Chapter 2: What Have I Done?
My eyes slowly cracked open and I winced. The light aggravated my headache. "Dia?" I heard someone ask. I blinked and Sami's face came into perspective. She smiled nervously. "Hey, you're awake."
I tried to speak, but all that came out was a moan. My stomach felt awful. I tried to sit up, but Sami pushed me back down. "Don't. Don't look." But I saw what I needed to see right before my eyes closed again . A large pile of rocks with an arm sticking out from under it. An arm with the hand clutching a broken crown. Then I fell back into unconsciousness.
I woke up in the fetal position in my bed. I had an ache in my back and I had a bad taste in my mouth. I uncurled slowly, my joints cracking. I rolled out of bed as I heard murmurs outside my window. Slowly, I walked down the hall that connected the bedrooms to the shop. I saw Dolores scurrying around, rearranging everything, pacing, then rearranging it again. “Dolores?” I asked. She jumped and spun around.
“Mercy me!” she gasped. “I thought you were still asleep!”
I shook my head. “What happened?”
Dolores grimaced. “Some kind of earthquake. The palace was completely destroyed.”
My stomach twisted. “My aunt?”
“Is fine,” Dolores reassured me. “She’s up in her room.”
I breathed a sigh of relief. But the knot in my stomach wouldn’t go away. “What about the king?” I whispered.
“Child...” said Dolores, shaking her head.
“He’s dead, isn’t he?” I asked.
“Child...” Dolores tried again.
“I saw,” I admitted. “I saw his body beneath the rubble. He’s dead.”
Dolores nodded. I felt nauseous. I started hyperventilating. It was an accident, I tried to console myself, It’s not like he didn’t have it coming...
“There, there,” whispered Dolores, reaching a hand towards me. I turned away. I ran to my room. I fell on my bed, staring at the ceiling. Oh, gods, what have I done?
I don’t know how long I laid there, processing what just happened, when she came in. “Knock, knock,” I heard a woman’s voice say.
I turned. A woman with mousy hair in a bun leaned on my door frame. I forced a smile. “Hi, auntie.”
She sat down at the edge of my bed. “How are you doing?”
I swallowed. “Auntie...there’s something I have to tell you.”
She leaned close. “What?” she asked quietly.
I swallowed. “I...well...I...” I swallowed again. “I think I can...”
“What?” my aunt asked again.
“I can...” I couldn’t finish the sentence. I looked around the room for something to use. Finally, I spotted it. A ring on my aunt’s finger, a relic of her past. I took her hand and slid the ring off, holding it in my palm. “I can...” I still couldn’t finish. So I concentrated. The ring began to vibrate, and I concentrated harder. The rig started to float upwards, only a few centimeters above my palm. My aunt stared for a second, then grabbed the ring, turning it over in her hands as if looking for a wire. I fell back, suddenly feeling like I’d just sprinted a mile.
My aunt stared at me. “And you still lose pocket change...” I smiled weakly, but couldn’t hold it.
“Auntie...” I whispered, unsure of how to phrase it. “The palace...I got a headache when I walked in there...There were...many things for me to...”
Auntie frowned, then her face smoothed in understanding. Then her expression changed to tearful horror. I closed my eyes, feeling like I was about to cry. But no tears came. Auntie leaned in close and hugged me. She slipped under the covers beside me, like she used to do when I was little. “I’m scared,” I whispered. Auntie stroked my hair. Despite myself, I fell asleep on her shoulder.
The soothsayer looked up as I dropped coins in the basket. She was almost completely wrapped in a threadbare robe that hid most of her features. She cocked her head. “It’s been a while,” she said, “since I’ve been asked to search for a missing person.” She didn’t sound too old, maybe about my aunt’s age.
I nodded. “Either you’re the real deal or you heard it through the grapevine somehow. Either way, I need your help.”
This morning, when I’d woken up, I’d been wondering and wondering what do. Eventually, I decided that nothing could be done about the king. Death is kind of a permanent thing. However, I decided something else. My powers had to come from somewhere. I needed to find my parents. I needed to figure out what I’d done and how I’d done it. The problem was, I’d been found on a hillside. I had no idea who my parents were, or even if they were still alive. I’d never been had much faith in soothsayers, but, considering what my life had been like lately, I was ready to believe just about anything.
The soothsayer gestured for me to sit down. “I need to find...” I started.
“Your parents,” she finished. She shifted. “Well, can you tell me anything about yourself? Where you’re from, originally? Perhaps that could narrow things down.”
I shook my head. “I was only a few days old when I was left.”
The soothsayer seemed to think. “Was anything left with you? A family heirloom?” I shook my head again. The soothsayer sighed. “Nothing for it. I’ll need to find your resonance.”
I blinked. “My what, now?”
“Most would call it an aura,” said the soothsayer. “It can tell a lot of things. Location, activites,” I flinched when she said that, “heritage...” She held out a hand. I placed mine in hers and she jumped. “Powerful resonance you have there,” she laughed.
“Is that good?” I asked.
She shrugged. “It depends on the person.” She put her other hand on top of mine and bowed her head, concentrating. A minute or two later she let go of my hands.
“Well?” I asked.
She shook her head. “In the Land of the Dead. Both of them. I can’t tell you more than that.”
I sat there for a second, then closed my eyes and stood up. “Thank you,” I said.
“I’m sorry I couldn’t do more to help.”
“Believe me,” I said. “You’ve done plenty.”
She stared at me for a moment, then shook her head. “Don’t be rash, child.” I said nothing in reply and headed for the door. “Splendia,” said the soothsayer. I turned around. “It wasn’t your fault.”
By the time I reached home, I knew what I had to do.
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