Chapter 18: Two Sides of the Same Coin

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Xia Jutín's wide mouth curled up into a smile, showing off her yellowish teeth—one of which was missing. Short, black curls framed a narrow face with a prominent nose. The Seer's dark skin was transparent; I could see the other side of the clearing through her body. Her appearance radiated an undeniable dominance, as though she was a woman who was aware of her power and influence, who was used to being a person who other people generally listened to.

I wanted to make a good impression on her, yet my mind was blank but for one, utterly stupid question, "How do you know my name?"

"Oh, dear." She laughed and the musical sound was carried away by a soft breeze. "The White Sisters did tell you who I am, didn't they?"

"Of course they did."

"Then you're just asking the wrong questions." Great. Now I felt even more like an idiot. Xia turned to Rowan, a slight wrinkle between her eyebrows while her large, brown eyes glided over him. "However, you I don't know, young man. What is your name?"

"Rowan Marks, ma'am." The timid expression on Rowan's face was so out of character that I had to slam my fist against my mouth to stop myself from bursting into a fit of laughter.

"Marks, you say? I knew a Marks, once. A wonderful man, and an even greater warrior." A fond smile played on her lips. "By the looks of your uniform, you may well be related to him."

She heaved a dreamy sigh before turning back to me. Clenching my jaw, I appreciated that the Marks standing next to me hadn't been the only man with that surname in history to exert such a powerful attraction on the women he met. Xia shook her head to snap herself out of her daydreams. "Ah well, I suppose you didn't summon me to make some small talk. Tell me, child, what is it that you wish to know?"

Now that she finally stood before me, I was speechless. All kinds of incoherent thoughts and questions tumbled over each other in my head, but my tongue was paralyzed. Rowan rested a hand on my shoulder and squeezed, as if to reassure me that it was okay to feel a bit overwhelmed. A part of me wanted to grab that hand and hold onto it, but my more adult side told me to man up.

I straightened my back and arranged the questions in my mind in order of importance. "I was told that it's my destiny to change this world in an irreversible way, either for good or ill. Yet, I have absolutely no clue as to where I should start, so the Sisters sent me here to speak with you personally." I paused to take a deep breath, and she gestured for me to continue. "As the mighty Seer that you are, I was wondering if you could set me onto the right path. Do you know how I can defeat the Dark Sorcerers?"

Xia thought for a moment, scratching her chin. "And is that what you want, Kenna? To defeat the Dark Sorcerers?" I swallowed. Her watchful eyes didn't miss my hesitation. "Speak openly."

"I ... Yes." I cleared my throat. "Yes," I repeated, with more emphasis this time. "Of course."

"Of course," she echoed. She seemed doubtful, but I was too stubborn to avert my gaze. "To be honest, I'm afraid that the answer to your question is not a simple one. When I had my vision about you all those many years ago, I knew that you would possess a great power, greater than that of most magic wielders. Unfortunately, I do not know the nature of that power, nor how you came to bear it. My best guess is that you are the next step in the evolution of a species that has stagnated for far too long."

I stared at her, perplexed. My brain was barely able to process the meaning of her words. Why was it so difficult for a Seer to be straightforward?

"However, I do have an inkling of how you can gain access to that power, although I'm not sure whether you will like my suggestion. Since your Darkness allows you to use Light magic as well, I believe that that peculiarity is where we can find our answers. There must be a connection between both forms of magic that Sorcerers have failed to recognize for centuries. After all, one cannot exist without the other, and Nature will always try to balance both forces to avoid chaos." She remained silent for a few seconds as her eyes inspected my features, gauging my reaction to her words. "Do you know the tale of the First Dark Child?"

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