selfish I was being.
happened a long time ago,” I said.
it’s happening right now,” he argued.
but we can’t change it. The best we can do is understand it. Look, the
congratulations are over. Cass is leaving. We need to follow.”
assumed she would be returning to the Ludus Magnus, at least for tonight.
There was a tunnel connecting it to the Colosseum, allowing the gladiators and
animals easy access on games days. When we stood up, Devin made a noise of
I’m not wearing any…” He looked down at the toga.
said, smiling at his embarrassment. “Underwear is a relatively new earthbound custom.”
thought it felt weird when we arrived, but then I got distracted. Are…?” He
not,” I said.
blushed and did a terrible job of trying not to look. “Can we leave now?” he
asked, finally succeeding in averting his gaze.
and I remained unnoticed under my non video as we made our way through
the press of bodies, apart from when he trod on his toga and nearly tripped us
both up. “Sorry,” he said. “It’s these sandals. They’re impossible to walk in.”
muttered a spell to shorten his toga slightly, putting my hand on his back to
guide him in the direction I wanted us to take. I knew the Colosseum better
than any casual spectator, and soon enough we were in the tunnel itself. It was
hot and filthy with barely any natural light. Years of destructive emotions
swirled in the air like an invisible but cloying fog. It would take a lot of guardians
a long time to remove them.
concentrated on what we were there to do. Life lessons were pursued in
increasing order of difficulty, each magician advancing through the levels in
sequence until they passed—or not—their final test. The path was predetermined
according to their own choices and desired profession.
was an earthbound equivalent for every role in the magical dimensions. Spell Masons,
for example, were the broadest and could be matched to a variety of jobs from
bricklayer to architect. Spell Weavers to painters, writers, and composers.
Animal Mages, Spell Brewers, Spell Techs, Spell Masters, Healers… it didn’t
matter. There was a path for all of them.
for him. Even for me.
Devin to a stop. “I’m going to create some aurei so you can pay the lanista.
Look, that’s him over there, with the fat face and bandy legs. When you ask him
for a private audience with Cass, you’ll have to pretend to be… er… interested
She’s my sister,” he said.
pretend, didn’t I? She might think there’s something familiar about you, but
she won’t actually know who you are.”
how am I going to talk to her? She’s, like, Roman, isn’t she?”
considers herself Germani,” I replied, smiling at the thought of her
outrage at being referred to as Roman. “She hasn’t been in the Roman system for
as many generations as my ancestors. But, yes, she does speak Latin. Don’t
worry, I will make sure you understand each other.”
you want me to ask her? This life lesson thing… can you tell me any more about
how it works?”
sighed. I’d been debating with myself how much I could safely share with him. As
long as I don’t mention magic…
stepped a little closer to the wall. The tunnel was busy. Retiarius and secutor
gladiators were lining up for the next spectacle even as the remains of the previous
fight were being cleared away. Gods, Luca. Don’t look.
reached out a hand to lean against the wall, then recoiled when he touched it.
“I wouldn’t,” I said. “There’s a lot of stuff on there, and blood is probably
the least offensive substance.”
he said. “I feel so much better for knowing that. What about the life lessons?”
I said, “there are all kinds of lessons. Talents and skills and stuff, but also
personal development. Being a good father, for example. Or a good friend. And
navigating successfully through the spectrum of emotion between fear and love. Making
the right choices.”
a face. “That’s… kind of broad.”
prestigious professions demanded the most difficult life paths and had the
greatest penalties for failure. I’d already narrowed it down to either Spell Master
or Healer. The former required impeccable moral integrity alongside its
professional skills. The latter required emotional strength. Objectivity
without the loss of empathy.
no evidence of any issue with Cass’s moral compass. Aside from her “I hate the
world and everyone in it” vibe, she was a decent person. Which had left me with
the more difficult of the two scenarios. Of course.
it’s broad,” I said. “But we have to start somewhere. I want you to find out
how she’s feeling and what she’s going to do next.”
looked uncomfortable. “Isn’t that a bit insensitive?” he asked.
won’t help Cass by making friends with her in this life. The present-day Cass
is the one in trouble.”
nodded. “Are you coming with me? You could hide your face.”
don’t trust myself. And it’s not just my face. I am Avi. If she
recognizes me… I can’t do that to her. Not to mention it would be a bad idea to
get within striking distance of my former owner.
off a piece of my toga and filled it with gold coins, before twisting the cloth
into a knot and handing it to Devin. I removed the non video as he
turned to go. “Latine,” I murmured.
