Catessa stepped onto the porch of the temple and clambered up one of the pillars. The carved stone dug into her hands and scraped in places the architects had failed to smooth, but she ignored the pain. She reached the top, sprinted across the roof, and perched herself atop a lonely spire. From the spire she could see across the glowing city to the place she despised the most- the inner ring. She stared at it for several minutes before tearing her gaze away in rage. The night sky glittered from the light of a thousand stars as she pulled out her pendant. Hate filled her gaze and blurred her vision as she pulled her arm back and threw the jewel as hard as she could to the slick gravel. It glistened in the torch-light and hit the ground with a brittle crack. As she peered down, she could have sworn the firelight shone white against the purple jewel.
It’s just a trick of the light, she told herself. But she couldn’t keep her eyes from it. Something about it had changed.
She slid down from the spire, darted back across the roof, and climbed down the pillar, muttering to herself all the while about stupidity and good-for-nothing nobles. When she reached the ground, landing hard enough to jar herself, she sought out the pendant. It was open. Her heart thundered as she picked the locket off the cobblestone.
Inside there were no drawings, no notes. Only a single white rose petal, brittle and aged under Catessa’s fingers. Catessa snapped the locket closed in disgust. She didn’t need this. But still, it could lead to-
What am I thinking? she asked herself. They’re nobles!
She threw the locket down again, and this time it didn’t snap open. She began to walk away, but stopped short and turned back to pick it up, shaking her head the whole time.