Pillars Of Life

Chapter 7: A Sacrifice

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12

Mitilda and Gabriel made it over the wall of another city, still undetected.

It was the same night, but they were just barely in time to not have to wait a day; the dawn was starting to show. "So how are we doing this?" Mitilda said. "Just go knocking on doors and showing magic to random people?"

"I'm not sure. We won't reach very many people doing that. I mean, if the first family we talk to calls the guards on us, we'll have to leave immediately."

"We could split up."

"That would help, but there has to be a better way. I want to gather a whole bunch of people together before we do any demonstration. But they might call the guards on us even before we show them magic - they'd still get a reward for turning in curfew breakers."

"We could tell them we're a lot more powerful than we are and threaten them into not calling the guards," Mitilda said.

"Good idea. Let's go with that and split up."

Mitilda entered a house, using telekinesis to pick the lock. There were five people asleep. "Hey," she said softly, then repeated it louder until they started to stir. The older daughter was the first to open her eyes.

"Ssh!" Mitilda said immediately. "I have something to show you."

"Who are you and what do you think you're doing in our house?" the girl said, luckily keeping it down to a whisper. They were all awake now.

"Showing you something, like I said. Magic isn't dangerous and volatile like the government wants you to think. It's actually quite controllable."

The father interrupted. "Do we know this kid? I don't think I've ever seen her."

"You haven't," Mitilda said. "I used magic to levitate over the wall of my home city and came here to inform you of the truth about magic. I'm planning a revolution, but I -"

"Yeah right," the mother said. "I don't believe you for a second. What's your game?"

Mitilda got out her pack of food and levitated it in front of them. It wasn't even hard - her magic really had gotten stronger just from embarking on this mission. "That enough proof for you?"

They were all speechless for a minute. "How..." their son said. "How are you doing that?"

"Years of practice. I want you to start practicing it yourselves. If we get enough freedom-minded people into magic and we can get powerful enough with it, we just might able to overthrow the government."

"That's ridiculous!" the older daughter said. "I don't know how you didn't get caught, but you're never going to overthrow the government! It's hopeless!"

"I said years of practice," Mitilda said. "By the time you're as powerful as I am, I'll be even more powerful, and I promise you it's possible. We have as much time to prepare as we need. So start practicing tomorrow morning."

"Wait!" the little girl said as Mitilda turned to go. "I want to practice magic! But I don't know how to do it..."

"There is no how. You just try, and it happens. It'll take a lot of perseverance at first before you get your first noticeable effect. Now I've got to go spread to the word to some other families. Oh, and here's some info for you." She dropped the note with their knowledge of magic on it.

Mitilda stepped outside, but as soon as she did a guard's eyes found her. "Halt!" the guard yelled.

She felt the adrenaline rush instantly, and oh, it was powerful. This time escaping over the wall was the only way out. She was only caught for violating curfew, but once they caught her and tried to escort her home they would realize what had happened. It was escape or be captured and taken away.

The guard was blocking her path to the wall, so she ran the other way at first. Gabriel had heard the guard yell, and came out of his house to run to the wall. He was the one carrying the chain. He started to levitate it up to the crenellations.

Mitilda had never seen herself run so fast before. She curved around the buildings to get the guard on the other side of her as the wall, which worked, but by the time she made it to the chain the wall guards were already starting to close in on its position. She had no hope of making it now; she couldn't scale the chain in time. But Gabriel was already halfway up.

Instead of climbing up after him, Mitilda stopped and telekinetically grabbed the end of the chain, sending it up and over the other side of the wall as fast as she could. That would give Gabriel a chance to escape. The cause had lost her, but the mission was successful.

Still, she thought she might as well make things difficult for the guards, so she ran throughout town holding an incredibly bright magic light in her hand. "Everyone!" she yelled. "Magic isn't dangerous, it's the key to freedom!" When she had regained enough of the lost distance from the guard, she lockpicked and opened another door and showed her light to the family inside. "See this? I've been practicing magic for years and it's not dangerous! Try it yourself!" She darted away again just as the guard caught up to her.

She made the guards chase her all over the city, which took several minutes, until finally she could run no more and collapsed in exhaustion. Several guards were catching up shortly. "It's over, rebel," one of them said. "You'll be taken to the king for judgement."

"It doesn't matter," Mitilda said. "The revolution doesn't need me. I accomplished my mission. The light of rebellion is spreading! And one day, this world will be free, and all you monsters will die the painful deaths you deserve!"

