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If there was one saying of Gisli, my grandfather, that I never forget is, pride goes before a fall. I warmed my hands on the hearth, staring into the amber flames, lost in thoughts. His voice repeated the idiom in my head over and over. I squeezed my eyes tightly shut and took a deep breath in a bid to silence it.
"Enough, Gisli!" I whispered harshly to myself, my hands clenched into a fist. He was dead anyway and I could call him by his name. "How could Papi betray me like this? He'd promised I would take over as priestess after he was gone."
"You broke his heart first," Gisli whispered beside me. I slowly opened my eyes to stare at his apparition right in the middle of the flame. His droopy eyes were sad. He shook his head at me in sympathy.
I scowled at him as tears pooled in my eyes. I missed him so much. He always told me how beautiful I looked and my strength as a priestess was unmatched in the whole village. I was courageous and feared no one. He was my best friend and we talked about everything.
"I was trying to help him," I blurted out. "Being the eldest and strongest, it was my place—"
"No, it wasn't," he cut me off. "You made the whole village question his authority as chief priest and a father. Everyone knew he would retire soon…what did you expect—"
"Enough!" I shut my eyes. The tears trickled down my face. I didn't want to hear any more of my shortcomings. I was in pain and felt betrayed. Next to Gisli, I loved and respected my father…
"Or you coveted his position?" He whispered again.
I gasped and gave him the evil eye, my hands clenched into fists again. Gisli shook his head sadly. "You know I am a figment of your subconscious and speak the truth. You find it hard to accept. You know you are strong but sometimes, it's not about strength. Wisdom and —"
Before he could say more, I waved my hands angrily at the flame and it roared up the hearth swallowing the apparition of Gisli. My cat yowled, jumped and hid behind the raffia chair close to the hearth. I did not know she was crouched beside me. She peeped from behind the chair and hissed at me.
I wiped my tears, determined to get my place in the priesthood back. It was rightfully mine regardless of my father's instructions to the priest-makers. I pinned my rhinestone headband into my hair, the sparkling stone rested on the centre of my forehead like a drop of water. It was the symbol of my priesthood. I smoothened my orange chiffon gown belted around the waist and stomped out of the house.
The crowning ceremony was going on and I had to stop it. The seat was mine.
My child, pride goes before a fall.
I ignored Gisli's words in my head. As I made my way to the palace where the ceremony was being held, I knew my hands were glowing. Heavy fog rolled behind me as I moved, blanketing my path. The sky turned grey as dark rain clouds converged.
Some passersby gave way when they saw the look on my face. I saw the palace ahead. A small marquee was set up outside for the ceremony and the people gathered there stood up in confusion, staring at me as I approached.
My fraternal twin sister, Ingrid, emerged from amidst the small crowd to meet me. Two priests and three other priestesses who had sworn allegiance to me before my father died flanked her on both sides. The ungrateful turncoats!
"Ivana, don't do this. Calm down," Ingrid attempted to placate me. Beautifully dressed in white silk flowing gown, a replica of my rhinestone headband sat on her head but besides the rhinestone was a red gemstone that symbolised her position as the chief priestess. She looked powerful and regal.
At that moment, her words infuriated me. I could feel my hands getting warmer. "Calm down? I'll calm down if you give me the red gemstone!" I spit out. "It's rightfully mine."
"Do not come any further, Ivana," one of the priests said. My gaze became hazy and red as I turned to look at him. How dare this turncoat speak to me? I waved my hand and flung him aside without breaking a sweat. I'd always been stronger. No one had ever defeated me—My hands froze in the air as my skin turned pale starting from my feet.
I turned to look at my twin sister. She smiled through her unshed tears, one hand raised, water dripping from her fingers to the ground. She, my father and Gisli alone knew ice is the only thing that tuned out my power and made me weak. How was she able to project ice into my body? She had this power all along and I did not know because I did not care to.
"I knew you would come. I had to distract you so you can be restrained. I won't let you disrupt this ceremony."
"But you are my sister, my blood," I tried to reason with her.
"That's the reason I have spared you. This village will be at peace now without you disrupting the order of things. Your hands and feet will be bound with moonstone bracelets, incapacitating you until you realise your error. I am sorry, dear sister."
Two guards came from the palace, lifted me and took me down into the underground prison. As the moonstone bracelets were worn on my hands and feet, ice fell off my hands and feet and melted on the floor. I slouched against the wall feeling very weak and helpless. The guards closed the prison door, locked it and walked away.
Gisli appeared and sat down in front of me, his eyes glittering with unshed tears.
I smiled weakly, my eyelids drooping. "Don't cry for me. I'll get out of here soon enough. You know me."