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The ages-old prophesies had nearly been fulfilled. It should be a time of rejoicing, but Avondeira, more commonly known as Dera, also Branna, among the clans of the steppes, seeing the frown on her daughter’s face, asked, concern apparent in her voice, “What seems to be troubling you.” Kasela, Sela, for short, shrugged. “I was wondering what I should do with my life once this is finished, mother,” she sighed. “I’ve been a spear sister and, more recently, a tavern wench all my life. Basically, I’ve been female all my life. I’m not sure I would even know how to be anything else.” “Do you foresee that being a problem?” Dera asked, quite seriously. Sela sighed. “I can’t foresee anything. I don’t have that gift, despite you referring to it as a curse, most of the time. Maybe that is the problem. I mean, suppose we fulfill the last of the prophesies next week? What then? Where do I go? What do I do?” She shrugged. “What’s next? I’ve never had to concern myself with thoughts of the future, mother. I was always the fated one,” she muttered, sarcastically. “I did what I had to do. What I thought never mattered. Well, okay. It’s almost finished. So. What’s next, mother? I’m a wizard; a quite strong one. The future can be a very long time for me.” Dera sighed. “I do not know. I wish I could help, but I cannot. The future is always shifting. I’ve wondered the same, if you must know, and I’ve tried to see, but it seems everything depends not only on the prophesies being fulfilled, but how they are fulfilled. Beyond that, everything is clouded - uncertain.” “How they are fulfilled?” Sela yelped, rounding on her mother. “The good guys kill the bad guys. Isn’t that the whole point? What else is there?” Shaking her head, Dera threw her arms out, but didn’t say a word. There was nothing she could say, really. It had been that way all Sela’s life; a life ruled by prophesy. Everything had been ruled by prophesy, and it had started at her birth. She’d been born male; unfortunately the son of a wizard that had a centuries long history of systematically killing his male children, he was that jealous of anyone else having the power. In her case, however, her mother had been a seer, whose gift of foretelling had told her, in no uncertain terms, her child must survive. So, survive ‘she’ had, her sex carefully hidden under skirts until her power had awakened. At that time, she’d been able to make herself look physically female, at least, making it that much easier to keep her true sex secret. She couldn’t simply make herself completely female, of course, since, by doing so, she would lose the power only a male could wield. She’d also taken on the life of a spear sister, so the women’s counsel of the Kamaranthi tribal group they’d settled among wouldn’t saddle her with a husband, who would, of course, expect children she was incapable of providing. It'd become inevitable she’d come to think of herself as a woman, however. She’d been living as one almost her entire life; since puberty, anyway. It'd been very frustrating at times. She was fated to live as a woman until all of the prophesies, including the last, were fulfilled, but she could never have the everyday rewards a natural woman might have, should she choose; a loving husband, a home, children. All of the cursed prophesies but the last had been fulfilled, however, and, when all of them had, what next? It was no question for the faint-hearted.

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