“This place is strange as fuck,” Shay said, once they had finally reached the pyramid in the middle.
It had taken them the better part of an hour to reach the pyramid, all of which they had spent circling the last ring of buildings. They had all looked as devoid of life as the rest of Ankora, and some had even fallen into a state of disrepair, but seemingly had no occupants to worry over fixing them. If Ankora was abandoned, it was certainly beginning to look it.
“It has to be empty for a reason, doesn’t it?” Aoife asked, though no one was confident enough to give her an answer.
Unbeknownst to the trio—knowledge that would remain concealed to them—it had long been the tradition of the grand matrons of the Order of Euphrasia—Euphrasia being the first known Oracle—that the home of the young Oracles be as free from temptation as possible. Food, alcohol, male company, all were removed from temptation by being removed from Ankora. The reigning Lord of the area had long since given into their demands and accepted that Ankora would never be more than an expense. Unlike the noblemen of the South, whose territories were only as good as the profit they obtained, the Lords of the East were strong upholders of tradition, both old and new. It was this dedication to tradition that left the East with an archaic mist surrounding it, with only the larger cities embracing modern technology.
Rin had abandoned his companions temporarily to inspect the pyramid. It was made of the same sandstone as the rest of the town, but the pyramid was made of bricks instead of one large piece. There was no visible sign of entry, though the sand seemed to gather differently around one particular side of the pyramid. A secret entrance in the ground? That would certainly be impractical, especially with all the sand needed to cover it. Unless… Unless that was the old man’s purpose, aside from providing them with water.
“I think I found the way in,” he called, interrupting Shay and Aoife. Whatever they were talking about couldn’t be that important.
Rin brushed away the sand as the duo walked over to him, and sure enough there below them was a small wooden door. It barely looked big enough to fit a grown adult, but if what Shay had told them was true, it wasn’t adults that lived behind its safety. It didn’t take a genius to guess that only Aoife would be allowed entrance to the place, and while the two young men knew she could hold her own, the idea of leaving her unguarded in the middle of nowhere wasn’t something that sat well with them. Their apprehension on the matter only aggravated the young orphan; she had spent all her life in the company of women, venturing into the Oracles’ nest would be no different.
It seemed rude to enter without permission, though, and so much to Shay and Rin’s chagrin, the orphan knocked on the wooden door, waiting until she was ushered inside by a girl much younger than her who shut the door behind them, blanketing the space beneath them almost in total darkness.