Her sister chuckled. “Well, I have an idea,” she hesitated, “but I’m pretty sure you won’t like it.”
“What?” Eden took another bite of her treat and closed her eyes, momentarily delighting in its sweetness.
“I think that we should,” Reigna leaned in and whispered, “leave the compound ourselves. You know, it’s high time we figured out what all this is about. I mean, all the studying and training we’ve been through. To what avail?”
“But we know what it’s all about,” her twin said, scowling. “We’re to be— No, we are the ranking member of the first family of the Select. Or is it ‘members?’ Or, is it just to be one of us? Or both of us? Oh, who knows!” she exclaimed, exasperated.
“See? That’s just what I mean.” Reigna tapped her finger to her lip again. “All right, so let’s say that everything we’ve ever been told is true—”
“Of course it’s true Reigna,” her sister interrupted.
“Well, all right, sure. Mara wouldn’t lie to us. But here we are, young women already, and we’ve yet to regain our birth signs or scents.”
“That’s because we haven’t found favor with the Good One yet. We lost our signs and scents when we were old enough to be . . . What was that phrase Mara always used?”
“Right.” Despite her sadness over her Oathtaker’s departure, Eden chuckled. “It took me the longest time to figure out what that meant.”
“I know. I remember asking Mara about it one day. Dear Ehyeh, we must have been all of five or so, at the time. She said: ‘When you know what you’ve been directed to do and you know it’s right to do that, and wrong to do otherwise, and you choose wrong, you are being willfully disobedient.’”
“How old did she say we were when that happened? I mean, when our signs and scents disappeared?”
“About a year old.”
The sisters both grinned, then turned somber.
“And we won’t get them back until we find Ehyeh’s favor,” Eden finally said.
“That’s right. And of course, we can’t really take our rightful place—or places—until we do. Until then, Mara as our regent, operates as leader of the first family and head of the Council.” Reigna sighed. “And what of our other sisters? Where are they, anyway? Lucy mentions them from time to time. She says they’re all fine, but we’ve yet to meet any of them.”
“Mara planned for us to do that soon.”
“Sure. But she can’t see to that now, can she? What if—”
“Right. I know,” Eden said, her hand held up. “I can’t even think about Mara not getting her memory back.”
Her twin sighed. “And about finding favor with the Good One— How are we to do that from here? Maybe we’re supposed to go out on our own to . . . you know . . . figure it out.”
Eden’s brow furrowed. “You’re serious about leaving the compound.”
Her sister nodded, her jaw set firm.
Again, Reigna nodded.
“I don’t know.”
“I just wonder about what’s out there for us to learn. Do you even remember the last time we left here?”
“Remember! How could I forget?”
Her sister glared at her, then joined in.
“We begged her to take us to the City of Light. Begged!” Reigna exclaimed.
“For the festival.”
“Right. And then when everyone was set to go, we—”
“Ha!” Reigna said. “Well, not the way Mara disappears, but oh, she was angry when she couldn’t find us.”
“Well sanctuary was fascinating. I didn’t want to leave.”
“Yes . . . I’d like to go back someday.”
“We will,” Eden said, “when we take our—”
“Rightful places,” Reigna completed her sister’s sentence. “But when’s that going to be?” She patted her twin’s arm. “Maybe we go back to sanctuary ourselves—now. I mean—what’s to stop us?”
Eden sat quietly. She took another bite of her dessert. “Mmmm,” she moaned, savoring its goodness.
Reigna’s brow rose. “This would be the perfect time for us to leave. Mara and Dixon are gone,” she said.
“Jerrett and Marshall are leaving,” Eden added.
“Basha and Therese are also leaving soon,” Eden said.
Eden frowned. “And Lucy is going to drive us stark raving mad if we stay here!”
Reigna slapped her knee. “Exactly!”
“But how would we do it? We don’t have any money, or food, or—”
“Yes, we do,” Reigna interrupted.
Her twin’s brow furrowed. “What are you talking about?”
“Mara always keeps an emergency gold coin stash.”
“But that’s Mara’s. We can’t just take it.”
“Look, Eden, I’m not going without you, and I won’t force you, but this is an emergency if I ever saw one. And . . . I think we need to do this, to figure out who we are and to find out what’s expected of us. What are our roles in Oosa to be, exactly? I think we need to go if we’re ever to find Ehyeh’s favor. Then, if we do figure this all out, we’ll be better off even if Mara never gets her memory back.”
“Oh, please don’t say that. She has to get better.”
Reigna was quiet for a minute. “You know, staying here will get us nothing . . . except maybe our fill of Lucy. If we have roles to fill, then— Well, then, we need to figure out what those roles are.”
Eden said nothing.
“We would need money. We can get that. We would need horses. Broden already picked out great ones for us.”
“We would need some food,” Eden suggested.
“Adele would help with that and she’d never even ask what we wanted it for.”
Eden bit the inside of her cheek. “I don’t know.”
“Think about it,” Reigna said, “and then whatever you decide, that’s what we’ll do.”
“Let me sleep on it.”
“You think you’ll ever be able to sleep again? Knowing what we know about Mara?”
Her twin shook her head. “Oh, poor Mara.”
“Yes, and poor Dixon. He must be lost without her—or without her knowing him, that is. It’s so sad.”
“Right,” Eden agreed. “Oh, what are we going to do without her?”
“I don’t know.” Her twin rubbed her hands together. “Eden, what do you think Fidel was talking about at the meeting?”
“At the meeting?”
“Yes, you remember. He shared a prophecy—or the start of one. He looked at us strangely, don’t you think? Then he said something about the moons—the ladies—aligning.”
Reigna tipped her head, side to side. “Prophecy often refers to the moons as ‘ladies.’”
“Yes, that’s right. So?”
“So you know that whenever anyone around here references prophecy, they’re talking about us.”
“I hadn’t thought of that. I’m sorry to say I didn’t pay close attention. What did he say again?”
“I don’t remember exactly, but I think it had something to do with a ‘test.’”
Eden shrugged, then stood to go. “I don’t know, but I’ll think about your suggestion.” She hesitated. “Still, if we left the compound, where would we go?”
“I don’t know. Wherever our noses lead us, I suppose.”
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