Whenever Tarik and I discussed Norath, the Seeress of Aux, there was a huge elephant in the room, one the wizard didn’t want exposed. To say that Tarik didn’t like the Seeress would be an understatement. Why? He was a child of the Spires and everyone of that bloodline (yes, all four of them) held her in contempt for the doom she pronounced over the dragon gods. Dracorys and Davyrma were like distant cousins to Tarik and the Harnae.
Not only didn’t Tarik like her, he didn’t trust a word she said or her motives and called her a manipulative bitch many times. He wasn’t wrong about that, mind you, she could wind anyone up like a toy soldier. It was her specialty. All that hocus pocus, the hullaballoo about visions, those were just the shells in her shell game, at least that’s what Tarik would have had me believe.
But you and I both know Norath was more than a carnival gypsy with a crystal ball. She was the goddess of fate and in a prophecy-driven world like Sangrar, Aux gave her a serious home court advantage (Aux was a magik pool in the Crystal Caves). The Seeress didn’t really need the pool. As the goddess of fate, mystery, destiny, doom and anything else bordering on providence, a few ripples on a pond didn’t make or break her prognostication skills. The Seeress could have read portents in coffee grinds and seen the past in a battered rear-view mirror from a ’57 Chevy, but she did like to put on a show. Also, Aux helped the Pangral. Earthsong made the winged cat people prescient, to varying degrees, and staring into Aux helped them see farther. Scrying was their national pastime and sorcery wasn’t even a minor league sport. Harnor had been stingy with them, so they made terrible sorcerers. It was petty of him and drew Deridean’s anger, but the Lord of the Spires didn’t care – that only made it better.
Aux was a gift from her father, Deridean, who always appreciated good showmanship. Subtlety wasn’t his forte either. Think about it. Certainly there were less showy ways to create the Firstborn than cooking them up in the Pool of Life like some exotic stew. She got her pride from her father too. Harnor was always represented as the cantankerous one, but Deridean was equally stubborn. He could have put Dragons on the Elder Race list, but chose not to. When he made Norath, he made her in his image and with his problem solving instincts. The deliciously ironic doom she pronounced over Harnor’s offspring exceeded even his expectations.
The truth is, Tarik was more right than wrong. The Seeress was a meddlesome busy body whose greatest pleasure was manipulating others to further her own ends. She believed in the Prophecies of the Ages and everything she did was with the intent fulfilling them. She was in the middle of everything back then, but not like Elras. Elras just went about his business, and the consequences followed like the wake from a boat. The Seeress wasn’t the least bit shy and inserted herself into events, confident of her ability to point them the right direction. If only her compass had worked better, but the deck was stacked against her. Talk about irony, the goddess of fate was doomed to misunderstand everything. The Balance was far beyond her.
She was always true to what she believed and her miscalculations could be attributed to noble, but misguided intent. After hearing her dragon doom, Harnor accused her of false prophecy and that made her angry as a hornet! Norath would never lie about what she saw in Aux. She might omit, evade and tell partial truths, but she would never outright lie. To her, the futures told in Aux were sacred and perverting them with lies would be heresy. As it turned out, she got just about everything wrong, but she clung to her visions until the end.
In some ways, the Seeress was the Balance’s greatest servant. As Kandol often reminded me, many served the Balance and few their master’s name. Do you remember this from your childhood – “You’re a poet and you don’t know it?” That was Norath, serving the Balance and never knowing it. If she was nominated for the “most deluded” Razzie, no one could nudge her out. The prophecies only whispered of the Balance, so she wasn’t alone in her ignorance, but she wore hers particularly poorly, claiming to know so much when she knew so little. Her hubris gave her a lock on the golden raspberry.
Still, she acted on the visions she saw in Aux. She showed the Harnae the Silver Birch, but only after securing their promise to teach Nammoran and his heirs. One of the few things she and Harnor agreed on was the Fair Folk. Both knew they were important to the Prophecies and none moreso than Nammoran’s kin. When it was Kandol’s turn to take up graduate studies in the grove, the Maiden accused the Seeress of taking what was hers (by then, Kandol was priest at Najahar with Calavenna), and the two got into a cat fight over him. I had pry this loose from Velora. Kandol was too modest to tell me.
Norath predicted Andis to the Earth Mother. She told Elras what to name the Sword. She sent Nammydan to save Elryssa from the Ulgarja. She told Dar where to find his sleeping Secondborn and not to delve too fast, lest the wards weaken. She even witnessed Kandol’s oath to keep Nammath’s secret and warned that it would bind him tighter than chains.
