Prophesarium – Conclusion

hanginggardens

And lo! The Saviour shall be sore afraid. And the people shall know him by his fear. For he shall be a solitary figure wandering the wasteland aftermath of the battle. He shall roam the chaos and destruction with wonderment and terror and bewilderment fixed upon his pale befreckled face. For the sight of the Seawyrm and the Sandwyrm shall be new unto him.

Falcon flicked a dozen more pages, skimming the text. More of the same.

He gave up in disgust and stepped away from the book.

It was an accurate account, as far as it went, of his time in Xandria. Only in overblown language as elaborate as the illustrations that bordered each page. And the writer had made far more of the protagonist than Falcon had ever made of himself.

“I’m nothing like that,” he told the Vizir, who stood hovering behind him like some hummingbird expectant of nectar. He’d be disappointed. “That’s the reason I came here. Because I’m not a damned bit like that.”

“Then you came here seeking change. A new path. A fresh chapter.”

“Yes. Something like that – but – ” Falcon waved at the book on the lectern as though a simple gesture might have the power to dismiss it from sight. No such luck. “Not like that. Nothing like it says in your damned bible. I’m no saviour. No hero.”

“None of us are. Until we are.”

“What? What kind of rubbish is that? Did you write this book? All this rot?”

“No, sir. I did not.” The Vizir hurried to the lectern to lay a protective hand on the open pages, as though covering the book’s ears against profanity and blasphemy. “This rot, as you call it, is one of the Great Prophesies Of Magracorus. The writings are more ancient than Xandria herself.”

“Wait, you’re saying some guy wrote this way back, however many centuries ago?”

“Millennia. It is impossible to say how long ago exactly.”

“But how could he possibly have foreseen – ?”

The Vizir shrugged. “Impossible to say. That is the nature of prophesy.”

Falcon wanted to kick over the lectern. If only the Vizir would budge out of the way. And the Prophesarium guards were still present, in any case. Impassive observers to Falcon’s general displeasure. They probably wouldn’t remain so passive if he expressed it the way he wanted.

“You don’t get it. Your prophet – yeah, maybe he saw stuff. Foresaw, whatever. But he didn’t see me. He didn’t see inside me.” Falcon laughed. “‘Named for a bird of prey.’ Sure. Falcon. Know where I got that from?”

The Vizir shook his head.

“Foul Ken they used to call me. Foul Ken Moskirk. Because of the smell. Never could do much about that. Moskirk with a ‘k’, by the way. It’s with a ‘q-u-e’ now. Sounded fancier in my head. Foul Ken. Useful moniker on the streets. They used to say they could smell me coming. But they said it with dread, you know. Never a joke when it was me coming to shake them down or administer a harsh lesson because they’d upset the boss. Defaulted on payments or stepped out of line some other way. The why didn’t matter. All that counted was what they were in for.”

He wandered back from memory lane, leaving more than a few bruised and battered bodies behind him on the cobbles. He met the Vizir’s distant smile. A smile from a foreign land and a past that wasn’t foreign enough.

“That, right there,” he said, “is a sketchy portrait of your precious Saviour. That’s the hero your people have all been waiting for.”

“None of us know what potential lies within us,” countered the Vizir. “Not with any certainty. You came to Xandria in search of something, my son. Something new inside yourself.”

“Kind of.” Falcon nodded. “But not really. I’m looking for a change, yeah. But on the outside. Just a chance to do something different. Yeah, to make amends some. But mainly just to move on, forget. Eventually. A job. That’s all I want. No grand redemption. And definitely – definitely – not fighting dragons.”

“I see.” The Vizir rose slowly from his protective stance over the book. Calm as a stagnant pond on a breezeless day.

“Do you?” said Falcon.

“Well, I can’t say I’m ecstatic about it, but it’s not as if you’re the first ever Saviour to disappoint.”

Falcon coughed. “Excuse me?”

“However, if it is a job you have come looking for, there I believe we may be able to help you.” He crossed the dais to his desk and plucked a scroll from among the charts and documents. “The work is quiet and not terribly challenging, but the Prophesarium is vast and I grow no younger. I could use an assistant.”

He held out the scroll.

“Here. Take this to the Seventh Archive.”

“The Seventh – ?”

The Vizir nodded and thrust the scroll forward, obliging Falcon to take it.

“Yes. The discards,” he said.

*

Discards.

Prophesies that didn’t quite bear fruit.

And lo! thought Falcon. The ‘Saviour’ finally figured it out. Truth dawned. Let there be light.

