Destiny: Part One
Gargantuan, guiltless, glistening.
Silvery, spiky, shining.
Nightmarish, nasty... knives.
For as long as he could remember, Elmist had been troubled by them, no question about it. The very symmetry, the very sound, the very sight... to him, knives and fear were one. He didn't know which came first: the vision, or the knowledge. Did he hear about knives before they started haunting his soul? Otherwise, how would be recognise those cruel, cutting blades, those tenacious, tar-black handles, those... He sighed, realising that his list of descriptions would never end.
He should know. Being a Visionary who'd been relied on to foretell potential accidents, play pranks on others and whatnot, it was natural for the darigan Draik to develop a gift of the gab, having practiced his construction of sentences and the articulation of speech a lot more often than others his age. Combined with this was an unusually imaginative mind, which allowed him to describe things with a never-ending supply of inspiration. In fact, one of his best friends once told him that he could persuade a pessimist that utopia existed.
It was widely believed that the more experienced a Visionary was, the lesser the probability of him/her knowing his far-future - a term Visionaries gave to the uncontrollable vision into the future of themselves, at a time period that they knew was far beyond their predictive ability (most Visionaries, including Elmist, could only see a maximum of approximately five minutes into the future). Whether this was true or not, Elmist had his far-future anyway. And it wasn't pleasant.
It could start out differently, usually with a sudden flash of light but sometimes with a slightly silver tinge around the corners or a little bit of a sparkle in the center (or several other details us normal beings would not care to notice), but they always had the same ending: his eyesight getting blurred, his body sagging - in pain or in fear he could hardly tell. His best bet, as described briefly earlier, was that he had been slashed by knives flying in from all corners of whatever chamber he was confined in, painful to the point that... well, tears flowed out of his eyes. It was in itself painful to think about.
What made it scarier was the fact that these visions came very randomly. Sometimes when he was walking, sometimes when he was flying, sometimes when he was asleep. His wings would go numb and his eyes would go wide with panic. His teeth would chatter and his claws would start to tremble. Within moments he would be drenched in cold sweat.
For as long as he could remember, he had been troubled by them. More and more, he began to view his talent as a curse and wished more than ever that it would go away.***
A few metres away sat an equally glum-looking Nightsteed.
News about her latest mission had just reached her, and as usual, it involved tremendous risk. Just thinking about its difficulties and dangers was enough to make her unhappy for the rest of the day, even the rest of the week, possibly.
The fact was, Zaldron was an extremely cautious person. After all, with hooves burning with the intensity of a shooting star, she had to be alert constantly to prevent herself from harming anything. (In fact, with bandages made of the thinnest paper, she also had to watch out for anything hurting her.) This had consequences, of course. Friendship has to start with a conversation, or at the very least, a smile. But in trying to protect the well-being of everyone, including herself, Zaldron had purposefully avoided even eye contact with anyone. If that was bad enough, her refined talent in teleporting had earned her a place as Senior Teleporter in S.P.Y, the source of all her dreadful missions and which occupied most of her time, making it difficult for interaction with her classmates. In any case, it didn't seem like anyone wanted to be friends with her.
That is, except for that one Draik that to be honest, had Zaldron's attention as well. Elmist was a deep shade of violet through and through, which Zaldron already appreciated (purple being her favourite colour), but it was in Elmist's manner that she saw something unique. Elmist always seemed so... well, confident. As if he knew something others didn't. Curiosity piqued, Zaldron had decided to do a discreet yet more detailed investigation on Elmist's behaviour. And at first it was what she expected. Elmist participated in class, and was always receiving good grades as well as comments from the teacher. Nothing seemed amiss. Perhaps it was just her imagination.
Yet the more she looked, the more she realised that there was indeed something out of place. The Draik clearly seemed upset about something, and though he was good at covering his feelings, Zaldron could, if he tried hard enough, detect a form of slowness and reluctance in everything Elmist did. She wanted to dismiss it as an afterthought that perhaps a relative of Elmist had died, or perhaps Elmist wasn't doing as well as he wanted to do. She wanted it badly. But she couldn't. Something in the way - something she couldn't explain - that Elmist did things simply wasn't due to a third-party source of unhappiness but from true, sincere sadness. And judging by the expressions of Elmist's closest friends, they hadn't noticed this. So it was up to her. As soon as this thought entered his mind, Zaldron felt her heart thump, as it did in many treacherous missions, only this time, it wasn't because of fear of dying, but because of fear of failing. Perhaps they were the same thing. She was too anxious to care.
Taking a deep breath, she walked up to Elmist.
Elmist, unfortunately, had just gone through another one of his visions and was in a state of frenzied shock. Taking slow, deep breaths, he shut his eyes and listened for silence. It was present. Good. Hopefully anyone watching him from afar (whom he could not hear) would just assume that he was meditating, or something.
Zaldron cleared his throat. Jumping, Elmist whirled around and stared.
“Hello. I know I don’t know you all that well, but… well, I’ve been… I’ve been observing you recently and I’ve noticed that you’ve been feeling, um, down.” She looked gently but expectantly at her partner, who was still staring in surprise, not knowing how to react.
At once, even without gathering his wits fully, Elmist knew that his former instincts had been right. Having detected a form of aura from Zaldron and suspecting that she was magically talented as well, Elmist had thrown her a smile or two whenever he could in hopes that Zaldron would take notice and start a conversation, in the process revealing a little about herself. Now that this moment had finally arrived, he was, embarrassingly, at a loss of words.
“Hey, Zaldron,” he quickly responded, then improvised. “I am feeling down, for sure. But you knew that already, didn’t you? You’re a Mind Reader.”
Zaldron tried to hide her shock at having been called something she obviously wasn’t, but the shock was too plain on her face, and both of them knew it. Elmist jumped at the opportunity in a split second.
“Tell me what I’m thinking.”
There was no way Zaldron would reveal her talent to someone she just met, though of course, it was someone whom she was concerned about and wanted to make friends with in the first place, not to mention someone who was witty enough to change the subject without her full awareness. It wasn’t a game show, yet time was running out. Zaldron had to make a decision.
She decided to take her chances.
“Actually, I’m a Teleporter.”
Something told Elmist that Zaldron wasn’t lying, and his heart leaped at the sheer joy of finally having someone. To talk to. To confess his feelings to.
To tell the truth to.
Zaldron was no doubt surprised that Elmist suddenly seemed to open up to her freely, and she did her best to present the more easy-going side of herself. She needn’t have, anyway – Elmist had her captivated with his life story, as he was an excellent storyteller. Describing how much he had needed to hide because of his clairvoyant ability, and the pain he had suffered along the way from his visions, Zaldron realised that they had much more in common that any of them had known. As soon as she realised this, her resistance began to soften; now it was her turn to voice out her experiences, and Elmist’s turn to empathise.
Even if Elmist had superior predicting powers, he could not have predicted their conversation to be so much better than expected; even if Zaldron had the ability to teleport wherever she wished, she would not have traded her place for any place in the world.
And though neither of them said it out loud, they each knew that they had become firm friends.
To be continued…