After the soldiers were dismissed, she staggered to Decimus’s quarters. Her head violently jerked, and she was whirled into a vision where her father was driving a fiery chariot pulled by two white horses. She appeared as a young girl standing next to a large oak tree. Her gold-streaked hair was tied back; her fair-skinned face glimmered with flecks of sunlight.
Amren’s voice echoed as the chariot approached the oak tree. “Daughter, your Roman father is training you to be a warrior.”
“My Roman father?”
He pointed to Decimus cradling a young girl. “He lost a daughter. You lost a father. You must now embrace each other as father and daughter.”
“How can he be my Roman father? He is my master.”
“He will embrace you like the daughter he lost if you call him Father.”
“Is he not my enemy?”
“Enemies and allies can take familiar forms. Likewise, a master and father can be one and the same. Beware, though. Romans are masters over their daughters’ fates.”
Amren radiated like a god in gold light as he took her hand. They strode down a beach where waves foamed, slapping on the shoreline.
Catrin, seeing a seagull flying overhead, pulled away from her father and dashed down the pebbled beach until the white bird disappeared over the towering cliffs. She rushed back to her father and moaned, “Father, I could not keep up with the soldiers today. My chest burned with every breath.”
“Close your eyes,” Amren instructed. “Feel the strength of a horse when you run.”
In her mind, Catrin became a white horse.
“Feel the ease of the horse’s breathing as it gallops.”
Catrin opened her eyes and saw her father turning in a circle, first pointing to the cliffs, then to the ocean, and finally to the sky.
“You must again learn to summon power from all animals on the earth, fish in the water, and birds in the sky.”
As a black raven soared over the cliffs, Amren told Catrin, “The Raven sees the battle below. It can turn the tide of warfare by transforming weakness into strength. Meld with its spirit and summon its powers.”
He halted and leaned down to kiss Catrin lightly on the head. “You possess both loyalty to and utmost trust in those you love—a double-edged sword that is both your strength and your weakness.”
“What do you mean by double-edged?” asked Catrin.
Her father did not answer, but he disappeared into a wisp of fog.
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