Such A Daring Endeavor
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“In the vision, I was sitting on a bench,” says Jomeini, her eyes distant. “The sunlight beat warm against the stone I sat on, but the wind that blew was brisk and harsh. A storm rode on that wind, a storm I knew I wouldn’t be able to stop. Afterwards, I drew this.”
Jomeini pulls another card from beside the others and hands it to Shasa.
“It’s a coat,” Shasa says, confused. She traces a finger over the handless, headless trenchcoat, drawn as though it’s blowing in the very wind Jomeini claims she felt during its vision.
“I assumed it meant that I wouldn’t be comfortable in my home much longer, that I would need protection from whatever storm was riding on that wind. I assumed it meant that Grandfather was taking me from my refuge, my home in Xavienke, and that I would need to find protection in Valadir. And it did, in a sense. But the drawing was also literal. Whose coat do you see?”
Chills brush across Shasa’s skin. “Color it yellow, and that could be Craven’s.”
Jomeini rubs her arms as if chafing away whatever memory fills her mind at that moment. Shasa wonders if it’s the same one she’s recalling, the sight of the dingy yellow trenchcoat Craven wore the day he snatched Shasa from right in front of the Triad Palace into an abandoned building and stole her magic then and there.
“What does the star mean, then?” Shasa asks. When Jomeini doesn’t answer immediately, Shasa continues thinking aloud. “Stars provide light in the night sky. They’ve held their places for years, giving sailors something to sail by.”
“But this one is a shooting star,” Jomeini says. “This one is setting off on its own course.”
“And you think it pertains to Tyrus?”
Jomeini shakes her head. “I thought so at first. I Saw Tyrus, yes. But I Saw others with him. Among his soldiers was a blonde woman I didn’t recognize.”
“A group of stars,” Shasa says inwardly. “With one straying from all the rest.”
“It means change is coming, and someone is at the center of it. I thought it was Tyrus, but now I’m not so sure. See the other star beside this? See how the bursts on the star go one way, so it looks like the star can be spearing to the left? But if you look at it this way…” Jomeini turns the card until it’s upside down. “Now the star could be shooting to the right.”
“So Tyrus isn’t leaving?”
“Not in so many words. It’s more complicated than I can explain, but something Tyrus is going to do will be as vast as the effort of crossing an ocean with no other guide but the stars. It’s going to change the world as we know it. And depending on what we do, that change is going to veer the races one way or the other. For good.” She holds the star picture one way. “Or for ill.” She turns it the other direction.
Shasa swallows and takes the card, experimenting. The star’s direction turns with each flip, more indecisive than the weather. It’s like the picture of a smiling man with a furrow in his forehead her mother used to draw. She would turn it upside down, and though the picture hadn’t changed at all, the man would look sad and menacing instead. All because of one or two carefully placed lines.
“So how do we get this change to veer in the direction we want it to go?” Shasa asks.
Jomeini doesn’t answer. Instead, she fingers the collar at her throat. The two girls sit in the boat in silence, bathing in the deep wake of their thoughts.