Interesting travels and mysterious encounters

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Photo via Visual hunt

Corinne tossed her backpack into the corner and flopped onto the bed. Her feet and back hurt, but she was very satisfied with her day’s hike. She pulled her cell phone out of her pocket and rolled onto her stomach. She checked and saw that she actually had a signal. She dialed her best friend’s number and waited.

“Cor? Where are you this time?” Seth asked, amusement in his voice. “You freaked out your sister again, by the way.”

Corinne laughed. “She should be used to this by now. I’ve been doing it for how long? And I’m in Scotland.”

“Ah, someplace neutral then,” Seth said.

“Neutral my ass,” Corinne said. “Do you have any idea how much power runs through this country?”

“Is it as much as Egypt?” Seth asked.

“More in some places and less in others,” Corinne said.

“Did you find anything interesting?” Seth asked.

“Yes,” Corinne said. “I’m at a really tiny inn in a small village right now. When I get to Glasgow tomorrow and into an area with wi-fi I’ll send you the details. I think I’m on to something here.”

“You said that when you were in Turkey. And again in Kazakhstan. And in Greece,” Seth said.

“I know,” Corinne said. “But wait until you get the pictures and my notes. I think this time you’re going to want to bring the team here.”

“Cor, you know we can’t just drop everything every time you make some random discovery,” Seth said. “The rest of us have day jobs we can’t abandon.”

“S, trust me. You’re going to want to see this,” Corinne said. Her phone crackled. “I’m losing signal. I’ll call you when I get to Glasgow.”

“All right. I’ll talk to you then,” Seth said. The line went silent.

Corinne rolled off the bed and went over to her laptop case. She pulled out the slim machine that went everywhere with her. She grabbed her camera out of her backpack and attached it with the USB cable. She turned on her computer and logged in. She uploaded all the pictures she’d taken before shutting everything down again and putting it all away.

She stretched and decided to take a shower. Using a bit of her personal store of energy, she warded her room and sealed everything. She jumped in the shower, wishing the water would get hotter than a few degrees above lukewarm. She got out, toweled off, and changed into a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. She exchanged her hiking boots for her knee high leather ones, tucking knives into the backs of each. She also shoved her runes in her pocket, just in case.

She went to the pub and grabbed some food before going back to her room. As she approached the door, she could feel something odd. Someone was attempting to break her wards. Corinne reached down and slipped one of her knives out of her boot. She moved forward quietly.

A wizened old woman stood outside her door, hands outstretched and eyes closed. “Is there something I can help you with?” Corinne asked, keeping the knife out of sight.

The woman jumped and the feeling of opposing magic ended abruptly. She turned and glared at Corinne. “Ye shouldna be diggin’ in matters that don’ concern ye,” she said, her brogue thick and full of anger.

“Neither should you,” Corinne said coldly.

“Yer presence does matter tae me,” the woman said. “Yer messin’ wi’ things that do better tae be left alone.”

“Why?” Corinne asked. “It’s a source of power that can be harnessed to make the world better.”

The woman spat. “Ye young mages. Ye have no respect fer the old magic. Ye’ll rue the day ye got involved wi’ it. Yer in over yer head and ye don’t even know it.” She stalked off. Corinne sighed, sheathing her knife. This wasn’t her first encounter with antagonistic locals and she doubted it would be her last. She’d just have to add a note to her report warning the others about it. They’d need to be prepared. She went into her room and locked the door behind her. She opened her laptop and got back to work.

 

Blue eyes and crimson blood

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Photo via Visualhunt

Helene bent backwards, stretching her spine. She put the brush down and shook out her hands. She’d been working on the portrait of her client’s daughter for the past three days and she needed a break, mostly to get away from the blue.

There was so much blue in this painting. Sabrina Jones was a blond haired, blue eyed, angel faced child with doting parents and a love of the color blue. In the photo Helene was turning into the painting, Sabrina was wearing a pale blue dress with darker blue flowers on it and bright blue ribbons in her hair. She’d even been wearing a pair of earrings that Helene suspected were actual sapphires, given just how wealthy the Joneses were.

