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TreeofHope
The twentieth and final chapter of the first installment of The Legacies Saga

CHAPTER TWENTY

ORACLE

Tuler snuck away from the rest of the captives. She had already noticed Ermot and Filan escaping, and with Alaric focusing all his attention at Ritne - the one person too scared to resist him at all - she found it relatively easy to go back into the Ekinta where she'd seen Aunt Gyan.

Ermot and Filan were standing there with two other people. Two of them were the Class 2, subclass D Upperworlder terrorists who had taken them in the first place. Three of the others were Ermot D'Asuila, Filan Briciera, and Marrell Tanaquas. The other three, she did not recognize.

"Tuler," Ermot said when he saw her. "How were you able to get away from Alaric?"

"It was simple now that he found the tree and is about to actually get to it," Tuler said. "He and Ritne Akuresh know how to get three-fifths of the way to open the gate straight to the last Mainworld tree, the tree of Thalia Grace."

Everyone stood in a sober silence until the elevator door opened with a light Bloom.

A girl stepped out. She had the looks of an Upperworlder, Tuler realized. She was starting to get better at recognizing the physiological differences between Mainworlders and Upperworlders.

"Mia," one of the Upperworlders, a boy, said.

"Adam," the girl called Mia gasped. "There's a problem. Julia - she's being attacked. By a Mainworlder."

"Gyan Kirrno?" the male 2-D asked. My eyes widened at Aunt Gyan's name.

Mia nodded fiercely. "Julia's strong, but she's not a fighter. She needs you." Then Mia looked at the female 2-D. "Natasha... I have to tell you this now. Your brother Tom's been captured."

The 2-D girl - Natasha (really strange names, these Upperworlders) - looked at Mia with a dropped jaw. "Tom... by Alaric Burne?"

Mia shrugged. "We don't know who took him. If we can get back up and rescue Julia from the Mainworlder, she might be able to, you know." She mimed giant eyes and a wide open mouth.

Marrell nodded. "So let's go!"

~+~

When they arrived at the central building where Mia led them, Tuler could see the deep black scorch marks in Julia's office.

"So she used the Greek fire," one girl - Tuler had learned her name was Tori - said. "Julia Rodriguez was truly a hero worthy of the name of Clarisse la Rue."

"Greek fire?" Ermot asked.

Mia nodded. "A deadly substance. Liquid fire that explodes on contact with air. Julia always kept a jar in the office in case of emergencies. I'm afraid there's no way that either Julia or Gyan survived."

Tuler started crying. Who cares what the Upperworlders think? She just lost her aunt; she had every right to cry right now.

"We need a new Oracle," James said distantly, yet simultaneously stoically.

"A woman willing to take on the spirit of Delphi to help guide us in the future," Carrie defined for us Mainworlders.

Tuler bit her lip before speaking. Guide the Upperworlders? Against that awful Alaric Burne, and people just like him? No way would Tuler pass that up.

"I'll do it," she said in a voice barely more than a whisper.

"You will never be able to marry," Natasha pointed out. "You would have to remain an eternal maiden."

An eternal maiden... In the Mainworld, Tuler would be only a couple years away from beginning the mate selection process. Now she had to choose between having to marry soon or never having a chance to do so?

Stop Alaric, was the thought that gave her the guts to say "I accept."

~+~

The elevator door atop the Ekinta gave a soft Bloom as she walked inside.

With Julia Rodriguez dead, there was only? person who could know the truth.

Gyan Kirrno, still in massive pain,? limped inside the elevator and set her sights on Alaric Burne...

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