A FUTURE SET IN STONE
Civa staggered into the alley behind the “Red Dog” tavern with wineskin in hand. He knew he would regret gulping from it, but still, he drank. His stomach already stirred, threatening to rebel against the red liquid as he suddenly shot his hand out for the wall and slid to his knees. He twisted to his back, leaning his head against the wall, where he took in the full moon against the night sky.
The wineskin called to him, and he found himself drinking again. ,So this is how it ends he thought. Only fifteen and my future has been set. So this is how they start off. Am I to be one of the many derelicts that have come to the city, only to be unemployed and die a lonely wretch in Caliet’s gutters?
It should have been different. Other teenagers were starting their trades, falling in love and making their fortunes. He thought over happier times in the village of his upbringing. People he saw going better in life than himself were once only small children. Back then, he was no different to any of them. How could he veer away to so varied a life once he had reached his teens?
Taking another gulp, Civa closed his eyes, hoping that tomorrow would be a better day. It was odd how life turned out. He never imagined his future would lead him here.
“Few know where their childhoods will lead,” called a voice.
Civa opened his eyes to see a man in a white robe; taller than the Vindavians and broader of frame.
Civa was about to ask who the stranger was, but instead, asked “What are you?” as a flaming sword appeared in his hand.
The flames suddenly abated as a smirk broadened on the giant’s face.
“I am merely a servant. You wonder what land I am from. It is a realm different to your own; the only Christian nation.”
“I do not know of Christia.”
“It is not a place, but a belief in my master.”
“Who is your master?”
“You will know Him in time; for now, He bade that I encourage you. Only those that could already see their futures as being positive were able to achieve great things. Look,” he said pointing the tip of his sword downward.
He dipped it in the crimson puddle of wine that spilled from the skin beside Civa’s prone form. It rippled, creating an image of Caliet’s rooftops. A man in a mask, leapt from roof to roof, somersaulting, bounding and skipping from the walls. Civa was sure that he only imagined it, but he thought he heard the acrobat laugh as he defied plummeting to earth with his antics. The image rippled again and disappeared.
Civa stared into the face of the stranger, too awestruck to ask the obvious question on his lips.
“Aye, Civa, that is to be you,” assured the stranger. “In time, men will call you the Cat- man, or the Hero of Caliet, and her rooftops shall be your playground. Now…,” he said, raising his open palm, indicating the rooftops in the distance. “Reach that roof and all will become clear.”
The stranger faded from view and Civa found himself blinking. A pleasant dream, he thought. He got to his feet and looked to the fence at the end of the alley. For reasons beyond his rationale, he found himself empowered. He broke into a sprint and leapt to the top of the fence, where he balanced confidently, then jumped for an open window sill. His heart pounded, not with the fear of falling but with the exhilaration of moving with such fluid grace. Without pausing, he leapt free of the sill and caught hold of a clothesline. His feet arced upward and he somersaulted free, gasping with the thrill as a single hand casually jutted out for a flagpole. His grip tightened and he wrenched his body higher, catching hold of the edge of the roof. His feet stomped down on either side of his hands where he crouched.
The stranger in white stood before him. For the briefest moment, he nodded approvingly and faded from view.
A voice emanated from the back of Civa’s mind. Now do that which The Lord has called you to do.
Taking in a deep breath, Civa leapt into space, laughing with delight as he went.
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