The Abundantly Chosen

[This is one of my absolute favorite stories from “I Hate Your Time Machine“. This time around, I am not going to post all of the stories to this blog; some will be reserved just for those who buy the book (or are on my Patreon).

But I really, really wanted to share this one.

There’s so much to hate about Chosen Ones. One of the simplest is just how interesting Destiny, in general, isn’t. If I’m reading a Greek tragedy, I might want to hear about how someone fated to end expresses that ending; but otherwise, I want growth to come from life changes, not Kismet.

                  If you know my first novel, “Diary of a Dark Lord,” you’ll know that I addressed this problem… in a slightly different way.

That’s fine. There’s more than one way to skin a Chosen One.]

The White Warlock paused in his study of the crumbling and ancient manuscript. The signs were certain, and that was good. Because a wave of Darkness was descending upon the land like a plague of locusts, and, just to keep things interesting, a plague of locusts had decided to descend upon the land like a wave of Darkness.

Still, he was stalwart and resolute. Light always pushes back the Darkness, surely as day banishes night. (He tried not to dwell too much on what this implied about dusk.) He, alone, could not act, for such was not his role, but soon would be found the Chosen One, the Child of Prophecy, and then would the Dark Lord’s doom be writ.

At that moment: footsteps. He knew that walk, that hasty, lumbering stride. It was the Mayor. At last. The Warlock rose hurriedly and pulled the door open, leaving the Mayor, who was not necessarily entirely rapid on the uptake, to knock momentarily on his beard.

The magus disentangled himself, and said, his voice unconsciously deepening and projecting, in case anyone happened to be listening nearby, “Yes? What is it? Why do you disturb my urgent and precious studies?”

The Mayor turned pink. “I’m sorry, Magister! But I thought you’d want to know right away. We have found the Child of Prophecy!”

Behind the Mayor strode a gangly youth, tall for his age, with the sort of slightly shifty look one gets if one spends equal parts of time avoiding farm chores and homework. The Wizard eyed him closely, and then decided, for the sake of his future happiness, to eye him a little less closely. “So! Child!” said the mage, attempting to recover some of his dignity. “Is it true that you were born on a night of the Blood Moon?”

“A-yep,” said the Chosen One.

“And is it true that when you pass by the sea, the very mermaids croon unto thee hymns of aquiline sweetness?”

The kid’s brow knotted in concentration. “What’s an aqua line?”

The Warlock’s expression very, very specifically did not change. “Do beings of magic arise from the waters and sing when you go past?”

“Yeah, I guess.”


“Don’t like the water. Smells like fish.”

The Magus was spared from the need to reply by the sudden appearance at the door by sudden arrival of the Guildmaster. The Guildmaster, whose original trade had been that of the blacksmith, was a huge man, and this served to further dwarf the young woman at his side.

“Warlock!” he bellowed. His voice sounded like it belonged within his giant and intimidating body, and by the Gods, he knew it.

The Warlock blinked. “Yes, good tradesman?” he said, hoping that a discouraging tone of voice and a mild slight might get rid of the interruption. The Guildmaster noticed both things about as much as fish tend to notice how many craters there are on the Moon, and probably cared even less. “I,” he hollered, “have brought you the fruits of my Guild’s steadfast search! I have brought you the one whose name was spoken only in whispers! I have brought you…The Chosen One.”

The small girl said, “I’m Susan, and people don’t actually tend to whisper my name. If anything, they yell it. ‘Susan do this,’ ‘Susan do that’—I’m pretty tired of it. How much does this Chosen thing pay?”

The Warlock’s response, instructive though it might have been, was lost to posterity, assuming that posterity would have wanted it in the first place, which is doubtful. He was just starting to push some words through his beard when the Village Wise-Woman strode right through the open door.

The amount of love lost between a White Warlock and a Wise Woman could be measured in a thimble, a small thimble, one which has been packed as tight as humanly possible with dirt and imprecations. The situation was not at all improved when the Warlock realized that, trailing her close behind, were triplets.

“Born under a red moon!” shouted the Wise Woman the moment she noticed his eyes swivel. “Whole sea just ups and belts out ballads as they pass! And each and everyone one of ‘em has an affinity for the birds of the forest.”

“The birds of the forest are parakeets!” said the Warlock, irritably. “They talk to everyone.”

The Mayor’s sullen young companion spoke up. “I bet they like me best. Feeds ‘em, I do.”

“Hah!” said the Guildmaster’s girl. “I comb their feathers!”

