PART 1 - HEART : SONS OF ORACLES
Part 1 - The Huntsman’s Heart
Ch sons of oracles
1128 years before the War Oracle Daisy travels back through time and arrives outside The City of the Kings
High Lord Adamos, the fourth in fifty thousand years to bear the name of his house, carried his beloved Yllumina as she struggled in childbirth. She was the last Oracle of the House of Yophriel, and possibly the only surviving priestess oracle. The Temples of Light were falling to a stealth attack by their enemies, the Xelusian Blood Mages. Only the warriors of Adamos and Yophriel had answered the distress call of the temple, but they were no match for the savage Berserker warriors of the Blood Mages. The battle for the temple raged as the armies of the twin kingdoms waged a war for the ability to see the future.
Adamos’ uncle, the Guardian Abel of the House of Adamos and the Guardian Yavid of Yophriel had ordered him to take Yllumina and flee through the Vault of Relics as they faced hopeless odds. The pair of Guardians fought to give Adamos and his allies, the Mage Lord Odinus and his brother the Apprentice Oracle Odini, the precious time to carry Adamos’ in-labor sealed one to safety. The Mage Odinus had cast a spell to blow up the escape tunnel entrance behind them and seal them in.
Suddenly Yllumina screamed, “NooooOOOOoooo.” Sobbing, she choked out, “Yavid is dead... forever dead... they are taking his blood.” Suddenly, she gritted her and growled out an animistic sound before panting out, “They’re coming... Adamos! They’re coming... I have to push.”
“Adamos, come in here. There’s water for her to birth in.” Called young Oracle Odini, who waved his hand light appeared on the torches. “Quickly, put her in.”
“The Pools of Destiny? Are you mad?” The Mage Odinus gasped out. “It’s blasphemy.”
“We have no choice. I read that the waters are healing, and we cannot lose the last of the Yophriel Oracles,” Odini shouted at his oldest surviving brother. A rumble echoed from high above them. The cavern vibrated with the weapons of war detonating on the surface.
Adamos looked down at Yllumina, who was panting in his arms, “My beloved?”
“My lord, I do not know what the waters will do to our sons but Odini speaks truth about the healing. Our sons and I will live, but the magic of the Pools of Destiny is unpredictable. It affects each person who baths in it differently. What it will do to a newborn... I... I caAAaan not saaAAYYyyyy,” she screamed out the last words as another contraction racked her body.
Without hesitation, Adamos carried his wife into the sacred waters, which began glowing and swirling white, blue, gold, and green around them. Yllumina sagged in relief as the pain stopped.
“He’s coming!” she gasped as she clung to Adamos. She bucked her feet out of his arms as her back arching impossibly before she curled to pull her first born son from her heaving birth canal while Adamos struggled, kicking violently to keep them afloat after the floor of the pool dissolved from underneath his feet. He had no choice but to tread water as he held onto his beloved.
“Help us!” Adamos shouted as the water swirled white and brilliant green.
“Stop!” Odinus shouted too late to halt Odini, who rushed in after Adamos. “Odini! NO!”
The pools pushed the youth away from the struggling couple and sucked him under in a whirlpool of magical water. Lightning flashed through the water and suddenly Odini surfaced in a different pool, choking and coughing. Odinus ran to aid his brother. Kneeling on the edge Odinus reached out to Odini.
Odini looked up at his brother through eyes that glowed with swirls of magic. “What... is ... happening...” the younger brother gasped raggedly.
Odinus could do nothing, “Your magic is changing, don’t fight it. Just let it happen. Breathe, little brother.”
Suddenly, Odini was pulled under again and Odinus leapt into the water only to find that it had solidified into an invisible layer like ice between him and his brother. As one knelt on the top of the barrier the other thrashed beneath in swirls of magical colors: oracle white, warrior pale blue, and mage orange-red. Yllumina’s scream echoed through the cavern and a baby cried in answer. Tearing his eyes from his brother, Odinus saw a baby floating on a swirl of green and white glowing water. The baby boy seemed content to let the water cradle him and cried no more.
