Cincia’s day of Seeing had come. Just as quickly as she had fallen asleep, she was awoken to hands guiding her into a white silken robe and ushering her by torchlight to the middle of the forest that surrounded her small fishing village. The darkness is enough to cloak her even in the bright robe she had been adorned in, save for the aid of the villagers torchlight accompanying her.
She’d witnessed it before, had been a part of the ritual for years. She’d led countless individuals to the same spot since she was merely a child and had watched others proceed inside and accept their fate. But seeing the small, wooded hut built upon twigs and slathered with mud for the umpteenth time didn’t make it any less unnerving. It was frightening. It would be decided here, tonight. Without any warning. She thought that maybe she’d see a vision the night before, preparing her for the summoning of The Seeing. There was nothing except violent jerking hands awakening her into a swarm of confusion. Walking out into the dirt, the bottom of the snow-white robe slowly being muddied as Cincia walked.
Tonight is misty. The torchlight casts fragmented light through the swirling shapes and dimly illuminated the hut as if someone had halved the brightness of the torches with a wool blanket. She looked back at her fellow villagers, at her parents and her younger sister, and then turns her head to the right to look at the village elder. Tomias is his name. An older man, he has been calling the names for The Seeing for innumerable years, as discernable from each individual line on his crinkled face. He gestured toward the wooden door with a long withering finger.
“Go.” He spoke with such a strong commanding presence that Cincia began to walk towards the hut like she was being pulled by an invisible thread, the one binding her to fate. She walked warily through the mud and stopped before the tall wooden door. The weathered door matches the rest of the worn exterior.
She took one look back at her people. Emotionless faces staring with wide eyes, the light giving off the impression of eagerness, some worry. It’s a serious affair; the rest of her life would be decided.
Fisherman. Woodworkers. Strongmen. Councilman. Rulers. So many fates decided from this small village. All come true. No one can date when the Day of Seeing started. Names of the villagers have always been called into the forest. Some in the bright morning, some with setting sun of the lazy afternoon. Only a handful have been called at night. Cincia opens the door to the seemingly run-down hut.
And so, she steps inside.
The door slams behind her, and she jumps a little in the shock as the sound reverberates throughout the space. The first thing that strikes Cincia is the interior. It’s circular, the floor a cool black ore that is incredibly smooth on her bare feet. Hundreds of candles litter the floor and the shelves that encompass the circumference of the room. Where there is room on the shelves, there are various jars filled with liquids and herbs, small animal skulls, and-
A hand. On her shoulder. Before she could finish examining the contents of the shelves completely filling the shelf space, a cold spindly hand from behind her rests itself on her left shoulder, sending a crawling shiver up her spine and into the base of her neck.
“Kneel,” it whispers. A low and soft female voice, a contradiction to the hands it bares. Cincia kneels…and does it quickly.
The Soothsayer slowly walks around. She’s at least two feet taller than she, and as she towers over Cincia’s kneeling body she realizes the immense height that she possesses. She’s adorned in a long sheer black dress with gold jagged embellishments along the trim, the fabric clinging to her thin body. Her hands are pale and the fingers long, the nails just as spindly and finely pointed, hair long raven-black hair drapes behind the shoulders, face angular and pointed. Her eyes are invisible due to the large head piece she adorns on top of her craning neck. An assortment of large antlers intertwines together at the top, intricately crafted so they don’t touch as they curl and twist around each other. As they get closer toward the eyes, they become smaller and more condensed, concealing the eyes from Cincia’s view.
“Your day of Seeing has come, Cincia,” she whispers, almost like a hiss. She juts forward as she speaks, and the candles flicker, “We begin with the opening of your palm, an offering of your flesh to help you See.”
The Soothsayer extends her arm, towards Cincia. The young girl returns the gesture, her right palm facing upwards towards the ceiling. The being gently grabs it, softer than she would have thought it would feel, and begins to angle her long nail down and into the center of her palm.
