Sam’s mind wandered as Txori borrowed Welkin’s spy-eye and copied down the writing from the scroll they had finally located. She was using his back as a writing surface, so he used the time to contemplate their next move. Once they had this information, would they know what to do with it? Returning to Dora seemed most prudent—perhaps she would have some understanding of whatever the writing said. It was unlikely to concern them, anyway.
Txori removed her pen and paper from Sam’s back, and she held out the page for the others to take a look. Sam began to read, skimming through at first. It appeared to be about the best potential successor for the Scarlet Empress, based on the first few lines, which served to remind Sam of the predicament that the Realm currently faced. Due to only recently arriving in this era, and then being very busy with tasks since then, he had had little time to think on her disappearance and its potential ramifications. It had certainly been long enough that a successor should be found, however.
As he continued skimming the centuries-old prophecy, Sam’s heart skipped a beat. The first three paragraphs had gone by quickly, but the last paragraph gave some specifics that gave him cause for alarm.
When the Scarlet Queen falls
Her empire will go to slaughter
And chaos her only legacy will be
Unless her successor is eldest of water.
Contenders will gather round
As the throne’s seat begins to cool
The sustenance of the empire
Depends on the blue blood to rule.
Mind the roots of the family tree
For only he whose blood is most pure
Can claim the scarlet throne
And the life of the empire he will ensure.
Though blood is old, filled with youth
Though fresh in face, long in tooth
Though asking little, mighty sleuth
Though trained in lies, speaks the truth.
Sam quickly reread the entire prophecy, focusing on each clue. Plenty of Dragon-Blooded were water-aspected, but the eldest was quite clear. Sam was unfamiliar with all current Dragon-Blooded, as it was unlikely that there were any still living from his era. Marriage between houses appeared to be more and more common, especially for those in the disgraced Iselsi family, so it was unlikely there were many pure-blooded Iselsi living besides him. Old but young, a detective and skilled manipulator… there were just too many clues for it to be referring to anyone but him.
Sam’s first instinct was to actively deny it, but he realized that it was unlikely his friends realized the extent of what they had uncovered… or at least, unlikely that they understood its connection to him. After all, none of them knew his history, and as far as he could tell, Welkin even assumed he was a Solar.
Sam managed to keep his wits about him, and he was fairly certain that the others didn’t realize what a revelation this was to him. He listened numbly as they set plans in motion to steal the actual parchment, as well as the small item it was wrapped around. Using Carp in their plans was just one more reminder of his past, which had seemed so distant and inconsequential to his present. Now it seemed as if the two worlds were colliding.