Asylum

By Katsuya Kaiba


He turned his head to look behind him quickly, making sure that the path ahead of him was clear before he did so. There they were…

He'd lost three of them, but two of the guards had managed to keep up with his haphazard path of escape, and they saw him as he looked back and began shouting after him once more. He picked his feet up even higher and pushed on, running as fast as he possibly could without destroying what lay in front of him. He ran around crowds of people and dashed quickly in between others, trying his very best to lose the remainder of his pursuers. There was no time to stand still and search for them in his footsteps, but he ran through an open area momentarily and looked back.

There was no one. Well, there was no one running angrily in his direction, anyway. The market was still overflowing with what looked to be thousands of people, but none of them paid him any mind, and he brought his footsteps to a slow halt and paused, just for a moment. He would have to find the place he sought soon, very soon, but for right now, he had to breathe. He bent over and placed his hands flat on his knees and took huge lungfuls of air, spitting sand out of his mouth between breaths. It couldn't be helped, it was in the air and he gritted his teeth against it and stood up. His lungs still ached, but it had to be enough and he immediately took off running again, this time at a slightly slower pace. He was just past the edge of town now and the palace stood tall and silent to his right, but he knew that he had no business there. He had to find the temple.

The soles of his feet began to sting, and as he jogged in what he hoped was the right direction he felt the rays of the sun reflected back up at him from the sand beneath his toes, and he tried to step lightly so as not to burn his feet. He hadn't noticed it before…but he had been rather busy. He took one last glance into the town square and froze in his footsteps. Squinting through the high afternoon sun he saw them, the last two guards, and they saw him as well. They came out of the crowd and looked all around, and he took off running again but they had seen him, and he knew it. He knew that they would be in the place that he had been standing in mere moments, and he dug his feet into the sand and ran, ignoring the heat and the sweat and the yelling that rung loudly in his ears, and the promise of the punishment that lay within. He knew exactly how much trouble he would be in if he were caught, and he refused to allow that to happen.

He hadn't ever run so quickly in his life, and although he knew that his muscles were shaking from exhaustion, the adrenaline in his veins drove him forward and he ran across the palace grounds and turned a corner, having no idea where he was or where his destination lay, but he prayed to each and every god that he could remember that this was the right path. There wasn't any way for him to know, he had never visited the temple, never been allowed to, and to be honest he had never once cared to…until today. Today, he'd realized, was his one chance, his single hope for escape, and while he had no idea what would become of him if he were actually granted the chance he was searching for, he knew that it couldn't be any worse than what his life had already become. Anything at all would be a step forward, and he took huge strides in that direction, chanting through frantic breaths in hopes that he would make it there in time.

He lifted his eyes from his feet as he rounded the corner and stared upwards as he ran, and a brightly beaming smile tore across his face and he cried out in sheer exhilaration…he'd done it. He then glanced behind him quickly, seeing his pursuers not too far behind him but they had a different look in their eyes, and he thought that maybe they knew what he was up to and they weren't sure if there was anything they could do to stop it. He turned back and faced the temple, knowing that if they were considering failure as an option, he had a chance. It wasn't so far now, the temple steps were so close, he could see the cracks and the imperfections in the stone, and if he lost the fight now, he wouldn't ever forgive himself. His knees threatened to give suddenly but he cringed through it and pushed himself onward. He wouldn't dare give up now, not with freedom so close to his grasp he could nearly feel it's cool breeze on his skin. Just as few more steps…as soon as his feet hit the steps, he knew it was all over. No one could touch him then.

He could hear the hurried footfalls behind him kicking the sand in the air in their haste, but they just weren't quick enough, and his toes curled around the edge of the very first step and he dashed upward two steps at a time, crying out the name of his desire in victory. When his pursuers heard what he claimed, they slowed down and followed him up the steps at a more leisurely pace, no longer in such a hurry. They knew that there was more to it that just that, but they also knew that their quarry didn't, and they paused just outside the temple entrance and waited to see what would become of him.

"Asylum!"

He caught his foot on the last step and tumbled clumsily through the entryway, but it didn't matter to him and he lay on the stone floor and stared upwards, his lungs feeling scorched. His chest trembled with the excitement and the pressure, and he could feel his heart thumping wildly in his chest, but he didn't care…he'd won. He'd made it. He hadn't even believed that he would, really, it was a longshot and a guarantee, for he knew that if he hadn't succeeded here today, he would never have seen tomorrow. Either fate would have pleased him just fine. He would have rather been dead than to continue on the way he had been, and while he knew that his feelings were somewhat unreasonable for a person of his status, he didn't care. And he didn't have to care anymore.

