“Twin trees on the bridged shore, death looms, a cloud in the darkened sky its chariot. Two wroth serpents – one tree burns, and the caretaker is wrought with fear and the venom of emotion.”
The glowing pool of emerald water looked more like a basin than the well it supposedly was. The witchlight that poured forth from it sent shadows on the walls, which did not move as normal shadows did, nor were they the shapes of those present in the tiny cavern. They were stranger shapes, weird and disjointed, silent silhouettes from past and future that flickered and rippled as fluidly as the green water.
If you were quiet, and listened well enough, you could hear them whisper secrets. He did not try to listen to them. He knew it would drive him mad. It was the oracle that held his attention – she was what little sanity there was in this Cyclopean place.
Her eyes had been gray, he knew. But now he could have sworn they were wholly black, as pitch as kohl. “You are certain you wish to know?”
No, his gut instinct screamed. No! “Yes.”
The oracle closed her eyes. Gnarled fingertips dipped into the emerald pool, and stirred. There was no smoke, no mist, no sound except for the augury water treading around through the old woman’s ancient, deeply-wrinkled skin, like irrigation channels snaking through the earthy brown of a farmland.
Something was drifting up from the well, but it was invisible and beyond him. Perhaps the old woman could see whatever it was. Fool that he was, he could still feel the power there. It wasn’t the sort of power that gave you goosebumps, nor was it that which made your bones shiver and your blood curdle. It didn’t flash or sparkle or bang or hiss like magic spells. What it did do, however, was fill you with a terrible, portentous emotion that was like a hand around your heart, ten times worse than when you hear your closest kin has died and thirty times worse than when your lover leaves you. It squeezed, squeezed, squeezed – until you thought you might burst and rage and scream and cry and explode in a ragged maelstrom of anxiety and incomprehension.
He exhaled a breath, realizing he had been holding it in. She stopped stirring, and peered into the water’s suddenly cloudy surface. The crone lifted her creaking hand from the pool, and pointed. A single green droplet fell from that outstretched talon and struck the surface in a cleansing ripple. The clouds, the obscurity, the mists of the future – they cleared for those five seconds that followed.
“Look,” the woman with the black eyes commanded. “Look and know your future as a man.”
Trembling, he did.
His heart nearly burst.
One of the mainstays of civilization in the world, Khaeros is a massive continent inhabited by all manner of creatures.
Ruled mainly by two human empires that are more often at odds than not, the possibilities for adventurers are endless. The nameless world Khaeros sits upon is old beyond reckoning, and none know even a fraction of the secrets it hides in its ruins, whether they be forested, subterranean, snowy, fiery, or submerged.
Not alone in the oceans, other continents, nations and empires ply their dominance upon the same earth. The conflicts waged between these power groups, both current and forgotten, shape the ongoing history of the world.