ReFusion: Tale of the Oracle

by T. James Belich


A play in the mold of Tolkien's 'The Silmarillion'. The Oracle is intended to be a guide to the races of the world. But the Dragon wanted it for itself, and brought enmity between the races.

ReFUSION was first performed on the 2nd and 3rd of October, 1998 in the Bethel College Black Box Theatre. It was directed by Brian Laurelle House with the following cast:

The Players

SHALLA - Kimberly Treague
Who in this tale portrays:
TROGALLA, First of Dwarves
LARSYLYS, First of the Great Cats
GRINISHRA, Queen of Dragons
HAKOOP, of the Changelings
A GRYPHON, Ouway's elder
MALOWAY, of the Elves of the Silver Wood
AN OLD HUMAN, of Reshal's people
A DRAHK, of Jorvay's people

HATRESH - Cory Tiesel
Who in this tale portrays:
RHIHANSA, a Great Cat of Clan Moraine
LAONES, High Elf of the Silver Wood
A HUMAN, of the plains
A DWARF, of the Northern kin
ARDALE, Lord of Men
JORVAY, King of Drahk
YEVRAH, of the Changelings

COLDASH - Jaron Burdick
Who in this tale portrays:
VOLAN, first of Elves
EL'NORAN, first of Men
WINDHAIL, first of Gryphons
OUWAY, a Gryphon of Clan Windrider
THRENGAL, King of Dwarves
A HUMAN, of Ardale's men
RESHAL, Human Warrior of the plains

E'DEL - Katherine Juul

HATRESH: In the beginning there was Liam, and his Light alone shone forth into the darkened void. And Liam decreed that in this void there should form a world without a name. "For this world shall be under my name, and no other shall give their name to any land within it until a great sacrifice is made unto mine."

SHALLA: And so into this new world Liam the Light placed five races, and gave to each their special gifts. For it was in Liam's will that these races should live together in peace and harmony. First in the Nameless World were made the Elven kind, who in many worlds are the firstborn of Liam. (HATRESH creates an Elf from COLDASH.) To them Liam gave the gifts of wisdom and long years so that they might guide the other races in his will.

HATRESH: (To COLDASH) "Thou I create as first of all living beings upon this world. Thou art Volan, Highest of Elves, and to thee I give the task of leading thy fellow mortals down the path I shall give to thee." (COLDASH kneels to HATRESH.)

COLDASH: "All hail Liam! Creator of all underneath the sun and all above! Let thy voice be always in my ear and I shall heed it well."

SHALLA: Liam knew that his voice would often be but dimly heard within the world, and so he created an Oracle of Wisdom and gave it to Volan. (HATRESH creates the Oracle and presents it to COLDASH.)

HATRESH: "Let this be a Light to show your way and a voice of wisdom unto your heart. So long as the races I create remain whole, so shall this Oracle. Take heed that it is not broken! For though it may again be reforged, its days would not then continue without end."

SHALLA: Next Liam made the race of Men, the second born and above all other races most mortal. (HATRESH creates a Human from COLDASH.)

HATRESH: "For their lives shall be the briefest of all. Yet in their shortened years they shall experience most. For to them I give the gift of wonder, and all shall be new to them."

COLDASH: The first of men Liam called El'Noran which in the ancient tongue means Dreamer, for the first of such was he. (COLDASH kneels to HATRESH.) "Hail to thee, Liam!"

HATRESH: "Join your kindred race, the Elven-kind, in the world I have given you, and follow always their wisdom." Next Liam made the Dwarves, carved from the living roots of the mountains. (HATRESH creates a Dwarf from SHALLA.) A strong and sturdy people, the art of all crafts was in them, most of all the fashioning of the stones and metals from the depths of the earth. (SHALLA kneels to HATRESH.)

SHALLA: "To thee, Liam the Light, the Dwarven folk offer all the works that shall be made by our hands."

HATRESH: "Use them well, Trogalla, first of Dwarves, and see that thy hands turn to no evil task." For Liam knew where evil would first be born into the world. Two last races Liam crafted, the Great Cats and the Wingèd Gryphons, and to both he gave the gifts of speech and reason such as the other races possess. (HATRESH creates a Lion from SHALLA and a Gryphon from COLDASH.) "To the Great Cats, most of all the Lions, King of Beasts, I give the dominion of the wilds and all the lesser beasts therein. To the Gryphons I give the dominion of the sky, and all other creatures in the air shall be under them." (SHALLA and COLDASH kneel to HATRESH.)

COLDASH: Windhail, first of Gryphons...

SHALLA: ...and Larsylys, first of Cats, also pledged their allegiance to Liam. "The Cats of the mountains and all the beasts of the wild are thine."

COLDASH: "And so art all the untamèd skies which we shall fill to the world's end!"

HATRESH: Thus Liam placed his five races of Light into the world, and to all he gave the warning that they should follow the Elven-kind whom he had placed over them. "For they, in turn, shall heed my wisdom through the Oracle I have given them."

SHALLA: When all the wonders of the world were crafted, Liam rested and returned to his place between. Thus the history of the world began.

COLDASH: Now there was of yet no evil in the world, and the five races grew and prospered. Each fashioned their own homes after the likes of their kind, but still they remained as one in friendship.

HATRESH: But in the living heart of the mountains, where the Dwarves dwelt and fashioned great works beyond words, the heart of one grew troubled. (SHALLA is seen forging the first blade.)

SHALLA: Deep in the Dwarven forges, Trogalla toiled over a work not in the wisdom of the Elves, but always in the fears of Liam the Light. "For why should we Dwarves craft only what the minds of Elves devise? There are shapes and designs that even they with their Oracle do not see."

HATRESH: So it was in the mountain depths that Trogalla strayed to darker thoughts. (SHALLA admires the finished work.)

SHALLA: With a purpose that even he did not suspect, Trogalla forged the first blade.

COLDASH: It would, in time, be named Volankor, Elf-Bane, and be used to forever sunder the two races.

SHALLA: Discontent grew within Trogalla, gnawing at his heart. A hunger began to burn for which none yet had a name.

HATRESH: "It shall be called Envy. And from its seed a dark tree shall grow, its shadows long."

COLDASH: El'Noran, first of Men, perceived the shadow on Trogalla's heart. "Your thoughts are troubled, my Dwarven friend, what brings you to this sadness?"

SHALLA: "Five races Liam formed beneath the sun, but he gave the Oracle of Wisdom to only one: The Elves. All other races have been placed under their thumb!"

COLDASH: "The Elves have been given their part in this world, as have we. We are not slaves. All races have been made equal in the eyes of Liam."

SHALLA: "But not treated so! Why should we not be free to consult the Oracle as the Elves are? Must Liam speak to us only through them?"

COLDASH: "Be wary of where such thoughts may take you. We have been friends since the beginning, and I fear the shadow creeping upon your heart bodes ill."

SHALLA: "If thou art my friend, then aid me now. Let us consult the Oracle for ourselves and learn firsthand what wisdom it holds."

COLDASH: El'Noran found these words troubling. His voice was grave when he answered Trogalla, for it was no small matter that he proposed. "Whatever you wish to ask the Oracle, why should the Elves not consult it in the proper fashion? Or do you have questions you do not wish the Elves to hear?"

SHALLA: (Angry) "My questions are my own! How do I know the Elves shall not hide the Oracle's true answer from me?"

HATRESH: Long El'Noran sought to dissuade Trogalla from this path, but the Dwarves are as firm as the stone they hew. Once their mind is set, there is no altering it.

COLDASH: "If you must consult the Oracle for yourself, then do it. But I shall have no part in this. Go at your own peril. Friends we may be, I shall not break this law with thee."

SHALLA: "Then I shall go alone."

HATRESH: The chief seat of the Elves, from the beginning to now, is the Silver Wood, a place fairer than all others in the mortal world. There Trogalla found the Oracle of Wisdom in its place of honor. It lay unguarded, for none yet suspected treachery. The Oracle's beauty was great, far greater than any Dwarven craft, for it shone from within with the Light of Liam. Greed awoke within Trogalla and he coveted it.

SHALLA: "For why should it not be time for another race to be Keepers of the Oracle?"

HATRESH: (Loud and bold) "Because the will of Liam the Light is against it!" (Silence)

COLDASH: A hushed silence fell over all the world, for all knew that a sacred law had been broken. Volan felt that as the Oracle's voice reached him from afar. (Angry, COLDASH rushes into the Oracle Chamber.) "Who dares consult the Oracle without due right?" (He sees SHALLA.) "Speak, Dwarf, first of your kind, why have you done this deed?"

