Living for the Afterlife (For Elflady)

Discussion in 'ROLEPLAY GRAVEYARD' started by Sjöfn, Sep 10, 2014.

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  1. The town of Stenton was a fairly small one, nestled between two valleys and in the shadow of the Sundoran mountain range. The surrounding gently rolling hills were blanketed in a patchwork of downy green, golden wheat, and fluffy white cotton. Further beyond the hills, and the valley walls, thick deciduous forests rose and continued on until the blue-green mountains began to rise far above the horizon. It was a picturesque area, a quiet town with hard-working farmers, and a sunny day. Gerard couldn't ask for more.

    The town market was a small one, with a dozen or so booths arranged in a circle on the edge of town. One woman sold bread and sheeps cheese, another man sold wool in various processed forms, and another woman sold chickens, to name a few of the wares offered. Gerard had settled his cart outside the circle of booths, close enough to be noticed but not close enough to intrude. He was well aware that people were not always friendly to new folk wandering through, and some were especially judgmental of gypsies. 'Thieving scoundrels!' was a favorite curse of old men as they passed his booth. Gerard didn't care; he was used to it. People were entitled to opinions, even negative ones.

    His booth was composed of a table with a red and blue shawl draped over it for decoration. A black silk bag of knuckle bones sat on the table, and a deck of finely drawn cards sat opposite it on the table. Several quartz rocks decorating the table as well; a rose quartz, glimmering in soft pink, a smoky quartz (Gerard's favorite), with it's grey and white gradations, and a clear white quartz chunk the size of his fist. He was fond of collecting the mineral whenever he came across it, and had several lesser specimens in a box inside his cart.

    Behind his little booth was the small covered cart that served as Gerard's home. Inside it was a space big enough to sleep on, and room to store his few worldly possessions. It was light enough for the plump gray donkey, Marie, to pull along a road, as long as Gerard wasn't actually inside the cart when she was tugging. The donkey was standing next to the cart with her head hanging low and her eyes half closed with sleep. Now and then she snorted or flickered her tufted tail.

    "I know, it's a slow day. Think of it as relaxing," Gerard told her, turning in his chair to pat the donkey's velvet nose. She snorted into his hand, and he chuckled, wiping his hand off on his brown wool pants. He turned forward to look past his booth at the dozen or so people conducting their business and errands in the market. Gerard had a welcoming face. His brown hair was shoulder length, and in classic fashion, he had a few braids in it ending in beads. You didn't look like a mystic gypsy without braids and beads! His face was clean shaven and he had sleepy gray eyes. His eyes were the kind of gray you saw on a quiet, early foggy morning. His mouth was full and usually set in a faint, dreamy smile. His nose was straight and his dark brows gently arched over his eyes.

    He wore a cerulean blue tunic embroidered in red that day, and brown wool pants. He enjoyed the fact that his tunic matched the shawl on his table. He rolled his shoulders and stretched, yawning faintly. It was nearly noon and he had been sitting there all morning without a single customer. He didn't mind too terribly much. Telling fortunes and reading palms didn't exactly make him a whole lot of money. In fact, he made enough to buy some grain and the occasional chicken, but that was all he really needed. Though, sometimes he wished for company that talked with him. Marie just snorted at him when he spoke to her.

    "Fortunes! Get your fortunes! Down on your luck miss? I can tell you how to turn that around," he offered with a charming grin as an older woman passed his booth. He had a white grin and straight teeth. The woman frowned at him and waved a hand. He shrugged and relaxed in his chair. "What about you sir? You've got strong hands, let me read them and let you know what they have in store," he added to another fellow who had just finished buying eggs. The man glared at him and then barked a laugh as he strode away.

    Gerard lifted his white quartz and looked into it, turning it over in his hands. His eyes went distant, the fog clouding over his mind, and he sat there a while letting his brain wander. He heard a hacking cough and his eyes sharpened, the fog receding. His gray eyes became sharp as steel. He looked up to see a man and woman bartering for wool string. The man was middle-aged, with a fit body, but salt and pepper hair. Gerard frowned, eyes un-focusing for a moment and looking past the man, before he cleared his throat and set the quartz back on the table.

    "You sir! With the tan tunic!" he called, in a perfect, salesman-like tone. The man turned with raised brows to look at him. "You look like you want a card reading. Come on over!" Gerard waved a hand to his booth and offered another white smile.

    "Not today, ain't got the coin to waste on you," the man said, as cordially as one could with a comment like that.

    "Nonsense! Card reading on the house, it will brighten you and the Mrs.' day!" Gerard insisted.

    "No, thank you," the man replied, looking back to the wool. His wife muttered something to him and Gerard frowned for a moment before his face brightened with a fresh attempt.

    "Just five minutes of your time," Gerard insisted, in a nearly sing-song, taunting voice. "If it sounds absolutely absurd, I could even pay you for your time!" He laughed and the man huffed, turning heel and heading over to his booth. The man didn't look like he wanted a card reading.

    "Listen, I've had a long morning and ain't got time to bother with no gypsy magic," the man snapped, stopping on the other side of the booth and pointing at Gerard. Gerard's eyes watched the finger tip waver in front of his face, his eyes focused on the point, like a hawk on a rabbit. "So you just leave me and my-" the man cut off, wheezing in a breath and letting out another hacking cough onto his hand. Gerard stood quickly and reached out to touch the man's shoulder.

    "You alright? Take it easy, I did not mean to upset you," Gerard said, sounding distracted as he watched the man cough. He squeezed the man's shoulder comfortingly, and then shivered, goosebumps breaking out over his olive skin. The man abruptly stopped coughing and Gerard felt the hairs on his arms stand on end. He removed his hand and sat back into his chair heavily. "Just take it easy," he said breathily, and the man had a confused expression on his face as he looked around.

    "Yeah..yeah, sorry," the man muttered, rubbing his chest and then heading back to his wife, who had her hands on her hips and was clearly not impressed. Gerard drew in a deep breath and let it out slowly, smiling dreamily as he reached back to pat Marie. This time, she nuzzled his hand.

    Nope. Gerard couldn't ask for much more for a job.
     
    #1 Sjöfn, Sep 10, 2014
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2014
  2. Through an open window a warm breeze made its way inside the small room bringing a myriad of sounds with it, the market was not so far off and it was every bit as lively today as any other day. Stall owners trying to bring in customers, people talking and bartering, animal sounds and childrens laughter all mixed into the familiar and enjoyable chaos that Thea had grown up with and loved. It was a sound of life, the small town’s pulse one might say and it was just as much a part of this town as the beautiful landscape around it.

    Thea sat with her legs crossed on the floor, not very lady like and her late mother would surely cringe at the sight, a piece of cloth draped over her lap to protect her clothes. In her right hand she held a chunk of wood, a quite dark one but hidden inside was lines of beige that would offer a stunning contrast when she was done with the piece. In her left hand she held a carving knife and in quick succession she placed the knife against the wood, placed her right thumb on the dull side of the blade and started carving away excess wood.