When Erlik Darkened the Suns, Norath was in Aux studying the future. What a classic Seeress move! That was just like her, worrying about the future while the present was going down the toilet. In a flash, the future changed. All the Seeress could see was an everlasting winter (without the Suns, it was damn cold, and no one but Kandalla took any comfort from that) and darkness blanketing the land. Every future was black as night and the sight of it stunned her. One of the gods, I don’t know which one, found her in Aux and took her to Heaven for the remainder of the BUN.
Afterwards, Norath returned to Aux to watch for signs of the Warrior, Prince and Priestess and when Daeryss took Ilnaya, she visited the grove of the silver birch for the first time since showing it to the Harnae. Atar, Nim and Harrah were gone, they’d left Sangrar for Heaven after introducing Tarik to the Elder Races, but Tarik was there and let me tell you, her visit didn’t make him a happy camper.
Even thousands of years later in my Arvon apartment, he’d still turn purple and bluster whenever the topic came up. Since the Congress, the only visitors to the grove had been the Harnae’s grad students. Tarik had vowed to be more sociable than his parents and had even started the ball rolling by giving Kandol, Aeris and Valdarag a tour, but he hadn’t counted on the Seeress enjoying his hospitality. Even when she told the heroes that Daeryss had taken Ilnaya (Aeris remembered him well from Andis’s Test) and that his destination was the Darkhold, Tarik didn’t care. He didn’t trust what she told them and accused of her of holding back, of trying to twist everything.
I thought Tarik should have given her a chance and I told him so. I said that he was a big boy and he should have formed his own opinions, not rely on his parent’s prejudiced views, but, let’s just say, he wasn’t in a mood for advice that day, or the other thousand times I brought it up. Have I mentioned that Tarik could be stubborn too?
As far as Mankind went, the Seeress was one of the more enduring gods, that’s enduring not endearing. No one loved the Seeress. No one hated her either, she was beyond love and hate for she was the Seeress of Aux who knew the secrets of time and space and that made her great fodder for bedtime stories, grandmotherly warnings and circus barkers, and a perfect excuse for lost homework. Just ask a teenager to explain his missing history essay and I’ll give you two to one odds he’ll say “only the Seeress knows, professor, it was in my bag when I left the dorm.”
My last thoughts on the Seeress include a discussion of Hirandal. When Indallar began his famous journey around the world, the Wood Elf known as River Lord was there to take him down river. When the warriors three journeyed past the ruins of Alyrre in hot pursuit of Daeryss, Hirandal showed them the way. When Hali needed to navigate the strait between Fanar and Tyrnavalle, Hirandal and the River Runner (the second craft by that name, the original sank in the Reckoning) were waiting. Throughout history, Hirandal had a knack for showing up when and where he was needed. He even ran into Nammath every now and then and Nammath didn’t just bump into anyone.
In the Elder Days, everyone just assumed that Hirandal was an Earthmage and his special knack was the gift of Spirit’s magik. After the Reckoning, it seemed that everyone had been wrong. The ley lines didn’t exist in the remade world, but Hirandal kept on keeping on, long after just about everyone his age had hightailed it to Heaven. The new world was much bigger, but that didn’t slow him down at all. He still popped up at the right place and time, requiring a new theory for his power’s origin.
To me, the most logical explanation was the Seeress. She saw everything (or thought she did) and loved to meddle, making her the perfect puppet master to pull Hirandal’s strings. It could explain how he retained his knack in the Age of Mankind. The loss of the Stones wouldn’t have mattered. I mean, of course she cared about the Stones, she knew as much as anyone how important they were, but guiding Hirandal with a gentle hand wouldn’t have been a problem for her.
Also, Lazerai stayed. When all the surviving Firstborn took the Path at the end of the Elder Days, the Pangral queen stayed. There was no reason for her to stay. All her people took the Path. She’d only have stayed if the Seeress had asked. As far as I was concerned, that proved the Seeress kept her eye on the ball even through the chaos of the Reckoning. If she had Lazerai in one pocket, who’s to say she didn’t have someone else lining another? Every good plan has a backup, and I submit to you that Hirandal was plan B.
Tarik thought I was giving the Seeress too much credit. Kandol found my conclusion credible, but not the only explanation. Velora’s arguments swayed him too. She’d seen Hirandal’s gift in action, he’d been a guest at Pel Aesylle dozens of times (always showing up when she cooked too much turkey, his favorite). Velora found it hard to believe the Seeress cared about her leftovers and suggested that Hirandal’s power came from the Balance, whether he knew it or not. I replied with the same criticism, but she just smiled and said, “But who can truly understand the Balance?” Clever girl. If I only knew then what I know now …