Stay True

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Chapter 4

Clara stood there with her mouth agape. Colin ran up behind her. "Yeah, um, that's what I was going to say. Yes, Didacus's library is the best chance of reversing the spell...but unfortunately, there are roughly one thousand, two hundred and thirty eight books on enchantments, and that's not even counting books he's got on magical theory but does include books involving potions and other things like that."

Clara looked at him. "How did you..."

He shrugged. "I counted one day when I was pondering whether or not to turn James into a donkey. I decided he did not need any help being an a- hey, kidding, kidding! It was one of the first days I was working here!" he made sure to add when he saw Clara's murderous glare. James was her brother, after all. "Actually," Colin continued, "I was trying to remove a pixie's spell. They turned him into a donkey. Fortunately, I was able to get him into the stables until I was able to change him back. He doesn't even remember it because apparently his brain was transfigured too..." He stopped when he saw Clara's raised eyebrow. "What?" She stared at him some more and crossed her arms. "It's the truth!" he insisted. She finally relaxed. Clara could not really tell if he was really telling the truth or not, but she was going to let it go in favor of helping the castle.

She walked into the gigantic library and found the window. When she and Colin peered out, Clara gasped and looked away. It appeared that the whole kingdom, or at the very least the whole central city had been affected. People in the courtyard were slumped over their washing in the fountain, flat on their backs, curled into little balls. Everywhere she looked, Clara saw more helpless people.

Colin put a reassuring hand on her shoulder. Clara looked up at him, despairing. "I liked this a whole lot better when we didn't have the fate of an entire kingdom resting on our shoulders." He gave her shoulder a gentle squeeze, and then removed his hand. Thankfully, he did not mention that they already had the entire kingdom's fate to worry about.

"Clara? The section on magic...it's this way." Colin walked off into the library. Clara followed him into the maze of books. He stopped in the middle of an aisle. She walked around him and notice that he was just standing there, not really emoting at all.

"Colin?" Clara was tempted to poke him to make sure he was real and had not turned into a statue or something, but she did not. "Where are they?" He gestured to either side of him. Clara looked around in awe and he did too. "All...all of these?" He nodded. Clara sighed heavily. Only a kingdom. "Let's get started," she somehow managed, although her voice sounded rather strained.

Colin said, "I'll take this side, you take that side." He gestured to the different shelves. "What we should do is take a book, look through the index to see if there is anything about sleeping spells, and if there is we take it and put it on that table over there." He pointed to a long, old wooden table in a corner of the room. Clara nodded like she understood and gulped as her heart sank. The sorting alone will take days! And what is an index? Colin noticed her distress, though. He said, "Let's do the first one together." He pulled the furthest book on the right of the bottom row and flipped to the very back. Clara saw rows and rows of words with little numbers next to them. Colin turned the pages until he came to one with all words and phrases starting with "S". Then, starting at the top, he pulled his finger down the page, searching for "sleeping spell". He also, thank goodness, told Clara what he was doing so that she could do the same. He went through all the "S"s and said, "No sleeping spells. Then you keep doing this with the other books. Do you understand now?" Clara nodded carefully. I can do this...probably...maybe...

He put the book back where it came from. "You have to make sure to go in order. Also, put the books back in the same places you found them. I don't understand Didacus's method of organization, and if we put something back in the wrong place he won't be able to find it, which could have catastrophic consequences." Again with the problems. Couldn't one day go by without needing to save the world? Colin pointed out a system Clara could use to go through the books and remember where they were. Then they began.

It was tedious work. Clara managed to get through about one row an hour, which meant that by the time she was ready for food she had gotten through about three entire rows of books. Colin, who had clearly done this before, was going at nearly twice her pace. When he noticed Clara stop, he asked, "Do you want to take a break? It's getting on towards one." Right when he said that, the clock chimed one. Clara's stomach growled like a wild animal. She smiled gingerly, a little embarrassed. "Some food would be ideal," she said.

Colin volunteered to go down to the kitchen to get food for the both of them, but Clara waved his offer away. She had been sitting down for three hours, looking through books. Her legs and her mind both needed a stretch. They walked as leisurely as one could when surrounded by sleeping and seemingly dead bodies. It was horrid.

Once they finally reached the kitchen, Clara could not help but stare. There were cabinets lining the walls. There were five fireplaces and two huge ovens. Everywhere she looked, she saw something new. A sleeping servant who had been chopping parsley. A pot on every fire. It was also very warm, which made sense for a room full of fires midsummer.

