By Vicky Morgan-Keith
Grand Oracle Azhia sat bolt upright on her plump bed of softest down, the echo of the frightened shout resoundingly harsh and loud in her ear canals. Alarmed, she turned her head from side to side searching for the sound’s source, but only the dark quiet of night surrounded her. Fighting away her grogginess, a few moments passed before she realized the call had issued from her own throat. Remembering its cause, she shuddered.
Sweat chilled her smooth pale azure skin, causing her garment to cling to her unpleasantly. Irritated, she plucked at the loose sleeping gown fashioned of finest sasham gauze with trembling fingers. Taking a few deep breaths, she managed to still her shaking hands and clapped them softly, twice.
Instantly, a familiar lithe shadow fell across the gossamer drapery of her bed and bowed deeply.
“Grand Oracle? Are you well? How may I serve?”” a sleepy female voice asked.
Azhia steadied her voice before replying to her chief acolyte and attendant. “Send word to awaken Her Majesty. I must see the Empress at once.”
There was the barest of pauses. The hour was very late. Another shadowed bow crossed the moonlit curtains of her bed. “At once, Grand Oracle.”
“And rouse my slaves,” Azhia called after her. “I must prepare properly for the Empress’ presence.”