GnarlyGnoll has used my Strange & Cruel Personal Titles as inspiration for a possible adventure location in a vampire-centered dark-fantasy game, and he shared with us what he conceived in this article on his blog. I had similar plans after I published this product, but never found the time to put anything down. Today, I want to change that with an article sprung from my thoughts about The Enunciator of the Carved Oracle.
Those who are in desperate need of answers may receive them from the Carved Oracle. But before one can see the Carved Oracle, one needs to talk to its Enunciator.
The Enunciator of the Carved Oracle is an old man who lives in an old white house near the temple district. The clergy abhor him and his family, but since his bloodline holds a writ of protection from the grandfather of the current ruler, they cannot demand for them to be put to death. All the clergy have been able to do is to preach against the Carved Oracle so that every citizen knows that it is a shame and a sin to consult it. Thereby nobody wants to speak about it, but those who ask persistently or offer the right incentive will learn about the old house and how to be seen by the oracle.
Petitioners have to come to the backdoor of the house, in the first hour after dusk, and need to knock two times and then two times again. The door will be opened by the old man and no matter who he finds at his door step, he will welcome the visitor and invite him or her in for tea. The backdoor opens directly into the kitchen and there always seems to be a fresh pot of tea when strangers come calling after dark. The old man will sit down with his guest at the kitchen table and ask for the reason of the visit, while the rest of the home is shrouded in deathlike silence. The old man will then ask the visitor to come back tomorrow in a polite but decisive way unless the visitor wants to see the oracle. If this is the case, the old man will pause and look at the petitioner before he takes a swig of tea and demands to know what the oracle shall answer and why. If the guest is unwilling to tell, the old man will state that he cannot help than, waiting for the guest to either change his mind or leave. The reason for the question must be a grave one, otherwise the old man will send his guests away as the Carved Oracle cannot be bothered with things of no importance, and all matters of fortune or good luck will be dismissed. If the reason for the question is a grave one the Enunciator still demands a price by asking for a “gift” for the oracle. Whatever the gift is, if it is not valuable it will be declined and the petitioner will be send away. If the matter is found worthy and if the gift is looked upon with favor the old man will call for his family. Four woman will enter the kitchen, one as old as the Enunciator (who is his sister) and three further that seem to be the old woman´s daughters. The oldest one is visibly covered in scars, the youngest is not and the marks of the one in the middle will become evident as she undresses in front of the petitioner, for she is the current Carved Oracle.
The oldest woman will brew up an elixir while the old man begins to chant in a singsong and readies henna and a small brush to paint winding lines on seemingly random parts of the naked body of his nice. All the while the oldest daughter holds the hand of her sister and helps her to lay down onto the kitchen table while the youngest one leaves the room to fetch something and returns later with a small, curved blade. Next, the Oracle is going to drink the elixir and will quickly fall into a state of feverish trance while the oldest sister begins to chant as well, still holding the oracles hand. When the young woman on the table begins to moan softly the family will hold her down on the table while the youngest sister will hand the curved blade to the petitioner.
“You must follow the lines of the markings, starting with the one closest to the feet and ending with the one on the chest. If you cut to lightly you will not get your answer. If you hurt her to much you will be cursed…” will the Enunciator say, and when the petitioner does as he is told the Carved Oracle will bleed and groan and whisper unintelligibly. But the Enunciator will seem to understand her, for he will reveal a little part of the answer to the petitioner´s question with every cut…