As we came to the top of the staircase my stomachs began to twitch and dance in anxious anticipation. This was the end of my long journey, and soon I would have the answers I was seeking. But what if I asked the wrong question. What If I didn’t like what I heard. This would likely be my one and only chance to consult the Oracle, and I didn’t want to bow it.
The acolyte halted our procession, awaiting permission from his brethren to approach.
First to speak to the Oracle were the two brothers we had met on a pilgrimage from Junjin. Baylen approached and told the great machine of his predicament – his desire to enlist as a warrior of the Magistrate, his parents disdain of such a profession, and their hopes that he would remain with them to work the family farm. When he was finished, the Oracle began to formulate a response, its lights flashing in a moment of contemplation. It didn’t take long for it to come to a conclusion. “Honour your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land your Lord has given you,” it said. “Exodus 20:12.”
Next it was Baylen’s brother Luben’s turn. He approached and asked the knower of all things if he should marry the girl he’d told us about that night at the inn. Again, the Oracle flashed its lights and produced a quick reply. “Sometimes you make the right decision, sometimes you make the decision right – Doctor Phil.”
One of the acolytes led Baylen and Luben away to an antechamber where they could reflect on what the Oracle had told them.
Meanwhile, our guide signalled for Habiq to step up, and he did so with assurance. Confidently he read out his pre-prepared question. The Oracle had to think only for a breif moment before giving him a confident answer:
“Somewhere something incredible is waiting to be known – Carl Sagan.”
I wasn’t sure what the Oracle’s answer had meant. But then I wasn’t entirely sure what Habiq had really been asking. At least I was sure that he himself knew, and that he was happy with the answer. He cast me a beaming smile over his shoulder, and as one of the acolytes led him away I heard the hooded figure say, “you are truly blessed. Sagan is one of the greatest and wisest prophets.”
Next it was my turn…
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Artwork by Jose Ochoa (josea302.deviantart.com)
Written by Mark Ball.