Vello slammed their bedroom door open. Sotu woke up with a start. Sotu wondered if he could ever get Vello to stop doing that.
“We’re going on a trip!” barked Vello as he started rummaging through their drawers for clothes and other essentials. He urgently put them in a bag, then turned to Sotu and asked “How soon can you get ready?” Sotu had been about to complain about the door slamming habit but stopped.
The wizard, who normally looked imposing, powerful and wise, now just looked like a scared old man in a silly pointy hat. It was shocking.
Vello mistook Sotu’s look of concern for annoyance. He was momentarily confused, then said, “Look love, I’m sorry I burst in again, but this is important. The fate of our world might hang in the balance.”
“I’m not annoyed, I can tell you’re scared.” Sotu replied, getting out of bed, reaching out to Vello and embracing him in one fluid motion. He quickly kissed Vello, said “I’ll be ready in 15 minutes”, and rushed off.
It actually took Vello half an hour. He kept forgetting how much harder everything was. But he finally had himself and his gear loaded in the cart and ready to go.
Vello never complained about how long Sotu took to do things any more. Back when they were both young it seemed complaining about how slow and lazy Sotu was was about half of all their conversations. It was Vello’s awkward way of flirting.
Sotu had ahold of their two giant dragonfly’s reins and was ready to go just as soon as Vello started the fire and filled up the balloon.
They were in the air and traveling at top air speed less than an hour after Vello had slammed open their bedroom door.
“What’s this all about?” Sotu asked loudly. The wind whipping around them as they flew meant they had to raise their voices to just a few notches below shouting level.
Vello replied, “A few hours ago I received a dire vision of the future. I saw vast armies of creatures of a kind I’d never seen before, burning the land and enslaving everyone in this world.”
“I thought you didn’t do that sort of thing, seeing into the future I mean.”
“I’m not a seer, no, but any competent magic user can see obvious things in the future or the past. Especially if it’s a recent event or unhidden.”
“Is this invasion happening soon then?”
“Soon enough. We’ve probably got something like 1 to 2 years. Normally I can’t see that far ahead, but this… this vision was different. It’s as though a message was intentionally sent to the past to warn anyone who had the ability to listen.”
“If someone sent this vision intentionally couldn’t it be a trick? Maybe there’s no invasion coming and these creatures are potential friends? Maybe people that need help?”
“It’s definitely possible. That’s why we’re going to see Jenny.”
Sotu tensed up at the name, not because he was afraid of or didn’t like Jenny, quite the opposite in fact, but because Vello and Jenny had… A History. When a series of disagreements, arguments, and plain old shouting matches lasted over half a century, the capital letters and ellipses were justified.
But they both knew Jenny knew things Vello didn’t. She saw through the eyes of the creatures of the world. She listened to the mountains and understood the language the sky spoke, achievements both Jenny and Vello were pretty sure were unprecedented.
In the same way she listened to trees, rocks, and birds, she’d learned to listen to the past and the future. In fact, she often spoke about events, places, and even concepts as if they were living creatures. When someone like Jenny talked that way, you didn’t dismiss the idea out of hand.
Jenny could also see the past and the future through the context of those times. She could see things the way people from the past would have understood them and how people from the future will come to understand them.
One of the consequences of this was that she could see the present from the point of view of future generations.
Few things look good from that perspective.
The future, as you might expect, was more than a little embarrassed by how their ancestors thought and acted in the past, how backward they had been, or rather how backward everyone is now.
Jenny had taken on many, but certainly not all, of the attitudes of future historians toward her own time. She wasn’t quiet when someone said something cruel about marginalized groups no one knew existed (except, of course those groups themselves) or did something the future would consider unethical but was, at this moment in time, considered normal or even polite behavior.
This did not make her popular at social gatherings.
Of course Vellos had never, ever, been popular at social gatherings, which is probably why he and Jenny had gotten along famously, at least at first. But, as time went on, a fundamental disagreement in their world views began to show itself.
Vello tended to favor a direct approach to things. See some poor people, get them some money. A tyrant has taken over a nation? Depose that motherfucker.
While Jenny respected this in Vello, she thought sometimes this lead him to rash actions. The phrase “unintended consequences” was spoken more and more frequently during their ever more frequent arguments. To the despair of both parties, eventually their friendship fell apart.
But they still sometimes worked together if a situation was too much for either of them to handle, and did this ever qualify.
Vello was deep in thought as Votu landed near Jenny’s house. She’d already laid out tea and honest-to-goodness crumpets on her outdoor table. You don’t really have to announce your arrival to a seer.