agreed straight away. His eyes gleamed as he counted the coins. Yes, you
greedy bastard, that’s even more money than you got for my life, isn’t it?
myself not to be so judgmental. I was supposed to be a guardian. Without life
paths like that of the lanista, lots of other magicians would be denied
the chance to learn. It pained me to admit it, but Shadow Mages had their
magicians, the core of their magic was in their heads, aligned with their
intellect. Light Mages, like me, were something of an anomaly. The core of my
magic was located in my heart and aligned with my emotions. Shadow Mages were
just like Light Mages, but their power came from the opposite end of the
like I waited a long time. The tunnel cleared and the roar of the mob started
up again. It was really hot. I played a macabre game of counting down the
fights in the arena death by death, guessing from the noise made by the
spectators. Twenty gladiators had entered to duel against each other, and if
they were lucky, ten would return.
reached death number six when Devin reappeared. He grabbed hold of me in a hug.
His heart was beating very fast. “Avi, tragicus est,” he began. I pulled
back, shaking my head.
I added, lifting the spell that was turning his words into Latin. In the
unlikely event anyone overheard us, I didn’t want them to understand what we
were saying. It was probably overkill, but I reinstated the non video
should return to your time,” I said. “Tell me while we walk back to the seats
where we came in.”
that if we walked and talked at the same time, the telling of it would be
easier on him and the hearing of it would be easier on me. I don’t deserve
said she wanted to die with you. Did you know that?” began Devin.
Yes. I remained silent.
close, at the end,” he went on. “When I watched you both… I could tell. It
could have gone either way. But you were bleeding out, even before she… used
her sword. Your strength was bound to fail. I tried to tell her.”
she blame me for the fact that she’s still alive?” I asked.
God, no. She blames herself. It’s, like, major survivor guilt. It was
heartbreaking to watch. She kept forgetting I was there and going to some
little altar thing and begging for your forgiveness.”
were stinging. I thought she would be angry with me for leaving her. This is
asked me to make sure they put a coin in your mouth to pay the ferryman. I
don’t… I don’t know what that means, but I promised her anyway. She…” He
trailed off. “She told you she loved you. In the arena. At the end. She asked
me if I thought you’d heard her—” Devin’s voice broke.
hesitated mid-step. She was so close. I could turn and run to the Ludus
Magnus right this second and tell her it had been my choice. It wasn’t her
fault. I’d be breaking almost every rule in the earthbound dimension, but I was
finding it difficult to care.
she’s the reason I became a guardian. I could never have helped all those other
assignments without her. Doesn’t she deserve something in return?
Light Mage loves someone enough to willingly sacrifice their own life and
thereby provide the ultimate proof of their selflessness, they graduate their
life path and become a guardian. As I had done when I’d saved Cass.
give a damn about the rules. I’m going to find her.
his hand on my chest to stop me. “Don’t. I can feel what you’re feeling and I
hate it too, but you said it yourself. This Cass isn’t the one who’s in
I whispered. How could my heart be breaking when I didn’t even have a heart in
said Devin, “some of what she said was familiar. We should focus on that,
effort, I turned my mind to what he’d said. “How do you mean, familiar?”
guilt thing. Blaming herself. I learned the term after Cass’s mom slashed her
wrists. Cass told me her therapist said she was a textbook case.”
opened. “How do you know so much about it?”
started walking again and pulled on my hand to get me to join him. “We were
friends, once. She helped me get over our dad. I trusted her because she lost
you were friends in junior high, but that was before her mom died.” I frowned,
trying to remember the timeline I’d followed the night before.
friends after her mom, too. She told me…” He gave me a sideways glance. “Didn’t
you think it was a tiny bit similar to her mom—all that blood when you died? She
hates blood, you know. Even the smallest cut. She can’t bear it.”
didn’t know. Why aren’t you friends now?”
scowled. “I wish I had the answer to that. She claims we weren’t ever really
friends. She accused me of making it all up. She said she had blackouts or
something. It… it hurt. It still hurts. But I gave up trying to convince her.
You can only bang your head against the wall for so long.”
have blackouts,” I said, feeling the need to defend her.
know,” he acknowledged. “It’s just an unlucky coincidence they seem to cover
every single happy memory she made with me.”
That is a coincidence. Except… there’s no such thing. The Master Mages
eliminated it from this dimension.
faster, keen to get back. It felt like I might have found a way forward at last.
I write (or rather I try to write) most weekends. Some writing sessions are easier than others. There are times it's difficult to find the right words. But with more than one hundred and seventy thousand words in the Oxford English Dictionary--not counting another forty thousand obsolete words--at least I have plenty to choose from.
