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The Erhorn Home, Part One


This is a story of Adamar, produced in two parts specifically for my mother on her birthday and on Mother’s day as a present. It will only be published where and when she allows it to be. 

This story begins a little over a year before Faladel is rescued.

He tries to connect to It without letting himself be sucked in too deep. When He’s sucked in too deep it is difficult to get back to the real world again. He isn’t good at this, worries of failure cloud his thoughts, distracting him. He has already messed up the last three times He tried this today, and Mother and Father will be disappointed if He fails. Back in the real world He thinks He shakes his head, trying to refocus Himself before diving deeper into the magic. 

He feels It’s tiny legs, and turns on It’s sensors, scanning left and right for the goal. It seemed so close to Him when He looked at the route from above. But now that He is smaller… no, He is in It which is small, He must keep them separate. 

He carefully sends it scuttling forward down the table leg and across the carpet to the goal, a bright orange pad. But before It can get there, someone opens the door. He panics as footsteps grow closer, shaking the ground with each gigantic step. He abandons It for the real world.

Adamar opens his eyes gulping down air, and looks up to see his tutor glaring at him. 

“Again? Really Master Erhorn?” He says disapprovingly. Adamar winces. 

“Someone opened the door unexpectedly. The ground was shaking, I thought it would be safer to get out of there before they accidentally stepped on me.” He tries to justify himself. 

“You’re faster than their feet are. You’d have had plenty of time to dodge anything coming close to you.” His tutor says, sighing. “You’ve been stuck on this ever since the accident two weeks ago, too afraid of sinking deeper to make any progress whatsoever. You do realize I will be forced to report this latest failure to your parents, Master Erhorn.” He doesn’t phrase it like a question, but Adamar answers anyway.

“Of course, Sir.” 

That evening at supper, his father brings it up.

“Adamar, your tutor reports to me that you aren’t doing so well in your lessons. He says that ever since you went too deep two weeks ago you’ve been… hesitant to continue your training.” Adamar carefully sips his tea, waiting for his father to get to his point, and his father obliges. “Your mother and I want to help you get past this. We realize that it is hard for you, but you need to be skilled in something to uphold our reputation and keep the investors happy. Since you lack normal magical talent, you have to be even more skilled in what specialties you do have, especially a rare talent such as this one. We know you know this, and we want to know what you need to succeed Adamar. Do you need a new tutor? A new drone? Time to figure this out? Private therapy sessions?”

“Basically,” Mother cuts in, “What can we do to help, son?”

Adamar places down his teacup, lifts up his spoon and delicately stirs his soup. “I think I just need time.” He says, staring down into it to avoid his parents searching eyes. “It would be better of course to have someone who could teach me from experience instead of theory, but it isn’t like there is anyone else with my gift, certainly not someone we could trust as much as Tutor Xilmar.”

“Certainly not, Xilmar has served our family for nearly two centuries now.” Mother agrees calmly. Adamar smiles emptily and sips his tea. He understands their worry and disappointment with his current lack of progress. They have managed to keep his below average normal magical talents out of the limelight for nearly two hundred years. But he has to be presented before court before his 250th birthday if his parents are planning to make him the heir so that the general public can view him. His parents are coming out with a new device that they’ve been relatively mum about, but from what he’s managed to gather it will be revolutionary. And he will be involved. 

He doesn’t think he is the only one to have gotten this information. The house, as his parents repeatedly told him when he was younger, is rife with spies among the servants. No one can be trusted completely, and servants hear more than they ever let on. The number of times someone has attempted to kidnap him has jumped from once a decade to 2-3 times a year, probably because of this invention. He hears a small clink, and looks up from his still unfinished soup as his father puts his spoon down on the table. 

“Excellent meal, as always.” He tells the head waiter, who had swooped in instantly to clear his dishes. “My compliments to the chef.” 

After supper all the family members go their separate ways and the servants disappear into the bowels of the manor to do other menial tasks. Adamar heads off to the library to do some independent research. His parents are always telling him to keep his mind flexible by learning new things, and he has found himself wondering about the history of the wars of late. Since practice is done for the day, he has the rest of the evening free to do whatever he wishes, but there isn’t much to do but read. 