SHALLA: "I desired no more than to speak to the Oracle with my own voice."

COLDASH: "Any answers you sought the Elves would have divined for thee. Why then do you break Liam's will?"

SHALLA: Trogalla gazed deep into the Oracle, and was consumed with desire for the wondrous object before him. "It is mine, I shall keep it!" (SHALLA stands between COLDASH and the Oracle, brandishing the blade.)

COLDASH: "The Oracle belongs to all, though it is the part of the Elves to be its guardian. Depart from this place in peace and you shall be forgiven."

SHALLA: A cold and evil light came into Trogalla's eyes as Volan spoke, and in that moment he knew the purpose of the blade he had wrought. (SHALLA stabs COLDASH.)

COLDASH: "Cursèd be you, Trogalla, for you have forever slain the peace between our peoples! You have shed the first innocent blood, and may Liam deal justly with you!" So Volan died, struck deep by Trogalla's blade.

HATRESH: "The peace of my new world has been shattered! With this act the five races of Light shall be sundered, and with them my Oracle!" (HATRESH breaks the Oracle into five pieces.) "Five pieces for five races it shall be. Take one, Trogalla, in payment of thy deed."

COLDASH: Trogalla obeyed, but the object of his desire had now become his bane. (SHALLA picks up one piece of the Oracle, but the touch is painful.)

HATRESH: "It shall always cause you pain, and no rest shall you find until it is at last taken from you. For one day it shall be reclaimed, and the Oracle shall be whole again."

SHALLA: "Curses to you all! A curse upon all the races of this unnamed world!"

COLDASH: With those words Trogalla departed. He passed out of the memory of living things and into legend. (COLDASH becomes El'Noran.)

HATRESH: (To COLDASH) "You had no part in this, El'Noran, but you knew Trogalla's mind and said nothing."

COLDASH: "Forgive me, Liam, for my silence."

HATRESH: "There shall oft be mistrust between Men and Elves, but since you have repented, Men and Elves shall oft call each other friend. But not so the Elves and Dwarves! They have been deeply sundered this day, and that rift shall be deep."

SHALLA: Volan was buried in the middle of the Silver Wood and upon that spot grew the most beautiful tree mortal eyes shall ever behold. Reaching towards the stars above, it shines day and night with a silver light.

HATRESH: "There it shall stand until this world comes to an end. Though many may forsake my Light, this reminder shall always remain."

SHALLA: But more was to grow from Volan's death than the Great Elven Tree.

HATRESH: "The darkness in Trogalla's heart shall now take a mortal form and walk upon the earth." (HATRESH creates a Dragon from SHALLA.) "Envy and Greed shall have a face, and it shall be called Dragon!"

COLDASH: So was born Grinishra, first of all Dragons. With twisted, hoarding hearts they would desire the destruction of all things fair and good.

SHALLA: All mortal races the Dragons loath and despise, but most of all the Dwarven race that gave them birth.

HATRESH: "Begin your hoard, Grinishra, with the cause of your beginning." (SHALLA takes one piece of the Oracle.)

SHALLA: Grinishra took one piece of the Oracle to her lair high in the Western Mountains while the rest were scattered and lost.

HATRESH: The five mortal races, broken, went each to their own regions, living apart. "But still I shall not forsake them utterly." (HATRESH creates a Changeling from SHALLA.) "The Changelings Immortal I place into the world as Guardians." (To SHALLA) "Watch over them well, for thou art my eyes and ears in this world."

SHALLA: "We shall, and may there be many merry games ahead!"

HATRESH: "There shall be, but not for some time to come. Five races of Light I made, but through this world's fall they are now matched by races of Darkness."

COLDASH: Liam the Light grieved for the world he had made, as Darkness settled upon it, but had it not in his heart to bring the world to an early end.

SHALLA: So began the World Unnamed. (The PLAYERS take a bow.) Lords and Ladies, welcome! We are the Players of Liam and wish to tell you the great tale of the Oracle of Wisdom. Years ago it was broken and lost, and Darkness awoke into the world.

COLDASH: Yet hope remained, for Liam the Light himself decreed that one day the Oracle would be made whole again.

HATRESH: We have come here today to share the tale of that Quest.

SHALLA: And though we are but humble Players, we ask that you allow your imaginations to soar and your eyes to see beyond the narrow confines of this stage. Shalla by name am I, and these my companions are Hatresh and Coldash.

HATRESH: We have traveled far to recount this tale and pray it shall not fall unwelcome on your ears.

COLDASH: In the Dark Times that followed the First Days of the world, the story of the Oracle was remembered throughout the land, most of all by the Elves who are great lovers of lore. Still, it was many years before any thought to look for the Oracle, then long since sundered.

SHALLA: As the years passed, Grinishra the Dragon grew in strength as she learned to bend the Oracle piece to her twisted purposes. Its power was still great, if much diminished from the whole. (COLDASH becomes OUWAY, a Gryphon.)

COLDASH: And so it was in these days of war that Ouway, a young Gryphon, learned of the Oracle and desired to reclaim the piece from Grinishra. "For it is not right that a tool of such Light should be wielded by so wicked a creature!" (SHALLA becomes an older Gryphon.) "Somehow, it must be taken from her!"

SHALLA: "You are young and rash at heart, Ouway, but brave. Still, how shall one young Gryphon do what the many cannot? Grinishra is strong, dark and cunning. How dost thou hope to defeat her?"

COLDASH: "I do not know, but does that mean I should not try?"

SHALLA: "You are impetuous, but you do not lack courage. Go, and take this wisdom with you: Do not seek to overcome Grinishra with might, and do not spurn whatever aid may come to you."

COLDASH: "I shall remember your words." (HATRESH becomes RHIHANSA, a Great Cat.)

HATRESH: Ouway's journey brought him through the territory of the Great Cats, and it was there he met Rhihansa. "What brings you here, Stranger? The Feline realm is no place for a Half-Cat such as yourself."

COLDASH: "Noble Feline, I am on a journey of great importance and therefore ask that this infringement be forgiven. I shall soon pass through your territory and will cause no trouble to your people."

HATRESH: "What great errand could bring you this way? The direction you travel leads to nowhere but the desolate realm of the Dragons. What purpose could you have there?"

COLDASH: "One of my own concern, and no business of thine."

HATRESH: "If it transpires in the Feline realm, it is always our business. How can I be sure your intentions bear us no malice? Our races have often been at war, and I fear you shall find no haven for your people within our boundaries. If you desire safe passage, then be so kind as to state your purpose."

COLDASH: "Very well, but believe what I shall tell you, for I intend no deceit."

SHALLA: So Ouway told Rhihansa of the tale of the Oracle and his mission to regain the piece from Grinishra.

HATRESH: "I have often heard that tale, but am amazed that you mean to confront Grinishra! Let it never be said that the Gryphons lack in bravery!" (HATRESH bows to COLDASH.) "Noble Half-Cat, I am Rhihansa of Clan Moraine." (COLDASH bows in return.)

COLDASH: "Ouway of Clan Windrider. Is passage granted?"

HATRESH: (Sternly) "Free passage, no. Your courage I admire, but even that may be found in the dark realms to which you are bound. Yet your errand is one I would not wish to hinder." (HATRESH thinks.) "And so I shall not, for I shall journey with you. Two shall better stand against Grinishra than one, though even that is a number far too small. Let it not be said that Gryphon courage outshines that of the Feline Folk!" Mistrust ran between them both...

COLDASH: ...but Ouway remembered the words of his elder. "'Do not spurn whatever aid may come to you.' So be it then, and may this alliance prove a fruitful one." Thus Gryphon and Cat together came to Grinishra's mountain lair and found her sunning herself before its great mouth. (SHALLA becomes GRINISHRA.)

HATRESH: Rhihansa agreed that the elder Gryphon's first words were also wise, and counseled that their tactics be based on cunning and stealth rather than brute strength. So when they arrived before the Dragon, Rhihansa marched boldly before her and bowed, saying, "Greetings to thee, O mightiest of creatures! Great are many, but none inspire more awe than Grinishra, Queen of Dragons!" (Before the Dragon HATRESH is calm and still, while COLDASH is more nervous and moves about.)

SHALLA: His words pleased Grinishra greatly, for the one thing Dragons love almost as much as gold is flattery. "Welcome, Noble Flatterers, to my great realm. It has been long indeed since Cat or Gryphon came willingly to my door, but those who came, I enjoyed." (With evil relish) "What brings such lesser creatures into my presence?"

