4. Idi & The Oracle’s Quest Chapters 2

Chapter Two ~ Oracle’s Visit

“Fiddlesticks, stuff and nonsense, damn and double blast it.”  Marcus threw the spade into the soil for all his worth, it went deep and turning it to loosen the soil wasn’t easy.  As he worked the earth he poured his frustration into it.  Today was his birthday.  He was seventy years old and he felt ancient and empty.

Marcus had fought all his life to obtain the magic he could now wield yet now he wondered why he had bothered.  He’d not saved a single life, not by use of his oh-so-limited magic anyway. Adventure and excitement were what he had wished for and instead all he had done was bring the band of Brothers together and teach.

“Insidious donkey droppings.”  He was the eldest of the Brothers, and yet the youngest could perform far more magic than him.  The bitterest pill was that he had taught them everything they knew.

He dropped the spade and picked up the fork and started sifting through the soil to turn over the potatoes.

Marcus had picked the eleven Brothers to join him after a dream he’d had, many moons ago. One by one he’d found them, seen something within each of them that was good, then brought them here to the edge of the world of Talia; far from the affairs of men and Kings. Here he had become their mentor, teaching them all he knew: inner strength, the ways of the world, and all the while searching their hearts to reveal their motivation.  He had watched their actions and deeply searched their motives until; one by one, he had become satisfied that they were men of the Light.  Then he taught them the power of words and magic.  Within ten years, they were as powerful as himself, within twenty they had left him far behind.  A lesser man might have feared that they would eventually reject him because of his weakness, but he knew within himself, without pride or conceit, that they loved and respected him.  He knew, not one of them would try to oust him from the band of Brothers.

The early morning birds were tweeting and he knew the Brothers would be up soon and come and tell him to stop working.  He didn’t want to stop, he had a feeling that if he took things easy, like everyone advised, then he would shrivel up and die.  The fluttering of wings made him look up from his potato picking grumbling.  A Magpie flew past him, its rich black and white colourings clearly displaying who he was.  It came to rest on the field not far ahead of Marcus.  For a moment Marcus smiled at the pretty bird but then surprise made him open his eyes wide.  The tail of the bird was gold.

“Pica Pica” Marcus whispered.  The bird took to flight again and Marcus didn’t think twice, just dropped the fork and went chasing after the bird.  Keeping his eyes firmly fixed on the bird Marcus didn’t even notice that he’d struck magic-speed and only just realised where he was in time, to drop out of the unnatural run and come sliding, very precarious, to a halt at the cliff’s edge.

He shivered as he looked down at the steep sheer face of the black rock cliff.  Suddenly a gust of wind rushed in across the sea hammered his frail body.  So powerful was it that he almost fell as he swayed precariously close to the edge.  Uneasily he took several steps backwards.  The hairs on his arm bristled and he whirled around searching the surrounding areas for what might be causing his unease.  He could see nothing out of the ordinary, yet a single gust of wind was not natural.  Marcus pulled up his hood and then pushed his hands into the deep pockets of his dark brown cowl.  His thin, wiry body suddenly felt cold.  An urge to turn and run filled him, yet his feet seemed heavy and remained stuck to the heather filled ground.  A breeze brushed against his body and face, pushing back his hood once more.  His long white hair billowed in the wind, and his clean-shaven angular face felt the touch of the wind as a caress.

He raised his arm to cover his face momentarily afraid, then as quickly as it had arrived, the wind abated.  In the stillness that followed, he felt the arrival of something.

Slowly, he lowered his arm away from his face, becoming aware of a shift of light around him. Something seemed to shimmer, like a reflection from polished metal in the sunlight, and danced in front of him.  He watched as the shimmering light slowly stopped moving, and before him, Oleanna appeared.

Marcus sucked in his breath in awe.  An Oracle – Defender and Guide of Talia – stood before him.  He marvelled that a Spirit of the Land should appear to him.  Everything about her was light, and she seemed to flicker between substance and nothing making it hard for him to focus on her.  She hovered momentarily above the ground and then slowly lowered herself down.  As her feet touched the ground, she became solid, the fluidity of her anchored into flesh.  Her eyes, the palest blue, glistened like crystals, and held Marcus captive.  She smiled at him, very slightly, but it was enough to fill him with joy. He wanted desperately to reach out and touch her, but he knew he couldn’t.  As was the way with these Angel like spirits, she spoke into his mind without speaking aloud.

