Solana urged me to purchase an outfit for every day of the week, forcing me to do a disappearing act with my money. At the end of the day, I lost one hundred dollars. I completely blew all of Mrs. Sands’—or Wyatt’s, since he forged his grandmother’s handwriting—on the first day. At least I’ll be sleeping and eating for free.
I decided to follow Solana’s advice and wear one of the outfits immediately. The clerk looked baffled when I approached her with unpurchased clothes on. It was still leagues better than dressing like a fool until we returned to the castle.
“I must say,” Solana remarked, “You know how to dress when you have the money.”
“Do I? I just took whatever I could afford like in Old Tenebris.”
I examined my clothes. It really wasn’t anything much, just a maroon hoodie with black cargo pants, and wine shoes made of cloth. It was a chilly night, so I picked something fitting.
Solana was observant though. This outfit looked nothing like what I wore when we first met. But an outfit like this would cost a lot more money in Old Tenebris. Maybe self-indulgence overcame me when I saw how cheap everything was.
“So, now what?” I asked.
“We start looking for anything that might give any clues on your parents. This will also be a training exercise for you,” she answered.
“Do you have a brochure or something? Anything with pictures of the city?”
“Yeah,” I rummaged through my backpack until I found the tour guide.
“Ok. So this is another basic technique, and you won’t master it in a day. But, judging by your determination to find your parents, you may be able to pinpoint them if they’re in the city.”
I showcased my confusion with a series of blinks.
“With Essence, we are able to locate other Guardians, or anyone close to our hearts, like your parents or Wyatt. As you train, you’ll be able to do this willingly, but you’re not ready for that. We need a catalyst to stimulate your instinctual GPS. That’s why I want you to stare at these pictures until you...feel something. Ok?”
“Um, I don’t understand how this’ll work, but I guess I’ll give it a try.”
“Try and focus on your parents’ faces, or really vivid memories you have of them.”
I opened the tour guide to Timorba City, and browsed the photos of the luminous metropolis. Concentrating on my parents was harder than I anticipated. The last time I saw their faces was ten years ago. Their likeness was blurred in my memory.
I tried to sculpt them with my mind, placing myself within their warm, unforgettable embrace. I closed my eyes to burn the mental image in my heart, then perused the photos once again. There it was, a single photo, blazing in a white fire. A reaction to my indomitable resolve to bring my parents home, the first clue opened itself to me.
Our only inkling was at the Dianoche Motel.