Act I - Chapter 5: The Philosopher and the Clairvoyant

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The candlelight danced freely on the ceiling, wavering, undulating. To me it somehow moved like liberation, and I blamed that on the optimistic tone that permeated Mayor Hise's home. 

At some point, once I decided I was going to leave, I wound up in a guest bedroom instead. One of his maids lead me through statue-filled halls to a candlelit bedroom with freshly warm sheets and something to eat—every one of his maids strangely as silent as the stars—since entering the mansion, I hadn't heard them speak a word, even to Hise. It was all nods, scurrying, and service—I sat up and finished the remainder of my soup and steak dinner to give myself the energy to—well, I wasn't sure—to give my mind the energy it needed to run from the desperate topics that haunted me: those bullets of "love", those throwing knives of "kinship", and now the fog of "fate" that clouded my head. 

Watching the light move was the only thing that made sense in the moment as, if I allowed myself to think, I could hear two different Vinnies arguing: 

One of them didn't want the answers to life's great questions, as Hise had put it, but he also remained very aware of the paintings of, I guessed, legends hanging on these bedroom walls: a black and white painting of a giant creature brandishing some sort of staff, another of a castle buried in the snow, some mountain alight with shades of glimmering glitter. This Vinny didn't want to see these pictures, but he was aware that they were there. And the other Vinny—well, he also didn't care about the answers to life's great questions—neither Vinny really cared, but this Vinny couldn't ignore how over this life on Itallis he was. This Vinny was the smarter one too.

Then the candle just burned out. Almost like some inaudible flicker of wind just pinched it in passing.

My food was finished and, at this point, I'd either lay back down and pass out or grab my hat and see myself out.

Things were a lot clearer to me in the dark, and the warm bed sheets had finally grown cold. 

I threw myself to my feet, took my hat off the coat rack, eased open the bedroom door, and made my way down the halls.

"I've got to get out of here," I said.

I found my way into the main hall of the mansion where the front doors felt like they'd opened themselves for me. I prepared to set off on my plan to wander the next few towns, thoroughly drown myself in alcohol, and attempt to search for that one perfect moment from before, when your thoughts make sense, when the world finally makes sense: the second you're about to leave it.

Though, before I could reach the doors, I felt something pinch the back of my mind, tug at my collar, and bring me to a halt in the very center of the main hall. 

This was one of those moments where you could literally feel your life jump tracks. Like, if life, or fate, is a train ride, there's a sudden bump in your gut, or in your mind. That bump is you derailing from the railway you've been coasting along, tracks that led to a beautiful waterfall, or at least a peaceful grave. Instead you barrel high speed down a field of grass, or carve through the streets of a city, all of this without ever falling. It's rough, it's rocky, it's unpleasant and confusing and then suddenly, snap, you've connected another set of tracks, locked into place as if this path was always meant to be.

These tracks I snapped into stopped me in the main hall, turned my head towards the skylight, and caused me to look at that stupid Daen's Scroll one last time.

I almost felt the scroll reaching out towards me, like it softly took me by the shirt and whispered to me in a language I couldn't hear.

"Vinny," said Hise.

Hise and one of his maids stood at the entry to a hallway, their figures silhouettes in the glow of the lantern his maid carried.

"There is something else I want to show you."

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