“Then show me that resolve,” Hiram whispered. His fingers trailed lightly down her cheek. “Show me that fire. I know you can do this and I swear—I will be right behind you every step of the way, but I can’t do this for you. Only you can do this.”

Jini drew a shaky breath, leaning into the touch of his warm, rough palm. Strength, she thought. Surely there is some strength I may draw from this…

Fear course through her veins, even as her heart throbbed unevenly. He was right, of course, as he usually was—the irritating Seer that he was. He’d already seen an outcome—several, in fact—and was now attempting to guide her towards the best option for all of them.

Even at the price of his own life, for Seers were not meant to force their visions nor attempt to chase any certain fate.

She reached out, catching his wrist and then shifting so that their hands were linked together. Her pained glance said more than her mouth would have, but he seemed to know what she meant, for he looked away, the shadows clinging to him.

“Right,” she said, squeezing his hand. “Right.”

He nodded.

Their hands lingered, fingers twined together before finally, she summoned the scraps of her courage and pulled free. “I-I’ll—I’ll be back,” she said, wishing her voice held any strand of hope available.

“Safe travels.”

She tried to smile and failed. But his words, however well-meant, echoed ominously in her ears, rattling around in her mind as she stumbled away and down the crooked footpath.

Her now empty hands scrabbled for the purple gemstone pendant that hung from the leather cord ‘round her neck. This would be her final choice.

The last chance to back out.

And yet, somehow, she still couldn’t take it.

Her mind had already been made up.

Her resolve, reinforced by fates unknown.

She squeezed the gem, eyes closing on their own as light burst forth and enveloped her from head to toe.