The Story of Panuh
An except from The Tome of Awesome Stuff you ought to know…
Much of the origins of the Prophecy have been lost to the mists of time, but scholars have pieced together how it started, based on records of the Academy and writings of the wise from that time — but honestly, it was a LONG time ago. Anyone who was there is dead. I suppose there are some Elves who might have been around then, but they are pretty elitist as a rule and most only hang out with humans in an attempt to shock their parents.
Anyway, the author of the Prophecy, Panuh the All Seeing as he was eventually known, was of extremely humble origins, the second of three children. His mother made dung bricks for which people would pay her to stop making, as no one who had any money wanted a house built of dung, and his father was a barnyard pimp. As a result, the family moved around frequently, whenever townsfolk grew tired of the smell of dung or discovered that their livestock were being violated.
When he was just ten years old, Panuh predicted that his mother would find a gold piece in some particularly ripe pile of yak droppings. (The result of a tavern bet that went terribly wrong, especially for the yak.)
Both his parent quickly realized that their son had a rare gift and they immediately encouraged it. If encouragement is the same thing as exploitation. Very soon, after finding a multitude of lost treasures and some long-shot wagers, they found themselves living a very luxurious lifestyle all courtesy of young Panuh. Rich food at every meal, opulent homes, hot and cold running servants, silver-plated gold, and many other indulgences.
Of course, there is a downside to everything, and having an all-seeing son means that all your proclivities, both good and bad, will eventually come to light.
Which is helpful, as in “the necklace hasn’t been nicked by the chambermaid it’s just fallen behind the armoire”. But less helpful when your older sister left her virtue with the stable boy.
It was very swiftly decided that higher education would suit their son, and off to the Academy of Myrtor he went, courtesy of a healthy endowment for a new alchemical laboratory.
Young Panuh took to academic life like a dragon takes to eating maidens and hoarding gold. (The exception being the great drake, Vervontomax, who collected maidens and ate gold. He died painfully but much loved.) Panuh was finally in a place where his gifts could be appreciated. Which was true, at first. His initial evaluation included the phrases “Gifted,” Rare Prodigy, and “True Genius.” A later one used “Snotty Little Know It All.”
He learned the simple truth that the fantasy of knowing everything that is going to happen is different than the reality of being stuffed in the privy by your fellow students for whom the grade curve has been ruined.
His problem was that he always was looking at the short term. Which is what happens when you grow up having to move in the middle of the night because of your parents’ questionable vocations.
So he learned to look at the big picture and found that if you did so, beatings could be replaced with really good parties and girls.
One girl in particular caught his attention. Her name was Estoline. She was funny, smart as a wizard, and, just as important, not ugly as a wizard. To be fair, at the time all the wizards that Panuh had met were wizened ancient creatures, and he couldn’t tell if they were male or female. But neither could they, and since a lot of them were uncomfortable with members of the opposite sex in their youth, it was easier for them to just assume what they wanted to and discuss magic in non-gender-specific terms.
Estoline was most definitely gender-specific. They had met at a party in the Astrology Tower, which Panuh had accurately predicted would be empty till the Hour of the Wild Stallion, which everyone thought would be enough time for a good party — but they needed to get out at half past the Hour of the Sly Water Bug or the Astrology Master would have them all cleaning his telescope, and that was not a euphemism.
Estoline had captured his imagination in a way that no other girl had because he couldn’t tell what she was going to do next. This fascinated him. He was used to knowing what was around the corner, so this was a whole new experience for him. So new that he forgot to warn everyone that the Astrology Master was about to walk in, half past the Hour of the Sly Water Bug long past.
The party exploded, so to speak, as some students shimmied down drainpipes and the upper classmen either flew out the window, or teleported, or turned into sparkly clouds or birds or whatever they could come up with on the spur of the moment.
Panuh was pulled into a secret passage by Estoline, who had an unparalleled knowledge of the inner workings of the Academy. After a fair bit of running, they soon found themselves in a small, forgotten garden on the other side of campus. The Hour of the Lost Bat long gone and the Hour of the Early Wyrm was almost over. That is when they first kissed, but it would not be their last.
The wise and learned have debated as to why the greatest seer of his or any time could not predict the actions of one young woman. Some think she was possessed by a spirit of pure chaos. Others postulate that she was cursed. Or even that she was not human, but a being of the outer planes.
This debate has raged over centuries with no end in sight. Over a glass of excellent brandy, the Academicus of Hidden Citadel, on a rare trip to the outside world, once confided in me that he knew the answer. “True Love,” he said, “pure and simple. If love doesn’t mess you up three ways to Sunday, then it’s not real.”
His relationship with Estoline opened other avenues of pleasure than the obvious. His new love was also a gifted alchemist and had created many potions and mists that opened up his mind to new mental states. Mix in the ability to see the future, and things get interesting. As a result, their parties were rightly considered the best on campus.
One historic night, Estoline created a new potion she named “Inner Eye of the Outer Planes.” It was aptly named, because after drinking it that same evening, the next thing they knew they were in a small mountain cabin a month’s journey from the academy yet they were only missing a week’s time.
The other odd thing was the scroll. Panuh foggily recalled having written the Prophecy while enjoying the strange alchemical delights. So he did just what anyone would do after going MIA from a prestigious institute of higher learning for a week. He turned in the scroll as his thesis.
The Prophecy, as it eventually came to be known, was so complex, subtle, and subject to infinite interpretations that scholars to this day study it and argue about just what the hell it all means. The one thing that they have all agreed on: it foretold the coming of a Hero who would save the world.
While Estoline was never able to replicate her experimental “Inner Eye of the Outer Planes” potion, or so she and Panuh claimed, they came to be regarded as academic heroes and eventually were named Masters at the Academy of Myrtor. And even though they held positions of great dignity and sagacity, they still threw the best parties on campus.