Family & Duty

“Shandor died to save me. It’s my fault he’s dead. If only I hadn’t been so clumsy. If only I hadn’t panicked when the beasts came.”

“Don’t be silly, child. Shandor would have stayed to kill that beast even if you hadn’t fallen.” Tekla chided her daughter. “It was his calling, and he never shied from defending the Family.”

“That’s why I have to go, Mami. He called me to follow. He asked me to protect her, as he died.” Gilly looked up, eyes filled with tears. “As he died in my arms.”

“No, Gilly, my dearest, please. We don’t raise blades, we read Tarot, we sing. This is your calling, ever since you were a babe.”

“Na, Mami, the Unchained Demon and the Guardian call me now. You saw. I… I have to protect the Mother and the Family.”

“Oh sweet Gilly, please, it could mean something else, it could just be portents of the evil coming. It doesn’t have to be you.” Now her mother had tears in her eyes.

Gilly looked at her mother, so strong and Talented. They both knew what it meant. She had to try. Try to make up for Shandor’s death. Try to fill the hole he had left. Gilly was terrified, but that didn’t mean she could give up. He had died to save her, now she must offer up her life to protect them all.

“We can’t stand in her way, my darling.” Simen wrapped an arm around his wife’s shoulders. “This is her path now, this is her Journey. And if it is not, she will return to us soon enough.”

Tekla buried her face in Simen’s chest, and her patted her back, looking over his only daughter.

“Gilly, be sure you do this for the right reasons. Not because you feel guilty about Shandor. Shandor made his choice, and it is not for you to take the blame for a death he earned.”

“Na, Papi, I know.” She dropped her gaze to the ground. “I am called by the Tarot and by Madam Nadya, but I felt the call the moment he spoke, before he died.”

“Gilly, look at me. I want you to be sure. Be sure it is not just guilt calling you.” Tekla had stilled, but he held her close.

“No, Papi.” Gilly raised her face and looked at him. “I do feel guilty over his death, but that’s not why I’m doing this. There are so many safer ways to fix that. I will write him a song to honor his life and death.” They both smiled. “But this, I have to do this, I cannot turn my back on the call of the blood. Please, Mami, Papi, don’t turn your backs to me “

Gilly’s tears began to flow again. Her parents rushed to embrace her. Shushing sounds and reassurances. They would never, she was Family and their family. They loved her, no matter her Journey. They would always be her family.

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