Thern, Fir of Febla: 23 Xiven
Just outside of a relatively large city called Wakino, stood a stout hut, made of scrappy wood with a thatch roof. The thick trees and glowing purple mushrooms kept this hut from sight, unless one knew exactly where to go. There weren’t any trodden roads to this hut; whoever lived there knew to take a different route every time they returned to avoid making any discernible paths.
Today, though, a woman with long, white hair and brown-as-leather skin walked the path with such a pace that would have drawn onlookers, had she been anywhere other than in the middle of a thriving forest. She looked out of place with a floor-length blue cloak without a speck of dirt on it, but she approached the scrappy hut and opened the door as if she lived there.
“Liriata,” she called immediately. The woman from the back of the hut twisted around from her woodwork toward the voice. “I saw.”
“Tidesa,” the woman called with a small smile. She set her block of wood and knife on the splintery end table she sat in front of. A shape barely took place on the log, but Tidesa knew she was making more bowls. They never seemed to have enough. How did they even lose so many? It was just the two of them and they went through them as if they were disposable. “Come in. Shut the door behind you. Dhekk is out right now.” Liriata’s husband was the least of Tidesa’s worries. This wasn’t some gossip call to complain about their husbands, this was more important.
“Did you hear me?” Tidesa still stood in the doorway. Her dark knuckles blanched against the door handle. “Did you hear me?” Her eyes, wide and wild, stared at nothing but Liriata.
“You said you saw,” she replied with a furrowed brow. “What are you talking about?” Tidesa grew frustrated at Liriata’s lack of excitement.
“I mean it’s the vision I was waiting for. That we were.”
“I was waiting for you to have a vision?” Liriata echoed with a short laugh. She smoothed her patchy trousers clear of wrinkles and picked off the leftover pieces of wood chips to drop them on the floor. All patches of dust gathered on the ground and mixed with the dirt. Tidesa always said that her friends looked as if they were born from the ground; they were earthy and dirty but never wore it like anything other than a part of themselves. The two were both so calm and patient, like a tree slowly growing. Today wasn’t a day that she appreciated this.
“If you knew about this vision, you would have said so,” Tidesa said with a nod. She glanced at the mess on the floor as she slowly shut the hut door behind her.
“Tidesa, come in, get away from the door. Sit with me. Dhekk will be gone all day, so we have plenty of time to talk without him grumbling about.” She gestured to a chair near the window, which sat right next to a large and dustless bookshelf. Trails of drawn books kept the shelves neat and clean, whereas the table Tidesa was to sit next to seemed a bit unused.
“You’re so calm today,” Tidesa noted awkwardly. More than usual.
“I’m contented, is all. Tell me what you saw.” Liriata gestured once more to the chair, and Tidesa finally obeyed. The chair creaked when she crouched into it, but her striking purple gaze didn’t falter.
“I saw an alternative to my previous visions. The ones contrary to...that rather unpleasant turn of the world.”
“Good alternatives?” her friend asked with a cocked brow.
“Amazing alternatives, Liriata. I was in the city today, reading fortunes per the King’s request, and there was our hope, right there.” She gestured wildly, as if she could still see the scene right in front of her.
“King?” Liriata clarified with confusion. “Oh, you mean you were in Yatora, then?” Yatora was the only place for hundreds of miles with a King—and Tidesa lived in Wakino. She was responsible to keep the peace between the two warring nations, as she could—for the most part—see possible futures.
“Yes, yes, I was in Yatora. That’s not the point. I saw our hope there.” The smile returned, her energy bright like fire. Liriata attempted to mirror her.
“What was it?” she asked excitedly.
“Who, you mean. Who!”
“Alright, who, then?” Liriata let another laugh escape at the expense of her friend.
“He’s a young boy now. I didn’t see much, but the bits I did….”
“I’ll be dead of old age before you get to your point, at this rate! And you were frustrated with my temperament?” Liriata joked.
