to one side of her to produce a document bound between stout panels of wood. “We have the prophecy, Sir Mage. The prophecy as given to Jules herself, recorded in the words of Jules. The Mages have always denied the prophecy existed. We knew otherwise. Why does a Mage now admit to it?”
“Because I have seen it,” Alain said.
Colonel Faron spoke from near the door. “The Mage Guild wants her dead, wants it badly enough that they have demanded our assistance in ensuring that happens. I have never before heard of the Mages openly seeking the death of a particular Mechanic.”
“Hmmph,” the old woman commented wordlessly. She opened the document to read out loud. “The Mage came upon me in the twilight just before night, as rain fell and darkened the world even more. He looked upon me and his eyes widened. I had never seen a Mage show such feelings. He pointed at me and spoke in an odd voice.
A daughter of your blood will someday overthrow the Mage Guild and the Guild of the Mechanics. She will unite Mages, Mechanics, and the common people to save this world and free the common people from their service to the Guilds. Only through her can the new day come and halt the Storm that will otherwise consume all.
After he stopped speaking, the Mage looked frightened and stumbled off through the rainfall. I lost sight of him quickly and hastened back to my ship, which was already preparing to leave port. I told no one, but later learned that the Mage Guild was vigorously seeking a woman seen in Caer Lyn. Some women in Caer Lyn who resembled me were reported to have vanished, though of course the Mage Guild refused to answer any questions about them. I still feel guilt for those innocents who must have died because of their resemblance to me, but I know when the Mage Guild finally learns who I am they will seek to ensure my death and those of any of my children. I will take steps to prevent that, no matter the pain it causes me. This is my sworn account of the prophecy, as I heard it and saw it. Jules of Landfall and Julesport.”
Colonel Faron was staring at Mari. “On the ship, she had Mechanics and Mages behind her, following her orders, and the captain and crew were following her as well.”
“So.” The old woman looked at Alain. “What say you, Sir Mage?”
“I was told the prophecy said what you have told us,” Alain said.
“May I ask by whom?”
“A Mage elder.”
The old woman tapped her teeth with one fingernail. “Did she tell you of this Storm?”
“She did,” Alain said. “And I have seen it, as have many other Mages in recent years. It threatens all, just as the prophecy says.”
“What sort of storm?” the woman in uniform asked.
“A Storm born of the built-up frustrations of the common people,” Alain said. “They will rise, and destroy. Armies will clash, cities fall, all will be laid waste. Though you seek to hide your knowledge, I can see that you know this Storm approaches as we speak.”
The old woman sagged back in her chair, the prophecy lying in her lap. “And now a young woman comes to us. A young woman wearing the dark jacket of a Mechanic, one of those who have enslaved us for time out of mind. With her is a Mage, one of those who have treated us even worse than the Mechanics. And they say they will save us. Would you believe this, Lady Mechanic?”
Mari felt a sudden rush of sympathy for the old woman. “I’m sorry. I can’t be anyone other than who I am. I didn’t ask for this. I didn’t want it. But I am told it is a job given to me, and when I am given a job to do, I get that job done.”
The middle-aged man raised his eyebrows in surprise. “You, a Mechanic, apologize to us? Why?”
“Because I believe in doing the right thing,” Mari said.
“And she has shown me how to do the right thing,” Alain added.
The woman in uniform rubbed one hand across her brow. “You must know what we’re facing, Lady Mechanic. If the Mechanics Guild learns of your