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The Story of Naga Queens
of the
Bracada Snow Desert

by Lady Dragon
Chapter 5
The Oracle of Grahm
Light footsteps announced a newcomer to the Temple of Light. The monks on guard, or better say protection, looked over, straining to see an approaching person.

Suddenly, she materialized right in front of them, all in white and with shining eyes of an infinite colour.
"Divine Resurrectra!" - the monks bowed in an unorderly fashion, but she didn't seem to notice.
"Passage." - she spoke, but the monk, seemingly more senior than the other, looked up, uncertain.
"Divine Resurrectra, the Temple is closed for everyone, everyone but the Arch Zealot... He is with the Oracle."
"Passage." - Resurrectra repeated coldly. - "Passage is never restricted to me. Anywhere."

The monk humbly bowed, and with visible fear, let her pass, trembling like beneath an unseen weight.
"She's alien, I tell you! A witch!" - the other monk hoarsely whispered, but the senior hushed him.
"Shut up, you obselentoly fool! She is divine, and under the King's protection though it is uncertain that she even needs it."
"But..." - the monk began, and seeing the look given in return, quieted his temper. He could be degraded for this sort of talk.

Resurrectra smiled already about two halls away from whispering monks. She had excellent hearing, but it really wasn't necessary in these echoing halls.
The talk didn't bother her in the least. She calmly continued on her way.

The Temple was deserted. She passed great white colonnades by, all covered with pictures of battles, rites, ceremonies, and love. One could learn life just by looking at them, or stay here for a one's lifetime to explore the carvings.
Marble a truly shapeable material. Anything could be done from it. Resurrectra had once seen a Marble Golem. It was a beautiful creation, considering the huge amount of small details in the figure.

Resurrectra glanced at it briefly as she passed the Staircase Hall. As usual, the Golem was sleeping.
'Awakened by a great danger the Marble Golem of Grahm would be!'
It was written in the Book of Divine Intervention. The Book didn't lie. Ever.
'Perhaps now would it be the time.' - she thought, almost gently, when she left the Hall.

Quietly opening the door with a light touch of her hand, Resurrectra entered a round room with a golden engraving on the far wall. The door  closed softly behind her, and the Arch Zealot turned from his prayer, surprised with interruption. He was on his knees before the engraving, but now he had arisen to this unexpected encounter.

"What are you doing here..." - he asked, too late, and fell under Resurrectra's enchanting gaze, fast asleep, as it seemed.

She passed him, unconcerned. Her business was with the Oracle. For others there was no time.
Briefly touching the engraving, Resurrectra stepped back, waiting.

After a while, it lightened, as if emerging from someplace dark, and a face appeared from the depth of the wall.
"I came." - the voice was melodious, deep and vibrating. A female voice.

"The summoning was done by me." - Resurrectra whispered. - "Help. I require help."
"I cannot. It's not my place to give assistance. I provide answers."
"Advice, then. Not more, Grahm." - Resurrectra quickly added.
"Forbidden. The time is wrong. The people must choose themselves."
"You broke the rules before. Does it stop you now?"
"Different rules now. Questions will be asked." - the Grahm wanted to leave, but Resurrectra stopped her.
"It is dangerous. Please."

The Oracle seemed to consider that plea, and the face moved a little bit from the wall, as it seemed. A nod and the Grahm simply exited from the wall completely, appearing outside of it in a human body. The engraving behind her turned green, as if filled with emotions.

"What is it?"
Resurrectra looked up. Ancient Oracle. It ruined so many lives, only because no straight answers were allowed. How much different was this one from the Oracle in Free Haven, Enroth. That one was mechanical this one has feelings.

"There is a problem in the world. I am helpless to aid."
The Grahm sighed, and reached her palm to Resurrectra's forehead, scanning quickly the needed information.
"You can solve it. The answer is right before you and simple as anything could ever be." - The Grahm spoke wearily, and turned to leave, when the alien woman said:
"You can die, Grahm."

