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"This was not our agreement."

"The Tower," he said. "The Spiral Tower was our agreement."

"No Mitch, the Tower was just part of our plan. A waypoint. A means to an end."

"I specifically remember you saying we needed to go there," Mitch said.

"I did, but that was because we both thought it would help us," she said. "There's nothing special about being at the Tower itself. We just wanted to get there to help get to everything else."

"Fine, so you don't want to go to the Tower now, after coming all this way."

"Do you, Mitch? Is it really that important to you?"

"Yes Bex, it is. I'm going whether you're coming or not. I'll find someone else. I'll recruit an entire army if I have to."

"And what would that get you Mitch? What do you really hope to accomplish?"

"I don't know anymore," he said. "I don't have any other alternative."

"Yes you do Mitch, there are so many more places you could go."

"I'm not seeing them Bex, and you're not helping."

"I don't think the Tower is for me anymore Mitch. Maybe it will still work for you, but I think I have to go a different way now."

"Just like that?" he said. "After months of travel and years of preparation, you're going to throw that all away based on some rumor you hear."

"I think it's true Mitch. Maybe I always knew it was true, but had to hear it from someone else's mouth first."

"The guy was a bandit Bex, you can't trust a word he says."

"Mitch, we're bandits. And you trust me."

"That's different. You're not," he paused. "It's just different."

"So you're still dead set on this Spiral Tower thing aren't you?"

"It's all I've known Bex. I don't know how to build a future around anything else."

"And if it's an illusion? What if you were trying to build a future on something that doesn't truly exist?"

"Of course it exists, are you crazy?" he said. "It's common knowledge."

"I don't mean literally Mitch, I mean what if your idealized image of it doesn't exist? What if it can't solve all the problems you hoped it would solve?"

"I have no other place to go Bex. I have no other goals."

"And if you get there and find it's not what you're looking for? What then?" she asked.

"I don't know Bex. I figured I wouldn't worry about that until I got there, until I put in a solid show of making it work."

"I don't think I can waste any more time on this Mitch. I think I have to head for the coast."

"And you'll find what you're looking for there?" he asked.

"I don't know Mitch," she said. "I don't know but I no longer think the Tower is going to help me."

"Fine Bex, suit yourself. I'm still going to the Tower. I hope you find what you're looking for out at sea, or wherever you're going."

"Oh, I'll be back one day Mitch. If I find what I want, I'll be back."

"And if you don't?"

"I guess I'll still be looking then," she said. "Here. Take my ribbon. You know what to do with it."

She placed a red ribbon in his open palm. He stared at it for a few moments, not reacting, then closed his fist around it.

"Thank you Bex," he said, shoving the ribbon into his pocket.

He turned and quickly ran off down the road.

She opened her mouth to call after him but then changed her mind. It wasn't really going to change anything.

She watched his figure fade behind a trail of dust. And then he was gone.

It wouldn't be the end, she thought. As long as he still held on to it, she could never truly leave.

The sky was turning rose and violet. She was no longer in a hurry.

She removed her pack and sat by the side of the road, eating a piece of moldy bread she had fished out. The wind was blowing a different direction now, a direction she had never before imagined. But now it was going to take her to the coast, into something unknown, and unimagined.

There was no guarantee of anything there. There was none anywhere, but she had her own reality to hold on to.

There was a new glow on her forearm now. A red one, standing solidly among the other colors.

She slung her pack back on to her shoulders, picked up her sword, and began walking in the same direction Mitch had gone.

But much more slowly.

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