COLDASH: "Many are the tales told of the great Grinishra, but none do justice to the sight I see before me! I have seen Dragons a plenty throughout these mountains, but none can compare with thee!"

SHALLA: "Your skill in words is much to be admired, little wanderers, but such worthy praise can quickly become tiresome. Still, I am not too ravenous, as of yet, so speak on. What tales have you been told concerning me?"

COLDASH: "How countless times you have laid waste the armies of our two peoples."

SHALLA: "It was not difficult. You are small."

HATRESH: "And we have heard how your great hoard fills every corner of the mountain caves, no greater treasure shall any find elsewhere in the world!"

SHALLA: "That is truly said."

COLDASH: "And your speed, I am told, rivals the very winds themselves!"

HATRESH: "So they say, and to see you is to believe all these tales and more!"

SHALLA: "You are either the bravest of your kinds to come to my door, or the most foolish. But whatever you may be, you have my attention. Now, what have you come here for? Speak the truth, lest you die painfully."

HATRESH: "Great and Magnificent Grinishra, I can see that nothing is hidden from your thoughts. It is true that more than just the tales of your splendor have brought us hither."

SHALLA: "I thought as much."

HATRESH: "And you were not wrong, as I am sure you never are."

SHALLA: (Suddenly suspicious) "If the tales of my hoard have lured you here, then know that none who enter my lair unbidden ever come out again."

COLDASH: "We would not dream of crossing your threshold uninvited, O Great Grinishra, nor would we dare to even look upon your horde without permission."

SHALLA: "Which you shall not get."

COLDASH: "Of course not, esteemed Queen of Dragons, but if we did I am sure that a truly glorious sight would await us."

SHALLA: "Then for what reason are you here? Speak plainly, your flattering words grow more irksome."

HATRESH: "We seek but a simple favor from thee."

SHALLA: "What sort of favor? And shall it be to my benefit or yours?"

COLDASH: "I seek the honor of challenging the mighty Grinishra to a race!" (SHALLA laughs.)

SHALLA: "A race? Against me? Surely this must be a pathetic jest! Have you not yourself said that I fly faster than the very winds?"

COLDASH: "I am certain that I have no hope for victory in such a race, but to race Grinishra and lose would itself be a great honor."

HATRESH: "And then we could witness your tremendous speed with our own eyes and spread the tale far and wide!"

SHALLA: (To HATRESH) "And what purpose brings you here, Wingless One?"

HATRESH: "Every race must have its judge, O Mighty Queen of Dragons, and as such do I humbly render my services." (He bows.) "We Cats are many things, but most of all fair and equitable."

SHALLA: "Cats are many things indeed, most of all sly and cunning."

HATRESH: "But even we cannot hope to match the Dragons in such qualities."

SHALLA: (Darkly) "Meaning what?"

HATRESH: "Merely that the Cats are but poor creatures when compared to the Dragons, Your Greatness."

SHALLA: "And let that not be forgotten. I have had little amusement as of late, and such a race would perhaps provide some. However, I find myself doubting that your motives are so benign. Are you not rather here to spy out my lair? Or perhaps to distract me while some great army invades my realm?"

COLDASH: "If such were our goals, I am certain that you would have seen through the thin veil of our treachery the moment we arrived, so great is your unwavering genius." (Suddenly doubtful) "Unless the tales told of you are but exaggeration."

SHALLA: (Angry) "They are no such thing! Rather what you have heard is a mere shadow of the truth! I could smite you in a moment were it my wish, and your entire realm could I circle in two heartbeats!"

HATRESH: "Such a feat we would love to witness!"

COLDASH: "We would not wish to bring back a poor account of your supposed glory."

SHALLA: (Still angry) "Supposed glory indeed! Very well! I see the doubt in your eyes, and it is plain that is why you are here. You do not believe the tales told of me!"

HATRESH: "It does seem unlikely that any creature could be that great and magnificent."

SHALLA: "Disbelieving Vermin! Behold now the greatest in all the world! You shall have your race, Gryphon, to the northern border of the mountains and back. And after I defeat you I shall have my dinner!" With that Grinishra tore into the sky followed by Ouway.

HATRESH: Rhihansa watched as the two contestants sped north, Grinishra pulling further ahead with each passing moment. Rhihansa remained motionless until he was certain that Grinishra was too far away to spot him even with her sharp Dragon eyes. Once Grinishra was far out of sight, Rhihansa crept softly into her lair with no more sound than a passing shadow. Though Grinishra's horde was large, Rhihansa soon found the object of his Quest. The Oracle piece was the prize of Grinishra's horde and sat on a gold pedestal in a place of honor. Rhihansa took the piece and exited as quickly and quietly as he had come. All that remained now was to get as far away from the cave as possible before Grinishra returned.

COLDASH: The tales told of Grinishra's speed were no mere fables, and it was not long before Ouway also lost sight of the Dragon. Once he did, he abandoned the race and, like Rhihansa, traveled as far from Grinishra's lair as he could.

SHALLA: When Grinishra finished the race, she returned to her cave and was disturbed to see no sign of Rhihansa. "Where has that sneaking Feline gone to? If he has dared to cross the threshold of my lair I shall eat him alive. That race has made me very hungry indeed." With growing suspicion, Grinishra entered her lair and at once knew something was wrong. Even the Dragon with the greatest horde knows when the smallest treasure is missing. And then she saw it, the empty pedestal, and suddenly the entire scheme was clear. (SHALLA roars with fury.) "A plague upon the Cats and Gryphons! You shall regret this transgression, I shall make your races pay for this with blood!"

HATRESH: For days the mountains echoed with the roars of Grinishra and the night skies were bright with her flames. In time her rage subsided, but it was not forgotten. She was the oldest of all living beings, save Trogalla, and would live long still.

COLDASH: So she returned to her lair and began to plot her revenge.

HATRESH: As for Rhihansa and Ouway, they returned home in honor, for a great victory had been won! (SHALLA becomes the elder Gryphon.)

SHALLA: "Grinishra's power shall be severely diminished without the Oracle piece. It shall be long before she troubles us again. You have done well, Ouway." (To HATRESH) "As have thee, Rhihansa of the Feline Folk. Our two races owe you each a great debt. The great Quest to rebuild the Oracle has begun."

COLDASH: "More than that begins today, for this shall signal a new friendship between our peoples. As Rhihansa and I discovered this day, there is much we have to offer each other."

SHALLA: The Oracle had been meant from the beginning to bring peace, and that day it began to do so again.

HATRESH: In time, Rhihansa and Ouway became the leaders of their kinds and the friendship between them grew. Today their alliance is so deep that by many they are accounted one people. "But now that we have obtained one piece of the Oracle, what shall be done with it?"

COLDASH: "In days gone by, it was the duty of the Elves to guard the Oracle. It would be only right to return the Oracle piece to them."

SHALLA: So Ouway flew to the Silver Wood and there presented the piece of the Oracle to Laones, the High Elf. (HATRESH becomes LAONES. COLDASH kneels to HATRESH and presents the piece of the Oracle to him.)

COLDASH: "Years ago this was taken from the Elves. Together Cat and Gryphon have reclaimed it from the claws of Grinishra, and now we present it to thee."

HATRESH: "The tale of your bravery has reached our ears, and I commend you for it. I willingly receive the gift you bring me, and pray that it shall not be the last of such gifts to come to me. Return now to your people and continue to guide them in the ways of Liam the Light."

COLDASH: "I shall, and may our friendship with the Elves be rekindled this day!"

SHALLA: Ouway returned to his home in the mountains while Laones pondered how the rest of the Oracle was to be found.

HATRESH: "Such is a task beyond my wisdom, but not Liam's."

SHALLA: The piece of the Oracle, long used by Grinishra for feats of Darkness, was thus turned by Laones to a work of the Light. (HATRESH crafts a black, cube shaped stone.) Crafted by an art now lost, Laones made the Questing Stone. Upon its smooth surface Laones set these runes:

HATRESH: "He who in great adventure partakes,
Ask and I shall an answer make,
To guide you to the path of Right,
If your Quest be done for none but Light."

COLDASH: A piece of the Oracle's wisdom Laones placed into the Stone, with the hope that it would reveal where the remainder of the Oracle lay. Many came to question the Stone about the Quests before them, but on the subject of the Oracle it remained strangely silent.

SHALLA: Until one day a young Elven Ranger named Maloway came to consult the Stone. She had no knowledge of what Quest lay before her, and so knelt before the Stone and merely asked, "To what place does Liam send me?" (HATRESH speaks as Liam the Light.)