The Prophesarium was a house of hopes. Some of them didn’t work out. A lot like lives really. Potential in every single one. People had advantages over prophesies, mind. Experience and hindsight. Falcon knew his potential, knew how far he could travel from his ‘Foul Ken’ past. And he was just about there. This would do.

He filed the scroll in one of the countless pigeonholes.

Then wandered back to the Vizir. Job done. Except there was another task to replace it: the Vizir immediately sent him off to fetch another scroll.

“I will transcribe its text into the Great Book. Recorded onto the leaves of pathyrus the prophesy will spread to the consciousness of the people of Xandria. Thus, one hope takes the place of another in the hearts of men and women.”

“Which one?” asked Falcon. And his gaze roamed the endless honeycomb of shelves and all the millions of prophesies.

“Any one you like,” said the Vizir.

And waved Falcon on his way.

 

 

SAF 2016

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Prophesarium – Part Seven

hanginggardens

Guards awaited on the pier. A half-dozen of them in colourful robes and golden chain shirts, they stood as pole-straight as their curiously hooked spears.

Falcon moved a hand over the hilt of his sword. But instead of poking weapons at him, the guards bowed.

“The Vizir expects you,” one informed him.

“Well, all right then”

Falcon relaxed and fell into step with his escort as they marched along the pier. This Vizir had to be the bloke in charge. ‘Vizir’suggested visions and visibility, so fingers crossed it was a man who saw things, a man who knew things. The man with all the answers for Falcon.

The soldiers tramped in ceremonial fashion, accompanying Falcon through a trellised archway several elephants wide and woven with some sort of climbing rose, an exquisite tangle of glorious blood-red blooms, thorns like the guards’ spear-tips and a calming perfume. The scent, though, had the opposite effect on Falcon, putting him immediately on the alert, fearful of some attempt to dull his senses.

He passed down several paths flanked by verdure under a cathedral-greenhouse ceiling strung with overflowing hanging baskets, suspended on impossibly fine flaxen ropes. Then on through more archways into a hall that stretched from one forever to another.

As though the heavens had been housed on earth and converted into a library. An infinite honeycomb of shelves spread left and right and up and up for countless storeys – or stories, perhaps. The shelves were caged behind a scaffold of ladders and steps, some of which were mounted on small wheels. And protruding ever so slightly from each cubby, the ends of rolled scrolls were visible, one parchment to each of the millions of pigeon-holes. And central to this hall of worship to the written word was a circular dais, home to a single enormous volume, opened on a proud lectern. And a monumental desk, at which a dusty-robed and cowled figure sat, a beard of snow and charcoal spilling from under his hood to trail over an assortment of papers and charts spread before him.

He looked up, revealing an aquiline nose and deep dark eyes beneath densely thatched eyebrows. The guards stood apart and invited Falcon forward.

Falcon approached the dais. And the man, presumably the Vizir, rose slowly to walk around his desk. He stood before Falcon, marginally shorter despite his position on the highest step of the dais. His hands were clasped and his head tilted at a humbled angle.

“Saviour. Welcome to the Prophesarium. What questions you have shall be fed and watered and nourished with whatever answers I can provide.”

“Right,” said Falcon. And he wondered where to start.

*

And he shall walk among us as an ordinary traveller, armed but dangerous to none save for noses. And he shall be known by his hair the colour of a freshly uprooted carrot and the pallor of his visage and the freckles upon his cheeks as of a handful of desert cast at a face sticky with perspiration.

And he shall not know himself to be our Saviour. For heroes are not born straight from the womb, but in moments  – sometimes in a single moment – later in life.

*

Saviour. Yes, that had seemed the perfect point to start and Falcon had even turned the word into a question. To the extent that he had no need to say any more. And the Vizir had simply taken him by the sleeve and tugged him along, up onto the dais to stand before the lectern and read the beautifully embellished passage on the open page of the Great Book.

This text, Falcon realised, was meant to serve as his answer. He read it again.

“This isn’t me.”

“You deny that you are he?” The Vizir touched a fingertip to certain choice phrases in the scripture. “‘Hair the colour of a freshly uprooted carrot.’ ‘Freckles upon his cheeks.’” And he flipped the page back to the previous one. “‘A foreign smell.’”

“Well, yeah. Those all apply to me, but – ”

“And what, pray, is your name?”

“Falcon, but – ”

“‘And the smell shall be named after a great hunter’,” intoned the Vizir. “‘A bird of prey, who shall fly into our midst from a distant land.’”

Falcon nodded. Dipped his head in defeat.

Maybe it was him. But they had him all wrong.

 

 

[To Be Concluded…]