Read Part One of this story here.
The two men nodded in mutual respect, and the priest pointed at the old woman, who was now sitting on a three-legged stool. “Your Grace, the Pythoness herself is in attendance today. The Eldest One. Because of your … ah … great generosity to the holy precinct of the College of Lord God Apollo, we—I, myself, I went down … down in the darkness … went down to fetch her. Under the command of the Lord God Himself. All has been explained to you?” As the general nodded, the priest hurried on. “You understand, then, that Lord God Apollo has received your inquiry? The Pythoness will reply. That is, she will convey the Lord God’s words, which I myself will translate. You understand that old women often speak gibberish that common men—that … ah … august personages such as yourself—do not … er … comprehend.” The general frowned. “It’s part of the mystery! It is as Lord God Apollo permits.” The general nodded again. “If Your Grace will kindly excuse me, I must prepare myself. Ordinarily, the younger priests carry out these duties … for the questions of common men … that is to say—”
“Get on with it, man. I’m waiting. My army is waiting. The enemy is waiting.”
The high priest bowed. “Yes. Of course. Waiting.” He bowed again, backed away, and walked with fussy dignity to his station, a pavilion just outside the shed where the veiled woman sat waiting. The pavilion had been especially constructed for this occasion. Gold and white cloths were draped across ebony poles to shade a wide ivory chair for the head priest and a low table for the stenographer, a skinny brown man who emerged from one of the marble outbuildings and stumbled down the slope.
Continue reading “Fragment. From Delphi. Part Two by Barbara Ardinger”