The small wooden hut with a old thatched roof had a small wisp of smoke drifting out the top of it. All manner of broken chairs and half chopped firewood was strewn about the old hut. Grass gently swayed back and forth, the only break in it being the small muddied path the two travellers were now standing on.
"You sure you want to go in there." Wes was nervous, as he tended to get around soothesayers.
"The say that if he can't answer my questions nobody can. We must know don't we?" Han looked at Wes hoping for an out that he didn't get.
"Yes, of course we need to go there. The foretold signs have come but nobody believes them. If we don't ask him nobody will. And even if the old man does answer your questions and we get back,there is still no guarantee that he will listen. After all, if they don't believe the legend, why would they believe an old man?" It was an argument Wes had used before.
"Because if this old man tells us anything comfirming our fears then at least some of us may be able to do something to help the situation. We don't even know what to expect, any hint, even one from a crazy old man, might be useful."
"Well, you go in there then because I won't go anywhere near the place." Wes turned over a fallen stump and brushed it off before he sat down, "I am close enough to hear anything that goes on, you just hop on in there and do your business and I will keep a look out."
Han knew it was no use, Wes was against this trip from the start, but there was no other way, "I'll see you in a little bit. When we get back I will tell Alissa all about how you bravely faced the old man in the hut."
Han walked towards the hut and came to the door that was loosely closed on string hinges. A muffled cough came from inside the hut and something unintelligable was said.
"What?" Han asked through the door, the question met with silence.
Han pulled on the door but it was stuck in the dirt. Lifting up to unstick it he pulled the door open careful not to break the fraying strings that were holding it on.
After quick, muffled cough the old man spit on the ground near the wall. The old man was sitting sideways next to the fire so that only half his face was lit by the fire. Dusk was slowly settling and the shadows grew on the walls. "Sit and ask you question young one. Do not mince your words and be truthful, I will know."
Expecting a slightly more ominous introduction, Han sat down facing the fire and asked his question, "Two full moons ago the King's son was killed. The following full moon it was red as blood. No chickens gave eggs and any birth in the yards were stillborn. Legend says that the moon will call for the death of the rising son. Then the Blood Moon will cancel all new life. I think we are seeing those lines from legend come true. The legend then says that the Moon shall then forsake the unworthy and guide their enemies. Then it foretells the death of a kingdom and the rise of another. Are we living during these times? Is there hope for us?"
The old man listened without speaking. As Han finished asking his questions the old man reached behind him and grabbed something the size of a human head from behind him. It was covered in a burlap looking bag. He set it in front of him and uncovered it. It was impossible to view. A ball with holes regulary placed around it, with another ball with more holes, and another and another that seemed to go on forever. From all outward appearences it was totally intact, how could one create such an item?
The old man motioned towards the wall where a proportional shadow of the ball stood out from the light of the fire. The old man made sure Han's eyes were on the shadow and then he bent his weary back over the ball and started manipulating the insides of it. From all appearences he was lining up the holes to allow the firelight to go through it and shine on the wall, and it turns out that is just what he was doing.
As Han watched the shadow on the wall turn to a framed ball of light and the shadows starting to physically dance in the small sphere of light. They were moving and taking shape and, as Han concentrated on them, they started forming into identifieable humans, none that he could recognize but definately armed militia. Then the surrounding area started to come into focus, it was the Reinmann pass. Nobody had used it for centuries, ever since the volcanoe erupted making it too difficult a journey. But here he was being shown man after man walking down a very obvious portion of it.
The man shook the ball and the image dissappeared. He quickly adjusted some more of the inner rings and shadows started to play again. It can't be, thought Han to himself. No, it just can't.