He smiled and closed his eyes, sprawled out on the temple floor like that and he laughed to himself, knowing that he must look ridiculous. He knew that he was dirty, and now he was covered in sweat and sand and whatever else lay on the floor of the temple, but it was nothing to him, and he placed his hand over his chest in an attempt to quiet his rapidly pulsing heartbeat. He couldn't believe that he had made it all the way here.

"Can I help you?"

He opened one eye cautiously. Whoever had just offered their help sure hadn't sounded as though they meant it. Standing just above his head and looking down in mild amusement was what he assumed to be one of the temple priests, an assumption based on what he had heard about priests in stories told to him by people who knew and had been to a temple before. This guy looked like he fit the bill perfectly, although he was far younger than he had been expecting, perhaps not even so much older than he himself was. He opened his other eye and smiled at the priest, forgetting about his rude tone and speaking to him breathlessly, pointing at the guards who waited just outside the temple doorway.

"…Asylum." He took another deep breath and continued, letting his hand fall to the floor in exhaustion. "I…will you…" He realized at that moment that he had never bothered to find out what the proper way to ask for asylum might be, far too concerned instead with the actual promise of something so beautiful it had to be a dream. But it wasn't, and he was here, and he smiled as brightly as he could to the priest and tried again, pulling himself up off the floor and standing upright as politely as he could manage without falling over once again. "Will you please…grant me asylum?"

He blinked nervously when the priest didn't respond right away, and wondered briefly if he had ever heard of anyone being denied the request. He didn't think so…but from the smug look he was receiving at the moment he thought that there might be a slight possibility of rejection. He felt his blood freeze suddenly in his veins, and he clasped his hands together and looked at the priest with wide and fearful eyes, to which the priest responded to by frowning and folding his arms over his chest. The priest's frigid and unfeeling blue eyes looked him over slowly from head to toe in a judging manner, and he began to feel as though he weren't dressed for this sort of occasion, although there wasn't a whole lot that he was able to do about that. He had absolutely nothing at all to his name, save the bracelets on his wrists and ankles to denote the sort of thing that he was.

"No…I have no use for someone like you. Now, get out of my temple." The priest turned on his heel and began to walk away slowly, and before he knew what he was doing he had already taken the first step forward and he grabbed the priest by his shoulder and stepped into his path. He immediately wished that he had not done so, because the silent rage that poured forth from the priest's eyes was almost too much for him to bear, and he felt like running away again. But he stood his ground and clenched his fists, knowing deep down that there was no place left for him to run to. No one would hide him, and no one would care, and this priest just didn't understand that. And who was he, anyway, to deny him of his right? He knew that it was something that the temples were required to do, and this one was especially known for it because it was the temple of the pharaoh himself. True, very few people were lucky enough to make it here, but he had been so lucky. And now this guy was just going to turn him away, this kid who wasn't ever really old enough to be a priest in the first place? He wasn't entirely sure of how old you were supposed to be, but it surely couldn't be possible for someone of his age. He stared up defiantly into the face of anger and spoke, not planning his words out carefully but speaking his true mind.

"Hey, you…you can't do this to me. Aren't you supposed to do something? I need help…" He stared in disbelief at the sudden amusement that crossed the priest's features, and he realized that this boy did not mean to help him in any way. "You…you won't." This couldn't be the end, not after all he'd done and gone through just to be able to come here. He took a step back, and the priest raised his arm casually and motioned to the two guards waiting outside the temple.

"Take him."

His eyes widened and he flipped around with tensed muscles and watched, but they didn't move any closer and instead they looked at one another helplessly and then one of them spoke to the priest.

"We can't." The young priest glared at them in anger, but he shifted his weight to one foot and then spoke.

"Why not?" His tone was ridden with irritation, and he placed a hand on one hip and stood impatiently, staring at the men outside. One of them shrugged his shoulders and pointed to the blond runaway.

"He's still inside the temple." The priest scoffed at this but he stood upright and looked back to the boy.

