When stars are stars

©2019-2022 michael raven

“If you value both of your eyes,” said the old hag with her cataract-cloud gaze. “I would not seek the wisdom of ash, oak and thorn. I would go back to your woman, give her a lusty life with children and laughter. The path you seek to walk leads only to despair, for that is all the gift this kind of knowledge brings.”

She sat there, one gnarled and wrinkled hand folded into the other, waiting.

He rapped the head of his staff on the table in a sudden pique of rage, causing the soil cast in intricate patterns of geomancy to dance on its surface.

“Damn your caution, spell-singer,” his voice rough with the fatigue of months traveling here. “I’ll give both eyes if this gives my people the means to battle the Rime.”

He caught his breath, tamed the fire within.

“I beg forgiveness. Please, now tell me how to find those answers I seek.”

She shook her head. So young. So arrogant. So stupid.

“You must die afore you get your answers, boy. And an eye you shall surrender. Pray it is all that you lose.”

She leaned over to the map he carried that was wrong in every manner but the most essential and poked a boney finger, skin translucent with age, at the place where his answers would lie. Or the door to where he’d find his answers. She thought to mention his journey has just begun, but the door was already slamming behind his receding footsteps up the path away from her hut without a word of thanks or by-your-leave. Impatient bastard. She hoped they took both eyes for his having risked speaking it into being.

Another flash fiction from 2019, this one based on the prompt: geomancy. Minor edits. More in vein of high fantasy, but I’d probably go the grimdark route if I took it any further.

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