Achara awoke in a bed with light coming in the window next to her. She sat up and blinked a few times before the room around her came into focus. She recognized it after a moment. It was Jasnovi’s wagon, and she was sitting in the bed at the back of the wagon. She was in a woolen tunic that went down to her knees and had been sleeping on down pillows under linens and a heavy woolen blanket. She felt stiff and achy all over, and her head throbbed. She rubbed her head, which she found was wrapped in a bandage.
A moment later, Devica came in at the back of the wagon and noticed that Achara was awake. She gasped with excitement and smiled before she turned and ran out the door again. Not more than thirty seconds later, Camon came in with Zboru. Jasnovi soon followed. They all rushed to Achara’s bedside and were all glad to see she was awake.
“What happened?” Achara asked.
“We were hoping you could tell us,” Camon said. “One minute, everything was fine. You were in the walk with Jasnovi. The next second, Jasnovi started trembling when you grabbed her hand and tensed up, but not before you stood up. You threw Jasnovi’s hand away, and then you screamed, then fainted, hitting your head on the table.”
Achara looked at Jasnovi’s hands. One was bound in a bandage while the other was fine. “I…I don’t know what happened. The vision…it seemed to cause a reaction within me.”
“Jasnovi said she saw you bound looking at a mirror, but later the mirror exploded,” Camon said.
“Yes…I believe that is what happened,” Achara said. “I didn’t recognize the vision.”
“I believe so. But I didn’t see Jasnovi’s face in the mirror. I saw mine.”
“Jasnovi says she saw her own reflection,” Camon commented.
“The mirror started to emit light, not reflect it. When this happened, it triggered something in me that I didn’t seem to have control over. It went right along with the vision. When the mirror exploded, that’s when I felt it rip apart whatever was binding be at the moment.”
“That was Jasnovi’s magic,” Camon said. “You were resisting it for some reason.”
“I know. Something about the mirror and the magic. I can’t explain what happened, but the vision elicited a response in me outside of the vision.”
“Incredible,” Camon said.
“How do you feel?” Zboru asked.
“Achy and sore, but I think I’m okay,” she said.
“You’ve been out for three days,” Devica said.
“Three? I have no idea what time it is.”
“Midmorning,” Devica answered. “We’ve been anxious about you.”
“Thank you,” Achara said. “Is Jasnovi okay?”
“Her hand is hurt,” Zboru said. “But she worries about you.”
“I’m grateful,” she said.
“May we get you something? Tea, perhaps?” Devica asked.
“Yes, please,” Achara answered.
Devica went to make a cup of tea for Achara.
“Jasnovi told me about your visions,” Camon said. “About your father.”
“Yes,” Achara said. “One was the night when I was a girl, and he came home as a surprise. The next was the night I found out my father died and was told he betrayed the Empire. The third was the day that Chak told me about my father. The last thought was different. As I said, I don’t remember it, so I presume it was a vision of something yet to come.”
“Or a suppressed memory,” Camon commented. “Sometimes these are not in a conscious mind, but walking can dredge these up. They are often mistaken for future events.”
“What does Jasnovi make of it?” Achara asked.
Zboru turned and asked Jasnovi in their language. Jasnovi gave a long-winded reply, then Zboru summarized. “She says that she’s glad that you are okay. She says that what happened back there was not your fault. She says you weren’t ready. She was too eager. She says she is sorry. But she says that your father is important to you. You need to let the wound heal. You need to see it. Do not ignore it.”
Achara said nothing after Zboru gave his explanation for a while, then asked, “What does the fourth vision have to do with my father?”
Zboru asked Jasnovi again, who gave another long-winded explanation. Zboru explained again, “She says she does not know. She thinks that it is the future. The mirror is your reflection. You see yourself for the first time. And you accept who you are.”
“I am who I am,” Achara said. “What can I be other than me?”
Zboru again asked, and then Jasnovi gave an answer that Zboru summarized, “She says you are a child of destiny. You will become that. At that moment.”
“But I don’t understand what that has to do with my father,” Achara objected. Jasnovi could see the confusion on Achara’s face then said something. Zboru then said, “She says it will be clear. You must rest now.”
Devica brought some tea to Achara, who sipped it gladly. It was stronger than before, and the calming effect was almost instantaneous. It helped relax her tension and ease her mind for the moment. She laid back on the bed and tried to calm some as Jasnovi, Devica, and Zboru left her with Camon. After they were gone, Achara was feeling groggy, but still awake and lucid.
“What does she mean I’ll become a child of destiny?” Achara asked Camon.
“In the Gypsies’ culture, that usually means that you’re one with the seeing gift, so you will become a Mother in one of their communities,” Camon explained. “But that is not what she means, I believe. The moment she is talking about is that moment when you will fully realize your gifting and what that means for you. It’s not fixed.”
“But isn’t that what prophecy is all about?” Achara asked.
“The more I reflected on what the old man said back in Rahtclang, the more I think what he was trying to tell me about prophecy has nothing to do with foretelling the future,” Camon said.
“What do you mean?” Achara asked.
