The Amulet Saga
Volume Two: The Traveler
Other stories in this series:
“Sight is a gift. It cannot be learned,” Ada said.
Anarosia watched carefully as Ada prepared the bowl.
“I can teach you the sequence,” Ada went on, “but Seeing is never a guarantee.”
Anarosia settled at the table and lit the candle. Sight was the one element of magic Ada hadn’t spent much time on when teaching Anarosia her lessons. “It’s foolish to try to know the future, and rarely plays out how you think it will, even if you do see a glimpse,” she always said. But Anarosia insisted on at least trying.
She focused, exactly as Ada had shown her, gazing into the bowl. She felt with her mind for the magic that permeated the air and drew it in, focusing it through her mind and into the bowl of herbs and water.
A picture formed. Herself and her brother, in an argument. She couldn’t hear the words, but she knew them. It was the same argument they’d always had, the one where he argued that as the first boy, the throne was rightfully his. Never mind that Legerdemain custom, for hundreds of years, had been the firstborn child inherited the throne, regardless of gender.
Something was different this time, though.
The vision split in two. Two possible futures. In one, she and her brother dueled, and she struck a winning blow. His blood pooled on the cobblestones in the palace courtyard. Mother, in anguish, threw herself from the window of the highest tower. Anarosia took the throne, but the people revolted, angry at the loss of their beloved prince, and chaos took over the land.
In the other, she left on a horse. She couldn’t see what happened in the kingdom when she left, but she could see herself, happy, and at peace.
The vision faded and Anarosia sat up, gasping.
Surely she wouldn’t be happy if the kingdom fell apart when she was gone. She’d hear about it, and know it was in ruins because of her, wouldn’t she? A future with her happy, away from the kingdom…it could only mean one thing.
“What did you See?” Ada asked.
Anarosia blinked. “I…nothing. It didn’t work.”
Ada raised an eyebrow. Of course, she must know Anarosia was lying, but she didn’t press the issue.
“You’d best get back, then. Your father will be wondering where you are.”
That afternoon, in the council meeting, it was all Anarosia could do to keep her mind focused on the matters of state they discussed. Every glance from her brother, every nod, every expression, every word he spoke that contradicted hers, seemed ominous, laden with meaning.
There had to be another explanation for her vision. It couldn’t really mean that her kingdom would suffer with her as queen, could it? There had to be another option.
That night, she prepared a bowl with the herbs the way Ada had showed her, and focused on Seeing. The vision reappeared, only this time it didn’t show her happy, it only showed her fighting with her brother. There was something…odd about her appearance in the vision. She was plumper than she was now, prettier somehow, though she couldn’t quite determine why. Her mannerisms seemed off, but she didn’t know what had caused the change. She noticed other details, too. Her brother was already wearing the crown when they fought. She took it from him and ruled with an iron fist, making declarations that sent the kingdom into poverty and disrepair.
The vision faded and she went to bed, pondering its meaning, but she could find no way out. She dreamed of it again, during one of the many snatches of sleep she managed to get that night.
A short rap at the door woke her from the dream just as she saw herself putting a man to death for what seemed to be a minor offense.
“Enter,” she called.
Her maid, Myrta, came in. Myrta’s mouth opened in a silent gasp. “M’lady, are you ill?” She rushed to Anarosia’s bedside and pressed a hand to her forehead.
“I’m fine, I just couldn’t sleep well last night.”
Myrta set Anarosia’s breakfast tray on the table beside her and tucked the blankets around her. “You must go back to sleep, then. I’ll inform your father that you’re unwell.”
Anarosia shook her head. “No, that won’t cure me. Myrta, can you keep a secret?”
Myrta furrowed her brows. “Of course, m’lady.”
Anarosia took a deep breath. “I’ve had a vision. My kingdom is in danger. And I fear the only way for me to save it is to leave it.”
“Leave it, m’lady?”
Anarosia nodded. “I have thought about it all through the night, and dreamed about it as I catch snatches of the vision over and over again. If I become queen, the kingdom will fall. I must leave.”
“What will you tell your father?”
“That’s just it. He would never understand. I cannot tell him anything. I must find a way to leave without his knowledge.”
Myrta sat on the bed beside her and took one of her hands. “I will help you, m’lady. I will help you come up with a plan, and I will help you carry it out. You shouldn’t do this alone. I will come with you.”
“No, Myrta, I couldn’t ask it of you.”
Myrta smiled. “You haven’t. I have offered. And I shall do as I have promised. I will help you escape, and together we will save the kingdom, even if it doesn’t know it needs saving.”