Just like countless others before him, uncertainty was written on the dragon's face as he meekly stepped through the gaps in the tattered cloth that sheltered the oracle's hollow. While the curtain afforded her some protection from the burn of the midday sun, it did little to mute the activity from the streets that bustled with an unusual franticness of late. Hollered instructions and the creaking of heavily-laden wagons reached the oracle's ears with a greater intensity as the visitor delicately swept the hanging cloth aside.
"Am I at the right place?" He asked, his voice barely audible over the din of the street behind him. "Are you...?"
"I am the oracle. Come inside."
She looked her visitor over more closely as he padded into the room. He was young, as dragons go. The steel helmet strapped to his traveling pack, custom-made for everyone that would see combat, had just a small collection of shallow marks adorning its face. With a bony hand, she gestured to a sitting area on the opposite side of her glass table, and the brown dragon delicately seated himself there, taking a few extra seconds to fully tuck his tail and wings into the dim cramped space, and to let his eyes adjust.
She waited patiently as his gaze wandered across her hollow. She had just a meager few possessions: Tapestries and various baubles, a shelf supplied with ritual implements and reagents, and a pile of faded, ragged pillows stacked behind her.
When the oracle felt she had given her guest enough time, she cleared her throat and spoke.
"What should I call you, soldier?"
"Did you prepare your scales, Taldren?"
"Yes...One from the head, one from the tail, and one from the dominant hand, right?"
"Correct, you may show them to me now."
One of his claws eagerly shot out and opened to reveal three plucked scales, two of them a rich dark brown, and the third one a lighter shade that turned a bright orange as it caught the light that snuck between the curtains.
Just like with countless others before him, the oracle leaned in close, grasping his hand in place as she studied the apprehensive dragon's scales. Many more than usual had come to her in recent weeks, all of them carrying the burden of an uncertain future. They suffered a fear that had suddenly grown overwhelming enough for them to seek her out. And for all of them, she had walked among the vast array the possible futures written upon their souls, and offered them comfort and surety.
But this dragon...
She found it difficult to stop her confusion from reaching her face.
In Taldren's soul there was only mist, a thick, thrashing veil that obscured her sight of his future. Knowledge that usually came easily to her was now clouded, just beyond her reach, and as she mentally stepped into that fog to discover what lay on the other side, a sickening feeling of aversion washed over her. She startled back into the present - her tiny dim hollow with her apprehensive visitor - and as the clarity of reality came back to her, she became aware that if she had attempted to wander any further into this dragon's labyrinth of destinies, she would have certainly been devoured by... something.
Her subject could not bear the suspense any longer. "...What did you see?" he inquired eagerly.
"Nothing..." she replied, her blue eyes pointed low. "-But that's not to say you don't have a future," she continued, speaking quickly before he could jump to the worst conclusion. "Merely that I couldn't make sense of it. Perhaps it is that your possible destinies are not as limited as everyone else's." She was struggling to find a positive angle on what she'd just witnessed.
A too-long pause followed her limp words, accompanied only by the outside sounds of animals, hurried wing-beats, and tense voices.
"So that's it then?" Taldren finally asked. His fear was plain to see.
"I'm afraid there's nothing more I can do." The oracle couldn't help but feel sympathy for the young dragon, but she knew she could not help him any further.
With head drooping as he turned to leave, she called him one last time.
"You are a soldier, yes? What's going on out there?"
"You didn't hear? They're deploying us north. Everyone."
"Into the orc lands?"
"No, we won't have to go that far... the orc lands are gone."
"What do you mean 'gone'?"
"Gone. They say it looks as if it has been devoured by... something."
The oracle was nauseous; blood pounded in her head, and she had to brace herself against her table. She had no desire to utter her next question, but it escaped her lips regardless, beyond her conscious control.
"We don't know. It's new, nobody's ever seen anything like it before," the visitor replied patiently.
A familiar dread revulsion squirmed at the edges of her soul, and a faint fog crept into her vision.
"They're calling it the Eldritch..."
Taldren continued helpfully explaining, but it was as if he was receding swiftly into a haze, his words muffling and fading into the distance. The oracle couldn't seem to focus her eyes, her voice had congealed at the bottom of her throat, and a vast weight held her body motionless. Becoming unnerved by her sudden unresponsiveness, Taldren turned away and exited through the curtain and the daylight that lay beyond it.
As the dragon without a destiny exited the oracle's hollow, she could only watch helplessly, imprisoned, screaming in a veil that writhed behind her eyes.