The town I was raised in was wealthy because of her--because of the Oracle. Pilgrims, kings, and curiosity seekers came from all over the world to hear the future. They had to have lodging, they had to buy food, and they wanted things to take back home to prove they had indeed seen the Oracle. The people of my city were only too happy to provide these things--for a price, of course.
The Oracle herself was born two years after me. She was daughter of the lord, and to this day he remains her guardian. He grows richer and richer from the fees he charges people to ask her questions. Her father, her guardian keeps her locked in a gilded prison in his castle. When I was eighteen I was hired to be a guard of this beautiful creature's cage. There were always positions open, as the suicide rate among the guards was abnormally high.
During the day it wasn't so bad. We only had to watch those who paid their way into to see the Oracle, make sure they didn't do anything stupid. She was quiet for the most part during the day. She placed her thin hands on the shoulders of her visitors, mumbled something into their ears, and only occasionally began to sob. The screams began when night fell and didn't end until the sun rose over the horizon.
I suppose her mother must have given her a name at some point, but no one knew for sure what it was. She was just The Oracle. She was beautiful, everyone agreed on that point. She was willowy and thin--too thin really, rumor had it she threw her food at the servant who took it to her more often than she ate it--with long, pale blonde hair that fell around an even paler face. The only sun that ever touched her face was that which filtered into her room through the narrow windows. An old woman was with her at all times to prevent her from killing herself. She had tried to take her own life several times in the past.
A foreign king was leaving the first time she spoke to me. I was standing just outside her door. She ran across the room to me, put her cold hands on either side of my face, and kissed me. I pulled back from her in surprise. "Be careful on the way home, Peter." She said. How she knew my name I don't know. Her voice was thin and hoarse, perhaps from all the nights spent screaming. She backed away with her hands still extended to me. "Be careful, but goodbye, Peter."
I walked home after my shift had ended. I was relieved that I was off that night had would not have to listen to her screams. I wasn't thinking of the Oracle's warning. Halfway there I was robbed and murdered. I entered death that night.
In death, I found I could move backwards and forwards in time. There were other spirits moving with me on the branching and twisted path of time. Each spirit had shaped itself into a form that was projected into the minds of the other spirits. A mass of spirits, kings and rich men, commoners and beggars, was gathered around one single spirit. The spirit at the center of this cacophony of thought, accusation, and warning was not dead, its projection was weaker than the others and wavering. Its form was that of a beautiful, pale young woman. The Oracle. I joined the crowd trying to speak to her.
When she saw me she screamed all the more.