"Fine…I'll just throw him out myself, then." Having said that, he took a step in his direction and reached out to grab him, but even through his panic he knew that he couldn't let it all just end here, with this priest who seemed to hate him for no particular reason. There had to be another, and he was going to find them. He bolted suddenly and pushed the priest to the side in his haste, and he heard a shocked cry and then a string of expletives directed at the two guards that still stood outside the temple, but he knew that they weren't allowed to enter and hunt him down, not even if the priest commanded it. He laughed to himself at the rush that followed his actions, and although he knew that he had no idea where he was running to or even how deep the temple really went, there was no turning back. Not unless he really wanted to die.

He ran far into the temple, never once pausing to try and guess at which direction he should take as he approached each split in the hallways, and instead just barreling down whichever path was easiest to turn into without lowing down his speed. That priest was just behind him, he could hear the footsteps that echoed through the hallways from his shoes, and for the first time he was grateful that he hadn't ever owned any himself, because he still had a chance to lose the priest if he was quick and silent enough. His bare feet tread whisper quiet on the stone floor, and he looked up momentarily and noticed just how high the ceiling was over his head and gasped before he looked back to his path again and turned another corner. Were the hallways getting wider, or had they always been like this? He couldn't say, although he began to suspect that the end of the temple was nearing and still he had seen no sign of any other priests in the building. He hoped that the younger one who still tagged along behind him angrily wasn't the only one here. He could hear him closing in, and he flicked his head to the side and saw the priest far behind him, though not nearly far enough. The priest's eyes were wide and he swore that he could nearly see the blue in them from such a distance, and he thought that odd but he couldn't lose his concentration.

"Wait! You can't go in there! That's-" He turned the corner and missed the last thing that the priest had called to him, not caring in the least. And then the entire situation and even his undeniable fate was forgotten in that moment, because when he rounded that last corner he realized that he had indeed reached the end of the temple, and what lay beyond it was nothing that he had ever imagined it would have been.

The temple that he had escaped to find was the temple of the Pharaoh, and while had had known that the palace was close by, he had never guessed that it was within one and the same building. But it had to be, because here he was in the court, and he froze in the doorway and stared, not understanding how he had gotten here. His mouth dropped open and he was shocked silent, and before he could say or do anything at all a crashing force suddenly knocked into him and he fell forward to the floor and rolled, caught in a tangle of limbs and fabric. The wind was nearly knocked out of him, and when he tried to pull himself upright there was an awful streak of pain in his chest, and he sat back on his arms and breathed. It was only a moments rest, however, because the priest got up off the ground quickly and then pushed him back onto the floor rudely, and he cried out at the pain it caused. He then felt a hand entangle itself in his hair, and he was painfully dragged to his feet and as he looked around wildly he saw blue and opened his mouth, instantly furious. This priest was trying to stop him.

"Hey…let go!" He swung and kicked violently at the priest, who dodged his attacks and tried to clamp a hand over his mouth to muffle his cries, but he bit down hard, desperate to do anything that might give him a chance at escape. He had come here for help, and if this priest wouldn't give it to him, he would just have to find someone else who would. The priest hissed sharply at the pain of teeth in his hand but he didn't cry out and pulled even harder on the runaway's hair, trying desperately to drag him out of the throne room before he was noticed by anyone. The blond let out a bloodcurdling scream and brought his arm back sharply, elbowing the young priest in the stomach. The priest growled and let him go, unable to do anything for the moment besides clutch his sore stomach, and the boy ran away, stepping swiftly across the long and beautifully tiled floor of the court. He was noticed almost immediately after he had left the doorway that the priest had tried to pull him back through, and he turned his head back and saw that same priest glowering at him furiously but he kept his mouth shut and watched the boy's progress, silently admitting defeat. The blond smiled, but his smile was torn away quickly as he felt himself being knocked down to the ground suddenly by a force that he had not seen.

"Stop!" A sharp and feminine voice called out from not far away, and he looked up from his position, on his back and facing the ceiling, and his eyes widened as he realized that he had found the rest of the priests. Or rather, they had found him, and he quickly discovered in a panic that he was unable to move from where lay after he tried to sit up from the ground. There was nothing touching him…so what was his body held to the ground by? He glanced back over to the other priests that he had glimpsed before, there were five of them and the one that had yelled at him had stepped forward and was now walking towards him in a strangely slow and lightly stepping fashion. The boy's heart began to beat more quickly as he tried his very best to move himself from where he lay, but something invisible held him down and all he could do was sit back and wait for her to approach him. She was staring at him in the face, studying him, and he felt very odd at that moment, even underneath all his panic, because the way that she looked at him gave him a feeling that he couldn't place. It was as though she was seeing through him, or just underneath his skin, maybe. The sensation was startling, but he couldn't run away, and he laid where he was and spoke, hoping that she wasn't nearly as hateful as the blue-eyed priest had been.

