Two moons hung in the sky, one already near the western horizon. The third moon would soon peek out from the east. The cool evening air held the heady scent of pine, while lightflies flickered in the underbrush.
Lucy arrived with a pack slung over her shoulder. She greeted the twins who sat outside enjoying their tea. “I brought just a few things with me for the night,” she said to them. “I’ll go back to my cabin for more tomorrow.”
The sisters shared a glance.
“Welcome,” Reigna said. Eden, always the seeker of peace, had encouraged her sister to be non-confrontational.
“Yes, welcome,” Eden said. “Can we get you anything? Some tea maybe?” She lifted her cup in invitation.
“No, thank you. I think I’ll just do some reading.”
“You should come in now.” Lucy opened the door.
“Soon,” Eden said.
“Yes, soon,” Reigna repeated.
Lucy sighed, then stepped inside. The screen door squeaked closed behind her.
The twins looked at one another and smiled. Then, “Let’s go for a walk,” Reigna whispered.
“There’s no sense irritating her.”
“Please. I want to talk to you about something and I don’t want . . . you know,” she said, tugging her ear and rolling her eyes, indicating that she didn’t want Lucy to overhear.
Eden bit the inside of her cheek. “All right. Where will we go?”
“Let’s just practice getting around silently. You know, like Broden’s been teaching us.”
Broden, the twins’ cousin and Lilith’s son, whose father was unknown to them, grew up at the compound. He was about five years their senior. Mara, to stop Lilith in her attempts to murder the infant twins, killed his mother with an Oathtaker’s blade. That act cut off the possibility that he—her progeny—would ever lead the Select. Even so, Reigna and Eden treated him like a brother, and he frequently taught them defensive skills and encouraged them in their studies.
“All right,” Eden quickly agreed.
They rose silently, then stepped from the wood planked deck to the soft, sandy ground. Painstakingly seeking silence, they advanced.
When a guard walking his beat around the inner compound became visible, Reigna motioned for her sister to accompany her behind a large tree just outside of Basha and Therese’s cabin.
Hushed voices came from within. The whispered name “Mara” floated in the air.
Reigna urged Eden to step closer.
“No,” she mouthed, the moonlight just bright enough to see by.
“But they’re talking about Mara. Come on!”
“We shouldn’t.” Then, at her sister’s urging, Eden reluctantly followed.
They crouched down on either side of a gnarly rosemary bush just below the cabin window. Brushing against it, its piney scent filled the air.
“But what if she doesn’t remember?” came Basha’s voice.
“Who? Remember what?” Reigna whispered to her twin.
“I can’t even imagine the trouble,” came Therese’s lowered voice.
“Poor Dixon,” Basha said. “Poor, poor Dixon. He’s positively devastated.”
“I’ve never seen him like that.”
“He just kept repeating: ‘But, she doesn’t know me!’ I think he hoped he could trigger her memory if she could just remember who he was.”
The twins looked at one another with furrowed brows.
“When she asked who the girls were . . . Honestly, I thought Dixon would lose his composure,” Therese said.
Eden’s mouth dropped open in surprise. A rush of tears filled her eyes.
“Well at least we kept the truth from Lucy long enough for him to get her away from here,” Basha said.
“It was uncertain for a minute there. Dear Ehyeh, did you see when she almost asked Calandra who she was?”
A moment passed in silence. Then came another whisper. “I know. But the way she behaved with the twins? It was like her memory was just . . . a breath away.”
“I wonder if we’re doing the right thing. I could be wrong, I suppose—too cautious. Maybe her memory would’ve been more quickly triggered if she’d stayed near her charges,” Therese said.
“Mmmm, maybe. But like you said, it might have been risky telling her anything.”
“Still, maybe it’s not right—keeping all this from the others.”
The sound of a spoon against the edge of a cup rang out.
“Oh no, that’s the one thing I’m sure of,” Basha said. “You know Lucy. She wouldn’t waste any time going to the Council with a claim that Mara is incompetent to act as the twins’ Oathtaker and that they should remove her.”
A quiet moment passed.
“No. It’s the only thing I’m sure of. We can’t let Lucy know.”
“But Lucy supports Mara,” Therese argued.
“Yes, but she is single-focused over matters pertaining to the twins. You know as well as I, that she’ll take no chances with their safety. She’s upset enough about Mara and Dixon leaving here. She doesn’t miss an opportunity to show her displeasure.” Basha sighed. “No. Lucy wouldn’t give it any further thought. She’d just move forward, thinking her way was the only way.”
A chair squeaked.
“I suppose you’re right,” Therese said.
“I know I’m right. Mara will get better. I’m sure of it. Her memory will come back to her. It just . . . has to.”
“And if it doesn’t?”
The question hung in the air, unanswered.
“What do you make of this . . . prophecy Fidel tried to share?” Basha asked.
Reigna motioned for Eden to step away.
“Dear Ehyeh!” Eden exclaimed when they retook the pathway. “Oh, dear Ehyeh!”
“Shhh, Eden, not a word. Basha is right. Lucy would . . . Well you know what she’d do. We can’t talk about this in the open. For now we have to get back home before she calls the guards out to look for us. We’ll find somewhere to talk, tomorrow.”
“The old tree house?”
“Perfect. The old tree house, it is. No one would bother us there and, since some of the ladder rungs are in need of repair, the children are no longer allowed up there. But for now, not another word about this. Lucy’s enhanced hearing is . . . Well, it makes talking openly quite dangerous.” Reigna paused. “Agreed then? We say nothing more now?”
Eden closed her eyes, sighed, and then nodded her agreement.
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