Qube was an official Prophecy Approved Companion to one of the three possible saviours of the world. She’d worked very hard to become the potential Chosen One’s best friend, spending hours on her “Understanding Smile” and perfecting her ability to divide any snack into two equal portions to share with him. He, in turn, had led them on a series of small adventures in the village and surrounding woods, enabling him to gain basic combat experience and her to acquire a rudimentary grasp of magical healing.
She was certainly doing a lot better than the only other Mage amongst the golden children. Even though he was another potential saviour of all living creatures, he had no healing abilities at all and could only spam the weakest of fireballs while his Prophecy Approved Companion spent more time sculpting his body than learning how to actually protect the squishy Wizard wannabe.
The third potential Chosen One was in a much more awkward position. She was a Rogue in a town with no crime and where everyone knew one another. The townsfolk had long ago agreed that it was important for her to practise her skills, and so they had scheduled particular times for her to rob their houses of preselected items like Mrs. Smith’s ruby-red slow cooker, which she just took back from the Rogue’s house when she needed it. The only person who didn’t participate was the shop owner, Mr. Igma, who generally refused to do anything asked of him. He was also the only one who had regular contact with the outside world as Mr. Clockwork, a travelling mechanical tinker, would come into town to restock the same things every night. For the same price. In the exact same amounts.
It was honestly rather impressive. Nothing could stop Mr. Clockwork’s deliveries, and he was never, ever late. But Mr. Clockwork was also a massive gossip and would frequently tell them all about what was happening in the outside world, about how terrible life was up near the castle, and about the reign of Evil Emperor.
“He was the grand vizier, loved and trusted by the noble king and beautiful queen,” he had told all the wide-eyed Potentials. “But he betrayed them most horribly! And he slew them and took power! And ever since then the land has fallen into ruin and despair!”
“Why didn’t the other members of the government dispute his claim as emperor? Surely, killing their leaders would have been illegal?” a tiny Qube had asked. “Was this like a coup thing, where he had the military behind him or something?”
“He’s magic!” Mr. Clockwork had snapped. “He did magic things. Terrible, magical things.”
“But there are courts, couldn’t they—”
“Magic,” Mr. Clockwork repeated. “It was all magic. Prophecy magic. No court Mage can stand against prophecy magic.”
“Prophecy. Now, who wants to perfectly split popsicles in half?”
And that was the end of that history lesson. It was how most history lessons ended, which made sense when one considered the fact that the only reason their village existed was to house the Golden Prophecy and to raise the golden children who would save the regular coloured world.
The Golden Prophecy had dictated most of Qube’s life. As each child was born, they were taken to the hut that housed the prophecy and held in front of it to see if they gained a faint golden or silver glow. Qube had glowed silver, and as the only half-elf with magical abilities in the village, she’d been selected to be the Healer Mage Companion when she was about five.
Of the three that glowed gold, she had been assigned to the brawny human boy, who began combat training as soon as he could be trusted not to try and eat the sword.
Occasionally, she would secretly meet up with the other two prophecy approved Companions and vent.
“I’m just so sick of waiting!” she complained, flopping face-first into the pile of hay they’d put on top of the town hall roof. It was the only place they could be sure that the potential Chosen Ones wouldn’t come across them complaining. Or anyone else, for that matter. Given the prestige of being a prophecy approved Companion, it would have been supremely awkward to be caught complaining about the greatest honour a non-’soon to be Chosen One’ could gain. No one ever came up to the top of the town hall as there was a terrible sense of pressure when you got too high up. This physical pressure was nothing compared to the mental pressure of being a perfect Companion, though.
“I know what you mean,” Quince said, rolling his shoulders back as he tried to get rid of the stiffness from sitting in a tree all day. As the Hunter assigned to the Rogue, he was expected to know every inch of the woods, which he’d decided included sitting at the top of every tree for at least one day per tree. So far, he’d made it through about sixty-five per cent of the forest. Personally, Qube thought having a Hunter and a Rogue working together was a good way to get their heads kicked in by anyone with a strong sword arm, but she supposed some people prefer the whole “sneak around and never even get seen” method. Certainly, having a stealthy Hunter would be better for a Rogue than—
“Well, I think it’s great. Gives me extra time to work on my gains.” Quinton was doing handstand push-ups. Again. And he had somehow managed to remove his shirt. Again. Quince groaned and buried himself in the pile of hay.
Quinton tried to give Qube a winning smile, which, given his face was slowly turning bright red from all the blood rushing to his head, was pretty horrifying. Like someone had stuck a banana upside down on a giant ripe tomato. Qube tried to frown at him from her face full of hay.
“What’s the point in having good-looking muscles if you never get to go out into the world and show them off?” Qube asked.
“I can show them to you,” Quinton said. Qube finally raised her face from her pile of hay and gave him a flat look.
