Prophecy Story Index

Question of Time
by Becky
May 1997

Tayna looked down at the small baby in the bassinet next to the window of the bedroom overlooking the courtyard. He was asleep at the moment, one fist curled up to his mouth. She smiled. So precious. She and Randal had finally given up on ever having children. They had been discussing possible options for who could inherit the throne after him when she'd found out that she was pregnant.

And now, nine months later, here was their son -- Stefan. Full head of brown hair and eyes that promised to remain a dark blue. Arms came around from behind her and she leaned back into the solid strength of her husband. She whispered, still looking at the baby, "He's beautiful."

She felt Randal's lips on the top of her head as he pressed a kiss onto her blonde hair. "Yes, he is." He paused a moment to look at his son, then went on, "I feel I should thank you, Tayna, for giving me such a wonderful child."

She turned in his arms and looked up at him, both hands on his chest. She smiled, laughter in her eyes. "You're welcome, my King."

Randal smiled back and lifted both her hands to kiss her fingers. A knock on the door to their suite of rooms interrupted them. Randal called out, a slight frown on his face, "Who is it?"

A guard stepped into the room, coming quickly to attention. "Pardon me, Your Majesty, but there is a ... gentleman at the gates of the palace who wishes to speak with you. He says it is important and has to do with someone named Stefan."

Randal stiffened and pulled away from Tayna in alarm. Their eyes met and then they both threw glances at their sleeping child. Though it had been announced to the kingdom that a son had been born, no one knew his name, no one except Randal, Tayna, and their closest friend, Tulan, the Royal Bard. Neither of them had told anyone and Tulan would never say a thing unless he was told to. Therefore the man at the gates who knew Stefan's name must be some kind of seer. Randal instructed the waiting guard, "See him in."

The guard inclined his head. "As you wish, Your Majesty."

After the guard had left, Tayna looked at Randal, eyes wide. "Who could know . . . ?"

Randal replied, "A seer is the first thing that comes to mind. There are very few of them left in Rillanda. If he is one, then we must see him."

Several minutes later, the guard reappeared with an older man. The man must be in his sixties or seventies, wispy white hair, a patched cloak thrown over ragged clothing, leaning on a thick gnarled stick as he shuffled into the room. Randal nodded at the guard who withdrew to let them have some privacy. If the old man caused trouble physically, Randal could take care of it. If he had mage abilities in addition to being a seer, well, guards would be no help.

Without speaking, the old man pulled himself over to look down into the bassinet at Stefan, still sleeping, oblivious to the attentions of the three adults. The old man reached down a hand to the baby, but didn't touch him, just let his hand hover above Stefan for a few moments, nodding his head slowly, whispering to himself in a hoarse, cracking, raspy voice, "Yes, yes, this is him." Then he turned to look at Randal and Tayna, who were standing together a few feet away. The old man's eyes glazed over and he seemed to looking somewhere beyond them as he spoke again, his voice suddenly and surprisingly firm ... and ominous.

"Blessings and woes be to you, you in these times which rule the land of Rill. For it was prophesied that when the one who is to be the last to be given that which protects is born, then shall be the heralding of the age of darkness for Rill. And he shall be the king who is not as the circle of time ends and begins anew."

The old man's eyes rolled back into his head and Randal leaped forward to catch him as he fell into a faint. As Randal gently slapped at his cheeks, the old man jerked back into wakefulness, muttering, his voice old and frail again. "What ...? Your Majesty, did I say something? What happened?"

Randal helped him to stand again, smiling gently at him. "It's all right. Yes, you said something. But it's okay."

Tayna let the guard in and Randal asked that the old man be given new clothes and fed a good meal before he was sent on his way. Randal closed the door and turned back to where Tayna was looking down at the still sleeping form of her child. She reached out and touched the baby's soft cheek, whispering as Randal drew near her, "What did he mean by 'the king who is not'?"

Randal shook his head. "I don't know, Tayna, I don't know. Only time will tell us. Only time." He fell silent, then wrapped his arms around his wife's waist, as they watched their newborn son sleep, both wondering what tomorrow -- and the future -- would bring.

- The End -


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