Chapter XXVII: Second Chances

Aida fell into somebody’s arms, strong and locked, keeping her from hitting the ground for the very first time. 

Lorian tumbled beside her on a vacant, dark, dirt road. They were somewhere just outside of Roma City—she just felt it, she knew—but her thoughts were flowing out of her head too rapidly like she’d left the faucet on. She couldn’t think properly, or at all. She searched for the homeless shelter they’d just been in. 

“Aida—Aida.” Lorian scrambled to find her hand and squeezed it hard. His eyes were as wide as the full Moon behind them. 

Aida sat up with his help. They were together and both fully clothed but definitely in the past—the roads leading out of the city were dirt, not cobblestone, and none of the buildings other than the palace and distant Colosseum reached past three stories. The city’s architecture was shadowed black and blue by the night. 

“D-did you jump into the past?” Lorian asked. “Are we in the past?” 

“I think so.” 

“And I’m here, too? I’m—” He touched his chest and face. “I’m here?” 

“Yeah. Just like my future self.” She knelt down and touched the grass. Her hand went through it like usual, but as she tried again and again, the blades caught on her fingertips. She was there, but barely. “I’m about tangible, are you?” 

Lorian had his hands clasped tight to his chest. He was rubbing down his knuckles as he searched the empty grasses, a deer cautious of hidden foxes. 

“Lorian?” 

“We’re in the past.” 

“Seems so. Are you okay?” 

He shook his head, and with that sincere admission, Aida took in the true scope of his fear. She remembered her first jump, how lost and afraid she’d been. She’d wanted someone to touch her and help her through unnamed streets and tell her that everything would be alright. That feeling of loneliness came in the form of coldness that spread through your bones. She’d gotten used to the feeling and spent more time trying to figure out what time period she was in and what she could get from passerbys. She—no one in history—had ever travelled into the past with company before. 

She took his hand. “It’ll be okay.” 

“I don’t feel good.” 

“Everyone’s first trip is bad. You get woozy and can’t find your feet, but you’ll get it.” 

“Is this how it usually feels? This…emptiness, and shock?” 

“I think it’s different for each person. Just focus on you and you’ll be okay.” 

“What if we can’t go back? I-I’ve never done this before, I—” He slumped his side into her, holding her in a semi-hug as he regained his bearings. Aida held him while looking over his shoulder. The Moon was full. What day was it? What year? Could she find Eve? 

After rubbing Aida’s back assuredly, Lorian nodded to himself and sat up. He still looked sick. “Okay.” 

“You good?” 

“Not really, but you said I’ll be fine. I’m holding you to that.” 

“Good. Let’s go.” 

They travelled steadily into the city, keeping their heads low so as not to draw any attention to their semi-physical forms. Aida felt herself being watched, knowing that she could just make contact with this world if she really tried. Normally, she would’ve been more adventurous and bolder. Now, especially with Lorian, she needed to be extra careful. 

“What happened back there?” Lorian asked as they crossed through the city’s arch. “That woman you met with, who was she?” 

“I’m not sure. I think she might’ve been a traveller. She had the same eyes as…” She didn’t know if she wanted to say “Eve” or “me.” 

“What if she wasn’t a traveller?” he then said. “What if she was a Goddess?” 

“From Pinnacle—Oh.” She played with her braid still intact from the jump. “I don’t know. I didn’t picture her like that.” 

“She was tall.” 

“She was scary.” She recalled that wild, unblinking look in her eyes all too akin to her own future self’s. “Let’s just keep our eyes ahead. If I start bringing deities into this muddled mess, I’m going to really lose my mind.” 

This Roma/Siina was like night and day to the one she’d entered during the festival. The streets weren’t decorated and adorned with flowers and music to celebrate unique creations. These streets had been torn apart by vicious hands. Street signs were hanging by broken chains. Windows had been smashed open. She swore she saw bodies lying in the cold alley corners but didn’t dare check. She felt like both of them, Lorian more so, wouldn’t take well to seeing death again so soon. 

“Do you know what year this is?” Lorian asked. “Is this a war zone?” 

“I don’t know. I need more information.” 

They neared the Colosseum, Aida’s focal point. It was aglow with lanterns and torches, and a dull roar told her that hundreds, perhaps thousands of people were seated for a show. 

An ear-piercing scream broke off into the night. It howled like a dying wolf to its pack. The only echo it received was the cheer from the stadium. 

Aida’s back straightened. “Eve. That was Eve.” 

