The Oracle Of Delphi

By: Elizabeth Rose

(Greek Myth Series Book 2)

Prologue





The essence of myrrh and sandalwood permeated the air inside the dank cave. Five priests stood silently around the circular stone dais. Hooded and dressed from head to toe in dark, silken garments, the soft folds of their robes pooled around their feet. Sunlight streamed in from an opening in the roof of the cave, illuminating the golden-haired priestess who commanded their attention. She sat atop a high, golden, three-legged chair, positioned directly over a bottomless pit.

A baby graced her lap - a female child adorned in red velvet, a wreath of laurel encircling her downy blond curls. The priestess’s own head was wrapped in a band of white wool to signify her virginity was still intact. Over her white flowing gown, a belt of two entwined gold serpents graced her slim hips and raised high between her breasts.

The baby sat quietly, blue eyes wide, plush lips pursed, surveying her surroundings and situation.

King Acrisius of Argos stepped forward bravely, bowing down on one knee before them. His grown daughter Danaë stood in the shadows watching, waiting to hear the oracle.

“Ask your question to the priestess,” boomed the priest on the far left, pointing a long, gnarled finger at the Oracle of Delphi. The priestess would be the medium through which the oracle spoke, giving Acrisius his answer.

“My good lady,” King Acrisius greeted her, an offering of wheat on the ground before him. “I come seeking knowledge of my future.”

“It is not advised to ask of your future,” said a priest. “The Fates have kept it well guarded.” The priests stood with scrolls in hand, ready to record every word the oracle spoke.

Danaë watched her father carefully as he gave his answer.

“This I know,” Acrisius answered. “I am a king. I have no male heir. I need to know if there is still hope of fathering a son to succeed me.”

“Are you not thankful for your daughter?” asked a priest. Though they were five beings, they acted as one.

“Yes ... yes, of course,” he stammered. “I thank the gods every day that I was graced with the most beautiful daughter in all the land.” He nodded at Danaë standing at his side and she smiled at him.

“Step forward, woman,” said a priest. “Let us look at you in the light.”

Her father urged her forward. She squinted into the stream of light, trying to look upon the priestess. Then her gaze caught, and their eyes interlocked before Danaë acknowledged the woman’s importance with her slight curtsy.

“Please look at me. Both of you.”

This was the first the priestess had spoken. Her voice was like the song of a siren, soft, gentle, alluring. The baby held still on the priestess’s lap, watching, seeming as eager as Acrisius for the oracle’s answer. Danaë stood quietly, but the slight movement of her gown affirmed her legs were quaking beneath it.

As was the custom at an audience with the oracle, the priestess closed her eyes, breathing deeply, rocking back and forth and chanting words which could not be deciphered. Then she called forth the mist. The mist emanated from the bottomless pit where the spirit of knowledge dwelled. It circled around King Acrisius and filled his nostrils, then came toward her. From the bowels of the earth came the vapors of death, its pungent stench mixing with the essence of herbs in the air. A fog surrounded the beautiful priestess, bringing with it the humming of gold vibrating off the chair. Still, the baby sat quiet; one with the priestess, one with the Oracle of Delphi.

“You will not have a son,” came the priestess’s answer through stiff lips. Her closed eyelids flickered. “You will not have another child in this lifetime.”

“Oh, Father,” cried Danaë. “I’m so sorry.”

She dropped to her knees and hugged him. Acrisius stiffened. His brows dipped, and his mouth turned down into a frown. Then he stood, bringing Danaë with him, nodding his head to the priestess in acknowledgment. He turned to leave, but her voice stopped him in his tracks.

“There is more.”

Hope flickered in his eyes before darkening like the shadows of the cave. The air thickened and Danaë watched her father struggle to breathe. She knew the message would not be good.

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