He browses the shelves of their extensive library, barely noticing servants reshelving books they’ve borrowed for some reason or another. Eventually he finds a thick dusty tome hidden in the highest reaches of one of the bookcases. Taking it down carefully, he moves to a nearby table and slowly opens the cover. With a quick flick of his fingers he lights a nearby lamp to illuminate the ancient pages. At least he’s good enough at normal magic for this, even though this isn’t much when considering the amount of talent in his family history.

After five hours of poring over the dusty letters and soaking up the knowledge within, Adamar’s head hurts. A lot of this stuff is speculation, some of it claims the war was destined, but no concrete answers explain how or why it started. The Erhorn family library is widely proclaimed to be the second best in the kingdom, with the royal one being the first. Perhaps there are other books in here somewhere with better answers? If not, he can always check the royal when he is presented at court. He’s always wanted to see if their library was really that much better than his family’s. If they have a book on it and his family doesn’t, that would be a good determination to see if their library is actually better. 

After replacing the book back on it’s shelf Adamar begins heading off to bed when he is distracted by a murmur of conversation behind a halfway closed door. He stops outside it, listening. 

“But Mylia,” He heard his father say “We’ll have to speed up the development, the rumors are becoming more prevalent, it is likely that King Mithrandir will announce his plans to resign within the next couple of years. We need to be ready for mass distribution before that time, or we won’t get the necessary votes in the election.”

“I still think the rumors are overblown Asvald, besides we’ve not even tested it out to make sure it works properly yet. If it doesn’t work and we try to go into the developmental stage we’ll waste innumerable amounts of resources.” His mother replies.

“But the other contestants are already gaining ground.” His father sighs, Adamar can practically imagine him putting his forehead in his hands. “I just hate to feel behind everyone.”

“It’ll be okay Asvald,” his mother sympathizes. “We may start out behind, but the invention will propel us way to the front of the crowd and make our victory that much more spectacular.”

Adamar turns away from the door and continues his journey to his room. There isn’t information to gather here that he doesn’t know already. Technology that they won’t mention what it does exactly, but will help them win the next election. It’s always politics. Come to think of it, his being announced at court will probably be politics as well. If his parents do win, he doesn’t think being a magically weak prince would be a problem, after all the last one had zero magic, so anything could be counted as an improvement. Although, he isn’t sure he’d like having to run the country once his parents die, much less all the press attention that being royalty entails. He works best in the shadows.

Speaking of shadows, there is another strange conversation going on this late at night, two maids are making their way towards him conversing in lowered tones. They haven’t noticed him yet, so Adamar douses his flickering lights with a quick snap of his fingers and freezes next to a convenient cupboard. They pass him and he catches a question from the taller one. 

“No luck on its location then?” Interest piqued, he slides out from his corner and follows them on soft footsteps down the hall. 

“No, everyone here is ridiculously closed-mouthed. Not even bribery gets through to the upper servants.” The shorter one makes an animated hand gesture to her friend.

“Tsk. How are we supposed to sabotage something we can’t even find!” The taller one jerks her head, probably in annoyance.

“Quiet down, we can’t afford to let anyone overhear us at this stage.” The short one says, seeming slightly distracted. The two maids turn a corner and Adamar quickly follows, eager to hear more. But instead of seeing two maids ahead of him, he only sees one. Then there is a sharp pain as something collides with the back of his head, and everything goes dark.

Far away in the house Its sensors activate and turn left and then right. He doesn’t understand. Why is He here? What happened to Him? He tries to get back to His body, feel some small connection, just a finger twitch would be enough, but there is nothing. What happened? He nervously sends It skittering in a circle almost instinctively as He tries to think. He is connecting with It better than He ever has before, controlling It almost perfectly. The only problem is that He can’t stop controlling It. What was he doing right before He went into this state. It wasn’t His normal ritual. No, it is too late in the day for that. He was following the maids. They were saying interesting things, sabotage and secret missions. Father was right to never trust them. Then He was only following one and He felt a sudden pain, did the other knock him out? But that doesn’t explain why He is in It. Perhaps just another weird quirk of his talent that someone conveniently forgot to write down for future generations. 