"Please…I…" He had been going to ask her for asylum, but his voice caught silently in his throat when his eyes slipped past her and he saw him, sitting over in the middle of all the other priests. It was, it had to be the Pharaoh. He realized that he had not only dashed blindly into the palace from the back of the temple, but he had somehow found his way into the throne room. He averted his eyes as soon as he was able and found the priest waiting for him to continue, seeming oddly interested in what he had been about to say.

"I didn't mean to come in here…I'm sorry." She closed her eyes and nodded at him, approving of his admission. He assumed that she believed him, because suddenly a weight was released from inside of him and he regained control of his body. He pushed himself up off the floor quickly, and after blinking once or twice at the priest before him and the four that stood farther away…not to mention who sat behind them all, he fell to his knees on the floor once again and stared at the tile underneath him, not quite sure what the appropriate behavior was to conduct oneself under in the presence of the Pharaoh.

The throne room fell unnaturally silent after he had done so, and because it was so quiet he could hear the snickering of that terrible priest over in the doorway, and he glanced over through the corner of his eye and caught the sight of him, standing with his arms folded over his chest and looking very amused at the kneeling position the blond had taken. He ignored it and stood, looking up at the woman priest who still stood before him, pulling his shoulders down and his chin high.

"I came to the temple looking for asylum…is that not something that I can have?" The priest before him blinked and regarded him curiously before answering.

"Of course you can. It is the will of Amun-Ra that all who seek asylum in his temple shall have it. But why do you come here instead?"

"Because…" He looked over to the doorway and frowned. "Because he wouldn't give it to me!" There were several sharp intakes of breath that were taken in unison, and all five priests looked over to where he pointed angrily. The young priest stood where the boy pointed, sulking moodily in the doorway, and as soon as he knew that all eyes were on him he reluctantly pushed himself off the wall where he had been leaning, knowing that this was going to happen eventually. He walked slowly and prominently towards the center of the room, acting very convincingly as though he did not give a damn about what he was being accused of. He came to a halt only a foot or so away from where the blond boy stood and he turned to face the throne, speaking directly to the Pharaoh and staring right past the woman priest who stood between the two.

"My Pharaoh, I can explain. This-"

"There's no need, Sethe. You would defy the will of the gods?" The woman cut him off and took another step forward, now only mere inches from Sethe's face. He didn't try to speak again, and instead he met her searching gaze with a defiant one, smirking slightly in the face of defeat.

"Of course not." He answered calmly and with nothing in his tone but an obviously fake sweetness and innocence. She stepped back and then once to the side, coming to stand right before the runaway.

"No? Then why is he here?" Sethe didn't respond, and instead had the audacity to look bored with her accusation, shifting his weight to one foot and setting his hand on his hip. The boy looked up at Sethe and waited for him to answer, but the woman knew that he wasn't going to. A few more seconds passed by until she turned and looked at the blond beside Sethe, leaning down and smiling slightly at him.

"What is your name?" He froze as she got closer to him, but he watched her eyes and he knew that she was not like that awful boy standing next to him, Sethe or whatever. She would help him; he could see it in her, somehow. He smiled back at her and answered.

"Zahra." An explosion of air left Sethe's mouth, and he looked away from the entire court, trying to hide his laughter and failing miserably. The woman ignored his reaction and continued to speak to the blond.

"Zahra. Tell me what you seek asylum from."

His eyes grew wide, he hadn't known that he would have to tell his entire story, but he supposed that he would much rather tell this new priest as opposed to the one that stood at his side, still chuckling bitterly to himself. What had been so funny about his name? He frowned in Sethe's direction but spoke to the woman, facing her after a moment.

"He…he was going to sell me, to this awful man…this man who beats his slaves…the last one that he had died, I knew him, and now he's…dead. I don't want to die…" His face became tight with fear and sorrow, the death of his friend was still fresh in his heart, and so was the pain. "I know that he killed Makiah. He killed my friend, and he would have killed me. So I ran, as soon as we arrived in the town square…I ran all the way here, and I begged him for asylum," he pointed to the priest at his side, "but he tried to throw me out of the temple so that the guards who chased me here could take me back to the market."

