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"Remember, an easy question can have an easy answer. But a hard question must have a hard answer. And for the hardest questions of all, there may be no answer - except faith."
~ Charles Sheffield, Brother to Dragons

Axel spread the seer's map across the lowered tailgate, motioning Sloane forward

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Axel spread the seer's map across the lowered tailgate, motioning Sloane forward. She shuffled up next to him, her steps reluctant and slow. If there was another way, he wouldn't push her, he thought before shaking the errant emotions threatening his resolve. He had no time to go soft, regardless whether she'd just learned about her heritage or not.

"See how the circle is fading now that we're here. It's waiting for you."

"But I don't know how it happened earlier. I mean, I've watched movies. Some chant, some say an incantation, some dance. If I knew exactly what I was supposed to do, it would help a lot." Sloane's chatter grew higher pitched as she spoke, her hands twisting together. She was nervous. He saw it written over her face, hidden in the jumble of words pouring from her lips.

"Try closing your eyes and envisioning the missing stone, the hole where it should fit with the others. There's no need to put them back together if you have the image in here," Rens suggested tapping his head as he leaned over the side of the truck. Axel looked over the almost empty back parking lot avoiding the smile Sloane shot his younger brother. The few cars that were left were empty, students staying late to study or professors held up in meetings.

To his surprise, Sloane's eyelids fluttered close the next moment. Her fair lashes rested against the faint trace of freckles on her cheeks making her look young and vulnerable. Nothing like the ancient seer he was used to consulting. His eyes pulled from her face to the map as the black circle pinpointing their location faded completely, lines blurring. His breath hitched wondering if the next time the dark lines appeared it would be the last. Would they find the stone? He knew it couldn't be that easy, or at least not always. Knowing his and Rens' luck, it wouldn't be, but maybe fate would shine on the new seer.

Sloane shifted beside him, opening her eyes. Dark lines were already reforming, shifting over the worn paper. She leaned forward as if urging the lines to form faster. Axel fought the smile creeping across his lips at her naive impatience. If she knew what he and his brother faced upon returning with the stones, she'd be in no hurry to help. She'd probably have turned, ran, and never looked back. But she had no clue, and it was staying that way, if he could help it.

Axel glanced over at Emerens whose eyes continually searched the girl's face. Who knew what details Rens would spill if he got the chance? Maybe it was best to limit their time alone, strictly for safety reasons. Word couldn't leak into the other realms Skievheim was being breached. He'd have to stay close to her in that case, and that was not an option either, Axel thought glancing at the ring on his finger. He spun it around, wishing for the hundredth time things could be different. The only thing wishes ever got him was heartache and self-loathing. It was a weakness he couldn't afford when so many depended on him. A squeal at his side drew his attention back to Sloane.

Bloodlines: Deceived ~Book 2~Where stories live. Discover now