Wind whipped Tovi as he led Makani up a meandering path of beside a swift flowing river. He wasn’t even sure he was really on a path. Makani’s mane and tail were tangled and Tovi held a hood over his head to keep the wind off as much as possible. The cold air dried his skin, cracking his knuckles, and sending a sharp sting across his skin. They were three days into their journey up River Mountain and the landscape was mostly a sheer rock face, slippery stones, sparse trees, and gusting winds trying to throw anyone foolish enough to climb it off.
Looking up, Tovi could almost see the top but the mountain continued to reach into the sky. There was one more outcropping before the summit. The prophetess had to be nearby. How far up could she live? Or did she even live on this side of the mountain? After running from the troupe, Tovi had just kept going, ignoring the questions as they came. If he paid too much attention, he would stop. Testing a foot hold, Tovi kept going.
Huffing and gasping for breath, he climbed three more feet before looking up again. His head parallel to the outcropping, he could just see over the edge. Far back from the leg, against the steep wall to the summit, was a small cottage. Pulling on the reins, Tovi ran up the remaining incline, dragging Makani with him, and to the front door.
Rushing across the flat ground, Tovi let go of Makani when the horse refused to go faster, and knocked on the door. A moment went by but no one answered. It wasn’t that big of a cottage. Someone had to hear.
Is no one home?
He knocked again.
“Put the horse in the stable and come in through the back,” said a woman’s voice.
“Makani knows. Follow him.”
Just as the woman finished speaking, Tovi saw his black and white horse trudge past him. Following, Makani lead him to a two-stall barn down a short hill behind the cottage. Stopping inside the door, Tovi watch his horse meandered into a stall, head lagging and placed his nose in a full water trough. The stable was small but roomie, giving a homie comfort for the animal. Towards the back, Tovi saw some hay and gathered an armful before removing Makani’s reigns and saddle. After a quick rub down and putting a blanket on the stallion, Tovi petted his friend.
“Sorry, boy. You relax now.” Leaving Makani in the stall to eat, Tovi headed back up to the cottage.
As he reached the back door, he lifted his hand to knock but the door opened with a puff of steam.
“Now, now, there is no need for that. Come in, come in, Tovi.” A short woman waved him inside before waddling away.
Tovi ducked as he entered. Hanging from the rafters were row upon row of yarn, dangling like vines. “How do you know who I am?”
“I remember everyone I weave.”
At least I’m in the right place.
A fire burned in a hearth with a kettle and pot nearby. The sweet, warm smell of fish and bread hovered in the air. He stopped for a moment just to take in this warm home. If reminded him of preparing supper with his father as the hearth heated the room until sweated dotted his brow or chased away the shivers of winter as snow fell.
“Come all the way in, now. No need to stand in the door way letting all the hot air out. Come now, dear.”
Snapping his eyes open, Tovi shut the door behind him as he shook his head. Dodging this way and that, he parted the yarn as he walked through the kitchen, trying to locate the chatty old woman. Her silhouette could be seen scurrying here then there through all the yarn. And she wouldn’t stop talking.
“A good warm meal is what you need. Yes. Just look at you. A tall, straggly young man.” A hand slapped him in the stomach as its wielder passed before disappearing behind another thicket of yarn. “So thin.”
“Um,” Tovi said. “I wanted to talk to about a prophesy you wove.”
The old woman leaned backward from around a yarn waterfall of yarn. “Not until we are by the fire.”
Finally, for a moment, he could see her. She was grandmotherly looking with a wrinkled face and head full of white hair. Despite the spring in her step, she looked like someone who should be complaining about her back and hobbling around with a cane.
“It was the one woven for King Noach, prince at the time, to commemorate the—”
“Defeat of Dallow. Yes, I remember, dear.” She turned towards another sheet of yarn and called, “Nara. Please come. We have a visitor.”
The old woman wove around the yarn with two trenchers in one hand and a kettle and three cups in the other. She swayed back and forth as she balanced everything. Jumping forward, Tovi steadied her then took the two trenchers.