“I don’t count, Quinton. I’m not the world.”
“Maybe you’re my world,” Quinton sleazed.
Qube stared at him.
Then she kicked him off the roof. He made an impressive thump sound as he hit the ground.
Peering over the side, she saw Mrs. Smith standing nearby, gently placing a freshly baked pie on her windowsill for the Rogue to steal.
“Sorry, Mrs. Smith!” Qube called. Mrs. Smith just waved and went back to pretending to ignore the Rogue creeping through the bushes.
“My face! Fix my face!” Quinton called up to her as he writhed around in the crater he’d made. She rolled her eyes and cast the [Lesser Healing] spell. Quince started laughing from under the pile of hay.
By the Words, she couldn’t wait to get out of this town.
Granted, the Golden Prophecy had never actually outright stated that she was going to get out of this town. It was more implied in the text. The village scholar, Alderman, had spent most of his life studying the prophecy and had written several books about various interpretations of said prophecy. Each of which was found in the local library as Mr. Igma didn’t buy books and Mr. Clockwork only did business with Mr. Igma. Economically, it seemed pointless to write a book and only make one copy that could be borrowed from the library for free, but Alderman didn’t seem to mind. It was from his studies that they had determined that only one of the three potential Chosen Ones would awaken into the true champion. He had also been the one to tell them about “placeholders”, which obscured various truths within the prophecy until it was time for them to be revealed.
Each morning, she found herself going to the simple wooden hut holding the Golden Prophecy and rereading it, checking to see if the “placeholders” had dissolved or if she could glean any new knowledge from it. The silver glow that surrounded her whenever she got close made her itch, but she ignored it as she reread the Golden Prophecy for the thousandth time, trying to find some clue that Alderman had missed, something that would tell her how to be the best Companion, and when this Evil was supposed to arrive and kick things into gear already!
But the words were ever the same:
“From a humble village a [Fighter/Wizard/Rogue] awakes.
Then Evil destroys and [their] heart breaks.
[Their] childhood companion, [their] guiding light,
[They] set off to make the world right.
[They] shall find the forest’s heart.
And steal the fire’s guarded start.
[They] shall make the water cry
Then fall into unbroken sky
And fight the darkness deep inside
And turn away from brightness’s pride.
Then find in time’s endless halls
The echoes of their lost ones’ calls.
To slay what once was so adored
So what was lost can be restored.”
While it didn’t explicitly say if and when she was going to leave town with the chosen one, there was no way she was getting left behind! Plus, she was supposed to be his guiding light to help fix the world. Kinda hard to guide him if she wasn’t actually with him. And her potential Chosen One was by far the superior maybe world saviour. So, all in all, she was pretty hopeful about her chances. To be honest, even if he wasn’t the chosen one, they’d probably still tag along with the actual chosen one and their companion.
Alderman had explained that the words in brackets—or “placeholders” as he called them—would reveal their true form once Chosen One awakened, which seemed a bit strange for a supposedly inexorable prophecy, but every time she had tried to raise it he had just kept repeating “the prophecy works in mysterious ways,” and “it’s prophecy magic” until she gave up.
But there were no new clues; nothing had revealed itself. Chosen One clearly still hadn’t awakened.
Speaking of which… She narrowed her eyes as she stepped out of the hut and noticed the position of the morning suns. Normally, he was awake by now and ready to start their daily routine. In fact, normally the village was bustling by now, but instead, the main street was empty.
Just then the hut behind her started to glow, golden light spilling out from the cracks around the doors and windows. It pushed out from under the tiles, and as she ripped open the hut door, it exploded outwards, surrounding her, repelled only by her own silver glow. It raced past her, a yellow streak of light that led directly to her Chosen One’s home where it coalesced with what she now saw was more golden light already surrounding his home. It invaded the building before roaring upwards and forming a single, shining line of gold that hovered just above his house, a smaller ball of yellow left trailing underneath, for all the world like a giant, golden exclamation mark.
Qube stopped screaming. She wasn’t sure when she had started—probably around the time the Prophecy’s golden magic had hit her in the face. She let go of the door handle and started half-running, half-staggering towards the giant magical mark hanging above her best friend’s house. She couldn’t cry. She wouldn’t cry. She wouldn’t greet the newly anointed Chosen One with red eyes and snot running down her face. She would greet him with dignity, and grace, and use her guiding light to help him stop Evil.
She wrenched open his front door and immediately saw him. The shining Hero of the Known World. The one she had trained her entire life to walk beside. Her destiny.
Who was currently fast asleep half off his bed, drool forming a small puddle on the ground.
“What are you doing? Wake up! You’re going to be late!" she yelled and felt everything click into place as if she had been waiting her whole life to say exactly that. As if...
Her story had finally begun.