The wiry artist made her way to her favorite chair and sat down. She picked up her glass of tea and took a few swallows. She’d long ago learned iced tea, or other cold drinks, were her best bet for when she got into the “zone.” Hot drinks got ignored until they were tepid at best, and often had to be reheated. As Helene no longer had a working microwave, she went with cold drinks to save the headache.

She took another sip of her tea before closing her eyes. Sabrina’s portrait was waiting for her, but she didn’t know if she could look at more blue that day. The little girl’s blue eyes were chilling when you saw them in person, though they looked perfectly normal in the photo. While her parents haggled on the price of the portrait, Helene had watched Sabrina wander around, looking for something to steal. The young empathic artist was able to read the preteen girl far better than her parents. Sabrina wasn’t able to find whatever she was looking for, and had left very disgruntled.

Helene glanced at the predominately blue painting again and sighed. She put the tea down and stood up. The sooner she finished, the sooner she could have the family out of her life. As she started across the room, someone pounded on her door.

Helene lowered her shields slightly and tried to test the mental state of whoever was out in the hall. There was a sense of emptiness behind her door, but a little farther down the hall was the raw emotional turmoil Helene tended to equate to a young mind.

Helene shook her head. She opened the door just enough so her voice would be heard. “You might as well come out, Sabrina. I know you’re there.”

The blue eyed girl, now more of a demon than an angel, came into plain view. “You shouldn’t have known I was here,” she said, petulance in every inch of her petite frame. “I was hiding. No one can hear thoughts if the other person isn’t in the line of sight.”

“Who told you that?” Helene asked. She reached over to a small shrine next to her door and set a small rune in the center of it before opening the door all the way. “Thoughts are easy enough to hear if the person is broadcasting them no matter where they are. And you, my dear, are broadcasting on every level possible.”

Sabrina scowled. There was blood spatter on her normally pristine school blouse and the navy wool of her skirt was saturated with the sticky crimson liquid. “My mother told me I was too powerful to be heard that way. She said no one would ever know.”

“Obviously she never met another psionic,” Helene said. “So, what made you decide to kill them?”

Sabrina tossed her hair back, sneering. “You wouldn’t understand. You, with your pretty colors and your broken furniture, couldn’t comprehend it even if I explained it in small words.”

Helene snorted. “My guess is your parents told you no when they usually told you yes, your mother stopped you from using your gift to control them, and in the end you lost it and slaughtered them. I’d say you used one of your dad’s guns to do it. You probably did your mother first so she couldn’t stop you from killing your dad. Then when he ran in to see what was going on, you shot him too.”

Sabrina’s jaw dropped. “You can’t have known that unless you were watching me. Is that why my mother gave you that stupid school portrait of me? Because she wanted you to spy on me?”

“No. I’m an artist. I paint portraits. I just happen to also be able to hear thoughts and sense emotions,” Helene said.

Sabrina stomped her foot. “You’re lying,” she screamed. She drew a gun and aimed it at Helene. “Now I’ll have to find someone else to blame the murders on.” She pulled the trigger.

The gun didn’t go off. In fact, from what Helene could tell, the trigger itself didn’t even move. Sabrina shrieked and pulled hard on the gun. Suddenly she went rigid, eyes wide with a mixture of rage and fear. Elric materialized behind her. His soldiers took the more mundane option of coming up the stairs.

“She’s rather precocious, isn’t she?” Elric said, his lightly accented voice full of amusement.

“I’d say blame her mother, but since she’s dead there’s no real reason for it,” Helene said. One of Elric’s soldiers took the gun from Sabrina. Elric used his power to force Sabrina into a wheelchair, where she was strapped down and taken away. “She’s going to start screaming as soon as she’s out of your sight.”

“I brought my son,” Elric said.

“Ah.” Helene shook her head. “Spoiled, moderately gifted, and convinced she can do and say as she pleases without consequence.”

“This is what, your fourth this month?” Elric asked.

“Sixth, but you missed the other two. The humans took them down,” Helene said. Elric shook his head. He slipped into the shadows and vanished while his men took the stairs. Helene shut her door. She went over to the painting. She decided it was sufficiently far enough along she could deal with the cops when they arrived to question her, and returned to her tea. She picked up a book on psychic phenomena and resumed reading where she’d left off when the Joneses first arrived earlier that day.

