THE CLOCKWORK ORACLE
By G. W. Thomas


 “It is ready, your Majesty.” The wizard with four arms bowed beside his newly finished machine.

 “Does it work, magister?” asked Yurik IV, the King of Bast-il.

 “I tested it on my assistant, Muura, and he will live another thirty-seven years, five months, twenty-three days.”

 “How do you work it?” asked the king, warming to the novelty of the idea of the machine.

 “I put the birthday here, with these dials, then pull this lever. This row here tells how long you will live.”

 “Wonderful! Put in my brother’s birthday…”

 “Yes, My Liege.” The wizard played with the dials. “I have entered it. The dials read: “one hour’, your Majesty.”

 “That is accurate, good wizard. Borrell’s head will be removed for high treason as the sunsets.”

 “Very good, your Highness.”

 “Now do the Queen’s birthday.” The king smiled at his newest bride, the twenty year old, Valespia.

 The wizard watched the dials, then swallowed gravely. “Also very short, My Liege. Only fifty-six minutes.”

 “A mistake. The dial is stuck. Now, wizard, do my birthday.”

 The Rainbow Man swallowed but his throat was as dry as the Hargulun Steppe. “Fifty-three minutes, your Highness.”

 “Your contraption doesn’t work, fool wizard. To the dungeon with him.You can join my brother at sunset. And take your confounded oracle. Let it be tied to your very ankle. It should serve some purpose.”

 An hour later, the Rainbow Man smiled as his cell was opened by a tall Taavstite warrior. “You have taken the City, I see,” he sighed. “The king has been killed. His queen and his brother, too, I suppose?”

 “Yes,” was all the invader said.

 “Good. Take me to your general. I have an interesting machine for him.”
 

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