“What was?” 

She took off, her cane burying into the mud. 

“Aida, wait!” 

She didn’t listen. Screw her failing memories, she’d memorized everything about Eve, including her dying screams the moment she’d lost her. She sounded in pain. No queen should’ve sounded so distraught in a place meant to murder the innocent. 

She ran faster, blocking out how badly her leg hurt. History said that Eve had murdered Queen Julia, then King Julius had sentenced her and all of her Visatorre people to death. No one knew anything more than that. History had erased her mistakes from the world. 

And she wasn’t going to let that happen. Not a second time. She didn’t care about how time worked. To save Eve, she’d change fate and bring her back from the dead. 

People crowded the entrances to the Colosseum like ants to their crushed anthill. Guards were stationed at the main and side doors so the people couldn’t see beyond the walls. They could only listen as the screaming grew louder and louder with each passing second. 

“Aida.” 

“We can get in, don’t worry. They won’t see us.” 

Lorian fell back, making Aida turn on her heel. “What?” 

That sickened look in Lorian’s face had grown to sheer disgust for the world around them. “I can’t go in there.” 

“Why not? Here, I’ll hold your hand so we won’t get separated.” 

 “It’s not that. Whatever horrible atrocity is occurring in there, it’s being done by my family’s orders. Every drop of blood that’s been spilled behind these walls is on my hands.” 

“No, it’s not. You never ordered any of these people to die.” 

“I might as well have!” 

Aida took a step back. 

Lorian took one forwards. “Everything in history is a result of my family’s lineage. We’re to account for every war that’s begun. For every dozen of our people to die in combat, thousands of others pay the price. Even today, my family fucks over the world with their selfish choices to be better than those we kill, yet we’ve become the very entity of death itself. Every choice they’ve ever made to slaughter and murder innocent people rests on me, so I shall not go into the place where it all started, I cannot do that. I won’t.” 

Aida lowered her gaze so she wasn’t silently arguing with him over something she never knew was a problem. To anyone else, this would’ve been something to take pride in. But if one was paying attention, you’d realize how much blood-soaked history painted your throne, what you had to model yourself off of to keep the kingdom prosperous. 

“Lorian,” she said slowly, trying to show him that she understood his point of view. “We might be able to alter the fate of what’s happening in this Colosseum tonight. If we can interact with the world, think about what we can do. Our actions might erase the horrible future your forefathers and my stupid future self are going to bring about. We can save Eve, we can save the Visatorre people.” 

Lorian looked worriedly at the multiple levels of the Colosseum. His lower lip was beginning to bleed with how much he was biting it. 

Aida took both of his hands and forced him to look at her. With their height difference, it was difficult to reach his face, so she tugged him down so their lips were a breath apart. 

She touched her warm forehead with his cool one. Their noses brushed together. It was all she could offer him in that moment. She hoped it’d be enough. “Trust me,” she said. “We’ll be okay. We’ll save Eve tonight and change our history. We’ll fix everything, just you and me.” 

Lorian’s hands found their way to Aida’s hips. She knew he was a physical person and enjoyed the handholding and more-than-friends kissing they shared. A few months ago, she would’ve been disgusted by sharing this much space with a person. Now, she couldn’t imagine continuing on without him. 

The crowd around them shifted, paying attention to something happening in the Colosseum. 

“Come on,” she said. “Let’s save Eve.” 

The first three doors they tried to enter were barred shut with two royal gladiators blocking the way. Each entrance had a group of at least thirty non-Vistatorre demanding to be let in. 

“It’s full,” the gladiators kept repeating. “You’ll be able to bear witness to her body the morning after.” 

“We have to see her now!” one person cried out. “Let the public see her before her death!” 

Aida jogged halfway around the Colosseum. She found a low door not being guarded by any nearby gladiators. The closest one was hanging out near the tree line, his face obscured by shadows. 

She tested her finger strength. “Okay. Let’s try this door. One, two…” 

They both pulled on the latch. Her hands slipped through the metal. Lorian tried using the strength of his shoulder to pry it open. The foundation was sturdier than it looked. 

“Shit,” Aida cursed. 

“We should keep looking.” 

“We’re wasting time like this. Can we climb it?” She stepped back to guess. It was nearly fifteen meters to the next row of arches. They were stuck. 

She almost tried to materialize through it when she heard someone shift in the tree line. 