    Working quickly, carving in the direction of the grain Thea hummed to herself as she often did when working, singing distracted her but humming soft melodies was a way to keep her concentration. In her hands the chunk of wood started to gain a shape, a rounded body with a small tail and the rough beginnings of a pair of long ears.

    Choosing a smaller knife Thea started carving out the details and smooth out the rabbit as much as possible with just the knife. Pushing strands of dark brown hair from her eyes she put the knife down and picked a small file to further smoothen the wood. The small size made it tricky to reach all the areas, and the tiny patterns she'd carved in without losing the details but she was used to the precise work and before long the sculpture was nice and smooth, now she she just needed to add a finish and then it was done.

    Rising from the floor she shook the cloth that covered her lap to rid it off wood shavings and dust before folding it and placing in a drawer, stepping over to her shelf her brow furrowed in annoyance, she was out of linseed oil which meant she couldn’t finish her carving. Letting out a small sigh she left the small room she used as a workshop, grabbing a leather string from a desk she braided her hair loosely and tied it with the string, letting it hang over her left shoulder like usual, strands of hair quickly escaped the braid and fell free around her face as she fixed her simple cotton dress that today was a dark beige colour, it was tied in the front and by the sleeves and collar the white under dress could be seen.

    Grabbing her money pouch before leaving her house Thea soon reached the market and her intended booth, it was owned by a man who focused on selling materials and tools for people like herself, he was also the main carpenter in Stenton you could say. He was the one to go to when you wanted a new piece of furniture or needed repairs, he also helped build or repair houses, a few days a week he managed his booth.

    “Mornin’,” he greeted her with a smile and a nod “Haven’t seen you here for awhile, out looking for more materials? I’ve just gotten hold of some excellent new wood, arrived yesterday.” He said, motioning with his arm over the pieces of wood lying on the table, they were small and mostly for showcasing the types that were available.

    Thea frequented the booth often enough to know the owner, at least well enough for small talk. “Not today, I’m just looking for some oil for now, linseed like usual,” she answered with a smile. Casting a longing gaze on the fine grained pale wood, but she had enough at home to last awhile, it was no use buying more until she’d used up what she had, still it was some fine wood and Thea was already planning what she could carve that would fit the light colour and what to use that would contrast nicely.

    “Alright, another day then,” the owner searched out a bottle of oil while speaking. Thea gave him the coins for the oil and left after exchanging a few more words regarding their shared passion of wood works. Walking back through the market her pale green eyes was drawn to a spot of colour just outside the ring of booths, a young gypsy sat by the table and Thea guessed he was a traveller judging by the cart behind him with a sleepy looking donkey next to it, the animal looked quite uninterested in the bustling market nearby or people walking by.

    Curiosity lit Thea walked up to the gypsy, the cards in front of him indicated he not only sold the rocks but did the usual card readings one mostly associated with gypsies, and although she had little belief in fortune telling or any such things a small part of her was always hopeful something like that would be real although she so far had seen no real proof it was indeed real. “What beautiful stones,” she said with a smile, her always visible dimples deepening, as she looked up from the table to look at the guy. He was not bad looking and with his braids and beads together with the colourful clothes and mysterious eyes he definitely passed as a gypsy, not that Thea had met that many before, only the occasional traveller that passed through Stenton on the way to bigger towns with more people and by that more chances to earn money.

    Looking down at the pink ones again she was tempted to try and use one in one of her wooden carvings, maybe as a necklace, she had never worked with stones or minerals before but she very much wanted to match the pink stones with a nice dark wood. “What kind of stones are they, and are they all for sale?”
     
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  3. Gerard relaxed for the remainder of the morning. Occasionally he called out for customers, but he had no luck in attracting one. Even then, he didn't mind; he was pleased with his morning. Marie snorted softly behind him and he patted her nose distractedly as he watched a little girl chase a grasshopper. He was so distracted by the young child that he didn't notice the young woman approach his booth until she spoke. He turned to look up at the woman and then at the rock. It took his mind a moment to catch up with his eyes and the situation. A smile crossed his face and he reached out to lift the large pink quartz rock and hold it up.

    "These, my dear lady, are minerals and are not actually rocks. I know, strange," he grinned. "These kindly little bits of material make up a rock. Dozens of kinds of minerals combine to make all sorts of stone. These minerals are sort of like souls for rocks. Marvelous things, really. And quartz comes in all colors. This one is called rose quartz," he said fondly. "Unfortunately I won't sell the ones on the table but I have many more in my cart. I can bring those out if you're interested," he set the quartz back down and sat back in his chair to look up at her. "I found these ones in the mountains. They are all over, if you ever get a chance to look around." He nodded to the Sundoran mountain range, peaked in white.

    "Quartz has many uses. It captures energy from souls. It's sort of a good luck charm. I only put good energy into my rocks. Bad energy is bad luck," he shrugged. "Quartz helps me concentrate when I do readings." He paused before looking at her quizzically. "I have not told any fortunes today or read any cards. And...wait. Wait. I'm seeing something," he grinned and narrowed his eyes, touching his temples. "I think...l...yes...I see that you want a card reading! I see that in your future," he teased. "And I see that I will even read your future for free. What do you say? Entertain a poor gypsy for free?" His gray eyes were bright as he looked up at her and offered a hand. He didn't get to have nice conversations often, and this girl had a sweet look to her.
     
  4. "Oh?" Thea looked once more at the rocks or rather, the minerals, as he began to explain about them, she could not see much difference herself between these minerals and rocks but then again she was not much of an expert. "Rocks have souls?" She asked, amused and bewildered, it was most likely an expression but it was a rather fitting one though, the delicate minerals would fit perfectly as a representation of a soul. "I'd love to see them, I really want one of those pink ones, the rose quartz, if you have some of those." Her mind had already started designing the necklace that would be created, sifting through different woods in her head trying to find the perfect dark hue to match the pink mineral, maybe a simple, very dark brown or perhaps one with a trace of red in it or even a reddish maroon with dark lines weaving along the grains.

    Thea looked over at the mountain range, she had never been there, the furthest she had been from Stenton was just beyond the fields of cotton and wheat when she and some other children played hide and seek among the tall crops. She had always admired the Sundoran mountains and the forest that stretched seemingly endlessly away from the town but she had never been overtaken by the urge to just leave town to see for herself, in a way she was a person of habit, despite her energy she liked things when they didn't change. "I rarely leave town but if I do I'll go take a look, that is if I can make it there and back with my sense of direction," it was not just a joke, part of it was true, her sense of direction was deplorable. Although it was a tad easier to learn the outline of a city in her opinion, there was so many different landmarks and stores that it was easier to keep them apart, outside the town though everything looked the same to Thea, a funky looking tree or rock were not as common as one might think so she rarely found landmarks to memorize.

