Hand of Fate
(Original Fic, Genre: Fantasy, 759 words)
Prompt: Foreseeing an event before it happens.
“If you are a man of prophecy, are you not the judge of your own fate?” Dove asked, staring up at the firelight dancing across the forest canopy.
“I’d like to think I am,” Nenver said, not turning his head. Dove stared at his profile. Nenver's broad shoulders cast a long shadow behind him, it fell across Dove’s legs, stretched out as they were behind Nenver.
“Who would have thought – my little human friend would be destined to deliver his people from evil,” Dove smiled. “Do you think we were destined to meet? Or were you really just a poor orphan boy who had never been told not to play with shadows?”
“If I were destined to be your friend, you’d think they’d be happier about it,” Nenver replied, his head turning to glare at their travel companions. They all sat at a different, larger fire. Dove didn’t look over. He had put up with disapproving glares all day – he did not want to see them in the night too. The night was his.
“Destined or not, I do not regret it,” Nenver said quietly, turning to smile at Dove over his shoulder.
“There’s something I don’t understand,” Dove whispered, looking back to where the smoke curled around the leaves. “If you are destined to be the judge of fate, yet you only follow the path because you are told it is destined, does that not make you fate’s hand and not it’s judge? And if you are only the hand of fate – well, then you are not the judge, and the prophecy is as wrong as it would be if you chose not to leave your home. Yet, if you chose not to leave your home, even though you are said to be fated to – would that not make you the judge of fate?”
Dove furrowed his brow, and then looked over at Nenver to find Nenver staring at him confusion.
Dove sighed. What, indeed.
“I don’t like the idea that you are not in charge of your own actions,” Dove spoke plainly. “You should be Fate’s judge, not her hand.”
“I am here of my own accord,” Nenver said. “Besides, you’re a hand and you seem quite happy with it.”
“Aye,” Dove nodded.
“Do you miss it?” Nenver asked, turning so his body now faced Dove as much as the fire. “The city, your work...”
“I am sure there will be chance enough to take lives,” Dove huffed a laugh. “I have simply traded being the Assassins’ hand for being your hand. The work, I feel, will be much the same. I will kill those you wish me to.”
“I wish you wouldn’t kill anyone,” Nenver muttered.
“A kingdom cannot survive unless there are people to till the soil, people to work the forge, people to make the clothes, and people to do the killing,” Dove recited.
Nenver shook his head. Dove smiled.
“I’ll keep watch,” Dove said. “You should go to sleep, Nen.”
“They’ll keep watch,” Nenver nodded in the direction of the party of warriors, some already in their bedrolls, others still sitting by the fire – their blades close at hand. “You should try to sleep this night. We won’t always be able to stop during the day.”
“If the gods wanted me to sleep at night, they would not have made me a shadow, nor the sun so tiring,” Dove shook his head.
“You’ll regret it tomorrow,” Nenver insisted, “that much I can foresee.”
“Hmm, perhaps you are the judge of fate,” Dove said, sitting up, “If you can foresee events before they happen.”
“Shut up,” Nenver reached out to punch Dove on the shoulder, but Dove saw it coming. He dissolved into shadow, shifting around Nenver’s hand, tickling the knuckles as he moved to and through the heavier darkness behind Nenver’s back. He reformed on the other side of him.
“Sleep well,” Dove said into Nenver’s ear, before Nenver had even turned his head to see where Dove may have gone.
Nenver jumped, and swore at Dove – but Dove was already melting into darkness again, this time with his bow and quiver in hand. He’d spend the night keeping watch on the ridge, invisible in the shadows. If this night were like the previous, Nenver would be invited to join the larger fire, once they saw that Dove was no longer with him. Dove knew it was important for humans to have human friends, and if the prophecies were correct, Nenver would need more than a shadow by his side.