When you ask the gods for a favor, walking away confused may be the best outcome you can expect.
Photo credit: Carole Raddato
Almost everything I’m about to tell you is true. I promise. So put the wand down for a moment and listen. Please?
Thank you. That’s better.
I tried the divination, like you asked. His instructions were utter crap, I hope you know. Seriously, I almost died. Twice. Thank the gods I had one of the novice clerics watching over me while I was out.
The vision is practically impossible to interpret, but supposedly that’s how you can tell it’s real. Not that it does us much good, but—
Fine, I’ll tell you what I remember.
I saw a tomb with two open doors, and someone asked me which one I wanted. I didn’t know there would be choices.
Well, now I know too. You could have warned me. I went left. Flew in, as it were. The place was cavernous, filled with rows and rows of tables, every table covered with cloth, with something underneath. Something alive, I was sure, although I don’t think I saw them move.
No, I don’t know what they were. They were covered. Underneath the cloth. Pay attention.
I was scared of them, though. I fled, and then I was on a plain, running as fast as I could. Something was chasing me. A whole army of somethings. I could hear them breathing, but I couldn’t see them, even when I turned to look.
I think that means we have enemies we don’t know about. Great.
I knew I had to get to this temple on top of a mountain, but when I got to the top, the perspective kept shifting until it was tiny. When I touched it, it crumbled into red pellets and rolled down the mountain. Whatever was down there ate the pellets. The clouds blocked my vision but I heard them hissing and licking and chomping.
That could be a warning, that we shouldn’t even try to find the Ballazqar monument.
No, I don’t know how we’ll get home otherwise. But if these secret enemies have found it first, our tails are in the trap if we show up.
There aren’t enough of us left to mount an assault, what are you thinking? Yeah, yeah, you’re right. If the portal really is there, we’ll have to at least try. Better that than the alternative.
Anyway, let me finish. I got inside the mountain, and I was in a forest, in the undergrowth, feeling safe for the first time since I started. A human was there, only he was as small as me. He handed me a bell and said, “You can’t go forward. You have to go back.” Then he turned into a worm and dove underground.
I have no idea what the worm part means.
Yes, I know that the whole point is for us to go back, but the vision said…
Look, I told you before, divinations are always like this. That’s why I didn’t want to do it. How much further are we now? Still stuck on this lousy planet. Still no closer to a plan for how to find another way-point, except we should watch out for enemies and we shouldn’t go forward, whatever that means.
You want to know the part that wasn’t true? I’m not sure you do. Okay, fine. I did see the enemy creatures, at least part of them, through the clouds.
Whiskers. Whiskers and pointy teeth and huge pink tongues.
Yes, I had the same thought.
It better not be cats.
Submitted in response to The Blog Propellant’s On-Line Writer’s Guild challenge. Thank you to LRose and TNKerr for the inspiration! I used two of the three prompts, and even used them verbatim as the first and last lines of the story. I didn’t limit my writing time, because I don’t think I could write anything in 25 minutes. The first draft took me 34 minutes, but with the revisions and thinking up a title and finding a photo and such, it definitely stretched to the one-hour mark.
I’m supposed to suggest a number between 1 and 50, so mine is: 49.