The priest did not greet Mirenna when he opened the door to her room. Not that she minded. She was more concerned with looking past him into the grand hall beyond, which she had only seen once. All she glimpsed now was a stained glass rose, framed in gold, one of many that had been set in the walls. Her room was tiny in comparison, and so dull – bare walls, a plain chair and table, a wooden shelf she could not reach. She waited until the priest had shut the door and sat himself down before she spoke.

“New dreams have come to me,” she told him.

The priest did not hear her. He had taken a box of herbs from the shelf and had begun to brew tea.

Mirenna cleared her throat. “New dreams have come to me in the night,” she repeated, louder.

He turned. “Are you sure?”

“I am sure. Three dreams I dreamt, and they were true.”

“Very well,” said the priest. “Describe them for me.”

Mirenna was not used to reciting her dreams for an audience of one. When her parents first discovered her gift, they had paraded her in the city, made her announce her dreams to anyone who would listen. But eight days ago the King’s high priests, stern men dressed in black, had come to her house. They had come to take her away from her parents, to explain that her gift, while wonderful, needed to be shepherded by those who knew better. They had brought her to live in a small room in the King’s great castle, where her dreams would be heard only by those who could truly understand them. However, she had grown accustomed, even fond, of performing, so she spoke now as if all the people of the city could hear.

“Three dreams I dreamt since the last moon. Three dreams I dreamt that were true. In the first, the King left his castle to walk the green earth, but everywhere he stepped the green earth turned brown, until all the world had become desert. In the second, I dreamt of a single flower, fair beyond measure, sprouting alone in that desert. Black-clad men brought the flower into the King’s castle and watched it wilt. In the third, I dreamt that all the people of the world cried with loud voices, for they knew that the last flower was wilting, and without it doom would come. These are the dreams I have dreamt. May they show you the way to hope.”

“Very good,” said the priest. He went to the door and called for a maid. “Send for the town criers,” he told her. “All should know that the prophetess has dreamt that in the King’s castle the hope of the world will bloom anew, and all shall shout with joy.”

When the maid had left, Mirenna said, “That wasn’t the true meaning.”

“Then what did the dreams mean?”

Mirenna frowned. Before the priests had taken her, she had been able to tell people not only what she dreamt, but the true meaning of her dreams. Now she had no answer.

“My dear child, you are only ten,” said the priest. “You have a beautiful gift, but knowing the future can be a burden for one as young as you. Now that we can take that burden, you are free to live only in the present. Here, drink this.”

The girl pouted, but accepted the tea. As she drank, her gift wilted a little more.