Clara pulled someone away from a pot on the nearest fireplace where a helpful someone (probably Colin) had smothered the fire. Then she peeked in and took a sniff. Mmm... Carrot soup. Clara asked Colin to find a match - she wanted to heat it up for lunch. He was on the other side of the room, but he pointed an outstretched hand at the fire and said, "Enreabrof," pretty loudly. Clara yelped in shock as a stream of fire whizzed past her, barely missing her skirts.

"Colin!" Clara shouted a bit louder than she meant to. He looked down and mumbled, "Sorry," then went back to putting everything sharp away, just out of the danger zone of any sleeping servant.

"I didn't mean to yell," Clara said sheepishly. It's okay, she heard Colin say. She looked up, but he was still moving knives. It's okay, Clara heard again, and this time she realized it was in her head. "Hey!" she said indignantly when she figured out what he was doing. Clara focused on blocking her thoughts from him. Hey yourself. She let out an involuntary gasp. He can still get in! Instead of trying not to let any thoughts out, Clara focused on not letting his thoughts in.

"That's better," he said, and Clara realized it was aloud and opened her eyes. She did not even notice she had closed them. Clara saw he was smiling at her and she smiled back.

"Thanks," she replied. "I'm glad you forgive me."

He pointed at the fireplace and informed her, "Your soup is boiling."

"Oh!" Clara squealed. She grabbed a large spoon and stirred the soup. Clara did enjoy cooking. All the recipes, the way different ingredients and spices combined...She just found it fascinating.

Clara tasted the thick broth. "Wow. This is really good. You should try this, Colin!"

"Okay." He moved one more knife and came over to her so quietly that when he started talking, his voice coming from right behind her was very startling. Clara had turned back to the pot, stirring it to make sure it did not burn.

"You might want to get-"

"Gah!" Clara dropped the spoon and it clattered onto the cold stone floor. His hand flashed out and grabbed it before she could even bend down. "Sorry," they both said at the same time. Before he could keep apologizing, Clara rushed on. "No, really. I am sorry for yelling at you and I am sorry for getting startled so badly. I'm feeling a bit high-strung."

Colin pondered her for a moment. "Is 'high-strung' one of your words this week?" Clara nodded. "Good way to use it. And I am sorry too. I should not have scared you. Actually, I am working on a new stealth technique. What do you think?"

"Very stealth-y," Clara said. Colin laughed. "What?"

"'Stealthy' is a real word."

Evidently, the way she said it made it sound like she was just adding "y" to the end to sound smart. "Oh, Colin," Clara said. "Don't make things up just to sound important."

He would have been hurt if not for her expression. She was smirking and her eyes were smiling in the corners, which meant she was joking. He pretended to be upset, though. Colin clutched his heart and staggered around. He decided not to fall over and play dead, though. Considering the situation...

Clara seemed to come to this same conclusion. She stopped laughing and went back to focusing intently on her soup. Colin went up behind her again. "You know..." She jumped again. This time the spoon fell into the pot.

"Oh, no!" She peered in dolefully. "Now how can I make sure it doesn't burn?"

"Well, for starters..." Colin said, and extinguished the fire with a wave of his hand and the word, "Ecnewcá." The fire instantly disappeared. Clara gasped. "Then we just..." He twisted his hand palm-up and said, "Accitsetem emuc," focusing on the spoon. It flew out of the pot and into his hand. Unfortunately, so did every spoon within three paces of him. Colin had about fourteen spoons in each hand. Yeah, we are in a kitchen, but really? Thirty spoons? he thought, feeling exasperated.

Clara laughed as he disentangled the correct spoon from the rest. Several other spoons had been splattered by soup. Colin took one of those and tasted it. Clara was right – the soup was pretty good. She grabbed a ladle and two bowls and they sat down on the floor by the fire to eat. "About what I was going to say before..." Colin began. Clara got up to search for some bread to accompany the soup.

"And what was that, Colin?" she said, sounding slightly exasperated. Well, I can be pretty annoying sometimes, Colin thought.

"I was just going to say that you shouldn't really use the stirring spoon as your tasting spoon too. It's unsanitary." Clara finally found some bread in a cupboard and tore off two sizeable chunks. She offered one to Colin, and he took it.

"Actually," she replied, tearing into her bread. "The heat of the boiling soup would kill any germs or bacteria."

