Read from part one or reread part ten.

Elysia drew away from the fire and closed her eyes to wait.

Before she had another opportunity for self-doubt, she experienced a feeling, like a warm hand caressing her cheek lovingly. The sensation spread from her cheek to her mouth, where it lingered for a moment before fading away into the aether. Elysia’s breath was uneven, her senses crying to feel her god’s touch again — but she had her answer. Hestia favored her course of action.

Elysia slowly rose to her feet, feeling a pronounced weakness in her legs, and smiled as she backed out of the sanctuary, keeping her eyes on the hearth until she set foot outside. She walked directly to the treasury, holding the fire poker casually at her side. When she approached the treasury guard, she made a deliberately vague gesture with the poker and murmured incoherently. The sleepy guard waved her inside.

This exchange, in its absurdity, played out as though regular and rehearsed, and Elysia hoped the guard would be too tired to recall the details when questioned later. Hestia help me, she thought. And the poor fool, as well. She’ll need it as much as I do, maybe more. She quickly located a ceremonial torch that suited her purpose and strode back out of the treasury, and muttered “thanks” to the guard on the way out.

The guard nodded, unaware of any negligence.