“I’ve always wondered if they ever knew. Did they believe in destiny? Did they always feel they were a part of something bigger? Were they even chosen? Or did they choose themselves? Perhaps it was all a lie, and they were each simply in the right place at the right time. I never found out, and I’m not sure I’d want to know. It’s more enjoyable to think of my own answers.“The Telaran Lectures, Vol 1”
I told Lidda once that I couldn’t see them when I looked, that that happened all the time – that the more powerful someone is, the more influence they can exert on fate, and the harder it is for me to see them.
That was the last time I lied to her.”
She thinks I’m sleeping.
La’ran felt the psychic ripples around her, ‘saw’ her surroundings through the eyes of the others. It was dark – most of them were sleeping. Only her and Lidda were awake. The font dominated her vision as it dominated the oselan wizard’s focus. Lidda stood transfixed, watching the black orb of negativity spin gently in the air, whispering wordlessly to herself, captivated by its pull, the promise of power. La’ran’s concern had been the druid, she had underestimated Lidda – underestimated the forces someone so small could command.
She did not know what to do.
Wake the others? No. No, she would not be believed. She was yet a stranger to them. Untrustworthy. If she lay still, she would be safe, perhaps. One false step would betray to the halfling that she saw her for who she truly was.
She could see her drawing closer, her eyes wide, the ebon light of the orb reflected in her own black eyes. She watched as Lidda levered herself up the sides of the font, her robes crumpling as she did so. The girl’s face was inches away from it now – La’ran did not know what she was doing, but any hope she had had of the wizard resisting the font’s pull was long gone. And she was powerless to stop her.
La’ran watched as Lidda knelt, poised on the edge of the font’s bowl, studying the orb like a child might regard a flower. Long minutes passed by.
I must do something.
La’ran reached out thin tendrils with her mind, trying to grasp some measure of the arcanist’s thoughts.
She pressed a little harder.
A little more…
La’ran flinched instinctively, and felt an oppressive force within her mind as the wizard detected her presence. Ahead of her, Lidda snapped her head to the side, regarding La’ran.
“Hello, La’ran,” came the oselan’s voice, echoing throughout La’ran’s mind as she spoke to her on her terms. The words had a sinister edge to them.
“I don’t like people looking around in my head, La’ran.”
“Lidda, you mustn’t—”
“I mustn’t what?”
“You mustn’t let it get a grip on you! Resist it!”
“I don’t think so.”
“What?! You saw what it did to the astrals!”
“The astrals were weak.”
The wizard was advancing towards La’ran now, and she pushed herself up to her feet, backing away.
“The astrals. Were weak.“
“Lidda, you must—”
“They could not control it. I can.”
“You’ll be a puppet!”
“I’ll be a god.”
La’ran shook her head as Lidda’s blackened eyes flared with energy.
“I know your game, La’ran.”
“You’re going to turn them against me.”
“This power was not meant for mortals to wield!”
“I won’t let you turn them against me.”
“They will turn on you without me! As soon as they see what you’ve become they’ll—”
“I don’t think so.”
“Lidda, please! Resist it, you have to resis—”
The room filled with a sharp burst of green light as energy crackled from Lidda’s outstretched finger, and La’ran fizzled into dust, unmade with one movement from the oselan’s hand. Lidda looked down at the pile of dust for a moment, then swept it onto the stairs below with a wave of her hand. She grinned.
There was a drumming on the desk.
Teeth chattered upon a fingernail, a slender hand brought before a mouth, golden eyes narrowed above, watching a shifting image. Below the sea, a great stone vault sat, embedded in the sands, bare save for three eyes – two closed, one now open.
Behind Him, sand dunes shifted in the distance.
“Marked by Fate after all. And yet they spurn Her gifts.”
He closed His eyes, breathed deeply.
“Then this is the path we are set upon.”