*** Woolsey is one of the characters in the Oracle's Verse.

The Oracle's Verse is the first ever collaborative “Crypto-Novel '' and it follows the stories of 6 characters which travel through the minds of their owners, collecting unique journeys that evolve their stories, infinitely. You can learn more about it here.

Illustration by Faizal "Ganee"

Woolsey’s eyes are closed. He’s extremely busy. He’s following each and every note of birdsong that comes seeping through the open window. The pattering of raindrops’ tiny dancing feet on leaves. The wind hushing the pines. The bubbling pot on the stove nattering with the snapping flames below. He’s wreathed in pipe smoke and spirals of steam from a chipped cup held gently in earth-blackened hands.

Woolsey’s lived like this for fifteen years. Once his life looked very different. He’d been waiting for a reason to change, but then one day someone told him that change comes from within. And now his existence is as happy and as sad and as easy and as hard as the birdsong and rain and wind and pot and flames. Sometimes the past creeps over him like a forest shadow at dusk, but is swiftly banished by the cover of night. He flexes a shoulder that twinges with painful memory and wanders deeper in the forest of sounds around him.

The door creaks open. Woolsey opens his eyes. They smoulder like embers from the fire as they flick towards the doorway and the figure standing there. The chipped cup falls to the floor. Woolsey doesn’t hear it smash.

The figure in the doorway is a woman, dressed in a simple robe that drapes freely around her. Her face is hidden in shadows, but Woolsey feels a kind of despair emanating from her. She speaks in a low, urgent voice.

"Please, sir. I need your help."

Woolsey nods, gesturing for her to come over. She steps into the light, revealing a small bundle in her arms. He is not happy to see this woman, for although he can barely see her face, a smell of death enters his nose, blocking out almost all other senses.

"This is my son," she says, her voice shaky. "He's very sick. I went to the village healers, but they couldn't help him. I don't know what I should do, but I felt something pulling me in this direction.”

Woolsey looks down at the child. He knows he could help, but it would require a long journey, and he's not sure it's okay to travel with the scent of death close at hand. But maybe, this is the reason that Woolsey needs.

"I can help," he says. “But it won't be easy. We need to leave now. Maybe I know someone who can help."

"Thank you, sir," she utters in a grateful voice. "I'll do anything to save my son.”

Woolsey rises from his chair brushing off some pipe ash and begins gathering essentials for the journey in a worn leather satchel. He fills a flask with fresh water, collects a bundle of dried herbs, and wraps a warm blanket around the child.

As he prepares, he glances back at his meek cabin, his sanctuary amidst the songs of nature. It has been his haven for so long, but now a flicker of purpose lights a fire within him.

“Maybe it’s about time you turn the page, Woolsey, ol’ boy!”, he whispers to himself.

Silently, Woolsey leads the woman holding her child out of the cabin and into the chill embrace of the night. Here they go, into the forest and out of Woolsey’s comfort zone.

The moon hangs low in the sky, casting a pale glow on their path. The forest seems to grow denser and denser, as if embracing the three closer and tighter. Soon, the moonlit sky is replaced by a great dome of subtle rustling leaves. Woolsey's senses remain attuned to the world around him.

“What is that sound?”


What happened to the others? Read their stories:

The Leap of Salamun

Catching Madame Rose

The Cradle of Corruption

The Martyr's Choice

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