"When did you get so smart about cooking?" he asked. He dipped some bread in the soup.

"I've always loved cooking. Didn't you see my face when I walked in? This kitchen's amazing," she said. Now that she mentioned it, Colin did see her looking around a lot, but he had assumed that that was because she had never been in there before. She was still looking around as they talked. "How do you know so much?"

"I'm a servant," Colin replied simply. "I have to cook all of James's meals, and I have to make my own meals as well."

"Oh." Clara went back to attacking her meal.

After they finished, Clara stood up and stretched, cracking her back. "See? Not so disgusting now, is it?" Colin remarked, remembering her slight on him doing the same thing. She rolled her eyes. She does that a lot, Colin noted.

"Let's get back to the library," she suggested.

And...We're back, Clara thought wryly as they entered the library again. In theory, she would love a library. So much to learn, so many pictures to see and try to copy. And yet, something about being in a library for an entire day no longer appealed to her. Perhaps it was from already being in a library for an entire day and not particularly enjoying herself. Yes, that would do it.

Every so often, Clara would come across a term that she found funny or strange, so of course she read them aloud. "Druidry" was the first one. Clara just said, "Oh! Druidry," out of nowhere, and it was no wonder Colin looked confused.

He asked, "Why does druidry come into this?"

Clara giggled, a small release from being tense for so long. "It doesn't. I just thought it was a funny word," she said.

"There are very few druids left in Theorden. King Woden has mostly chased them out into other kingdoms. I've always wondered why they decided to stay where they did and what they practice and believe," Colin said. Clara never knew that he was so fascinated by the druids.

Several books later, she came across something that just made her stare. "Who needs an entire forty-two pages on exorcisms?" Clara asked incredulously, doing the quick math in her head based on the page numbers before her.

This time, Colin did not even ask, but merely replied with, "Priests," with a very serious tone.

Maybe an hour after Clara found "exorcisms" and several funny terms later, Colin finished his shelves. "Can you help me?" she whined. Her brain was turning to mush. Figuratively, of course. Colin nodded mutely and came over. Together, they managed to finish just by nightfall.

Clara glanced over at the immense mound of books in which sleeping spells were mentioned and cleared her throat. It was rather hoarse from not being used for most of a day. "Colin," she began in a rasping voice. She coughed and continued. "Colin," She said again, and this time her voice was clearer and stronger. "When should we begin reading all of these?" Clara glanced at the pile again; she was sure it was to be her doom.

She saw Colin was looking at her with a concerned expression. "Perhaps we should take a little break for now," he said. Clara agreed gratefully and noticed how hollow her stomach felt. The carrot soup seemed like days ago.

They made their way to the kitchen once again. This time, Clara let Colin decide what we were eating. "Something light, but sustaining," she heard him mutter to himself as he searched.

"Why?" Clara asked.

"We shall need our strength in order to stay awake, but we haven't eaten in so long that something heavy, like meat, would make us sick and therefore useless," he explained.

"Oh." Clara was completely mollified.

Some time later Colin returned with two plates of food to where she was sitting and watching him with a somber expression. "Something saddens you?" he asked, before realizing the pointlessness of what he had just said and laughed. "Well, our problem, of course. But is there anything else?"

Clara shook her head. "Merely contemplating the task ahead."

Colin shrugged and maneuvered his way into a seated position next to his friend. "Well, here you go." He handed her a heaping plate of greens.

"Colin, what's this?" Clara asked casually. Clara was not so much of a country bumpkin that she had never had salad before, but many of the vegetables on the plate before her were unfamiliar, and she could be a bit reluctant when it came to trying new foods. New recipes with familiar ingredients, sure. But new ingredients? Not so much.

Colin correctly interpreted the expression of disgust Clara was working so hard to keep hidden. He identified all of the things on the plate for her, then proceeded to eat his own identical-but-considerably-larger salad. Clara picked at it for a while, but the hollowness in her stomach grew so she devoured everything on the plate. Eventually.

They cleaned their dishes and made their way to the library yet again. Clara was already sick of the place. But they had a job to do, and they sat down at the table. The chairs squeaked as they sat down, and the table groaned under the burden of so many overweight books. Colin took one from the top of the stack nearest to him.

"You remember the way we put these so that we could put them back in the right places?" he asked. Clara nodded. Her insides squirmed at the thought of so much reading. She was not a strong reader. She was learning fast, but the fact remained that until Eve had taught her she did not know how.

