As the last syllable left Tobi’s lips and imposed itself upon Tess, the energy in the room shifted. It was that abrupt, as violent as the raging winds of a tornado in Spring. Tobi watched as Tess’s body went slack and she collapsed to the floor. The girl had not uttered a single word, hadn’t even let out one last, defeated gasp. Tobi scrambled to break Tess’s fall, just catching her head before it smacked onto the bare, wooden floor. Positioning herself so that Tess’s head could rest in her lap and then gently moving the girl’s hair to the side, Tobi sat in the silence of the moonlight and studied the mark on her new friend’s body. The Seal of Janess.
It didn’t make any sense. They were thoroughly searched from the top of their heads to the souls of their feet upon arrival at the complex. No one with the seal was admitted or allowed to stay at the complex. Tobi had witnessed a small boy being handed over to the Umlakka for bearing the seal and it was one of the most horrific scenes that had ever played out before her eyes. Was this Tess’s fate? The knotted tendrils of fear in Tobi’s stomach began to unravel and creep slowly up into her chest, down her legs, and out through her arms to her fingertips. She felt paralyzed, rooted in place by the implications of Tess’s newly discovered mark.
To be continued…