 

 

A mother’s sacrifice will prove in vain

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Photo via VisualHunt.com

Phoibe carried Aurore along the path, reveling in the scent of the forest after the rain. The faint sunbeams that got through the canopy of the ancient trees cast pale spotlights onto the two dark skinned faces. Phoibe paused for a moment, letting the light soak into her skin. Faint tendrils of green extended from her hair and rose into the light, but Phoibe shook her head and they quickly withdrew.

“Mama needs sun,” Aurore said, snuggling up closer to her mother’s chest.

“I know, Ro. But Mama and Ro have something to do before mama can have some sun,” Phoibe said.

“Wiff daddy?” Aurore asked, tilting her head so her innocent eyes, the color of sunlit leaves, peered up into Phoibe’s.

Phoibe shook her head. “Daddy won’t be joining us today.” Aurore scowled. “I know, Ro. I’m disappointed too.” Phoibe continued along the mossy track, her bare feet leaving no marks in the soft soil.

She glanced over her shoulder but saw nothing on her trail. She didn’t relax. There were always too many watchers on her and Aurore. It had taken a great deal of effort to steal her little girl away alone like this. Someone might already be trying to find them.

“Mama, thirsty,” Aurore said, pointing to the tiny stream running alongside the path.

Phoibe stopped and knelt beside the trickle. She stuck the tips of two of her fingers in. The water was still pure. “Do not touch the bottom,” she said, setting Aurore next to it. The child stuck her hand in, careful not to stir up the mud. She closed her eyes and took several deep breaths. Her hair, which was already showing signs of drooping, perked up a bit. There was more color in her dark cheeks and her eyes sparkled when she opened them again.

Phoibe helped Aurore dry off her hand, making sure they left no trace of their passing, and lifted her into her arms again. “Where we go?” Aurore asked.

“Some place special, Ro,” Phoibe said, kissing her on her forehead. She felt the tears coming. She blinked them away and moved on.

The sun was getting close to setting, and Phoibe’s strength was almost gone with it, when they reached the clearing. “Mama hard,” Aurore said, poking at her mother’s roughening shoulder. “Need water.”

“I know I do, Ro,” Phoibe said. Her voice was soft, almost all of her strength gone. “But it’s okay. I’m going to be fine.” She set her daughter down. “Do you see that tall tree down there? The one covered with all the vines?” Aurore nodded. Phoibe heard a faint howling. They’d found her trail. “I want you to run as fast as you can and try to touch it, Ro. See if you can get there before I do. Okay?”

Aurore giggled. She loved racing her mother. It was a game they played often, though only under the watchful eye of Phoibe’s husband and his men. “I ready.”

“Three, two, one, go,” Phoibe said. Aurore broke into a dead run, laughing all the way. Phoibe started down the path after her, knowing she would never reach the tree. But a part of her ached to try. She restrained herself, giving her daughter the one chance she had – the one Phoibe herself had thrown away so long ago.

“There’s the mother,” a harsh voice called. Phoibe turned and looked over her shoulder. The humans – strange in their mechanical suits – were at the edge of the clearing. None of them could enter, which meant that Phoibe’s husband and his men weren’t with them yet.

“Keep running, Ro,” Phoibe called.

“I run,” Aurore said.

Phoibe turned to face the interlopers. Veletheria had been a pure world of light, soil, and water until their arrival sixty years earlier. Now the sentient planet – and its children – were dying because of them. Phoibe tapped into the well of power she still had access to, something her people were rapidly losing their connection to, and raised a barrier between them and the heart of the sacred tree.

Phoibe glanced over her shoulder to see Aurore still running at full speed. As she turned she felt a sharp pain in her chest. She looked down. Several barbs poked out of her skin in the areas above and around her heart. She looked back to see her husband – a hideous hybrid of Veletherian and human – standing at the edge of the clearing.

“You can’t win, Bea,” he said, lowering his hand. “Whether you like it or not, Ro – and the others of her generation – are the future of this planet.”