    "For free, really?" She asked, an eyebrow arched in question, a smile playing on her lips. "Don't tell me you'll see a terrible disaster in my future and offer some good luck charms for a nice prize?" Her tone light and teasing, matching the young man's voice. "Isn't it bad for business to do stuff for free though? But why not it could be fun," she extended her hand to him, curious but a bit unsure of what to do. She had never done anything like this, as a sceptic she mostly thought fortune telling and stuff was for children, born a sceptic as she was, but she also believed that nothing was impossible until proven so it was perhaps better to say she had an open mind with a sceptic streak.
     
  5. "Excellent!" he said excitedly when she agreed to have a fortune told. He nudged a stool out from under the table with his foot. "Sit, and we can get started." He straightened and sat on the edge of his chair, taking her hand delicately. He had slender hands, with long fingers. His skin was soft too, clearly not the skin of a hard-working man. Unlike the farmers who plowed the land and had thick calluses to prove it, the worst Gerard had to worry about was a paper cut. He turned her hand over, looking over her palm. He grinned and looked up at her.

    "Quite contrary, sweet girl. Free business is excellent business. You are my free advertising," he teased with a wink. People could watch her fortune be told, and perhaps that would earn him a coin or two today. Or, perhaps he would impress her enough he could get a coin from her! ...Or, at least sell her some pink rose quartz from inside his cart. He cleared his throat and looked back down to peer over her palm.

    "Oh, I will tell you if there are any terrible disasters for sure. But so far, I don't see any," he assured her. He had been taught by his grandmother on how to read palms. It was simple. There was a life line, a wealth line, and a love line. Depending on how the length of creases, where creases intersected or diverged, different events could be 'determined.' Of course, Gerard didn't believe a lick of it! But it was fun to do, and earned him money. He relied far more heavily on the accuracy of his cards than of hands. He had seen what his cards could predict.

    "So, I will explain how this works." His fingers pet the inside of her palm, along the two parallel lines that ran underneath where her fingers joined her hand. "I read your palm. I can determine some general things about love, life, and fortune that way. It also helps me get a feel for your energy." Now that was the one thing Gerard was absolutely certain of. Touching her palm in this way, he felt her life surging through her veins. He felt the heat of her skin radiating from her palm, he saw the faint aura of her soul rising to meet his touch. He could feel it's strength, humming and warm beneath his fingertips. Her aura and spirit was strong right now, unlike the man he had touched earlier. That man had been waning.

    "After I have a feel for your energy, any questions you have about the future I can answer with my cards. I need your energy to help direct my reading. Shall we begin?"
     
  6. Thea seated herself on the small stool as he said, putting down the bottle of oil by her feet as she did so, still feeling a bit sceptic but the man's enthusiasm was quite contagious. As he took her hand she found herself a tad bit envious of his hands, they were smooth and slender, not even women usually had skin like that, let alone the men around the town. Sure her own wasn't exactly rough or calloused but she had a fair amount of small scars on both fingers and palms after slipping when she was carving, mostly from when she was still learning but one of those knicks on the tip of her middle finger had healed only recently, and working with wood everyday had made her hands strong.

    "Well, in that case I'll consider myself lucky then," she answered with a smile. A nice change actually, it was not that Thea was unlucky but neither was she especially lucky, it was more like whatever brought or took away luck most of the time ignored her completely. "But can my own hands really tell so much about my future?" Thea asked curiously, her eyes locked on the hand he was holding as if she'd suddenly see something that had not been there before, she was starting to feel a bit excited despite herself.

    Although, if this actually did work Thea doubted he would see much of interest seeing as her work was her life, well maybe if it involved a large order from a rich person in need of some nice wooden decorations who was also willing to pay well. But when you lived in Stenton that was too much to hope for and as long as could make ends meet Thea was satisfied with her low income. Love was usually not even on her mind, absorbed as she was by her passion for her work but at times she would see a happy family and feel a bit envious but then she lost herself in a new piece and that thought was gone again.

    Thea only nodded in answer, pondering slightly on what exactly energy felt like and by now quite interested in what he would see.
     
  7. Gerard nodded as he peered over her hand. "Oh yes, hands can tell your future. Your hands make your future, afterall. But hands are very vague. That's why I'll need the cards." His finger traced along the long line that wrapped around the thick muscle at the base of her thumb. "This line is your life line. It's thick and strong - that's a good sign," he said, nodding, and very into his work. His grey eyes were sharp as steel, and focused on the lines. "And this line is the line of head," he traced the arcing line next to the life line. "It tells me about how creative you are. You've got a long line - I take it you're very creative. Artwork or something, perhaps?" he asked, looking up at her. Telling the future and palm reading was an art in itself; the art of observation. He had watched her buy oil earlier, and it wasn't cooking oil. She was sealing something with it - canvas, or wood, or moistening clay. He looked back to her palm.

    He moved his fingers to the outside edge of her hand, and pointed to a small wrinkle below her pinky finger. "This is the marriage line. It's thickness indicates your emotional bond to whoever you marry. It doesn't tell me if you marry," he added. "But if you do marry, you will have a very strong bond. It's a thick line," he smiled. His fingers pet down her palm to the solid line in the center of her palm, that lined up below her middle finger. "Now this is interesting," he frowned faintly. "This is the line of fate. It can indicate a career, or luck in general. Right here, see how this wrinkle splits?" He pointed to a spot near the middle of the line. "You have a change of fate right here. It could be good or bad. Perhaps you go to the mountain to find quartz and fall and break your leg, permanently crippling you. That would be bad fate. Or perhaps you discover diamonds, I can't tell. But you have a big change of fate, near the middle of your life. I will have to ask the cards to find more about it, if it is good or bad," he explained. He released her hand and sat back.

    "Have I peeked your interest? Shall we continue and see what the cards have to say about your fate? I know I'm curious." Behind him, Marie snorted in agreement.
     
  8. Thea followed his movements with her pale green eyes as he traced the lines in her palm as he spoke, she had already forgotten to be sceptic about the reading, when it was done she would most likely pass it off as a nice thing to pass time with, unless some of the readings actually came true. Then it would be a whole other matter, but for now she was absorbed into the whole thing. "Yes, I carve wood actually," Thea said, her voice a bit surprised and impressed at the same time as she glanced up at him. She had no clue how to read palms nor how much of it was an observing eye and judgment of people, so although he said it was a vague technique she was still impressed that he could point that out.

