Shadow Field Chronicles, Part 2: Prophecy
The oracle’s eye sockets were not filled with flesh and veins. Alternatively, where life should have resided, a sickly yellow light took its place. Most of the form of the oracle was, in fact, light. When one gave themselves fully to the power of the gods, the gods remade them. Many who had taken the Oath of the Oracle were reborn into this form- a light which glowed through the hazy darkness of the future and dared to acknowledge it.
Storm clouds gathered on the horizons; tensions were drawn taut, and negotiations ceased as tempers flared. All these things would come together into one explosive action that would spray blood upon the soil. The king of Shadowfield knew as much; war among the nations could not be avoided. Shadowfield is not the empire it once was- all thanks to a curse that ravaged the land. Victory would have to be swift. And so, in order to prepare for such a victory, the king set off to visit a temple located in a nearby city. There, sitting on a pristine marble floor, sat a single oracle in the middle of a circle of unlit candles. Barely had the king stepped foot into the sacred space when they removed the cloth covering their light, took a deep breath, then looked up to the heavens and screamed. One by one, the candles flare to light. The combined brightness of the oracle’s glowing body and the candles’ flames was so intense that the king covered his eyes for fear of being blinded.
Still, the king heard the oracle speak their prophecy.
“One of pen, another of sword.
Descend into ancient’s past.
Journey to the end, and find their own.
One to reap their ancestor’s tribute, another to perish before their sins.”
Suddenly the candles went out, throwing the temple and the king back into shadow. When he uncovered his eyes, the oracle was gone. He went back to his royal transport and left, having not spoken a single word.
“Are you sure that’s what the oracle spoke, Father?” Laelia stood before the desk with her hands behind her back. Her dark eyes took in the sight before her: her father, the king of Shadowfield, sat in his office surrounded by maps and old books whose titles had long since faded along with the color of their bindings. The king’s hair appeared as if it hadn’t been brushed, and a spot on his cheek suggested that perhaps he had fallen asleep whilst studying one of the ancient tomes.
“I’m sure of it, daughter. And the more I thought it over, the more it began to occur to me that the oracle-”
“Spoke of our enemies’ lands?”
“Yes. I believe the prophecy spoke of the shadow gem.”
“The shadow gem?” She could not believe her ears. The shadow gem had not been seen since it had gone missing during a battle thousands of years ago.
“Yes. It’s widely known that the shadow gem was used as a way to grant tributes to the gods of old.”
“What about this end the oracle spoke of?” Laelia shifts her feet, this conversation making her uneasy. “I don’t like the sound of it.”
“I don’t either, but I suspect it speaks of the end of the thousand-year war- when the gem disappeared.” Her father took a book off a nearby table and laid it down. He turned to a page near the back and pointed to a drawing of a black, crystal-shaped object. “This book says that to get to the crystal, only someone related to the person who sealed away the crystal could access it.”
Laelia put two and two together. The attack on the prince, the secretive way her father had been collecting old scrolls and books. “You think it’s the prince.”
“Yes, which leads me to my mission for you. War is coming, again, daughter- almost fifty years after the last one. This country has yet to recover fully. We are fragile and worse; we are broken.”
He wasn’t wrong- almost every day, a new rebel faction within Shadowfield seemed to be struck down. Laelia looked down at the black crystal drawn into the old text- the shadow gem. She bit her lip and nodded. “You want me to retrieve the shadow gem.”
“If Shadowfield had that kind of power once again, this war that sits on the horizon will not be a problem. Our victory will be guaranteed.”
“Then it shall be done, father.” Laelia took the book without asking, turned around, and walked to a nearby wall. There, she swiped a map then moved to the exit. “I’ll leave in the morrow.”
“Another thing, daughter.”
Laelia stopped in the doorway.
“You will not have the resources of Shadowfield at your beck and call. I cannot communicate with you on this mission, nor can you take a team with you. Shadowfield cannot risk this war starting too soon. You will be alone on this mission, my dear. I have trained you since childhood to be able to handle yourself in a fight- to be stealthy as well as smart. I am trusting the fate of this kingdom to you. Do not fail me.”
“I won’t.” She left, her heart beating furiously in her chest and a smile on her face.