By the time Niska reached the Oracle's small thatch-roofed cottage, the sun was already setting. Through the dense canopy, she could see the bright red and pink colors of the sunset. The young girl had always loved dusk; she would usually climb up a nearby small mountain, and would sit at the end of the plateau, looking out over Throm and the woods and just stare out at the vibrant and colorful sky. It was always quiet, insects were out, the view of the sky was fascinating, and she could watch the birds fly against the colorful backdrop. The birds always reminded her of the Hograma dragons, and she would reflect upon the part of the hero's story that Hans had told her that day.
Niska was about to knock on the door when it opened. An old, frail man stood there.
"I've been expecting you," the man said mysteriously. "I saw you five minutes ago, standing right at my doorstep."
"H-how?" Niska asked, a little frightened of the raisin-like man. "I've only been here a minute."
"Come in, Niska." He smiled, amused, when he saw a look of horror overtake Niska's nervous expression. "Yes, I even know your name!"
The two of them sat across from each other in soft, velvety armchairs. They were out of place in the dirty cottage.
"I am the Oracle," the man said.
"What! I thought oracles were magical creatures! They are supposed to looked like white, bald-headed…things!" Niska explained.
The Oracle smiled. "I am not that kind of oracle! I am only called an oracle because I have the ability to see into the past and future! I am human, just like you!
"Now! You must have come for a reason, such as finding out what happened to the Hograma dragons." Niska frowned, but nodded. "I am curious as to why you wish to know this."
"I suppose I am just fascinated by the stories," she said. "They are truly amazing! I mean, can you believe that Hograma led the dragons to battle against the evil Garan and—" She stopped. "I'm sorry…"
The Oracle smiled his warming smile. "That's fine. It's nice to know there are people that still care about the legends. Especially children." He sighed and stared ahead as if he were in a trance. After a while, he spoke again. "I am older then you think. I am not in my eighties, as you may think. I am in my one thousand-eighties." He waited so the impossible fact could sink in. "I was ten years old when Hograma died and his dragons flew away. So naturally, I don't have to use my power to tell you that they are still alive! Now listen.
"The Hograma dragons flew toward the Dranka Mountains, and when they got there, they were seen flying up into the clouds. This leaves me to believe that the Hograma dragons have taken shelter in the Mojeset Palace."
"Mojeset means sky in the Hograman language, the language that Hograma grew up speaking," Niska interjected.
"Indeed it does! The Mojeset Palace is not a real palace, but it is a magical cluster of clouds that dragons have the power to sit, stand, walk, run, and sleep on. Hograma also had that power."
Niska was intrigued. The Hograma dragons still lived! Maybe she could find them and touch them and maybe even…ride them! This thought gave Niska a sudden need for danger, for adventure! That thought changed her life…forever!
"I think I should be going now before it gets dark," decided Niska, although really she was desperate to begin searching for the Mojeset Palace.
"Be careful. It's dangerous where you're going."
Niska just mumbled something about reading minds and looking into someone's private future as she left the small cottage. She ran home, eager to tell Dan everything the Oracle told her.
Author Notes: The Mojeset (moh-HEH-set) Palace is vaguely based on, and does reference, one of my short stories called "The City in the Clouds" (coming to FictionPress in late 2008!) which obviously involves a city made out of clouds!
If you haven't noticed by now, Niska is absolutely obsessed with the Hograma dragons and their stories! She just can't help showing off that fact either, can she? :P
Author's Request: I welcome reviews! Just make sure you're honest, and I will be happy! Your reviews give me feedback for making my works more readable and/or more enjoyable to read (I allow constructive criticism, but NOT flaming)! So if you ever come across another of my works (as well as this one), please R&R (Read and Review)! Thanks! -SightSpirit
This is a work of fiction. Any similarities between the characters in this story and real people is entirely coincidental.