Mamma Luca rang the doorbell and waited. She heard movement behind the door, and then a key going into the lock. The door opened to reveal a woman about the same age as Mamma, a bit shorter than her, but with similar features. The woman looked at her, scanned her from head to toe. She then greeted her quite curtly.
“You better have a good reason to be back here while the Apocalypse is going on in your town”.
“I’m glad to see you too, Imma” Mamma said.
Imma walked into the house, and Mamma followed, closing the door behind her. They went to a large kitchen, full of ordered cooking instruments. Imma took a pot of coffee from the kitchen counter and left it on the table. She then took two cups from a cabinet that had glass doors. She brought out some sugar, and a bottle of milk. They both sat, face to face, and started to prepare their coffees.
“They bring the milk directly from a farm in the outskirts. I just boil it” Imma explained.
“I can notice the smell” Mamma answered.
They smelled their coffees for a while, and then Imma started to ask questions. “So what exactly has brought you to my house, Alba?”
Mamma sighed. “It’s a long story”.
“Well, if you need to tell me all about the 150 years in which you haven’t come for a visit, then, yes, it’s going to be a long story” Imma answered, in a very snappy way.
“I know, I know…” Mamma breathed in. “It’s just that the Plan has changed”.
“I’ve noticed! The Horsemen were going to ride in October! This is just madness!”
Mamma took a sip of her coffee. “Look, everything went according to plan until the Solstice. But then Erin got to it and found out that the Plan was all wrong, and she needed to make ‘adjustments'”.
“How could the Plan be all wrong? This is the most sophisticated piece of human engineering that has ever been designed, even above the Orchards that have been built across the world. How could she decide that the Plan was all wrong?”
“Shall I remind you that she was omnipotent, omnipresent and omnisapient at the time? She just knew, and you have to take her word for that” Mamma responded, raising her voice. She let that sink in, and, after a good half minute, in a calmer voice, she added “Also, this failure had already been predicted by someone else”.
Imma’s eyes opened wide. “By whom?”
“Diane Vines. She told me that the Apocalypse would arrive earlier than expected, and that, when it did, I had to leave town”.
“But… but then… this doesn’t make any sense! What is the meaning of this? What kind of variable could distort the whole Plan?” Imma was puzzled.
Mamma breathed in and out. “I can answer both questions. As to what the meaning of this is, this is a test for them, Imma. They are all being tested on their ability to follow along the Path”.
Imma covered her mouth in fear. “And what has provoked this change?”
Mamma went silent for a few minutes. She could not bring herself to say it.
Imma insisted with urgency. “Alba, you need to tell me”.
“Anne Black” she finally pronounced.
“Who is that woman?”
“She still doesn’t know who she is. But it’s not about who she is. It’s about what she’s done” Mamma stopped for a bit. “She gave me hope in a time in which I was still mourning my son. With this, I took revenge and destroyed the High Witch…”
“I did. Which means that the Witched will not help them stop the Apocalypse, and will probably create a lot of issues. She also met one of the 12 players, the Maiden. He fell in love with her, and, in a time in which he was doubting over which side to take, he decided to fight for the Light instead of the Darkness, as had been prophesied. Together, they stopped the Ram, and the Maiden became a very popular candidate for Mayor of the town. The pressure on the Council increased, and they tried to show that they can also ‘do things’ by sorting things out with the Horsemen so that some stupid literary event could be celebrated, which made the Horsemen ride to Fiery Creek and start the Apocalypse”.
“But… but if the Maiden is good now, then… then the Lion…?”
“The Maiden’s plans stopped affecting the Lion. The Lion then went onto develop her full potential, and is now probably somewhere in the top ten most powerful beings of the known universe”.
“And her allegiance…?”
“I don’t know…” Mamma let a tear go. “There are probably thousands more effects like these that have changed the Plan. That is the reality”.
“Wait!” Mamma interrupted, holding her forehead with a hand. “Shit!”
“What’s going on?” Imma asked, terrified.
“There is a Doreeza de l’acqua in Fiery Creek. Something happened and she could not collapse back into one properly. There are now… multiple of her! This is crazy!”
“Why is there a Doreeza in Fiery Creek?”
“It got conjured decades ago”.
“Why didn’t you get rid of it?”
“I couldn’t! The Plan included her!”
They were both silent. Imma finally spoke. “You need to go and help them” she urged Mamma.
“But I can’t! I made a promise! They need to do it by themselves!”
Imma got extremely serious. “I don’t like having to do this, but I need to do it. Are you sure that this Diane Vines oracle could, in some way, predict the future to a higher level of accuracy than the Plan?”
Mamma spoke without doubt. “Yes”.