Beyond the child, Adamos and Yllumina struggled through the birth of their second son. A burst of blueish white magical water lifted the baby into his mother’s arms and she cried in relief as she stood in waist deep water.
Suddenly, Adamos was gone and the water rolled boiling with the white magic of the oracles, blue of the warriors, and blazed with molten golden red streaks. Yllumina staggered to the edge and laid her second son on the stone edging before wadding to where her firstborn floated in the glowing green waters. The child cried when she lifted him from the water, only quieting when she laid him with his brother.
Turning back to the pools, she looked desperately for her husband. The water swirled around her and a single oracle stone floated to the surface in front of her. A finger of water flicked it out of the pool and onto her firstborn’s chest over his heart. She cried in relief that her son’s destiny had not been taken from him.
“Yllumina, help us!” Odinus begged.
She glowed more brilliantly than Odinus had ever seen any oracle glow.
“Give them back!” The power of her demand caused the pools to rush up and overflow. Adamos washed up next to his wife and sons.
Odinus felt the strange surface crack and he fell into the water with his brother. He grabbed Odini, shocked to see his hair had changed color from auburn to raven black. Pulling him from the water, Odinus demanded, “Brother, what is it? What did you see?”
Odini shook his head, sobbing. The 160-year-old curled into a ball and sobbed, against his oldest brother’s chest. Another concussion shook the chamber and rocks began falling into the pools and the magical water retreated.
“We’re going now!” Adamos shouted, lifting his wife and both his sons into his arms as Yllumina clutched the newborns to her chest.
Adamos felt stronger than he ever had. His magic had been changed, he was no longer just an oracle, he could feel the strength and speed of the Warrior’s magic flowing through his vein and the power of the mages burning in his bones. He was the third born and could have been born a Guardian if his Uncle Abel had not still lived, instead he had been born an oracle, but now he was neither and both and something else. He strode through the tunnels with a new confidence and purpose.
The pools had shown him a vision. In a century more than a thousand years, his youngest son would be born the greatest guardian of many generations, a Guardian of Guardians, the Peacebringer. At the end of the age, when the War Oracle, with his grandson, the Uniting King, led the Remnant against the powers of the Darkness. His youngest son would be the one to lead the Celestial Warriors in the battle against the Devourer and all that was profane. But for now, he had to ensure his newborn sons survived long enough to aid their unborn brother in the far future.
Yllumina looked up at him, her golden eyes that reminded him of every beautiful dawn, studied him. “You saw?”
“For how long have you have carried that burden?”
She looked at her sons then whispered, “Since my first vision at 82, I have known our houses would be the last to stand against the Devourer with the grandson of Odini.”
“For a thousand years.” He pressed a kiss into her temple. “We will not fail them. We will give them all they need to correct our ancestors’ mistakes.” He walked out of the tunnel and into the forest of the Northlands. He had already decided that they needed to hide for a time. The King had allowed this attack as punishment for not turning over the ancient relics of the First People. Adamos wondered if King Xerxes would regret what he had done when he discovered the Xelusians had killed all the oracles rather than capture them.
Hours later, they sheltered in a forester’s cottage in the dense woods. Odinus and Odini were asleep. As Yllumina nursed her sons, Adamos laid an armful of wood by the fire and fed it a few more pieces. She handed him the eldest, and Adamos felt pride and worry bloom in his chest.
“Mina, do you think the pools affected them the way they affected Odini and I?” His silver eyes held all his fears as he watched her rock the younger.
“I do not know. I have never heard of infants being put in the magical waters. It took my pain, whispered to me not to fear for my children. The Sacred Waters placed an oracle stone over Yurieth’s heart. Then It recognized me as the High Oracle which can only mean...” She did not finish. They both knew the Oracles of Light were all dead. “Adamos, I... I am the last of my... my h-House. And... and so are you.” Her tears were more than he could bear, and he pressed his forehead against hers with their sons between them.
“Not the last, my angel of light. Our children will not be the last either.”
Together they wept for all who had died, then laid down on either side of their sons and slept.
Regulus, Guardian of the House of Remus, lead the counter assault and the battle was won but Regulus was greatly disheartened. The oracles had been killed en masse and their blood stolen for the abominable practices of the Blood Mages. Two of his fellow Guardians had died to protect the Vault of Relics which had been blown up from the inside.