"Okay, good." Colin went on to explain and show Clara how to find where the book mentioned sleeping spells. He also gave her tips on what to look for, like "Look for whether it mentions curing sleeping spells. If it doesn't, we don't need it" and "Any old sleeping spell cure might not do the trick. We should find cures for mass sleeping spells" and other helpful yet complicated things like that. Colin handed her a quill and some parchment and told her to record any useful information, such as ways to reverse a spell meeting the criteria of theirs. If a large section was particularly useful, Clara was to write down the book title and page number. Apparently, Didacus was very serious about where his books went.

And thus, they began.

It took ages upon ages. Colin had done this many a time before. James got into so much magical trouble! And, of course, as his servant, it was Colin's duty to save James because he was able; Colin would just be executed if anyone found out. So, Colin was as used to the lack of food, sleep, and entertainment as one could possibly be. Actually, Colin found the books rather fascinating, but that was just Colin's opinion. And during his library searches he was able to find many spells he would not have otherwise. The strain was clearly showing on Clara though. After about two hours of reading, Clara would run her hand through her hair and sigh every time she turned a page. He called her attention to it when it became clear it was involuntary.

"Clara, are you all right?" She glanced at Colin, startled away from her work, and sighed, eyes tired.

"I suppose," was her final answer.

"It's getting late. We can take a break and sleep, if you want," he suggested. She was too tired to even put up many subconscious mental boundaries, and he felt her mind flicker at the thought of a break, but she pushed on.

"Let me at least finish this pile. It's the last of the books on one of the rows," she pushed. "Please. For the kingdom."

Colin held up his hands in defeat. That piece of the main pile only had a few books left, none too thick. "Whatever you say. It is up to you whether or not you stop right now. You just seemed to be slowing down. Promise me that at the end of this pile, we take a break?"

"Absolutely." They shook hands on it, less as a binding pact and more of a symbolic compromise, and went back to poring over ancient pages of spells and tales of courage.

She finished her pile. She actually pushed the last book away and slammed her quill down. "Done," she announced proudly. Colin did not mention that they were nowhere close to being done, like she proclaimed, but he didn't want to spoil her moment.

"Wonderful. Then please, let's go to bed." Colin faked a huge yawn that turned into a real one halfway through. He could have kept going all night, but a rest was in order.

Something he kept to himself – Colin knew that the human body could survive for a while without food, but only a few days without water. If they did not find a suitable solution in the next day, they would have to water everyone in Theorden like flowers. That would take so long that by the time they were done with the castle and maybe the city surrounding the castle, people would already begin to die. Also, the spell cast was so powerful, to cover such a large area and affect a specific species, that it probably required several magicians to cast and would require several magicians to undo. Several, of course, meant three, four, even five sorcerers. At the moment, they just had two – Clara and Colin.

He could not tell Clara this. She had enough pressure on her already. But it was a tough burden to carry alone. Hopefully the problem would be solved soon.

The next morning, he went to Clara's chambers and roused her from an uneasy sleep. She thanked Colin for waking her and for the breakfast he had brought her and met him in the library after a few minutes, dressed in a nondescript green dress. The deep green of her dress complemented her hair nicely, in Colin's opinion, but she did not care about that. They got straight to work.

By lunchtime, they were nearly finished. The two of them had gotten through maybe a quarter of the books the previous night, and had gotten through nearly half of what remained. They ate lunch quickly and solemnly and got back to work.

It was very dull, all that reading. Plenty of terms, yes, and many lovely detailed pictures, but sleeping spells are only interesting for so long. And personally, Clara's interest was gone about...two minutes into reading. But again, that was just her. Colin seemed to be rather enjoying himself. When they finished, at a little past sundown on the second day, they had dinner and discussed what to do next.

"Let me see what you have," Colin asked Clara. She handed her parchment across the wooden table to him. They were seated in the library, at the same table where they had read all of those books. "Hm," he would say every so often. Clara was dying to know why, and what she may have done wrong. Maybe he cannot read my handwriting. It is definitely a possibility. My handwriting is horrid after a few hours of writing. But Clara knew better than to interrupt him when he was focused like that.

"It appears that there are several reversal spells that might do the trick," he said at long last. Clara let out a huge sigh, releasing a lot of her tension. So, I have not done anything wrong! "Unfortunately," he added, and she tensed again. Now what? "Most of these spells will require more than one enchanter to be effective. In order to reverse an enchantment this big, which was probably cast by multiple sorcerers, we will need more than just the two of us to disenchant the castle."

