April 17, 2018

O is for Oracle

     In a moment the dark dragon slowed, paused in the air, and settled on the paved plaza gracefully, yet with an impact that Svarnil felt through the soles of her feet.  It had happened, really, in an instant.  Nulif was still pulling Svarnil’s arm, urging her to safety.  The iridescent scales, black and green, glittered as the dragon moved, folding its vast wings with a clatter.  The heat of its body pulsed out across the flagstones of the plaza.  As the dragon’s green-mailed head turned toward them, and the perilous eyes were almost on them, Nulif wrenched one last time and the two stumbled back into the temple, hearts pounding.
     Svarnil looked around.  The temple was full of people who huddled in terrified groups, whispering to each other.  Did they not know that the temple would be scant refuge if the dragon should choose to attack?  One swipe of its tail, and the pillars would come crashing down.  One burst of its flame and they would all be ash.  And yet...
     From the plaza there came no sounds of devastation.  Did she dare peek out and see what was happening?  Sakar Sikwan and Nulif both stood near the door, as Svarnil did, listening intently.  Fethilis on Svarnil’s shoulder was listening, too, and the feeling that came from her was not fear but expectancy.  Svarnil took a step forward and pushed open the door a crack.
     “What are you doing?” cried Nulif, clutching her arm again as Svarnil looked out.  The dragon stood still in the plaza, its huge head slightly cocked, and Svarnil had a sudden thought that it looked like Sikwan, poised in just the same posture of intent listening.  Even as the thought crossed her mind, the dragon moved, sunlight flashing off the shifting scales, and it swung around to face her.
     Three-cornered eyes clear as emeralds stared at the elf, and she stared back.  She had not covered her face or turned away in time.  She felt herself sinking into their green depths, and she felt their gaze sinking into her, so that she was powerless to hide from the mind of the dragon.  The dragon’s eyes were infinite, depths beyond depths beyond depths, until it was as if she could see the whole world spread before her in the dragon’s eyes like a vast carpet, every wave, every blade of grass, every mortal heart…
     “Thou art a dragonlord,” said the creature suddenly, its voice deep as the bedrock so that Svarnil could feel its vibration in her own chest.  The lylit bouncing on her shoulder seemed to vibrate to the same frequency as the dragon’s voice.
     Svarnil imagined her gaze falling forever deeper and deeper, yet never reaching the end of the dark, still, living greenness.  With an effort she pulled her consciousness back into her own mind, and answered cautiously, “I was called so by Lady Koir of the Ringwood.”
     White steam puffed upward as the dragon’s voice resonated in Svarnil’s bones.  “Thou art one who seeks truth,” it said.  Svarnil nodded slightly, and waited for the huge creature to continue.  “K’Ten has many liars.  The Seapeople come to me with many tales of falsehood and treachery.  They all ask for truth, but some do not want it.  Some desire validation, rather than truth, so that they may be justified in their lies.”  Fethilis lifted from the elf’s shoulder and flew to the dragon, fluttering joyfully around his head.
     And then Svarnil understood.  “You are the Oracle?” she cried, “But why then have you come to K’Ten?”
     The monstrous jaws of the beast opened, and, as a clangorous harsh growl burst from him, black smoke knotted with the steam.  “Dost thou question me?” he demanded.  Sunlight flashed from the teeth, long and sharp as daggers.  But Svarnil knew, from the gleam in the emerald eyes, from the unabated joy of the lylit, and from the resonance within her own chest, that the Oracle was laughing.  “I am not accustomed to providing people with my reasons.  Yet thou art a true bard, and a seeker of truth, and so truth will be told thee.  I have come to K’Ten to find one who is tampering with spirits.”

        The Oracle from Vision Revealed, fourth book in a high fantasy series for middle school-or-so through adult (excerpt from Chapter 12: Svarnil meets the Oracle).  More information here, or “Look inside” at Amazon.

[Picture: Knot-tailed Dragon, rubber block print by AEGN, 2008 (sold out).]

A-Z Challenge, all posts for the letter O.


Kristin said...

Well, that was lucky, that she was there and he was the Oracle. And a lovely print of a dragon too.

A Tarkabarka Hölgy said...

I do love a well-written dragon :)

The Multicolored Diary: Weird Things in Hungarian Folktales

Anne E.G. Nydam said...

Lucky indeed he was the Oracle, because the city was already under attack by elemental monsters...