Dated: 08 Dec, 2019
If you want to know the future there’s a few things you can try: Even in a world of magic the art of premonition (and it is an art, no one could describe it as a science) the flow of time is often seen as an incorruptible journey; a relentless, one-way trip to your destiny at a rate of one second per second.
Some beg to differ… Our reporter sought out a couple of sources to find out more; first the most well known:
Astromelda The grand Vizier believes she has a sight for future events. She is a striking lady in her middling years and robustly built. She wears the robes of a priestess of Isis of the Heliopeans and her headdress is decorated with the stuffed remains of an ibis of uncertain years and ragged manufacture. In keeping with her priestly look her face is painted white with the red highlights around her mouth and eyes, decorated with fine-lining in black (note – the Heliopean temple told me that she had never attended any of their ceremonies nor had any training in any proper rites, however she claims her qualifications come from an association with the Priestlings of the Bright Fruit and their Sanctuary to the east of the city. Given that the Priestlings are a male-only order this seems an unlikely happenstance) *. Her eyes twinkle with unholy maleficence; her shop is appointed in thick drapes of black and gold, lavishly equipped with symbols, charms and similar equipment of High Magic. These charms and protections are also for sale, she is keen to point out.
Although Astromelda says she doesn’t so much “see” the future as “feel the strange impression of peril, wonder, fear and death dribbling through the ether like the echoes of a distant singer singing a mysterious song.”
When I spoke to her of her powers she was expansive in her responses: “The fates are fickle creatures, weaving their fronds of past, present and future together. If one is wise in the ways of weaving one might perceive what the pattern might be, at least for a short time into the future, or regarding one event.” I asked if this meant that fate was written and unavoidable. She looked perplexed “Why would you think such a thing? Pick at any weave and the threads become unlocked, you can twist them to your own ends. If you are capable.” This sounded like she meant the work of the gods could be corrupted? She agreed, “But one must always be careful when it comes to dealing with the gods. Terrible sacrifices might be demanded.” And what might I have to sacrifice, I asked. Her tone sharpened noticeably. “Ten gold for a normal reading,” she replied, “If you want a horoscope that will be a hundred and will take me a week. I read palms too. They’re ten gold. No guarantees, no refunds given.”
Astromelda’s greatest competition in this is Arum the Soothsayer. Arum is a slightly (but only slightly) more down to Earth seer who uses the echoes of fate as described in signs and portents displayed in the “now”. He claims to be able to discern the path of the future by closely observing certain indicators in the present. From the flight of birds he foretells the destiny of harvests. From the entrails of fish he can predict the weather. From the ritual imbibement of certain arcane fluids he can predict the rise and fall of kings.
His own place of business, for lack of a better description, is a set of poorly maintained rooms near the Celtic Temple. These dimly lit chambers are dirty and smell fouly of rotten meat; buckets of offal and past dissections are piled near the door and the poorly-stripped skulls of numerous beasts, large and small, decorate the walls. Arum himself always wears his wolfskin in public, its boneless head strapped down over his own, and beneath that he wears greying robes in need of a wash. Or perhaps burning.
Arum is a man of indeterminate years. His face is stretched with the trials of a long life, or perhaps a short one poorly led. His eyes are young and sparkle with mischief but his mouth, lipless between a straight, grimy beard and moustache, is perpetually twisted to suggest something distasteful in the air. Which of course there usually is.
I asked him if the future was written and unchangeable; “All futures are written, but all possibilities are played out. Like the streams making a river one can flow in which ever one you like to branch from the main flow.” I pointed out that small rivers flow into larger ones and he looked perplexed, “Yes, perhaps. The fortunes I render are more useful than my metaphors, I should think.” I asked him if he subscribed to the many-worlds perception of the Multiverse, given he suggested the path might be changed, chosen even. “I wouldn’t like to comment on something so lurid as modern science. I deal with magic and folklore, the wisdom of the gods and the transducing of their intentions and desires. I won’t have any truck with that modern nonsense.” Instead I asked him how one might go about changing ones fate. “With years of study and no small amount of talent you might learn the paths and minds of the gods. You might, and I emphasise ‘might’, then be able to see further and deeper into your own future. It’s not a trifling matter. And certainly only a gifted few might see another’s future. I have been blessed, nay, cursed one might say, with The Sight! It is a grim burden to have the future play before your eyes, like characters in a theatre acted out too quickly.” And how might one with no training know one's fate then, I asked. “Ten gold for a normal reading,” he replied, his tone now tight and more earnest that it had been. “If you want a reading of entrails that will be a hundred gold and you must supply me with the appropriate fresh cadaver as I instruct. I read palms too. They’re ten gold as well. No guarantees, no refunds given.”
And then, of course, there is the traditional path of bribing the gods with your time, essence and material goods. Just pop along to your favourite temple and do something time-consuming and/or expensive and you can rest assured, probably, that your patron god has your best interests at heart and will endeavour to make sure your plans come to fruition. All very well but there is a clause in the theological contract: if you don’t get what you asked for either you can’t have tried hard enough to impress your god, or you are trapped in a bigger and more mysterious plot in which your role is written and inevitable.
The best way to find out what destiny has in mind for you is probably to go to the future and find out. Don’t fancy that? Tough luck, you’re already on your way and there’s only one way to get the best from this trip. Join in the fun and frolics in the most exciting fantasy game setting that includes a banana-shaped planet - the City of Dunromin, capital of the Land of the Young.
* Just before going to press a representative of the Heliopean Temple contacted me and informed that, after a meeting with Astromelda and her banker, the temple now fully recognises her status as Associate Member and Seer.