Chapter 24 (1st of Earonitan in the year 6199)

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"Turn back! These lands are closed to all but the Child of the Storm! There will be no further warning and all who disobey shall be met with death

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"Turn back! These lands are closed to all but the Child of the Storm! There will be no further warning and all who disobey shall be met with death. We will speak to no other but the chosen one!"

- Royal Elven Proclamation, 9th of Alshu in the year 6184

Sheala sat, alone at the desk and the mirror in her quarters on board the Oracle, staring into her own reflection

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Sheala sat, alone at the desk and the mirror in her quarters on board the Oracle, staring into her own reflection. It was as if she were looking at herself for the first time, transfixed by the likeness sitting there and glaring back at her. The eyes were unknown to her, like those of a stranger.

She'd hoped the gentle pitching of the ship on the waves would ease her mind. They hadn't so far, and she soon realized that they wouldn't as her mind raced. She'd returned here straight from leaving the Palace and after having sneaked out the back through an old passage her and Cass had often used. But instead of using it to avoid her uncle, she now used it to avoid any lingering partygoers who might be able to identify her as the thief who had been so bold to brazenly steal from the guests of King Turon's Yule Ball.

In her mind, Sheala retraced the events of the night, trying in desperation to find out where she had gone wrong. The one thing she could not accept was how she had faltered and cracked at the mere mention of her uncle's name. In a fit of pent up rage, she ripped the purse from under her dress and threw it against the wall, sending the small fortune in coins contained within scattering across the floor.

"A common thief," she muttered to herself as she pouted. "Father would be so proud. By the Fates, I can't believe this is my life." She looked harder at herself in the mirror, giving herself a what-are-you-looking-at glower.

There was a light knock at her door that only came once. She ignored it, but the door opened anyway when she didn't answer, and her uncle peered into the cabin. "Sheala?" he asked.

"What do you want?" Sheala turned in her seat so as not to deal with his presence. As if by not looking at him, he wouldn't really be there.

Dressed in very informal attire and a long evening cloak, he entered and closed the door behind him. "Reane told me you'd be here."

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