Haley stood at the entrance to the Oracle's tower, a spire in the center of the Sunken Valley, rising to kiss the sun. She'd left the others behind a while ago, scouting out ahead. The rogue was supposed to wait for her party at the door, but as she stood at the giant, oaken double doors, Haley felt a strange curiosity grip at her. Almost unintentionally, she took a step forward, then another. As the red-haired rogue drew towards the door, it swung open, revealing a large, dark entrance chamber. It was hard to tell how large the chamber was, even though it felt familiar, a nagging half memory that refused to be dug up. Haley paused a moment, a slight frown playing across her face. She hesitated a moment, then another, before taking a deep breath and stepping inside.
The floor was a cold marble, and even Haley's soft shoes were audible against it, echoing in the chamber. The rogue walked slowly, taking short steps with a hand out in front of her to avoid running into anything in the pitch darkness. After about a minute of this passed, a torch flickered to life on the wall across from her. Haley closed her eyes quickly, looking away to avoid being blinded by the sudden light. After a moment, she opened them again, to discover that three other torches had been light, allowing Haley to get a vague glimpse of the room around her. It was shaped in a huge, perfect circle, torches alight at the four cardinal points, the walls white marble, with shining gold bands running in rings around the walls, inscribed with… something. Some sort of writing. The flames danced, reflected in the gold, sending shadows to jump and dance among the four granite pillars that supported the roof of this great building, so high up that even Haley's sharp vision couldn't see it from where the pillars ended and the ceiling began, lost to shadows that seemed to be pressing down, fighting the meagre light provided by the four torches. The ground, however, was not marble like Haley had thought at first, but the same granite as the four pillars. As Haley looked about herself, spinning in a slow circle, she heard a voice from behind.
"You came. I missed you."
The rogue jumped in surprise, spinning and looking around wildly to locate the source of the voice. "Who's there?" Haley called into the flickering darkness.
"I'm up here, Miss Starshine." The voice wasn't humanoid, and carried a mix of longing and contempt. Haley obeyed, looking up at the source of the voice, and spotting a robed kobold standing on one of the gold bands that seemed to have extended from the wall and grown a railing, which the orange-scaled lizard was leaning against.
"… You're the Oracle?"
A sad smile crossed the kobold's face. "I am. You don't remember me, of course." He stood back from the railing, which sunk into the narrow golden walkway. He took a step forward, and instead of falling to his death, stepped onto some sort of magical pathway. It was invisible, except where his feet and tail touched it - white and gold tendrils of light flashed and dissipated. Haley stepped backwards unconsciously, but rather than making any progress runs into one of the pillars. The Oracle gave another sad smile at this, finally having reached the floor. "I knew you wouldn't remember me. No one does, that's just a part of the job." He looked down, then back up at Haley. He was close now. Close enough that if Haley reached out and leaned forward slightly, she could touch him.
"You've been here before. Several times."
"I know," Haley replied. "You… helped me with my problem… with Elan. Thank you."
Another sad smile. "How did that work out?"
"Not so bad. We dated for a while, but after Roy died… We split up. I haven't seen Elan… in so long…" The rogue frowned, unconsciously wrapping her arms around herself for some small comfort.
The kobold looked genuinely pained for the Haley. "I'm sorry…" He said, trailing off. There was a moment of silence before he spoke again. "If it's… any consolation at all… I know how lonely you must feel."
Haley blinked. "You do?"
Nodding, the Oracle spoke; "I've met many, many people in my life. All of them come to me demanding a question be answered, then leave. They never remember me or who I am, beyond an oracle, and honestly, I wouldn't change that if I could. But sometimes… Sometimes I just want someone to talk to. Someone to love."
Haley looked down at the orange-scaled thing, and suddenly, she felt her wariness replaced with compassion. Here was a creature who felt the same feeling of aloneness that she did, and her heart went out to him. "Well… I suppose I could stay for a while. Do you have anywhere to sit down?"
The kobold looked up at Haley and this time there was no sadness in the smile he gave her.
The Oracle's personal rooms of the tower had none of the grandeur of the other rooms Haley had seen so far. It was… comfortable. Plenty of soft things to sit on. A fire in a pit, with a kettle of water hanging over it, for tea later. Haley sat near the fire on a large, soft pillow, the Oracle sitting next to her on a thick, padded mat. "So of course, he didn't like the answer, so the bastards, they pick me up by the legs, and they hang me out the window until I agree to answer two more questions!" He was saying, complete with animated geusters.
Haley gasped, laughing a little. "That's horrible!" She found herself leaning forward the kobold, enjoying his company greatly.
The Oracle grinned as Haley laughed. "Oh, I've had far worse happen." He assured her, dismissing the notion with a wave of his hand. He leaned closer to the red-haired rogue as well, and soon they were touching. Haley smiled, leaning her head on his shoulder, and sighing contently the kobold began to stroke her hair. Suddenly, the Oracle leaned forward, planting a tender kiss on Haley's lips, just brushing against them before pulling away. The rogue blinked, licking her lips instinctively.
She… hadn't expected that. But at the same time, she didn't object to it. After all this time alone… this kind of attention felt nice. The Oracle, however, wasn't privy to the fact that Haley didn't mind. When she looked at him, he looked away, clearly embarrassed.
Haley smiled, licking her lips again. "I don't mind, you know."
"Are… are you sure? You won't remember this. Not any of it."
Haley just nodded.
The Oracle smiled, wrapping his arms around Haley's waist and pushing her back against her pillow.
The next morning, Haley woke up in the arms of a stranger. She looked down at the small, yellow-scaled man for a moment, before last night's events came back to her. Smiling at the memory, Haley crawled out of the bed, which was really more of a pile of pillows, and began looking around the room. Surely there was a shower somewhere around here? A few moments of searching resulted in success, and when Haley returned to the bedroom, her hair in a towel, the Oracle was already awake.
"Last night was great." Haley said, but the kobold didn't return her smile.
"You… won't stay." He said, looking at her with great sadness in his eyes.
Her smile falling from her face like a stone, Haley sat down next to the Oracle. "I… can't. My party… they'll be here soon. I was sent to scout ahead…" She said, trying to explain.
The Oracle nodded, staring at the wall. "And when they get here?"
"They'll ask you their questions… and then we'll leave."
"I'm… I'm sorry."
"Um… Elan?" Haley frowned, a hand on her stomach.
Elan glanced up from tuning his lute, and smiled at her. "Yeah?"
"I… I think I'm pregnant…"