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“This is it,” Jennet said to her sister.

“Doesn’t look like much,” Sarai replied. “It’s just a big clay pot.”

Jennet gripped her hammer. “Big clay pot that can change the world. Anyway, most people say we don’t look like much.”

Sarai laughed. “We’re not much. Not yet.”

Jennet’s throat was dry. The fire beneath the crucible had been extinguished, but the smoke still hung in the air. “We’re about to become kind of a big deal, though, aren’t we?”

Sarai coughed and leaned forward gingerly to look into the crucible. There was a puddle of silverish molten material in there, all that remained of the Crown of Berdetheon.

“Do you believe the Queen? That every change Jaska made with that thing, it’ll all go back once the Crucible’s broken?”

“Our village unburnt, our parents alive, and the world safe from danger. Are you ready?”

“Then nobody will know,” Sarai said with a smile. “This will never have happened.” She raised her hammer.

“We’ll know. On a count of three,” Jennet said, setting her feet apart in a solid stance. “And be ready to brace yourself.”

Sarai took up her position and nodded silently.

“One. Two. Three!”

Both girls swung at once, their hammers striking the sides of the Crucible and smashing through. A ripple tore through the air, and an unimaginable sound rang out through the tower.

“Again,” Sarai shouted. They swung again, knocking more of the Crucible apart. It shattered and fell into pieces, the molten material within swirling up on unnatural winds and flowing outwards. The girls dropped their hammers and tried to stand against the wind as it pushed them away. The air shimmered and the ground beneath them shook.

“Jennet,” Sarai cried, “What’s happening?!”

Her sister’s reply seemed slowed down, echoing strangely across the room. “It’s all going back,” Jennet yelled, then with a sound like tearing silk she disappeared. Sarai had just enough time to scream before the tower around her vanished.

She sat up.

“Hush, Sarai,” her mother said, rushing to her bedside. “It was just a bad dream.”

© Kari Fay