The Fifth Oracle of Ilwania woke up with a start. Sweat beaded her forehead, her heart thumping loudly in her chest. It had been a decade since her last big premonition.
The night the Fourth Oracle died, visions of the Vulgari came to her in a form of a dream. She predicted the birth of an heir for the Lupus Kingdom, the death of the Queen of Maia, and the founding of the Mesina Academy for the Vulgari children. Thus, she was named the Fifth Oracle.
There was only one seer in every generation. After their death, the power was born to another. And Ilwa chose Mila, a simple tavern girl who had lost all hope. On that day, she pledged to hold on to her power for as long as she could.
Mila walked to the large-scale glass window where she feasted her eyes on the view of the whole kingdom. Her room was located on the top floor of the palace, the largest and most opulent room, filled with gold and silver. A room that was fit for a queen.
With long, blonde hair trailing at her back down to her thighs, her white nightgown rustling softly as she walked, she paced the room. Memories of the vivid dream haunted her, a dream which showed her untimely death.
War was coming to the great Vulgari realm.
The vision was not perfect, it displayed glimpses of what would happen but the question of how and when was undisclosed. But one thing was most clear─this was the product of the most powerful coven the Vulgari had yet to witness, a vision that had already appeared in one of the Third Oracle’s dream but had not yet materialized.
Mila’s handmaidens entered the room. They led her to a bath filled with lavender essence. As her nightgown fell to the floor, she stepped toward the tub and soaked her whole body, relishing on the warmth of the water and the scent of the lavender. Her handmaidens washed her hair and scrubbed her body. After wiping her clean, they fixed her hair on a delicate updo, with diamonds glittering on her head like a fashionably designed crown. Her face was made up to perfection and they helped her to her gown, a clothing designed to make her the fairest in the kingdom. Satisfied, they turned her in front of the lifesize mirror. She smiled appreciatively at her reflection. Mila prided herself on her beauty, the most beautiful oracle that graced Ilwania.
“Where is Josiah?” Mila asked one of her handmaidens, finishing the sentence over a distant huffing noise only to look up to see the man in question entering the room.
“You’re late,” Mila frowned at the man, her lips pursed in disapproval.
“I am deeply sorry, Oracle.” Josiah bowed in apology.
Mila returned her gaze to the mirror, running her hands on the intricate embroidery on her gown. She was known as the oracle who loves jewels, a fact that she dare not deny. The previous Oracle was more simple, opting for minimalism instead of opulence. But such a simple life was no longer meant for Mila; she deserved to be treated like a queen.
“I had a dream last night,” Mila stated, eyes still on the mirror. Her handmaidens discreetly left the room.
“Another vision, Oracle?”
Mila thought how dumb the question was. It was not her fault the previous Oracle had only two visions in his time.
“Yes. And it’s not a good one. Call for an emergency meeting with the Vulgari council. In the meantime, I shall meet the guild masters,” Mila said, keeping her face a serious and regal mask of calm and tranquility. As her advisor turned his back on her however, she couldn’t stop her hands from trembling. “When you return, Josiah, bring me the Third Oracle’s journal,” she added.
Josiah came back with a book bound in leather, the journal of the Third Oracle. Mila was very familiar with this since all Oracles were to read the journals of past Oracles. She even had one of her own, a compilation of all her visions.
“Did you call the guild masters?” Mila took the book from Josiah and walked to her private study, Josiah following her.
“Yes, Oracle. They are on their way.”
Mila turned her attention to the journal. She flipped to the page that was connected to her vision.
Four daughters of Ilwa will be born, each with the power of the elements. Their blood is mixed with the blessings of the other Gods. All five Gods shall protect them. And it shall be on the day when their union is complete, their powers extreme, that a new era for the Vulgari shall begin.
Mila raised her head from the book. “Josiah, are there Ilwani who consort with other races?”
“Only a few, Oracle,” answered Josiah.
“Was there a child conceived?”
“No pregnancy was ever successful, Oracle. They were all still-borns,” explained Josiah.
“Hmm.” Mila turned back to the journal and flipped to the next page.
I saw them again in my dreams. Oh, how beautiful they were! But alas I was not blessed by Ilwa to witness them in my time. For they will be born in a time of chaos, a time when a ruler is governed by vanity and selfish gains.
“Josiah, all guilds have a copy of the Oracles’ journals, right?” she asked with urgency. The Third Oracle’s prophecy was wrong! They were not blessed by the Gods. They were miscreants who would bring destruction to the Vulgari. And it was up to her, the fifth Oracle, to stop it from happening.
“Yes, they do, Oracle.”
Mila drummed her fingers on the table. “We must order them to burn all copies at once. Quick Josiah, let us wait for them in the ruby room.”
Mila strutted to the room filled with ruby gemstones, her chin arched high, and the end of her robe billowing behind her. She regarded the twelve guild masters of Ilwania, pleased that they were all present. Upon seeing her approach, they all stood up and gave her a respectful bow. Once she nodded, all of them took their seats while she remained standing.
Josiah entered the room with a golden box in hand, and four Ilwani soldiers following behind him. The guild masters eyed the box with reverence, its content a mystical object that was placed on the Oracles’ sole protection. But for Mila, it was the symbol of her crown and her throne.
