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A Consultation

The scent of incense that filled the consecrated space lulled the querent into reverie. Only the soft note of the gong brought him back to his intention. He prostrated himself, placed the bouquet of silk flowers on the alter and addressed the woman with the spiral on her brow.

"Beautiful and compassionate Oracle, what should I tell my sons about constructing private worlds and retreating into them?"

The Oracle sighed, stroked the querent's cheek and gestured to remind him that she was consulting a higher order Oracle, an Oracle he could have consulted directly if he dared. Anxiety melted from his energetic form at her touch, but his intention kept him anchored.

The sigil of his resolve glowed like the afterimage of the sun behind his eyes. He considered the possibility that he'd gotten the dose wrong. Too little would likely do nothing. Too much? Time would tell.

The woman whom he called the Oracle was actually a graceful proxy, a sentient user-interface for the Oracle that received his question and dispatched reminders to the would-be "superior man" from within the Cloud.

The woman with the Spiral above and between her eyes nodded as if receiving instructions.

"Tell them anything," the woman said as she leaned back on her hands and looked away over her shoulder into the rising and twisting ribbons of incense smoke. "Just get them talking and then listen with sincerity and sensitivity. Your words have less power than you imagine. Set an example for them and show them the interplay between resolve and spontaneity.  Show them the rewards that come with consistent effort, but also adapt yourself to unexpected situations. Resilience is not rigid. Strength yields."

"Oracle, the private worlds I inhabited in my youth were built from imagination. The Archons imagine FOR my children. Their own capacity for it has withered from disuse. I never faced the temptations they face. Surely there is some guidance I can provide to them."

The woman, echoing the writhing smoke, rose to her feet and began a rhythmic swaying. Music demons roused to life and made her gentle undulations into a dance. The man hoped she would try to arouse his lust with her movements and glances. Any resistance to her here, and the whole experience would melt away. As it was, he knew his lucidity was not as self-perpetuating as his resolve. That glyph had already succumbed to the dream currents and morphed into another shape as it blurred into meaninglessness.

"It really doesn't matter," the dancing woman whispered. He followed her gaze to her feet, saw packets of representation glow in her tracks and shift the context of their conversation to something perfunctory and rote. He wanted to give her something extra, to demonstrate his sincerity, though what he had been sincere about was already beyond his recall.

She ignored his parting formula and opened her arms and let her head loll back on her shoulders as she spun in place, retaining the understanding of her situation.

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