It was a little different in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Shakespeare (seen starring in an episode of Doctor Who in the gif 😀) had approximately one third as many words at his disposal, which might explain why he invented so many new ones. Hundreds and hundreds, in fact. Most of them are still being used today. He wasn't only an amazing storyteller, he was also something of a language pioneer.
Shakespeare is sometimes considered inaccessible--the argument being that he's too literary or that his prose and poetry is too complicated for a modern audience to understand. I think it depends a great deal on the interpretation, but that's a subject for another time. Today's blog post gives a few examples of how his creativity has stood the test of time. Here are ten phrases and ten words that first existed in Shakespeare's head! Thank you very much for visiting my blog today, and I hope you find the lists interesting ❤.
All's well that ends well (from the play of the same name)
Break the ice (from The Taming of the Shrew)
Forever and a day (from As You Like It)
Good riddance (from Troilus and Cressida)
In my heart of hearts and In my mind's eye (from Hamlet)
Kill with kindness (from The Taming of the Shrew)
Laughing stock (from The Merry Wives of Windsor)
One fell swoop (from Macbeth)
Set my teeth on edge (from Henry IV, Part I)
Wear my heart upon my sleeve (from Othello)
Cold-blooded (from King John. First use to mean a lack of emotion. Needless to say, Shakespeare was also responsible for hot-blooded)
Eyeball (from The Tempest)
Gloomy (from several plays, 'to gloom' was already a verb)
Majestic and also majestically (from several plays. First use as adjective/adverb)
Motionless (from Henry V)
Perplex (from Cymbeline)
Satisfying (from Othello)
Shooting star (from Richard II)
Soft-hearted, cruel-hearted, and faint-hearted (from several plays)
In this chapter Luca/Avi returns to the moment his final earthbound life ended, while he was fighting in the Colosseum as a gladiator. In her former incarnation as Leander, Cass fought alongside him. Luca hopes he will gain an insight into Cass's life path and the lessons she needs to learn. He takes Devin with him, knowing Devin will be more able to remain objective.
(Warning: contains descriptions of gladiatorial combat and death).
You can catch up on chapters one through twenty-one via the New series label at the top of this post, and thank you very much for reading 💕.
22 A Fight to the Death
are we going?” asked Devin.
the hell are we going there for?”
enough space to open a doorway in time and absolute privacy. I’d found the idea
of a school librarian walking into the Ludus Magnus alarming enough.
Someone wandering into the Colosseum while the games were in progress would be
that housed the generator was small. There was barely room to walk between the
equipment inside of it. I could put the entire thing under a non video
and with additional locks on the door and total darkness inside, I figured it
would be safe enough.
said Devin, as we half ran through the empty hallways. “Say something. Reassure
me that you have a plan at least.”
a plan,” I replied.
continued in silence until we reached the shed door with its heavy chain and
padlock. Once we were safely inside and my protective spells were in place, I
reached for his hand. Even though it was almost pitch-black I could still see
him clearly. Light Mages, as the name suggests, were masters of light. I had
yet to encounter darkness so absolute that I could not find a fragment of light
surprised when his eyes met mine without hesitation. “This is cool,” he said.
The connection between us was buzzing. “You look a bit like an X-ray, but I can
still see you.”
looks like… energy. Light.”
happens now?” he went on. “Although this would be a great place to make out,
I’m pretty sure that’s not why you brought me here.”
wish. I cleared my throat.
“We’re going to look for that common ground you mentioned. And I need your help
because this is not a situation I can be objective about. I… I’m scared.”
won’t tell you not to be. I’m sure you have a good reason. What should I do?”
Listen. And remember. Vestis aequaliset contego,” I added,
followed by, “Non video.” Then I braced myself. All the spells in the
world weren’t going to protect me from returning to that day. “Amphitheatrum
Flavium, Nonis Augustis, 166.”
done for my trip to the Globe with Cass, I adjusted the time and position of our
arrival before our surroundings settled. We were in the second tier of seating.
It was late afternoon and the arena had just been cleared of its most recent
victims. Our seats were low enough to escape the attention of the political and
social elite, but high enough to have a decent view of the games.
of fifty thousand voices, the heat, and the smell were overwhelming. There was
a sense of anticipation similar to the one created by the spectators at
tryouts, but it was mixed with a thirst for blood and death, adding a
disturbing undercurrent that even a non-guardian could feel. I experienced a
few seconds of disorientation even though I knew what to expect. Get a grip,
Luca. If you lose yourself, we’ll both be stuck here.
held my hand so tightly I winced. I leaned into him as we sat down. “Give
yourself a minute to adjust. I gave you a layer of protection from the worst of
other hand he smoothed the toga he was now wearing and stared at his knees.
