"This is a puzzle with missing pieces." —Elsie Bray
"I'm not sure I can do this anymore," I say to her, weary and drained. It took so much convincing to get her to believe me. I can hardly make eye contact, so I study the intricate stitching on her robe.
"From what you've told me, I do not believe you have a choice," she replies earnestly. "But your path isn't as predetermined as it seems. I am here now, after all."
It feels like a gift to have her standing beside me this time. To hear her voice finally. It's soft and reassuring.
"You're making a difference," she continues. "Little by little. This is a battle of attrition. You're chipping away until you find the core, the heart. The event you can prevent."
"You don't know what this is like," I say and break down, and putting my head in my hands. "Every mistake costs years that I have to see through."
"I believe you have the strength to do it, Elsie. If you alone are caught in this, then it's you alone who will break the cycle."
I look up to meet her eyes. There is a fire behind them. A fervor that fills me with hope.
"This is your charge. You are in control. I have nothing but faith in you." She places her hand on my shoulder and that familiar feeling of warmth returns.
"Thank you. I'm… ready now."
"Then it's time to pay Eris a visit," she says firmly before stopping me. "Just out of curiosity, how many times is this?"
"Perhaps this is the one," Ikora says with such optimism, I almost believe her.
It's not. We're all dead in a week. Now she'll never remember me, or how close we grew.
But I will carry her words with me until my mission is complete.