Mitilda couldn't believe how satisfied she felt. She was lost to the cause now, and she didn't know if she was going to be executed, tortured, or just left to rot in a cell. But she had gone out as a hero, and she had accomplished her mission. It was a tragic ending to her story, yet a beautiful one.


Rebeka was the one taking me back to my home pillar that night, which was apparently known as the seventh one. "So why aren't you stopping the wind like Katherine did?" I asked as we flew.

"I like the wind on my face. Everything about the wonderful experience of flying feels muffled without the wind."

I knew what she meant. It felt more real with the wind. "I guess so."

"The beauty of this world never gets old," Rebeka said.

"Yeah. My friend Nayomi and I had been talking about wanting to see the edge of the world since we were little, and I'm not at all disappointed. But the guards don't let people out of the city on my pillar."

"They don't on most of the pillars. It's part of the Voren's plan. They don't want people to see how beautiful the world is, because it inspires virtue in people."

"Does it really?"

"Yes. There's something about beauty that banishes the low thoughts about how next to make oneself happy that normally fill people's minds, causing us to feel the calling of conscience that urges us to think about what matters instead."

I remembered that on the night I found Hobart's message in the smithy, the small magic skylights had seemed to shine with encouragement. I had thought that exactly. I still hadn't been brave enough to go, but I thought I would've given up much sooner if I couldn't see them.

"I think you're right," I said. "I've experienced that now that you mention it."

"The stars were what gave me the courage to practice magic the first time," Rebeka said. "I remember that day so vividly... as long ago as it was. I was the first one in my family. The guards had told me it was dangerous and illegal, of course, and all my family tried desperately to talk me out of it. It took a lot of courage to do it anyway. Which was never my strongsuit."

"Mine neither," I said. "I got a lot braver very quickly in the couple of days before I left, but even still I'm nothing like my sister. Or Mr. Hobart..."

"Is your family all practicioners?"

"No, just me and my sister. The household we're going to is another family's - the Greywoods'. They're all practicioners."

"You revealed yourself to another family as magic practicioners? Or did you catch them doing it?"

"I saw Nayomi Greywood clearly wanting to do it, so I revealed us. It didn't actually take that much courage."

"That's lucky. I only ever had my nuclear family, who barely ever practiced it."

"It sounds like you were my sister and I was the rest of your family," I said with a smile.

"Was your sister the first one to try magic?"

"Actually, we tried it at the same time even though she's four years younger than me. The day I found out about it, I told her before I found out why my parents hadn't already, and we tried it together that day. She managed to feign surprise well enough when she turned ten and the guards told her about magic independently."

"So who's this Mr. Hobart you mentioned? A third family?"

"Yeah, only he revealed himself to me." I told her about that night I had snuck out and got caught, and about how Hobart had sacrificed himself to save Mitilda.

"I'm sorry," Rebeka said. "He sounds like a hero. Any idea why he didn't use his first name?"

"I never asked him about it. It is weird. But I guess now I'll never know. The Voren took him away from us and killed him for his courage..." I could feel the anger surfacing again.

"David would say our anger is good and we should feed it. Katherine would say it's dangerous and might drive us to foolishness. Intellectually I believe David is right, but the way I act is more toward Katherine's side. I usually supress my anger when it surfaces."

"Nayomi would say it only increases our pain," I said. "She'd say we should take our minds off it and focus on something useful, something we can do something about. But Mitilda - my sister - would say if you let the Voren control even your emotions, then you're letting them win on the deepest level there is."

"They both have a point," Rebeka said. "I'm not sure which of them is right."

After a couple of hours, we arrived at the seventh pillar. I directed Rebeka to the right city, and we landed well outside of it. "Time to tunnel," she said.

"So we're just going to dig through the earth from this far away?"

"Yep. I hope your telekinesis is good."

We worked for about two more hours until we were at the right location - Rebeka was scanning for the Greywoods' power to tell when we were there. Thankfully their house was near the wall. When we were ready, Rebeka cut through the wood by using destruction magic to break a section of wood off from the rest. "Hi," I said, the first to come out of the tunnel.

Nayomi and the Greywood parents were the only ones around. "Jaydin!" Nayomi said. "How... how... and who's..."

"I'll explain in a minute," I said. "Where's Gabriel?"

