This was my original final draft, with the spacing it was supposed to have. But probably something went wrong in the passages before the "publication". THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT Chichimek was spawned to serve. Many skinks live lives filled with wonders and personal satisfactions: the scouts that roam the jungle, the warriors that ride the sky, the artisans that build the city. Sometimes he wondered how would have been to live that way, but not today. “I’m late! For the love of the Old Ones, I’m late!” Chichimek was running as if his life was at peril. Despite starting work well before dawn, the removal of spiders’ nests in the lower chambers had been a long affair, and even the cleaning of the accessories for the Solstice Ceremony took far more time than expected; now, the problem was the he needed to pick from the greenhouse the itxi grubs before the precious Bringer of Visions had eaten too much, ruining their flavor. To his immense relief, only the young and immatures grubs were eating, while the grown up were still lazily storing the heat of the sun. The skink picked a bunch of the chubbiest ones and placed them on a bed of leaves in the golden bowl, then he rushed toward the pyramid, slipping between the temple guards at the entrance, that stood immobile, being used to the frantic races of the Slann’s servant. Chichimek ran up the steps, to the higher levels; he passed through the stone portal, moving aside the living curtain of bignonia’s bloomed vines, upon finally entering into the Meditation Chamber, the fatigue, the orders and the endless duties vanished all at once. The Slann Huanch’ai was already floating mid-air upon his throne, bathing in the sun that was entering from the large windows. His relaxed expression had the power to fill the room with serenity. “Here I am, Master. Please forgive me for my lateness”. Chichimek climbed the throne, sitting at the Slann’s side and offering the bowl with the grubs; Huanch’ai started to eat with closed eyes, slowly, without paying attention to the physical gestures. His breath slowed, and time passed… Chichimek, following the rhythm of the Slann, almost entered in a state of drowsiness. “A good picking, Chichimek. It has been… satisfying”. The skink woke up in a blink. The moments when Huanch’ai talked to him, were his most precious treasures. “Have you pondered on the Great Plan, Master?” “The Great Plan? No. That would be bizarre, the Great Plan is not something to be pondered about.” Huanch’ai stood silent, leaving Chichimek with his unsaid doubts for what seemed an eternity. “I sense your uncertainty, Chichimek. I had just pondered on the fact that you need to be aware. Today I will be your teacher, and I will show you the Great Plan.” Chichimek was speechless. He never heard of a Slann explaining the Great Plan, and certainly not to a simple servant. Even the Skink Priests can only guess it! This was almost a heresy… if not that it was a Slann suggesting it. “Don’t stand there like a dumb kroxigor. You have some work to do.” In the end, the work was simple. Chichimek placed 3 pedestals, and on each pedestal was fixed a metal ring, each one large just few inches; the 3 rings were perfectly aligned. He was waiting for more instructions, but apparently Huanch’ai had no others. The Slann took position on one end of the “tunnel of rings” and then closed his eyes, in a relaxed position. Hours passed. Chichimek was wondering what was happening. Apparently, Huanch’ai was sleeping and in the Chamber nothing was changing. Probably the Slann was waiting for the night, when the stars would have made their appearance in the sky. The skink relaxed as well on the stone floor, enjoying the flight of a wonderful butterfly, with iridescent blue wings, that was dancing through the dangling flowers. It was amazing how it was impossible to predict the movements of it… the butterfly explored the room, following her mysterious purposes. Huanch’ai pointed a finger, and a ray of searing light passed through the rings, incinerating the butterfly. Then the Slann opened his eyes. “There, it has been done”. Chichimek was trying to recover from the surprise. “Done… what?” “Isn’t it clear? You’ve built an obligatory route for my spell, and I’ve killed the butterfly.” “but… that butterfly could have never flown in that exact place! It was impossible… how did you know? “Maybe I did, or maybe I didn’t. Look at the moon Chichimek, not at the finger: the point is that the destiny of that butterfly was to die “through” my spell.” “That’s the beauty and the meaning of the Plan, Chichimek: we are all fated… we follow the patterns traced by the Old Ones. The Plan is flawless, and our destiny is to adhere to its perfect scheme, nothing more and nothing less.” “But Master, you are the Slann of this city! You take the decisions that will lead us to the accomplishment of the Plan… I live to serve, but you rule! You are free to choose your destiny… and ours as well!” “Chichimek, you are misguided. I take the decisions, but every time I face a crossroad there’s only one right path, and I have no choice but to take it. The Great Plan is Order, and Order follows its laws. Freedom finds its nest in Chaos, not in my mind. And Chaos will be vanquished.” Huanch’ai picked another grub and closed his eyes, satisfied, floating toward his personal platform, thus signaling that the day was over, leaving Chichimek alone with his thoughts. Chichimek stood immobile for a moment, then he looked at the powder that once was a butterfly, and ran away. Out of his master’s chambers, the breeze was a gentle caress, filled by the scents of the jungle, but he was having difficulty breathing it in, as if an invisible hand were squeezing his heart. What is the meaning of servitude, if your own master is not free? How does anyone appreciate your sacrifice, if there is no choice? Did really the Old Ones just put their children in an invisible cage? From atop of the pyramid, Chichimek stared at the city’s landscape… in the distance, dusk was creeping through the jungle. The evening was dark, and cold. A parrot was perching on the flagstaff of one of the temple’s banners, peaceful and uncaring. Something snapped inside Chichimek. “AARRRGHH! Go away! Find your place in the Great Plan somewhere else!!!” Scared, the bird flew away in a hurry, toward the jungle. Chichimek looked at the shape that was vanishing in the distance, with a bitter taste in mouth.