She had heard that the pain wasn’t great, that it was an enlightening experience. One filled with great joy of her future to come. Those who walked out of the hut had the mark in the center of their palm to bear their Sight, a permanent reminder of their fate. A painless experience. This was not that. It hurt. A searing pain erupts from the center of her palm as the Soothsayer drives deeper into the center. It looks as if it were going in smoothly like a knife through butter. Cincia screams, as she curls over her hand, but the Soothsayer isn’t letting go. She goes deeper.
She’s scared. Terrified. The Soothsayer scares her to the center of her body, yet she can’t will herself to move, to resist. She looks up at the being’s face. It’s stoic and unwavering as if she can’t hear the pained noises Cincia is making. The nail goes deeper. Blood begins to pour out of the hole that is being bore into her palm. She heaves a guttural groan emitting the sound of pure pain, like the yelp of a deer who is being hunted. Tears begin to stream down her face as she grits her teeth together, her jaw clenching as she keels over more on the grip that the Soothsayer has on her hand, and then she lets go.
The hole goes all the way through her hand, and the being puts her hand underneath Cincia’s, cupping the blood running from the wound in her long creature-like hands. She knows she must stay still, so she clasps her wrist, and lets the blood freely pour down. The blood that misses the cupped hands drips onto the black ore, disappearing into the ground. She sobs at the pain. She has never been good with it.
Once she’s gotten enough, the Soothsayer stands back up to her full height, nodding to Cincia as if almost giving permission for her to cradle over her hand and soak in the pain.
“The Sight is granted next,” says the Soothsayer. She steps toward Cincia. Cincia tried to move backwards, but it feels like her legs are stuck in their place. She can’t escape. The Soothsayer rubs her palms together and lathers the blood from her palms up to the elbows. The red mess begins to drip onto the floor, and onto the now stained dress that Cincia wears.
“Please no, I don’t want to See,” Cincia begs, her voice trying to grasp the words and plead to the Soothsayer.
The Soothsayer extends her right bloodied arm towards Cincia, “The first step is to take the gift of speech.”
She smears the blood onto Cincia’s mouth, her cold finger gliding across her lips. Cincia tries to scream, as she tastes her own blood in her mouth, but she finds that she cannot. Just as her legs are unwilling to move, she cannot emit even a muffled cry. There is no sound. She writhes in her place, and her eyes grow wide as the Soothsayer grows closer.
“The gift of hearing goes next, just as swift as we came into this world,” and the Soothsayer extends both of her arms and swiftly wipes the blood on Cincia’s ears. The world goes silent. The sound of the air filling the room is gone, if it ever had a sound to begin with, it is not there.
“To be able to See is to rid of the sight we already acquire,” the raspy whisper of the Soothsayer breacher her mind. She reaches out with her bloodied hands and smears the blood over Cincia’s eyes.
Silence. Darkness. There is nothing. No natural sound, nothing to see, nothing to feel. The darkness begins to shift, and take shape, the black emptiness becomes cloudy, and Cincia begins moving. No, not moving, she is being pulledthrough the darkness, she’s being taken somewhere. To see something. The space lightens, and she enters an area with jutted spires erupting from the ground, but the image becomes clearer. It’s a forest, burnt down to the ground. The trees left over are remnants of what once was a lush and full forest, the embers glowing on the ground and the smoke still pouring out from the ash.
“Something happened here...drastic…deadly…” whispers the Soothsayer. This time it’s not scary, but sympathetic and saddened. One glance around and you can tell that this was devastating. She glances around the scene, and through the smoke she can barely make out a figure walking away from the scene of the disaster. Cincia tries to take a step forward with her incorporeal body, and before she can say something, she is pulled backwards, and feels herself flying through to something new. A different vision.