    When he showed her marriage line and explained it she raised a hand to her wooden necklace without noticing it herself, carressing the dark flower before letting her hand fall back into her lap, playing with her necklace was a habit she had never been able to get rid off and without it tied around her neck she felt almost naked. This particular necklace was also a rememberance of a happy family so without having meant it the gypsy had earned himself extra credit, in her mind a strong bond meant a happy couple and that would lead to a happy family so to Thea that was the best part about the reading so far.

    "Ain't that something to look forward to," she said drly at his remark about her fate line. It would certainly not be as bad as it could be although she held no hope for herself suddenly becoming incredibly lucky. But he had indeed peeked her interest, she looked past him as the donkey snorted as if she had understood the conversation and wanted to add her opinion, the thought brought a smile to her face once more.

    "You have indeed," she said directing her attention back to the man. "Although I admit that I'm a sceptic normally, I'm now very interested to see what your cards can tell."
     
  9. Another warm, gentle smile spread on Gerard's lips when the woman admitted to being curious. He was a good salesmen when given a chance. So what if this actual sell didn't make him money? He had already caught a few people in the market looking on in curiosity. If he really impressed this woman, other people might come over and actually pay a few coins. He could almost smell the chicken he would buy and roast for dinner tonight! He just had to keep this woman entertained, and based off her smile, she was.

    "Excellent," he grinned, sitting forward. He brought out his deck of tarot cards. They were on sturdy parchment, and all hand-painted. It was a very delicate, pricey looking set of cards. He was quite proud of them. "Here is how this works. You will shuffle the cards, however you like. When you shuffle the cards, breathe deeply and think positive thoughts of the future. When you breathe out, pretend your air and spirit are brushing over the cards, giving the cards your energy. I want the cards to know you, just as my hands now know your hand. It will make the reading easier." He held out the deck to her and looked at her expectantly.

    "When the cards are shuffled, I will take them back. You will ask the cards about your twist of fate and I will lay them out. I will interpret the spread of cards, and we can ask further questions from there. Hopefully I won't see anything too bad!"
     
  10. "Okay, I have no idea if I'll succeed but I'll do my best," Thea said as she carefully took the cards he held out. They were without a doubt the prettiest deck of cards she had ever seen, that they were handpainted in such quality was amazing, even though Thea could not paint to save her life she had a good eye for art and these cards were certainly a work of art. She couldn't help but look at them a bit before starting to shuffle them, doing her best to think positive thoughts as she did so.

    Afraid to damage them she simply divided the deck in half and shuffled them back together again, her brows knitted together slightly as she concentrated on breathing in and out and to avoid any negative thougts. But somehow the brain wants to think about the things you are trying to not think about, one of the many wonders and annoyances of the human brain. She did manage to think positively most of the time, but some less happy thoughts sneaked their way in as well but the cards would just have to do with the mostly positive mix that she tried to visualize left her and brushed over the cards.

    After thoroughly shuffling the deck and finishing by dividing it in half and putting the bottom half on top, she didn't really know why she had to do that whenever she shuffled cards, not that she used cards all that often but it was something she had always done. "There," she handed the cards back to the gypsy and looked expectantly to see how he would continue. "So I just ask the cards then?" She said a bit hesitantly to him to make sure before she turned her pale eyes to the cards.

    "What can you see about the twist of fate in my future?" She asked, feeling just a little weird talking with a deck of cards.
     
  11. Gerard watched her shuffle the cards, treating the paper painting with care and respect. He approved of her handling the cards in such a delicate way. The deck was an expensive one, and he personally believed that the more a person invested into the shuffling of the cards, the more the cards invested into reading the situation. He took the cards back from her and began to set out the spread of cards as she asked the question. He set out ten cards, face down. He drew in a deep breath and the first card he flipped over was the one second down in the second row. It had another card crossed over it.

    [​IMG]

    "This card represents you. You are the Page of Wands. You're creative, passionate, witty, occasionally outspoken. You have a spark of fire in you, you're inventive, and you like to seek out opportunities with a lot of potential. Not a bad card to have represent you," he grinned, admiring the woman painted on the card. He turned over the second card, the card that was crossed over the card that represented Thea. On the card was a great tree being struck by lightning. It's ancient, strong branches were burning.

    "This card is the conflict you face. The Tower represents a sudden change, crisis, a great explosion that cannot be fully recovered from. It means that your past will become obsolete and that you cannot return to what once was," he frowned faintly, gazing at the card before up at the girl. "Whatever twist of fate you meet will entirely change your life. Maybe for better, maybe for worse, but whatever it does, you cannot be the same afterwards. Nothing will be the same afterwards." He moved his hand to the third card, the card above the one that represented the woman.

    "Ah, the moon," he said, scowling again. "This card usually is a good one, but having it after the Tower isn't so good. It tells me that this twist of fate will not only change you forever, but it will be a long journey for you. The moon signifies the unknown. You will not be able to predict the outcome of this, you will be in over your head, in a world that you do not understand. What will happen will be dangerous and you will be tempted to follow several paths. The path will be obscured by light and darkness brought by the moon. Choosing the wrong path will not end well, but if you follow the light given by the moon and take the right path, things might not turn out so bad."

    So far her reading became darker and darker. Gerard hadn't expected such an ominous read for the simple woman, but he had a feeling that the cards had much more to say. He turned over the fourth card, the last and bottom card of the second row.

    "This is the Five of Pentacles. It tells me about your past, and how your past is influencing this change of fate." He looked over the card, depicted a woman sitting on the ground, her face against her knees. She looked broken, sad, and alone. Near to her a butterfly lingered hopefully, trying to get her attention. Gerard's face softened sympathetically and he looked to the young woman. "This card tells me that you are alone in this world. If you have family, you are not close. Or perhaps you do not have family. Either way, you feel alone, and that will affect this change of fate because you do not have anything keeping you where you are. When the Tower is struck by lightning and fire, you have no one to put out those flames. You are on this route because of your loneliness. But there is hope," he added, his finger pointing to the butterfly. "There is someone on this journey who can help you, if you chose to have that help and companionship."

    His hand hovered over the lonely card furthest to the left. He didn't like the feel of it. He looked to the woman. "We are almost halfway through the reading. This card tells me what will happen next in your future. It will tell me more about this dark twist of fate. The rest of the cards will tell me the outcome of the situation and your choices. Thea... do you want to keep going? Do you want to know what your future holds?" The card beneath his hand felt cold, and distant. He was almost afraid to turn it over. Was he asking her if she wanted to keep going, or was he asking himself?
     
    #11 Sjöfn, Sep 20, 2014
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2014
  12. Thea was struck speechless as the gypsy started his reading of the cards that he had carefully placed out on the table face down, it was not possible that he could know all this about her beforehand. The card representing her was not a complete surprise, she had always been creative and inventive, always enjoying a challenge and knowing what she wanted but the next card was more ominous. A crisis that would change everything, even if it was for the better she could never go back to her life the way it was now, if the card read the truth. Could the cards really predict the future?

