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Authors: Bryan Davis

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Eye of the Oracle

BOOK: Eye of the Oracle
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Oracles of Fire, Volume 1

 

Eye of the Oracle

 

Bryan Davis

 

Eye of the Oracle

Copyright © 2006 by Bryan Davis

Living Ink Books, an imprint of AMG Publishers

All rights reserved. Except for brief quotations in printed reviews, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means (printed, written, photocopied, visual electronic, audio, or otherwise) without the prior permission of the publisher.

Eye of the Oracle
is the first of four books in the youth fantasy fiction series,
Oracles of Fire
.

All Scripture quotations are taken from the King James Version.

Print ISBN: 978-0-89957-870-5

ePub ISBN: 978-1-61715-004-3

Mobi ISBN: 978-1-61715-033-3

DRAGONS IN OUR MIDST and ORACLES OF FIRE are registered trademarks of AMG Publishers.

First printing September 2006

Cover designed by Daryle Beam, Market Street Design, Inc., Chattanooga, Tennessee

Interior design and typesetting by Reider Publishing Services, West Hollywood, California

Edited and proofread by Becky Miller, Sharon Neal, and Rick Steele

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Davis, Bryan, 1958-

Eye of the Oracle / by Bryan Davis.

p. cm. (Oracles of fire ; bk. 1)

“Prequel series to the Dragons in Our Midst series” T.p. verso.

Summary: Relates the various interactions of dragons with mankind from the era before Noah’s ark through the time of King Arthur and on to the present day.

ISBN-13: 978-0-89957-870-5 (pbk. : alk. paper)

ISBN-10: 0-89957-870-5 (pbk. : alk. paper)

[1. Dragons--Fiction. 2. Demonology--Fiction. 3. Christian life Fiction. 4. Supernatural Fiction.] I. Title. PZ7.B285557Eye 2006

[Fic] dc222006026477

Dedication

For those who were once blind but now see clearly, even from one world to another, Oracles who keep your eyes fixed on the One who will guide you to the final dimension this story is for you.

For those who once lay cold and seemingly forgotten under the burden of unrelenting strife but now have found the Light that ignites an undying passion, a fire for truth, wisdom, and righteousness this story is for you.

You are Oracles of Fire.

Acknowledgments

To my faithful wife and best friend, Susie I am amazed at your unfailing love. In my eyes, you personify grace and beauty. Thank you for reading this manuscript so many times without a single complaint.

To my AMG family Dan Penwell, Warren Baker, Rick Steele, Dale Anderson, Trevor Overcash, Joe Suter, and all the staff thank you for believing in these crazy stories. God is using us to change lives all over the world.

Most of all, I thank God for the inspiration, grace, and strength to conceive and create this book. Without Him, I am nothing.

Author’s Note

Eye of the Oracle
is the first book in the new series,
Oracles of Fire
. It is a prequel to the
Dragons in our Midst
(DIOM) series and chronicles the events that preceded DIOM. The next book in
Oracles of Fire
will be
Enoch’s Ghost
, a sequel to DIOM.
Enoch’s Ghost
will pick up the story where
Eye of the Oracle
and
Tears of a Dragon
end.

Here is how the stories line up in chronological order. The new series is boldfaced.

Readers who have not delved into
Dragons in our Midst
will have no trouble understanding and enjoying
Eye of the Oracle
. This story begins a new adventure that will lead readers into a multi-dimensional land, a fascinating journey guided by the
Oracles of Fire
.

Merlin’s Prayer

O King of Light, so true and wise,

Who grants in troubled times

A wealth of counsel from above

And prophecy in rhymes,

I ask Thee now to pour Thy mind

In measure after measure,

For days of darkness snuff Thy light

And rob our only treasure.

An evil power snares the land

Deceiving flesh and blood,

And even kings are fooled by her

Beguiling, blinding flood.

But hast thou granted her a time

To foster lies and hate?

Dost Thou foresee what I cannot,

A day this flood abates?

A flood of murders, vengeance, wrath,

And hatefulness within

’Tis worse than forty days of rain

That purged the earth of sin.

For in this flood we must endure

And swim amidst the mire,

While kings do battle over words

And murder what they sire.

I beg you now to bring an ark,

A savior, king, a knight,

And rescue those who wait in faith

To see his sword of light.

Prepare me, Lord, to live till I

This noble son behold,

For prophets dream, but few awake

To see your plan unfold.

