Of Oracles and Bullies
The Priest was aghast as Hera twisted backwards without warning, mid sentence they were, discussing a bargain to deliver The Guardians life from harm. Before a deal could be struck the hag retched, jolted, threw her head back sharply with a sickening crack and that was the point where the prophecy spilled forth from her throat, her lips stationary as a voice, deep and alien, uttered the words from within the soothsayer.
Almost as instantly as the last word was spoken, Hera fainted, collapsed at the feet at The Priest lifeless and exhausted from the channeling.
Yet the camp around them was disbanding and The Priest had no time to attempt to find the missing guardian, he needed to act swiftly before any questions were asked and doubt cast towards the motivation of the holy man. He hoisted Hera awkwardly into his arms and withdrew to the safety and concealment of his caravan, his tent having already been packed away, ready to travel… Barking orders to nearby troops to prepare his horses to draw the caravan…
He slammed the door and frantically sought parchment and quill, repeating the words of the poem to himself, over and over again until he could scribble down the prophecy as clearly as he could remember… Stuttering over a few words, glancing nervously to Hera occasionally, she never stirred. He felt the caravan jolt forward near tipping over the ink and swearing under his breath continued to scribe the words before they fled his mind…
Tied roughly and aching from another fresh beating The Guardian was tugged along through thickening mud with a score or more of war weary slaves. He kept his head down, hoping to avoid the attention of the brutal guards as the camp withdrew from their site and started its long march back to the capital city.
His heart was heavy with grief, whispers had reached even the ears of the captives, the girl had died, slaughtered by the prince. Hope was dead, the war was over. The King would have all the known lands under his grasp without any threat to hold back his vast army. These were dark days ahead, even the sky echoed the feeling of hopelessness, dark, grey, brooding. Thick clouds swelled with the threat of torrential rain, making the grueling dredge for some of the older slaves quite deadly.
There was a stain upon the earth where his precious ward had perished, that was when he glanced up. Straight into the fist of the nearest guard.
“Keep your head down wretch!”
‘What more could they do to me?’ He thought and glared at the guard with utter defiance…
(oops… Ran out of lunch time folks…)
Anne Harrison 16.11.16