She rose back up to her full height and nodded at him silently, understanding what he meant. "I see. Zahra, I'm going to do something to you now, if it's alright. Do you see this necklace?" She touched the gold around her neck and he studied it carefully for the very first time. It was big, and the thick gold bands were twisted delicately around her neck, coming together just above her collarbone in the shape of an eye. "I'm going to use it to see your future. If you belong here in the temple, I will be able to see that. Alright?" Zahra nodded. He was a little frightened at what might happen if his future didn't lie here in the temple, but if she really could use that thing to see his future, he wanted to know about it no matter what it might be.

The priest closed her eyes and lifted her hands to her face, holding them parallel in the air so that her palms directly faced one another without truly touching in the middle, and the necklace she wore began to emit a slight glow, although Zahra thought that perhaps it was only his imagination. He only half believed that she could do such a thing in the first place, but the way that she spoke was so controlling and slow that he would have half believed her had she told him that Sethe was a really great guy underneath it all. Half believed. He stared at her face and waited for a long minute, watching as her eyebrows furrowed and then relaxed, then furrowed again, and he felt a growing restlessness stirring inside of him and he wished that she would just hurry up and tell him already. All of the priests were watching her, and even Sethe had an eye trained on her, although he wouldn't face her directly.

Her eyes opened finally, and she smiled at Zahra before she stepped back from him wordlessly. He almost wanted to ask her what she had seen, but somehow or another he knew from the look on her face that he wasn't going to find out. Not from her, anyway. She then turned and looked over at Sethe with a strange sort of humor in her eyes, and Zahra looked up at Sethe's face and saw the irritated confusion there.

"What did you see?" Sethe spoke suddenly and with an air of spite, not appreciating the look that she was giving him, but she only shook her head and turned, walking back to the throne and leaning over to the Pharaoh. She conversed with him and the four other priests quietly for a minute or so, leaving Sethe and Zahra to stand impatiently and wait to see what would come of all this. The two stood quietly side by side, until Sethe's raspy whisper broke the silence between them.

"Hey! You had better pray that she sends you somewhere else, because if I get stuck taking care of you, you'll wish that you had been sold to a slave-killer!"

Zahra's eyes widened at his words, but he spoke back, still furious that Sethe was putting him through all this trouble.

"Oh, yeah? We'll just see about that." He looked up at the priest and narrowed his eyes, but Sethe's eyes were on the priest who had seen Zahra's future as she walked back towards the two.

"Sethe…I don't have to tell you how much the Pharaoh disapproves of your actions, but considering the circumstances, I'd say that you're about to more than make up for your crime." She had lost the anger that had been in her face earlier when regarding Sethe, and it had been replaced by an interest and a thought that was barely there, but a smile tugged at the corner of her lips as she spoke. Sethe frowned in her direction but remained silent and waited to hear what the Pharaoh had said to her. She looked down at Zahra with a kinder expression and smiled gently. "Zahra…I have seen many things in your future, and the temple in this palace is most assuredly one of them. You will be granted asylum, and from now on you will live in the temple. With Sethe." she added pointedly, and then turned to face the priest she spoke of.

Sethe was furious. "What? He can't live there, I live there! I don't have time for all this! The temple has always been my responsibility and I've never needed any assistance, much less cared for any. Why can't we send him to another temple?" He stood up at his full height and glared down at the woman, but she only smiled strangely and looked to the side emptily.

"Because…when I saw his future, I saw your own as well, Sethe. His path is aligned with yours in a way that I can't even begin to explain, but…I'm sure that the two of you will figure it out eventually. In the meantime…the Pharaoh's orders are that Zahra is to become a servant of his temple, and that you are to train him personally. And as punishment for the mess that you have created by going against the temple code…you are to pay off any debts that Zahra or his family might owe. That includes the debt that is owed today, the one that his would-have been owner would have paid for him. Essentially…Zahra is yours."

At this, both Zahra and Sethe exploded at the same time, simultaneously screaming aloud.

"What!"