Phoibe dropped to her knees, the poison flooding her already weakened body. In her mind’s eye she saw her mother in the same position, her own father standing over her. His hand was held out to Phoibe, calling her back. Phoibe’s husband moved up next to her, drawing that memory even closer to reality. “Ro, you need to come back,” her father yelled. “Mama’s sick.”

The laughter stopped. The footsteps faltered. “Keep running Ro,” Phoibe called, unable to bear the thought of her daughter’s fate being tied to the monster beside her. She pulled all the energy she dared out of the area and got back to her feet. Her husband’s shocked look made it worth the effort. “I just tripped. I’m coming for you, Ro. You’d better run or I’m going to beat you.”

The giggles and footsteps started again. Phoibe’s vision faded, but she was sure she saw her daughter headed towards the World Tree. She opened herself to the forest and let it swallow her, seeing everything for a split second. Smiling smugly at her body as it turned to ash, her husband held Aurore’s hand in his own. The tiny girl stared in horror at the incandescent figure her mother had become. Phoibe’s screams became wind in the trees as her spirit joined those of her ancestors.

 

Aurore looked up at her father. “Mama dead?”

The man nodded solemnly. “She got very sick. It made her mind go. That’s why she brought you here. Only bad things happen when you come here, Ro. Don’t you ever forget that. Never come here again, Ro.”

Aurore looked down at the tiny flowers that were growing where her mother had just been. She surreptitiously reached down and picked one. She tucked it in her pocket, smiling up at her father. “I won’t.”

Goal Post July 2017

 

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Photo via Visualhunt

Another month has passed. It’s July. Yay! *does a happy dance…and hurts her back*

*coughs* Geez I’m getting old. 😉

So, let’s get down to it. Starting with last month’s goals and a bit of a progress report.

  1. I will be blogging (as much as I can) 5 days a week. That means Monday through Friday, unless something’s going on in my life. Then I’ll make up the day I missed on the weekend.
    Okay, so as you can tell, I didn’t exactly do well with this one. I’m going to try to do better this month.
  2. I’ll still do my little bits of fiction, but expect goal posts at the beginning of the month, updates on my health (both mental and physical), updates on my progress on whatever novel I’m working on, and the occasional post on the farm. I’ve also started streaming video games on Twitch and I’m recording videos for YouTube on the same, so I may post one post a week as well on those. I’ll also be referencing my personal vlog from time to time.
    So this one went a little better. I’ve done a lot of bits of fiction. You’re looking at the goal post for this month. I didn’t do a health update, though I’ve been going through a lot. I don’t have a lot of answers yet, so I’m waiting to discuss those until I have more information. The gaming videos and streams…will pick up eventually. Life has just been very busy lately. Same with the personal vlogs. I’ve only got my phone to work with, so it’s often difficult to manage everything.
  3. As you can see, my blog look has changed. I was getting bored with the old look and I wanted something new. Change is good – even if it can be scary at times – and I wanted to do something new.
    Still playing with some more new ideas for various things. I’ll update you as I go along.

 

So, here are the NEW goals for July:

1. I will blog every weekday, unless there is something going on. If there is, I’ll post a brief explanation of my missed days on the weekend. This way I don’t have to try to get a full post up on the weekends, which oddly enough can be even busier on the farm than the weekdays.

2. I’m going to post a vlog once a week, a gaming video at least once a week, and do a stream at least once a week. I need to get my digital presence back up and moving.

3. I am going to start being more active on Twitter, since I’ve all but vanished off of it lately. It doesn’t do me much good to ignore a good social media platform if I plan on developing relationships with friends and finding fans.

4. I’m going to finish chapter 3 in Into the Flames and at the very least start chapter 4. If I finish it, that’ll be a bonus. But I at least want to get it started.

5. I will do 20 minutes of yoga every day and go for a walk at least three times a week. My goal is to get down to 200 lbs by the end of the year (I’m at 240 lbs right now), so I need to get my ass in gear and get moving.

 

I think that’s enough to keep me busy for this month. Everyone enjoy your day and I’ll be back with another random post tomorrow!

