The Long Look (The Laws of Power Book 1) by Richard Parks

The Long Look (The Laws of Power Book 1) by Richard Parks

Author:Richard Parks [Parks, Richard]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Canemill Publishing
Published: 2011-06-09T04:00:00+00:00

10 A wonderful capacity for surprise

Seb wasn’t prepared. How could he be? Nothing Tymon had said or the stories he had heard could prepare him for the sight of the Oracle of Yanasha in all her glory. The shrine itself gave little hint of what awaited them; it was a simple stone structure beside a rushing stream. There was one basin for offerings, one statue of the Goddess Yanasha, her arms raised in benediction, a statue earnestly but naively carved by some long-vanished priest. Tymon made his offering right after the farmer did, gold following bronze, but there was no price set that Seb could discern.

"Does the value of the offering matter?" Seb whispered.

"Not to Yanasha, supposedly. I imagine the priest who lives on the offerings or the Temple at Kodna which takes the rest might be concerned; their vestments are rather threadbare these days, I hear. As it is, the goddess does not value the offering at all. The theory is that the supplicant does so, for the cost can only be weighed against the means. The goddess—through the Oracle—judges their sincerity accordingly."

"Do you believe all that?" Seb asked.

"Believe? No. I accept it, as I would a rule in chess, and make my moves within those constraints."

"How can you value omens and pronouncements from a goddess you have no faith in? Why did we walk so far to get here?"

Tymon shrugged. "I believe in very little, all in all, and as the years go by I find I believe in less and less all the time. It’s not such an obstacle; you’d be surprised how few wonders of the universe require our faith to manifest. Simple acceptance of those wonders, on the other hand, is a much more rare commodity. That’s the real coin I bring, Seb. The gold is for the priest."

Seb let it go, since he had no argument to offer. Their offerings made, they traveled past the portal at the rear of the stone shrine and out to the Oracle itself.

They stood near the end of a dead-end valley. It was a sheltered spot; here the grass was still green albeit beginning to turn in the growing cold. A swift mountain spring rushed down the rock face some fifty yards away to gather in a stone basin for a moment before flowing outward in two separate streams. The two streams formed a small grassy island between them before meeting again near the back of a small garden behind the shrine and flowing on past, making the stream they had seen upon first arrival. The Oracle lived on the island.

Living, Seb thought, might be a bit of an exaggeration.

It was a weak sort of witticism, unspoken and quickly shamed into oblivion. Seb considered himself a hard man; by necessity, certainly, and he had reason enough, but a hard man nonetheless. He wondered if it were possible to be so hard that what he saw now could not touch him.

The Oracle of Yanasha was a girl. Seb guessed her to be about nine or ten, but it was hard to be sure.


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