HATRESH: "East and south a war doth brew,
On the plains 'tween races two.
Go there and behold their prize,
Wisdom just beyond their eyes."
So spoke the Questing Stone.

SHALLA: The plains of which the Stone spoke were undoubtedly the vast plains to the southeast upon which dwelt mainly the race of Men.

COLDASH: But north of the plains, in the mountains, dwelt the Dwarves, and oft the two kinds warred over the vast wealth of precious stones and metals in the foothills.

SHALLA: Long had it been since any Elf of the Silver Wood had traversed the Western Mountains, and thus it was a strange country Maloway entered. She continued southeast for several days, earning strange looks as she passed through the towns of Men. Most she met had never before beheld any kind besides their own, or the occasional Dwarf. (HATRESH becomes a Human.)

HATRESH: "What brings you to this land, Stranger? For if I do not mistake you are of the Elven-kind."

SHALLA: "I come from the Silver Wood, chief haven of the Elves. As for my Quest, I follow the rumors of war."

HATRESH: "Continue in this direction and you shall find it. But why does war between Men and Dwarves interest you? The Dwarves are great enemies to the Elves, it is said, do you come in the aid of Men?"

SHALLA: "I am not here to take sides in your battles." (HATRESH regards SHALLA carefully, attempting to discern how much to say.)

HATRESH: "Follow the East road towards the sea. The sound of swords will guide your way. But I would not tarry here, your race is not much trusted in these parts."

SHALLA: Maloway thanked the man and continued east. True to his word, she heard the sounds of war ere long. (COLDASH becomes THRENGAL, the Dwarven King, and HATRESH becomes another Dwarf.)

COLDASH: The Dwarven King saw Maloway first as she approached the battlefield. He could tell this was not one of his human enemies, so he bade his archers to hold their strings. (To HATRESH, pointing towards SHALLA.) "Bring the Stranger to me. I desire to know why she has entered the realm of war." (HATRESH crosses to SHALLA.)

HATRESH: "Halt, Stranger, and declare your business! These are the fields of war, and the domain of Threngal, King of the Northern Dwarves."

SHALLA: "I am Maloway, of the Elven-folk."

HATRESH: "An Elf? That bodes not well, I fear. Do you come in friendship or in war?"

SHALLA: "Truly I declare to you, I am not your enemy."

HATRESH: "That remains to be seen. Come, our King commands that you be brought before him." (HATRESH brings SHALLA to COLDASH.) "Here is the Stranger, sire." (To SHALLA) "Our King, Threngal son of Thome." (SHALLA kneels to COLDASH.)

SHALLA: "I greet you, Threngal King. I am Maloway, of the Silver Wood."

COLDASH: "That is a great distance from here. What errand bears you so far from your land? Do you come to aid our Human enemies?"

SHALLA: "I come neither as your enemy, nor as enemy to the race of Men. My errand remains hidden even to my eyes. I was told only to seek a place where two races fought upon the plains."

COLDASH: "Who gave you these instructions?"

SHALLA: "They came from the Questing Stone, made from one piece of the Oracle of Wisdom."

HATRESH: Long did Threngal regard the Elf in silence, attempting to discern if the full truth had been told to him.

COLDASH: "There is little trust or friendship between our kinds, if any at all, but still I perceive you speak truthfully to me. Though you may not be a friend, I deem you are no enemy. But there is one matter I must ask more of. Have the Elves truly found one piece of the lost Oracle?"

SHALLA: "The piece once hoarded by the Dragon Grinishra has been reclaimed by the Great Cats and Gryphons. They have given it to our keeping."

COLDASH: "Then know this: The Men we fight unearthed one of the Oracle pieces within the bounds of my realm. The story of the Oracle is remembered still by the Dwarves, if rarely told. We know it to be an object of great power and will not suffer the Men to keep what is rightfully ours."

SHALLA: With those words Maloway understood towards what end she had been sent to this place.

HATRESH: "What is to be done with the Stranger, sire? She has seen our camp. If we release her, she may betray us to our enemies."

COLDASH: "Long have our peoples been estranged, but today I offer you the chance to become a friend of Dwarves. We are a people greatly skilled in crafts, as you surely know. Were you to help us retrieve our piece of the Oracle, you would be richly rewarded. What say you to this?"

SHALLA: "I shall do all in my power, Threngal King, to restore the Oracle piece to its rightful guardians."

COLDASH: "Then it is agreed. Go to the Human camp and learn what you can. They will not suspect that you are in league with us, due to the deep mistrust between our peoples. Return and tell us of their camp and where they keep the Oracle shard."

SHALLA: "I go as you command." Taking her leave of the Dwarven King, Maloway crossed the battlefield, considering what to say to the leader of Men. (HATRESH becomes ARDALE, leader of Men.)

HATRESH: "Halt, Stranger, and tell me who you are. For if I do not mistake, you come from the direction of our Dwarven enemies."

SHALLA: "I am Maloway, of the Elves, and from the camp of the Dwarves I bring news of planned treachery."

HATRESH: "I am Lord Ardale, Chief of Men. You may tell me your news."

SHALLA: So Maloway told how the Dwarves had promised her great wealth if she were to help them seize the piece of the Oracle from the Humans. "I promised only to restore the piece to its rightful guardians, but I did not say that was the Dwarves. When Threngal finds I have deceived him, I do not doubt he shall look for other ways of stealing the Oracle piece from you."

HATRESH: "Do you offer us your aid?"

SHALLA: "I would gladly protect the piece of the Oracle for you, if you wish it. I promise that no Dwarf shall lay hold of it."

HATRESH: "Dwarves and Elves have been enemies since the beginning. If you are their enemy, then I shall count you as friend. You will find the Oracle piece in that tent. Elves need little sleep, or so I am told. Keep watch through the night."

SHALLA: "I will do as you bid, Lord Ardale." (SHALLA goes to the tent and night comes. HATRESH and COLDASH, as Humans, sleep.) When night came, the humans all slept soundly, save for the few watchmen posted throughout the camp. When all was quiet, Maloway took the piece of the Oracle and silently left the camp. "If they have no prize to gain, perhaps neither side shall fight. The Oracle piece I shall bring back to the Silver Wood, where it rightfully belongs."

COLDASH: Maloway spent the night nearby, and waited to see what the dawn would bring. But her flight from the human camp did not go as unnoticed as she had hoped. (COLDASH wakes HATRESH.) "Lord Ardale, the Elf has fled the camp!"

HATRESH: "What of the Oracle piece?"

COLDASH: "She has taken that as well!"

HATRESH: "Treachery! This was her plan all along, no doubt. It seems she is in league with the Dwarves after all, and now they have our prize. Sleep, my friend, there is nothing to be done now. But come the morn the Dwarves shall pay dearly for this."

COLDASH: Come dawn, great messages of war traveled between the camps of Dwarves and Men as they prepared for battle. Each side believed the other had used Maloway for their own ends.

SHALLA: "In the name of Liam, what have I begun? My deceit has not taken away their reason to fight, rather it has strengthened their resolve! I thought only to bring a peace between them, yet my only achievement thus far has been to further the cause of war. What shall I do now? To return home is no victory. The piece of the Oracle I bear carries a great stain. For all the differences between Elves and Dwarves, I have followed in the footsteps of Trogalla. Even with no prize to be won these two armies shall fight to the death, and only in that death shall they see how empty it was. To return what I have taken, nay stolen, likewise shall avail no one. Whoever I returned it to, still would the war go on. Alas that I ever came upon this Quest! Whatever I sought, I have found only futility and despair. Two roads from which to choose, yet I have nowhere left to go. Each is filled with blood." (HATRESH has become LIAM, but remains silent and motionless. To HATRESH.) "For what purpose did you send me here? I can no more change what is to come than one grain of sand can halt the coming of the sea! They will fight, and I can do nothing." (Silence) "Then let them fight. Let them come and find me here." (SHALLA sits in the center of the stage with the Oracle piece.) "Let either side slay me as chance will have it. It makes no difference any more. At least they shall have a prize to win. I deserve the death that waits before me."

HATRESH: (Unheard by SHALLA) "You came to do nothing." (Silence. HATRESH becomes ARDALE and COLDASH becomes THRENGAL. They approach SHALLA and see the Oracle piece. Pause.)

COLDASH: "That is ours. It was found in our land."

HATRESH: "But found by us."

COLDASH: "That makes you little more than thieves. It is our property. Return it."

