We return to Ezra just in time to watch him have a terrible vision of the future.
|Ever since that day six years ago, when a goddess had appeared before his eyes, Ezra had developed a fascination with the lore of the gods… and with the Font of Visions. He’d learned every story he could about them, though most of the records kept in the monastery pertained to Elohi, and the other seven all played secondary roles if they showed up at all.
Elohi was said to be one of the more reclusive gods, and often travelled alone, talking to visions only she could see and performing strange, unknowable rituals. No records existed of her eventual progeny, which Ezra found odd; surely, she had to have given birth at some point, or else there would be no children of Elohi, and thus no diviners? But no matter where he looked or what stories he read, Ezra could find no trace of his goddess’ legacy.
That was one reason he still spent so much time at the Font of Visions. It was where he had first seen Elohi, and he hoped that maybe he could see her again someday. He no longer bathed in the pool, but on occasion he would cup his hands and bring a small sip of water to his mouth. Shadows would dance at the edge of his sight, the visions almost-but-not-quite tangible. Sometimes he thought he saw glimpses of a dark, thorn-covered figure, and a terrible sense of foreboding would alight over his body, but almost immediately the figure was gone.
Divination was by far the most abstract of all magics. One had to be in the right mindset, and Ezra worried his own mind was too clouded by personal attachments to firmly grasp any true ‘visions.’ Brother Simon often told him not to be so hard on himself; that most diviners spent their whole lives perfecting the gift of sight beyond sight, that even he, the head monk, had only ever received one prophecy. Ezra often asked him what that prophecy was. Brother Simon often dodged the question.
That was his reason for visiting the Font today, in fact. Earlier that day, he had asked Brother Simon about the elder monks’ powers of prophecy, but Brother Simon had, as usual, dodged the question. He had tried to follow up, but was blindsided by Sister Catherine.
“You young monks are all the same,” Sister Catherine had said, having found a willing victim to listen to her talk. “Always bothering the masters with your incessant questions, never stopping to think why they choose not to answer!”
“Aw, come on, Sister Catherine,” Ezra whined. “I just want to know about Simon’s Prophecy!”
“You know, back in my day…” the nun said, a phrase that never failed to elicit a groan from those who listened, “there were prophets everywhere! Seemed like half the monastery’d had a vision of the future!”
“Wait… really?” Ezra asked, snapping out of the disinterested stare he had been giving her. “It was that common?”
“Well… I may be exaggerating a little,” Sister Catherine admitted, “but certainly it was more common than it is nowadays. You know what I blame? Those hoola-hoop thingies you kids are always playing with!”
"Come on, Sister Catherine, not this again!” She wasn’t even saying it right! Just because one child had brought it with them when they arrived at the monastery didn’t mean that it was the catalyst of a sudden prophet shortage! “They’re called “Holei-hoops,” and we use them to ward off sickness!”
But that argument would go nowhere. He needed to change the subject before Sister Catherine went off on another one of her tangents. “What kind of prophecies did those people make, by the way?” this topic excited him far more than Catherine’s opinions on “hoola-hoops.”
“Oh, yes, well…” Catherine said, getting a faraway look in her eyes. “There were oh so many… Brother Paul foresaw the necromancer’s rise to power -that was about sixty years ago, as I recall, I was quite young at the time- oh! And Brother Elan, he was a handsome devil, shame he disappeared chasing a girl from his dreams like some lovestruck fool-”
“And Brother Simon? Did he have a vision like that?” Ezra asked, excitedly. Maybe Catherine, all this time, had been the secret to learning his mentor’s vision!
And in fact, she looked like she was about to tell, but then stopped herself. “Oh, dearie me, I’m afraid I can’t tell you that, Ezra!” She said, shaking her head.
“Why not?” Ezra asked, crestfallen.
“Well, because it’s about you!”
Ezra took a step back in apprehension. “M-me?”
Catherine nodded. “Yes, you. All he told me was that a very special boy would be coming to the monastery, and that under no circumstances were we to tell him about his-” she suddenly stopped talking. “Oh. Oops.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
Brother Simon was reminded of a time long past, when his meditation had been interrupted by the very same boy who now did the very same thing.
“Ezra,” he said, slowly standing up. “To what do I owe this-”
“Why didn’t you TELL ME?” Ezra didn’t care that he was shouting in Elohi’s shrine, so angry was he that Brother Simon had lied to him. He couldn’t BELIEVE that such an important detail had been kept from him for years! “Why didn’t you tell me that your prophecy was about me?”
“Ezra, I need you to calm-”
“I AM PERFECTLY CALM!” Ezra was clearly anything but, his reflective eyes narrowed at his mentor darkly. “You need to explain yourself, right now!”
Simon sighed, and sat down again. “Come meditate with me,” he said to the boy.
Ezra grumbled, but reluctantly sat down besides Simon.
“Breathe in… breathe out. You’re a very special boy, Ezra. Breathe in, breathe out.”
As he spoke, Ezra followed his instructions. He was starting to calm down now, but Simon better have a good explanation.
“I want to tell you something, Ezra,” Brother Simon said. “About the future. You see, there is a principle that we Diviners are taught called Cause and Effect. Everything that happens happens because something made it so. Even if you don’t understand it, everything has a reason for happening. As a result, the future is a predetermined path, completely immutable.”
