SECRET ORIGINS: THE CHOSEN
As a rule, prophecies are garbage. An equal opportunity plot device designed to bring any main character to the fore with unearned speed. If the pacing is right, most passersby will never look at the details too closely.
For the more discerning viewer it’s painfully obvious that things don’t always add up. Oracles are never so specific, often building in some cushion to account for the contradictory interpretations of the faithful.
In a genre setting where fresh faced narcissists rise up to claim their imagined birthrights every day, Oracles would pose an incredible threat to the Named Powers. Creating a climate for civil war without end. The only solution, to create a prophecy so complex and detailed that none could possibly meet all its specifications.
THE CHOSEN PRICE
Keep in mind; that this is a world where the Named Powers have a vested interest in getting the people to follow their preferred candidate. For some, this means manipulating the unshakable loyalty of simple-minded champions. For others, it’s about how the terrible and the persuasive seize power by influencing the faith of the masses. In either camp, the birth of the one true Chosen would threaten everything. This is doubly true if that same Messiah refused to fall into line and shifted authority over the masses away from either the Houses Noble or the Named Powers.
How long do you imagine the nobleborn would stay loyal to a faith whose avatar could cost them everything? The answer is definitely: not long. I’d imagine the scheming would begin almost immediately, gaining momentum at the first sign of trouble. Not long after, we’d see a rash of unexpected attempts to martyr him, and that poses a whole new dilemma. Who do you hire to kill the Chosen when he is the avatar of assassins? Even if you ordered all the convicts and cutpurses in the world to lurk in every shadow, how much threat would they honestly pose?
The Great Lie
That’s not to say there’s no room for a Joan of Arc in these stories. Quite the contrary. I’m saying one just isn’t enough. Any place that takes prophecy seriously should be overflowing with the god-blessed competing to become the hero foretold. With Achades, I wanted to create a protagonist who meets the specifics of prophecy so completely even pretenders to the mantle would have to bend a knee.
A CERTAIN SET OF SKILLS
Now, if instead, the Named Powers started rounding up the Chosen’s loved ones, that’s when they’d expose his true weakness. Things only spiral from there. Once anyone, friend or foe, knows who to hurt, that’s when even the God-Blessed fall into line.
To make that work, distance is critical. In a world where the likeliest threats are born at home, campaigns abroad quickly become a Hero’s refuge. This is good; it keeps them focused, isolated, without proximity to civilization. Meanwhile, back at home, free from prying eyes, the powerful can quickly isolate loved ones and use them as leverage in their schemes. They must be careful though. Once those threats turn empty, they lose their teeth, and all is wrath.