They both backed up. The gladiator, or person who was hiding in the trees, wore a black cloak that masked his identity, but as he fiddled with the lock, hitting it with a medieval hammer, Aida recognized him as one of Queen Eve’s gladiators, the one who always let her do whatever she desired. Fredrick, or Fausto. She couldn’t remember. 

With a grunt, Eve’s gladiator slammed the hammer against the lock and shattered it.  

He looked up to the Moon with a hand over his heart. “My God, Circa, protect us, protect her,” he said under his breath, then flung open the door. 

Aida caught the door before it swung close. It was like stopping a wave from crashing into you. 

They followed the man’s boots splashing in the wet puddles of the corridors. The halls were pitch black save for an occasional torch at the start of each four-way. The lights flickered when they passed. 

“If we can do this,” Lorian said as they jogged, “if we’re able to change the past, the entirety of history as we know it will be altered.” 

“I know.” She turned the corner. The gladiator was farther away than the last turn. 

“Doesn’t that frighten you?” 

“I have bigger issues on my mind at the moment.” 

“Aida, if we do this, we might forget each other. We could alter fate enough that we might not be born, or we might never cross each other’s paths. We’d never meet again.” 

Aida was ready to snap at him to stop distracting her with his worry, but it dawned on her, why he was freaking out over the what-ifs. 

She looked up at him and smiled reassuringly. “There won’t be a timeline where we won’t meet each other. We’re too stubborn to let that happen.” 

Lorian’s eyebrows shot up with how boldly she proclaimed that. They knew they’d be together in a hazy timeline set in the future, but in another life, another story, another play? Whichever the case may be, she knew that they’d always be together because that’s what she wanted. She’d allowed herself to fall in love with him and wasn’t going to give him up that easily. 

Lorian smiled for the first time since they jumped into the past. “I suppose that’s true.” 

“I know it is.” She turned a wide corner. “And, for what it’s worth, I think you’d make a great ruler.” 

“What?” 

“If you were to take the throne after your mother, with me by your side, you could probably reshape the world within a day, maybe a few hours if we worked harder than we already do now.” 

Lorian watched his boots as they ran, mouth parted to form some type of disapproval to Aida’s suggestion. Then he shook his head in a smile. “Now’s not the time to think of fantasy.” 

An arrow flung past Aida’s head and clattered against the stone. The gladiator—Frederico, she now thought—cursed and drew a hidden blade from his cloak. Behind them, two Roman gladiators drew their swords while another nocked another arrow. 

“Halt!” 

Frederico dove down another hall. Aida drew Lorian out of his stupor and made him follow. She didn’t know if they could die in this semi-permanent state, but she wasn’t going to find out in some musty Colosseum corridor searching for ghosts. 

The gladiators were gaining on them. Frederico was more skilled at running from authorities than Aida and Lorian were. She wondered for how long they knew one another, to give context to why he’d risk his life for hers. Even as a gladiator, Aida didn’t know if she’d ever risk her life in exchange for someone else’s. 

“Unhand me!” 

A dim light was beginning to grow in front of them, but instead of hiding, Frederico ran headfirst into the threat battling against Eve. 

Two men had her pinned against the wall. She was wearing the raggedy smock she’d worn the night she died and was bruised and bleeding. Her pinned hair was free and tangled down her back like a rat’s nest. Her eyes, Aida noted, were like hers with two white pupils, but her Visatorre marking only had one circle. 

Eve thrashed against the gladiator holding her neck and freed herself. Her wrists were in shackles, and the gladiator to her right, momentarily off guard by Frederico storming in, grabbed them to keep her from escaping. 

“Let her go!” Frederico unsheathed a hidden knife and struck the gladiator. He nicked his shoulder. The gladiator stabbed him in the arm. The third gladiator kicked at Frederico’s knees and caused him to fall in front of the first gladiator like he was about to be knighted. 

Eve acted fast. She reached for the gladiator and his arm raising the sword to drop upon Frederico, but because of her height, she could only reach so high. She got him off balance, but it wasn’t enough. Just as Aida began to process the chaotic scene, the gladiator swung hard into Frederico’s head. 

Lorian looked away quick enough, but Aida didn’t. She didn’t know if she’d tried to save herself from seeing such an image: the sword striking down and sticking halfway out of Frederico’s skull. His mouth hung open, already lifeless, and when the gladiator yanked out his sword, he fell backwards in a pool of stagnant water and flowing blood. 

Eve screamed, both in lament and in anger. She battled for the sword that’d taken away her friend, cursing all the men left in the room. 

