Prompt Short Story: Precognition

The scent of spice and flowers hit her as she wrenched open the door, “Will you quit bangin! Whaddya want?”

The elf bowed low, his tight tunic, and tighter trousers, almost creaking with the strain, “Madame Reval, such an honour to greet you. As my apology for disturbing you, please accept these tokens,” he thrust forward a bouquet of wildflowers, and a small tin of magically-enhanced cooking spice, his clothes shimmering in the twilight. “The spice is fully legal and of the non-addictive variety, I assure you, although I cannot promise no addiction to your cooking once sprinkled with it.”

Even the formidable Madame Reval was no match for the charm of the elf before her. She offered a clumsy curtsy, “You’re right kind, sir. May I ask yer name and yer business here?”

“Ah!” The elf threw a hand to his heart, “My manners! Forgotten as I beheld your face, Madame Reval. Please, call me Sibilans,” he swept another bow and returned upright. “As to my business, I hoped to call upon one of your residents, one Mistress Emerald.”

Madame Reval sniffed, “Oh, aye. I’d let ye in and happy about it, only I’ve got a reputation to keep up. Nobody sees anyone who works for me without an appointment, and an imprint, so as we can stop yer causin any trouble an’ track yer if we needs to. Only we ain’t open yet, so my technomage ain’t here to sort that, and Emerald ain’t here either anyways.”

Sibilans’ face crumpled. The shine behind his skin dulled. Even his clothing seemed to lose its shine, “Then I will not try to push, Madame, I would not seek to break your protection of the people under your roof. Might I only enter long enough to write a note for my dear Emerald?”

Madame Reval shrugged, “Can’t see as that’d be any trouble, Master Sibilans, I have pen and paper at my desk if ye just wait here.”

As she closed the door partway, shuffling through to her own rooms, Sibilans flicked his fingers once, producing a small red spark which quickly extinguished itself. It would seem that she really wasn’t in at the moment. He hoped his note, once written, would at least bring her to see him.

Emerald touched the note in her pocket as she knocked on the door to the apartment. It had been a long time since she had seen her brother, but he looked much the same as the door opened. He looked strained, though. The carefree young elf she used to know was buried beneath something else.

She entered and took the offered seat and hot drink, waiting for him to speak.

“I’m glad you came, sister,” he said softly, his showy public personality tucked away for the moment. “Thank you.”

Emerald gave him a thin smile. “My big brother shows up after four decades, asking to see me. How could I resist? What is it you want, Sibs?”

“I want to say I’m sorry. That I’ve wanted to find you every day since I ran away. That I’m a fool and a coward. And that I’m just…sorry.”

“That doesn’t even begin to make it ok, Sibs! You ran away! Your magic got loose because you tried to outdo yourself, you burned the whole godsdamned place down, and you were gone before the fire was out! You left us. We didn’t even know if you were dead in the ashes until we could afford a mage to check for your life-force! Our parents still can’t figure out what they did wrong!”

Sibilans took the tongue-lashing in silence, his head bowed.

“Is that all you wanted?” Emerald asked, “Because I have to work, I have clients that expect me, and unlike some, I won’t let them down.”

“Just one more moment. Please.”

Emerald hesitated a moment, then nodded stiffly. 

“I was terrified of what happened. Not the punishment I was going to get. Not even the fire really. I was terrified of what my magic was capable of doing. We elves, and other creatures, we only just got back to this part of this dimension a couple of generations ago and the magic has been getting stronger and stronger! I overstepped my power, but that’s not why I ran. I was scared of what it meant I could do. And I was scared because…because it was a precognition spell, and I needed to know if it was real, when it would happen, how it would affect everything.”

“And now?” Emerald, leaned forwards, anger lost for the moment.

“And now…” Sibilans sighed, “True magic is going to return, along with lots more magical beings. And the humans that left here centuries ago, during that time when the planet was dying, they’re going to come back. And I have no idea who to tell, or how to help. But that’s why I ran. I was afraid of what I saw, that somehow I was the cause or…I don’t know. I was a kid. And I was scared. And I did the wrong thing. I am truly sorry, and I hope you can forgive me, someday. Thank you, for coming. I am glad to see you’re well. I won’t keep you any longer, but I will be here, if you want to see me again.”

Emerald nodded, recovering herself, and left to begin dressing for her clients, mind a-whirl with both the reappearance of her brother, and the information he imparted. She didn’t know how she felt about him returning, or his excuse and apology, but some of her clients were rich, or powerful, or both. Perhaps she could relay the information. At least it might offer some warning before whatever was going to happen actually happened.

Mind set on that, at least, she made ready for her evening.

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Writing prompt used:

Write about: “That doesn’t even begin to make it ok.”


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