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"It sounds simple enough... but that's the problem." Koren stared off into the night, arms folded.

Andrin sat with me in the circle of light cast by our campfire. "I don't know how simple it is. Bërrha sounds like a powerful Solace. Surely there's a more diplomatic solution to Maeldok's problem."

I sighed. "Maybe, but not to mine. I don't want to face Bërrha either, but I need to know how to control this magic."

"But what's in it for Maeldok? You get this prince out of the way for him? Why can't Baldük-kre solve its own problems?" Koren folded his arms. "I don't like it."

I spread my hands. "What choice do I have though? He's actually taught me a few things, and he'll teach me more soon. And he saved my life," I added quietly. "Which saved yours." I nodded to Andrin.

"And yours, Koren." Andrin's eyes were lost in the flames. "Most Animaré don't survive once... well, we know," he finished softly.

"He wants you for something Sedris. Something big." Finally turning to face us, Koren's brow was furrowed. Shadows danced along his face and leapt to the trees behind him. "I just don't know what."

"What did he first say to you again, Sedris?" Andrin nudged my shoulder. "Something about this prince oppressing the people?"

"Yeah," I mumbled. "He didn't tell me too much, but from what we've seen of the Ska'al, Bërrha can't be that great a guy."

"It's still so strange to me that he found you in the middle of the mountains." Koren fixed me with shrewd eyes. "He just appeared out of thin air right there and then? You'd never even seen him before?"

"I'm curious about that too, but he is a Channeler," Andrin added. "I've read plenty of weird stuff about them."

I forced myself to meet Koren's gaze. "He must've been following me for a while." It wasn't technically a lie. He sure followed me for a long time. I fidgeted, running a hand through my hair.

"That does make sense," Koren agreed, putting the story together in his mind. "Sedris does have a signature presence now."

"What's that supposed to mean!"

"Koren..." Andrin interjected.

Koren tried to backtrack. "I just mean that, um, you—"

"—the currents move differently through you now. Nothing you didn't know already." Andrin tossed his Animaré a look, but returned his reassuring gaze to me. "But we have also been wondering about it, if you're willing to tell us.

I sighed. No, I didn't feel like talking about being a Solace. But at the same time, my friends had a right to know. It was only fair. "I'll answer as many questions as I can. I don't want to shut you two out."

So I told them things. I told them how the currents didn't answer me, how they just tangled and knotted and tumbled. I told them how frustrating it was to see nothing in them, like the muscle to call their power had been ripped out of me. I explained how exhausting it was with no magic.

We talked for a long time, and even though it was hard, I felt closer to them than I had been in a long time. They listened as the fire died down, as I wrestled to describe the Solace magic's hunger to be released.

Solace Curse: Part IWhere stories live. Discover now