“Curse you! Curse you behemoths! You monsters!” 

The remaining gladiators forced Eve back up against the wall, securing her into submission before leading her away. 

Aida looked down at Frederico’s corpse before following her queen. She carried Lorian with her. His hand was cold. 

“Why does the king want her alive?” one of the gladiators asked. “Why not end this sorrowful life?” 

Aida pulled on one of the gladiator’s vambraces. Her fingers couldn’t make contact. “Let her go!” 

“He wants to make an example of her,” the leading gladiator said, “to all who wish to see her suffer.” 

“Curse you!” Eve spat. “Tell me where she is. By my god, I swear, when I survive this hellish act of defiance, I’ll see you all hung for your crimes against the capital of Siina.” 

“That’s far too kind of you, Your Majesty, given what King Julius has in store for you.” 

Aida began hitting the gladiator with her cane. “Why isn’t it working? Why can’t they see us?” 

The gladiators stopped at a metal door. Behind it roared the deafening cheers of thousands of spectators. Their voices rattled the sconces nailed into the wall and called for more blood to spill tonight. 

“Eve, come on. Look at me.” Aida forced herself in front of the queen. She was snarling. 

Lorian backed up. 

“Lorian, help me.” She struggled to pull on Eve’s arm. 

He shook his head. 

“Lorian, please. None of this is your fault.” 

“Then why does it feel so painful?” 

One gladiator not keeping Eve restrained unlatched the door’s heavy metal lock and turned a gear embedded in the wall to open the door. 

The stadium was lit with lanterns, torches, and moonlight, bathing it in gold. The tiers went up four, five stories high and were packed with spectators. Armed gladiators lined the walls like statues, standing in front of caged lions that were snarling and clawing at the bars for a meal. 

In the center, standing on a raised platform, was King Julius II holding a little girl by the hair. She was about four or five, with curly, dark brown hair. Her eyes were bloodshot from crying. 

“Mama!” she cried out. 

“No!” Eve struggled at the sight of the girl, but the gladiators ignored her and carried her into the stadium. When the crowds caught sight of her, an uproarious booing mixed with general shouts of unhappiness. They threw food at her, men screamed at her for what she’d done, from which Aida couldn’t discern. What had she done to make so many people despise her? Had they not been overjoyed by her pregnancy just a few years ago? 

Aida ran up to Eve and touched her shoulder. 

Her hand floated through her. 

“No.” She tried again, this time with both hands. “Why isn’t it working? It worked in the field. Eve!” 

Eve was positioned in front of the king’s platform, thrown on her knees, head yanked up to meet his eyes. 

King Julius II looked down at her like an animal he’d just hunted, proud and smug, with a murderous hint to his cold eyes. The caged lions growled and roared in impatience. 

“Give her back!” Eve pleaded. “Please, she’s done nothing wrong! Do not involve an innocent child in these games!” 

“‘The sins of a father shall be passed onto his son’,” King Julius quoted, his voice booming. “Such is written into Roman law.” He took a scroll given to him by one of the men standing by him. He unfurled it. “Queen Eve Hyuang Costa, you have been brought here today on August 11th in the year 209 AUC before the eyes of Roma to pay for your unjust treason done upon by the Roman State.” 

“No! Stop this!” 

Eve’s words were swept away by the hatred of the crowd. 

The king continued. “You were offered sanctuary in the peaceful city of Roma as an act of good faith done so by I, King Julius II, with the promises of joint and amicable agreements, yet you have abandoned my trust and forsaken my name for the sake of committing adultery with my own wife, Queen Julia Ferro.” 

The crowd upheaved into batshit wailing. Eve kept her fiery eyes on the king. “Yet you keep women of the night in your bed and no one questions it! The roles are reversed for women who need to claw their way to the top in order to be seen in the presence of those who society put above us—” 

“And this act of adultery,” the king continued, “as it’s written in our laws, is punishable by death.” 

Aida couldn’t stand it. Even if she had done something wrong, she didn’t deserve this sort of pain and humiliation. 

A hand grabbed her wrist. 

“Let me go, Lorian!” she said. “We need to stop this!” 

“Wait.” He pointed at the gladiators around them. They were slowly closing in, step by step, their spears and arrows and swords drawn for the kill. One had his confused eyes locked on to them. 

Aida backed up into Lorian, the threat of being surrounded hitting her too late. “Can they see us or not?” 

“I think they see us partly.” 