This seemed to stop her from leaving, at least leaving quickly.
"I cannot die."
"Now you can. If he shall complete his ambitions,  if what he strives for will be fulfilled, then you'll die."
"It is a small problem now. You can solve it yourself. He can't kill an Oracle. He does not have the power necessary."

"He doesn't have to. His weapons are more ultimate. Humans. Their feelings, should you care to listen."
Seeing that the Grahm wasn't convinced, Resurrectra went to her last point of persuasion.
"You are an Ancient. You can do practically anything." - she said sharply, - "Ask Them. He has rebelled. It has been long out of control, but now it gets serious."

Fear quickly passed over Grahm's face and disappeared.
"He is human. Like you."
"A human with power. As am I, yes. Only he has greater power than me."
Suddenly the Grahm wailed, and was gone from the hall.

"Ask Them", Resurrectra quietly repeated addressing the empty space where the Oracle was standing a second ago, and sat down on the slab of marble usually serving as a table for offerings. She knew she would have to wait a long time now.

Finally, the Grahm returned. Silently, she helped Resurrectra up.
"They concur. It is dangerous, I agree. You must solve it alone, though. They give you the Golem. Don't kill the other human, though. He'll be valuable."
"If I succeed, the Balance will be disturbed."
"It is already disturbed. We repaired it before. We shall repair it once again."
And the Grahm gave Resurrectra a small medallion with a reassuring smile.
"Control."

The woman bowed, accepting the medallion. When she straightened, the Grahm was gone and the engraving was again of normal golden colour.

Clutching the medallion shaped in form of a silver star in her hands, Resurrectra quietly left the room, deep in thought.

After the door was closed, the Arch Zealot opened his eyes cautiously, and after assuring his complete solitude, scrambled up from the floor, snickering.
"How stupid can one get! This alien woman here thinks so much of her power that she forgets of other magic idiots." - the last word, however, was said more quietly, the Zealot looking around once again to be sure.

'Lord Kastore would be pleased,' - he thought as he chanted a spell of Town Portal. This entire business had the smell of a definite promotion. Perhaps even two. In seconds, he cast the spell, and was gone in an instant.
The Temple of Light again became quiet and serene, oblivious to the so common deceits of humans going on inside of it.
"The Ambassador is to see your Majesty." - a herald announced.

The King turned his head to Resurrectra, who was by his right side. She nodded.
"Show her in, by all means."
Resurrectra bent over, and whispered some piece of additional advice into Gavin's ear, but quickly straightened as the doors opened.
"Your Majesty." - The Nagas behind Wilen chorused, bowed and were answered by a nod from the King.
"What has brought you here, your Grace? It is a long time since we have met." - Gavin asked.
"A political matter of great urgency." - Wilen replied laconically. She never liked this King much. A drizzly old man with half his brains lost, that was her personal opinion, but duty was duty, and Gavin Magnus was still the King of Bracada.

"The Empire is under attack by the Krewlod armies from the West. The Golden City as you call Nagabaz, is besieged. We face a confrontation with former allies, whose forces are increasing, and probably they continue to attack as we speak. Perhaps they have conquered the city already. The Empire demands that this matter shall be cleared out with the Ambassador of Krewlod."

"Who is in charge of the attacks?" - Resurrectra asked before Gavin could say anything, an impenetrable mask on her face.
"The Darthenwood Clan."

'Ah, the sell-swords amongst themselves...' - the same thought passed in Gavin's head, only slower. Resurrectra didn't seem surprised, simply content with received information as she stepped back into the Throne's shade. All other things she knew already.
"The Empire asks for aid from its ally." - Wilen said briskly, her tail slashing at the carpets  a sure sign of irritation.

The King did not reply. He turned his gaze from the Nagas to the heavy-curtained high windows of the hall, where clouds could be seen behind them, floating in mid-air. He felt his throat dry as he asked the fatal question:
"How many does the Empire require?"

Wilen looked at him and not seeing, her mind busy with the answer she has been thinking over and over during the whole trip here. The number shouldn't be big, or otherwise it will say that the Empire is too weak, but on the other hand it shouldn't be small, for it would give little aid.