“Oh. What a gentleman,” she said as she pinched his cheek. “This way.” She wondered over to the fire and set the cups down on a table and filled them. Tovi set the trenchers beside them.
She wiped her hands on her skirt then squinted at Tovi. “Oh, that must be uncomfortable.” She reached up and pulled the wrapping off his head.
Stumbling back, Tovi reached up to his face.
“Much better. Sit, sit.” The woman gestured to the chairs before taking one herself.
Swallowing, Tovi took a hesitant step as a young woman came throw the yarn. As she glanced up at him, she gasped and stumbled back, her eyes widened as she stared at his face.
“Nara, you’ll have to grab a trencher for yourself. I didn’t have enough hands.”
Setting back from Tovi, Nara gave him a wide berth as she ducked towards a table and loaded a trencher for herself.
“Sit, dear,” the old woman insisted again.
Taking a hesitant step, like a starving dog afraid of being kicked, Tovi took the other chair.
When Nara joined them, she brought an extra chair, placing it on the other side of the old woman, keeping her between them.
As he spoke to the weaver, he tried not to look at the young woman who was also avoiding his gaze. “I wanted to know more about the tapestry.”
“Eat first.” The woman took a trencher and piled some mashed peas onto her bread.
“The tapestry was revealed the banquet celebrating King Noach’s victory,” Tovi continued. He wasn’t hungry, he just wanted answers. “It depicted—”
“I remember. I remember everything I weave. It was one of my better works, if I might say so. A dark, starless night contrasted with red and orange flames all around the edges with a lone figure, standing upon the ruin remains of stone, one eye green, the other blue.”
Tovi’s tongue clung to the ruff of his mouth. He had heard vague descriptions of it but never like that. “I guess. I never saw it.” Coughing, he tried to clear the lump in his throat. “I wanted to know… why did you weave me into it?”
“I weave what I see.” She tapped the side of her head. “As all weavers do.”
“But why me? I don’t want to hurt anyone. And I don’t want to destroy Elanra. I love this kingdom. Its people, its land. I even like King Noach. He cares for this kingdom, placing its people and their needs first. So why is it I’m the one who is going to destroy it.”
The woman finished chewing and swallowed. “It is very impolite not to ask someone for their name.”
Tovi blinked. “What?”
“You haven’t asked me my name yet. We’ve been talking all this time and you haven’t asked for my name.”
“Ah, what’s your name, ma’am?”
She smiled. “Asami.”
Tovi let out a calming breath. “Lady Asami—”
Biting his lip, he breathed. “Asami, why did you weave me into a tapestry predicting the destruction of the kingdom? Everyone hates me. I have to hide my face so no one will attack me. This is not what I want. I want to live a normal life. I… I want to see my father again.”
Asami tapped her foot. “What do you know about prophecy making?”
She waved a finger at him. “Come.”
Tovi followed her as she got up and began to waddle out of the kitchen into another area of the cottage. Nara jumped up and followed her, staying close on Asami’s heels.
“As I said before, I weave what I see. I don’t choose who goes into the tapestry. I don’t get to make the choice.” They entered a room with various looms against the wall with baskets of yarn beside them.
Asami waddled over and picked up a basket and brought it back to Tovi. “Do you know what this is?”
“Yarn made for prophesizing.”
“Half right. It is yarn.” Asami shrugged. “Nothing special.” She dropped it on the floor and slid it back across the floor with her foot. “How about this loom?”
Tovi shrugged. “Made from a special tree?”
“It is a loom, darling. Other women have them in their homes too.”
This was getting him no where. He started to wonder if the woman could give a straight answer.
“You want to know what makes the tapestries so special?” Asami smiled up at him as if she was teaching a star-eyed kid.
“It is what I see. I can see moments of the future that will come if the people continue down the path they are on. People come and ask me them to weave them a tapestry for their newborn daughter or to remember an event. They will usually bring me yarn and I will see a moment and weave it. Some are happy, some are not. I just weave what I see.” She lowered her arms and looked up into Tovi’s eyes, for the first time being sober. “When Prince Noach asked me to weave, I saw destruction.”
