People are always telling me I look toward the future too much.
They're all like “Lauren, stop sprouting prophecies!” or “Do you always have to see the future?” or even, “What do you mean I’m going to die tomorrow?” (That last one only happened that one time. And the guy didn’t even die in the end.) (Well, not entirely)
I can’t help it. I’m a harpy. That means I can see the future and sometimes there’s a little prophecy that goes with it. It also means I can fly by using my giant wings.
You see, we harpies look like your average human, except for the wings, bird feet, super good eyesight, and long sharp fingers. I’ve also been told that our features are all lines and angles, whatever that means.
So, when people get annoyed at me, I just roll my eyes and go back to jotting down the vision I just saw. It's a law in my world that all futures seen are to be recorded and sent to the Library of Tomorrow.
A vision came to me while in the middle of eating lunch and in the shock of it all I knocked over my zababa juice, spilling it all over my white dress and brown work vest. I had to change and clean up before heading to the Library to get it catalogued.
It wasn’t very busy beside a few harpies flying around with arms full of scrolls with hundreds of futures in them. The room was circler and tall with thousands of shelves stacked to the brim with scrolls that went back ages. A glass dome topped the structure let in the sun and made the giant room beautiful in the natural lighting. The smell of cedar and paper filled the air along with an unhealthy amount of dust.
In the center of the room a round desk with an elderly harpy writing and sorting some pieces of papers into large wooden drawers.
I tapped her shoulder to get her attention.
She startled, then, seeing me, got her wits back.
How may I help you? She signed. Harpies are all born deaf and while we could learn to speak, it is safer that we can’t, so people don’t accidentally learn about their tragic futures. We communicate through a series of hand gestures and the written word.
I have a vision to record. I signed back and waved a sauce-stained napkin with it on it. (What? It was the only paper close by.)
Okay. She took the napkin and slipped it into a file. Then she handed me a form and a pen. Can you please fill this out? Thank you.
I took the form and headed for one of the soft lounge chairs. I sometimes just came and sat, watching everyone doing their jobs and the secrets of the universe that were in arms reach. Nobody could read the scrolls except the Elder Chief. If anyone got their hands on the destinies of all the realms, they would have power beyond imaginable.
And that would be bad.
Like really bad.
Like everything-we've-ever-known-would-be-destroyed-and-some-psycho-would-be-in-control bad
I try not to think about the end of the world too much but being the apprentice to Elder Chief Atticus makes you worry sometimes. He’s been anxious and quite lately (More than normal, I mean.) and I catch him staring at a spot on his office wall all the time, deep in thought.
Now that I think about it, I should probably tell him about the vision. It seems important, but I couldn’t fully understand it.
A boy, who looked about fifteen, summons this ball of shadow and light, while an ashy haired woman with pointed ears talks, probably giving him instructions. In the corner of the castle-like room, three people sat tied up, watching, and yelling at the boy. One of them was wearing human clothing, another had cat ears on top of her head, and the last one’s face was hidden behind a hood. The boy’s face was slick with sweat, making his wavy brown hair stick, and he seemed to be having an internal battle with himself. With each passing moment the ball of light and shadow gets bigger and slowly morphs into something I couldn’t see. The ashy hair woman says something, and the boy turns to the tied-up people. He then throws the ball at them and the vision ends.
The weird thing was that ashy haired woman looked like an elf, and her and the hooded person seemed familiar, but I couldn’t remember where from. Also, the glowing ball of light and shadow was a form of magic only capable by elves. And, according to my History of the Worlds class, elves were banished from other realms and all portals leading to their world were blocked. No one had seen an elf in years and if someone had found a way in. . .
The more I thought the vision, the more I knew I should tell Chief Atticus. I finished filling out the form that mostly asked me about the details of the vision, the date, my name and age, and stuff.
I swung by the front desk and dropped in a basket full of other forms before leaving. I flapped my golden-brown wings and was off. I soared across the deep valley, swooping in between the trees and over small streams. I waved to Mrs. Thorne, who was my neighbor, and flew up to Chief Atticus' office.
Most of the houses in the harpy world are attached to the side of the mountains or on top of trees. The Elder Chief's office was in a tiny crevice on the side of the cliff for security reasons (Maybe? I don’t know.) and it was a tight squeeze to get in. I had to fold my wings against my sides and pray that I didn’t die.
After sort of succeeding at not dying, (there were some close calls.) I landed on the porch of Chief Atticus office. The office was small and domed shaped, with plants of all species growing on the beige wooden walls.
I knocked on the door, hoping that he felt the vibrations.
I tried knocking again, but then decided to screw it and walk in. I slid the door open and was greeted with the strong smell of fruity incense and a sharp pain in my shin from bashing into a coffee table.
