Sir Kalas ascended the staircase, and pushed the heavy stone door into the chamber.
“Oracle. I seek your guidance.”
The woman — was it a woman? It was difficult to tell. Yes, but also no. “Being” was more accurate — turned to face him. It towered over the resplendent knight, its face obscured from view by a heavy veil. It spoke with a multi faceted voice — the common tongue, but layered within it were all manner of sounds and reverberant layers. Birdsong. Leaves rustling in the autumn wind. The screams of wayward souls.
“I saw your coming. Speak your question, Kalas.”
Sir Kalas took a deep breath. “My husband lies dead,” he said, “the church will not restore him, and so I must, though I do not know how. Where can I find the strength to do so?”
“It is unwise to meddle with such things, child,” said the Oracle, with the sound of church bells on a summer’s morning, the scratch of quill on paper and a dying man’s cries on its lips, “Grave took him for it was his time. The Soulbearer should not be trifled with. Nor Death himself.”
“I do not fear it. It may take me in his stead.”
The Oracle laughed, and in its laughter was the sound of wind chimes on crisp mountain air, the chatter of marketplace conversations, and the sound of blood splashed on a cold tile floor. “I would not offer myself so freely to Keanoros.” It crawled to Kalas on six spindly limbs, pallid skin glinting in the dim light of the chamber. “Your path will not be easy, but I can show it to you, if still you wish.”
“Of course,” replied the knight.
The Oracle reached a long hand out and caressed the knight’s bare face with a slender, twisted finger. “Such knowledge does not come for free, however,” it said. Children laughed, a stream gurgled, and chains rattled as it did so.
“What will it cost?” Kalas asked.
Sails swelled in the ocean wind, mountains shifted subtly, and women burned alive.
“More than you know.”