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Callistra felt her body giving way, and she knew the devils were close behind her now. A few hours, maybe, and then they would be on her, searching, tearing, not caring if flesh got in the way of the frantic ransack of her belongings. She had run for years, possibly whole epochs—she couldn’t remember past yesterday. After Rebirth, she would never run again. She only had to make certain that It was not found.

Recalling a piece of a book she had once read, she put It with the baby in a basket that she then set afloat on the wild river Lore. Where she had gotten the baby, she couldn’t remember—it certainly wasn’t hers. The current picked the basket up and tossed it downstream, but it stayed afloat with the help of a simple spell, using the last of her once mighty powers. One day she would find It again, but now it was time to die.

As Callistra huskily rasped her last breath, she heard their screeches of dismay on the wind.

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The Beauty of Misfortune