Just a childhood memory

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Photo via VisualHunt.com

The warm scent of the summer grass caught his attention, bring back some of the memories he carried with him of his childhood. There was something about the sweet smell that reminded him of his grandfather. A faint quirk appeared at the corner of his lips. He hadn’t thought of the old man in years. He didn’t exactly miss him, as he’d been a horrible human being while Quinn was growing up, but there were some bright points during Quinn’s childhood that still cropped up from time to time.

Quinn walked out onto the veranda. He stared out over the garden that his wife had planted the second day after their wedding. It was mostly dead now, just like her, but there were still a few stubborn plants clinging to life. She had done the same when the cancer took hold. He remembered her hanging onto his hand, begging him not to leave her side until the very end. Though he’d never enjoyed watching someone die, he gave her his word. He kept it too.

That was one thing Quinn was good at, keeping his word. He’d promised his parents he would take care of his younger sister Helene. He’d done that until she got married. When she left the house, he washed his hands of her since she married against his wishes. Her husband got her interested in heroin and the two of them OD’d two months after their daughter was born.

Quinn assured the courts he would take Verity and care for her like his own. Which he did, until his wife grew too jealous. Then he was forced to send Verity away to a boarding school outside the state. He struggled to keep track of her, to make sure she was well supplied with everything she needed as well as several things that she wanted. But it wasn’t enough, and Verity soon dropped out of school and disappeared. Quinn didn’t know what happened to her during the ten years she was absent, but when she returned to him and his wife, she was a changed woman. Gone was the laughing, trusting child. In her place was a suspicious, angry, bitter woman who blamed Quinn and Sophia for everything wrong in her life. She was currently serving a life sentence for murdering her husband and twin sons.

Quin mused on his life. Everyone he loved and cared for either died or became as good as dead to him. His parents were killed in a car accident. His grandmother, who adopted him and Helene, died of a heart attack four years after the adoption was finalized. His grandfather, who he really didn’t miss, had a stroke and the resulting seizure led to his death. Then Helene got married and died. Sophia got sick. Verity vanished and then returned, too angry to accept responsibility for her own actions – whatever they were. Sophia died. Then Verity committed the triple homicide and was sent to prison for life – specifically serving three consecutive life terms.

Quinn opened the small gate closing the veranda off from the rest of the yard. He walked down the short staircase and began wandering through the half dead greenery. He drifted to his favorite part of the wildness – the berry bushes. In the back corner was a bush with large blue berries on it. He reached out and picked the ripest ones and threw them in his mouth.

The skins burst pleasingly against his tongue. He swallowed the sweet yet slightly tart juice and worked down the soft insides. As he continued wandering he started to feel very sick. His lips and tongue burned, and his eyes were getting blurry. He was very disoriented and he felt like he might pass out at any moment.

The breeze brushed across his skin, feeling like sandpaper. He staggered over to his favorite tree and sat on the bench beneath it. A few cherry blossoms fell onto his lap. He played with them until his fingers no longer worked. The last of the berries fell from his hands. It suddenly dawned on him that they were the wrong color for blueberries. They were nightrot, a rare berry that was a deadly poison. Quin sighed as the poison relaxed his whole body. He gave into the darkness. Waiting for him were all of his loved ones.

Forbidden verse

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Darkness falls
My eyes grow dim
The keyhole blazes
My hand trembles as I lift
The ancient key to the crumbling gate
I hear her weeping
She begs me to set her free
I turn the key
I am the gate

Reina stared at the strange verse her teacher showed her. She fluttered her wings impatiently. “So when do I start copying this one, setai?

“You don’t,” Talya said, her wings tucked behind her. “You asked me about the Forbidden Verses. This is one of them.”

“So what does it mean?” Reina asked.

“A thousand years ago, the twin sisters Seraiah and Meraiah joined their magic together to create our kingdom. They proved to be wise, compassionate leaders for a time. But soon Seraiah’s heart twisted and she wanted all the power for herself. She murdered Meraiah and her husband and seized the throne as the solitary ruler,” Talya said.

“I’ve heard this story before, setai,” Reina said impatiently. “Meraiah’s daughter and a group of nobles rebelled and cast Seraiah out. She was imprisoned until she died. Queen Marijeta and King Khariton restored the balance, where the child of each of the twins sat in power on the thrones, and peace returned.”