HATRESH: "You shall have it only over my spilled blood."

SHALLA: "And neither of you shall have it save by mine."

HATRESH: "You have proven yourself to be no more than a thief and a traitor. But I shall give you this chance to yield up the Oracle piece and be gone."

SHALLA: "I would rather die here with it. My only thought was to prevent war, but instead I have spurred it along. Fight, and let he who is most noble claim the prize I have unrightfully stolen. Whatever claim you each have, I have none. May the peace that follows this battle be a lasting one." (HATRESH is astonished by SHALLA's reply.)

HATRESH: "What nobility is this! Gladly would we kill for this treasure, Threngal, but here is one who would die for it! Such is a sentiment truly worthy of he by whose hand the Oracle was made." (HATRESH kneels and offers his sword to SHALLA.) "I and all Men under me surrender this battle to thee, Maloway of the Silver Wood. The Oracle piece, King of Dwarves, is thine."

COLDASH: "This Elf has betrayed us both, shall you forget that so easily?"

SHALLA: "For my deceit I ask forgiveness."

COLDASH: "Were you one of my subjects you would be condemned to death for such a crime."

SHALLA: "And that punishment I accept." (COLDASH draws his sword.)

HATRESH: "Must we have more blood, Threngal? Let Men and Dwarves be friends again."

COLDASH: "Men and Dwarves, but she is neither."

HATRESH: "Then as we are friends, spare her life." (Pause)

COLDASH: (Grudgingly) "The war ends. Not through your deceit, Maloway, but through your courage. You would willingly give me your life, and in return I yield the Oracle piece to thee. Use it well, and do not forget the mercy shown this day."

SHALLA: "I shall remember." (SHALLA kneels to COLDASH.) "I thank thee, Threngal King."

COLDASH: "Return home to your people, Maloway. Greet them from us."

HATRESH: So the Dwarves and Men became allies again, and together they fought off many of the evil creatures of the Northern plains and Mountains.

SHALLA: Maloway returned to the Silver Wood where the second piece of the Oracle was joined with the first. "And may the last three pieces soon follow." However, when questioned about the Oracle, the Questing Stone would say no more. (HATRESH becomes LAONES, the High Elf.)

HATRESH: "The Stone was made from but a piece of the Oracle, even it cannot tell all. We must but wait, for the pieces shall be found when least expected."

SHALLA: Laones spoke more rightly than he knew, for at that moment, far away, a discovery was made. Deep underneath the Southern mountains in the underground land of the Drahk, the Dark Dwarves, another piece of the Oracle was found. (HATRESH becomes JORVAY, King of the Drahk.)

COLDASH: The Drahk are the twisted descendants of Trogalla, though long since has Trogalla passed out of even their memory. Like the Dragons, the Drahk are hoarders and great lovers of gold and jewels.

HATRESH: Jorvay, King of the Drahk, cared not for the Oracle's purpose. The only thought in his mind was its magnificent beauty. "This shall be the Drahk's greatest treasure, and we shall keep it forever."

COLDASH: Jorvay kept the piece of the Oracle hidden deep within the mountain caverns, in a place he alone knew. There he went in secret to gaze upon its radiance, telling no one of his treasure. (SHALLA becomes GRINISHRA.)

SHALLA: But few things are secret from the Great Dragon Grinishra. How, the tales do not tell, but Grinishra learned of Jorvay's treasure. Long had she searched for another piece of the Oracle, brooding over the piece once stolen from her. So Grinishra sent a summons to Jorvay, ordering the Drahk to come before her.

COLDASH: Jorvay quaked with fear, for this above all things he dreaded. The Drahk owed Grinishra a tribute from the best of their wealth, and Jorvay feared Grinishra would demand the Oracle piece.

HATRESH: He thus resolved to say nothing of it. "It is mine, mine forever. I found it, and not even that dreadful Worm shall wrest it from me."

SHALLA: The journey to Grinishra's realm in the north was a long and dangerous one, especially for the Drahk. The Great Cats made their homes in the mountain caves and were careful to block up any Drahkan tunnels they found. Any Drahk they found they showed no mercy, but Jorvay dared not refuse Grinishra's summons.

COLDASH: For Jorvay it was all too soon that he stood within Grinishra's terrible lair before the greatest Dragon in all the world.

SHALLA: "Welcome Jorvay, King of Drahk. Your tribute is due."

HATRESH: "Great and Glorious Grinishra! Forever shall the knees of the Drahk bow to your splendor! In token of our esteem for your greatness, I present this offering to thee." (HATRESH presents SHALLA with a chest of gold and jewels.)

SHALLA: "Your esteem is pathetic indeed if this is the best you have to offer me."

HATRESH: "But Magnificent Grinishra..."

SHALLA: "I desire my revenge, not your pitiful tokens of favor. But there is something you have which does interest me."

HATRESH: "Anything you ask, it shall be yours."

SHALLA: "The Oracle of Wisdom."

HATRESH: "I have never heard of such a thing."

SHALLA: "Do not lie to me, you know of what I speak. You have found a piece of the Oracle. Come now, tell Grinishra the truth."

HATRESH: "I found it, it is mine."

SHALLA: "Yours? Do you refuse me?"

HATRESH: "No. Please, let me keep it, all other treasure I have I give to you!"

SHALLA: "You have no other treasures I desire. But I am in a merciful mood. I shall make you a bargain."

HATRESH: "Oh thank you, Great and Generous Grinishra! All my kingdom would I give to keep this wondrous thing I have found."

SHALLA: "You do not even understand what you have found. But I shall let you keep it if you do what I ask."

HATRESH: "Anything!"

SHALLA: "The Cats and Gryphons stole another of these things from me, and ever since I have waited for my revenge. We Dragons would attack were it not for the alliance the Cats and Gryphons have with the Elves of the Silver Wood. Their arrows can pierce even a Dragon's skin."

HATRESH: "But surely not yours, Unstoppable Grinishra."

SHALLA: "Silence, Fool, and listen. This is what you will do: You and your people will tunnel under the Silver Wood and invade. When the Cats and Gryphons go to aid their Elven friends, the Dragons shall descend upon them all. Then my revenge shall be complete, and I alone will rule the Western Mountains."

HATRESH: "And I can keep my treasure?" (SHALLA nods.) "It will take many months to dig that far. Years, perhaps."

SHALLA: "If I must, I shall wait a thousand years. All that matters is that you are not discovered before you are finished. You know what will happen if you fail me."

HATRESH: "Of course, Mighty Grinishra."

SHALLA: "Then begin your work."

HATRESH: "At once, O Kind and Merciful Grinishra!" Jorvay departed gladly, believing his treasure to be safe.

SHALLA: "Pathetic creature. Keep your treasure for now. When my enemies are defeated I shall have their pieces of the Oracle, and yours as well."

HATRESH: King Jorvay returned to his realm and the Drahk began their long labor. Our story now turns to a Human Warrior named Reshal. He lived on the Southern Plains, far to the east of Jorvay's kingdom. For some time the Men of that region had been plagued by the Dark Centaurs of the South. Thrice had they set fire to Reshal's town, and it was all the Humans could do to prevent the Centaurs from destroying it utterly. (COLDASH becomes RESHAL.)

COLDASH: "Our town is small, and our numbers far too few to hold the Centaurs off forever. A greater power than us is needed." (SHALLA becomes an old Human.)

SHALLA: "If you seek a greater power, Reshal, then seek part of the Oracle of Wisdom. It came from the hand of Liam the Light in the very beginning. But, alas, none know where it is to be found. It was broken and lost long ago."

COLDASH: "Be it lost for a thousand years, I will seek it still if it can bring us peace."

SHALLA: "Then take whatever adventure Liam sends to you. Fare thee well, Reshal, and remember the Elves."

HATRESH: So Reshal set forth in the hope that his path would reveal itself.

COLDASH: "After all, it could be anywhere, and so wherever I go there must be a chance I shall find it." (SHALLA becomes HAKOOP, the Changeling.)

SHALLA: "That all depends on what you are looking for." (COLDASH looks around, but SHALLA stays out of sight.)

COLDASH: "Who is there?"

SHALLA: "That all depends on who is asking." (COLDASH draws his sword.)

COLDASH: "Be you friend or foe, show yourself!"

SHALLA: "And make myself easier for you to attack?"

COLDASH: "At least say if you are a friend."

SHALLA: "I am, if you look for one."

COLDASH: "I do. Will you show yourself or no?"