    The third car he turned made her a bit hopeful, she liked the moon and surely it must be a good card with it's light and beauty but that was soon crushed when the man read it as a negative card, or at least negative for her since the tower preceded it. This card was the worst by far, to basically be lost without being able to see the outcome and be torn between several choices that all but one would lead to, well she had no idea really but to something bad. Normally Thea liked testing new things, like in a creative way or learn new things but she was also a person who liked feeling secure when things went along like they always had, change wasn't always good and so Thea had learned to appreciate, and in a way hide in, a calm and peaceful life. But that would change as it appeared now and she feared the choice the cards spoke of, if she would be able to see the correct path and be strong enough to take it. Knowing the correct choice didn't mean it was simple to just go along with it, many times the easiest choice was the wrong one while the hardest and most troubling one was the best one in the long run.

    Now this, the man couldn't have known before meeting her, that her past had left her alone, it didn't appear like that as Thea was friendly with most and knew many people in the small town quite well but in reality she did feel lonely. She had a secure and good life with friends so she knew it was unfair to feel lonely when she technically was not, but she lacked a true friend and at the same time she had no close family that and something inside of her made her feel disconnected in a way, like she didn't really fit in here in Stenton anymore. That's when the first truly positive revelation came, that there could be someone to help her with this troubling fate, if of course she realised who it was.

    During the reading Thea had inched forward to the edge of her seat, her attention never wavering from the cards or the one reading them, but now a sense of dread settled into her chest as she met the gypsy's eyes, if the reading so far had been mostly dark then what could be hiding behind the next card if even the one interpreting them seemed apprehensive. But she couldn't just stop now, if she told him to leave it be she would never be able to stop thinking about what had been hiding behind these last cards. What had started as a fun way to pass time had evolved to become interesting albeit still not really something to take seriously and now it had taken hold of Thea, maybe she'd laugh it of later but for now it all seemed very real, after all how else could these cards describe her so well. But there really was no other option than to go ahead.

    "Even if the reading has been anything but cheerful so far I could never stop without knowing the rest of it, maybe it's something bad lurking in my future that it would be best to not know about beforehand." Her voice was serious and calm but notes of fear seeped through it as she looked down at the cards. "But I know that if I quit now I would always wonder what would have happened if I had continued the reading. So, please continue." Looking up from the cards again her green eyes void of whatever unease her voice betrayed.
     
  13. The poor woman looked frightened. Gerard felt sympathetic, but even he was curious to finish the card reading. He could have never guessed this outcome for Thea. He thought the cards would interpret that she would find love and settle down, or something along those lines. A girl from Stenton didn't get caught up in matters like this. Her life would change forever, she was lonely, and she might find a friend to help with the situation. But what exactly what the situation? What would change her life? Gerard's stormy gray eyes looked back to the fifth card, the card his hand hovered over. This card would tell him what they both wanted to know. He turned it over.

    "The Knight of Swords," he murmured. The card showed a man with battle armor, admiring a shimmering blade while he rode on the back of a giant black bird. Flying around the great bird were dozens of other kinds of birds, their wings ushering in billowing storm clouds. Stars sparkled in the sky in front of the mounted, air-born knight, but there was only darkness behind him. The knight's face was proud and sure as he inspected his blade. It was a beautiful card.

    "You are going to meet someone. This person will be the one to set the tower on fire, the one to change everything. This person has very strong beliefs, and will do anything to get what he wants, to defend what he believes. You will not be able to reason with him, because this person is not affected by emotions, especially the emotions of others. He will be relentless and will not back down. The knight is a ruthless seeker, and a storm gathers in his wake." Gerard scowled, looking over the cards he had revealed so far, trying to put them together. "Perhaps...he is a very persistent suitor? I'm not sure yet." What would this man want with her, other than marriage? Surely she didn't own some great swathe of land, otherwise Gerard didn't know what a man would want with Thea's sweet face.

    His hand moved to the sixth card, the lonely card in the middle between the second row and the last row. "This card will tell me what you want out of this situation." He flipped it over and revealed the Six of Swords. A boy was curled on the back of a great swan, that was flying him away from the watchful black crows. Gerard wet his lips and breathed slowly. It was a grim card. "What you will want with this situation, is to survive. This is a situation of life and death..." he said softly. Horrible thoughts of a persistent suitor attempting to rape this poor woman came to mind. Was that her awful twist of fate? He shuddered at the thought. "The Six of Swords is passage through troubled times. You will be exhausted and unable to go on, and the swan - perhaps the friend I saw in the earlier card - will fight to save you from the situation. Thea," he looked up from the cards, "I'm very serious about this. You have someone who is coming to hurt you. You need to find a friend, someone you can truly rely on, because they are going to get you through this. You need the swan to bear you away from this man, or you will not survive." He sighed and looked to the last four cards. He was feeling tired now; this reading was draining him.

    He flipped the bottom card on the last row. "The Ace of Swords." Three white swans flew around a shining, sharpened sword. "This tells me how you will feel during this whole situation. The Ace of Swords tells me you will cut through the problems like a blade. You will clear a path for justice. Swans are beautiful, delicate looking creatures but they are made of muscle and bone and can be strong. You won't give up when the trouble comes, you will fight and you will fight with everything you have. That is why you will need the friend to help you out of the situation. You will use all your energy fighting and won't be able to escape when the time comes. This is good news. I think it means you will get out of this whole situation. This man won't kill you, if you are strong and fight, and take the help of your friend." His hand moved to the card above it and flipped it over to reveal the Three of Pentacles. A man holds onto a woman who sits calmly, enjoying the stars and nature. They are at peace, and the couple is bound together in a length of white fabric.

    "This card tells me how others see you in the situation. It shows other influences on you. This one is suggesting again, the presence of a second person, a friend. This card indicates there is teamwork between you and that person. Together you can overthrow the seemingly unstoppable force of the Knight of Swords. If you do not work with this person, you will not survive. You will need their help through the journey, and you will need their help especially to escape the situation, since it will take all your energy." They were almost done with the reading; there were two cards left. Although the cards were vague and could not tell him more than they already hard, Gerard feared this woman would be pursued by a violent man. He would take her innocence, and not in the nice way either. What else could the cards mean for a woman of the small town of Stenton? He flipped over the card second from the top.

    "Two of Swords. You have a lot of swords in this deck. Swords represent air; fluidity, movement. It's strong but can be changed. That means this whole situation isn't set in stone. If one thing happens wrong, none of this will occur, do you understand me? Perhaps your future isn't set on this course. Any deviation of the wind and your future may have a course that avoids the Knight of Swords." He hoped that helped ease Thea's fear. He feared for her, too. This was by far the darkest reading he had ever given someone. And here he was, just hoping to entertain someone and advertise his business. Instead, he was telling a pretty young woman that her life would be forever changed by a horrible man. He cleared his throat and looked back to the Two of Swords. A cloaked man held two crossed swords, barring the path of a swan. Between them dangled a heart.

