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During the Ogre Wars, a young girl, the Seer, is held as prisoner in a cage in the camp of the forces of the Duke. While stationed in the camp to train for combat on the battlefield, Rumplestiltskin is assigned by a superior officer to watch the covered cage and warned to beware of its occupant, as it is a tricky beast. When he hears a child's voice call his name, Rumplestiltskin responds by pulling back the covering. He is horrified to see a child whose eyelids are stitched over. She pleas for a sip of water while promising if he helps her, she can glimpse into his future. Though he has no idea how the Seer knows his name, Rumplestiltskin assumes she merely overheard his name. Instead, she surprises him by pulling out knowledge about his fears in turning out a coward like his father. Curious to hear more, he grabs some water for her. She foresees his wife, Milah, giving birth to his child, which elates Rumplestiltskin to hear of the news. However, the Seer also proclaims a second part of his future--due to Rumplestiltskin's actions on the battlefield, his son will end up fatherless. Angrily, he yanks the water away from her; saying that she does not know what she is talking about. The Seer informs Rumplestiltskin he will know the truth of what she says when he sees soldiers riding into battle on cows. She leaves him with the last word; remarking they are fated to meet again one day. Although he scoffs initially at her prophecy, Rumplestiltskin learns "cow" is a slang term for "saddle" and the army received fresh horses with custom "cows" to ride. Horrified the Seer's words have actually come true, he goes back to the cage to confront her again, but she is gone from her prison.
Several years later, after Rumplestiltskin has become the Dark One and lost his son, he happens upon a small campsite in the woods, and finds the Seer, who is now a grown woman. She reaffirms her prior knowledge about meeting Rumplestiltskin again, and what was prophesied all those years ago has come to pass at last. Rumplestiltskin recounts the long series of events leading up to this meeting, and rebukes the Seer for leaving out the details in their last encounter. The Seer states to Rumplestiltskin he could not have avoided his fate regardless. She tells him about the Dark Curse and the events that will lead up to it, but in very general terms. Frustrated, Rumplestiltskin berates her, to which she offers him her own future-seeing powers. He takes her hands and the power flows out of the Seer, but after being drained, she lies dying though now free of her burden. Rumplestiltskin is furious that all he sees are puzzle pieces with no clear pattern and no clear answers. The Seer responds he will learn to see the patterns to separate "what can be from what will be", and in gratitude for taking away her cursed powers, she offers a final prophecy before she dies--he will be reunited with Baelfire, and will be led to him by a young boy. But, this young boy will be his undoing. Rumplestiltskin responds he will just have to kill the boy.
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