FORTY SEVEN

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THE MOMENT THE door to the bookstore slammed shut behind her, Ravenna bolted through the streets, making her way back toward the house

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THE MOMENT THE door to the bookstore slammed shut behind her, Ravenna bolted through the streets, making her way back toward the house. She just couldn't deal with Vyses or the crown right now. The tavern would have to wait for another day, or at least until she could manage to get her emotions under control. The last thing that she needed was to be in the presence of a bartender. She knew better. The moment Vyses saw her distraught expression, he'd offer a drink. And then another one. She'd wind up drunk again. Drunk, and very angry, and she just knew that combination couldn't possibly end well.

It didn't take long to reach the house. As she grew closer, she could hear a cacophony of sounds emanating from the garden. Clatters, bangs, and angry curses --the works. It sounded as if someone was genuinely trying to break through the back door and get into the house.

Annoyed, she pushed through the front door and immediately found herself in front of the back door. She wrenched it open, coming face to face with a very alarmed Henry.

"W-What are you doing here?" He stuttered over the words, his face bright red with a mixture of anger and shame.

"The same could be said for you," Ravenna growled. She stepped outside, into the garden, and Henry took a staggering step backward. "This is not your house. This not your garden. What are you doing on our property?"

"I-"

She didn't give him a chance to finish. "You were stealing," she snarled at him. Her talisman scorched the skin of her chest, fueling her rage. "You low-life thief. I've watched you for weeks now, always in our garden, always trying to steal our food. Now you're trying to break into the house?"

She took another step forward. Henry raised his palms cautiously. "I mean no harm," he squeaked out. Fear ensnared his eyes.

"You mean no harm? You honestly think that thievery is harmless? Caelan's worked hard for this food, for this house, for this town. And you think it's alright to just take it all away?" Ravenna shrieked. Ice bristled around her feet. Angry tears formed at the corners of her eyes. Her own words pierced through her chest, through her heart. She was destroying Caelan's precious town. Just like she'd destroyed her own.

"I-"

"How stupid could you possibly be?" she continued to shriek. "Breaking into the house of a wizard? Of a witch? Stealing from very powerful magical beings? Do you have a death wish?"

Henry collapsed to his knees. Tears escaped the corners of his eyes, trickling down his reddened cheeks. "Please. Please, don't kill me. Please, I beg of you. Spare this poor old man."

"Get out," Ravenna snarled. Her ice shot forward toward Henry. His rear hit the ground hard and he scrambled backwards, desperately trying to escape the stalagmites of ice that shot toward him. "Get out of our garden!"

Henry twisted around onto his hands and knees, furiously crawling toward the other side of the garden. Ravenna's ice followed him, nipping at his toes, forcing him to move faster. His fearful sobs echoed through the air. She watched as he sunk down into the mud and dirt, forcing himself beneath the gate, toward freedom.

Her ice stopped, hesitating at the gate. Her hands curled into tight fists, her resentment and anger settling deep inside her bones. Slowly, the ice melted into the earth. She looked around. The garden was a mess. Most of the fruits and vegetables were uprooted, all scattered about. It looked as if a tornado had hit.

Caelan was going to kill her. First the villagers, and now his garden. It was hardly even midday, and she'd already destroyed the life he'd made here.

Ravenna's body would never be found.

A shaky breath escaped her. She lifted a hand to her temple. The ragged edges of her crown kissed her fingers, and she was distraught to find that her hood had fallen back. Squeezing her eyes shut, she whirled around and darted over the threshold, slamming the door shut behind her. Her hands trembled.

She'd just attacked someone. Over vegetables.

She blinked hard, fighting the tears that threatened to overflow, and sucked in a sharp breath. Immediately, resignation washed through her, devouring the tears, the fear. Her jaw clenched as her fingers curled around the burning talisman.

"I need to find a spell to clean the garden," she whispered to herself. She needed to focus on the garden first. It was the most obvious, and damning, evidence against her. If she could get that clean, then she could just lay low until the rumors calmed down. No more attacking people. No more social interaction, period.

Another shaky breath bristled past her lips. She'd just attacked someone. Someone who would go to the guards, who would now have proof that she was violent. That she'd use magic against another. That she would try to hurt another.

Her hands curled into tight fists. She couldn't think straight now. Her emotions were a jumbled, wired mess of turmoil and confusion. Of anger and spite. Of exhaustion.

"Just breathe," she told herself. "Just breathe."

She wished Caelan were here. He would know exactly what to do, exactly what was wrong with her. Despite his relentless teasing, his initial anger, he would still help her.

The stupid talisman burned against her chest. It hurt. She pulled it free from her shirt, cupping it within her palms. It glowed, bright and blinding, and it hurt. She let it drop against her chest and curled her fingers around its chain, pulling upward. It refused to budge.

She screamed out in frustration. The talisman seemed to sizzle against her dress.

A knock sounded against the front door. Ravenna's stomach curdled. Hesitantly, she made her way toward the front of the house, her footsteps lightly padding against the wooden floorboards. She didn't want to open it. There was only one person that could be on the other side of the door: a guard, come to take her away, come to condemn her. Or an army of guards.

Memories flashed across her mind's eye, taking her back to that night. To that group of armed guards standing outside her front door, weapons in hand, waiting to condemn her. Waiting to march her to the Imperial city, to take off her head.

Her palm pressed against her mouth. She wasn't going to open that door. And they weren't going to take her.

Another knock sounded then. And then, she heard a very familiar voice.

"Ravenna? Are you in there? It's Vyses, open up."

y'all ain't even ready for the chaos that's going to happen within the next few chapters

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y'all ain't even ready for the chaos that's going to happen within the next few chapters. 

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