“I apologize, I’m just—oh, Liriata… Could you imagine a world…a world without...Xiven? A world where someone took Him down?” All smiles left the hut. If another wood chip dropped on the floor, both women would hear it louder than a tree falling in the distance.
“Are you insane? Be quiet! If anyone heard—” Liriata’s hushed voice grew silent when Tidesa continued despite her warnings.
“This vision was the clearest of any vision I’ve ever had. I saw…. I saw Dhekk, Liriata—I saw him giving advice to this boy. Advice that would otherwise have him killed. You would never believe me if you didn’t know me.”
“Advice? What sort of advice?” she asked; curiosity overrode her caution.
“Tactical advice,” Tidesa recalled shallowly, as if she didn’t anticipate the question.
“As in…?” Liriata gave a silent, loose gesture.
“Not a war, no. The two stood in a home—I think in Tornah—and they plotted….” Tidesa leaned forward in her chair and hushed her voice so that only Liriata could hear. “They plotted to catch sight of Xiven.” The idea seemed so far-fetched to Liriata, she let the words slip past her. Xiven had never been seen in all of His years of ruling. Besides, what would anyone be doing in Tornah if it had to do with ridding the world of Xiven once and for all? She decided to relay other questions.
“Tornah? How far along was this in our futures?” Liriata asked, attempting to mask her skepticism. Even if Tidesa had a good reason, she could see no reason why she’d be in Tornah with her husband. Ever since she and Dhekk were banished from Kunnu, they stayed far away from every other city and nation.
“I can’t be exact. I’d say at least ten years.”
“Ten years!” Liriata exploded. “How reliable is this vision?” She squinted and drew back.
“Clearer than I see you in front of me, I swear. Dhekk was old and tired, and this boy was at least an adult.” She waved her arms in a ritualistic manner, as if swearing to the Deities around.
“How old is this boy now?”
“Well…five, the oldest,” Tidesa admitted weakly. Liriata let out an audible sigh. “Don’t be skeptical. Have I ever been wrong?”
“Yes,” her friend said flatly with a smile. She sounded as if she’d been holding this revelation in for a long time.
“What! No I haven’t!” Tidesa’s seriousness fell, and she sat straight up in her chair.
“Yes, you have! Just once,” Liriata admitted, excitement boiling.
“When?” she challenged. Liriata’s grin only grew.
“When you said I’d never bear a child.” Tidesa shook her head.
“But you—wait.” She gasped and rose from her chair, nearly knocking it back. “Do you mean…?”
“Dhekk and I are having a child, Tidesa!” No time took place between when Liriata spread the news and when Tidesa pulled her out of her workstation to give her a long, tight hug.
“I’ve never been so happy to be wrong,” Tidesa admitted into her friend’s ear. “This is so good to hear. When did you find out?” She drew away, but still held her friend’s arms. She positively glowed. How did she not notice before? All the reasons Liriata’s future seemed blurry to her, now she knew why—because another person she hadn’t yet physically touched affected her best friend’s world. There was the missing piece she now held. Although the sight didn’t grow any clearer, her feeling about it warmed.
“Just yesterday. That’s why Dhekk is in town. He’s gathering supplies.”
“The timing couldn’t be more perfect.” The two sighed together. “Your child will grow up in a more just world. A happy one.” Tidesa lowered her voice and added, “One without Xiven.” Liriata sobered and withdrew to sit again, offering her friend to do the same. The two lowered themselves in unison.
“Tell me more about this boy. You say you saw him—did you just meet him?”
“Today, yes. The moment I touched him I saw it all. He travels with Dhekk, gathering allies for the revolution.”
“This is a bit larger than simply catching a glance….”
“Yes, but listen,” Tidesa continued. “That’s just the start. Can you imagine how the empire would crumble at Xiven’s feet if anyone ever saw Him? Half the mystery and fear would be gone. A simple boy catching a glance, what a joke! That’s the spark, you see. When Kayin shows everyone what a bit of determination and solidarity can do—”
“Oh, yes. That’s his name: Kayin.”