Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Oracle Stone


Alexandria, Egypt  +/-200 BCE
         Phatha wondered why Damianos had him wait here in this warm room, especially without water.  He had items and information specifically intended for Damianos. The room got warmer as the day progressed. Phatha was sweating and pacing when Damianos and his aide, Esdras, finally came in. Phatha went down on one knee and offered up the scroll and small satchel he had carried.
            "Greetings, Dear Phatha. Rise, rise! I am so very sorry you had to wait, but there were other pressing matters." As Phatha rose Damianos kissed him on both cheeks. "Forgive my lack of hospitality; one forgets these things here in Alexandria"  With a snap of his fingers a slave came in, placing a large jug of water and a bowl of apples on the table. Esdras made not a move, but kept his eyes on Phatha.
            Phatha again extended the items but Damianos stalled him. "I know, I know, it is important. But please”, he indicated the table, "first drink, eat; you must be parched"
            "I thank you." Phatha took the jug and drank long. The water was cool and surprisingly sweet. As he drank, Damianos snapped his fingers again and the slave brought in chairs, first for Damianos, then Esdras, and finally Phatha. After he had finished he wiped his mouth and looked again at Damianos.
            "Better? Good, please, let us sit so we can see what our dear Phatha has brought us" Damianos extended his right hand. Into it Phatha placed the sealed scroll and satchel.  Damianos broke the seal and read the contents, the smile never leaving his face. "Ah, from my father in Delphi. He sends his greetings and wishes me health!" Damianos chuckled, then crumpled the large scroll. Phatha was still sweating, but not from the heat now. He had seen the contents of the scroll before it had been sealed. Damianos' father could no longer send greetings to anyone but the ferryman crossing the Styx.
            Phatha took the jug and drank some more water, hoping it would conceal his shaking.
Damianos looked at him keenly, picking up the satchel. Esdras said not a word, but kept watching Phatha. Damianos opened the satchel and a small green stone fell into his hand.
            "Interesting!" Damianos exclaimed. "Look Esdras, it is the Delphic Stone from my childhood. See, you toss it onto the table and discern your fortune from the letter inscribed. Do try it." Esdras took the proffered stone and examined it. From across the table Phatha could see the stone had been shaped and gold inscribed into the letters. Esdras tossed it gently onto the table where it rolled and stopped, showing a fancy Alpha.
            "Excellent! You shall have much success my friend." It seemed Damianos could do nothing but smile. He turned to Phatha. "Your turn! Let's see what your future holds"
Phatha could do nothing but try. He picked up the cool stone. Clearly someone had spent time making this small wonder. He let it roll. Theta.
            "Oh dear how dreadful! Theta stands for thanatos, death, my dear Phatha. Do roll again!" Phatha had paled. He picked up the stone, hands visibly shaking. The stone made an ominous clunk-clunk-clunk on the table. Theta.
            "Well, it is but a child's toy, so do not worry, dear Phatha. Please, have an apple or two. I've more business so dinner will be delayed." With that, both Damianos and Esdras stood up. Esdras was still watching Phatha, but now he smiled.
            "As you wish" Phatha stood and bowed his head.  Damianos and Esdras exited and closed the door. Phatha could hear the quiet thunk from outside that meant he was locked in. Absently, Phatha grabbed and apple and took a bite. Who had betrayed him? He picked up the crumpled scroll and perused it. In an addendum that had not been there before, it was made clear. The apple was good, if a bit soft. He took another bite; this one was softer and tasted badly. Looking at the apple, he could see blackness around what could have been a wormhole. He spat it out.
            In anger, he threw the Delphic Stone on the floor. Theta. He kicked it. Theta. As his strength left him and he fell to the floor he flicked it one last time. Theta.

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