"He and Mitilda left to make another attempt at Hobart's plan. They got out of the city successfully, but they're not back yet."

"Alright. I guess I'll return in another day or two to see them. For now, I have a lot to tell you."

We told them all about the pillars and the Sentinels and the Voren, and about magic, and about what had happened to me after I escaped. We told them about the telepathy secret. "So do any of you want to come to the Sentinels' hideout?" I asked.

"It's a one-way trip," Rebeka said. "Once the guards notice you're gone you can't come back to living here."

"I think we should stay," Mrs. Greywood said. "We should keep trying to reach out to rebels in other cities. Which, if Gabriel and Mitilda make it back safely, I think I'll be the next one to go on one of those missions. It'll be easier with that tunnel you made for us - now we only have to get over one wall."

"Sounds good," Rebeka said. "We already got three new people just recently, so it'll be hard to feed everyone if more people come to our hideout."

"Good luck to all of you," I said. I looked at Rebeka. "Are we going back now?"

"I don't have enough mana left to make the return journey. I'll need to rest a few hours. Wait. I feel a magic presence approaching."

The door opened, and Gabriel walked in. "I'm ba- " he gazed speechlessly at me and Rebeka. "Jaydin?!?"

"Long story," I said. "We've got good news for you... and bad news."

"I have the same for you. But I fear the bad news is bigger."

"Where's Mitilda?" I said.

"... That's the bad news. She got captured."

"No! Not her! She deserves to live more than any of us!"

"Ssh!" Rebeka said. "Don't get us caught!"

Gabriel continued. "But our mission was successful. We contacted two households and both seem like they'll start practicing magic."

"So at least we got some compensation..." Nayomi said. "Was it worth it?"

"No, not nearly," I said.

"I have no idea," Gabriel said. "But my magic is much more powerful now. And I still have the chain, so we can do this again if we decide to."

"Hold on," I said. "Maybe there's still a chance to rescue her."

"Jaydin, no!" Rebeka said. "If you get caught, the king will figure out we exist! As far as he knows you're still stranded on Alistair's pillar, so if you suddenly show up here, he knows you had help."

"Then send Gabriel. Gabriel, you'll do it, right? You're brave."

"If he gets caught, his entire family will be arrested. He couldn't have gotten that powerful without his family knowing he was a practicioner."

I guessed that was true, and the only reason my parents hadn't been arrested yet was because Mitilda's capture was recent. "Why can't you just take them all back to the hideout?"

"That also clues the king in. If his entire family disappears from the city right when he gets caught then the king will know he telepathically contacted them, and there's no way he could have just figured out how to use telepathy on his own."

"Then send Alistair. I'm sure he's brave enough. And I'll promise to go inform his loved ones in return."

"Your king thought Alistair couldn't have survived out there in the ocean alone."

"Just because the king thinks it doesn't make it true!"

"But it only matters if the king thinks it. If the king even suspects Alistair was rescued, then the Voren will at least try scanning for us, and they'll find us."

Drat, she was right. But I wouldn't concede the point. "Well what do you want me to do, just give up on my sister?"

"Yes. I'm sorry, but -"

"She's more valuable to the cause than I am! I'll go. I just won't get caught. I promise."

"I can't let you risk the cause like that!"

"What are you going to do, stop me?"

Rebeka extended her hand toward the tunnel we had come in through, and collapsed it. "Yes. I'm not completely out of mana."

"Then I'll go over the wall." I snatched the chain off the floor and ran outside. Rebeka couldn't get me caught because that would defeat the purpose of doing so.

I heard her notify the other Sentinels on the telepathy channel about my plan. "On my way!" Katherine said. "But it'll take me about four hours to get there!"

That was good, because my own mana was low as well from all the digging. I decided I'd take three of those hours to let it regenerate, leaving the other for wiggle room incase Katherine's estimation was off. I got over the wall without being seen by using darkness magic to cover myself, and began to journey toward the king's city, where I assumed they had taken her.


It was too late (or too early, depending on how one looked at it) to journey to the king's city, so the guards took Mitilda to the bureau of governmental oversight to stay the night (the few hours that remained of it), and took turns guarding her in a back room that there was only one way out of. She could have tried to escape, but decided there wasn't really anywhere to go. She still couldn't get out of the city without Gabriel's chain. So she decided to get some sleep and wait for the guards to take her to the king for judgement. The king could kill her if he wanted to, but she would at least torture him with heat magic first.

