The vision began as a thin gray swirl, like a wisp of smoke
embedded in the glass. Another appeared, and a third. Soon there
were a least a dozen of them chasing one another across the mirror, reminding me of children skating on a frozen pond. The center of the image began to glow, faintly at first, then brighter, until I could make out the oranges and blacks and pale yellows of embers in a dying fire. And then a hand emerged from the cinders. It might have been dark red, the color of blood, but it was silhouetted against that burning glow. It wasn’t taloned or deformed. It appeared to be a normal hand, long-fingered perhaps, but ordinary except for its color. Still, I knew immediately that it was . . . wrong; that it didn’t belong here. For one thing, those wisps of gray smoke acted as though they were afraid of it. They kept as far from the hand as possible; when it moved, they did as well, matching its motion so as to keep their distance.
This continued for a while, the threads of smoke and the hand gliding over the embers, until suddenly the hand seized the strands of gray, capturing all of them in one lightning quick sweep across the mirror. The hand gripped them, the wisps of smoke appearing to
writhe in its grasp. When at last the dark fingers opened again, what was left of the gray strands scattered like ash. And when those remnants touched the embers, they flared so brilliantly that I had to shield my eyes. By the time I looked at the mirror again, the image was gone. All that was left was the inverted reflection of my office. The runemyste was watching me.
“What the hell was that, Namid?”
“What did you see?”
“You know perfectly well what I saw. You always know. What did it mean?”
“What do you think it meant?”
I shoved the mirror off my lap and stood too quickly; my vision swimming.
“Damn you, Namid! Can’t you answer a simple question? Just once?”
“This is as much a part of your training as the summoning of that image. Scrying is more than seeing. Scrying is understanding what you see.”
I hated it when he was right.
This was what made scrying so frustrating. The images came to me easily. Even Namid, who was a miser when it came to compliments, had once told me that the visions I summoned from my scrying stone were unusually vivid. Interpreting them, though, was another matter. Scryings were never clear or unambiguous. Rather they were shadows, portents, hints at the future. Frankly, they were a pain in the butt.
“I don’t know,” I said, beginning to pace the room. “That hand bothered me.”
I halted, surprised by the response. This was as close to a hint as he was ever likely to offer.
“Why, Namid? What does the hand mean?”
Before he could answer, the phone rang. Neither of us moved, and it rang again.