Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Wednesday, February 12, 2014 -

Linda's Journey

by John Benson
Published: Dec 20, 2013
Words: 23,735
Category: fantasy
Orientation: M/F
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Linda's Journey

Linda picked her way across the stones. There was volcanism here. Hot springs. A subtropical microclimate which denied even the winter's ice. But the smell of it was sulpherous. Unclean. And now in summer there was scarce need for extra heat. Yet the Oldest chose to live here. The mouth of her cave was visible, just where the vision had shown her it would be. Linda picked her way across the stones.

She climbed. A bird cried out a warning. Or was it the call of some spirit? Some one of the Old One's minions. No matter. She had seen herself come here, and so she must come. Her only success at prophecy, and it had told her to consult a prophet. She climbed.

A friendly breeze blew away a little of the stink. Linda sensed the soul-sparks of all the little living things and the great hot soul-fire of the one who waited for her above. A creature so old she was kept alive by will alone. A dangerous demigod, often unpredictable and cruel. Linda had seen herself come here, so she must come. She had not seen herself succeed here. Nor did she see herself leave. A fickle breeze brought a whiff of rotting eggs.

"Well, there you are, dear. Come. Sit yourself down on this flat rock and tell me your story. I've been expecting you."

The figure was tiny. She sat on a rock. Thin wisps of gray hair blew in the errant breeze. So small, so old. But the soul-furnace burned oh so bright.

"I didn't suppose one sneaks up on a Prophet. My name is Linda. A minor Talent. But you surely know that."

"I hate false modesty," the Old One said sourly. "Your flame is far from dim. Now sit. And talk."

Linda sat. The view was beautiful. But the air. Blech. "I suppose you get used to the stink," she said.

"Aye. And the heat is a blessing on these old bones. Now talk. You're capable of your own visions. Why come for mine?"

"Because my visions fail, Old One. I try to sleep on the questions of my own future, and all I get is garbled junk. The only true dream that ever came showed me coming here."

"And your questions, child?"

Linda tried to read the Old One's face. It was craggy as a mountainside and just as dispassionate. "Will I attain greatness?" she said. "Will I find happiness? And should I go into theory or practice?"

"Ah," the Old One said.

The bird screamed. Linda sent out her senses. No, it was just a bird. The Old One sat there motionless, like a lizard in the sun. "Well?" Linda said.

"The future must be shy with you, child. If you know too much, you will lose the privilege of free will. Blindly following what seems to be your destiny means abrogating choice. Which means you could succeed as easily at evil as at good. The visions will be more generous to you once you are old enough to heed them as hints and warnings, rather than instructions."