The Song of Eloh Saga
sanctioned in Kandek’s house. The man is so paranoid,” Ivy said. “No wonder Reychel’s never heard it.”
    “And what’s the seventh generation?” I asked.
    “You really were sheltered in that castle, weren’t you?” Johna asked. “Well, six generations ago the Malborn took power. They promised the natives that if they just followed three simple rules, everyone could live in harmony. But within a year, they managed to enslave nearly everyone who lived on our island. Their people took over and subjugated our ancestors to lives of slavery.
    “Slowly they allowed people to live on their own in small towns, like this one, as long as they followed the three rules. But breaking a rule meant death. Not just for the outlaw, but for his family. They slaughtered half of the population in ten years.”
    The porridge cooled in its bowl as I laid my spoon down. How could I eat when I was hearing a new story? I didn’t just enjoy telling stories; I loved listening to others too. It amazed me I had never heard this one before.
    I knew the basics, but I’d always been led to believe the Malborn were only looking out for our welfare, helping our people when we needed it most. All those years ago, the Serenians had faced a terrible drought. The Malborn came across the ocean with the means to help my people, but we ended up as slaves. Not a pretty story, but not one filled with prophecies either. I could understand why Kandek didn’t allow this incendiary version.
    “People lived in fear until one day a man with a rare gift stepped forward,” Johna continued. “He told of a child who would save us all from the Malborn’s tyranny. He was the only one of his gift to be born in a hundred years and said we would have to wait seven generations for the next to be born.”
    Johna paused, her hands shaking. “But no one is allowed to speak of the prophecy without facing death. The Malborn put him to death immediately and added one more law to their rule of three: No one is to speak of the prophecy or face immediate execution. Roc was a fool for saying that here. What if I had turned him in? It wouldn’t take much to get to Wendak and tell your master. He’d be executed and then where would his unborn baby be? Probably dead too because they’d go after the whole family.”
    We exchanged a glance across our breakfast. The world of slavery we had left was simple and confining, but the outside world seemed more dangerous than anything we had ever faced. I felt like a newborn, because I didn’t know anything practical about the world I lived in.
    “What are the three rules?” Ivy asked. “We ought to know if we’re to follow them once we’re able to leave. We didn’t live by these rules under Kandek’s thumb. We just kept our mouths shut and did our jobs.”
    “Trust, adore, obey.”
    “Doesn’t sound too hard,” Ivy said.
    “Sounds like they wanted to get married,” I remarked.
    “It does a bit, doesn’t it?” Johna said. “That’s what our people thought. They were enamored with the Malborn and their rich way of life. They flaunted their wealth, but no one thought to question where it came from.”
    “They subjected everyone they conquered,” I guessed. I had lived with slavery as a simple fact of life. It had never occurred to me that I really should be free. Life had seemed so simple. But now I had so many questions, seemingly dangerous ones.
    “What was this outlaw’s gift?” Ivy asked. “Was it premonition?”
    “No one really knows,” Johna said. “After he died, there were people born with the gift of premonition, or knowing what was to come. He had the unique ability not only to see forward but to see the truth in the past. It is said he could tell when someone was lying and he knew what they were going to say. It was a truly unique gift.”
    “Wow, I can’t even imagine living with that,” I said. “I bet there was a lot to sort through in his head.”
    “There was,” Johna said. “Some

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