SHALLA: "I shall, and you do not yet realize what a gift that is." (SHALLA shows herself to COLDASH.) "I am Hakoop, of the Changelings." (She bows to COLDASH.)

HATRESH: Stories are told through all lands of the strange beings known as Changelings, but few mortal eyes have ever beheld their kind. It is said they are beings of magic as immortal as the mountains and as unpredictable as the seas.

COLDASH: "If the tales men tell be true, then I say you are both friend and foe. I know not if I should rejoice at this meeting."

SHALLA: "You should! For more shall come from this than you yet know! I know what it is you seek, Reshal of Men."

COLDASH: "You seem to know much about me."

SHALLA: "But of course! You will find little that the Changelings do not know. I have been the whole world over a hundred times and more."

COLDASH: "Then you are swift of foot indeed!"

SHALLA: "I ride the four winds and what they hear I know. You seek a piece of the Oracle of Wisdom, and you are not the only one. Many have sought it, some for good, but most for evil."

COLDASH: "Can you tell me where it is to be found?"

SHALLA: "I have a more important question: Why do you seek it?"

COLDASH: "To protect my people."

SHALLA: "Ah yes, from the Dark Centaurs of the South. Foul creatures they are, the worst of men and worst of beasts together. Still, it is a high prize for which you strive."

COLDASH: "I shall undertake whatever Quest I must for my people."

SHALLA: "A noble sentiment indeed, but Quests can be so long and tedious. I have something much better in mind, a game!"

COLDASH: "A game? I would have thought this a matter far too serious for games."

SHALLA: "I do not mean games as you would think of them. Those are mere entertainment and frivolity. A Changeling game is for real, and much depends on whether you win or lose. But first we shall need another player." (SHALLA claps her hands twice.) "Yevrah!" (HATRESH becomes YEVRAH, another Changeling.)

HATRESH: "Here, Hakoop! What merriment shall we make today?"

SHALLA: "This Human seeks a piece of the Oracle."

HATRESH: (With understanding) "Ah, we play that game at last, do we? I have been waiting for it." (HATRESH examines COLDASH.) "This is the mortal? I would not have picked this one, but then you are a better judge of their kind than I."

SHALLA: "He shall do."

HATRESH: "Ah, but shall he win? That is the true question."

COLDASH: "The sooner we begin, the sooner you shall find that out."

SHALLA: "Then let us begin! This is no test of strength, so your sword will do you nothing."

HATRESH: "Rather it is a test of wits."

COLDASH: "Tell me the rules."

SHALLA: "We shall each offer you a path towards the Oracle. One in the right..."

HATRESH: "...and one in the wrong."

SHALLA: "You must decide which to take."

COLDASH: "That is all?"

SHALLA: "There is little time for more. But it is enough, I assure you, and not so easy as it might appear."

COLDASH: "Then let me hear the paths you offer."

HATRESH: "The game begins. I offer you the path of Kingship! With a piece of the Oracle you could bring order and peace to your people. You would become the greatest Warrior of Men, destroying the Centaurs utterly. All would fear the sound of thy name."

COLDASH: "Such has been my hope! My people are not weak, but we are few. The Oracle piece would give us the strength we need."

HATRESH: "It would! But there are those who would try and take it from you, some mighty foes indeed."

COLDASH: "We would still stand firm. Peace does not come without a price."

SHALLA: "Wisely said, Reshal, but you cannot always be certain how high that price may be. Or how high you can afford to pay."

COLDASH: "We must either fight the evil or succumb to it. Do you offer me a better choice?"

SHALLA: "That is what you must decide. I offer thee a path of great sacrifice, but with the promise it shall lead to peace, someday."

COLDASH: "Someday can be a long way off indeed."

SHALLA: "More so than you know, for I cannot promise you shall ever see it."

COLDASH: "Tell me what you offer. I will hear both choices, as bitter as this one sounds."

SHALLA: "When we give the Oracle piece into your hands, you must bring it to the Elves of the Silver Wood and entrust it to their wisdom."

COLDASH: "I have heard that it belonged to the Elves in the beginning, but is their need as great as ours? Are they under constant siege by enemies as we are?"

SHALLA: "For the moment, no, but who can say what the future may bring? Your need is great, but the Elves right to the Oracle is far greater."

COLDASH: "And what would I tell my people? That I found a great treasure only to yield it up to others? Why do the Elves not come and find this piece if their claim is so great?"

SHALLA: "They search for it far and wide, but this game is yours, not theirs."

COLDASH: "Then why should they reap the reward?"

HATRESH: "Ah, why indeed? What reward would you gain by undertaking this labor for their sake? The road to the Silver Wood is a perilous one. The piece of the Oracle could belong to you forever."

COLDASH: (Sadly) "That would be the price, wouldn't it? One piece forever separate from the whole. The Darkness kept at bay but never defeated." (To SHALLA) "I shall do as you ask. I fear that however strong one piece of the Oracle would make us, there would always be those who would be the stronger. Better the Oracle be whole, someday."

HATRESH: "You would give up the chance to be a King?"

COLDASH: "I did not come looking for a crown, I came in search of peace. Your path sounds too easy."

HATRESH: "You have chosen well."

SHALLA: "Indeed you have, and we shall make good on our promise." (SHALLA gives COLDASH a piece of the Oracle.) "This we place into your hands. Make good on your promise."

COLDASH: "I shall. If I had made the other choice, what then? Would you still have given this to me?"

SHALLA: "Yes. It was yours to find, whatever path you chose, but you had to understand where each would lead."

HATRESH: "You were right, Hakoop, he shall do well. A great game is ahead, alas that I cannot play a part in it! Fare thee well, Reshal of Men."

COLDASH: "Fare thee well, Yevrah." (HATRESH "vanishes.")

SHALLA: "I too must leave you, but I wish you well on your journey. It shall be a dangerous one, but you shall have my favor with you."

COLDASH: "It is said there are few things more perilous than a Changeling's favor." (SHALLA laughs.)

SHALLA: "And it is well said! But what they do not say is perilous to whom. Fare thee well, and make haste! Great things are afoot."

COLDASH: "Fare thee well, Hakoop, and many thanks."

SHALLA: "To the Silver Wood! Make haste!"

COLDASH: With that Hakoop vanished and Reshal began his long journey to the Elves. But as Reshal passed through the mountains, he was accosted by the Drahk. (SHALLA captures COLDASH.)

SHALLA: For their tunnels were nearing completion and secrecy was more essential than ever. The Drahk brought Reshal before King Jorvay. (HATRESH becomes JORVAY.)

HATRESH: "What brings you into my domain, Human?"

COLDASH: "I do not answer to you."

HATRESH: "Then I shall answer for you. You are here to spy on us! Who sent you? The Elves? Or perhaps the Cats and Gryphons?"

COLDASH: "There is nothing in these dark holes worth the effort of spying on."

HATRESH: "There is more at work here than you realize. Return to your own land, Human, you shall be safer there." (To SHALLA) "Take him to our borders and see that from there he goes east."

SHALLA: "Sire, we found this on the Human." (SHALLA holds up the piece of the Oracle.)

HATRESH: "Give that to me!" (HATRESH snatches the piece greedily.) "You were taking this to the Elves, weren't you?"

COLDASH: "They are the rightful guardians."

HATRESH: "They shall not have this one, nor mine! And soon Grinishra shall seize both pieces held by the Elves."

COLDASH: Reshal realized now that he had stumbled upon some great treachery. "Grinishra is strong, but the Elves are ever watchful. She would not dare attack them openly."

HATRESH: "The Elves watch the sky, but their foes shall come forth from underground. The Cats and Gryphons may come to the aid of their Elven friends, but we and the Dragons shall be ready. With swords from below and fire from above the mountains shall be ours." (To SHALLA) "Imprison the Human. We cannot release him now. Put him where he never again shall see the sun."

SHALLA: So the Drahk imprisoned Reshal in the deepest of their caverns where Jorvay intended for him to remain forever. And there he would have stayed were it not for a friend he had made on his journeys. (SHALLA becomes HAKOOP.) "Of all the places I thought to find you, Reshal, the dungeons of the Drahk are the least expected. And so here I came first."

COLDASH: "Hakoop!"

SHALLA: "None other!" (She bows to COLDASH.) "Now, how on earth did you manage to get yourself here? This is the dungeon Jorvay uses for those who are never going to leave."

HATRESH: Indeed, the dank cell was filled with the skeletons of many other prisoners.

COLDASH: "Jorvay has taken the Oracle piece, and I believe he has found a second."