    "This card lets me know about your hopes and fears for the situation. It's referring to your friend again. Apparently, getting the help of this friend won't be as easy as you hoped. This person is all that will get you through the entire mess, but they have problems of their own. They are closed and will need your help to open up. Just as you need their help to survive, they need your help to thrive. See this man? He blocks the swan, and the swan offers him her heart as a token for passage. You will have to gain this persons trust in order to get their help. You certainly have your work cut out for you," he sighed. He flipped over the last card, eager to finish this reading.

    It was another grim sight.

    A single swan lay on the ground, her wings spread, and she was pierced by three swords. Crimson blood stained her pretty white feathers, and she turned her head down in defeat. Above her was a bleeding heart. Gerard tried to keep from frowning. Couldn't the cards give this woman just one happy omen? Each card seemed to hold a new trial and tribulation for Thea. Perhaps she could survive the whole situation, but she needed that friend, and that friend would even be a problem in her future. "This card is the outcome of the situation, if you do not succeed. If you do not gain this friends help, and you do not fight with all your power, you will be alone with your misery and pain. There is grief and heartbreak in this card, loneliness and isolation. I do not see your friend in this card; you will be completely alone. I don't know what will happen to them if you fail, but you will be defeated and give up to the pain, if you can't defeat the Knight of Swords."
     
  14. If Thea had imagined anything to come out of this reading then this was not it, she lived in a small town where pretty much nothing happened, it was a safe and friendly place and people who lived in it did not get dragged into such dangerous trials, it just didn't happen. Well, the ancient and slightly crazy old man Arden did have some pretty wild stories from his younger days, if they were true or the fabrications of an old man were disputed. But whether his stories were true or not Thea couldn't imagine them ever taking place in a small place such as Stenton, things like that didn't happen here.

    For each card the gypsy turned over the prediction became ever darker and Thea wondered if this was even real, the only bright part about this reading seemed to be this friend that would be her sole hope and even that part was partly dark seeing as it seemed like an obstacle in itself to win said persons friendship. It was also incomprehensible to Thea for why this unknown man, the Knight of Swords, would pursue her so relentlessly she did not think she would be able to thoroughly piss someone off so much they'd want her dead, and she had little belief it was a stubborn suitor. While she did not think lowly of herself or her skills Thea was more the type to not think her own importance so great, the very thought of her having a suitor so relentless he would do anything was just absurd in her mind. Then there was the symbol of the swords that he explained, that the events were not the only route the future could take, but how did one choose what to do to change events you had no clue about and Thea suspected that once she met this Knight of Swords and got it all figured out it would be too late to change anything.

    "But even if this future is not set in stone, then how do I know what to change to avoid this?" Her voice not quite as strong as usual as she spoke but with a deep breath she was back to normal. "Maybe my tries to do something to change the future is what will be causing it to happen instead." Or make it worse, there was no telling what was the best cause of action until afterwards so in a way it was probably better to not overthink it, if there was no way to predict when and what would happen it was better to let it play out like it should. Whatever happens, happens, it's no use worrying when there is nothing to do about it, it was something Thea had practised for many years, it also worked in a past sense, whatever happened, happened, there is no way to change the past.

    Well, there was one more positive sign, that she would probably survive and be helped to safety by that mysterious friend after this twist of fate was over, whatever it was, but then again only if she had managed to win his or hers trust and friendship before that, the last card more than proved it was an important bond to forge, if not then no matter how hard she fought she would not be able to win alone. But that just brought her back in a circle to the very first question, what did this man want with her? Unless they were after some nice wooden decorations for their house or some nice jewellery then she had no idea what she could have to offer someone that would cause this whole mess.

    "Well I hope they survive," Thea said. "I wouldn't want someone to die when I was not strong enough." No one with a heart would want another's life on their conscience especially if you had a real chance of preventing it. But that was also a problem, this man, her enemy, sounded very strong and without remorse so how would she be able to defeat someone like that, the only weapon she had ever handled was her carving knives and that was hardly a skill that could save her against someone who wielded any kind of weapon. "Just to be clear, are your cards always correct in these readings?" Maybe there was a chance the gypsy wasn't always right, as things were going however that seemed like a slim chance.

    Her eyes on the last card with the dying swan, a frown on her face, Thea wondered what evil deeds she could have done in a previous life to earn this deadly future?
     
  15. Gerard felt guilt blossoming in his chest as his stormy eyes looked over the poor, young womans face. She was distraught and he didn't blame her. This reading had not encouraged paying customers to show up and it had not been a pleasant reading for this woman. Neither of them were winning in this situation. He listened to her and drew in a deep breath before looking over the spread of cards laying before them. Swans pierced with swords, knights riding giant black birds, ancient trees burning. He had never drawn such a dark fortune. In fact, he had never drawn one that had such a vivid story. Most his fortunes were the usual 'blah blah blah, you'll get married, have babies, have great fortune and die happy.' Most readings were incredibly vague, and he had to lie and con his way through them. But this reading? He felt it in his bones. He felt the darkness in the cards. He felt the truth as strongly and as surely as he had felt the woman's soul beneath her skin when he had held her hand.

    "This reading is not wrong," he said, sounding sure. He studied the cards before looking to the woman again. "And you can never know how to avoid the darker paths of the future. Your future dangles like a single thread in the wind. At any moment it collide with any hundred of threads floating with it. I can't tell you how to avoid this path. I can tell you if events have been set in motion, however. I can tell you if you're already on this path. Perhaps that will provide some solace... I'm sorry," he added after a moment. "I don't usually give readings like this. I've never had such a strong one. And that's not gypsy salesmanship talking either," he said gravely. "I really am sorry that I scared you."

    He reached for the deck of cards and let his fingers rest on the stack. He closed his eyes for a moment, watching the darkness and colors behind his lids. He drew in a deep breath. Air filled his lungs, passing through his nose and bringing with it the scent of fresh turned earth, grass, something fresh like vegetables, and something sweet on the air. Distantly he heard the chatter of people in the market, the wind lightly teasing the fields of wheat, an then he heard Marie snort softly behind him. The sun was warm on his clothing. His chair was comfortable. Everything seemed calm, peaceful, blissful even. He let out his breath and drew a second one. Time seemed slow while he took the two breaths. He cleared everything from his mind. He hovered in gray nothingness, but slowly sparks of light moved around him. He felt the presence of others. He felt the woman across from her, her emotions running strong.

    Please, he thought as his thumb and forefinger gripped a card, please be a good sign. He flipped the card over. He opened his eyes and looked down.

    The card he held between his fingers was The Wheel. A beautiful green, knotted wheel was delicately painted in the center of the card. Gerards expression was frozen with hope for something good, but his expression fell. He set the card down so the woman could see.

