For Glory, For Empire
Fortune's Favor Lost
Hatem Hanke stirred the pot over the fire. Her arthritic hands made it difficult, but the boy Liam got distracted too easily, and his father, Hamish, was not much better. Another gathering had passed, and the Pymlion seer needed sustenance.
She dished out a bowl of the oat and amaranth gruel, and began toward the wagon that the oracle lived upon.
“Thank you, Hatem,” she heard as a short, pale white arm extended down from the top of the wagon.
“Good morning, Mirror. Do you think the Meseidiaren will come today? They do not look to be breaking camp.”
“No, Old Friend, they have greed and ambition in their eyes. They will come when they are ready,” and then Mirror began to eat his breakfast.
“That wagon is still here. I wonder why?” Kalum thought out loud.
Rebecca, a veteran of Gatherings past was the only one who seemed to hear the kineticist. “They very rarely leave, and only when the oracle says so. Sometimes they go to other Gatherings, or to visit a specific Dunyabetia village at a crucial time.”
“Other Gatherings? Dunyabetia villages? The old woman is in charge?” Talis suddenly joined in.
Moccan pretended that he heard none of this.
“I have heard that there are other Gatherings at locations all over Areiystis, and I have even been to one other, south, and far to the east. There are many villages between here and there; many days travel and very long and dangerous at ground level. As for the old woman, Hatem, she is the crone that looks after the Oracle, the albino Pymlion on top of the wagon.” It was the most Rebecca had said all at once since she joined this odd group that helped her leave the nagaji shrine.
Talis’s eyes had glazed over at some point, and she was no longer listening, but the Bea’txo, Ts’ao Hai, was now intrigued. “How many villages? Do they all have daughters that need marrying off? Does this other Gathering have more alcohol? Are any of them near the sea? Vulnerable to raiding and pillaging? I could go for some drunken pillaging,” he sighed in remembrance.
The rest of the group were then too embarrassed to continue the conversation and just turned away, suddenly with something better to do.
“They look to be bickering. Stupidly. Stupidly, selfishly bickering, while He is attempting to return and bring doom to us all,” Sarayu noted with all of the emotion of an adolescent idly commenting on ants walking over your boot.
“They are not yet late, Child, and not entirely ignorant. But they do risk losing sight of the goal,” Mirror responded, laying in the morning sun. “The vishkanya do them good trade, and so they stay. If they decide to talk to me, they will be wiser. If they decide to leave, they will be closer to home.”
Sarayu shrugged out of her robe and poured the theobroma onto her hand before rubbing it all over her young body. She liked the smell, and how it made her glow. She then lay next to Mirror in the morning sun, talking of the universe, the past and the future, the First and Second, and light.
The colonists took no notice, lost in their own lives and desires, slowly waiting for their own demise.