King Xerxes strode through the destruction, fuming. “Regulus, have any of the oracles survived?”
“None, my king, but we have not found one of the Oracle of Adamos, the Oracle of Yophriel, or the Oracle of Odini.” Regulus prayed they had not been taken to Xelusia. In his heart, he blamed his king for this catastrophe.
Xerxes had believed the Xelusians would not dare attack this place, which was sacred to both their peoples, but he was also angry with the Oracles for refusing to let him search through their ancient relics for weapons of war. Regulus and his fellow Guardians had not believed the Xelusians would respect the temple so two Guardians had volunteered to stay at the Temple under the pretense of visiting family members who were oracles at all times.
“Guardian Regulus, clean up this mess, have the relics brought to my castle for... for safekeeping and study. We will make the ruins of the temples a memorial to the lost. Then you may return to your widowed sister. I understand she is expecting a son soon.” King Xerxes ability to dismiss the dead so quickly and focus on the wealth he just gained, almost had Regulus speaking against him but instead he bowed.
“As my king commands.”
After the king flew away, Regulus let his disgust twist his handsome face. His milky jade eyes hardened with his rage. “Huntsmen,” he shouted and two from the House of Remus approached him quickly. “There was an escape tunnel through this mountain, find where it came out and find me the survivors. Tell no one but myself or the Guardians. I believe we have a traitor in the King’s inner circle.”
The Huntsmen were his cousin’s sons and loyal to their house above all. They bowed and jogged into the charred, shattered forest.
“Guardsmen, prepare a pyre for the dead. Gather every bit of information, written or crystal stored for return to the Kings’ City. Leave the personal belongings for the families to claim if they wish. We leave as soon as we retrieve the relics of the Oracles.” Regulus hated how callous he sounded, but he couldn’t shake the feeling the King himself had allowed this attack to gain more power and prestige. King Xerxes was power-hungry and had several times reject the recommendations of the Oracles to pursue peace with the Xelusians beyond the cessation of hostilities treaty. He wanted to be king of both worlds, he was willing to go to any length to make it happen, and that scared Regulus. He thought of what he knew of the sacred relics, and made a mental list of those which would not be ‘found’ and turned over to the king.
Hours later, the Huntsmen of the House of Remus came to a forester’s cot on the edge of the Temple’s territory in the Northlands. The fire in the hearth had burned last night, but no one was there. They tracked the survivors to the river where they appeared to have gone into the water. There was no sign of them emerging from the water on either side. The Huntsmen assumed they must have gotten on a boat and traveled away.
When Regulus got word from his huntsmen, he sent one up river and one down river to the sea. The Oracle Adamos, the young nephew of Abel, was a clever young man, politically savvy, and wise beyond his years. He was also an accomplished mariner. He would hide his pregnant wife and friends until he believed it was safe to reveal themselves, probably retreating to Yllumina’s childhood home on the Isle of Angelus. A thought Regulus would keep to himself.
Regulus felt he needed to find and protect them as a debt of honor to the two Guardians who had stood alone again the marauding Berserkers of the Blood Mages. Berserker Warriors fueled by blood craving into madness were extremely difficult to kill. From the evidence of the battle, the two guardians had taken down dozens of the blood thirsty warriors before succumbing. They fought to the death, along with the entire warrior corps of the temple and all the warriors of Adamos and Yophriel.
Regulus thought on all he knew of the Guardians of Adamos and Yophriel and their family. Walking through the rooms that belonged to the joined oracles, an image caught his eye. Adamos and Yllumina on a sailboat looking up at each other in love, but with Abel, leaning on the rail beyond them with a smug smile. His hands appeared relaxed as they were folded together. Regulus almost laughed aloud, Abel had left a clue only another guardian would know. Abel had sent his young nephew and bride to sea, to the exact place Regulus suspected. After studying the crystalline image, he put the image back among the others and ordered the room sealed. He would find them, and he would help them with whatever they chose, and turnover the most powerful of the relics to be hidden. Serving the Light was more important that serving his king.