After a couple of breaths his grip relaxed a little. “So,” he said in a low
voice, “we’re in Rome, right? This is where you come from. It’s like a…” He
raised his head. “Like a stadium. What happens here? Chariot racing or
something? I can see some horses.”
chariot racing. This isn’t the Circus Maximus. It’s the Colosseum.
You’re about to watch a fight to the death.”
groups of eques gladiators were waiting to enter the arena. They wore
helmets with two colored feathers identifying the lanista to whom they
belonged. The colors looked out of place, as if the men and boys wearing them
were about to perform in a play rather than fight for their lives. Their armor
was minimal—a manica to guard their sword arm, and a small round parma
shield held in the other. The horses fidgeted, sensing the nervousness of their
riders, hooves stirring up the dust. The herald sounded. It was time.
close, Avi,” said Cass. “Don’t dismount unless it’s to get another spear for
won’t,” I agreed.
I were wearing red feathers. We, and our group, were underdogs and not expected
to win this particular fight. Our lanista had complained about the risk
to his stock loudly enough to be paid double. It didn’t matter to us. We’d die
just the same.
fear confused my senses. I was unable to form a complete picture of the
Colosseum—my eyes captured isolated images only. The feathers on the helmets.
The sun glinting through the gaps in the awning. Splattered blood along the
wooden boards at the edge of the arena. The emperors, Marcus Aurelius and
Lucius Verus, unmoving and expressionless. Waiting. For us.
hear the low roar of the mob interspersed with catcalls from the nearby
spectators. I only caught the odd word, and none of them made any sense to me.
Sweat was already trickling between my shoulder blades and the strap of my
shield slid across my palm. I tightened my grip.
us,” said Cass as the herald sounded, urging her horse forward. We lined up,
facing our emperors. Both were middle-aged, impeccably dressed, with their hair
and beards ornately curled according to the current fashion.
walked to the edge of the Emperor’s Box. I was relieved. He was the more
lenient of the two co-emperors and more likely to grant missio if he were
the sponsor of our fight.
Missio was the last hope of a defeated gladiator.
We could appeal to the sponsor of the fight, and, if our performance had been
entertaining and honorable enough, a reprieve from death was sometimes granted.
watched, Lucius Verus stood up, dismissing the attentions of the girl draped
over the arm of his chair. He whispered in the ear of his co-emperor, who shrugged
and sat down again. My heart sank. Dread settled in my stomach like a bowl of
have heard that I am recently returned from the wars,” Lucius Verus called down
to us. There were a few cheers from the senators sitting nearby. “Victorious,
of course,” he added with a brief, insincere smile. He leaned his elbow and
forearm against the rail at the edge of the box. “I have found today’s games a
little dull thus far. I trust you will reward my success with something more
impressive. Die well, equites. Entertain me. Or I will kill you all
He sat down again and lifted a goblet of wine
to his lips. The girl returned and he allowed her to massage his shoulders.
Marcus Aurelius made an impatient gesture and the herald sounded again. This
group of gladiators moved to their prearranged starting point. For one endless
moment no one moved and an unnatural hush descended on the Colosseum. Then, yelling,
an eques with green feathers on his helmet launched his spear. The crowd
roared and the horses surged forward.
almost immediately that we were outclassed. It was fortunate for us that the other
two groups were hell-bent on destroying each other. At least the attention of
their best gladiators was not focused in our direction.
of the co-emperor’s threat, we threw ourselves into the fight. It was chaotic—a
jumble of fighting techniques and abilities. Adrenaline and desperation carried
me through my first kill, and the slide of sword through flesh brought grim
satisfaction. I am a gladiator. The crowd screamed its encouragement. My
opponent’s blood was thick and sticky, coating my fingers.
I, working together, circled the edge of the arena, picking off equites
from the other groups as they became vulnerable. She unhorsed them, and once
they were on the ground, I finished them off while she did her best to cover me.
Sometimes her spear caused a mortal injury and my job was easy. Other times I
had to dismount and it was a frantic struggle, with only my speed and wits to
protect me from fighters with superior strength and experience.
spectators noticed what we were doing. We obtained the crowd’s support. “Duo
fatalis,” people began to shout, and the cry spread from row to row until
most of the audience was expressing its support for the “deadly duo.”
Gladiators continued to fall. All of our red-feathered cellmates died.
bruised and bloody by the time we’d beaten the last of them. My tunic was stuck
to my skin in several places. My blood? I don’t know. It doesn’t look any
different from theirs. Despite the heat of the sun I felt strangely cold.