But if He actually is knocked out, should He try and find his real body to connect to it? Almost as soon as He has the thought It has scurried down the table leg and stops in front of the door. He slips It under the crack, considering his circumstances. They said they couldn’t afford to let anyone overhear, so they might end up killing His normal body. Would that leave him trapped in It forever? But if He got to it before they kill Him and He can settle His mind where it is supposed to be, perhaps He can dissuade them somehow? It’s worth a shot at least. He sends it scurrying down the dark open halls. Thank goodness Its sensors don’t rely on light or He’d be blind. He manages to reach the area where He was knocked out without problems, but it is empty. His body, and its captors are gone.

Just then the connection is re-established. He can feel something cold on His face. It is wet too. He sends It scuttling as close to the wall as He can and prays someone doesn’t step on It, but He feels His body calling to Him with sensations from the real world, and has to go without finding It a better spot. 

Adamar feels another bucket of ice cold water hit his face and he sputters. He wants to lift his hand to wipe it off, but it is tied behind his back. Slowly, he opens his eyes, squinting through the darkness. 

“He’s awake now.” Says a slightly blurry figure.

“Should we try and torture him for information?” The other comes in carrying a lamp. Adamar is grateful for the light, and focuses on it until his vision settles.

“Better than having his parents come after us and getting busted without having anything to show from this mission.” The first one replies. Now that his vision has settled a bit, Adamar thinks she is the taller one.

“Do you think he knows anything?” Adamar moves his tongue around his mouth and swallows dryly. Getting tortured would be a new and probably very unpleasant experience, best to try and dissuade them from that. It’s lucky they didn’t think to gag him.

“He,” He says, “can hear you, and most likely knows less than you do about the device, if that is indeed what you are discussing.”

“What device?” The shorter one says coyly.

“The one you were discussing sabotaging when I was following you. Don’t try and pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about because we’ll both know you’re lying.” He licks his lips, trying to get a bit of moisture from any water that might still be there. He is dreadfully thirsty, how long has it been? 

“Aww. Trying to be straightforward to get us to spill more? You’re pretty good at this.” The short one replies. “Here’s a hint though, we’re better. Don’t even try. You have to know about it, you’re the heir after all.”

Adamar smiles at her. That’s all they got? He’s the heir so he should know? Perhaps they don’t even know that he might be involved? Which is probably a good thing because if they did know they might be more inclined to kill him to sabotage the whole shenanigan. “I’m not the heir. Not yet technically.” He says, more confident now.

“Perhaps not technically.” The tall one says. “But that’s what they’ve been training you up for no doubt. So spill. What does this device do and where is it hidden?”

“Or if that’s too much, just tell us where the blueprints are hidden and we’ll only knock you out for the rest of this time instead of breaking bones.” The small one adds.

Adamar is still smiling. “I’m afraid you don’t understand ladies. It is precisely for the same reason that I’m not officially the heir that I don’t know anything about this device other than that it is special. I don’t know what it might do, what it could look like, or why everyone wants it. I’m the weakest link in my family. Because of this I’ve not been declared heir yet and people kidnap me to try and get information out of me. My parents stopped telling me important things ages ago so I couldn’t be tortured to give up information.”

The tall one looks unconvinced, but the shorter one seems to believe him. Gratifying, since most of that was the truth. 

“Well,” The short one says to the tall one. “If what he says is true we really won’t get anything out of him. What should we do?”

“Kill him.” The tall one says bluntly, taking a knife out of her skirt pocket. “Might go better for us if he’s dead. After all, even though we didn’t destroy the device, at least we unsettled them and dealt them a blow.” Adamar isn’t sure if this new threat of death is supposed to intimidate him into confessing his lies and giving up the information or if she actually intends to do it. Either way, that knife looks awfully sharp. He nervously tries to gulp, but his mouth is too dry. Might be from fear, might be from dehydration. 

“Although…” He tries to stall for time. The tall one raises her eyes impatiently. “I don’t quite see how it would go better. If you’re worried about how whoever hired you will punish you, shouldn’t you be equally worried about my parents finding you and killing you for killing their heir?”

“They don’t even know you’re gone yet.” The short one says, trying to call his bluff. “Right?” 

“There’s no way…” The taller one says, trying to reassure her, but looking suspiciously at Adamar. 

“Like I told you, I get kidnapped a lot. My parents just eventually got fed up trying to find me every time so they placed a tracking spell on me that alerts them as soon as I leave the grounds of the manor. Depending on how long I was knocked out for, they might be nearly here already.” The smaller one starts to look panicked, and the taller one frowns to hide her worries. 

