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CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX

Splotches of red covered her hands and arms. She could feel herself screaming in the candlelight, crying and trying to wipe the stains away, but they stubbornly remained. Her grandmother opened the bedroom door calmly and knowingly, waiting for the vision to pass, not wanting to interfere with the child's destiny. In moments, the blood was gone as if blown away by her own breath, and she looked to her grandmother, the High Oracle of the Hidden Circle, with pleading in her eyes. "Make it go away, Nanna! I don't want it!" The old woman merely crossed the room and sat by Sameska's side, holding her hands and looking gravely into her eyes. "That I cannot do, Sameska. Would not if I could," she said, her voice deep and comforting. "It is a blessing of Savras, to see that which will be. You have been chosen, just as your mother and I were chosen." Chosen. She contemplated the word later as she slept, bundled in soft blankets against an early autumn chill. The visions had only recently begun, making her feel special at first, but then they had come more often. In quiet moments, in the middle of daily chores, and, that day, among her friends. She sobbed, still able to see the looks of horror on their faces as she'd rambled, telling each about the day they would die. Horror turned to anger and hatred, and the cruelty of children became isolation. She was hidden indoors to await her mother, still among her peers at the temple. Alone in her room, staring into the darkness, smelling the smoke of a cooling candle, she listened to the muffled voices of her mother and grandmother through the door. She drew up the stone cold courage of her mother and stoically pulled her arms out from beneath the covers, holding them up to the moonlight that shone through the dark curtains. It was there. She could not truly see it, the vision having passed, but the blood was still there. Imagining it across her hands and fingers, wrinkled and old as they'd been, she wondered at what she'd seen. Savras demanded truth in all things, an accounting of each vision or prophecy for all to hear. This one she had not told, not to Nanna or her mother. A sickening guilt had haunted her about the vision, for the blood was not hers, and she knew that someone had died. She lay awake all night, eventually rising, still wrapped in blankets, to pace the floor in front of the window. Each time she passed, the moonlight splashed blood across her hands.



***** | Bloodwalk | *****