Prologue

So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life. (Genesis 3:24)

I am a daughter of the earth, sown and rooted in the soil of the land of the dead. I am an underborn, a slave girl, a bondservant to a dark mistress of evil. For centuries I have toiled, flinching at the sound of whips, grimacing at their sting on my back, and mourning for my fellow slaves as they expired at the hands of our tormentors. One by one, they perished, and now I stand alone.

This is my story, and a story of sorrow often begins in darkness. I must lead you through the valley of the shadow of death, for only a journey through shadows will allow us to fully comprehend the beauty of heavenly light.

Alas! The darkest shadows are cast by God’s very own image, rebels who stand against the holy light implanted by their creator. For those who see the light and yet raise a fist at its source are the darkest souls indeed.

You must meet these foul creatures and become aware of their sinister plots. As they hunger to steal the souls of men, you will learn to despise their dark paths and hope for the light of day to expose their evil deeds. Take heart. Though the story begins in a flood of darkness, the light of the world will guide you toward the morning star, and I will greet you on the other side of dawn.

Chapter 1

The Seeds of Eden

Angling into a plunging dive, the dragon blasted a fireball at Lilith and Naamah. The two women dropped to the ground just as the flaming sphere sizzled over their heads. Naamah swatted her hair, whipping away stinging sparks that rained down from the fireball’s tail.

With a flurry of wings and a gust of wind, the dragon swooped low. As razor sharp claws jabbed at the women, Naamah lunged to the side, and Lilith rolled through the grass. A single claw caught Lilith’s long black dress, ripping it as the dragon lifted toward the sky.

Naamah jumped to her feet and helped Lilith up. The dragon made a sharp turn in the air, and, with its jagged-toothed maw stretching open, charged back toward them.

Lilith pushed a trembling hand into the pocket of her dress. “Only one hope left,” she said, panting. Pulling out a handful of black powder, she tossed it over her head. “Give me darkness!” she cried.

The powder spread out into a cloud and surrounded the women. Naamah coughed and spat. The noxious fumes blinded her and coated her throat with an acrid film. A hand grabbed her wrist and jerked her down to her knees just as another flaming cannon ball passed over their heads.

“Crawl!” Lilith ordered.

Naamah scooted alongside Lilith as she scuffled over the dry tufts of grass. Sparks from the rain of fire ignited tiny blazes that illuminated their hands as they passed through the veil of darkness.

Naamah gagged but refused to cough. With a guardian dragon hovering somewhere overhead, giving any clue to their whereabouts could be fatal.

After several minutes, Lilith whispered, “I think I found the cave.”

Her hands, barely visible and clutching a small bundle of sticks, crawled over a bed of gravel and then to a rocky floor. When she finally stopped, Naamah sat up and gazed into the dark cloud behind her. She squeezed fractured words through her tingling throat. “Will the dragon follow?”

“Shachar is persistent,” Lilith rasped, “but she is no fool.” She coughed quietly, clearing her voice. “She will not risk the possibility that we’re a diversion for a more dangerous attack. If she doesn’t find us soon, she will go back on patrol.”

“What about her dragon sense? Won’t that draw her to us?”

“I’m not sure. A dragon’s danger alarm is still a mystery to me. I think since our only direct threat is to the ancient garden she patrols, her sense of protection will draw her there.”

The black cloud began to dissipate, revealing the mouth of a shallow cave, barely deep enough to keep out the wind. Close to the back wall, the women found a flat stone and built a fire next to it with Lilith’s collection of sticks. When the crackling flames began to rise, Lilith and Naamah sat on the stone to rest.

From her pocket, Lilith withdrew a small bundle wrapped in a black cloth. After untying a knot on one end, she produced an earthenware cup filled with herbs. “The way to Eden has yet another obstacle,” she said, tossing a pinch of the herbs into the campfire. “Our task will not be easy.”

Sparks flew toward the cave’s low ceiling, riding on thin strings of silvery green smoke. Naamah breathed deeply of the aroma-saturated air, a pungent blend of camphor and garlic. She exhaled, tasting the herbs at the back of her tongue. “What could be more difficult than getting past a dragon?”

“There are forces in our world that dwarf the power of dragons. I have foreseen much that you don’t know.”

As cool, damp air chiseled away at the fire’s rising warmth, Naamah scooted toward her sister, overlapping the fringes of their silky black dresses on the flat stone. Barefoot and shivering in the draft, she wrapped her arms around herself. “Didn’t you know it would be this cold? We should have worn our cloaks.”

“It is only temporary. The cold air is a path that leads us to the garden.” Lilith pushed her long black hair off her shoulder and huddled close, her voice low. “Naamah, you must have more faith in me. My husband’s arts have allowed me to see another world, the world of phantasmal knowledge. It is the realm of future possibilities, where I can see what might happen.”

