Chapter 303.1

Eugene could already feel her weariness as soon as she called his name. She realized that she only had a moment before she fell asleep again. There was no time for explaining, she had to tell him as quickly as she could.

“I’m having an important dream,” she said, already feeling drowsy. “It’ll take a few days. Don’t wake me up.”

Kasser frowned. “Eugene,” he said, but she was already closing her eyes.

“Don’t worry,” she told him. “I’ll pet you when I come back.”

He stared at her as she mumbled and fell back asleep. She must be talking in her sleep, he thought. Then, it hit him. She never talked in her sleep. She only kicked her blanket away at night—he always made sure to put it back on her—but she never talked in her sleep.

And, now that he thought about it, none of what she said seemed like sleep talk at all. There seemed to be some truth to it.

He chuckled and smiled to himself. “What a woman.”


She had called him by his name. He realized that no one called him by his name, not even his parents. The more he thought about it, the nicer it seemed to know that she could call him by his name. He liked it, he really did.

He considered placing a kiss on her forehead but thought better of it. Don’t wake me up, she had said. He might have believed she was only sleep talking, but if it was true at all then he knew he shouldn’t do it.

Slowly, Kasser lay down beside her, as close as he could get without touching her. He hoped she would wake up soon and tell him all about it.


Aldrit was sitting at his table in deep thought. His arms were crossed over his chest as he looked down without saying a word.

There was a mouse on the table, it was lying down like it belonged there. Even though his family remained humble and didn’t live above their means, they didn’t neglect cleanliness. If anyone saw a mouse on the table, they would have freaked out.

But Aldrit didn’t seem to care so much. He just found it strange to see a mouse so relaxed in the presence of a person. It even seemed like it was yawning out of boredom.

It had been a while since Aldrit had been to the cave. After he heard the tales of those that lived in it, he returned to the town expecting to have to calm the people down.

When he got back however, everyone acted like nothing had happened. The seniors had agreed to all the demands the younger citizens had made and, as a result, the younger ones started acting more apologetic and diligent. They had agreed to a future that was more inclusive, that accepted everyone, and they had no plans to break their promise.

Although it seemed like nothing had changed, it felt like something had. Everything was lighter than before, better than it had ever been. There was a warm energy that radiated off of everyone. They had hope now, they had things to look forward to.

However, the process to make Aldrit the tribe’s leader was not done. The current Mur head was expected to stay in their position for a little longer before handing the responsibility to Aldrit. It would still take some time to create new laws for the tribe.

Aldrit had agreed to keep the magic going when he left the cave. The tribe needed a place to stay so they couldn’t leave their base, especially since they still had young ones that would need to grow up a little before they could safely leave and look for a new home.

To tide himself through the busy times, Aldrit stayed home. He was on the path of choice, and he needed to be focused to go through it.

The mouse stayed with him; it was always by his side. He considered placing a mouse trap to finally get rid of the thing but, as the mouse seemed to stare into his eyes, he realized that perhaps it was more than just another rodent.

Human, it seemed to whisper.

Then, Aldrit realized who it must be.

“Mara?” he asked. “What happened? Why are you a mouse?”

It’s just something I can do, let’s not dwell on it. Do you want to make a deal with me?

“What kind of deal?”

You said some interesting things to those old people—like about that Anika that helped you. It seems like you’re pretty close with her. Let me meet her.

Aldrit frowned at that. “Why should I?”

The mouse seemed to tilt its head. I’ve met that Anika before, it said. I just want to meet her again. I haven’t had the chance to. I tried asking another human for help, but he was no good.

“And what do I get in return?”

A few more breathing scales*. They would be useful since you only have one to cross the basement lake. It’ll be difficult to have the entire tribe cross to the other side.

T/N: A magical object used for breathing under water.



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