She gazed into her own eyes. The large leaf she cradled in her palms was impossible to calm, causing its captive substance to shiver. The reflection of her face was wrinkled by the liquid’s ripples, and she felt the resulting warped image was an appropriate representation of her self.

After a long exhale of the breath she hadn’t realized she was holding, she spoke to the liquid with a voice so soft it danced in the air:

“I see my eyes, and they see me. Show me the secrets they hold most deeply.”

She closed her eyes and felt a gentle hand lift her head by the chin. When she opened them, she saw herself standing before her.

“Hello, Penelope,” her mirror image greeted her.
“Hello, Penelope,” she returned in kind.
“You are allowed this spell only once every ten years. Why have you summoned me?”

Why had she? She knew she would owe herself an explanation, but she felt any attempt to articulate her reasons would fail to convey her despair.

“Because I have no more words.”
“Then, you have summoned me rightly. You wish to know the truth within yourself.”
“Yes,” she said eagerly.

Penelope’s soul tore off a pinch of the leaf in Penelope’s hand and dropped it into the shimmering liquid in the center. The liquid turned blood red, and Penelope smiled with hope. But her face fell when a black spot formed in the middle with black veins extending outward.

“I don’t… How? I’ve been good! I’ve spent every waking moment for the last ten years serving those I wronged! I have no enemies! Has someone not forgiven me?”

Penelope’s soul pushed her body’s hair back behind her left ear and gave her a warm smile.

“Oh, my dear, you’ve done wonderfully. The blemish we have is not from another but from me.”
“What? From you?”
“Yes, dear. I put it there.”

Penelope was even more confused.

“But why? Don’t you want to enter the land of Alitan?”
“Of course, dear. But my first duty to you is honesty. I’m afraid we aren’t wholly pure.”

Penelope shook her head.

“What more could I possibly do?”

Penelope’s soul began fading away.

“Forgive us, my dear. You have one more decade. Forgive us.”

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