CHAPTER 19: The Farseeing One

"Dan-ra. Psst! Dan-ra!"

She woke up with a start. Her sleeping sack was saturated with dew. Dawn had just barely begun to peek over the horizon. A boy she did not recognize stood over her.

"What is it?" She rolled over in her sleeping bag, facing away from the boy. She had been having a pleasant dream up until then, and she was still foggy-minded from the events of the previous night. Dan-ra didn't want to deal with anyone until the sun was up higher in the sky.

"Mr. Bob wants to see you pretty badly." Well, it would have to have been very important to have awoken her at this unholy time of morning!

"Now?" She groaned like an undead zombie.

"Now." The messenger replied.

Deianeria pulled her tunic over her wool shirt and laced up her boots, sprinting towards the fortress. Had she been discovered at last?

Deianeria wound her way through the labyrinth of halls to Mr. Bob's chambers. She gently knocked on the heavy iron door, making a weak pinging noise.

"Come in, come in."

Deianeria pushed open the door. Mr. Bob was still in his ceremonial robe. The special, voice-magnifying collar lay on his desk. A stern look was in his ancient face.

Deianeria bowed politely to the old man. "You wanted to see me, Headmaster?"

The old, old man gave a deep sigh, and placed his hand on a simple, ordinary looking chair. "Please, sit." He commanded

Deianeria eased into the chair, and Mr. Bob took the high-backed chintz behind the desk. It squeaked as she settled into the old wooden seat, and there were cracks racing across the surface of the sun-bleached old chair. It must have been older than the Headmaster was. He took hold of her eyes with his and chuckled.

"Not many young ladies your age would go so far as to fake their way through four brutal months of back-breaking training. Not when they could be in a rocking chair at home darning socks."

Deianeria's mouth went dry. They couldn't have found out so soon! How on earth did he know? Her heart started jumping into her throat. Her stomach felt like it had a Mountain Boar trying to rend its way out of her gut. She had been discovered!

Morosely, Deianeria breathed a single word. "Mahata-de."

Her hair erupted from short-cropped to almost waist-length. Its original luster returned. The silver streaks glowed like streaks of tears against the gold of her hair. Her eyes reverted from pale blue to purple. Her jaw regained its feminine curve, and tears rolled down her cheeks.

"Oh-ho! So that's how you did it. Most curious. Many mageling ladies do not learn spells of that caliber. How extraordinary." Mr. Bob's hand rose to his chin and rested there, stroking his fluffy beard. "Just who are you, really?"

That question shook her. Who was she now? She wasn't the same girl that packed her rucksack with her few useful possessions to seek her fortune. She wasn't the same girl who fought off the spirit of Circina and saved a dracoling from a mortal wound. The old Deianeria would have cringed at the thought of half the things she had accomplished the past few months. Deianeria had grown up.

"I am Deianeria, foster-daughter of High Sorcerer Sunhawk." The shaking left her limbs as she spoke her name, her real name for the first time in months. "I am the first and only woman in the Dragon Corps."

"Hmmm... a pity the laws weren't different. Many young men lack the courage that you seem to possess, Miss Deianeria."

"If you are going to kill me, my last request is that you spare Shiara's life." Deianeria's voice slowly steadied, gaining resolve. If she was going to die, then nothing mattered anymore. What is there in life that death can't take away? If she was going to pass into the void, then let her last actions be her crowning achievements!

"If I could grant that, I would. However-" Mr. Bob tilted his head. His eyebrow raised, and he stopped caressing his beard. "How interesting. The Farseeing One wants to see you, Deianeria."

It was a long, long walk to the Arena, and each step brought a fresh flood of grieving tears to Deianeria's purple eyes. Reaching the Arena only made Deianeria's heartache all the worse. Mr. Bob plopped himself on the ground, cross-legged, humming a tune to himself while Deianeria stood. The wait was so long that the sky had gone from gray to pale white to the lightest shade of blue, streaked with pink. It almost looked like streaks of paint, where some massive being had wiped a cherry-covered hand across the sky. The light played on the cliffs of the Arena. It looked so odd, to see the black, staccato silhouette of the land framed against the white sky. It didn't look like sky at all, but rather two pieces of a puzzle fitting together with perfect congruity. Her thoughts continued to wander, taking in what would be the last moments she would see in this lifetime. She spied a cluster of dark specks streaking their way across the white-blue sky, hurtling towards the Arena with the speed and grace of arrows launched from a great bow. They landed, and Deianeria saw Shiara next to a big black dragon she knew to be Bound with Opheron. What was his dragon doing here?

Shiara's head was bowed, and her vast white wings folded to her sides. Deianeria rushed to her friend, sobbing into the feathers in her crown. The golden, star-shaped mark that gilded her brow had never looked so dim and lifeless. Clearly, Shi-shi was in mourning as well.

Oh, Shi-shi. I am so sorry. This is all my fault.

It will work out. The white dragon nuzzled the mage-girl. I promise.

How? The two of us are going to die, and it was because I was so blind and so prideful.

Mr. Bob tapped Deianeria on the shoulder. "Young lady, you aren't the only one the Old One asked for."

Deianeria turned, and saw two tall men and a shorter figure coming towards the center of the Arena where they stood. The shorter one had a red, clean tunic and thick black hair. Deianeria's eyes narrowed. "What is he doing here? He ought to be in his palace with his silk pillows and servants."

Opheron raised his head. His eyes were red from crying. "What's wrong?" Deianeria glowered with loathing. "Have an attack of conscience for turning me in? Save your tears, you stinking clod of troll dung."

"I swear it wasn't me who told him!" the prince protested.

"Keep telling yourself that, you betraying piece of rat vomit."

"It was I who knew, Deianeria, daughter of Valos Halfstar."

The curtains of the box had been pulled away. Inside, sitting on a thick mattress was a dragon so old it made Earthclaw look like a dracoling. Its once-brilliant scales were dull and falling out in many places. It looked to be all the colors of the rainbow with brilliant white spikes that had broken in places, the rest dulled to nubs with age. It had three spiraling horns, and six pairs of legs. A pair of shimmering, iridescent wings lay folded at its side, worn with holes from eons of age. Its eyes were half-closed.

The Old One spoke again. "The Great God told me many, many years ago of the both of you, and the influence you shall have over the future. Please, sit upon the grass. That is what the King of Heaven made it for." The Old One's tongue was forked like a snake, but flickered in and out of his mouth like a tongue of flame. It was red and orange and looked like a flicker of fire.

They sat, and the old dragon continued. "I knew of the great prophecy long before the human Oracle saw it the night you were born, Opheron, son of Sargodon. He knew of how Circina, the Adversary's Tool, would destroy Kromolia. But, He does not take without giving just enough to compensate, nor does He give without just compensation. He is far too wise for that.

"The pair of you are the ones who were spoken of. If I may quote, 'One of sun, and one of moon,' if memory serves. How curious the names you earned the night before would literally be Light and Dark in the Old Tongue.

"The two of you shall defeat Circina, though I shall not live to see it. One day, the two of you shall know how. For now, He Who Rules has spoken that you contemplate on how to break the Witch-Queen." The Farseeing One coughed, a great hack that produced a sizeable puff of white smoke. "I must rest. This old body has served me for millennia, but soon it shall pass out of existence, and I shall rejoin my Master on high. Make your decisions well, as they could decide the fate of many. Farewell."

The three dragons took off again, leaving the two of them to contemplate what the old Dragon Oracle had said.