“No way they’d do that to their adult heir.” She says. And she’s right, as far as Adamar knows his parents have never done anything of the sort. Although now that he’s come up with the lie, it does make it suspicious how his parents manage to find him every time he is kidnapped. Maybe he should ask about that. 

“Well, how long have you been working for them? Seeing as you’re simple maids, I doubt you see them a lot. How well could you possibly know them? Of course they’d place a spell on me, it would save them time. Time is money, money is power.” Adamar’s arguments are sounding increasingly convincing to himself. It would make sense, is this why his parents don’t allow him outside the manor except on special occasions?  If so, should he be upset by it? Perhaps, but now isn’t the time to dwell on such thoughts. Assuming they don’t have a spell on him, they probably don’t even know he’s been kidnaped yet. He may have to enact his own rescue. But how? 

“What should we do?” Asks the smaller one, panicking.

“We move.” The taller one says decisively. “His parents deal in gadgets. If they have cast a spell or have a tracking device, it is probably on one of his clothes. Knock him out, strip him, and let’s move.” The smaller one approaches him with what looks to be a miniature club. Adamar thinks of trying to resist, but decides not to. He’s tied up and he doesn’t have any useful spells for this situation. What could he possibly do to prevent her from knocking him out? Better to try and use this to his advantage, perhaps he can connect with It again and somehow alert someone that he was kidnapped.

While he is ruminating, the shorter former maid swings her club at him and knocks him out.

He managed to connect to It again with none of the disorientation of last time. Perhaps this was because He was expecting it? Well He should get going… wait, this isn’t where He left It. This area isn’t anywhere like the grey of the stone manor. It’s all pale and blobby, with bits of brown in between the blobs at a lower level. He sends Its sensors spinning around and sees two huge distorted figures high above. They are talking to each other, but the words are hard to make out. One of them approaches him, and he scuttles onto the lower level and hides. The figure bends closer to It, but instead reaches out to the blobby thing raising part of it. 

“Hiess ouuuttt.” Its sensors pick up. He is curious, who are they talking about? Is the blobby thing a person? Wait, two kidnappers, one body. Is the blobby thing His body? Did He have an It on His body this entire time without knowing? But why did He only go into this one now instead of earlier when He was originally kidnapped? Also, wasn’t there a time lapse last time? Why didn’t it happen now? 

He keeps It still while the kidnappers strip His body and then clothe Him in spare rags. He doesn’t understand. Why all these changes? They can’t all be explained just by ‘He was prepared’ this time. Perhaps something happened to the other It? If this was a secondary It, only to be activated if His original was damaged, that might make sense, but He doesn’t even know if that sort of thing is possible. 

Before the two kidnappers carry him away, He has It hitch a ride on the new clothes. Putting all this confusion aside, His main goal is still to escape. He should pay attention for any information He can gather while transferring to another area. Anything could be vital. 

The two kidnappers and His unconscious body travel by horseback until the moon is nearly set and the sky begins to lighten and the sun rises in front of them. Then they all pause at a tiny building built in the middle of nowhere. At least, nowhere that He knows, which isn’t saying a lot. He feels drowsy now, although His body has technically rested most of the night, it certainly doesn’t feel that way. The maid/kidnappers pull His body off the back of one of the horses and carry both Him and It inside. He maps the twists and turns mentally as they go deeper into the building, which is a lot more sinister than it looked from the outside. Twice they go down sets of stairs, so they have to be below ground. Eventually, they all stop at a room and place his body inside. But as the one who is probably the shorter one goes to shake him awake, the taller one forstalls her. 

“Doonnnt” She says. “Efff heeees awaaaake aeeee speeeell maayyyy aacktivaaateee”

“Trruuuuu” the smaller one replies. Mentally He sighs, but It can’t sigh, so instead It translates it to clicking Its heels together disapprovingly. Well, at least this means He might be able to sleep for a bit.

Adamar wakes up to the smaller one shaking his shoulder none too gently. He has a terrible headache.

“Well heir, it’s been hours, your parents are nowhere to be seen and our boss is nearly here. He’ll probably use you as some sort of bargaining chip, but that’s not our problem, so you just sit here, be quiet, and wait for him to arrive.”