    "It's the wheel of fortune. Life's threads have already come together. You are already on the path."
     
  16. Thea pushed back strans of dark hair as she looked at the grim cards, beautiful as they were they held a dark meaning and she wished she had declined the gypsy's offer for a reading and just bought her quartz and headed back home. Maybe it was better to not know your future but she had expected it to be a fun thing, a few vague predictions that may come true but this future was hardly something to look forward to. She still found it a bit hard to believe some one would want her dead and with such determination though, especially since strangers were quite uncommon in Stenton and those who came here were just passing by and she didn't have any large problems with anyone in town that she knew off. But the gypsy had sounded very serious when he assured her of the accuracy of this reading so completely ignoring it may not be the smartest thing to do either.

    "Don't worry about it," she said with a shake of her head. "It is not your fault that fate is out to get me." In no small way either, the way it sounded so far was fate doing it's best to kill her without outright pushing her of a cliff. She much prefered it when she was ignored by both good and bad luck, the peaceful and slightly boring life was so muh more tempting than fighting for your life with very slim odds in her favour.

    But she set her hopes on the next card he was about to draw, maybe it was still time to change the future, perhaps she could become a hermit in the mountains never leaving her small hut except to return to Stenton to sell her figurines. Only flaw with that plan was that she was not used to living out in nature and scared of the dark to boot besides she could never bring herself to hunt for survival so she would have to live on fruit unless she got food in town. So maybe the better choice was to stay indoors and avoid strangers the best she could, or maybe she could just go home and shake the entire thing off and label it as a bad day and go on with her life with nothing ever happening, but that would most likely be too easy. Her brain was obviously trying to conjure up stupid ideas in lack of any logic to cling to and it was probably safer for her to do nothing than to follow those plans.

    Her heart sank however as the man flipped to card and a knotted wheel was revealed and its meaning explained, so it was too late to do anything to avoid this path, so unless she could find this mysterious friend and they both helped each other then she would die and the person's fate probably less than happy because that was always how things like this went. If a bad guy won then very few got to live happily ever after, at least not anyone who had been in contact with said bad guy.

    "Maybe I do need one of those lucky charms," she said with a small, humorless chuckle. "There is no chance of you being able to see more details like when this man is supposed to arrive or where this mysterious friend is, are there?" Her tone was light and it was only partially meant as a serious question, after all if there had been something else in the cards he would most likely have seen it but she had to ask anyway.
     
  17. The girl across from Gerard laughed but there was no humor to her laugh. He felt Marie butt her nose against his shoulder and reached over to rub the velvet soft fur on her nose for comfort. The donkey was probably just begging for a treat but he liked to think she was trying to comfort him. He felt beyond guilty. He had ruined this woman's day, if not week. He prayed his predictions were wrong. Maybe the cards were just on the fritz. Maybe he had just read them wrong. But the energy between them, it all felt so strongly... He slowly started gathering up the cards he had spread them out and put them back into his deck. His shook his head at her question.

    "Technically I could ask when the man will appear, and where your friend is, but delving too deeply into the future can have its consequences too. Knowing everything can change outcomes, and not always for the better either. I don't think it's really a good idea to keep looking into your future." He shuffled the deck and lay it back down on the table. "As for good luck charms, I think you've earned one on the house." His advertising scheme had failed, and now he was giving things out for free... Oh well. He never admitted to being a good salesman. He stood up, brushing down his red and blue tunic, and stepped around his donkey to duck into the back of his cart. He had a small chest of rocks and knick knacks. He opened it, sifting through until he found a chunk of rose quartz that fit comfortably in the palm of his hand. It still had some dirt clinging to it from when he had collected it, but there were two large prism-like crystals in this particular chunk. He was about to close the box when he spotted a black feather, and he plucked that up too. He returned to the table and sat down.

    "Here. This is some of that rose quartz. This piece has good energy, I can tell. See the crystals? To find one like this is more rare, quartz is usually just a big blocky chunk. Keep it, for good luck. A little water will get that dirt off just fine. And this? This is a raven feather." The black feather was the length of Gerard's hand, and in good condition. The black filaments shone blue-black in the bright sunlight. He didn't know if it was actually a raven feather. It could be a grackle, or vulture, or crow for all he knew. But he was a story teller, and he had to try and weave some sort of good ending out of this horrible mess of a card reading. "Raven's are smart birds. Much smarter than owls, if you'll believe me. They can solve all sorts of puzzles and problems, and get themselves out of all sorts of messes. Keep this too, and maybe the raven will bring you some good fortune." He set both the feather and the quartz before her, pausing to look over her face.

    "If you're still feeling uncomfortable about all of this, come see me this evening. I'll make you some tea and tell you about the time a raven outwitted an old witch who wanted his feathers for a cloak. It will get your mind off things, even if just for a short while... I'm Gerard, by the way," he added, realizing he had not introduced himself yet. "Anyways...I hope these bring you luck and good fortune, and I hope you can spare some time to hear about a happy story later."
     
  18. The answer did not really surprise her, Thea had already guessed it although she had not been able to hinder the question from leaving her lips, it was one of those human instincts seeking comfort and guidance against something bigger than yourself. And what could be bigger than a lowly human than fate itself, some, including Thea, may not put much faith into the concept of fate but somethings can change your mind, like an experience like this. "Are you sure?" Thea asked, the gypsy had already offered her the reading for free and now the charm as well. "I almost feel like I'm robbing you getting all this for free. But thank you." The words more heartfelt than the simple sentance would indicate.

    Taking the quartz in her hand Thea admired the tone that shifted between the palest whitish pink to a deeper rose colour, light bounced of the two crystals in the middle, making the light play nicely in the quartz. The raven feather, shining blue black in the sun was a nice addition and her artistic sense liked the contrast with the rose coloured mineral. If what the gypsy said was true then maybe the bird who dropped the feather could lend her some help through that. If it was any other day wishing the help of a raven through a feather would have sounded strange and slightly insane to her.

    "Nice to meet you Gerard, I'm Thea," she said, a small but warm smile spreading on her face. His kindness and genuine sadness over the negative cards made the grim future easier to handle, granted she had never interracted with many gypsies but if all were like Gerard she didn't see why his kind was so unwelcome and distrusted. "If it's no trouble I would like that actually," Thea said after a few beats of silence, not wanting to intrude but glad for the offer to get her mind off things. "See you later, and I hope not all potential customers have been scared off by my bad reading." Thea said as she stood up from the small chair, her voice apologetic, just before she was about to turn and leave she bent down and picked up the bottle of oil, having almost forgot why she was in the market in the first place.

