“Believe me, Oracle, your head will do you no good separated from your shoulders. Tell me what I want to know. The amulet!” The Oracle of Tesgara cowered as never before, appearing more frail than her ancient years had hence bespoke. Her lined face grew ever more pallid just as those eerie white eyes of hers fluttered to a close.
Nikolas, Regent over the
, grabbed her shoulders before she collapsed to the floor. “I haven’t the time for your contrivances.” He struck her face hard without a second thought. There was too much at stake. Her eyes flickering, finally remained open and he tossed her downward. kingdomof Thaylandria Turning his back on her, he observed his own reflection in the silver shield hanging on the wall. After straightening the diadem atop his head, the green stone within flickered in the torch light in unison with his own dark brown eyes. He caressed the gold curve of the small crown. It was that of a king he desired, but that would only come after vanquishing his enemies. He twirled his cerulean robes as he returned to the old witch still quivering in a corner upon the stone floor.
Hunching over her, he seethed inside. Only through maintaining all self control, did he refrain from squeezing the last rancid breath out of the old woman. She still held secrets he needed if his plan was to come to be realized.
“Disclose to me all that you know of this amulet?” Grabbing onto her coarse gray robes, he raised her off the ground close to his face. “You will tell me.” He dropped her back to the ground and clenched his hands. Sucking in a breath, he gained control over himself again.
“The High Oracle,” she croaked out while wiping spittle mixed with blood from her chin.
He narrowed his stare upon her. “What of her?”
“Only the High Oracle knows of the location.”
He forced a flattering smile to eclipse his face. “Yes, but as her own favorite student she must have related to you more than you have revealed. You shall be rewarded for your loyalty to the crown.” He reached out an upturned hand and helped her into a sitting position.
“The Tamzyn Amulet has been under the safeguard of the High Oracle here in Glynar these past thousand years. With its power, you can destroy the strongest of your enemies. A stone white as a dove’s breast, it glistens with the magic of the ancients.”
Nikolas widened his eyes. “Yes, yes!” This was what he’d been working for all these years while he bided his time to claim the throne of Thaylandria as his own. “And where is it? Where is the amulet?”
“It was meant to remain hidden here in the palace. I know nothing else, I swear, my Lord. Only the High Oracle is privy to more than that.” She cringed away as if avoiding another strike.
Nikolas rose to his full height and steepled his fingers together in thought. All depended on gaining this amulet in order for his plans to succeed. If the amulet lay not here in the palace, he must locate the High Oracle. Unless…Yes, unless King Liam disposed of the object before his death. In that case, only one other person might have it in their possession. The Princess! Only just exiled to the troubled Northern Province of Norland.
“Guards,” he called out. “Return the Oracle of Tesgara to her quarters in the dungeon. She won’t be with us much longer. Her guilt revealed itself and she’s admitted to her part in the murder of King Liam.”
“No!” the witch screamed as the guards jerked her to her feet.
“One more thing, Oracle.” He stepped close to her and hoisted her chin upwards. “The boy. Where is the boy?”
Her face grimaced but fear lurked there in her blinded eyes. “Dead, my Lord. Dead as has been told all these years.”
“You lie.” He forced her away with a shove and into the waiting clutches of the soldiers.
“Take her away,” he said with a dismissive wave. Swiveling in the opposite direction, he chuckled in the mirth of his pleasure.
“In the name of Regent Nikolas of Thaylandria, reveal yourself witch.”****
The door to the isolated hovel pulled open and a white haired inhabitant hobbled out, the hem of her tattered skirt beating about her ankles in the wind. With obvious fright, her hands began to shake while her breathing came out in short gasps. She flicked a glance to one side of the road and then to the other. Her situation appeared dire if not desperate. The soldiers advanced closer and she dropped to her knees.
“Mercy, I beg, ye, sir. I only attempt a healing tea for my sick boy.” Her eyes remained fixed on the ground.
A soldier in chain mail and red and black livery rode up to her on horseback. He leaned over and slapped her across the face. The woman recoiled from the assault and fell forward.
“You lie, witch. Admit you are the Oracle of Kilgore and I may be more lenient.”
The old woman raised her head, revealing milky-white eyes heated with indignation. “I admit nothing to you swine.” She lifted two fingers and began swirling them around in the air.
The soldier laughed with an ominous edge. He removed his boot out of the stirrup and kicked her backwards to the ground. “None of your incantations here witch. The Regent has sought you out as the time draws near. Your neighbors have turned you in for the reward. It has grown quite large these last ten years. Hunger brings out the best in people, you see.
“Magic of all kinds has been outlawed. These lands are under the protection of the Prefect of Norland. You have broken the law, and you shall be punished for it.” He motioned to another solider on horseback. “Tie her up and take her back to the castle. Seize the boy as well. He could be the one for whom we’ve been searching.”
A sudden, wild chant echoed through the trees inside the forest. The horses reared up in fear, neighing stridently. Out from the foliage emerged the woodland imps who had been plaguing the North. “’Tis the Silver Rogue,” one soldier called out.
“I see you seem to be having a rousing good time without us.” The archer made aim at a tree above the sergeant at the lead. “Let’s see if we can change that now.” He released an arrow, and it flew gracefully through the air, landing just where he had intended. A mist of sleeping potion fell over the party, the soldiers instantly falling unconscious and off their horses to the ground with a gratifying thud.
“Now that‘s what I call being brought down to earth, eh lads.”
© Cindy K. Green, 2008