Silence dragged and dragged, raising tension to an unbearable level, when it seemed that the air was thick with floating thoughts and conflicting emotions.
Then Suddenly a Naga from the bodyguards spoke out directly to the King:
"As much as you can give, king. We will not say no to bigger help, but shall not decline a few numbers as well."

The air's denseness suddenly lifted, and it became easier to breathe in the curtained hall. Wilen breathed out, all at once very grateful to the speaker, who solved the problem with wits and a clear, crisp tone that landed on the King as a smith's hammer on an anvil with full force.

Resurrectra slightly, unnoticeably, touched the King's hand, busy in converse.
'Answer her.' - she said, using a telepathical link, but Gavin replied:
'What? We've got nothing to spare. All is busy with the...'
'Practically nothing!' - Resurrectra cut him short. - 'The Nagas are all you've got, so if you won't protect them, then no Titan will ever protect you!'
'Fine then, what number?' - Magnus cried the thought at her, but instead of answering him directly, Resurrectra addressed the Ambassador, breaking the link with the King.

"What type of force do you require?"
Wilen considered this quickly. - "Shooters."
"Will some twenty thousand suffice?"
Resurrectra could see with her side vision the King's face as she walked forward from the throne. An agony.
'But he'll get over it...'
- she conceded in her mind.

"Yes, your Grace, shooters." - Wilen regarded the alien woman for a second, and then added, - "What sort shall you supply the Empire with?"
Resurrectra's laugh was like an ice shard breaking at spring, and as it lasted it sounded as many of those shattered in the hall.
"5 thousands magi. 2 thousands Arch Magi. The rest is Gremlins and Lizards that pledged loyalty to Bracada. They number 2 thousands, and the Gremlin making 11 thousands strong."

Wilen bowed her head, covering her thoughts. - 'She could do this...' - Wilen corrected herself, - 'She had to.', and replied in a courtly fashion:
"Yes, your Majesty... and your Grace. The Empire is grateful."
According to the custom, the Ambassador came forward, and shook the King's hand, then Resurrectra's, as if a final signature of the treaty. Then the Ambassador turned, and crawled for the doors. Behind her, the Nagas bowed and left after Wilen.

When the doors slammed shut, and the two were left alone, Gavin turned to Resurrectra with a question on his lips, but decided that it would be better to keep silence when he has seen her face.
It was radiating blue flames, and looking now more alien than ever, all the facial lines suddenly very sharp, as cut out from a stone. But at the same time it was very beautiful, reminding of the Sirens that lived in the Southern Ocean.

"Gavin?"
"Yes?"
"The Oracle of Grahm has spoken. The Marble Golem it's awake." - Resurrectra gave him the medallion. - "This allows control of it. It's the time for it, and don't speak against me. Use the Golem wisely."

"But where are you to go?" - the King protested.

"I need to speak with Kastore. You'll manage without me." - with that, she disappeared, leaving the King alone, and dreadfully frightened. Not that he was a coward, of course. It was just for the first time in many years that King Gavin Magnus was feeling fear and loneliness. Such a human emotion. There was no wife, no Queen, no dears and close. There were no children of his blood. Just him  the old, lonely Wizard King.
He had actually grown to like Resurrectra over the little time she was here after her strange coming. He became used that she accompanied him everywhere, dined with him, gave him advises. A little bit strange, granted, but yet he grew attached to her.

He sighed, and stood up to get out from the Throne Hall. He wanted to go to the Temple of Light. He had forgotten how the Golem looked like. He needed to refresh his memory.
Gavin Magnus in Hall of Castle Lambent
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"Wilen of House Fharedon, Ambassador for the Naga Empire of United Great Tail Ridge!" - The official voice of the herald proclaimed loudly.
The Ambassador entered, followed by ten Nagas in the full ceremonial armour of gold. 'Bodyguards.' - thought King Gavin Magnus as they both exchanged greetings.

Wilen was sent with her mission the moment the first Hawk with the message of the Steel Pass siege arrived.  The orders from her Excellence the Loremaster for the ambassador were simple - ask for aid. The seven hours long hasty trip made her
weary, and she didn't know yet of the second message.