She lets go of him and returns to her co-worker. Adamar winces. The shaking didn’t do anything to help his throbbing head, and he doesn’t know if he can escape in such a state. At least the room isn’t blurry, that would make it hard to run. 

“When will he arrive exactly?” The shorter one hisses quietly to her companion. Adamar listens intently, this was something he obviously wasn’t supposed to overhear.

“Well he had to come from Mossblossom Central because he was negotiating with Ms. Gennixia there. Something about a new device. I think he had other people going after the same information that actually succeeded. Anyways he said he should be here within the hour.” Since she is obviously done with that topic, Adamar starts testing his bonds. From what Its sensors saw, they are probably rope. It’s likely that he’ll be able to burn through them. He just has to find the right time when those two aren’t in front of the door. Slowly, carefully, he starts trying to burn through his bonds.

Minutes pass, Adamar watches silently as the shorter girl sits down, but the taller one still paces in front of the door. He eyes her through half closed eyes, trying not to appear too awake. Eventually she sits down too, but he still doesn’t make his move, instead he makes sure It is still attached to his robes. Five minutes later, the smaller one seems to have drifted off, the taller one is more relaxed, and Adamar makes his move. Without making a sound he slowly separates his hands behind his back letting the burnt ropes fall to the ground. Mumbling a spell under his breath, he blasts air out his palms for greater speed, rockets to his feet and out the door along the path they came through. 

The taller kidnapper screeches behind him, leaping to her feet to follow. The smaller one squawks in confusion. Adamar doesn’t even glance back, only focused on retracing the paths he memorized hours ago. 

When he finally exits the house the kidnappers are only a few rooms behind him, and the light is blinding. He grabs one of the horses and swings himself onto it’s back, not as smoothly as he would have hoped, but quick enough that by the time he spurs it to a gallop, the kidnappers are only just exiting the building. He charges on the horse the way they came, fervently hoping he doesn’t run into the kidnappers boss. 

Thirty minutes later he ditches the horse. It will find its own way home. If he had kept it they might be able to track it and find him. Now that he’s outdistanced them, he should probably try and make his way back to civilization without being tracked. They might be able to re-kidnap him when no one’s around, but they won’t dare do it in a bustling town. The only problem is that he’ll first have to find a town, and since he has no clue where he is that could take a while. Realizing that he can be spotted easily on the well worn trail, he veers off into the woods, but tries to stay parallel. The trail has to lead somewhere, and he doesn’t want to abandon his best chance at finding other people. 

An hour later, dusty and thirsty, Adamar notes a small group approaching down the path. He shrinks further into the woods and sits still in the shadows of the canopy, watching.

All of them have horses, there are about ten of them, and they quickly pass him, thundering down the way he came. One of them, their leader, suddenly spins her horse around and calls her troops to a halt in a very familiar voice. 

“Mother?” Adamar says, emerging from the bushes. 

“Ah there you are Adamar.” She says matter-of-factly “We were just off to rescue you, but it seems like you have managed to rescue yourself. Nicely done!”

“How did you know where I was?” Adamar asks, getting straight to the point. 

“Oh, you have a tracking spell on you. It had just updated me that we passed you so I was rather confused until you popped out of your hidey-hole. Good idea by the way, not traveling on the road. You’d have been way too easy to find.” She glances at the guards surrounding us. “I need to catch up with my son. You go clear out the location that he was said to be at. If you find the kidnapers before then, dispose of them. We need to send out a message, no one messes with any member of the Erhorn line.” Her eyes are ice. The guards shiver slightly, quickly salute her, and ride off. 

“Mother, what exactly do you mean I have a tracking spell on me?” Adamar, though he had suspected this, was nonplussed that she admitted to it so readily. 

“Didn’t your father tell you? We installed one ages ago when the kidnappings started happening more frequently as a way of finding you easier.” She helps him up onto the horse behind her. “Why? Does it bother you? I was certain we had mentioned it at one point.” She sends the horse trotting the way it came.

“A little.” Adamar admits before changing the topic. “The two maids were careful not to mention their employers name near me, but they did let slip the name of one of his associates.”

“Oh my clever son! You spied on them while you were kidnaped? How thoughtful of you!”She seems genuinely pleased by this information. “Who is it?”

“A ‘Ms. Gennixa’ from Mossblossom Central. From what I heard, she and the mastermind behind this were conducting negotiations about a device. The maids suspected that another team had stolen your blueprints.”

