Chapter One Hundred and Forty Eight
Drevan paid no attention to the sound of Eric's voice. Could he even hear it? I tried to think of when this must be. I knew Jure was several hundred years older than Eric. Maybe I was just dreaming all this due to the herbal drink. Maybe none of it was really happening.
"I mean no harm to you, Oracle. I want to know how to achieve what I want. Tell me what to do and I will release you."
"How will you release me?" I asked.
I didn't want to be wandering around in the Croatian woods outside the castle without a way to get home. A quick thought of Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz flashed through my mind. Did I already have the power to return home whenever I wanted? I thought of clicking my heels together, but I didn't have the red shoes. Did I need the red shoes?
"I will set free this bird," Drevan thought/said and dramatically pulled the cloth covering off of what I had thought was a square table. Inside a crude wooden cage was a snowy white owl. It pivoted its strange triangular head and looked around, then fluffed out its wings and settled on the perch. "As long as the bird is captive you are captive too."
This must have been a magic owl because I couldn't smell it at all nor detect its heat signature. It looked real, but was any of this really real?
I appeared to stare at the bird while thinking furiously. He was going to ask me to tell him what to do, thinking he was asking an impartial Oracle. He didn't know I had a dog in this fight. If I stopped him from taking Jure's wife then Jure might still be married, making him ineligible for Linda.
And Drevan would still be alive, a loose cannon, causing trouble. I would go back to my time with both Celandine and Drevan as unknown ingredients in what was already a complicated gumbo of characters. I knew that if I changed one thing I might change everything.
Still, I felt a little bit of a guilty twinge about giving Drevan bad advice. I would be advising him to go for it, act out his dark plot to overthrow his older brother. I knew Celandine would slaughter so many humans that Drevan would finally snap his twig and stake her out of frustration.
I also knew that Jure would have to bear the burden of guilt that surely must have weighed him down for centuries after killing his own brother. Would all this misery and pain rest on my shoulders if I told him to go ahead?
I wasn't responsible for the sibling rivalry or Celandine, the poor choice of wife and Child Jure made. These things all were fermenting years and years before I was brought here. Jure might be self willed and even ruthless, but I didn't think he would be one tenth the problem Drevan would be. I simply could not advise Drevan do anything different than what had been already been done.
He didn't know that I already knew how everything would turn out. Or did he? Isn't that what an Oracle was for, someone that could foretell the future? Had it ever occurred to him that I might be foretelling his doom? I didn't think so.
"What say you, Oracle?" he asked, moving closer. His life was in my hands. Suddenly he looked young and vulnerable and my determination to send him down the road to ruin must have wavered.
"I say this to you," I said, "You know what must be done. There is a right path and a wrong path ... you stand at the cross roads. Will you take the easy path or will you summon your courage and do what is right, what is just? Every action causes ripples in the ocean of time. Think long when you decide only once."
As I talked I realized I was having a real hard directing him to do things that would cause so much destruction. If I left it up to him what would he do? The fire in his eyes led me to think he would act as he wanted and try to take it all away from Jure, but the weakness around his mouth worried me.
The frown and scowl on his face showed me he was thinking about what I said. Before he could reply I added, "Celandine will be yours, Jure will leave his land and his castle. The fight will be won by the strong."
No wonder Oracles, mediums and prophets all talked in riddles and cliches. It was darn hard saying something while saying not much of anything at all. Drevan could put whatever spin he wanted on this pronouncement. It wasn't that I didn't know the future, it was just that I didn't want to change it.
"I will have all I want?" he persisted.
Stick a fork in me, I was done. "I have spoken. I will say no more." I said in my most final and authoritative voice, the one I learned from Gran when she had well and truly made up her mind about something. That woman could be stubborn as a mule and so could I.
He must have seen the Stackhouse stubbornness radiating from me because he said, "Do you want gold or jewels?" He took a small pouch from his waistband and held it out to me. The idea of taking payment for sending this mirror image of Jure to his doom made my blood run cold.
"I want nothing except my freedom," I said.
Drevan raised the cage to one of the narrow windows in the four foot thick walls. He opened the door and the bird stepped out onto the sill.
It looked around the room, made a loud WHOO WHO WHO and walked to the opening, pushing itself off the edge and up into the night. I saw the outline of the bird cross the three quarter moon and fly off into the inky blackness of the Croatian night that lay over the even blacker mass of the forest.
I was still standing there. The bird was gone and I was still in Drevan's castle. Just as I began feeling a tad awkward the room faded away and reformed. Four poster bed ... crystal chandelier .... my beautiful Viking looking down at me.
I was back in the hotel safe room.
more to come .... Greetings Fanpires ..... Hope you are doing well ... very glad you could stop by. See you next Saturday, thanks for your continued interest.