The Rains in Sest
By Dorothy Hutchinson
Date: April 26, 2016
Ch. 77

This was beyond coincidence.
Clare plopped onto her bed. “Did you see the magic in the bridge?”
“I saw a faint glow and felt the bridge’s power.”
“Figures,” Clare said. “I saw the bridge as a shining beacon that almost hurt my eyes, but I felt no power emanating from it.”
“When I crossed the bridge I had a brief vision of a man’s face; I think he’s the wizard who built the bridge. I could feel him; I think he’s in the city.”
Clare’s eyes went wide. “How could you feel him through all those people?”
“Not sure. We hadn’t ridden into the city yet, but still... Maybe it was because I was on his bridge. And there’s more. He looked like the man from your dreams.”
Clare blanched. “The drawing is in my bag.”
Karen found the drawing and studied it. Clare was a fairly good artist for her age, and the drawing did look like the man in Karen’s vision, but Karen couldn’t be absolutely sure. “I think it’s him, but I’m not positive. I only saw him for an instant. In your dreams, did he seem like a wizard?”
Clare shrugged. “His eyes were incredibly intense, but I don’t feel things from people the way you do. Could you bring me my bag? While we were riding I thought of a poem about the cloudburst and I want to write it down before I forget it.”
Karen took the bag to her.
Clare pulled out some paper and pen from her bag, wrote something down and handed it to Karen. It said: “Don’t say a word. I need you try to sense his presence with your empathy, just in case he’s spying on us magically.”
“It’s really nice, Clare. I didn’t know you could write poetry.”
“Thanks. Well, I’d love to talk more, but I’m really tired.” She started undressing.
“I’m exhausted myself.” Karen undressed, blew out the lamp by her bed and crawled under the covers. She went into a trance and released her empathic block. She probed for the wizard. She could feel him, but she didn’t sense his eyes on her as she had before. “I think we’re safe.”
Clare came over with her lamp, which was still lit. She set it by Karen’s and crawled into Karen’s bed. She began speaking in a low voice. “I’ve been working on a theory for awhile, and what you told me about this wizard substantiates it. I wanted to break this all to you gradually, to give you time to digest it. But this might be the last time we have to talk in private for awhile, and I have something important to tell you.” She paused.
“Just spill it out. I can handle it.”
Clare cleared her throat. “Last month, when I went to Sest, I saw the man I’d been dreaming about all my life; he was giving a public speech.”
“You’re certain it was him?”
Clare nodded. “I just about fell over when you said he’s a wizard.”
Karen could feel her fear. “I’m not sure the man I saw was him.”
“I am, because of his name. I should have thought of it before.”
“What are you talking about?”
Clare’s eye twitched, as it often did when she was scared. “In magic, names have power. Whoever named me called me Clare because he or she knew I had clairvoyant abilities, and giving me that name strengthens those abilities. And empaths, because of their ability to feel other people’s emotions, normally became care-takers when they’re going undercover. So ‘care-taker’ became a code-word for empaths and ‘caring’ a code-word for empathic ability.”
“Interesting. So my parents named me ‘Karen’ to increase my empathic abilities. What’s the name of the man from your dreams?”
Clare seemed to be getting more scared by the second. “Wizards are often hired by kings, for obvious reasons. But for their safety, wizards sometimes pose as spiritual advisors to the king, who are sometimes referred to as ‘diviners’ because of their ability to divine God’s will… Brace yourself.”
Karen was glad she was lying down. “King Devin is the wizard.”
“Thanks. I’m glad I didn’t have to say it. Some people say it’s bad luck to speak a wizard’s name.”
Karen’s head started spinning. If the king was the one behind all this, what hope did two girls have of any escaping him? She tried to calm herself, but she was absorbing Clare’s fear, magnifying her own worries. “He’s in town. I heard people talking about him.”
“Brace yourself again, Karen…He’s our father.”
“What makes you think so?”
“I’ve been dreaming about him all my life, even though I don’t remember him, so I obviously have a strong connection to him. And you felt his presence through a crowded city, even having a vision of him. You couldn’t have done that unless you already possessed a strong connection to him, too. And everyone says we look like sisters. I saw Princess Tella with the king, and she resembles you.
“Please don’t get mad at me, but I searched your mother’s purse this morning, right before we left, and I found a gold pass with the king’s face carved into it. That’s obviously what your mother showed the desk clerk.”
Karen hugged Clare, hoping to calm her a bit. “I’ve always loved you like a sister, so nothing’s changed.”
Clare started crying. “The king is obviously going to take me, too, or he wouldn’t have brought me here to witness your kidnapping. What are we going to do, Sis?”
“You’re going to help me figure that out. You’re the smartest person I know, and you’re great at figuring things out, as you’ve just demonstrated.”
Karen wasn’t about to give her sister up to a king who’d abandoned them at birth and was now planning to reclaim them to suit his purposes. Clare was too delicate to survive the machinations of the court intact; she’d lose a big part of herself, probably becoming a frightened shell of herself. Karen wouldn’t be able to live with that.
Karen held her until Clare cried herself out. But Clare was still shaking.
Karen knew she had to get Clare thinking again, to regain her confidence, or the poor girl might just fall apart. “What do you think we should do?”
“Maybe we should leave now, and hope we can find Tommy.”
“Maybe so. But if Tommy comes in the middle of the night, we might miss him.”
“We can hide somewhere by the bridge and wait for him.”
“I’m not sure he’ll come, Clare. I think he was pretty upset with me yesterday.”
“He hates me, and he was mad because you told him I could come with you.”
“I’ve never known Tommy to hate anyone, but you’re probably right that he was mad at me for not talking to him beforehand about you coming with us. I’m sure he’ll get to like you after awhile.”
“Where are we going to live? I love cities, but I know how hard it is for you to stay in one for very long.”
“Let’s talk about that later. Have you learned any magic tricks that might help us escape?”
“Afraid not. Still just learning theory. I suspect the king didn’t want my tutors to teach me anything yet that I could use to escape him.” Clare seemed to be calming down.
“You’re probably right… If we leave tonight, we’re going to have to get some money somehow. From my folks, maybe. I’m not sure how we could manage that, though. What do you think?”

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