“…we ate one,” confessed one of the triplets. “But the others still come ‘round, most of the time.”

“I have here a child who can spell his own name! In script!” said a seedy-looking shopkeeper, pushing his way into the increasingly crowded room.

“That’s not even part of the Prophecy!” the Warlock replied indignantly.

“I know, and I’ll throw it in free of charge,” said the shopkeep smoothly.

With some heat, the Warlock retorted. “There is no reward!”

“Sure there is,” replied the mercantile operator. He pulled, from his dirty jerkin, a slightly-less-dirty piece of parchment. All around, the others were pulling out similar scrolls; someone must have hired—sorry, “made a substantial pious donation to”—the local abbey; the writing was excellent, and there was more paper in this room than most people saw in a week.

He read the document quickly; his were eyes accustomed to deciphering the esoteric, and this was anything but. It was also quite brief: it detailed some of the major points of the Prophecy (and added a few of its own), stated the Warlock’s location, and made mention of a very, very substantial reward (given personally by the Warlock himself, of course; sure, he claimed a vow of poverty, but everyone was confident he could turn lead to gold, so why should there be a problem?)… and it noted “this prestigious Quest will make a Hero of the lucky child.” It conspicuously left out the likelihood of death, failure, and doom.

The Chosen One would be distinguished by signs and portents, and then by mighty deeds; the Chosen One would come from an unlikely and unexpected source. The Chosen One’s true powers would not reveal themselves until the moment of greatest need; such was the Prophecy.

The Prophecy had been intended to eliminate the Dark Lord; it would be a quest of great peril, taken on with tremendous reluctance, for the good of the kingdom. It had not taken into account the fact that Warlocks are not the only ones who could decipher the details of a Prophecy, and that people will believe what they want to believe. Sure, they could hear the Dire Wolves edging ever-closer to their realm; but that was in the future, whereas large sums of cash were promised right now.

There was a clamor without. The Warlock’s peripheral vision noted it as a profusion of humans, small ones in the tow of larger ones.

The Warlock might try to brew some truth serum; but even the actual Child of Prophecy had no special reason to be aware of being said person. The Warlock could attempt some divination; but divination is, by its nature, imperfect; there’s no way to have both a completely predictable future, and free will, and we have the latter, for better or for worse.

As the sage said, you don’t need to be a weather-worker to know which way the wind blows.

Especially if your opposite number IS a weather-worker, and the wind is an ice-riven thunderous hailstorm, mowing down everything in its path and headed your way.

The Warlock looked at the Dark Tower, just within faint view of his very keen eyes, and saw shapes which, even from leagues away, were enormous: Dragons. He looked upwards, just a mile into the woods, at the Tower of White Warlocks, and the massive Eagles encircling it.

In Dragon, the word for “Eagle” is the same as the word for “snack,” and the word for “Giant Eagle” translates, basically, to “Slightly Meatier Snack”.

He climbed on top of a table and addressed the assembled mass of humanity. “I will return in just a moment!” he thundered. “Conduct yourselves admirably until I return!”

Once outside the door, he slipped quickly around the side of the building. When he was definitely unobserved, he slowly, delicately removed the heavy medallion from around his neck. In its center was a crystal which glowed with a faint but pleasing light, like the rays of the sun breaking through clouds. With a single swift motion, he cracked it smartly against the stone wall of the house.  “Oops,” he said, putting the now-dark neckpiece back around his throat. He tossed his tall white hat into a rain-barrel, and made for the Blackened Forest. There’d be a full moon tonight, and, it was rumored, the Dark Lord’s table celebrated such occasions with particularly succulent roast Elf. He moved at the brisk pace of a man intent on not missing dinner, dabbing mud on his cloak to darken it, and practicing his wolf-howls as he went.

~Jeff Mach


My name is Jeff Mach (“Dark Lord” is optional) and I build communities, put on events, and make stories come into being. I also tweet a lot over @darklordjournal.

I write books. You should read them!

My new book, “I Hate Your Time Machine”, is now available as a Kindle pre-order! It would really help me out if you went and bought a copy!

Jeff Mach Written by:

Jeff Mach is an author, playwright, event creator, and certified Villain. You can always pick up his bestselling first novel, "There and NEVER, EVER BACK AGAIN"—or, indeed, his increasingly large selection of other peculiar books. If you'd like to talk more to Jeff, or if you're simply a Monstrous Creature yourself, stop by @darklordjournal on Twitter, or The Dark Lord Journal on Facebook.