This one comes faster. It’s clearer, livelier. She’s being pulled through the busy streets of a town she does not recognize. Quickly. Rising to the rooftops, she glides along the ceramic tiles and views an enormous blue sea. She’s in a coastal city, racing along the rooftops…no, she’s following something. Stalking something fast on the streets below. The figure she sees is shadowed, effortlessly blending into the streets below, yet she knows that this is who she’s following: they’re the only one running. She glides along the rooftops, and follows a ladder down to the streets, gaining on the figure.
“Something is missing here…chasing, following the prey. But telling you who it is would ruin half of the fun,” the voice comes as Cincia is about to corner the shadow, and is violently shunted again, falling deeper into the vision, as the world before her dissipates.
She can see her body this time. It appears so violently, it surprises her. Her arms are wrapped around a persons body. Cincia can only wonder if it’s the same as the last vision. They’re inside a small wooden room, a small bed and a desk are the only items occupying the room, except for the struggle happening between these two opponents.
“The person you’ve been seeking. Has it been all for naught? A journey for fulfillment, the right decision?” the Soothsayer jeers. It knows the answer, she can feel it in her mind.
Against her will, she sees her own hands take out a long dagger, and drags it across the figures throat, gliding across the skin like the nail bore into her palm. A murder. The body clutches it’s throat, and Cincia struggles to see the face. It writhes on the bed in pain, the dark crimson bed soaking through the white sheets on the bed, until the body goes completely still. She killed them.
Before she can even think of a question to herself, she is jutted back into the black expanse of the vision that she’s known to be a quick waiting room to her next journey. Except she stays here. Far off in the inky black distance, she can see the Soothsayer standing tall, her chin up.
Its voice breaks through into her mind, “You are the last to have the Sight.”
This sentence echoes and reverberates inside her head. The only word she can think of is How?
“One day, we’ll See each other again. When that day comes, know it to be your last,” and she disappears, walking back as she is enveloped into the darkness.
Cincia awakes with a gasp, fresh air entering her lungs as she takes a deep full breath. Her body is on the cold black ore of the hut, but it’s empty. The shelves aligned with the various possessions of the Soothsayer are gone, the candles leaving no trace, not even a singular drop of wax. The Soothsayer isn’t here, she is alone, in the room.
She wipes her hair out of her face. It’s still wet with her own blood, and as she looks down, her white dress ruined from the ritual that she endured, yet as she checks her hand, she finds no wound. The only evidence is a circular scar on both sides of her hand, forever signaling her to the pain she had to endure…for the vision. She kept replaying the vision she had in her head. She had to go out and ask her village for any answers. Her Seeing was unlike any of the others she had heard stories about. People going in and envisioning their life with the husbands and wives they were to marry, their career. Not only this, but a painless journey. Why was hers so much more pained, and her future so much more unclear?
Cincia stands up slowly and instinctively rubs the scar over her right hand. It should hurt, but all that remained was a dull throb in the place of her scar. Cincia had to go outside, the quietness of the hut was too much, she had to ear again, see again, speak again. She walked over to the door, closed her eyes, and readied for a breath of fresh air.
She opens the door and inhales.
What she was met with was the smell of burning wood, and a stench of something…dead. She snapped her eyes open. The forest is smoldering, and the embers fresh. In the distance she sees the shadow of her old village, buildings that are crumbled and misshapen from the collapse of the fire. The trees stuck up like…spires. Her vision, it was happening. Already. And fast. How long had she been Seeing? She had known of peoples visions that had taken seconds, some minutes, one person was gone for a few hours in one event. But how long was she gone for an entire forest and village to burns to glowing red embers? Her parents. Her younger sister. Her friends. Her teachers. All of them gone. She whips around the forest, trying to find one essence of life. Tears begin to flow as the overwhelming thought of her being the sole survivor starts to become her reality.
She falls to the ashen ground, her knees crinkling the ground beneath her. Her palms grab the forest floor, searching. She looks back at her village. Nothing living is here…except the figure walking by the crumbled buildings, away from the burned expanse of the forest. It’s barely visible, she has to squint to see it.
It has begun. She knows what she must do. Cincia pushes herself off the ground and begins to walk towards her fate.