Chapter 3

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When one becomes two

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When one becomes two. When one goes away. When one is scared. When one is angry. The souls can never be at peace. And the world will suffer.

-Prophecy 3411 by Aricese

The repetitive up and down scrubbing necessary to remove the hardened crud from inside the pot tore at the muscles in Cassandra's arms

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The repetitive up and down scrubbing necessary to remove the hardened crud from inside the pot tore at the muscles in Cassandra's arms. This morning's breakfast had been overcooked, per usual, and most likely on purpose to make her life even more miserable.

Taking as long of a break from her assigned task as she felt able to without getting noticed and then whipped, Cassandra drew a moth-eaten sleeve across her forehead to remove the sweat hanging there. Piles upon piles of dirty cookware remained to be cleaned, already informing Cassandra in their own silent way that such would consume the next several hours of her life, filling it with the usual day-to-day drudgery.

It had been four years since this daily suffering of hers had begun, six in total since witnessing her parents' murder. She really believed things would have gotten better after the gypsies had taken her and her sister in. And every day since she had come to realize how so very wrong her anticipation had been.

Back to work before anyone noticed she had taken a pause, Cassandra resumed her focus on the particularly stubborn residue from food she'd barely even gotten a taste of. In her mind, the slag seemed determined to make her life a living hell, fighting against her best efforts to remove it.

When a commotion broke out on the other side of the wagon her work station was hidden behind, that was all the excuse Cassandra needed to take another hiatus from her slaving. Poking her nose around the corner, it probably shouldn't have surprised her in the least to see her older sister in the thick of whatever was going on.

"You've got a thief!" a flat-nosed man said, wagging a finger at Sheala to add emphasis to his proclamation.

Her sister was cowering back against Ebeth, the leaders of this troupe of performers who the sisters had been roaming the countryside with. Sheala said nothing as the angry man snatched the purse she was still holding back from her hands.

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