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Chapter Seven ◇ The Lost Isle

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-The Lost Isle-
-Mid Redwind-

It was too quiet as their boat approached the island and followed the narrow river that wound through the land like a snake, wild and unpredictable. The further Csilla and Rhoda rowed, the closer the trees skirting their passage became. Thick moss-covered vines hung so low that they brushed Csilla's shoulders and made her duck so that she didn't get tangled.

Nerves bubbled like boiling water in her stomach, making it hard to sit still. Every instinct begged her to turn around and head back to the ship, but her heart told her that this was the right move. It was a gamble, but she'd been playing this game from the moment her grandmother placed the Captain's Sword in her hand.

The trees rustled to her left. Csilla whipped around to face the threat. There was no one there. The canopy above shook, leaves hissing with unspoken secrets.

"She knows we're here," Csilla announced quietly.

"How can you tell?" Rhoda's eyebrows curved down in confusion.

Csilla pointed up. "They're whispering to each other."

Rhoda's face went pale as she tore her eyes away from the trees and to her boots. It was good she was scared. Perhaps she wouldn't be reckless.

They rowed a few more minutes, and the tension grew inside of Csilla so much that she thought she would burst. She had visited the Ruin Witch many times before her last trip and each time she had entered this place with hope. But now, as she came to the Lost Isle asking for something more than just medicine and healing magic, she feared the cost. Each dealing had cost her something—gold first, then a doll her mother had sewn together for her, and the last price was her left eye. The fear of the unknown ate away at Csilla like a rat clawing a hole through a wall. What would Rhoda think of the truth of her dealings with the witch? What would the witch ask for this time, and could she pay the price?

The river continued to narrow until a small dock came into view. The familiar sight of it rose the hairs on Csilla's arms, and though the air was thick with humidity, a chill went down her spine.

The witch's curse rang through her head.

Sobel liitena shobenasku. Sobel miitesa jaharren eto.

The eye which sees nothing is the eye that is blind to the world.

The memory of that day twisted her gut once more. She couldn't shake the memory of the Ruin Witch's stare, alight with the dark magic, or how her own eye burned like fire as her iris faded into the white of the blind. The headaches from adjusting to her new vision were unbearable at first, but a merchant in Sarva had sold her an herb that helped ease the pressure in her head. It was the trauma of the spell that hurt Csilla most now, and that was the hardest problem to fix. And the worst part of it all was that she'd willinginly given her eye. A weakness that couldn't be fixed—that's what Rhoda would say about it.

"You look like you've seen a ghost," Rhoda whispered.

Csilla blinked, realizing that they had stopped at the dock. The compass she'd been holding had fallen from her hands, and she hadn't heard its clatter at the bottom of the boat. She'd only heard the memories of the harshly spoken curse.

"Let's just get this over with," Csilla said, refusing to address her sister's concern. Rhoda followed her from the boat, the sound of her unsheathing her sword ripping through the air. "Shh!" Csilla chided, not wanting the trees to tell the Ruin Witch anything about a pirate wielding a sharp sword.

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