She was woken the next morning by a guard shaking her roughly and saying, "Get up, criminal!" She grunted at first and tried to go back to sleep, but the guard kept shaking her.

Mitilda slapped him in the face. "Get your hands off me you vile -"

The guard punched her hard. "Don't you ever hit a guard! I'll make you regret it!"

"I don't regret it..." Mitilda said through her pain.

The guard kicked her in the stomach. "You will apologize!"

Mitilda gasped, but did not apologize when her breath returned. Instead she reached out toward the guard's face and cast heat magic on him.

It didn't seem to do anything. "How is that not hurting you?" she said.

"How is what not hurting me? You're not doing anything."

She had a momentary panic that something had happened to her magic, but she conjured a bright light and verified that that wasn't it. She could conjure heat between her own hands. Was it just that you couldn't do magic on someone else's body?

She tried to telekinetically push the guard, which didn't work at all. So she guessed that was it. "Huh," she said. "I just learned something about magic."

"Whatever. Apologize. Now."

Mitilda looked around the room for a suitable object to throw at him. She settled on a chair. It wasn't hard to lift; her increase in magical power since leaving was truly incredible. She slammed it into the guard.

"Ow! The hell -" the guard said. She bashed him with it again. "Take that!"

The guard eventually managed to grab the chair, which apparently made it untelekinesable, and raised it to use as a club. Oh no. She tried to run around him and make it out the door, but she got smacked with the chair and knocked down.

The guard smacked her with the chair twice more, and then threw it angrily against the wall. Mitilda layed on the floor gasping in pain for a minute.

"Now," the guard said. "Apologize."

Mitilda's resolve to not apologize was almost broken. But not quite. She held her tongue for the moment, waiting for him to go pick the chair back up. As he did another guard walked in. "What's the ruckus?" she asked. Then noticed Mitilda's state. "Are you torturing the prisoner without orders? We're supposed to let the king judge her."

"She slapped me in the face and wouldn't apologize!" the first guard said. "So I punched her, and then she picked up that chair telekinetically and started bashing me with it!"

"Whatever. It looks like you evened that out. Let's bring her to the king now."

"Hmph. Get to your feet, criminal."

Mitilda got up, slowly, barely able to do so. She limped out the door. "Let's go already, slowpokes..."

"We'll need you on a chain so you don't run away," the female guard said. She reached for a chain off a table.

Mitilda's resolve flared again. That was something she would fight tooth and nail to prevent. "No way! I'll die before I submit to that!"

"Don't make me torture you some more," the male guard said.

"You need me to be able to walk. Unless you plan on carrying me."

"We shouldn't need to torture her," the female guard said. "Just hold her down while I bind her hands."

She ran but couldn't escape in her crippled state. The male guard grabbed her. Then she realized that if she could pick locks telekinetically, she could probably undo the chains. "Fine, whatever," she said.

"Weird sudden change of mood," the female guard said as she bound Mitilda's hands together. She held the other end of the chain herself.

They began to lead her toward the gate, but as soon as they weren't looking Mitilda undid the chains. "Much better," she said.

Both guards turned around. "How...?"

Mitilda smirked. "Telekinesis. What are you gonna do about it?"

"We'll torture you into submission," the male guard said. He looked at the woman. "It's clearly the only way."

"Sadist," Mitilda said. "But no, it's not the only way. Look, either of you could outrun me quite easily if you just took your armor off. So do that, and then I'll come with you without causing any more trouble because running away would just be a waste of time. If you insist on having my hands chained, I can and will make things difficult for you. Just take the easy way out and let me come with my hands free."

"Fine," the female guard said. She looked at the man. "We'll make her regret this when we get to our destination."


Mitilda wondered along the several-hour journey if she actually could have escaped. The guards were faster than her, but she could cast magic darkness or telekinese dirt into their faces to blind them. And could she telekinese herself to go faster? She hadn't even thought to try that during the chase of last night. But she would still probably die if she got away. There was nowhere to go, except the possibility of sneaking back into her native city, but that required her to be powerful enough to telekinese herself over the wall, and she thought she was still pretty far off from that. She also wondered if she actually had a chance to assassinate the king here. She was under the impression she would be seeing him in person, and while she couldn't directly use heat magic to scald him to death, she could throw heavy objects at him or something. And running away risked that chance - the guards would probably just kill her if she made a nuisance of herself and failed to escape. Also, if her plan to assassinate the king didn't work out and he decided to have her thrown in prison, she thought she stood a chance of escaping with the help of magic. Also maybe a chance of meeting Hobart? That hadn't occurred to her before. So she actually decided not to try to run away.