My legs were trembling and I locked my knees, fearing I might fall down and
end, we’d had no choice but to fight on the ground. Our knowledge of each
other’s fighting style was what had saved us. We’d fought as a team. Her eyes
blazed with triumph as she acknowledged the cheers. She grabbed my hand and
raised my arm alongside hers. I stood taller. We’re alive. We survived.
Verus beckoned us over. We stopped under the Emperor’s Box, glad of the shade
it provided, and waited for him to speak. I didn’t know about Cass, but I was
shrinking from the thought of the lives I’d taken. I was horrified to realize I
didn’t know how many.
you stopped?” asked the emperor. We exchanged wary looks. What does he mean?
He examined his fingernails. When he lifted his head, the malice on his face
made me recoil. “Your owner was paid to put on a show. You’re not done. Not
while more than one heart beats in this arena.”
He wants us to fight each other.
could be your champions,” offered Cass. Always so much smarter than I, she
tried appealing to his vanity. “Duo fatalis, fighting only for Emperor
wasn’t distracted even for a second. “Don’t presume, boy. One contest in the
arena does not grant you that degree of influence. If you win, I might
sponsor you. Uno fatalis has a much better ring to it.”
stepped back. I was too shocked to do anything but stare. Marcus Aurelius
pressed his lips together but said nothing. The crowd caught on fast, and began
shouting for their preferred winner. As far as I could tell, opinion was quite
evenly split between “Galli”—me—and “Germani”—Cass.
can’t make us fight each other,” she said.
they’ll just kill us both.”
them. I’d rather that, than I be the one to kill you.”
like the ground was shifting under my feet, and I resisted the temptation to take
hold of her arm to keep my balance. My sword was getting heavier by the minute.
I managed a smile. “You’re so sure you’d win?”
necessarily. But if it’s the other way around, I won’t care, will I?”
going to kill you.”
the corner of my eye I noticed movement at the entrance to the arena. I turned.
It was the Praetorian Guard. The emperors’ elite security detail. If we’d been
in any doubt, this proved Lucius Verus was serious in his threat.They’d execute us without a qualm. Slowly.
Painfully. Not just because we’d refused our emperor’s bidding, but to entertain
and appease the mob. A gladiator who would not fight was universally despised.
looked over her shoulder and took a step backward when she saw them. I heard
her sharp intake of breath.
what if I wanted you to kill me?” she said.
my head, not understanding.
rather you killed me than they did. We could… we could kill each other and deny
him his champion.”
My mind could not make sense of the words. Her face swam out of focus.
warriors now. We can live together in the Fields of Elysian, Avi!” Her
expression was pleading. Scared. “I want to stay with you.”
you’re wrong? What if we go to Tartarus instead?” Cass often had nightmares
about being tortured by the Furies. Her previous owner had convinced her all
slaves were destined for Tartarus because all slaves were inherently wicked. Yeah.
It’s all our fault.
won’t,” she said. “Please.”
guards were nearly upon us. I nodded. “All right. If you’re sure…”
never been more sure about anything. Follow my lead.”
raised her sword and we began to fight. Neither of us had a shield anymore. My
feet dragged on the ground as if unseen hands were holding on to my ankles to
keep me from moving. A wound on my torso exploded into life. Oh. My blood,
after all. This might be bad.
lifted me out of my body. The sound of my blade hitting hers was muffled. I
struggled to focus. I think I’m dying. Leander, I’m scared.
drifted. I kept fighting. It could have been one minute or ten. Then a new
thought came to me. If I died, they would let her live. The small thread of
hope grew bigger. Another block, another parry. I blinked. For a second it was
like we were training again. I’ll be alone. I don’t… I don’t want to be
alone. But I could save her. I wanted to save her…
maneuvered our positions until we each had the points of our blades against the
ribs of the other, with only the strength of our shield-arms keeping us apart. “Now,”
she said in a low, fierce voice. “Now.”
my sword forward a little, then a little more. When I felt it pierce her tunic,
I stopped. Her sword sliced through my ribs and I choked, my breath turning
into a gurgle of pain. Gods, it hurts. I collapsed. She screamed. I
tried to tell her she was safe now. The Colosseum disappeared before I could
form the words.
Germani, Germani!” shouted the mob. Cass’s scream was buried underneath the
roar of approval. She fell to her knees, bending over the dead body, my body,
pressing her hands on either side of the sword embedded in its chest. The blood
continued to flow inexorably out of the wound, seeping into the tunic and
creating a spreading shadow in the dirt.
were moving. I wished I knew what she was saying. I had departed that physical
covering as soon as its heart had stopped. Whatever final words she’d spoken,
she’d been the only one to hear them.
