16 Harvest Festival (4)

Layla had a look of wonderment upon seeing this elf man make his way over. He generally stayed by himself, quietly watching the festival every year. Others rarely noticed him due to how silent and immobile he was, and even when he was spotted, the villagers didn't approach him, save for a couple of children, to which he half-smiled. Seeing him walking towards them, a behavior which hadn't happened in several decades. Layla had a suspicion about what he wanted.

The elf man's electric blue eyes stayed on Seran as he strode over to stand beside Layla. With a small grin, he said, "You're quite a miracle worker, aren't you, kid?" Those eyes seemed to peer through Seran's entire being the longer they stared at him.

Layla, who noticed the man's old habit acting up, cut in after lightly tapping him on the shoulder, "Ahem, Brannon, you're doing it again."

"Ah, my bad." The elf man, Brannon, chuckled mildly as the electric blue in his eyes stopped glowing and returned to a normal blue. "Apologies. I should introduce myself first. This old man's name is Brannon Fateseer."

"Fateseer? As in fortune-teller?" The boy's ears twitched as he heard a very peculiar word. "You're a Fortune Teller?"

Brannon's eyes twinkled, "You're a quick one, aren't you? The answer is both yes and no. Currently, I am a Fate Reader, the third-grade job in the Fortune Teller path. While I am nowhere near as good as the Oracle, who is the only Prophet in all of Aregard, I'm one of the best in the Fate Readers."

Etienne was surprised at hearing Brannon's job, saying with amazement, "A Fate Reader? There's no more than 50 of them at any time in the entire world! I never thought I'd get to even see one, let alone meet one."

The old diviner chuckled, "Normally, you wouldn't even get the chance to see one. Here, on the other hand, I can walk freely. This is the forest we elves call home, after all." Shaking his head, Brannon returned his gaze to the purple-eyed lad, "You're a very intriguing lad. Even with my signature ability [Eyes of Divination], I can't see through you. You must be the one that our Queen mentioned."

Seran was stunned, "She knows about me? Is she a Fortune Teller too?"

"No, she is not. Our Queen made a deal with your ancestor Edric, which was mediated by the Oracle herself, and several other trustworthy people. I was one of them, thus I know more about the contents of the deal than anyone here, including the related prophecy. You should have at least heard tell of such a thing by now, correct?"

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"Yes, I have. From what I heard, the Oracle said that a child would come that would change the world, starting from here in Greenwood Village."

"Indeed, that is the prophecy in a brief summary. However, it misses the most important points." The old sage leaned over to whisper just low enough for Seran to hear, "With eyes of orchid and hair of ice and snow, the once and future king shall rise amidst the evergreens and bring change upon the world." He then straightened up again, a smile still hanging on his lips, "A single phrase from the original prophecy. What do you think, kid?"

After a moment of silence, Seran said, "It wouldn't be a lie to say that half of that sounds exactly like me..."

"The original prophecy has many more phrases, but those are debatably the most important. So, as you are the prophetic child, I have a very simple question." Brannon's slightly amused attitude shifted to a cold and calculating one, "What is your ultimatum?"

Sensing the danger he could get himself into by answering incorrectly, Seran began to overthink things, to the point of visibly sweating like he was being interrogated. It took William's interjection to his thoughts to remind him to say what he believed he should do as a king, the complete truth of the matter. After calming himself and taking a deep breath, he looked Brannon in the eyes and said, "As a king, I think that my citizens are more important than anything. I'd have nothing without them. I will protect my kingdom and its citizens with my life." He then thought for a minute before continuing, "I would not wage warfare needlessly, either. My policy would be not to strike first, but to always strike back. To my enemies, I will be cruel, but not cruel to the innocents involved. To my allies, I will always support them. Within my kingdom, all would be equal, and status is earned, not inherited, regardless of race, abilities, age or gender. Everyone will have the same opportunities, and everyone will be treated the same."

Layla, Etienne, and Brannon all stared at the boy with shocked interest upon hearing his statement. Thankfully, it was too noisy with the festival for anyone to hear what he said very clearly. All 3 thought about what kind of a kingdom such a place would be, almost beginning to tremble with anticipation of what such a kingdom could be capable of.

The first to regain a clear head was Brannon, who quickly broke into a bout of hearty laughter, a sound that mixed in with the festival sounds. Layla was the second, smiling mostly at Seran's words and slightly at seeing the elf sage unable to hold back his mirth. Finally, Etienne returned to reality, immediately wrapping his son in a big hug, stunning the white-haired boy, who then awkwardly returned the hug.

After laughing for a good while, Brannon smiled widely before saying to Layla, "I think he's brilliant."

"I'd have to agree. That's already more than most rulers think of in their lifetime. Such a place, I'd love to see it," Layla replied, unable to keep herself from smiling as well.

Etienne could barely keep from crying in pride, "Damn it, Seran, you're too special to be my son."

"Dad, if you start crying now, Nan won't ever let you forget it." Seran just continued giving his father a hug, who was too happy about having a genius son to even hear what he said.

Brannon chuckled before saying, "Well, anything else we have to talk about, we should do it in private. Do you have a place we can chat?"

"I think the festival will be fine without us for a minute. We can go to my house, provided dad doesn't keep hugging me forever." The young boy could only stand and let himself be hugged since Etienne felt like he'd lose Seran if he let go. "Dad, let go of me. I'm not gonna disappear, and you know it. You're embarrassing me and you in front of everyone here."

The emotional chief eventually let go, though he still looked like he wanted to hug his son again. He calmed down almost instantly after Seran said he'd get Nan if he had to. "Yes, we can go to our house if it's the best for the conversation to continue..." The two elves followed the two humans away from the festival, which continued to just get more and more festive by the minute.

Upon entering the chief's house, they moved to sit in the living room, with Etienne and Brannon each occupying a chair, and Seran and Layla both sitting on the couch. Seran then said, "So, what's the rest of the conversation you meant?"

Brannon had a mischevious grin as he looked at Layla, "So, what do you think of him, your majesty?"

Etienne caught on quickly and stared in shock at the elf lady beside his son.

Seran, on the other hand, wasn't that surprised. He just said bluntly, "I had a hunch that you were both important people, but I didn't expect one to be a Fate Reader and the other to be the Elf Queen I'd hoped to meet."

Layla, the Queen of the Elves, responded simply, "You're a special child, indeed. I'm glad to have met you already. Still, if you wish to become a king, you need two things: the support of your people and at least one ally. Considering your village is within the Primeval Forest, which is a part of my territory, you can understand why I find the creation of a kingdom so important.

"Yes, that's true. Our village is still within your borders, even if we have been given a status similar to an embassy. I would need to be on good terms with you at the very least."

"Yes, you would need to be. The forest is a part of the elves' power, so the loss of any of it is detrimental to us as a whole. So, how do you intend to build a true kingdom in such a small village when you cannot do anything to the forest?" Layla's gaze was sharp and leveled as she eyed the young boy inquisitively.

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