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Although she cannot explain, Yorda must keep moving.

She has never heard whatever tongue he speaks. Yet, somehow, she knows even that would be useless. There is no telling the force that chases her steps, not with a voice, for it is a natural law – it brushes against her bare soles like a wave, and its fingers creep up her ankles as soon as she stands still long enough.

She finds it hard to walk, when her feet are glued to the ground.

He does not need lecturing on the consequences, that is for sure. Since the third flood of guardians, he has never left her hand. It pains her to pressure him so, but there is no remedy – as long as she touches the floor, they are always going to find her.

The effort drains her in a way she has never experienced. It was so different below, in the dark cradle of the palace she was born in – she lived in the shade of black velvet, alone and protected, as her mother spoke of this world coldly. In her words, it was a realm full of nothing, unworthy of their care. 

Come to think of it, she spoke coldly of everything. Even of her food.

Yorda did not know the souls that spiraled down to nourish them. She had always swallowed down their energy without a question – all she did back then, she did because she was told so. Seeing him come along has raised new questions, when they aren’t terrible suspicions.

They might have been girls and boys, just like the two of them. The castle shivers every time she imagines it.

Still, for the first time, she is walking farther and on her own accord. The struggle of their escape is opening her eyes. Yorda doesn’t feel foreign – even her face and her clothes adapted so fast. 

He seems puzzled by how often she looks at her arms. She barely smiles at that. She never knew her skin looked so much like sunlight.

In fact, the sun looked bright green from her home. It hurt her eyes of darkness badly. Everything seems softer and prettier from here, and so does he, more alive than any creature she has seen before. 

She fully understands thanks to the roar of the sea, to the song of the gulls above. She is not fighting without a reason. For the first time, Yorda has things to choose between, and no need at all to think about the answer.

In the past, when it came to her destiny, she was just vaguely aware of it. It would inevitably come, in any case. That was the way in her realm, where nothing ever escaped the timeless order that kept everything into place. 

This other world is, to her gaze, beautifully erratic and unpredictable. Fragile as it can be, nothing is a tool here. Wishes and needs influence everything. 

She has a new goal, the same as his. She is going to run – even if her feet turned to lead, she would no longer care.

Yorda may be pulled downwards, but what she wants is on the surface. 

Now that she can swim, she is not going to drown.