"Well, how will we be able to find any more magicians?" Clara said, voicing only one of the concerns setting off alarm bells in her head. The other was that nobody in his or her right mind would help her and Colin like this! Even if they had magic, they would not help the prince's servant because he would be obligated to tell the prince and they would be executed. So, Clara highly doubted that they would be getting anybody else's help.

"We will go around the town and see if anyone else is awake. If they are, then their magic is strong enough to fend off the enchantment, like ours is doing. That is how we will know they have magic, and we can only hope they will be willing to help us," Colin explained.

"Oh." Of course. Why didn't I think of that? Clara rolled her eyes at him mentally. Only he would think of something that obvious but make it sound so inconspicuous! "What about me? They can't see me," she asked, almost as an afterthought. They obviously cannot see me, because of that little plan that has the fate of the entire kingdom resting on it! Yes, hello there, my name is Clara, my favorite color is clear and of course my brain is working today! Honestly. Sometimes she baffled even herself with her stupidity.

Colin, completely unaware of Clara's inner turmoil, bless him, said, "You stay here. I will go through the city and find someone, or preferably several someones, and when the time comes to cast the counter-spell, you will just have to do it from hiding. I can try to help you, but we would have to join our minds at least partially for that to work. I hesitate to even suggest it because I know how private you are with your thoughts." He looked down and blushed slightly. "Joining minds is a tricky business, but it works rather well in these sorts of situations. I think my mind is strong enough that we would be able to just join thoughts, and not delve into each other's minds too far and start revealing secrets."

So, that is what he was blushing about. "Sure, I think that sounds like a good idea," Clara agreed. He looked up again, startled. She did not think he expected her consent so readily. He shrugged it off and went on.

"So tomorrow, at around nine since anyone who can wake will definitely be awake by then, I'll go into the city. We can't go tonight," Colin added, seeing Clara begin to ask, "It's too late. Most people within the radius of the spell will have already gone to bed, making them indistinguishable from the people who have been enchanted. Servants usually tend to their charges then go to bed themselves at around now, so as to get an early start, and you know how working families do the same." Clara nodded. "I'm also going to ride out a ways to see how much of Theorden has been affected. I am going to guess not much, just the castle and the city. There are very few people who know magic around here and use it. I'm starting to think this is Melanie's work." Colin finished his little speech and looked at me strangely. Clara had gasped when she heard Melanie's name, but her magic was not widely known. This was the first Clara had heard of it, but she lived in an out-of-the-way farm town. They only got big news regarding the monarchy, like births, deaths, and wars.

Besides, Clara had magic. It stood to reason that her identical twin would too. Actually, she had rather expected it. Colin had once told her that psychic visions, in dreams or otherwise, were more common in twins than in other people. She and Melanie were magical twins. Nothing else to it.

"Melanie has magic, and recently she has been using it for evil. Nobody knows but the royal family. In other words, James, Eve, you, and me. We can't tell the King because he would go mad with grief that his precious daughter would dare do something so horrible." Colin rolled his eyes, showcasing what he thought of the King's foolish sentiments. Yes, Clara thought they were foolish too. Honestly, if someone you loved turned out to be evil, and started hurting or killing others that you loved, would you not feel a little betrayed? Just flat-out disbelief is ridiculous, because you are lying to yourself and it will only make the eventual, inevitable acceptance of the evil that much harder.

Nonetheless, Clara almost started making excuses for Melanie. They were sisters, and since they looked alike too...she did not really know why, but Clara felt the need to defend her twin. But she restrained herself. The things Melanie did were inexcusable. "So what makes you think Melanie did this?" Clara asked Colin after a while of sitting silently with their thoughts.

"This has her signature written all over it. A mass effect, directed right at the heart of Theorden, done at just the wrong time...only someone like Melanie, who has contacts everywhere, would be able to plan such an attack." Colin shook his head. "Unfortunately no one knows enough now to stop her. We know she has escaped. We don't know where she is, who's helping her, anything!" He ran his hand through his hair, clearly frustrated.

"We'll find her," Clara said reassuringly. Eventually. She could not say that, though. She was trying to be supportive, if not completely realistic.Clara had the sudden urge to rub Colin's arm or something to comfort him, but she decided not to.

He looked back at her. "I guess."