I heard a
kind of strangled groan next to me. Devin. I’d forgotten he was there. I
was so grateful to see him I nearly threw my arms around his neck. I’m not
OK?” I asked.
me an incredulous look. “You’re asking me? Did… did I just watch you die?”
Sorry about that. I would have warned you but I wanted you to be completely
he repeated, swallowing. “God. It was brutal. I can’t believe people used to do
this. Where’s Cass? Was she in the crowd or something?”
back to the arena. Cass was standing again, head bowed. Lucius Verus and Marcus
Aurelius were at the edge of the Emperor’s Box, applauding. I realized the mood of the mob had shifted. Although it had
been demanding blood just a few moments before, a wave of sentiment swept the
stands with increasing intensity. Some spectators were openly weeping. Too
said to Devin. “She’s not in the crowd. She’s there. She was the one who killed
I'm starting down a road that will hopefully lead to a new series (Beyond Androva) right now. It's exciting and a little scary to be confronted with so much blank screen that needs filling with words. I don't know the characters very well and I don't know their world either. I have to figure out names, the rules of magic, the villain(s), the obstacles, and hopefully some brand-new spells too.
The thing is that writing can be a lot of fun, but it can also be a massive challenge. Today's post contains a few quotes that sum up the reality of writing in a humorous and relatable way. These words resonate with me now, at the beginning of a new series, even more than usual 😏. I hope you find them interesting, and thank you very much for visiting my blog today.
“One always has a better book in one's mind than one can manage to get onto paper.”
― Michael Cunningham
“When writing a novel, that's pretty much entirely what life turns into: House burned down. Car stolen. Cat exploded. Did 1,500 easy words, so all in all it was a pretty good day.”
― Neil Gaiman
“The thing all writers do best is find ways to avoid writing.”
― Alan Dean Foster
“In many cases when a reader puts a story aside because it got boring, the boredom arose because the writer grew enchanted with his powers of description and lost sight of his priority, which is to keep the ball rolling.”
― Stephen King
“There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly; sometimes it's like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges.”
― Ernest Hemingway
“The funny thing about writing is that whether you're doing well or doing it poorly, it looks the exact same.”
― John Green
“If you are in difficulties with a book, try the element of surprise: attack it at an hour when it isn't expecting it.”
― H.G. Wells
“Some things are hard to write about. After something happens to you, you go to write it down, and either you over dramatize it, or underplay it, exaggerate the wrong parts or ignore the important ones. At any rate, you never write it quite the way you want to.”
― Sylvia Plath
Spell Tracker's story is reaching the final few chapters, and Luca needs to figure out a way to help Cass escape the deadly Spell Tracker contract before it's too late. Meanwhile, Gabe and Mina face everyone following their decision to be honest about the way they feel. And it looks like Devin's made up his mind about his feelings too. With his help, Luca might just have an idea that will work.
You can catch up on chapters one through twenty via the New series label at the top of this post, and thank you very much for reading 💕.
21 An Accomplice
for educated guesses. It was much easier when I could use the life path—like clicking
on exactly the right link rather than trawling search engine results. After a
lot of dead ends and a couple of very close calls, I had to stop. The janitor
would be opening up in a little while, and using so much magic was really
taking it out of me.
made it halfway down my list. It hadn’t been entirely wasted—I’d found out that
Cass and Devin had been friends, briefly, in junior high—but I was no closer to
understanding her life lessons.
arrived at homeroom, the atmosphere was tense. Mina and Gabe were surrounded by
a small group of students: her friends, plus Devin. Given the lack of general
conversation, I was pretty sure every other person in the room was trying to
listen in. Mina and Gabe were leaning against a table and holding hands.
gave me a small smile and I looked over my shoulder to see if it was directed
at someone else. When I turned back, he was smiling properly. Laughing, even. Suddenly
the day seemed a lot brighter.
not making a big deal out of it,” said Gabe.
changed your status at, like, three in the morning,” said one of the girls.
said another. “What’s that all about, Mina? You might have messaged me at
something happen? You can tell us,” said a third girl.
won’t judge you. If he broke your heart, you don’t owe him anything.” The first
questions kept coming. Gods, high schoolers are relentless. Just like the
mob at the Colosseum.
