Art by Melissa Mead
X is for Xylomancy
by Tim Pratt, Jenn Reese, Heather Shaw, Greg van Eekhout
The xylomancer answered the ad he found in the paper. He arrived at the warehouse dressed in his finest robes of midnight black, bearing a satchel of meticulously gathered sticks. Several teenagers bustled around the dusty empty space, setting up a drum kit and tuning acoustic guitars. One of them, with blond hair hanging in his eyes, approached, frowning. "Are you the xylophonist?"
"I am the xylomancer," he said, rattling his satchel of sticks. "Master of the ancient art of divination through twigs, sticks, and rods."
"Um," the blond said.
"I am adept in the use of found twigs and the more traditional yarrow stalks, and one of my teachers authored portions of the I Ching. I can read the import of my sticks even as they burn in fires or tumble over waterfalls, and I can cast their configurations and apprehend their import even as all those around me lose their minds. I would be a valuable addition to your band of adventurers, providing guidance when you are lost, hope when all seems forsaken. Will you have me?"
The blond looked at the others, who offered no assistance. "We were actually just looking for a guy to play the xylophone in our folk band. I think you misread our ad."
The xylomancer knelt, opening his satchel and seizing a handful of twigs. He felt rowan, holly, oak, maple, dogwood, cherry. "We shall see," he said, and cast the sticks to the ground. He gazed at the pattern of crisscrossed twigs, then shook his head. "You will not find a xylophonist. But you will be blessed with a gifted accordion player, who will overcome your initial reluctance to polka music with his virtuoso skill."