“You are partially correct. Seraiah was deposed, but she was not cast out. Nor did she die. She was imprisoned for eternity, alive and immortal, but unable to do anything to influence the world around her,” Talya said. “These words are the key to her prison. There have been a few Scribes foolish enough to imbue them with their power. They have either gone mad or died. Seraiah reaches through these words into the Scribe’s mind, forcing them to attempt to set her free.”

“So why do we even keep them around? Why not destroy all copies of them so she can’t be freed?” Reina asked.

Talya sighed and set the ancient document to the side. “Reina, we have destroyed them. Every time they reappear they are burned and their ashes spread with salt. It doesn’t matter. A Scribe corrupted by Seraiah will write the words regardless, if she has reached into their mind. So now each Master Scribe keeps a copy – reproduced by magic so no one is lost to the spell – in their archives to show their apprentices, to teach them what to look for and what not to write.”

“So when do I get to see something I can write?” Reina asked, already showing a lack of interest in the parchment, though her eyes flickered to the cabinet where Talya put it away.

Talya shook her head. “Nothing. Your impatience has earned you a mark. Go about your day and remember that a Scribe must be patient as well as precise.” Talya spread her wings and flew up to her private library. Reina flew outside, glaring at her teacher through the large window that provided most of the light in the room.

The sun set and Reina returned. She ate the simple fare Talya insisted on keeping in the house and went to her room. She didn’t read as was her normal tradition. Still seething about how she’d been dismissed, Reina put out the light and went straight to bed. She closed her eyes and attempted to go to sleep.

A soft strain of music, just barely audible, played in the night. Reina sat up, pushing her blankets aside. It was moondark, so she wasn’t sure of the time. She slid the curtain back on the opening to her room and looked out into the rest of the house. It was dark, so Talya was also in bed.

Reina spread her wings and flitted downstairs. The music grew louder, and now she heard a woman’s voice. She was singing a song in the ancient language. Reina only recognized a few words. It seemed to be coming from the cabinet where Talya kept the original documents she wanted Reina to practice on.

Reina opened it. The sound stopped. The young apprentice frowned. As she went to close it, a single sheet of parchment fluttered down to the ground. She bent and picked it up. Curiosity led her to light one lamp and see which one it was. It was Seraiah’s prison key.

Reina bent down and picked it up, intending to put it back into the cabinet. A voice whispered in her mind, singing of the kind of power that could be hers if she released Seraiah.

A bitterness welled up inside of her. Talya was holding her back. Reina was a skilled and powerful Scribe. Talya was jealous of her gift. That was why she wouldn’t put her name forward to be lifted into the ranks. Her hand clenched around the parchment. She whirled around and headed to her desk.

She laid out a piece of her finest parchment and lit the lamp above the writing surface. She looked at her selection of inks and chose the gold. She dipped her sharpest pen in the ink and began copying the words, imbuing them with all the magic she had. Each letter flared with a golden flame as it seared itself into the parchment. As the last stroke of the pen ended, she felt a searing pain rip through her body, and then knew nothing but darkness.

Talya came downstairs the next morning, startled to see her normally lazy apprentice’s lamp burning. She frowned. There were spots of blood on Reina’s stool. She went over to see what she’d been working on. Sighing, she collected both pieces of parchment and tucked them in the cabinet. She went to her mirror and drew a rune on it with her finger.

The Royal Scribe, leader of all the Scribes, appeared on the reflective surface a moment later. He saw her sad face. “Another one?” he asked sympathetically.

“Reina,” Talya said. “At least she was more creative than the last. She used golden ink.”

“Was there any sign of Seraiah?” he asked.

Talya shook her head. “A few drops of blood on Reina’s stool was all I saw. Everything was still locked tight.”

The Royal Scribe sighed. “The world needs a revolution. When will we be able to summon her again?”

“When the time is right,” Talya said. “The curse can’t hold forever.”

“I hope you’re right, Talya.” The Royal Scribe glanced over his shoulder. “I have to go. Their Majesties have summoned me. Keep faith, Talya. We will find a way.” The image wavered and vanished. Talya’s shoulders and wings drooped for a moment before she straightened up and turned to clean up the blood. She had another apprentice to find.