“I’m gay,” said Gabe abruptly. Stunned
silence. Devin moved closer to him in silent support.
one of the boys on the basketball team with Devin, sniggered. “Hey, Mina, you
must have something really special between your—”
behind him two seconds after he started speaking. “Taceo,” I said in a
low, furious voice. He finished his sentence, but no sound came out of his
nothing to do with Mina,” said Gabe angrily.
course it doesn’t. Bron, you’re an asshole,” said Devin.
attempted to defend himself but as no one could hear a word he was saying it
was a futile attempt.
awesome,” said Gabe. “Completely awesome.” He kissed her on the cheek. “I’m
sorry I got her mixed up in this.” His expression hardened. “Anyone who
criticizes her had better be ready to discuss their point of view with me.”
me,” said Devin.
me,” I added. Mina lowered her eyes and squeezed Gabe’s hand.
you and Dev… like… together?” asked the first girl.
said Gabe. “The three of us are just friends. The way we’ve always been.”
checked his emotions. Terror, overlaid with determination. He was very scared,
but he’d decided to see this through. I was glad. And his focus on protecting
Mina would help him.
emotions were more of a concern. Her fear was more complicated than Gabe’s. She
had a lot of regrets. Some of them she’d have to live with, but I could help
her a little. She didn’t deserve to spend the rest of senior year known as the
girl who’d dated one brother after another.
Mina did a great job promoting the play, by the way,” I said. She looked at me,
not sure whether to pretend she knew what I was talking about or not.
play?” asked one of her friends.
I said. “Her birthday party—it was all a Drama experiment. Right, Mina?”
right,” she replied.
Ado About Nothing shows how easy it is to start a rumor about who’s
sleeping with whom. In case anyone is still gullible enough to think she went
with Gabe’s brother,” I added, rolling my eyes for effect.
God!” said the friend. “You’re such a good actress, Mina. That’s, like, so
clever. I thought it wasn’t true, of course, but I didn’t want to be the
one to ruin it.”
said Mina, giving her friend a faint smile. “Amazing what people will believe,
isn’t it?” She looked at me.
Stanton’s arrival prevented any further conversation, but I knew I’d said enough
to get the student population talking. It wasn’t until Mrs. Stanton was
reprimanding Bron for not answering during attendance that I realized I hadn’t rescindo’d
the silencing spell yet. Oops.
giving me sideways glances. After more than two weeks of nothing but “stay
away” vibes, it was like the volume had been turned back up to maximum on our
connection. If I concentrated, I found I could pick up images and vague
thoughts alongside the emotions. Ten seconds later I realized what he was
picturing and bit back a gasp.
at my table gave me a curious look. I shifted in my chair. “Present,” I said
through gritted teeth when Mrs. Stanton called my name. Gods, Devin. Stop.
I visualized jumping into an icy lake, thinking icy cold, icy cold.
Devin coughed. He stopped. His ears went red.
as the bell rang and everyone began to disperse, I went up to him. “Are you
talking to me again?” I said. “Or do you just plan to spend your time torturing
he said, grinning. “Can I do both?”
OK?” I asked.
so. It was a lot to get my head around, you know?”
I nodded. “I’m sorry about everything. Showing you so much, I mean. I was being
little. Maybe. But you really helped Gabe and Mina. Even the story you came up
with just now about the play… you’re good at what you do.”
never… I’ve never liked anyone this much.” He lowered his voice. “It scares me.
I thought I should stop it before I got in any deeper. Until I realized I can’t
stop it. I don’t want to stop it.”
you too. A lot,” I said.
avoided my gaze. “If you’ve gotten together with Cass in the meantime, I know I
only have myself to blame.”
I said, panicking. “Where is she? Shit, I only just realized she wasn’t in
sick,” said Devin. “Didn’t you know? I wasn’t kidding. I thought you guys might
be together now. Most people seem to believe Cavi’s a thing.”
We’re not. This is a disaster. It’s Friday. That means I won’t see her for
another three days. I only have two weeks left as it is.”
to check the empty classroom as if she might appear just because I wanted her
to. Devin put his hand on my arm. “I thought… haven’t you helped her yet? I
didn’t just leave you alone so I could think about stuff. I was giving you
space to do your job.”
haven’t done anything, really,” I admitted. “It’s been impossible.”
sorted out Gabe and Mina in one evening. You must have made some
progress with Cass.”
rang again for the start of first period. I had no idea what I was going to do.
Cass hadn’t messaged me the night before, despite saying she would. What if
she’s sick because she remembered what I said about her mom? What if she
doesn’t come back to school on Monday, either?