“I know that,” Ezra said irritably. “I’ve been taught this for four years, ever since they let me in the shrine.”
“Yes, well,” Brother Simon said, his tone not changing. “The temptation to change the future, when you see what will happen, is a strong one. It takes years to understand that nothing we see can be changed.”
Ezra was beginning to understand. “You think… me knowing what will happen… will change something?”
Simon stayed silent for a moment. “Not exactly. Ezra, what I saw, when I saw your future, all those years ago… was nothing. After you turned eight, everything suddenly went black. I couldn’t think what would have caused it, until you ran up to me six years ago talking about how you’d seen a vision of Elohi. There’s a reason the gift of Prophecy has become so rare recently. And that’s because a little boy saw a miraculous vision that, for the first time in history, changed the future. The future is unknowable with you in the mix.”
“But… but how is that possible?” Ezra asked, his eyes shooting open as he turned to Simon. “All my actions are determined by known causes, same as you!”
Brother Simon shook his head. “That’s just it; they aren’t! I don’t know how, but the causes that dictate your actions are not… natural. It’s as though the future just assumes you are not in it. The elders and I think Elohi herself must have brought you into this world, since she appeared to you in person. Why, I can’t say. But a few of us believe she has some grand plan for you.”
Ezra thought about this for a moment. It was so much to process… “But… you didn’t answer my question,” he said. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
Brother Simon looked uncomfortable. “Because… while I didn’t see anything in your future… I felt something. Something I worried would make you do something reckless to try to change fate.”
“What? What was it?”
But Brother Simon merely shook his head. “That, I’m afraid I can’t tell you. Even now. It could jeopardize whatever plan Elohi has for you.”
Ezra had left to ponder Brother Simon’s new information. He had a strange sinking sensation in the pit of his stomach. Surely, if he had the power to change the future, he could change whatever Simon was afraid of?
Ezra needed guidance. He needed somebody he could talk to, who could offer him guidance. Somebody who was a better authority than Brother Simon. And as he sat down before the Font of Visions, he realized exactly who he needed. He only hoped she’d listen to his meditative prayer...
Well, if he was going to do this, might as well do it right. He cupped some of the magically clear water in his hands and brought it to his lips, taking a small sip. Then, he sat back and tried to meditate.
Immediately, he noticed a major difference in his meditation ability. Out here, with the birds chirping, the bees buzzing, and a thousand other little distractions, he was somehow able to find a peace far more profound than in the eerily silent temple! A small smile began to creep onto his face as he felt his mind broadening.
The smile was short-lived, though, as his eyes shot open, staring at nothing while a vision began to form in his mind. The image he was envisioning was more clear and concise than any he’d ever seen before. There was that dark figure from the dozens of hazy half-images he’d seen! But as Ezra looked, he saw that it wasn’t thorns; it was sharp, spiked metal, a black suit of armor that covered the figure from head to toe.
A scene began to form, unbidden by the boy who had conjured it. The armored figure, the necromancer he’d been taught his entire life to fear, stood in the center of his monastery, indistinct monks shouting and crying out just beyond Ezra’s field of view. The figure grabbed one of the monks, and it suddenly resolved into what was unmistakably Brother Simon. He was struggling to break free of the man’s grasp, but the figure had some unworldly strength, and Simon was helpless.
The figure began to speak, and Ezra strained to make out the words. Something about a gauntlet, something about loss… emperor Koschei wanted Brother Simon’s help finding a lost gauntlet!
And then, suddenly, the scene shifted, and Ezra stood in the midst of a great battlefield. The necromancer stood on a nearby hilltop, overlooking the battlefield below. He raised his hand, and now a large gauntlet adorned his forearm. Ezra watched in horror as the figure opened his fist and a great, hellish light burst forth from the gauntlet, covering everything in its harsh glow.
When he regained his vision, he looked around in horror. Everything, as far as the eye could see, had been devastated, burned to ash, save the armored figure; he stood atop the blackened hill, laughing a cold, cruel laugh.
With that, the vision ended, and Ezra once more sat in the field before the Font of Visions. As he watched, a dark fog seemed to retreat from the pool’s surface, as though expelling some poison from its depths.
Ezra pulled himself away from the pool, breathing heavily. Such a powerful vision had taken a lot out of him. He had no idea how long he’d been out, but a quick glance at the sun told him it had been several hours at least. As he moved to stand, Ezra found himself curiously weak; his legs had fallen asleep while he’d been meditating.
He turned to where the monastery lay, about half an hour’s walk away. His eyes widened in fear as he recognized the sight of black smoke billowing from the monastery! His home was going up in flames! Ezra scrambled to get up, but stumbled and fell once more. How had he let himself take so long? The vision had only lasted a couple minutes, at most! Why was it now several hours later?
Once he’d gotten his footing, Ezra stood and rushed towards the monastery. Maybe it wasn’t too late, maybe he could get there in time! Maybe he could save the children, or the elders, or Bother Simon!
But as he ran into the woods, he got the sinking feeling he was already far too late. Was this what Brother Simon had been worried about him changing?
Hey guys. This is my first ever novel. I'm not so arrogant as to think it's done yet, but I will be uploading it here to get feedback. Please feel free to give whatever constructive criticism you feel is necessary!