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The Blind Seer
The Blind Seer
Jacob let out a long sigh after another flame nearly charred his absurdly large ears. There was absolutely nothing wrong with the hand movement, the precise flicking of the wrist, or even the pronunciation of his spell (excluding the unexpected burp). He was just incapable of performing any magic whatsoever. And to think that he was a Seer, a gifted one with blue eyes!
He thought on more than one occasion that maybe, just maybe, those ageless Fates--the crazy spinsters wildly weaving and snipping life--made a gigantic mistake. Perhaps they should have been brown, or even a dull grey. Yes, quite plainly they should have. Even a pair of tawny, topaz eyes would have been of more use than a pair of deficient blue ones. Based on appearance and family members past, he was definitely a Seer, and a darn brilliant one at that; however, there was one very large problem that seemed to follow him wherever he went, like a ghost haunting his devoted shadow: he couldn’t see a thing.
Now, of course little twelve year old Jacob Fannord could see clearly enough to tie the second-hand laces strewn through his tattered shoes, brush his greasy blond hair, and cut the blackened crust off of his burnt toast. That was not the problem. You see, for I’m sure you can, all of these tasks occur in the present--the quite blatant here and now. For any ordinary magician to be able to look upon the world as it is was good enough. In fact, that’s all they could ever ask for; but, for a Seer, anything short of being able to see the future or gaze far into the past was unacceptable. A pair of blue eyes that could not See--and on top of all that, a pair of hands that could not Change--were simply useless in a realm laced with so much magic.
Jacob gently sat down on a smooth boulder and stared long faced and saddened out at the still pond. Occasionally, a small duck or water nymph would glide across and disturb the smoothness. But, even amongst movement, this was the stillest spot in all the land. The only sounds Jacob could hear were the peaceful whispers of his own thoughts.
A tiny blue bird landed on the grass beside him and stared up at him wonderingly, cocking its head far to the right.
“Hello,” Jacob said. He wasn’t sure if this particular bird could talk or not. It was rare to meet an animal that could talk, but it was not unheard of. He’d once come across a squirrel who could construct outstanding arguments.
Sadly, it gave no reply.
The bird stared back at him. It was an odd stare, glazed over, clouded, and blindly distant. Growing curious, the bird approached Jacob’s foot.
Jacob, absentmindedly, stuck his hand out.
The bird abruptly took flight, and within seconds it was nothing more than an indiscernible blob in the sky. He saw it make a loop, a high swooping arch that circled a sculptured cloud. Jacob repositioned his body, which was quickly growing uncomfortable on the rigid boulder. By the time he looked back up into the sky, there was no sign of the miniscule blue bird.
A nasty breeze picked up quite suddenly, and as if that wasn't enough, he heard a strange noise coming from behind a tree. It sounded like someone was stepping, stomping, and faltering over a pile of dried, withering leaves.
“Is anyone there?” Jacob’s voice naturally quivered. As far as he knew, he was the only one who knew this place existed; it was pretty far off the beaten path, so far off it didn’t even have a name.
There was no answer, which made him even more uneasy.
“Hello?” He peaked his head around the large tree, whose massive trunk appeared wider than a dragon’s belly. “Is anyone there?”
Still, he received no response. But the noise, the crunching sounds, grew louder, and louder. Quicker. Faster. Whoever--whatever--was there seemed to stumble more uncontrollably. Jacob slightly rose from the boulder, raised his hand, and thought of a defensive hex just in case--honestly though, what good would it do him? If it came down to his magic, he would surely be a goner.
Then, everything stopped. Jacob let out a sigh of relief. He stared down at the ground, slightly embarrassed by the fact that his heart was beating so fast. He raised his head only to see a long, slender, bony hand silently reaching around the aged tree.
The pale hand was whiter than fine porcelain, and the skin, thinner and more translucent than parchment paper, clung loosely to the underlying bones.
“Wh-what d-do you want,” Jacob stuttered. “I’ll curse you all the way back to--to wherever it is you came from!”
He wasn’t prepared for any response, let alone the cackling laugh which sent a frigid chill down his spine. Even the lake, which had been constantly rippling, appeared to freeze over with a nervous stillness.
“Oh… now, now my dear boy. There’ll be no need for spells,” said a hollow, gravelly voice. An old man, crippled and hunched over in more ways than one, slowly hobbled out from behind the tree. His withering face was littered with un-kept silvery stubble, which glistened in the dying sun.
Jacob took a step back, nearing the pond’s embankment. Any closer and he would be taking a swim with the mermaids (and you thought a banshee sung bad).
“Now, now, why are you so afraid,” he said, trying to sound comforting. “What is a poor old blind man like myself going to do to a big-eared, young, blond, blue-eyed boy like yourself?”
Jacob noticed the man’s blue eyes, ever-so-slightly glazed over with a distant fogginess; they were practically unnoticeable behind his melting eyelids.
“How--how can you--”
“How can I see you?”
Jacob didn’t respond. And the man proceeded out from behind the tree with his arthritic fist clenched over the knob of a hundred year old walking stick. He masterfully avoided three boulders, a crossing snail, and a patch of poison ivy before landing on the same boulder Jacob had been previously occupying.
“Well, the truth of the matter is boy…” he paused, picked up a desiccated leaf, and began examining it, “My eyes cannot see you. Nor can they really see this green leaf, growing more gold as the days die.”
Jacob’s muscles seemed to relax.
“Come, come here my boy… Let me see your hand,” he said, talking as if every word caused him pain.
Jacob, however, was hesitant to walk any closer to the crippled man, whose plain shabby robes were still, even in the moving wind.
“Come, Jacob… there’s nothing to be afraid of.”
“How do you--”
“How do I know your name?”
Jacob walked closer to the old man, and tentatively held out his hand. As if the blind man knew exactly where it was, he gently took it in his own. “Ah, Jacob… every Seer knows your name. Just as the sky knows the sun.” He ran his finger across his palm, feeling every crack and crevasse and callus. “You have greatness in you--power that will vanquish evil. And just by looking at you I can clearly see that those eyes of yours are a very special, magnificent blue.”
“Yeah, specially defective.” He knelt down in front of the old man. “I can’t see anything. Nothing. Zilch.”
“Well, that isn’t true now is it… You can see the world as it is, not as it could or wishes to be. The future always changes, even though many a Seer will say otherwise. A Seer constantly looks towards the future, and never stops retelling the past. Often times they neglect the present… the most important time of all.”
“But how can you--”
“How can I see?” He interrupted again with the same tone as before. Staring out at the glassy pond he continued, “Sometimes to see, my dear Jacob, you have to do more than look…”
Jacob began looking for what the blind man was staring at, but saw nothing.
“Well, how am I supp--”
But when Jacob turned to face the blind old man, he was gone. Instead, in his place, was the same blue bird he’d seen earlier with the same, distant, foggy stare. This time though it appeared to be smiling, maybe even laughing a little, as it flew across the picturesque pond.
Jacob quickly chased after it. Once nearing the bank he was forced to stop.
He glanced down at the still water and saw someone staring back at him. It was a middle-aged man with blue eyes, and blond hair, and a pair of ears much too large for his oddly handsome face. The keen man smiled up at him. Jacob turned around, just to make sure that there was no one standing behind him, and returned the gesture.
Jacob watched the pond long and hard that evening--seeing things only he could see--until the only thing left to look at were the twinkling stars winking back at him.