If you’re reading this, it’s probably a translation. The universal language is already starting to fade out, but since I spent so much time spilt between the City and Ingel, I always spoke universal, and I don’t feel particularly confident enough in either language to try and tell the whole story in either.
But hey, if you’re reading this that means someone cared enough to make sure this book survived the loss of the universal language. So, that’s cool, I guess. I mean, it’s kind of my fault that the world as we, or as I, knew it fell apart. But then again, I was just kind of in the wrong place at the wrong time. Born in the wrong moment if you will. But that’s an argument for others to make. I just know that I did the best that I could with the situation I was presented. What else could I do?
To start off, I should say, that I was about nine years old when I decided I no longer believed in prophecies. In fact, I would even to go as far as to say that I believed that prophecies were a load of shit. Now, that was a very dangerous and odd statement coming from me, for a whole series of reasons. Firstly, its blasphemy, punishable by life imprisonment as a sister in the Temple of the Order if I went around announcing it in public squares or someone bothered enough to go through the notebooks I kept at the time. But I wasn’t stupid enough to go announcing it in public squares and my books were always carefully hidden or guarded, so it would take some serious dedication on my accusers’ part in which case I would say they’d earn enough of my respect to go ahead and lock me up, they worked hard for that right. In fact, from the time that I decided that I decided I no longer believe in the Soothsayer’s prophecies at age nine, until I was twenty-five years old, I only told one living soul that I doubted the Soothsayer’s words. He was my best, and really only close friend throughout childhood. And, well, he didn’t respond to it particularly well. I guess if someone was challenging my core beliefs, then I might take it badly too. He never told anyone though, I guess as a testament to our friendship, but we were never quite the same again. Needless to say, I wasn’t in a rush to tell anyone else anytime soon.
Secondly, I only exist because of a prophecy. Literally, my parents never would have looked at each other twice, let alone be allowed to get married if there hadn’t been a prophecy. My parents had each traveled to see the soothsayer. At the time, it was a legal mandate to visit at least once before you were twenty years old. Rumor has it was so that the world didn’t miss someone who was destined for greatness through unfortunate events like being born somewhere lacking advantages. My father was fifteen years old, from a hard working but not particularly wealthy family, all making the pilgrimage together because his older brother was nineteen, and they knew they wouldn’t be able to afford a second trip to the City of the Order before my father turned twenty. My mother was only ten years old, the youngest daughter of a family that ranked very high with the Orders, and therefore considered themselves to be particularly “blessed.” It was my mother’s thirtieth visit to the soothsayer because they lived in the City and because my grandmother believed that my mother was destined for great things.
The Soothsayer indicated for both of them to be brought up onto the elevated platform where he stood for all of his meetings. He made them clasp hands in front of everyone. After standing there in silence for about fifteen minutes, the Soothsayer declared “Come together, create a child. She will be named for the flowing water, and she will be just as powerful. She will bring the greatest of changes to the nation—and if the fancy strikes her—the world. Do not contain her, for the dam does damage, and the beautiful canyon won’t be formed.”
It was his last prophecy for almost twenty seven months. He’d show up to the sessions, but he’d have nothing to say, not even the small things he tended to spit out. So, people started to get really excited about me, even though it would be years before I was born. The day the prophecy was made, my grandparents got together and my parents were betrothed. They were married almost ten years later, after my mother’s twentieth birthday, and I was conceived shortly thereafter. I was born a healthy baby girl, and was named River, as in for the flowing water. And the first part of the prophecy was fulfilled.
To say that my parents didn’t love each other would be too harsh. They corresponded and visited each other frequently in the ten years of their engagement, and they were very kind to each other through their wedding, and the three years they lived together after I was born. They loved each other, they just weren’t in love with each other in the way required to make a happy marriage and peaceful cohabitation work for the long term. Divorce wasn’t an option, not with the prophecy and my mother’s standing, so everyone just accepted the idea that my father returned to the town he grew up in, a village several days travel away called Ingle, to help care for his aging grandparents, then his aging parents, and then his older brother, who was “ill.” Two years after he moved back, when I was five years old, a young woman moved into my father’s family home, using the excuse that she was my grandparents afore to unmentioned goddaughter who needed a place to live. While living there, she had three children who bore some resemblance to my father, but no one really mentioned it.