It was one of the times where I wished I could talk so I could say all the swear words that were in my head. Instead, I just randomly signed them, though it didn’t have the same impact. I also was signing in the same direction that Chief Atticus was at his desk.
I quickly signed, Sorry, not talking to you, and pointed at my knee to explain what I was swearing at.
He smiled and signed back, No problem. I watched you smash into the table. It looked painful.
Thanks. We stood awkwardly before I remembered why I was there.
Hey, I had a vision early today and I wanted to tell you about “cause it’s really weird. I hesitated before adding, I’m pretty sure it had an elf in it.
The colour from Chief Atticus’s tanned face drained. He looked like he was about to vomit. I took a few steps back, just to be safe.
Tell me everything. He signed after a few minutes of sweat frantic thinking.
I explained the whole vision, including what the people looked like, and any other details I could remember. Chief Atticus was especially interested in the human clothed boy, which was odd. He didn’t seem that special.
Could you make out any words? He asked once I was finished.
I shook my head. Because all harpies are born deaf, we can’t hear visions. So, while it may look like a future is one thing, it could be different when it happens.
No. I signed. All I know was that the elf lady was giving instructions to the boy and that the tied-up people were yelling at him.
Chief Atticus puzzled over it all for a moment, staring out the window. His mouth moved like he was mumbling words to himself. I fiddled with one of my blonde braids, feeling awkward, bored, and nervous.
This is bad. He eventually signed. Very very bad.
Why? I asked. I know that elves are supposed to not interact with any other world or species or do anything really, but this is the future, right? Maybe things have changed.
Chief Atticus shook his head hard. No. The boy tied up fifteen, right?
I shrugged and felt my eyebrows narrow in confusion. Yeah, maybe, but what does that have to do with anything?
Chief Atticus sighed and gestured to the chair in front of him. I guess I have some explaining to do.
I took a seat and he started.
So, you know how about fifteen-something years ago I saw the future of the second son of King Roman and Queen Kaelynn? And how they hid him in one of the worlds?
I nodded. It was a legend with the harpies about the famous vision. No one knows the exact events of it except King Roman, Queen Kaelynn, and of course, Chief Atticus. The scroll containing the details was locked away in an unknown room somewhere deep in the depths of the Library of Tomorrow.
Well, that kid that tied up is him. Or sounds exactly like him.
I was so confused. What?
Chief Atticus rubbed his temples and signed, He was hidden fifteen years ago in the world of earth and looks exactly like you described him. Also, the cat eared lady is his guardian who was assigned to protect him.
I was bewildered. Seriously? Why is he there? Who are those other people?
I don’t know, he admitted, but if Maige is a part of this, it can’t be good.
Maige? I asked.
She’s probably known to you as Queen Elanor of the elves. Or Queen Sunstar, in the elven language.
The queen of elves? Like the same one who tried to take over and rule all the realms?
Sadly, yes. All portals to their world were blocked years ago, so if Maige has found a way to bring people into her world or go into another world. . . he didn’t continue, but I got the picture. The Elf Queen seen talking with other species when she was supposed to be banished in her own world, wasn’t good, especially when she was directing someone to use shadow and light magic to kill people.
I tapped Chief Atticus on the shoulder. What about the other boy? I wondered once I got his attention. The one using the elf magic.
I don’t know who that is, which isn’t good.
If Elder Chief Atticus, the wisest and most all-knowing person in all the worlds, was saying he didn’t know. . . Well, you can guess that things aren’t going to go great.
He must be an elf if he can do light and shadow magic. I signed.
Yes. Maybe he- He was interrupted by another harpy tumbling into the room.
The new harpy started signing fast. People arrived. Strangers. Not harpies. Guardian with them. The words were broken, and half signed, so I only caught the jist.
Chief Atticus jumped up and made his way to the door. Where?
By entrance to the valley, the new harpy answered.
I grabbed a pad of paper and a pen, in case I needed to take notes, before following them as they jumped off the porch and flew to the valley entrance. A small group of harpies had gathered around to try to see the new arrivals. We landed in the center, forcing the others to back away to avoid getting hit by our wings.
I let out a slow breath and turned toward the newcomers.
I felt the pen and pad slip out of hands and land with a soft thud on the ground.
There were four newcomers, including a cat eared lady and hooded figure, but I cared more about the two boys wearing human clothing.
The first one had wavy brown hair and a skinny build, while the second one had dark chocolate skin and looked sort of regal, princely even.
I glanced at Chief Atticus to see if he realised who they were. His eyebrows were scrunched together like one long fuzzy caterpillar and looked at each of the arrivals as if trying to see into their souls. Or see their futures. One of the two.
I looked back at the boys to see if it really was them.
Yep. It was them.
The same ones from the vision I had earlier.
I sighed. I didn’t need to see it to know that the future was about to get a little crazier.