[Story] Visions

Lena held the fragile orb of glass between her fingertips. She was still nervous that it might slip through and fall, but Zarah’s voice calmed her, as it usually did. There was a confidence, but a softness as well, gently encouraging her to go further. She’d never asked if Zarah was a mother, but Lena guessed that she would be a very good one.

“Good,” said Zarah. “Now focus.”

Inside the ball swirled a delicate storm; fine sand and magical residue. Lena guessed that it had come from one of their trips, but she hadn’t been told everything. This was a test, Lena was to use it to find the correct timeline on her own. She furrowed her brow, casting the spell under her breath. This wasn’t turning squirrels into teacups, this was far more advanced than that. For a moment she thought it hadn’t worked, but then the clouds within the orb seemed to part, and a vision revealed itself.

There was a boy inside, a striking figure — lean and tall. His hair was long, and the color of a raven’s wing; black but blue where the light hit it. He was handsome — almost distractingly so, but strange at the same time. Her eyes moved briefly to Zarah, who was now watching as well. She hadn’t said anything, so Lena guessed that this was the correct timeline. The vision grew stronger, solidifying within the glass. “Who is that?” Lena wondered aloud. “He looks so… unusual.” He was dressed in robes, which looked to be fairly expensive, though the bottom hem was dusty. Lena recognized the background; it was the draenei city in Outland. She’d seen it before in other visions, and before its fall. In their own timeline, it was crowded with refugees, and she could see some in this vision. The boy walked hurriedly along a street, and she could see the long tips of his ears sticking out from his hair. They twitched at something as he passed a building, though she couldn’t hear what he’d heard. The boy paused to tighten the strap around his bundle of books, and a small creature came cautiously up to him. Lena didn’t know what it was, though she’d seen them before too. It was a small mushroom or plant-like creature, its skin spotted and veined like that of a leaf. It scrambled up onto a wall to sit beside the boy, and they shared some food together. Lena glanced up to Zarah, who hadn’t yet spoken.

“Now find another,” Zarah said. “Work sideways from where you are now.”

Lena bit her lip thoughtfully. This was even more difficult, but she’d done it before. And she’d watched Zarah do it probably a hundred times. Moving sideways, one would always cross another, similar path. It was simple in principle, but not always so easy to execute. “Leave a marker,” Zenah reminded her.

The second vision was so different that Lena thought she must have done it wrong. The draenei city was replaced by a lush, thick forest. Sunlight filtered through the treetops only in narrow rays. But then the boy appeared, nearly completely hidden in the heavy brush. He wore leather armor, and a quiver was slung over his back. His bow was in hand, ready to fire. Though he was the same boy as before, he gave an entirely different impression — he was a forest predator on the hunt, his green eyes brilliant in the gloom. The boy paused suddenly and raised his bow, releasing three arrows into the distance. He bounded off to retrieve them, and knelt over a bleeding orc. He glanced up toward Lena, and she almost dropped the orb in surprise. He couldn’t know, of course, but it startled her all the same. Or could he? It didn’t matter, the clouds had returned and blocked the vision from view.

“That’s enough for now,” said Zarah, taking the orb from her and tucking it away in its cloth-lined box. “You should rest.”

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