SHALLA: "Yes, two for him and two for the Elves. The Oracle comes together at last. Soon all four pieces shall be together, but in whose hands they rest depends on which way the coming battle goes. The Dragons and the Drahk have laid their plans well."

COLDASH: "You know of their scheme?"

SHALLA: "Of course! Why do you think I sent you here? Someone must send word to the Elves. We Changelings take little part in the affairs of mortals, but we still have no desire to see the Dragons rule. All they care for is gold and destruction. Come! It is time we left this wretched hole." Hakoop quickly led Reshal out of the Drahkan caverns, neither speaking until they stood at the Northern boundary of Jorvay's kingdom. "Little time remains until the Drahk finish their tunnels. When they do, they shall attack. When the Cats and Gryphons come to aid the Elves, the Dragons shall fall upon them and sweep them all away in a sea of fire. You must bring this news to Laones, High Elf of the Silver Wood, else Grinishra's plot shall succeed."

COLDASH: "Again I thank you for your help, Hakoop."

SHALLA: "Did I not say my favor would be with you? Go quickly now! I have done all I can for thee, more than I have ever done for any of mortal kind."

COLDASH: "Fare thee well, Hakoop, I hope to meet thee again."

SHALLA: "You I shall always remember, Reshal of Men." With those words Hakoop vanished and Reshal made great haste towards the Silver Wood.

COLDASH: He stopped to rest only when he could go no further, not daring to lose even a minute.

HATRESH: Reshal was seen by the Elves at a distance and news was sent to Laones. No Human had come this far west in a great many years, and Laones found himself troubled when the lone traveler was brought before him. "You are tired, Stranger, and have undoubtedly made a long journey. We shall give you food and rest, and then you may tell me your news."

COLDASH: "No! It must be told now, there is no time to be lost."

SHALLA: So Reshal told Laones all that he had heard of the plot between Grinishra and the Drahk.

HATRESH: "Thanks be to Liam the Light for sending you here! But for you, Reshal, this doom would surely have fallen upon us. But now the doom shall fall elsewhere! To arms, Elven-folk, to arms!"

COLDASH: Reshal marveled at how quickly the Elves prepared for war and knew that his message had truly changed the course of things to come.

HATRESH: "Rest now, Reshal, for there will soon be much to do. We have sent word to our friends in the Mountains, the Cats and Gryphons, and they shall be here to help attack the Dragons once Jorvay is defeated."

COLDASH: "I shall be there when you attack."

HATRESH: "Rest, Reshal. You shall have battle enough when we fight the Dragons. The Drahk thought to take us by surprise, but now we Elves shall do the surprising." (SHALLA becomes MALOWAY.)

SHALLA: When the Drahk completed their tunnels, they found, to their great dismay, a vast army of Elves waiting for them. Maloway, now a great chief among the Elves, stood at the fore of the army ready to lead them to victory. (HATRESH becomes JORVAY.)

HATRESH: Jorvay was struck with fear and suddenly he knew that all his plans had come to ruin. In his moment of triumph, Jorvay had not even noticed that his prisoner had escaped.

SHALLA: A moment of silence fell over both armies. It was night and clouds covered the sky. The only light came from the Elven torches.

HATRESH: The Drahk, peering from their dark tunnels, saw the light of the flames as they reflected across the faces of the Elves. To them it seemed as if the eyes of the Elves blazed with fire.

COLDASH: Then, with a great cry, the Elves charged forward, their swords glinting in the torch light, and the Drahk were overcome by fear!

SHALLA: "Forward Elves and strike them down! Today is the death of Volan avenged!" The Elves pursued the Drahk all the way into the heart of their realm, scattering what few they did not slay. King Jorvay thought only of his treasure, but as he brought it from its hiding place he was confronted by Maloway. "You shall go no further, King of Drahk, for not even the treasure you wield can buy your life this day."

HATRESH: "O Mighty Elf! Spare my insignificant life, for I never desired any harm to come to Elven-kind. This was all Grinishra's bidding!"

SHALLA: "You master's end is also near. You hold two pieces of the Oracle. Yield them to me."

HATRESH: "Take them, and my life if you must." (HATRESH gives the two pieces to SHALLA.)

SHALLA: But as she took the pieces of the Oracle, Maloway's heart was filled with pity for the creature before her. "I have now what I came for. Go, and do not ever be seen again in any Elven land."

HATRESH: Jorvay thanked the Elf for her mercy and fled south with what few Drahk remained.

COLDASH: Their tunnels were later blocked up by the Elves, with help from the Great Cats, but for the moment greater concerns lay before the races of Light. Grinishra soon learned that her plans had been laid waste, but she would not allow her revenge to be taken from her. (SHALLA becomes GRINISHRA.)

SHALLA: "Accursèd Elves! Their woods shall burn for this!"

HATRESH: With a mighty roar Grinishra summoned the other Dragons and sped towards the Silver Wood.

COLDASH: The Gryphons were about in great numbers and they quickly sent word to the Elves of the approaching Dragons. A great and terrible battle was fought that day. Gryphons and Dragons battled high in the skies, and all the while the sound of Elven arrows could be heard whistling through the air.

SHALLA: The skies burned bright that night with Dragon flame, and although the Cats and Elves were quick to put out whatever fires the Dragons began, still the Silver Wood did not escape the battle unscathed.

COLDASH: Reshal watched the battle, but saw little he could do against the Dragons of the air. Suddenly, an idea sprang into his mind. Dropping his sword, he picked up a bow and slung a quiver of arrows over one shoulder. He then took one of the Oracle pieces, rushed to the top of a nearby hill and called out to Grinishra. (COLDASH holds up the Oracle piece.) "Here is what you want, Diabolical Worm, come for it!"

SHALLA: Even from high above Grinishra could see the object of her desire shining in the night. She dove towards Reshal at a terrifying speed.

COLDASH: Reshal knew he had only moments, and so quickly took aim. "May Liam the Light guide this arrow, and may one be enough!" Reshal let the arrow fly.

SHALLA: Straight and true the arrow sped towards its target and smote Grinishra upon her great forehead. Even still, one arrow would not have been enough had it not been for the terrible speed at which Grinishra descended upon her prey. Thus from her own greed did Grinishra meet her demise.

COLDASH: Grinishra uttered one final, deafening roar before crashing to the ground to move no more. At that sound the other Dragons knew their Queen had fallen. Vowing their revenge, they took flight and soon were gone.

HATRESH: The Elves, Cats, and Gryphons together gave a great shout of victory! Much rejoicing was there that night in the Silver Wood. "For now the Oracle is all but complete, and it shall be long before the Dragons unite against us again." (A celebration takes place.)

COLDASH: Reshal remained in the Silver Wood for many months, and great friendship grew between him, the Elves, and the two races of the mountains. In time, he returned to his home and became the leader of his people.

SHALLA: Still were they troubled by the Dark Centaurs, but the Elves of the Silver Wood sent word to their cousins in the South who most willingly lent their aid to Reshal's people. The great deed Reshal had done would not be soon forgotten.

HATRESH: The Elves used the Oracle as best they could for the good of all, but still did they lack the final piece. (As Laones) "It rests with Trogalla, First of Dwarves, but whither he has gone none can say."

SHALLA: And neither can we, for I fear this is where our story ends. Much friendship is there between the five races of the world, but still they are not whole.

COLDASH: Far and wide have Adventurers sought Trogalla and the last piece of the Oracle, but no signs of either have they found.

SHALLA: Indeed, many fear that Trogalla has passed beyond the reach of mortal kind and that the piece he bore shall remain forever lost.

HATRESH: So we bid thee to keep watch, and should you perchance hear tidings of the last Oracle piece, send word to the Elves of the Silver Wood.

SHALLA: For this is the purpose of our tale: To share the story of the Oracle with all we meet, and to seek its ending. We thank you, gentle friends, for your audience. May you remember well what we have told you here this day. (The PLAYERS take their bows and the audience applauds. The PLAYERS then begin to gather up their things. E'DEL enters, slowly, dressed in clothes worn from a long journey. She holds one hand to her side, underneath her outer cloak. For a moment she stands and watches.)

E'DEL: Your story has an ending. Let me tell it to you.

SHALLA: You look tired. Please, sit. (SHALLA sits E'DEL down. She is exhausted.)

E'DEL: It has been a long journey, but I have found you at last.

SHALLA: Tell us your tale.

