Read from part one or reread part eight.

Would the flame have the same significance, the same meaning, if Elysia were to take it without the blessing of the high priest? Elysia shook her head and tried to shake the thoughts off like the persistent and insatiable insects they were, but they clung to her and tickled the back of her mind still.

There’s a way to be sure, she thought. The answer is right in front of me, I only have to know and be willing to ask the question, understand the consequences, and accept whatever answer I receive. She smirked, appreciative of the appropriate it would be to consult a magical fire to burn a metaphorical hive of doubts. She liked the imagery.

And what of the creeping guilt? No longer for what she might do and the consequences for her actions, but being so lost as to ask Hestia for help — to require guidance seemed the greater failing. She thought, before even considering the question, she ought to throw herself on Hestia’s mercy but then, if she’d resigned herself to exile, what was death?

Elysia drew in a deep breath, and felt the warmed air fill her lungs. She felt reassurance, she felt conviction, she felt purpose. She felt what action she would take next, not possibility, but inevitability. She felt what action she would perform next. The tiniest glimpse through an eye that saw the future showed her the path she would follow, however limited scope it offered her a sense of self-command.