Mitilda and the guards arrived in the king's city. It was in the center of the others, and was larger and contained a grandiose palace. The guards escorted her to the palace, where there were more guards waiting.

"This child was caught practicing magic," the female guard escorting her said. "We're taking her to the king for judgement."

"Nice catch," one of the door guards said. "We'll take it from here."

The guards led her inside and up a huge wide staircase to a large double door. "Your highness," one of the guards said. "We've brought you a citizen who was caught practicing magic."

"Send them in," said a voice from inside the room. "I want to talk to them before I pass judgement."

"Yes, your highness." Mitilda opened the doors herself instead of waiting for the guards to do so.

The room was gigantic, and full of fancy furniture. The king was lounging on a couch. "Hello, child," he said. "I hear you've done what I forbade anyone to do." He didn't sound angry in the least. He was quite jovial.

Mitilda decided she wanted to talk to him a bit before she tried to kill him. She needed answers. "So tell me, king. How did all this happen?"

"You mean how did I come to power? It was quite easy, really, after we defeated the Sentinels. No one could resist our magical might."

"Wait, what? What do you mean 'we'?"

"Me and my compatriots. Let me give you a geography lesson first. The world is much larger than our puny little five-city pillar." He told her everything Jaydin knew about the Voren and the Sentinels.

"No..." Mitilda said when she heard the part about how powerful they were. "That can't be right. I don't believe you. You're just trying to make me despair!"

"I'm afraid not. I will show you." He telekinesed a small wooden platform in the corner of the room into his hand and strapped his ankles onto it. "Come," he said. "Let's fly."

Mitilda stepped onto the edge of the platform with him. It was too small for two people to actually stand on without falling off, so she held onto him. They began to levitate toward a wide pipe in the top of the room. The king opened the hatch, and they flew through.

Oh no... it was true, wasn't it? Mitilda looked down on the palace below, and on the landscape afar. It was a beautiful view. But she couldn't appreciate it thinking about how much harder revolution had just become if the king was as powerful as he said, which it was looking like he was.

The king flew them farther upward, and then out of the city. It took them less than a minute to cover the distance. Then he set them down a ways outside the walls. "Enjoy the ride?" he said.

"So you can fly," she said. "That's pretty impressive, but surely all the guards on the pillar could take you down if they tried."

"No. Check this out." He fired a bolt of lightning from his hand and fried some of the grass. "That would have killed a person easily. Armor could do a little bit to protect them, but it wouldn't stop me from killing them. And even if I couldn't kill them by the dozens, it's not like they could ever even touch me. I can attack them from the air."

Mitilda sank to a sitting position and looked down. "So you really are invincible..." How could they ever win against this kind of power? They would simply have to match it, and she knew of no way to do that. Jaydin's discovery had helped, but even she was still nowhere near the king, and the revolution had just lost her. Worse, the other rebels didn't even know about this, so they were very likely to launch the actual rebellion before they were ready and get crushed by the king...

"But I won't give up," Mitilda said. "If you can get this powerful, then so can I or my friends. I don't know how you did it, but it must be possible to figure out. You'll still be defeated someday."

"You know about change fueling magic growth?" the king said.

"Yeah."

"Then you know that's not possible. I keep their lives simple and constant. They can never find meaningful change. You only found it by getting captured. The revolution is still hopeless."

"Wait a minute, won't you die of age eventually?"

"No. There's a way to halt the physical aging process with magic."

"Drat... Well you'll still be overthrown someday. Someone will take you down, somehow. Anyway, what are you planning on doing with me? You gonna kill me now or what?"

"No. I'll tell the guards I executed you, but I'd rather keep you around secretly as a prisoner."

"Why?"

"Because, you see, it gets rather dull around here. I live a lie. I can't tell anyone around here the truth about the world, or about the past, or about magic, or about anything. And sometimes I just wish I had someone to talk to that knew the truth."

"You can't talk to the other Voren?"

"I could, but they're all so boring. And they're all my equals. And I've already talked to them about everything there is to talk about. I want someone new around. So, want to meet Mr. Hobart?"

Mitilda nodded. He flew them back to the palace through the hole in the top, and then telekinetically moved the couch he had been laying on to reveal a large trapdoor, which he opened. "Down we go."