Naamah folded her hands. “What
might
happen?”

The bushes rustled just outside the entrance. Lilith glanced over her shoulder, her lips pressing into two pale lines as she set the cup of herbs on the cave’s floor and drew a dagger from a sheath on her belt.

“Just the wind,” Naamah whispered. “If it were the dragon, we would have heard her wings.”

“Perhaps.” Lilith’s knuckles whitened as she wrung the dagger’s wooden hilt. “But even the wind carries spirits who might expose our plans.”

Naamah waited for the color to return to Lilith’s fingers. “So . . . why are you counting on phantasmal knowledge when it can’t tell you for sure what’s going to happen?”

“Because our opponent is so predictable.” Lilith placed her long, thin hand on Naamah’s thigh. “Life is the ultimate game of chance, with millions of possible moves, so I only see what might happen. My choices and our opponent’s choices mesh in a tapestry through time, and I can see where some of the threads lead if I follow one or more of the thousands of patterns that fill my eyes. So far, Elohim has reacted to my moves exactly as I expected he would.”

Lilith waved the dagger over the fire. A bright, angelic creature swirled inside the rising smoke, its image warping and undulating as the draft swept it around. Inside the flames, a red dragon appeared, jets of fire blasting from its nostrils. The dragon’s blaze licked at the angel’s bare feet as it whipped around in the smoke’s endless circles. “Our plans rest on Samyaza’s shoulders, and if he fails, our doom is certain. We must prepare for that possibility.”

Naamah rubbed her hands up and down her bare arms. “How can this husband of yours give you the power to see the future? I have never known a man who could see past a bottle . . . or a brothel.”

“You have never known such a man, because you don’t know the Watchers.” She thrust the dagger back to its sheath. “Your men are all fools.”

Naamah pulled the hem of her dress high above her knee. “Fools, yes, but their money spends as well as yours.”

Lilith slapped Naamah’s hand and yanked the skirt back down. “Your harlotry will be the death of you someday! Sister or not, I cannot protect you from yourself.”

Naamah caressed her stinging hand and scowled. “You didn’t call it harlotry back when we were collecting wild oats together. You’ve been no fun at all since you got religion with Samyaza.”

Lilith grabbed Naamah’s shoulder and pulled her almost nose to nose, hissing. “This
religion
, as you call it, might just save your life. If you want to survive, you had better listen to me!”

Naamah jerked away and scooted to the far edge of the stone. “I’ll listen. Just don’t turn me into something unearthly, like that iridescent dog you keep in your dungeon.”

“That was from one of my first potions, and you know it.” Lilith sighed and reached for Naamah’s arm. “If Samyaza wins, then we won’t have to turn into anything unearthly. If he loses . . . well, he need not know our alternate plans.”

“Is that why you’re so jumpy? Do you think your husband’s spying on you?”

“I do feel the presence of a spy, but I doubt that Samyaza sent it.”

“So what should we do?” Naamah asked.

“This spy is of no consequence. Shachar is the greater danger, but she will leave the area soon enough, and we will press on. Until then, we have time for an important step in my plan.” Lilith lifted a thin cord around her neck and pulled a leather pouch from her bosom. She loosened the drawstring and carefully poured into her palm a dozen or more white crystals the size of cottonseeds, covered with tiny spikes that made each crystal resemble the head of a mace. “These are the seeds of Samyaza’s power. With them we will be able to plant his potency wherever we please.”

Naamah touched one with her fingertip and rocked it back and forth. “
We
will?” she asked.

Lilith poured the seeds back into the pouch but kept one in her palm and closed her fingers around it. “Our master will teach you how to use it soon enough, but first we must prepare ourselves as vessels myself to wield the power and you to receive the planting.” She picked up her cup, dropped the seed inside, and stirred the contents with a slender black root, holding the cup just above the flames as the herbs melted into a thick brew. After seven swirls, she crumpled the stirrer and threw it into the mix. As purple foam rose above the brim and dribbled over the sides, she waved her hand over the top and sang in a low, mournful voice.

O Master of the midnight skies,

The god of darkness, light disguised,

Provide for me the gift of flight

And give me wings to flee my plight.

Now through the waters guide my strife,

And grant the gift of lasting life.

Regenerate my body whole;

For this I give my living soul.

And should my husband learn my plans,

O let his reins come to my hands,

For strength alone cannot compare

To woman’s last beguiling snare.

O let us be the farmers’ hands

To sow the seeds of fallen man.

The giants planted here must grow

Escaping from these lands below.