The king rolled up his document. “For the acts of adultery against the king, withholding truths from the king—” 

“Julius, stop it!” Eve screamed. 

“—and breaking the oaths in which you swore to defend the peace agreements between Siina and Roma, I hereby sentence you, your kin, and your Visatorre people to death.” 

The crowd grew louder and louder during the king’s speech until his final words sent them into a hysteria. Men too eager to see Eve pay jumped and fell into the Colosseum. Visatorre who must’ve been a part of Siina began getting up, confused at the decree and trying to find a way out. The entrances were being blocked. 

“No!” Eve screamed. “Don’t you dare touch her, you vile hypocrite in sheep’s clothes! Don’t touch her! Don’t touch my people!” 

King Julius ignored her and went for Eve’s daughter. He dragged her to a slab of stone her size. He laid her down, one knee against the small of her back. The poor girl wailed. Nobody eased her tears. 

“W-we have to do something,” Aida said, convincing herself to act. 

“I can’t move,” Lorian confessed. “I’m frightened, Aida.” 

Aida stared up at the little girl’s face. She was struggling against the weight of the king on top of her, her pleas lost to the crowd demanding her death. Whatever these two monarchs were feeling, this little girl must’ve been feeling it tenfold, trapped between the arguments of lust-filled adults she did not understand. 

Eve broke free from the gladiators holding her back, but she didn’t break into a run. Her body was flung forwards, then she righted herself only to fall backwards like an invisible force was hitting her. The gladiators tried to grab her, but when one touched her, Eve, with a spark of light, disappeared in a twirl. 

The crowd broke into questioning and crying. They looked around the stadium. Some ran from incoming gladiators. 

The king yelled and ripped his hand away from the girl. She’d bitten his hand. Taking her chance, she leapt off the stage. 

“No!” He flung out his hand for two gladiators to subdue her. “Find her! End this fucking lineage of hers! End—!” 

The ground where Eve had stood cracked and gave way like a crater, knocking the nearest gladiators off of their feet. A black, sooty circle encircled it. The energy tumbled in excess. 

Eve stood awkwardly in the center. Her shackles had vanished. She used her newly free hands to hold her head in some type of pain. She swayed by the sudden jump. 

Aida held her own head. It was just like her jump here, dizzying without reasonable explanation. That ashy circle… 

The gladiators paused, waiting to see what would happen next. 

Grab her!” the king bellowed. “Take her!” 

One tried. He ran at her with his sword raised. 

“Eve, watch out!” Aida yelled. 

Eve jerked to the right and disappeared with a crack. Then she reappeared seconds later three meters in front of the crater. She looked down at her hands and stood a little higher. She clenched and unclenched her hands, cracked her neck. 

The gladiators ran in, first bumping into Aida and Lorian, then phasing through them. One went to grab Eve, but she was prepared. Jumping, she disappeared and reappeared left, then right. She jumped around them, toying with them, until she got too close to a gladiator with a dagger drawn close to her head. 

She smiled to herself, realization dawning over her double-ringed Visatorre marking. 

“How?” King Julius yelled. “How’re you doing that?” 

“Eve!” Aida went to run, but another gladiator knocked into her and sent her to the ground. Her braids came undone. Her dress ripped. 

“Aida!” 

That was her, wasn’t it? Her head hurt too much to think straight, but that was her name. She was the rare Visatorre girl touched by a Goddess and given powers to do amazing triumphs, and what was she squandering it for? Trepidation? A fear of starting an even larger genocide? 

Eve grabbed the gladiator’s arm and brought it down. Before it cut her, she slammed him onto the ground using his own weight to steal his knife and end his life. 

She gripped her new weapon madly, her bloodthirsty smile etched into her young face. 

The men who’d tried to kill her now tried to defend themselves from her, but not knowing where she’d come at them next, they circled each other like blind sheep. 

In one jump, Eve reappeared on the steps of the raised platform, then jumped, reaching halfway up the stairs. She fell, but that didn’t matter to someone like her now, she who could somehow control her jumps. She jumped forwards and landed next to the podium on which her daughter had almost lost her head. 

The king had just one man left to defend him. The rest had abided by his orders to do whatever they could to kill Eve. They hadn’t expected her to be blessed—or cursed—with Circa’s powers. 

Eve ducked low and aimed her dagger at his heart. 

She missed. 

She buried the dagger into his stomach instead. 

Julius bent forwards over her, blood spilling from his open mouth. His nails dug into her shoulders, but she shook him off by jumping once more into the air. She fell into him, arched her shoulder, and cut straight through his neck. 