Tovi reached out to a tapestry on one of the looms and played with a loose piece of yarn. “So that’s it then. That is my future.”
Nara glanced from Asami to him, like she was waiting for her to say something important.
“Well… not entirely. It is only the future if you choose it to be. It is all your own choice.”
His head snapped to her. “So, I don’t have to destroy Elandra?” It was the best news he’d heard in years.
“Correct. But,” she continued, “I find that those who know the future have a hard time not fulfilling it. Once a future is woven and they know it, it tends to come true. Sometimes, people try so hard for it not to come true that they make it true. Other times, they try ignore it so much that they don’t see they are heading down the path where it will happen.”
“So…how do I keep it from coming true? Both options say this will happen.”
Asami waddled up to him and placed a hand on his cheek. “The fact you don’t want it is good. Just live your life, be conscious of the choices you make, and everything will be alright.”
Tovi waited for her to go on. “That’s it? There has to be more. Can’t you weave me a new tapestry? Not make me a villain?”
“Sorry, dear. That is all I can do. The rest is up to you.” She turned around and headed back towards the kitchen.
Nara stepped back as Asami passed, squinting at the woman.
“But I can’t live like this. I can’t keep hiding from people trying to hunt me. It is only a matter of time before the king decides to put a price on my head. To destroy the problem before it becomes one. Please, weave me a tapestry. I’ll pay you.”
Asami frowned. “I’m sorry. There is nothing more I can do. Stay the night. In the morning, I’ll help you find a new place to go.” She waddled out of the room.
Was that it? Tovi turned in a circle, unsure of what to do next. From what she said he was trapped no matter what he did. Leaning against the wall, he slid down, hanging his head.
“Hey.” Nara glanced towards the kitchen then crept up to him. “There might be a way.”
She bit her lip and squirmed. “I’ve always heard that prophesy too. It gave me nightmares.”
“Who hasn’t?” Tovi hung his head again.
“But you’re not how I pictured. So… I’ll tell you. Weaver legend has it there is a needle that can change tapestries woven with prophesy. It has been hidden away but lore suggests it is in Daker.”
This couldn’t be real. A real chance to change his destiny. “What do I need to do?”
“I could take you there. Maybe.”
Tovi glanced towards the yarn shrouded kitchen. “What about Asami?”
“She won’t approve so we best leave tonight.”
Silence came between them for a moment. “Why are you helping me?”
Nara swallowed. “I became a prophetess because I could see things. I wanted to help people. But sometimes all I do is set down the future but nothing changes. This is something I can do.”
Tovi nodded. “Okay, let’s go.”
As Nara stood and dusted off her skirt, Tovi reached out his hand towards her. “Thank you.”
She froze and glance between him and his hand. Nodding, she smiled and said, “You’re welcome,” before sweeping into the weaving room and sitting down at one.
Curling his fingers into a fist, he dropped his hand and sighed. Finding that needle couldn’t come soon enough.
I always enjoyed how inspiration from other places can come together. Last year I was reading a Choose Your Own Adventure book, The Magic of the Unicorn, and one of the endings involved a magic tapestry. I enjoyed that one so much that I thought I would like to one day write a story about a magical tapestry but didn’t have anything planned at the time. I just left it open.
A few months later, I was working on a cross stitch and learned that the little, dull needles used for those are called tapestry needles. I never knew that and loved the name.
This scene also took inspiration with all the crazy yarn from Jenelle Leanne Schimdt’s “Destined for Greatness” short story first published in Paws, Claws, and Magic Tales.
Inspiration is all around and when woven together can create some fun stuff. I hope you enjoyed this newest edition to Woven Fate and Tovi’s adventure. We are only three months in so there is still a lot to come and I’m looking forward to what comes next.
This part was based on Havok’s Strange New Worlds theme and they just released what July-Decembers themes will be so I’ll be working on that during April. Trying to make it all mesh will be an adventure all on its own. If you’ve enjoyed reading Tovi’s story, feel free to share it or drop a comment below. If you are just now jumping into Woven Fate, you can catch up here. See you next month.