The Adventures of Rothus, page 28 [D-818]

Camp of the Oracle, two days later:

I am no longer expected to train with Florm and Fost. I guess this means I'm an adult. I can do whatever I want, without someone telling me to do some chore. I'm glad to finally have control over my own life! Early on in my training, Florm once said that when I'm truly on my own, like when we return to Tarenvale, I would need to find a way to make a decent living. I told him that I was done with chores. Period. He then suggested an alternate form of income and produced a deck of cards. Over time, he showed me all the secrets he knew for getting fools to give me money, so long as they believed they could win it back. He also taught me a few dice games, but warned that they are much more difficult to guarantee a profit without using custom dice. But custom dice are often easy to discover and the sucker who realizes that he has been tricked punches harder than a sucker who doesn't!

So, now that I am a free man, I will find myself a sucker to pay me a living wage. I quickly find a few affable guys, but they want me to start with some coin. I haven't needed coins since ... ever. Back home, Mother and Father paid for everything I needed. Here in the camp, food is always readily available, and the things I wanted to buy were things Florm said I couldn't have even if I could afford them.

After a while of trying to figure out how to get my hands on some real gold without stealing it and risking punishment, Aeryn shouts out that she has freshly cooked fish. We all gather to feast, except for Tyler who is nowhere to be seen. I guess he really didn't like the news that he is not to be the team leader. He's been avoiding the group since we got back from our final test. In his absence, we devour the fish quickly. Ma'ud actually swallows a fish whole, spitting up the bones soon after!

After the meal, Evan gathers us around and gives us a serious look. "If we are to be a team, we had better work like a team. We should train like a team."

Aeryn suggests, "We need a cool name!"

Dismissing that idea as frivolous, Evan stresses that we must train so that we are not caught off-guard again, like in our fight with the lizardmen. He wants to fill our mornings with training, leaving the afternoon open for us to practice our professions (i.e. gambling!). He leads a discussion about what roles we see for ourselves in combat.

I can swoop in from the sides and take shots from the shadows. Evan can stand in front and take all the enemies blows. Travis can stand behind him and provide covering fire. Aeryn can run around and heal as necessary. Lily can do ... witch stuff. I think that about summarizes it. There does not seem to be much else to talk about. Evan and Aeryn aren't satisfied with such a short discussion and go off to find Roran so they can seek his advice.

When they are out of site, Travis pulls me aside and says, "I noticed you wanted to get into a serious gambling match and I think I can help you get some gold."

I immediately give all my attention to him, "Real gold? And without stealing, right? These folk are way too good about keeping an eye on their belongings."

"Only when they see you coming."

"Whatever. So, what's you're plan?"

"Well, you know how we've got these awesome weapons now? Why don't we sell our less awesome weapons we took with us to the ruins?" he suggested.

"Genius!" With that we headed straight to the quartermaster at the armory and sell our mundane weapons for some coin. He paid Travis a whole five gold coins for his bow and he gave me three gold coins for my hand crossbow! What a deal! Travis thinks we should go find some other weapons and sell them, too. I'd rather take this sum and nurture it so that it grows into a fortune. I take my three gold and wander around a bit looking for a sucker. Just as I completed that thought, Tyler walked out from behind a tent saying, "Hey Rothus."

After several rounds of cards, my thoughts were interrupted by Evan's voice, “Rothus, Aeryn, Lily. Come meet the rest of us at Joachim's tent." I turn around, but he's not behind me. Dang, he hides well! Oh, wait, I have a stone of communication in my pocket. Duh. That must be where his voice came from. I collect my winnings (a dagger) and go to Joachim's tent and find Travis and Evan there. Aeryn shows up, too. Lily is the last to arrive, still buttoning her dress. What was she doing, exactly, when she heard the summons?

“She will see you now,” Joachim explains. The Oracle! She is ready to see us after two whole years?! This is very exciting! She hasn't even approached us, and now she will speak to us. He leads us to a well decorated wagon that we all know well. It is the Oracle's personal home. Joachim enters while we wait outside. Then he comes back out and invites us in. We see a crystal ball that dominates the room, but is currently not doing anything interesting. She is old beyond old, with eyes that are white, as though from gathered cobwebs. Despite this, she looks right at each of us. Lily introduces herself as Mary Ann. The Oracle sees right through her lie! Maybe the Oracle read Lily's mind, or maybe she knows a lot about us already.

She says we have many questions. I ask if we are going back to Tarenvale, but she gives the same non-answer as Joachim always gives. Who knows if we'll ever get back.

Lily asks, “Why us? Why have we been chosen?” referring to comments the Dalton and Roran have made that we are to have great destinies and such. The Oracle gives no clear answer. Instead, she raises her hands to the crystal ball and it begins to glow.

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