The king’s head fell and thudded to the floor, and the stadium wailed like a siren, growing louder as more people took in the sight of their defeated king. A sea of bodies left their seats and stormed the Colosseum floor. Gladiators and servants, Visatorre and slaves, the roars of lions uncaged, they all bombarded the space. Aida had lost Lorian somewhere. All she saw was chaos and Eve, standing tall at the podium to oversee her doing. 

Eve leaned down and picked up the head of the Roman king by his hair. She stared into his glazed eyes, then raised it high above her so all could see. “For Siina!” she screamed. 

Enraged gladiators stormed up to the stage to defend their king even in death. 

Eve threw Julius’ head at them and vanished. 

Aida looked around. People were running now. Screaming. Half of them ran into her and clipped into her in some way and caused her to fall or trip. Where was Lorian? Where was Eve? 

She locked on to a congregation of people screaming the loudest and ran for them. Those with a keen eye double-took her as she made her way through the crowd. 

She wiped her wet eyes. She’d never wanted to believe the history books that painted Eve as a murderer. She was the Visatorre’s most beloved queen. She was bold and smart and had built Siina into a prosperous young kingdom, but she was now part of her history. She witnessed the anarchy. She knew the truth. 

Eve hadn’t murdered the queen of Roma. 

She’d murdered its king. 

She caught sight of a blond ponytail waving through the crowds, and Aida pushed through to meet with them. “Lorian!” she shouted. If she wasn’t touching him by the time she jumped back… 

At hearing Lorian’s name, the person with the blond ponytail, Julia—Jules—turned around and saw Aida. She had Eve’s daughter tucked safely into the side of her dress, protecting her from the belligerent crowds. Aida noticed, in the most inopportune times, that she was still wearing the bracelet Eve had tied around her wrist. After so much hurt and betrayal, she still kept that piece of Eve with her. “Eta!” she cried out. “Eta!?” 

“I’m here!” 

Amongst the crowd, Eve was battling her way towards them. She had more blood on her. “Jules, where is she? Do you have her?” 

Aida pushed her way through the crowd. “I’m right here,” she whispered. 

“She’s right here, I have her!” Julia answered. 

Eve flipped her blade to the hilt and butted innocent people from her path. Some of the Visatorre in the crowd were helping her, saving her queen even though she’d just murdered the world’s most powerful monarch. They scuffled and fought with non-Visatorre, creating more of a battlefield than any of them had been expecting that night. 

Aida tripped and fell atop a dead body. They’d been stabbed and trampled from the crowd. She pushed away from death touching her again. 

Eve passed right by her, a meter away. 

“Eve!” she shouted. “Eve, I’m here! I’m right here!” 

She knew her voice wouldn’t reach her. The world was on fire and Eve couldn’t waste her time on a voice in her head. She just needed to know she’d tried, that she’d done everything  she could’ve done to help her. 

Just when Eve was about to reconnect with Jules, she stopped in her tracks to look down at Aida cowering in the dirt and called out for her. 

The world stilled. Eve’s magical eyes snagged on Aida’s half-formed ones. She panted, unable to speak out at this half-visible girl before her. 

She opened her mouth. 

The spear that plunged into her abdomen silenced whatever she was going to say. 

Aida covered her mouth. The spear made Eve top-heavy and dropped her to the ground. Her strangled scream mixed with Jules, who was finally screaming in horror at the sight of so much pain afflicting her kingdom. 

The little girl watched on as her mother dropped, too stunned to express anything. 

A body hit against Aida’s back. “Aida,” Lorian said. “Aida, we need to leave. It’s not safe here.” 

Aida kept her hand out. She’d been meant to save her. This had been her second chance. That was why she’d come to this timeline, hadn’t it? The Visatorre needed her as a leader. For what reason had she dedicated so much of herself to her if not to save her like an officer to their monarch? 

The ground pulsed underneath her hands. The sinking, swaying feeling crept up her body like a virus. Her vision blurred, her arms gave out. 

Eve, gagging on her own blood, reached for her daughter. The little girl fell into her side and tried keeping the blood inside of her. 

“It’ll be okay,” the little girl cried. “You’re going to be okay.” 

Eve might’ve disappeared with the little girl. It was what looked like happened, the two of them disappearing in one final burst of light. 

Aida didn’t know. She and Lorian flashed back to the future at the same time, their doomed fate remaining unchanged. 

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