‘You cannot bring back the dead, princess.’
Yusumi stopped, the words resonating in her mind from the day, so long ago, when she’d woken from her dream to find Jidan waiting to tell her that Queen Celeste wanted to speak with her.
‘I know,’ she whispered to herself. ‘I have to stop looking at the past, and make my future. I promise.’
The spindly foliage around them rustled. Everyone tensed, ready to defend themselves if necessary, but it was only the old woman they’d met before. ‘If you’re set on making a good future, my girl, then I’ll give you a word of advice. Don’t talk to yourself around others, they may think you’ve gone strange in the head,’ she said dryly. She eyed them all up, taking in the exhausted way they carried themselves and the loose threads and gashes on their clothing. ‘Here,’ she continued, throwing them each a bunch of berries. ‘You look famished.’
They ate quickly, realising that the ache they’d all felt in their stomachs hadn’t just been caused by grief. When they’d finished, the old woman sat down on a log, motioning for them to do the same. With sudden recognition, they saw that it was the very same place they had made camp before, on their way to the mountain.