The day the Master’s abilities switched with mine, my world became so much clearer—so clear, in fact, that I almost began to hate it instantly. At the time, the only thing keeping me from immediately loathing everything at once was the situation I definitely had to deal with first: the Master, becoming one with the phoenix within her body.
But like all crises, that eventually settled down. Her sword was sheathed once again, and the only crisis left for me was the one inside my own mind.
Foresight. Scenes unfolding in the future flowing into my head regardless of my will. It didn’t matter if I was seeking answers. It didn’t matter if I was even asking any questions. They came to me anyhow—those answers without questions. Fortunately, the first predictions that came to me were not my own. They belonged to people I did not yet know. Perhaps because she knew my struggle—because she had been there before, even if it was a thousand years ago—the Master did not speak much as we tidied up the room, pushing furniture back into place.
“You can choose,” she said, “What to see. But you cannot choose what not to see.”
I turned my head to look at her. Her long, golden locks looked so foreign to me, as were the crimson hues in her eyes.
The phoenix. A power I could not control back when it was mine. Yet, when it flowed into her, it became one with her. The phoenix was supposedly made primarily of rage, and yet she looked so calm carrying that wrath.
“How did you manage it?” I asked.
Her movements stopped. She turned to face me as well. “I had a thousand years to stumble,” she said, reminding me of it—as if she were reading my mind. “It takes time, practice, and…solitude.”
I felt my own eyes narrow at the word. I had lived with her for as long as I could remember, ever since she picked me up as an infant. Solitude was the last word I wanted to think about.
“Worry not, Leica. I spent a thousand years believing that the future is set in stone. It was you who changed my mind.”
“It is but a scratch,” said Master Azka as she bandaged her arm—a wound she got while hunting. “There is no sense in unleashing the phoenix on a mere animal.”
“I know that, but…”
Having finished bandaging, the Master came to me. She raised a hand to my cheek.
“You cannot prevent every mishap.”
I knew already that she would say this before she even said it. I had seen it with my mind’s eye, just as I had seen her getting wounded by an animal in my absence. I knew what she meant, too, when she said that, since I had the time to ponder over it long before the moment came when the words would be uttered.
It was Master Azka who adopted me and then raised me. Back then, she had been Leica, and I had been Azka—a name the Master gave the baby. Master Leica had been a blind storyteller, earning his living that way. Growing up, I noticed that he always seemed to know exactly where everything was, even though he could not see. He was never taken by surprise by anything. When I suddenly spewed fire from my hands, he only held me close and told me, “Fire can destroy. It can also warm. You have something that others do not; you are special. How you use it is up to you.”
Later on, I found that it was because the Master had the gift of foresight that he was never caught off guard—everything that would be, he had already seen beforehand; he knew where everything was because he had already walked those paths a hundred times in the futures he saw in his mind. He could not speak of what he saw—nor could I now—as that was how he had been cursed to become blind in the first place. Robbed of the present, he lived always and only in the future. He lived it twice—once when he saw it, once when it happened. As he told me later, the future always did happen exactly as he predicted, whether or not it was the outcome he wanted to see.
He saw that he would die by my hand—rather, not me, but the phoenix residing in my body. He took me in regardless, in an attempt to break his curse, to break his fate. Somewhere along the line, my vow to keep him company till the very end broke the chain. The future changed, and at that moment, the Master regained his sight and lost his immortality. It was also then that he told me of our souls and where they ought to be: in each other’s bodies. With ancient runes, our souls became swapped, and I now lived in Leica’s body with all his powers while the Master lived in Azka’s body with all her powers—the phoenix included.
As if the phoenix belonged to the Master in the first place, they merged as soon as we switched. Back when I was in Azka’s body, I wasn’t even aware of the phoenix. As a result of that, I never knew that it was I who attacked the Master, that it was me I had been training to get rid of all those years.
You cannot prevent every mishap. It was a line anyone could say, but meant most coming from Master Azka. How many disasters had she seen before this? How did she feel when she saw the phoenix attacking the body housing her own soul?
“But I want to.” For now, at least, I could not give in to destiny as she had. I took her hand in mine, lowering it from my cheek. “I want to remove everything that puts you in harm’s way. I always did, and that hasn’t changed now.”
“Then, everything shall devastate you,” she said. Given that she no longer had foresight, the Master was likely speaking from her own experience.
“You’ve been through it,” I noted, “I’m not saying I have the same strength, but…come what may.”
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