Mila watched as Josiah carefully placed the box in front of her. She opened her palm and summoned the key, the ultimate mark that proved her right to be the Oracle. She inserted the key into the single hole in the box and turned it clockwise, a satisfying click echoing in the room. With both her hands, she cradled the crystal orb and lifted it slowly, putting it down next to the box.
After making sure that the orb was secured, she scanned the room once more, meeting all of the eyes of the guild masters. “Last night, Ilwa sent me a message. I shall share with you, my gallant guild masters, a warning that Ilwa blessed us with.” Mila enunciated each word in a clear theatrical manner, her voice resonating across the room.
As she closed her eyes and touched the orb, up came a wreath of blue and purple smoke, which quickly faded to a spectrum of colors and took the form and shape of the visions in her dream. The guild masters gasped at the images forming from the swathes of smoke, and watched in silent horror the events that would befall them.
“I have arranged for a Vulgari council meeting where I will propose a law that will help us prevent this... ill fate.”
“What law, Oracle?” Glenda Hide, the guild master of Aquarius, asked bravely.
Mila leveled her gaze at the rather plump woman, considering her for a moment before turning back to the rest. “A law to forbid the union of different races. The guilty will be executed. Any children to come from these unholy union will be killed as well. There will be no exceptions.” Mila thundered, her stare daring anyone in the room to oppose her.
Grunts of approval were heard throughout the room. Those who didn’t agree with the idea of murder kept their mouths wisely shut. The word of the Oracle was law and they didn’t have the power to disobey it. Once the law was passed, they had to carry it out, whether they like it or not.
Black Claw Pack
One week after...
“Alpha! Alpha!” Elias was knocking loudly, waking up Derek Hague, the current leader of the Black Claw pack.
Derek hissed,annoyed by Elias’ volume, and worried that it might disturb his wife’s sleep. He leaned over her and carefully tucked her obsidian hair behind her ear, exposing her beautiful face. He saw that she was still sleeping and silently thanked Luna for giving him someone so perfect.
His wife stirred, making Derek’s annoyance to Elias increase tenfold.
Selena is still sleeping, Elias. Can you come later? he mind-linked to his Beta.
No, Alpha! This is important. You need to run away with your wife!
He jumped from the bed when he heard the desperation in his Beta’s voice. He opened the door quickly, his face crumpled in concern.
A panic-stricken Elias appeared.
“What’s the matter?”
“Alpha, you have to run. We don’t have time!” Elias pushed past Derek, stormed into the room and grabbed their bags.
“Elias?” Selena’s soft voice startled both Elias and Derek.
Scowling, Derek went to his Ilwani wife, stroking her hair. “Good morning love,” He cupped her chin and gave her a soft kiss on the lips.
Selena smiled at him. “Why is Elias going crazy, love?”
Shaking his head, Derek returned to Elias and grabbed his arm, stopping him from his frenzied packing.
“What the fuck is this all about, Elias?” demanded Derek.
Elias stood up and met his eyes. “Alpha, the council passed a law to kill all Vulgari who have a different race for a husband or a wife, and all children born from them.”
Selena gasped and placed a protective hand over her womb. The two men turned toward her, their faces full of pity. A cross-race child had never been born alive and Derek knew that this baby would be no different. However, Selena was persistent that this child would survive.
Derek focused his attention back on Elias and growled. “Why? What’s wrong with them?”
“Something about a vision the Oracle of Ilwania received,” Elias muttered in disgust, now continuing his packing. Selena was now fully awake and hastily went into the small walk-in closet to get dressed. After, she took over the packing from Elias, removing everything and arranging their things more neatly.
“Well, fuck her! How dare she dictate our lives!” Derek thundered, pulling at his hairs with both of his hands. He paced the room, thinking of all scenarios he could play out.
“Alpha, they’re sending assassins from different kingdoms. All well-trained and professional. Even King Remus has volunteered his right-hand man and others from the royal guard. We can’t take them,” pleaded Elias.
Derek squeezed his eyes shut. Elias was right. The Black Claw was not large and not all members were trained to fight. He would not risk the safety of his wife and pack. He quickly considered his options and settled on the only one that made sense.
Grabbing a knife from a drawer, he made a sharp incision on his palm.
“Alpha, what are you doing─” Elias protested but Derek grabbed his hand and made a similar cut. As blood poured out from Elias’ hand, the pain was nothing as compared to what was about to happen.
Joining their hands together, Derek gazed solemnly to Elias, the latter strongly clenching his jaw to keep his emotions in check. “I, Alpha Derek Hague of Black Claw pack, hereby surrender all my rights and duties as an Alpha of this pack, to Elias Stone, Beta, now promoted to Alpha.” He pulled Elias in an embrace and patted his back.
“I wish you well, brother. Thank you for everything. Take good care of the pack, I know you will.” Derek did not have time to say his farewells to the pack, trusting that Elias would do the job for him. He grabbed their bags, now fully packed, and his wife’s hand.
They crossed the border into human territory, hiding strategically from the Vulgari council. Four months later, Selena gave birth to two beautiful healthy twins, their once barren garden miraculously sprouted roses, sunflowers, and daisies.
For twelve years they lived.
For twelve years they were happy.
For twelve years they survived.