the end.

the guru stepped inside a stone room, dimly lit by torches that stood in each corner. on the far side, a ladder stretched upward.

a woman sat on a throne of stone in the middle of the room. when she saw the guru, she smiled at him and said, “i knew that you would make it.”

the guru said, “who are you?”

the woman replied, “i am the oracle.”

the guru asked, “who is the woman above ground? that the tests protect?”

the oracle said, “she is a woman i pay to answer questions randomly, so that it appears i am doing my job.”

the guru said, “i understand. i hate questions, too.”

the oracle said, “it is not the questions i hate, but the answers. i am bound to answer all questions truthfully. combined with my knowledge, this can be very dangerous.”

“i understand,” the guru said.

“thank you. if you agree to keep my secret, you may ask one question.”

“i will.”

“then ask.”

the guru asked, “how can i most improve the business of my philosophy school?”

the oracle replied, “get the fake oracle to say that you are the wisest in the land. then students will flock to your school. climb that ladder to visit her.”

climb the ladder.

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