They flew down through the shaft for about thirty seconds, after which they must have been far underground. At the bottom was a large candle-lit room carved out of the rock with a bed, a table with eating utensils, a barrel of food, a barrel of water, a zo set, and Hobart in it. "Here is your cell," the king said. "I'll fetch a second bed for you."

Mitilda figured she might as well resist being left in the cell for as long as she could, so she refused to let go of the king and step off his platform.

"Let go," the king said. "I want to go up and I'm not taking you with me."

"Make me let go." She began to dig her fingernails into his skin.

"Fine." The king electrocuted her.

Mitilda let go, yelping in pain. The king flew up immediately. "Snotball!" she called after him.

"Mitilda," Hobart said, "I can't believe ye getted yerself arrested too! What kind of stupid thing did ye do to get caught?"

"I went on your mission. The one you assigned to Jaydin. So blame yourself."

"But ye was injured!"

"Not while I was still injured obviously. Jaydin did it first and failed - he lost the chain and got stranded outside the walls. When I was healed I threatened the replacement blacksmith into giving me the chain back, and Gabriel and I did it together. We made it into another city and informed people about magic, but I got caught. I don't know if Gabriel made it out."

"This is horrible... Maybe my plan was bad after all. We lost ye, Jaydin, and maybe Gabriel because of it..."

"But we succeeded. And we're not lost, Hobart. We're gonna find a way out of here."

"Ye always was so stupidly overconfident. I tell ye, it's hopeless. I assume ye's seen the king's magic, and heard about them Voren and all."

"I have, but nothing's hopeless. By the way, Jaydin figured out something about magic right after you got taken away. How to become powerful."

Hobart looked up. "How?"

"Change. Meaningful change in one's life. And we've verified it. Losing you made us all more powerful. Losing Jaydin made us even more powerful. And when me and Gabriel went on your mission, by the time I got captured it was amazing. I can telekinet chairs and bash guards with them."

"That's great, but it's still hopeless. The king can do more than that."

"Well getting out of here will make us even more powerful. We just gotta figure out how."


I waited outside the king's city for about 30 minutes. The dawn was starting. Probably I had to go soon if I was to have any hope of not being detected. I would use darkness magic to cover myself, but that could only go so far before it became obvious. Could I even afford to wait another five minutes? My mana was still low, but I knew I had to go before it got too bright out and I couldn't wait for tomorrow night or Katherine would be here to stop me. I worried that Mitilda didn't have that long anyway.

Then I looked behind me, and saw Katherine already zooming toward me. No... I was so ready to be brave! Brave like Mitilda! How could she have gotten here so fast?

Then I realized it. She had lied about her ETA so I wouldn't go before she arrived. And I had fallen for the trick. No...

She touched down next to me. "Jaydin, stop. You can't do this."

"You can't stop me," I said, unwilling to give up that easily. "I'm going to save my sister." I started walking toward the king's city.

Katherine tried to sound firm, but I could hear the conflict in her voice. "I will kill you if I have to, Jaydin."

I stopped, and looked behind me. "You'd go that far? Murder a comrade?"

"For the greater good, yes." She obviously had doubts about it, but I thought she would do it. I wasn't going to win this, was I?

"This is for the greater good!" I said, getting desperate. "This is for the liberation of this world! I'm going to risk my life to help the cause!"

"No, you're going to risk the cause to make yourself feel better. I can't allow that."

Those words stung, because I knew I really was biased here. But so was she! I thought. She didn't know Mitilda! And yet I could see myself in Katherine's position easily if it was anyone else's sister. I wouldn't have let Alistair jeaporadize us all to save one of his loved ones. I knew Katherine was right.

But I still wouldn't give up. "It's not a good story if she dies like this! I don't want to live a bad story!"

Katherine stayed calm. "I know. I know you'd rather live a story where the heroes fail because one of them was selfish and reckless. But your choices affect the entire world. You have to see the bigger picture. Your sister, however valuable, is just one person. It will take longer to get a big enough army without her, but it will happen eventually. If you get caught doing this, the forces of good lose. Forever."

I cried. And then I knelt. "Okay..." I said through my tears. "Let's go back to the hideout..."

"Thank you for understanding. And I am sorry." She tuned into the telepathy channel. "Everyone, panic's off. I talked Jaydin out of it. We're heading back now."