21

You walked up the Caliph’s Palace. In five months you had never had the chance to go up there, as you had been too busy with your research and all of the events that had happened in town. You looked at the town where you had found your first friends, and saw it in a different light now that its secrets had been unraveled.

Here was the thing: you had investigated the most relevant events concerning town, and Ba’al, Mamma and Erin had told you all of the stuff that they knew, as the oldest citizens to still be alive. The problem was not in what you had found, but in what you hadn’t found. There was nothing there. Nothing concerning who you were.

In fact, there was nothing tying you to that place.

You sat on the edge of the cliff, looking at the sun setting in the West. The desert was red, except for the fire still burning in the Forbidden District, which was a bright white, as it had been in the last few days. You thought about Vee, about Mamma and all of the rest, but you still cried.

The only conviction that had made you go through everything up until that point, the only hope that had made you go through the years in the orphanage, what had made you fight through 26 years of struggle, when things had been normal, and later on, when things had turned abnormal in Fiery Creek, it had all been shattered. Something in the centre of your very being had broken, and you couldn’t even get yourself to rebuild it. The pieces were not there anymore.

There was a current of wind, and you heard a creak behind you. You looked back, but only the Caliph’s Palace stood there. You remembered that you had seen something in the Palace a couple of weeks back, when Vee and Mamma had performed that ritual to protect the town from monsters. You had forgotten about it when you all got arrested, but now that you were there… You dried your eyes and walked towards the building.

The door was open. You knew that the building had been sealed because of a monster that had been trapped there, so you understood that the beast had been destroyed by the ritual. You pushed it and walked inside, with your machete in hand, just in case. The place was cleaner than you had expected, considering it had been sealed for over 150 years now.

You walked into the room, which was decorated in ancient runes. You looked at them, wondering where they came from. The faeries had not used runes for their writings, but the villagers said that the building had always had them. Some had speculated that they had been carved into the building and the Botomless Well long before the faeries’ arrival. Yet the faeries had never spoken about the Botomless Well, and they had described the Caliph’s Palace as having smooth walls. Considering the Palace’s nature, it was impossible for any carving to have been written and survived, because it always rebuilt back to its original form.

You saw different parts of the building, and finally got to what had been the Mayor’s office. You tried to imagine Mary Clark, Ba’al and Diane working there, tending to the issues of the town. All of their documents were still there, where they had left them before the fight. It was mostly complaint letters. You were about to leave when you saw a notebook that called your attention.

It had the same runes that the building had had in it. It was in Ba’al’s table, but in the side of it, almost like that space had belonged to someone else. You thought about Diane, the oracle who had set things up from the past with some unknown purpose, and the curiosity you felt went over anything else. You opened the notebook.

A burst of violet energy threw you flying. You lost your breath, and for a couple of seconds your vision went completely black. You stood up and breathed heavily. You approached the notebook once again, which seemed devoid of magic, and looked at the open pages. It was all runes, an incomprehensible script that nobody knew how to decipher.

You heard a noise coming from behind, so you threw your notebook into your bag and held your machete high. Vee came into the room. You hid your machete and breathed out in relief.

“Hey, Anne” he greeted. “What are you doing here?”

“Hi, Vee. I had gone for a walk, and I thought that I had never come up here in these few months, so I just came, and found this open, so…” you ran out of excuses to tell him. You hoped that he did not notice the red eyes.

He nodded. “How are you feeling?”

You raised your shoulders. “I… don’t know. It’s… it’s… I just don’t know”.

He hugged you, holding you tight. “It’s OK, we will figure this out”.

You held him back, and hoped that the embrace never ended. Tears rolled out of your eyes, and you tried not to sob. You buried your face in his chest, holding him so tight that you left marks in his skin. He didn’t say anything, and kept holding you, with his eyes closed, until you calmed down and let him go. Your thoughts were racing.

“What if… Vee, maybe I made a mistake” you said. “I thought it would be too much, but considering how weird things can be in this world, maybe, just maybe…”

Vee looked at you. “What?”

“There is another Fiery Creek, down in Australia. It’s somewhere near Melbourne, and if I’m not from this Fiery Creek, then maybe I have to go to that other… Fiery Creek” you managed to pronounce, stumbling upon the words, because you were pronouncing them so fast.

Vee thought about it. “It could be. I think it’s a good idea to check”.

“But I can’t just leave you here, with all of your responsibilities…” you said.

Vee smiled. “Hey, it’s a calm period now. We just need to sort things out with Amanda, Joana and Mamma Luca. We are getting ready for whatever comes, which is even easier because the Council is not meddling with out work. With the forces that we have, we can organize such a force that nothing will stop us, and I’ll take care of that personally. You should go to Australia”.

“Are you sure?”

“Yes. I’ll be waiting here for you”.

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