O traveler of many questions, how you seem to delight in the half-truths I spin for you! Who am I to turn you aside, when my repeated warnings will not? You ask now of Harper, who might be called the dearest and most powerful of the Witch Queen’s inner circle.

It is a fact well-known that for every male Nevra takes under her tutelage, she takes two females. None know why, save perhaps for the fact that purely martial pursuits do not interest the Witch Queen, and it is those pursuits in which men often excel. But Harper is different, and the name given to him suggests why. “Harper” is a name in no tongue other than out own, and it simply means one who plays upon strings. But the strings that Harper plays upon are the threads of fate, and his music is a mixture of sorcery, prophecy, and bitter steel.

Those who have seen him fight know why Harper earned for himself the appellation “The Annihilator.” Lightly armored, he nevertheless cuts opponents to ribbons with his sword and spells, moving with supernatural speed and accuracy. It is as if he can predict their every move and react accordingly, and I believe this to be his gift. Prophecy is, of course, not an unknown gift. But those that can see though the mists see so darkly, and they perceive only the end result. Harper, I think, sees the threads of fate that bind all causality together.

Does that confuse you? Let me give you an example, then. Suppose an oracle knew that they would die from a falling clock, having seen this in a dark and dim vision. So they would take the precaution of having no clocks in their house, quite naturally. But Harper would see the threads binding together a clock and the oracle’s fate, and he would know to loosen a brick in the clock tower nearby, bringing it down upon the oracle who, clockless, had thought their fate cheated.

I would venture that this ability paralyzed Harper as a young man, before the Witch Queen was able to tame it. If the use of such a gift to parry and riposte a sword-swing seems to you a waste, perhaps it is because Harper has limited himself to the strings of the immediate future, lest he go mad from unbridled prophecy. Or perhaps there are things yet that the Witch Queen does not wish him to see…?

  • Like what you see? Purchase a print or ebook version!