Nestled on top of a small broad hill, between higher steeper slopes, the seer's home was a mixture of small wooden cottages connected by courtyards and gardens surrounded by a pointed wooden palisades. While bucolic and covered in bright mosses, lichens, and flowers, it was also obviously highly defensible.
Nelda stood in on the large gangplank that granted access to the small complex. The surrounding hill seemed like they would be beyond effective bombardment by anything short of a canon. Which she was willing to assume did not exist in this world. Arrows could close the gap bit the wooden wall could stop them, and the pervading dampness would resist fire.
Asbolus gestured for the party to precede him inside. Nelda hesitation blocked Typho and drew Asbolus' attention.
[I am not sure I want to precede this gent into a potential trap, no matter how Merlin-esque his vibe.]
"What is it that you see?" he asked. The centaur's manner exuded a kind of patience and stoic wisdom. It made her wonder why he chose to live alone... or needed to.
"I see a pretty home, but one made in expectation of attack. It would be robust against different types of weapons and with these surrounding peaks which would be difficult for a large dragon to access from above. But a gryphon or harpy, from what I know, would have no trouble."
Asbolus gave her a sad smile. "I would not expect trouble from those races. But it should it come to pass; they would be exposed to archery from below. So, are you a fighter then, are your people warlike?"
Nelda almost laughed. "I am no kind of fighter, but I have had cause to think a lot about the chances of war less last few short weeks. And I don't suppose you could call my people peaceful."
The centaur looked past her at Typho for a long moment, an then just shook his head. He went ahead of them into the courtyard.
Asbolus showed them to what seemed like some kind of receiving space. It was about the size of a small classroom, but one wall was made mostly of large floor-to-ceiling wooden shutters that stood open. The revealed a view of the most central part of the small complex which was occupied by a cluttered garden that combined many diverse parts. A small stream went through the middle and around it was a haphazard collection of buildings, sheds, pagodas and glimpsed of the external palisade with was tall and pointed at the top.
There wasn't a lot to sit on but some bare boards and a few faded rugs these seemed to already be home to a family of orange-bellied spiders.
Asbolus walked between thin as they dithered in the space. He stood, mostly silhouetted against the view into the guardian. "I think," he said. "That you have much to say that will be of interest to me. But you are here because of what I may say to you. So you will forgive me if I begin with what I always say to petitioners of this type."
Asbolus paused and looked out onto his garden, his face was creased briefly with a slight grimace. Then he continued.
"It would be best for you to consider me two people in one body. As you see me know, I am a peaceable and quiet man, but I am no seer. The parent part of my mind is responsible, courteous, and altogether too structured in character for visions to pierce through. It is like this room when the shutters are all closed. Unbothered by storms, able to be warmed and dried and shutting out all manner of pest and predator. But the only light within would be a light I made myself. By contrast, my child mind is open the great mysteries because it is emotional, reckless, foolish, and easily influenced by the subtle strands most people are blind to. Do you understand what I am saying?"
There was a blank silence in the room.
"Um. BugleHead said. "You can see the future when you are drunk."
"Oh," Nelda said. "Right. But drunk-you does things sober-you wouldn't. I think we've all been there."
Asbolus smiled at them both. But it was a sad smile. [ Like drunk Asbolus was someone he would rather not be, and rather not have us meet.] But it was a sacrifice he made for the greater good.
"I will not consider beginning such a session until it is full dark, which will not be for a while yet. Some should join me I drink; others stay sober to take good note of anything said that might be propitious. It typically takes a form that is somewhat grandiose and often comes upon me in a kind of it such that it is hard to overlook the nature of the thing."
The awkward silence resumed.
"Um. I think I understand to some extent. And we are very grateful that you would consider assisting us. We come here primarily not for any selfish reasons but because of a dire prophecy from the mermaids. One that seems to predict events that, if we can, we wish to prevent coming to pass. Jen, can I have the copy…"
Asbolus almost seemed to have been deliberately ignoring the ele,,, other centaur in the room. As Jen dug in her saddlebag, he seemed to acknowledge her properly for the first time.
"Daughter of the herd, you are not known to me either," he said. "You are not of Bellmare's herd, which is well for you. But do not resemble any other herd I know of ether, it is my belief I know them all."
Jen smiled somewhat shyly at him. "That is a part of our story. But Nelda is right that greater matters carry greater urgency than what we each"—she gestured vaguely at the company—"find ourselves… thrown into as individuals…" she stumbled to an uncomfortable stop.
"That's as it may be," Asbolus said. "But as we have a while, perhaps your friends can make themselves comfortable here, while we speak a spell in the garden.
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