An Esper’s gift

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Edgar leaned on his stick and watched his grandchildren play. The light breeze made the summer heat bearable. The river was running swiftly, a testament to the large amount of rain they’d gotten that spring. It was an abnormality he’d seen before, though his daughter and her husband claimed it was because of a change in the climate of the planet.

He sighed. They were right, of course. It was. But it wasn’t entirely man made, as they were quick to say. The planet had a lifespan, like so many other living creatures, and it was reaching another milestone in it. Of course, the results of this milestone would bring mass extinctions, natural disasters, and a large decrease in the human population, but that was something you came to expect when you got as old as he was.

He thought for a moment. It would be this planet’s second cycle. The last world he’d lived on had gone through eleven before it became unlivable. He missed that world. He lost his beloved Anyalisi in the destruction. He’d been chosen to leave on the colony ships. She was forced to remain behind.

Senalimaa was a good wife, and she’d provided him with five beautiful children, but Anyalisi had been with him for far longer than any other wife he’d had. It still hurt as he thought of watching her sapphire eyes watching him, full of tears, as he was forced at gunpoint onto the ship.

His musings were interrupted by screams. He looked over where his granddaughters had been playing. Velamara was at the edge of the river, shrieking and pointing. He saw a white haired head bobbing in the middle of the water as it was swept along. Belaminari was being carried away by the torrents.

Edgar grounded his stick and closed his eyes. He located his youngest granddaughter’s life energy and wrapped his mind around it. He stopped her momentum and lifted her from the water with the energy he drew from the world around him. He carried her back to the shore and set her down next to her sister.

He opened his eyes. “You two, get back from the river. Right now,” he snapped.

“Yes Elder,” Velamara said. She took her sister’s hand and dragged the soaking wet girl into the house.

A few minutes later, Edgar’s daughter Gemisidara and her husband Hamunixaru stomped out. “Father, what did you do?” Gemisidara asked, her voice high and frightened. “You know the Visionnari have forbidden the use of such powers.”

“Would you have had me let Belaminari drown?” Edgar asked, not turning around. “If I can save a life, I will.”

“I’m going to have to turn you in,” Hamunixaru said, not sounding sorry at all.

“Do what you must,” Edgar said. “It’ll do you little good. The Visionnari won’t do anything against me.”

“We shall see,” Hamunixaru said. He stalked off, followed a moment later by Gemisidara.

Three hours later, he heard the familiar booted footsteps. “Edgar, we were told you used forbidden powers to save your granddaughter,” one of the Visionnari said in a monotone voice.

“I did,” Edgar said, again without turning around.

“How many lives saved does that make?” another Visionnari asked.

“Since we got here? Five hundred and seventy three, unless you want me to count the infants I’ve helped deliver and kept alive,” Edgar said. “If you do, that puts it at well over a thousand.”

There was silence. In unison, the Visionnari behind him spoke. “Then we find no crime has been committed here.”

There was a muffled gasp. “How can you say that?” Hamunixaru asked. “He used forbidden powers?”

“For Edgar, there are no forbidden powers. He is Father to All Worlds,” the first Visionnari said. “It is to him we owe our existence. It is he who found this planet for us. It is he who granted us life. We honor him by granting him the ability to live his life as he sees fit.” The booted feet marched off, the sound dwindling into nothing.

“Father, what did they mean that you are the Father to All Worlds?” Gemisidara asked.

“Did you pay attention in your history classes? About how humans came from a planet called Earth?” Edgar asked.

“That old story?” Hamunixaru asked. “You don’t believe it, do you?”

Edgar finally turned to face his daughter and son-in-law. He pushed back his sleeve and showed them the tattoo on his forearm. There, in all its pulsing glory, was the mark of the Esper. It was the mark given to those who’d been genetically engineered to have some kind of extra sensory powers. Those like him had been the reason Earth was abandoned. “I am one of the last Espers in existence. Most have committed suicide or been killed by those who don’t understand us. I continue to live, to spread my DNA in the hopes that someday those like me will be welcomed again once more.” He turned and, pressing his stick into the soft dirt as he walked, headed towards town.