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Prologue

Glasses clinked together and excited cheers rose up around the wooden table. “To a bright future!” a voice called. “A bright future!” the others echoed. “Why don’t ye come on over and talk to us, lad?” The leathery old man at the head of the table beckoned to Luthar with a crooked finger. The other men at the table cheered in agreement, but Luthar only grinned and shook his head. He was the youngest one at the table, and the wine and smoke from the hearth behind him were making his head fuzzy. “Come now, lad. You just made the prediction of the century. The least you could do is speak to us! Another vision, perhaps?” Luthar’s grin vanished as he looked around at all the people. “I think…” Luthar’s eyes became unfocused. He slumped in his seat. “Good God, someone’s poisoned him!” someone shouted. “No, no, you weed-brain, he’s having a vision! Someone get him a pen. And paper!” In the flurry of motion, no one noticed the tall, lanky man enter the room. He observed their mindless scrambling for a moment. Like lemmings. He thought to himself. Mindless creatures running off cliffs, into rivers, over one another, not even seeing where they are going. He scanned the room a while longer before finding what he needed. An old man crouched next to the boy, Luthar, slumped in his seat. If it weren’t for the other men running around in a frenzy, the tall man would have thought that the boy had merely had too much to drink. He allowed himself a wry grin. “I have found you, my boy.” But while the tall man had been standing there, someone had found a pen and peace of scrap parchment paper. He watched in horror as the old man handed Luthar the items. Everyone in the room had gone deathly silent. “Tell me what you see, lad.” The old man said in a surprisingly strong voice. “Tell us all what you see.” Then Luthar’s head snapped up. His eyes were still unfocused, but the tall man could see he was crying. He whispered something inaudible. “Louder, lad.” The old man said gently. Luthar just stared at the wall, silent tears streaming down his face. He whispered again. The old man stood and grabbed Luthar’s shoulders, shaking him violently. “Come now, Luthar!” he shouted. “This is important. Speak up, boy.” Luthar muttered to himself and scribbled on the parchment. He looked at the old man. “She’s so beautiful.” He croaked. “Why does she have to die?”



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