“It is time for you to leave this place Marcus.  You must go on a quest of great importance.  You will leave at once.  Evil approaches and you must go with all speed.  Head for the village of Clodoth, there you will find a young boy who you are to take on this journey with you.”

“Who is this lad?”

“He is to be your new ward.  He answers to the name of Idi, although this is not his name.  He is without parents and is considered the village fool.  You will take him, love him and show him the Way.  His destiny is vital for the future of the Kingdom, and although he is not The One, he will be the person to save The One who is prophesied to come.”

Before he could stop it entering his head, the thought hit him, why couldn’t I be the one to save the prophesied One?

Oleanna smiled into his stoic blue eyes. “It is not for you to question this Oracle Marcus, but to hear my words and obey.”

“I must have blind faith then?” Marcus responded with a twist of bitterness.

“To each of us is given a gift Marcus, you have many gifts, but by far your greatest is that of teacher.  Which of these is more important to your homestead: the roof that keeps the rain from making you wet; the stone walls that keep the wolves from your table, or the foundations that hold everything together?  All are important: all make the homestead, without one part the others would not function.”

“So what does that make me then, the old pigeon in the roof?”

“You are the foundation Marcus, without you Idi will not reach his full potential, without Idi the prophesied one will not be King.  Glory is fleeting Marcus and you shouldn’t desire it, seek instead a complete understanding of the deeper magic.”

Marcus knew all the teachings of deep magic.  He had studied it for years; there was nothing he didn’t already know.  Surely, she was aware of that?

“Words are containers of power, and no one can release the magic within, until they believe in themselves.  You must believe magic is within, and then speak the words of power with the belief Marcus, if you are to behold true magic carried into the air.  Remember always, that words, spoken in faith, are containers of power.”

He had read those very words many times, but somehow hearing them spoken by an Oracle made the truth of them resound fervently in his spirit.  Marcus felt rebuked.  He didn’t seek fame: he just wanted to be remembered for doing something wonderful, was that so bad?  But even as he thought it he questioned himself.  Maybe after all these years he wasn’t as pure as he considered himself to be, he felt his spirits falling.

“Which spectrum of magic do you wish me to teach Idi when I bring him back to the homestead?” he asked.

“You are not to return here, instead you are to take the boy with you and find the One.”

“Not return!” Marcus nearly choked, “how can I not return, this is my home, what about the Brothers?”

“The Brothers will remain.  I have already sent James to fetch another who will join them.  They will continue as before until the time arrives for them to take part in the shaping of Talia.”

“But where shall I go and how shall I find this prophesied One?”

“You must travel to a place named Havenshire.  Watch the skies closely for it is said there will be a change in the sky on the night the prophesied One is born.  You must not be late.  You must not for any reason, delay in reaching the girl who carries The One.  Her life and the life of her son are in your hands, without your wisdom and protection they will be lost to the darkness.  The night creatures are roaming the lands as we speak searching for signs that will lead them to The Catalyst.”

“How will I recognise this mother?”

“I saw the girl once, briefly in a vision.  She wore a thin gold band around her head.  Her hair was long and the colour of the palest sands, and her eyes as green as the grass.  You will know when you find her.”

Oleanna smiled fondly at Marcus. He would not know of it until the end, but Marcus was regarded highly amongst the Oracles, and he would be the builder upon which the foundations of the New World of Talia would be formed.

Marcus saw a flicker of movement behind Oleanna, and stood in awe as her wings unfolded and opened. They fluttered in the air as if shaking off tiredness, then stretched upwards and outwards, the snowy white feathers unfurling with little movements, like gentle waves hitting the beach floor.  She saw him watching her wings and smiled at him with understanding.  Slowly, the wings lifted her from the floor and once in the air she began to shimmer, flickering in and out of reality.

“Be brave and believe in thyself my noble man,” she whispered as she disappeared.

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