The Festival of the Blue Moon was the single largest gathering of peoples in the history of history. Beings from every part of the known world, and some parts unknown, flocked to the town of Carrondale on the White River to join in the celebration.
For a single week out of every year, the Blue Moon appeared in the sky above the city, dimming the light of the sun and stars. It was during this time and in this place the most ancient magic of all stepped down from the realm of eternity and onto the mortal plane.
A bright blue glow filled the city every hour, so there was neither day nor night, but something in-between. Indeed, during this festival the entire city and every being in it became something in-between.
But even in such a place, such a time, there was danger. No one made the journey to Carrondale without weapons aplenty and able hands to wield them. There was too much hatred, too much prejudice and suspicion, for any gathering such as this to be entirely peaceful.
For where there is light, there is shadow, a truth embodied in the form of a pale young girl who flitted through the crowds silent as a wraith on the last day any living being would set eyes upon the ancient magic.
She was a child born of no mortal parents, but was a product of power and blue moonlight and fire and shadow and those things which have no names. If ever there was a creature walking the earth who would dare call itself a child of The Oracle and not be struck down for such blasphemy, it was this child.
Her mind, swift as a sparrow on the wind, absorbed and stored away every sight, every sound. She learned more of the world in her first hours of life than many could learn in several lifetimes. But, though she was hungry and eager to learn the ways of this bright world, her wanderings were not entirely aimless. Like everyone else, she was drawn inexorably toward The Oracle.
The Oracle was perhaps the strangest, least understood phenomenon ever wondered over by great minds. There were many theories and stories surrounding this wonder, but only one thing upon which all could agree, The Oracle was the conduit for the ancient magic, a visible manifestation of things beyond imagining.
A building stood on the banks of the White River. A building made of pale red stone whose origin was unknown. Some natives of Carrondale claimed this building stood in this place even before their most ancient of ancestors had settled this land. Some even thought it might have been standing there since before the beginning of time.
Inside this building, The Oracle would appear on the first dawning of the Blue Moon and remain there until the moon set. Those wishing to ask a question or make a request of The Oracle waited in a large clearing outside the building, standing in a crowd with beings they would have normally attacked on sight.
Unfortunate happenings did occur during this long week, such was unavoidable, but never within the clearing. There were no guards, no security measures, nothing to prevent any mayhem that might brew in the mind of the wicked. But somehow while standing in the presence of the absurdly ancient building which housed The Oracle, violence was simply not possible.
As the child wove her way through the clearing, she was noticed for the first time since her unlikely birth. Hundreds of eyes followed her, but not a single voice was raised by those who’d been waiting for hours. For she bore with her a pall that chilled the mild spring air, a shadow that darkened the light, and there was not a soul among them who couldn’t feel it.
The child stepped from the brilliance of the Blue Moon day into the dim interior of the shrine. The door slid shut behind her with a barely audible hiss. A cavern waited before her and at the end of this cavern stood a dragon.
The dragon towered over the child, its scales all shade of color and none, its eyes burning with fire and frozen with ice. The child felt neither fear nor awe as she walked toward the dragon. She’d felt the pull of The Oracle since the moment of her first thought, so to stand before it now seemed perfectly natural.
“Come closer, child.” The dragon’s voice was neither feminine nor masculine; neither soft nor deep. “Why do you seek me?”
“It was you called me up from the Void,” the child replied. “Why was I born? For what purpose do I live?”
The Oracle almost smiled. “A question old as life itself and many there are who seek the answer. Most will never find it, but this, my child, is yours.” The Oracle lifted one clawed hand, in the palm of which lay a single seed.
The child stepped forward, gazing first at the seed, then up into The Oracle’s deathless eyes. “Am I to grow something?”
“Yourself, child. Only yourself.” There was a hollow ring to the tuneless voice and a lessening of the dragons physical form. “Take up the seed, child. See what there is to be.”
The child lifted the seed from The Oracle’s hand and stared down as it glowed faintly red. A breeze, sounding almost like a sigh, stirred her dark hair. And then she stood alone in the cavern. The Oracle was gone.
When the child stepped out from the shrine, all those gathered in the clearing were on their feet, staring up at the sky. Though it was only the first day of the festival, the Blue Moon was fading. Voices rose in cries of shock and fear at this unprecedented occurrence.
A pure, blue shaft of light from the moon struck the child, settling itself in her eyes. Then the moon too was gone. In the darkness which followed there were shrieks, not all of them belonging to those gathered in the clearing, and the beating of wings.
Standing all alone in the midst of the growing confusion, the child lifted the faintly glowing seed to her mouth and swallowed it. Deep down, in a part of herself yet unformed, a red rose bloomed. Fire swept through her, filling her emptiness with real life; she breathed her first breath, felt the first beating of her heart. And where a child was once stood, a young woman had taken her place.
The young woman strode across the clearing with new purpose, pausing only long enough to lift a sword from the hand of a fallen elven mage. A cry sounded within the heart of the city, a cry she took as a challenge. With sword in hand, she went to meet this challenge. Her first but far from the last.
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