MerricB writes "Cirrem, the Dreamer-Minstrel, reveals a little-known tale of the days before the Invoked Devastation - the tale of the True Oracle of Istus, its days before the Invoked Devastation, and its fate afterwards.
Bardic Lore - The Oracle of Istus
By: MerricB (firstname.lastname@example.org)
(Used with Permission. Do not repost without obtaining prior permission from the author.)
Over one thousand years ago, the priestesses of the Baklunish deity Istus, Lady of Fate, established a temple to their goddess in the Barrier Peaks. In this temple, it was said, existed the one true Oracle of Istus, that with a great enough sacrifice could answer any question true - of the past, present or future. Over the next few centuries, great lords of the Baklunish Empire made sacrifices of many precious things - gems, jewelry, and magic - to the Oracle and went away with a glimpse of the future. Thus the Oracle's reputation spread.
It should be emphasised that it is only Istus that truly sees the future; all other divinations are clouded, and Istus chose to reveal the future clearly only through her chosen Oracle. Its location was made purposefully distant from the heartlands of the Empire to discourage sight-seers.
However, each Emperor would make one pilgrimage in their lifetime to consult the Oracle, and it at certain times it was considered one of the rites of determining the fitness of the heir to the throne.
The Oracle followed certain rules. To my knowledge, they were as follows:
It is said that Zuoken, servant of Xan-Yae, found a way around the second restriction, and filled his Book of Prophecy with the answers to many questions - but that book is lost, as is Zuoken.
- The sacrifice must be of at least 5,000 gold piece value.
- Each person could only ever ask one question of the Oracle.
- The Oracle would only ever answer a question once - if you asked a question to which the answer were already given, then you would only be told where the answer might be found.
Then came the Invoked Devastation. The Baklunish Empire was shattered, and the Baklunish people lost much of their former lore, and the Oracle was forgotten, except for a small group of priests and acolytes who still tended the temple.
Eventually, even they died or abandoned the temple, and it lies empty somewhere in the Barrier Peaks, still protected by the magics of the past, but forgotten except for a few sages who knew it only as a footnote to their histories.
If the temple has been disturbed since (save by Zuoken) I am unaware of it. Certainly I have not visited its ruins. Divinations as to its location are clouded and unclear, even to the most powerful dweomers, as Istus wishes only the worthy to find the Oracle.
I have heard in recent days that an expedition has been mounted by the Church of Xan-Yae and led by Starlin Farr of the Order of the Bow to find the temple, but of their success, nothing is yet known.
Note: ancient history,