“The old man kept saying it was about the past. I think that is what Jasnovi is trying to tell you. Your past does not determine your future, but it can. Being aware of the past helps you see the patterns of the past. When you become aware of these patterns, you can either let them dictate who you are, or you can overcome them and choose a different path. But at that moment, you have to choose. It’s not set in stone.”
“What does that have to do with prophecy?” Achara asked.
“It’s the same thing,” Camon said. “The history of the world can be reduced to patterns and motifs. These are timeless. That’s what the old man was trying to get me to understand. That’s why he was so adamant about first knowing the past before understanding the past. In doing so, we can see the patterns unfold in the present and make what some might call a ‘prophecy’ based on these patterns and motifs. It’s a prediction, but not a predetermination. That’s what people get confused.”
“So what we are looking for concerning the demon is a pattern in the past?” Achara asked.
“Exactly,” he said. “Which is all the more reason to make haste to the library so we can uncover whatever the old man was trying to show me. And in the meantime, I hope that perhaps we better understand your gifting as well.”
“I still am having a hard time putting this all together,” Achara said.
“Don’t try to do it all at once,” Camon insisted. “It will drive you crazy. Trust me on this one. Reflect on it like you do your magic, and I think it will come to you in time like Jasnovi said.” Achara gave a big yawn. “In the meantime, we need to get you well enough to travel. Rest now.”
Achara laid her head on the pillow and was out in minutes. Camon left her in the wagon and went out where Zboru and Devica greeted him.
“It seems like there was some trouble,” Zboru said. “There are soldiers outside. They are asking for information.”
“What kind of trouble?” Camon asked.
“Robbers along the road,” Zboru said. “We have trouble with them. They found them bound. They wanted to know about them.”
“I think I might know a thing or two about the characters they are asking about,” Camon said. “They tried to attack us before we arrived here. It was me that bound them for the Imperials to find.” Camon and Zboru, along with several other men from the camp, went out to greet the soldier who had the two bandits in ropes on a horse. One of the men saw Camon and said, “That’s him! That one. The easterner.”
Camon stepped forward, and the officers in the company came over to Camon, “Do you know anything about these two men?”
“Yes, I do,” Camon replied. “These people had nothing to do with them.”
“What’s your business with the Gypsies?” the officer asked.
“I am staying with them as I travel to the West Watch,” Camon answered.
“What business do you have that far west?” The officer said.
“Personal matters,” Camon said. “Issues with family. Gypsies offer hospitality to travelers, such as myself.”
“How did you manage to fend off these two if you were alone?” the officer asked.
“Those two? Any one of your men could take these two out with a blindfold on. They are amateurs.” Camon replied.
“We are not!” one shouted.
The second kicked the first one, “Shut your mouth!”
“See what I mean?” Camon asked.
“He was with someone else!” cried one of the bandits.
“Thieves,” the officer said. “We’ve been on to this rabble for a while, but thanks for doing our dirty work for us.” The officer nodded and went back to his company.
Camon went back to the Gypsies, who were standing nearby. They watched as the Imperials rode east along the road.
“Where are they taking them?” Zboru asked.
“Probably back to Kankahkoh were there is an Imperial magistrate who will probably ship them back East to a prison camp there,” Camon said. “I think they wanted something to validate that they were indeed the thieves and not the victims. They pretty much gave themselves away.”
“Fools,” Zboru said. “They poached our cattle. We have never caught them. We have found signs, though.”
“Achara helped me weed them out,” Camon said. “Her gifting was one of the reasons we didn’t fall prey to their schemes.”
The group of men turned back and went to the camp where Camon pitched in, helping prepare the barbecue for that day. They had slaughtered one of their cows and had put it on the spit. Camon worked to help turn the spit as the men, and some women brushed it with herbs. Some other men and women prepared other dishes at different places in the camp. At the end of the day, the herders came in from the pastures and cleaned themselves up. They brought tables out from the wagons and food prep areas about the camp and lined them up with all of the dishes that had been prepared that day to form a buffet. The men took the cow off the spit and laid it on an old hide on the ground, and they brought out large knives and started cutting off large chunks of meat that were piled high on to wooden trays and then placed on the table next to the rest of the food.
After everything was set, Covek stood up on a chair, the others gathered in around him, and he recited something poetic in their language. Camon picked up a word or two of it after having heard it said a few times and having spent the last few days among the Gypsies picking up new words and phrases from them. After the recitation, the company broke, and they all partook, piling their plates high with food. Everyone ate and was merry with full bellies as the sun went down.
Afterward, the task of cleaning up commenced, which only took a few minutes with everyone’s help. The tables were cleared and moved back to their places. They lit torches and rebuilt the fire into a bonfire. A company of men and women with drums, flutes, and lutes began to play music, and the people danced and sang. Occasionally, one of the older members of the community would get up and tell a story while everyone listened intently.
The merrymaking went on late into the night. When the fire died down, and each of the families retired back to their wagons. Camon went back to the wagon, where the young men bunked and found his birth. He was quite tired when he laid his head on the bed. It didn’t take long, but after two or three minutes, he was fast asleep.