He had already shifted the deadline forward
once. I had no guarantee he wouldn’t do it again—only the belief that he wanted
to create a more drawn-out humiliation for me than suddenly announcing, “Time’s
It was a
complicated system of magic that enabled the earthbound dimension to function
so autonomously from the magical ones. The High Council, the seven Master Mages
responsible for its construction, had combined their skills and experience, testing
and improving over many years until they were satisfied with it.
magician who wished to adopt a profession in our society had to complete their
training here. Given that life was impossible without a profession, it was
rather more of a requirement than a choice. To succeed without magic, without
any knowledge of magic, when the odds were stacked against you, and you had no
memory of the magician you really were… that was the test and the opportunity.
was dependent on having an agreed contract. Not the earthbound kind, using
paper and pen. The magical kind, using an engraving spell that carved itself on
the source of a magician’s magic. I could feel mine, if I concentrated. The
closer I got to its execution, the more it burned.
magician tied his or her magic to a contracted outcome such as their chosen
life path, there were consequences. Stakes. The more difficult the lessons you
signed up for, the greater the prize for success and the heavier the penalty
for failure. The Spell Tracker enforced a particular kind of penalty. He was
probably rubbing his hands with glee at the prospect of enforcing mine.
want to help.”
blinked. Devin was still there. “Don’t you have to be in class?” I said.
But I can see how scared you are. I can”—he swallowed—“feel it.”
can? It must be the connection again. I’m sorry. I don’t know why it’s so much
more powerful today.”
ducked his head. “I… well… it might be… no, I’m being dumb. Forget I said
me. Guardians can’t forget, by the way. Even if you used a spell, I wouldn’t be
able to obey it.”
up, Luca. Why would he think he can use a spell in the first place? At this
rate, you might as well tell him he’s really a Light Mage and have done with it.
I won’t use a spell,” he said, giving me a strange look. “It’s the connection…
what you said that time about using intent—I decided to do that. When I talked
to Gabe and Mina on the way to school this morning, I realized I knew what I
wanted to be with you. For however long you’re here. So, I chose. And I concentrated
on that choice.”
that would do it. He has enough magic for that.
I said. “You mean… you chose?”
It was a
strange way for him to put it. I can’t be part of his life path. That’s
impossible. He can’t choose me.
chose. So how can I help Cass?”
Cass. The reminder brought another surge of anxiety,
making me turn and check the classroom again.
not here,” said Devin patiently. “She’s home sick. I ran into Miss Randall on
the way to homeroom, and she asked me to tell you. She said you can take a free
period during Drama because the others need to rehearse different scenes.”
say what was wrong?”
considered using a spell to calm myself down. It wouldn’t help anything to have
a full-blown panic attack. I’d only lose even more time that way.
have you tried since I last saw you?” asked Devin. “Did you find out what her lesson
I’ve looked at some of her past… and I think it must be to do with her mother
somehow. But to be certain, I need to look at her life path, and I can only do
that when she’s within reach of my magic.”
but…” Devin frowned. “You’ve been together a lot, haven’t you? Not that I’ve
been paying attention or anything,” he added hastily.
life path is buried. I can’t get to it without her noticing. I need to use a
spell to immobilize her, and we’re never alone. I can’t exactly turn her into a
statue in public.”
suppose not,” he agreed. “And I guess you can’t explain it to her, either. That
free will thing’s a bitch, isn’t it?”
in spite of my agitation. “You’re not kidding.”
some things about her past, though,” he said. “You could question me. Maybe
that would help.”
it would. But your free will is hanging by a thread as it is. I’d rather not
raised his eyebrows. “You mean, there’s more to know? More than reincarnation
and life lessons?”
flickered as he suppressed his curiosity. “Well… what about her other lives,
then? I don’t know anything about those. Can’t we… review them or something?”
without her life path. I’d just be guessing where and when to go.” I’d spent
most of the night guessing. Even though I’d concentrated on what I knew about her
current life, my success rate had been spectacularly low.
mean you don’t know about any of her former lives? Not a single one?”
hesitated. “I know about one of them.”
thought so. You said it was like me and Elizabeth. Have you visited it?”
I said. I still hadn’t been brave enough to return to the day it ended. My chest
of,” Devin repeated. His eyes narrowed. “I think you have. I felt that.”
someone just stabbed you in the heart.”
That.” I lowered my gaze.
have visited it?” he asked.
didn’t see any unlearned lessons? Avi,” he went on, taking my hand when I
didn’t answer, “I know you’re hurting. I know you can’t think straight. Let me
on what you know of her former life, and this life, what are the similarities,
the common ground? What could the lesson be?”
it hit me. He’s right. My death. And her mother’s death. I need to find out
what happened afterward. Maybe Devin can ask her…