E'DEL: Yes. I come from a great distance. As the years passed from the Beginning, some of the race of Men journeyed ever southward, past the Elven forest of Dreyham to the edge of a great desert. There they settled and have lived ever since, kept company only by the Dark Centaurs of the South. There, as in all places, the story of the Beginning and the Oracle of Wisdom has been passed down. Many years ago, we heard the rumor of a great battle far to the north across the mountains. In time the full story came to us and we knew that four parts of the Oracle were again in the rightful hands of the Elves. But as for the fifth, none knew where it was to be had, save that Liam entrusted it to Trogalla in the beginning. The pieces of the Oracle had often found their way into the mountains, and so it was there that I began my search. It was a long search, but ultimately not a fruitless one. For one day, as I traveled south through the mountains, I found him. (SHALLA becomes TROGALLA and sits alone holding the blade Volankor.) Alone, withered by his countless years, Trogalla sat in a small cave hidden deep in the mountains.

SHALLA: (Half mumbling) "...not fair, I only wanted to ask a question... maybe two... nasty, canotin Elves, gave me all the blame... El'Noran said I could do it, they didn't punish him this way... it hurts, it hurts so... always heavy, can't put it down..."

E'DEL: (Overlapping) So he must have spoken to himself for all these years, weary as he was from his long unceasing burden. The treachery he committed was surely paid in full. There was no evil left in that old, bent figure. Only weariness.

SHALLA: "...and the blood, it burns me... like fire... so tired, but can't sleep... can't rest, can't sleep, not until someone takes it... don't want it anymore... Elves can have it... want to rest, want to sleep... someone take it from me..."

E'DEL: "I will take it from you."

SHALLA: "...yes, want someone to take it... so heavy, but no one comes to take it... no one ever comes to poor Trogalla... not for many years... so long ago..."

E'DEL: "I have come to you. I will take your burden from you." How long it had been since Trogalla had heard any voice other than his own I cannot say. It took some time for him to realize that he was no longer alone.

SHALLA: "Who is there? I hear voices, but no one is ever there. Only Trogalla..."

E'DEL: "I am called E'Del."

SHALLA: "Don't know that name. Don't know anyone anymore, they're all gone... gone and left me... no one left but poor Trogalla, all alone... always alone..."

E'DEL: "What must I do to take your burden from you?"

SHALLA: "Can't clean the blade... covered in blood... the blood burns... have to clean the blade before anyone can take the burden away... I spilled innocent blood... first innocent blood... can't clean the blade without innocent blood..."

E'DEL: "I do not understand."

SHALLA: "I took a life... have to be given one... can't clean it without another life..." (Pause)

E'DEL: "Then do so, and yield your burden up to me."

SHALLA: "You will take it from me? I may rest?"

E'DEL: "Yes." (SHALLA makes eye contact with E'DEL.)

SHALLA: "I am sorry." (SHALLA gives the last piece of the Oracle to E'DEL. SHALLA stabs E'DEL with the blade, where she has been holding her hand to her side. E'DEL cries out.) "So tired, but it's gone now... it's gone and I can sleep..." (SHALLA "dies.")

E'DEL: Trogalla could sleep at last. His burden became mine. It is heavy. (Silence)

COLDASH: I don't understand. If Trogalla had to take your life to give up his piece of the Oracle, then...

E'DEL: ...then why do I still live? While one bears this piece of the Oracle, one cannot die. But the wounds are still there. (She removes her hand from her cloak, it is red with blood.) My death wound. But I can bear it for a little while longer. (She offers the last piece of the Oracle to SHALLA.)

SHALLA: If I take this from you, you will die.

E'DEL: Then I die, and the world's suffering ends.

SHALLA: For a time, but not forever.

E'DEL: It shall be enough. For as long as the Oracle lives, Darkness shall be banished from the world. Please, take it. This is the ending of the story you have told. I wanted you to know. (SHALLA takes the piece from E'DEL.) It is enough. (She dies. HATRESH speaks as Liam the Light.)

HATRESH: "For this world shall be under my name, and no other shall give their name to any land within it until a great sacrifice is made unto mine."

SHALLA: This land shall be called Edelsha.

HATRESH: "For in the Sacrifice of E'DEL it is reborn." (The Players assemble the complete Oracle.)

SHALLA: And there was peace.


Pronunciation Guide

ARDALE: Ahr - dale
CANOTIN: kan - oh - ten
COLDASH: Col - dash
DRAHK: Drawk
DREYHAM: Dray - ham
E'DEL: E - dell
EDELSHA: E - dell - shah
EL'NORAN: L - nor - an
GRINISHRA: Grin - ish - rah
HAKOOP: Hah - coop
HATRESH: Hah - treesh
JORVAY: Jor - vay
LAONES: Lay - oh - knees
LARSYLYS: Lahr - sill - iss
LIAM: Lie - amb
MALOWAY: Mal - oh - way
OUWAY: Ow - way
RESHAL: Re - shawl
RHIHANSA: Rih - hahn - sah
SHALLA: Shawl - ah
THRENGAL: Threng - gall
TROGALLA: Troh - gall - ah
VOLAN: Vol - awn
WINDHAIL: Wind - hail
YEVRAH: Yev - rah

The Races of the Unnamed World

ELVES: The first race created by Liam and the longest lived. A wise and thoughtful people, the Elves are often slow to make decisions, preferring to think through all possibilities carefully. But once their decision has been made, they are swift to put it into action. Their long lives breed long memories. A friend or enemy made is not soon forgotten. The voices of the Elves have a very musical quality to them. They have a strong tendency to trust the other good races, except the Dwarves. They make their homes most often in the forests.

HUMANS: With the shortest life span of all races, Humans are apt to make the most of every moment. They are often quick to decisions, and are seen by the Elves as a very hasty people. Above all the other races they are dreamers. They are, as a general rule, mistrustful of the other races, but are closest to the Dwarves. They are the most adaptable of all races, making their homes in all parts of the world.

DWARVES: The Dwarves are a stubborn and sturdy people who delight in the fashioning of stones and metals. They are an extremely practical people which is reflected in their crafts. Although the Dwarves are capable of works of tremendous beauty, their crafts are nearly always functional as well. The Dwarves are also very independent, having little to do with the other races. Their voices are usually deep and gruff. They trust the race of Men the most, and Elves the least. They make their homes most often in the mountains, fashioning huge underground halls.

GREAT CATS: While the Great Cats possess the gifts of speech and reason, they share most of the same characteristics as their dumb cousins, the ordinary cats. They are extremely curious creatures, with all the stealth, cunning and patience you would expect from any Cat. They are born explorers. While not always the most eloquent of creatures, the Cats are nothing if not courteous. They are also very loyal, almost to a fault. A Cat would rather die than desert a friend in need. Most of the Great Cats live in the mountain regions, although many live in the forests as well. Their closest allies are the Gryphons, though the amiable nature of the Cats tends to put them on good terms with most everyone.

GRYPHONS: As half Lion, the Gryphons share many characteristics with the Great Cats. However, being half Eagle they greatly lack in patience and can be as nervous as the Cats are calm. The only race of Light gifted with flight, the Gryphons are well suited to the adventurous lives they prefer. The Gryphons are bold in the face of danger and fear little. To the other races, save their close friends the Great Cats, the Gryphons are a mysterious race. Indeed, the Gryphons are usually suspicious of any race other than the Cats. The Gryphons live high in the mountains peaks, which tends to isolate them from the other races.

DRAGONS: The Dragons were born from the Envy and Greed of the races of Light, and those qualities they epitomize. They are dark, evil, and ancient creatures caring for nothing but themselves and their horde. While few in number, the Dragons are great in size and strength. They take great pride in this, while leads them to be arrogant to a fault. They enjoy being flattered and spoken to in riddles. A Dragon is in no hurry to eat a trespasser, knowing it can do so at any moment. The Dragons detest all the races of Light, and make use of the darker races only when it suits their ends. They live in large caves, usually in the mountains.

DRAHK: The Drahk (or the Dark Dwarves) are the twisted descendants of Trogalla, though they have little in common with their distant cousins, the true Dwarves. Their behavior resembles more the Dragons. They delight in gold and jewels, but with the intention to horde. A weak race, they are crafty and devious when they believe themselves the stronger, but are whining and obsequious when at an obvious disadvantage. They dwell in dark, dank holes deep in the mountains, and are enemies with all the races of Light.

CHANGELINGS: Little is known about the Changelings Immortal. They were placed by Liam the Light into the world as Guardians. They are an extremely playful, and sometimes mischievous race, but their intentions are never malevolent.

© T. James Belich 1998
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