Chapter 1: The Untrod Path

"I agree. If we concentrate on our prey then perhaps this land will guide us to him."

Korvin moves at best possible speed in the direction that Apple has choosen.

There is a definite laugh now from the stag-man, hearty but with a hint of cruelty. You have spirit, son of Adam.

You leave the path, and it disappears entirely. The deer folk are still visible, but where once there was a path, there is now only blank snow, as if it were erased the moment you stepped off it. As soon as you left the path, the entire herd turned to face you, as if surprised. They face you as you walk, as if perplexed.

Off in the distance there is something like a temple, made of marble and vaguely Greek in architecture. It appears suddenly, as if you had looked away and looked back and it was there, having rushed into position in the moment of your blink. It is exactly in front of Apple as he leaves the path.

Apple purses his lips and then starts striding towards the temple.

"This is too easy," he mutters to Korvin. He considers a moment and then looks at Korvin again. "I can try to get things moving, by shouting out in Jacopo's voice. Might not accomplish anything. Might get us attention we don't want.


"And big balls too. Not that it will help much."

"Once we crossed the Regio then nothing is as it appears. If we remain focused on our purpose then I think we will get there. pointing to the temple We already have some inhabitance alerted to our presence, I would rather not let anything else know we are here."

Apple will nod at Korvin's logic and continue towards the temple.

You walk along the path, approaching the temple. Its marble facade shines in the moonlight, which glints off the large edifice whose architecture is otherworldly but reminiscent of Greek. As you approach the tall front steps, you see a small man in a white robe. He is old and wrinkled, and has a long white beard. His eyes are bound by a white piece of cloth.

He turns his face toward you as you approach, and croaks a strange but friendly greeting.

"Ah, hello children. Those who come to my temple are those who seek. You seek something, yes? You want I should cast the bones for you?" He stares up at your face, his cloth eyes searching your soul, as if what they hide could bore through the fabric.

"Of course, my advice comes with a price. Can you pay the toll?"

Apple hums a moment. "Blind prophets and I don't tend to get along. And I already know what my future holds. But...

"What's your toll sir? What does a roll of the bones cost us, if you please."

The old seer cackles, a harsh sound that rings off the nearby mountains. "Always a little more than you are willing to part with, O wizard, O father-slayer. Perhaps it will be the woman you will one day love. Perhaps it will be a year and a day of your life. Perhaps your magic itself."

"What do you want to know, and what are you willing to part with to get it?" His not-eyes bore into you, and his voice becomes intense. "Do you not fear your fate, wizard? I could tell you how to thwart it, to hold it at bay... to escape it."

Apple starts chuckling as the Prophet talks. By the end of his speech, Apple is doubled over, hugging his knees, red in the face, and guffawing like a donkey. He settles down and straightens up, wiping a tear from his eye. "Oh Seer. I needed that. Thank you." He finishes wiping his face and gives a last chuckle. He then smiles at the Prophet.

"The love of my life is the last woman I should ever fall in love with. Why would I miss her if she were gone?

"The minutes of my life were measured out centuries ago by a Fate who is both cruel, ignorant, but most of all controlling. If you were meant to have any of the moments of my life, they would have been given to you by now.

"As to my magic...It controls me, not I it. How can I give away my master?

"As to defeating my fate, why should I want to abandon it? It's the Devil's lashes in life that make you appreciate God's blessings.

"Better luck with your next sale. You have no wares I need." Apple motions for Korvin to take his place speaking to the Seer if he wishes. Apple will then look around the temple and farther up the mountain to see if he can figure out where to go next.

"What is the toll for finding Cato of Jerbiton? Or for telling us this prophesy that binds the White Lady and the senior Magi."

The Oracle's lip curls up in a sneer. "Do not mock me, father-slayer, for I know of your fate. If you do not show proper respect for your fate, it will find you."

The shrivled face turns to Korvin, dismissing Apple as Apple dismissed him. "For finding Cato of Jerbiton? Yes, that is within my power." He looks Korvin up and down, and licks his dry lips.

He points at the silver dagger "That knife. Give me the knife, and you shall have what you seek."

Apple shakes his head. "But I want it to find me. No one ever gets that..." he mutters.

He looks at Korvin. "I think that knife is tied to it's twin and we'll need use of it before this night is over. But it is yours to do with as you wish. Before you decide though..." Apple reaches out a hand and touches the flat of the blade. He calls up some power and begins to shape it into the type of spell he wants."

Apple will try another Spont InCo spell, trying to find the blood on the other knife. InCo total 13, taking the fatigue level

"You are right about one thing Seer. You ask for more than I want to give."

"I would say that it was pleasant talking to you but it is not true. We shall move on in our search. "

Korvin will look around the horizon and let fate guide him on the correct path.

Even with the faerie aura, Apple is just shy of being able to cast his spell. He can be successful if he spends a point of confidence.

The oracle spits on the ground and then smiles, revealing a few crooked teeth. The wind around him begins to pick up, a harsh, chill whistle that blows through his scraggly white hair.

"My gifts are not offered lightly, and never twice. If you are too weak to pay the price, too squeamish or inflated with false bravery, then you are not here to hunt." The moonlight casts a shadow across his ancient face. His smile is sharp and predatory, and you think you can see a red glow beneath the cloth that binds his eyes. "You are here to be hunted."

Behind you, away from the temple, you can see the silhouette of the herd of deer-men drawing closer at a slow lope. The moonlight changes hue as the walk down toward you and the Oracle looks on, slowly shifting from white-gold to an angry red. The deer men are shadows against the reddening moon, and they approach even more quickly now, not loping like dear but stalking like wolves.

Falls will giggle and then say nothing for a moment. He'll act as quickly as he can, reaching around with one hand to grab as much of the Oracle's greasy hair as he can and pull the Oracle's head back in a snap. He'll try to wrap his hand around the Oracle's throat and squeeze with the other hand. He'll say to Korvin, as calmly as he can, "Run or slit his throat. Quickly please."

Korvin plunges the knife into the Oracle's wrapped eyes and twists.

"Could not reach the throat with your arm there" he says with a smile. "That way looks good." he says pointing with the knife and starts out at a mile eating lope that was taught to him by the Redcap messengers.

Assuming everything else has gotten to this point

As Korvin stabs Apple nods his head upwards. "The roof. If we get up there we can take a moment to catch our breath and maybe try to scry him."

"No. We would be trapped up there and truly become the hunted. I trust this place wants this prophesy played out in some way. If we keep moving we are still hunting. "

Apple considers and nods. "Go then. My steps aren't as far reaching as yours. I'll find you and catch up.

"One way or the other we have to reach Cato. Soon I think too."

The Oracle screams an animal scream as the silver knife is plunged into his eye. The silver almost seems to glow with heat for a moment, and his ancient face is stricken with shock. Then, in a moment, his entire body shudders and begins to collapse, tiny dust particles coming off his face and arms and eating away at him. A light wind picks up and he is gone, so much dust in the wind.

The shadowy deer-men slow noticeably, though the moon retains its red glow. Now that the Oracle is dead, you see a set of tracks that has suddenly appeared in the snow before you as you run. They lead up, past where the Oracle had stood and onto the steps of the temple.