Then they fell silent, one hearing the other yelling at his side, and they turned to face one another and then immediately looked away sharply as soon as they caught one another's gaze. Zahra was unhappy, but Sethe was livid. His face burned brightly, but he was already so deeply in the wrong that he knew what would happen if he protested to the Pharaoh's judgment. Zahra, on the other hand, began to feel as though he had jumped out of a bad situation and landed right in the middle of a terrible one. Not only was he still a slave, but he also now belonged to that stupid priest, the one that had decided to hate him before even finding out his name. That thought brought back the memory of Sethe laughing at Zahra's name, and he closed his eyes and clenched his fists, determined not to look ungrateful in the eyes of the Pharaoh. At least…at least Sethe wouldn't beat or kill him. He wouldn't dare, everyone knew that mistreating a slave made your heart far too heavy to balance the feather, and even if no one at all knew that, a priest still would. Sethe certainly wouldn't risk his afterlife just to take out his aggression on Zahra, and he relaxed just a bit and opened his eyes. He looked up at the woman and smiled gratefully at her, knowing that it was her who had saved him, and not Sethe, who was still radiating anger loudly at his side.

"Thank you…thank you so much." He beamed brightly at her and then stepped back, anxious to be away from the watchful eyes of the other priests. He could feel the gaze of the Pharaoh on him as well, but he didn't dare meet it and instead he looked up at Sethe and waited for him to do something. Sethe was frozen in place, locked in a heated glare with the woman who had saved Zahra. She turned away from him and went back to join the other priests at the Pharaoh's side, striking up a conversation with one of them and turning the attention of the room away from the newly bonded pair.

Sethe gave a small noise of indignation at being ignored, but he grabbed Zahra by the arm and pulled him in the direction that he meant to walk in.

"Come on. We're leaving." Zahra stumbled a few steps before wrenching his arm away from Sethe's grasp roughly and matching the priest's pace, walking alongside him out of the throne room. Sethe strode quickly and precisely, and Zahra had to walk twice as quickly in order to keep up with Sethe's long legs, and together they walked through the doorway that they both had come through earlier and into the labyrinth of hallways that Zahra had managed to navigate correctly. Had that been the will of the gods, for him to so easily find his way into the very center of the palace, or had he just been extremely lucky? He didn't think so. The priest, the nice one who had looked into his future, had seen something important. Zahra was sure of that. Something that involved Sethe, and to a great extent, apparently. Well…Zahra didn't care much for Sethe, but he knew better than to think that he was unlucky. He wasn't going to meet the same end as Makiah, and that was something to be grateful for. Makiah…

Zahra pushed his grief deeper, into a place that Sethe wouldn't be able to see. Makiah was dead, and he wasn't going to come back. But then again, he wouldn't ever have to suffer again, and Zahra smiled a bitter smile as he thought of that. It could be worse, Zahra knew that he could have very well met the same fate as his friend did, and while he felt guilty for thinking of it in that light, he knew that Makiah wouldn't have wanted that for his best friend.

'If only Makiah could see me now…' Zahra thought with a wry grin. 'I'd never hear the end of it.'

"Ahem!" Sethe's overly loud throat-clearing broke Zahra's thoughts apart, and he looked up and saw the young priest's blue eyes directly on him. Zahra froze in mid-step and waited for Sethe to speak, feeling the beginnings of a headache coming on. They had come far into the temple, and Sethe had paused in front of a particular doorway and motioned for Zahra to enter.

"Every other room in the temple is in use…so for now, you'll have to stay in here with me." He looked none too pleased with the situation, but Zahra's eyes widened as he took in the sight of Sethe's room, especially the large and very comfortable looking bed that sat in the middle of the floor. The priest watched Zahra's wandering eyes and smirked. "Ha. You wish. You'll be sleeping over there…" He pointed to the empty corner in the far end, and Zahra's face fell as he saw that Sethe meant for him to sleep on the floor, the stone floor. That was even worse than where he had been sleeping in his old home, and he turned his eyes towards Sethe and put on his best pleading look. If there was any kindness that dwelled within the priest, no matter how faint, his wide-eyed gaze would most certainly draw it out of him.

"Oh…but it'll be so painful…to sleep on nothing but stone…" The priest eyed his pathetic look warily for a moment, almost suspicious, but he only gave Zahra an empty look in return and spoke casually.

"Yes…it most certainly will."

AN: Ahem. Clear Vision, part two. Speaking of which, if you haven't read Clear Vision, DO NOT READ IT UNTIL YOU FINISH READING THIS STORY. The end of this story is given away in, like the second chapter. And really, I should pull it off of Fanfiction entirely because it's such crap…but what can I say? It was the first story I ever wrote, and I just love Sethe and Zahra. And past lives. Oh, here's a side note to everyone who is awaiting more of The Importance of the Night and Being Blind- I'm so sorry! I'm trying to pull the files off of my broken laptop…as soon as I do I'll post the entire story in one go, just because I feel so bad about the wait.