Something strange occurred to Clara. "Wait...remember, a while ago, when we went to that clearing so I could talk to Lady?" She waited for his nod before continuing. "She said that there were rumors circulating that I had been spotted near the village. I thought nothing of them, but now that I think about it, many of the rumors in my village are really true. Like how the Forest of Feyaldene does really reach the castle, and how Geoffrey really did fancy my sister Marie!" Clara was getting rather excited, seeing the puzzle pieces fall into place.

Colin did not understand yet. "What do Geoffrey, Marie, and the forest have to do with Melanie's whereabouts?" he asked. He was getting impatient.

"It wasn't me! I was already at the castle! It must have been Melanie! How else would someone have seen me unless it wasn't really me?" Clara exclaimed. She watched as Colin stared at her, confused, and then something clicked.

"You're saying Melanie was near your village?" Clara nodded, and instead of becoming happy, like she was, Colin's expression grew darker.

"What is it? Colin, what's wrong?" Clara could not stand seeing him like that. He seemed much older, much more tired, and so terribly sad. He had such a cheery natural disposition that seeing him so upset was as though someone else had suddenly taken over his body.

He stood and kept running his hand through his hair and pacing a small circle until he realized that Clara was staring at him with an expression of extreme concern. Immediately, he stopped and said quickly, "I was just thinking that this news is rather outdated. It's been nearly a month since you came here, and three weeks since you've heard anything." Here Clara tried to step in, never mind how distraught Colin was, and tell him that her mind had grown much stronger and if necessary she could probably reach Lady from the castle for confirmation. He ignored her slight sound of indignation and continued on. "She could be anywhere by now. And it was just a rumor. Chances are she wasn't even there in the first place." Clara knew he was hiding something. He was speaking too fast, he was obviously very disturbed by something big, and she could do nothing about it.

Colin stalked off, only to come back in and say, "I'm going to bed. I will set out in the morning. You should get some sleep too." A touch of the old Colin – his unwavering concern for Clara's well being – resurfaced. But he was still acting like a completely different person.

As Clara readied herself for bed and began drifting off to sleep, she was still wondering, what could be bothering him so much?

*****

There was no question about it. It was definitely Melanie seen by Clara's village. I hope she is not worrying about me. I did act pretty strange back there, Colin thought, then he sighed.

Why did he think that leaving Melanie near Clara's village was a good idea? Sure, Clara could take Melanie's place. She was born to be royalty. But Melanie, take the place of a common farm girl, and do real work? Not likely.

The kingdom needed Clara. With her kind heart, she could fix everything that Melanie destroyed. She could create a new legacy for Melanie and herself, and right the wrongs that Melanie was so content to do.

But Melanie...Melanie is only content to create conflict, break ties, and ensure chaos. If the Prophecy of the Kingdoms really is about her, then we are all in trouble.

Colin recited some of the lines in a whisper.

Magic and evil shall come together

In a place where there is naught but one feather.

Magic and evil; that certainly indicated Melanie. But where was this place? Then he remembered more of the lines.

This hero is destined to die at one's hand

Who that one is you must understand

For it's their hater, their lover, their very best friend

And the plague that befalls them shall be both their ends.

They love one another far more than they should

If they knew one was a lumberjack, the other the wood.

Just thinking about those lines made Colin feel slightly queasy. He decided to tell Clara about the Prophecy. Not the next day, but on a clear, beautiful day, when they did not have to save the kingdom.

Clara had brought to his attention just how fragile their little plan was. Clara may have been able to bring peace to the kingdoms, yes, but as long as Melanie still existed, she was a threat. How to deal with her without killing her. That was the question. Colin had himself a prickly little predicament. According to the Prophecy, Melanie would eventually be killed. But who was this other person? It could not be Colin. He did hate her, and they were friends once, but he never loved her and could never kill her. Clara...she was far too kind. She could never hate anyone, or kill anything. At least Colin hoped that was the case. Eve was a possibility. She couldn't kill anyone either, but she was Melanie's friend, her confidant, and Eve had told Colin many times before that she and Melanie were as close as sisters. But did Eve really hate Melanie for what she did?

He had to go to sleep before he drove himself mad with his overthinking. Maybe the Prophecy was not about Melanie. Melanie would be the hero, then. And she was not a hero.

Having mostly placated his mind, Colin started to fall asleep. But there was this little niggling doubt settling in the back of his head.

What if Melanie is the hero of her own story? And what does that make us?

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