A bronze-age, Mesopotamian-region kingdom faces an unstable political future and a wrong move in making alliances probably means war. The king has received offers of alliance from two rivals – both involving the marriage of the young prince. The high priest suggests the king consult the Sybil at Cataphract to determine which marriage proposal (hence which alliance) is most propitious. The king agrees. The characters are enlisted by the high priest (acting for the king) to make the arduous journey to Cataphract, retrieve the Sybil’s oracle, and return to the kingdom. The king is known to be stern but fair, generous in success, and somewhat tolerant of unpreventable delays – but he does not suffer fools lightly.