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To Llana the endless dark seemed to have lasted for days though as they walked with little to no rest time had lost all meaning.  Llana had not been told but she was sure they walked the Crossroads themselves.  To her this place had been the stuff of legends, but some how with Odella as her guide it only made sense.  As her feet become accustom to walking on the path that Odella cut without the slightest thought Llana began to remember the stories her mother use to tell.  Though she had not heard them in years they came back to her and in the stony silence that surrounded her and kept her company.

“To all children, I believe, mist is a magical thing which can hold any number of surprises or adventures, but this quality of mist is often lost on adults who are too busy trying to look past the mist to look beneath it.  Because beneath the mist lies the tangled weavers web that is the Crossroads.  Whether or not we are honest with ourselves we are, each of us, upon those crooked roads making decisions which lead us ever closer to what comes next and forever closing the way to what might have been.  Yes Llana, even our smallest choices define us and determine who it is that we are to become.”

Her dream-like state wavered in and out as the surroundings changed in subtle shifts.  However, Llana refused to give up on the story rippling through her mind at the moment, as it seemed to be of particular importance, but the sharp clang of metal shattered her revere.  It was at this moment that the subtle changes fully hit her.  The ground was different, the dark was different, and even the air seemed altered.  “Where are we?”

“Right where we are supposed to be.”  Odella turned sharply to face Llana causing her to stumble at the abrupt stop.  She gestured grandly suggesting that Llana should fully take in her new environment which included a Y in the path they had been following through the dark.  The two arms of the path were  illuminated by nothing more than the few errant rays of light falling from the air shafts.  Neither bend in the path looked particularly menacing nor inviting if she was being perfectly honest.  “Which way would you go,” Odella asked a faint smile upon her lips.

Llana started to answer then bit her tongue trying to restrain the tartness she was sure Odella would hear in her response.  “What kind of trick it this?  You’re supposed to answer questions not ask them?”

“No, I tell truths, but if you insist.  You asked me about my chains what do you wish to know?”

“Why do you wear them?” Llana immediately locked her eyes on the ground mentally berating herself.

“Because they are mine,” Odella responded calmly, “but tell me, why do you wear yours?”

“I’ve told you I have none.  You are the only person I have ever seen wear chains.”  The disgust Llana felt at the idea of being chained leaked out into her words causing Odella to study the girl intently with anger in her eyes. 

“Truly?  What of Namari?  Does she no longer bear chains?”

“How absurd would that be?  My mother would never lower herself to wear chains like some…some…slave.  She has more grace and dignity in her titles alone than you could ever hope to have,” Llana practically spit at the other woman.

“Tell me what dignity was there in birthing you?”

Llana’s mouth fell open in a silent O of confusion, but Odella continued without taking notice.  “Yes, you are one of Namari’s chains, and the titles you spoke of does she not have to strap herself into those chains of gold and silk to prove her worthiness, and what of her man?  Does she still not suffer the ring he gave her?”  Here Odella paused holding Llana captive in her piercing gaze.  “Oh yes, Namari does have grace and dignity, but her chains are only hidden from the unobservant.  She is as much as slave as I.”

The questions whirled around in the girl’s head chasing each other to dead ends.  Yes her mother still wore her coronet and her father’s ring…”but she does not wear chains,” Llana whispered to herself.

“No.  Namari does not wear chains like mine, but never think she does not carry them.”

That statement echoed through Llana’s very core as she blindly started towards the path to the left needing nothing so much as to escape the place where such bloody truths had been spilled.

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