Chapter 12 (31st of Iecanaon in the year 6199)

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Darkness grows, strengthens, and spreads

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Darkness grows, strengthens, and spreads. Like a disease, it consumes all who embrace it, believing it a solution.

Seer Dolastati, A Vision on Water 81

Seer Dolastati, A Vision on Water 81

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As a tear escaped and started down her cheek, Cassandra wiped it away.  This was the third time she had gone over the words from Deran in his latest letter. They were always so sweet and filled with language that she could never reciprocate, even though she wished she could. He was far more eloquent than she when it came to expressing his feelings. Whether it was likening her hair to the sunset, or her skin to the pedals of a rose, it amazed her the extent he would go to express himself.

Cassandra could not come up with such flowering depictions to convey her feelings for him. And, although she believed he understood that, she wondered if her simple "I love yous" and "I miss yous" were enough for him. He seemed to accept her for who she was: a brash, singularly focused woman. But sometimes, even more so now, she considered if that was all she had become. Deran told her before she left that he saw more to her than someone who appeared unable to breathe unless she focused on revenge.

Even so, he didn't dismiss her desire for retribution. On the contrary, he'd convinced her down to the deepest parts of her heart that he understood it in a way Cassandra knew no one else ever could. While Deran was not in the military out of a need for vengeance, as she was, his dedication to his position produced a streak of envy within the young woman. It had been much simpler for him. He'd found something he was good at and done it, leaving Cassandra to wonder what it would be like to live a life where settling a score wasn't the first thing on her mind during every waking moment.

She hadn't told him everything, of course. There were still secrets she felt best to keep. Deran didn't know who her father was. Or that she hailed from the islands of Fimmirra. All he knew was that rebels had murdered her family in a brutal raid when she was young.

Guilt washed over Cassandra as she realized she hadn't replied to the previous two letters her love had addressed to her. Now, she was one more behind.

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