In Naamah’s womb prepare your soil.

With calloused hands we’ll sweat and toil.

O make your seeds become like trees

To trample Adam’s hopeless pleas.

With both hands trembling, Lilith raised the cup to her mouth and took a long, slow drink. She closed her eyes and grimaced, a shudder crawling across her pale cheeks. After licking her lips, she rubbed some of the liquid into each of her palms, then extended the cup to Naamah.

“You must be joking!” Naamah said, squinting at the curling purple fumes. “I’m not drinking that!”

Lilith took Naamah’s hand and wrapped her fingers around the handle. “Just smell it! That’s all I ask. Then decide if you want to drink or not.”

Naamah tightened her grip on the handle and gazed into the cup. Thick gray liquid bubbled inside. Warm vapors and a pleasant aroma bathed her senses. As she took in the delightful smell, her throat dried out, filling her with a sudden desire to drink. Her tongue clamped to the roof of her mouth, parched and swelling. It was more than a desire. She had to drink. Now!

She guzzled the liquid, then slung the cup against the cave wall and glared at Lilith. “You tricked me!”

Lilith wagged her finger. “It was for your own good.”

Naamah crossed her arms over her chest and stared at the earthen shards. “I
am
going to turn into something disgusting, aren’t I?”

“The potion does much more than that. Even if our earthly bodies die, we will be able to exist in another form. As our new bodies age, we will be able to use Samyaza’s power to regenerate ourselves. But if we can get on the boat, we won’t have to worry about unsavory transformations at all.”

Naamah swung her head back toward Lilith and rose to her feet. “On the boat, you say?”

“Yes. The most obvious phantasmal thread leads to a terrible flood. Our enemy is building a boat that we could use to save ourselves, but the builders have a strange shield around it. Although normal humans can penetrate it, the Watchers and Nephilim haven’t been able to. They want to destroy it and change Elohim’s plan to flood the world. I, however, wish to find a way to get us on board in case they fail.”

Naamah paced slowly in front of her sister. “I know a man who is working on a boat. He said it is very large and well-supplied.”

“That would be the one,” Lilith replied. “But the builders are unlikely to give away the secret of the shield.”

“When he is at the market, he speaks only of supplying the boat.” Naamah stopped, cocked her head upward, and smiled. “But when he visits my room, his lips become quite loose.”

Lilith scowled. “Loose being the operative word.” She stood and slipped her hand around Naamah’s elbow. “Did this man mention the shield?”

Naamah swiveled her hips, twirling her dress slowly back and forth. “No, but if you let me sing a song to him, I can charm him into spilling his secrets.”

“Oh, really?” Lilith tipped her head upward and stroked her chin. “What’s his name?”

“Ham.” A burning pain drilled into Naamah’s pelvis. She laid a hand over her stomach but tried not to show how much it hurt. “I don’t know his family name.”

“I wish you had told me about this before,” Lilith said, tapping her foot on the ground. “We have to find this man.”

The pain stabbed Naamah again, but deeper than before, as if something had grasped her womb with sharpened claws. Still, she forced herself to keep a calm face. “If you’d let me in on your secrets once in a while, maybe I would have known you were trying to get on board.”

Lilith glanced out at the bushes again and slowly turned back. “Very well. I will tell you why we are on this journey. You will soon see how all my plans tie together.” She picked up a long stick and stirred the coals in their fire, creating a billowing gray plume. A new vision coalesced in the smoke, an angel standing next to a tree. The fire spewed a finger of flame through the angel’s hand, making him appear to have a brilliant sword that flashed as he stood guard.

“That is the Tree of Life, and I have long coveted its fruit.” Lilith pointed at the flame. “Here is our problem. One of the Cherubim protects it with a sword that creates a shield of light.”

“I see,” Naamah said. “Now that you have one of the Seraphim on your side . . .”

“You’re way ahead of me.” Lilith glanced outside and checked the brightening morning sky. “Samyaza will be there soon. I want to see him battle the Cherub and win the sword, then we can pluck the fruit at our leisure. Once he has regained his weapon, he will be invincible, perhaps even against the archangels.”

Lilith arose and, bending low, sneaked out of the cave. Naamah followed close behind, pressing her hand against her belly again. Whatever that potion was, it seemed to be turning her organs inside out.

Constantly glancing at the sky, they wound their way through a dense forest, padding softly on a wide clover path until it opened into a field. Lilith halted suddenly and stooped next to a leafy bush. Naamah leaned over her, trying to follow her sister’s line of sight. In the distance, a white glow arose above a thick, thorny hedge that extended as far as the eye could see.

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