“Hmm…” His mother frowns thoughtfully. “Your father and I will have to have a talk about this when we get home. During which, we may call on you to hear the story of how you managed to escape all by yourself.”

Adamar’s parents had been in deep discussion for nigh on three hours already, and Adamar hadn’t been able to overhear a single syllable. So he had decided to do one of the few things he could do in the manor, practice with It. True to his guess, the original It had been destroyed. The maid who had done it was mortified and begged him not to tell his parents. He brushed off her concerns with an easy promise. He didn’t even know her name, so how could he report her anyhow? Instead he went to try out the one that had been stashed on his person. After examining it closely, he came to the conclusion that it had been part of the signet ring his parents had given him when he turned 150. It just had never been activated. They also somehow forgot to mention this.

He was scuttling It around when a servant came and gently tapped his shoulder. 

“Your parents are asking for your presence in their chambers Sir.” He says. Adamar scuttles It to a perch on the wall before breaking contact. At least nobody will step on It there. 

When Adamar arrives his father is the first to speak. 

“Excellent job escaping on your own Adamar! It seems you have hidden talents. How did you get away from those two? Your mother and I want to know the whole story.”

“Well…” Adamar begins, “Whenever they knocked me out I would make connection with my drone. I’m not sure why that happened, but luckily it did, because when they knocked me out to move me a second time, it turns out I had a drone on my person and was able to tell roughly which way they took me. When my regular body woke up I swapped over, burned through my ropes, and waited till they had let their guard down before returning the way I came and stealing one of their horses to escape. When I was far ahead of them I let the horse loose so they couldn’t track it and tried to make my way towards civilization.” He shifts nervously glancing at his parents, but they seem pleased with his actions. 

“I never thought the drones could be used like that.” His mother murmurs, “Interesting.”

“See, this is why I said he’d be perfect.” His father replies. 

“Excuse my interruption, but perfect for what exactly?” Adamar asks. His father glances at him surprised, like he’d forgotten Adamar was there for a second.

“We can get to that later son, in the meantime, your mother and I have prepared a present for you.” 

“We were planning to give it to you on your birthday, but…” His mother hesitates

“Things have been sped up since we originally got it, and we thought you deserved something a little special after your first self-rescue.” His father finishes. Adamar blinks, and decides to push his luck.

“Is this about the technology that those maids wanted to sabotage? The one that involved me somehow? Am I to be the test?”

“Told you so.” His father chortles to his mother. His mother sighs but smiles and answers Adamars question.

“To put it bluntly, yes. Your father and I have been developing a device that will boost the magic wielders powers significantly. You’re getting the first device, as a sort of test run.”

“Isn’t that a big jump from what you were doing earlier? Limiting and eliminating to boosting?”

“Well, yes, but actually no.” His father breaks in. “As you know everyone has a set amount of magical energy in them at birth. Casting spells manipulates the flow of that energy. Since energy can’t be created or destroyed, limiting magical ability is just about hindering the flow. If you manage to cut off the energy entirely, you’ve effectively made them magicless because they can’t use it. That’s what our older devices did. Now though, we’ve mapped and found a way to streamline the magical pathways throughout the body without having to perform any type of surgery. This device” He opens a small case and pulls out what looks to be a pair of glasses, “focuses the flow, streamlines the routes, and speeds up the movement of the energy of its wearer. Using it you’ll be able to cast much more intensive spells and control the result easier.”

“You have this all figured out.” Adamar takes the glasses his father is holding out. “No wonder you think you will win the election. This will revolutionize magic as we know it if you can mass produce them.”

“Perhaps, but perhaps not, it won’t really help those with high magical abilities or almost zero energy in the first place, but it will definitely even the divide for most people. Now to test this gift, we have a small favor to ask of you.” His father says.

“What is it?” Adamar asks, putting on the glasses. He doesn’t immediately feel a surge of power flowing through him, but that doesn’t mean it’s not working. 

“Your mother and I had long hoped you’d enroll at our Alma Mater, Mossblossom Central, but with your former power levels even with your rare talent that would have been impossible. Now though, it should be quite easy. Once there, your mother and I want you to find out more about Ms. Gennixia.”

“And,” His mother adds, “If you get the chance, kill her.” 

~End of part one~

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