    --

    Arriving home Thea placed the quartz and the feather on the table before heading to her small work room and proceeded to get her mind off things by continuing with her work, grabbing a piece of cloth she proceeded to oil the small rabbit. By being unusually thourough and repeating the process once Thea managed to draw out the time where her thoughts only focused on her work but eventually she had to annonce to piece finished and put it on a table to dry. Cleaning her hands of the oil she returned to the main room and picked up the feather, her mind starting to work on ways to use the feather so she could carry it with her. Returning to her work room Thea sorted through her various chunks of wood, checking for a nice size and colour, settling for a piece of curly maple, its light low saturated beige colour contrasted by dark tiger like stripes.

    Carving of a piece of it around the length of the feather shaft Thea put the larger chunk of wood back in its place before starting to carefully carve the small piece into an oval, with a small tool she procceeded to carve a thin hole in one end where the feather would go and with painstaking precision and care she created an indentation on the outside almost creating an hourglass shape. When finished Thea carefully smoothened the wood before oiling it so its natural luster was enhanced. While letting it dry Thea prepared a glue and picked out a leather string while the wood dried, then she glued the feather into the wooden oval, the hole was just barely wider than the feather shaft and fit snuggly inside, fastened by the glue. Wrapping the thin leather string around the indentation in the wood, leaving a small loop so it could be tied onto something else, the tie was made extra secure with a bit of glue Thea put it down on the table to dry.

    Cleaning up she went to the small kitchen area, her stomach reminding her that she had not eaten since her early breakfast, it was a common thing, absorbed as she became in her carvings Thea often forgot to eat. Eating a light meal of bread, cheese and meat all washed down with some almond milk, a drink made from beaten almonds boiled in water, sweet and creamy Thea liked it more than regular milk. Busying herself until dark fell with cleaning and caring for her carving tools to keep the in perfect shape, they were already old and Thea wanted them to hold for many years yet, it was a tie to her brother after all, his gift to her when she first became interested in wood working.

    As evening came creeping Thea put her things away and made sure everything was in order before she left, releasing her hair she combed it quickly before she took the now dry feather and tied a longer piece of leather to the loop then she rebraided her hair, beginning quite loosely and then tightinging it closer to the end and weaved the string into the braid. Pulling the finished braid over her shoulder like she usually wore it the feather dangled at the end, breaking off against her beige dress, locking her door after her Thea made her way back to the market.

    There was much fewer people out and about at this time, people had finished work and was home eating dinner, doing housework or relaxing before another day of work. The market was almost earily quiet in Thea's opinion, she had never been there after the stalls were closed and the silence felt odd. But Gerard's little waggon was there, the donkey standing by it looking calm like earlier and Thea felt more relaxed as well, animals knew atmosphere better than humans after all. "Hello," she called out, a bit unsure of what to do.
     
  19. The rest of the day was quiet for Gerard. One or two people came by his stall for idle chat, and to look at his quartz crystals, before wandering off. He made no money that day but he didn't mind. The weather was warm and sunny. The small crowd of small town folk was pleasant to listen and watch. He fed Marie and snacked himself, content to watch people, listen to birds and the wind over the fields, and pet Marie's nose. But in the back of his mind a darkness lurked, and he could not avoid it. The card reading he had given Thea that morning haunted him. He was certain he had no part in the poor woman's future, but something still felt wrong. He tried to tell himself that he just felt guilty for ruining her day and causing her an undoubtedly enormous amount of anxiety and worry. Those thoughts did little to comfort him, and he knew he could not blame only guilt for the strange heaviness in his shoulders.

    Towards the evening he packed up his things, folded his table, and set up a small fire. He sat on the ground atop a bright quilt, staring into the flames. The market was emptying as vendors packed up their stalls and went home. Night was falling and it was quiet except for crickets, the breeze, and the occasional sigh from Marie. Gerard still could not shake the odd feeling that had come over him ever since he read Thea's fortune. He stared into the flames of his small fire and looked up at the sky. The bright blue was becoming more purple as darkness fell. He could see a few pin pricks of stars. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up and he shivered, goosebumps breaking out over his arms. He looked over his shoulder, his gray eyes peering into the fields across the road, and the dark forest beyond that. The field swayed in the evening breeze. He heard the trees rustle very faintly. There were some sheep sleeping up on a hill to the left. He could barely make out the fluffy gray lumps in the distance. It was a serene image, but something was still wrong. He rolled his shoulders and faced the fire once more, rubbing his face.

    Marie snorted softly near him and he watched the animal. Her long ears were perked up, listening. Her eyes were open wide, and though her head hung lazily, she would turn it now and then to look. "Even you are wary right now," he mumbled, clenching and unclenching his palms anxiously. "We're both too antsy. It'll be alright," he told the donkey, but he could have been trying to soothe himself as well. He looked to the sky again, and could see more stars. Perhaps Thea wasn't coming tonight. He didn't blame her if she didn't. Who would want to hang out with a gypsy who gave bad omens? He wouldn't want to hang out with himself. He got up and stretched, going into the back of his cart to fetch a metal tea pot. "I'll be back. Watch my things," he told Marie, patting her nose with his free hand. He walked past her and into the dark market. The stalls felt empty and lonely, and the shadows were growing as the light of the sun faded behind the horizon. He shivered and looked over his shoulder at his cart, scowling.

    The well for the town was only a block over from the market. He made it there quickly, his long legs providing him with quick strides. He could not help but look over his shoulder often. His eyes saw nothing. It was quiet. The town was going to sleep. He tried to strain his eyes for the spark of life, someone hiding beyond sight, perhaps. But he saw nothing. He felt cold, and paused at the well to stare down into its darkness. "Quit it," he ordered himself. He was getting freaked out for no reason. He drew a bucket of water from the well and quickly filled his tea pot before walking rapidly back for his cart. He saw the yellow flames and his donkey, her head held high and her ears pointed towards him. "I'm here, I'm back," he told her as he got to her. He pat her neck for a while before setting the tea pot on the fire and settling beside the flames to wait for the water to boil. He rubbed his face tiredly, and looked over his shoulder again. Same as before, the fields held nothing but wheat, trees, and sheep.

    He jumped when he heard the voice and turned quickly to peer past the bright light of his fire, towards the village. It took him a moment to realize that had been Thea's voice. So he hadn't scared her off? "I'm here," he called, smiling widely. The darkness suddenly didn't seem so eerie now that he had company.
     
  20. At first having believed no one was by the small camp Thea realized Gerard was sitting on the other side of the fire, almost completely hidden thanks to the strong light and the darkness all around them. Rubbing her arms slightly she stepped closer and seated herself by the fire. The unease she had felt since leaving her home still remained but it had faltered to just a vague feeling, although being convinced it was just the late hour and eerie reading from earlier that caused it all Thea ignored it. Instead she smiled back warmly, doing her best to not think about the dark evening behind her back. "I hope I'm not disturing your evening?"

    Night had not yet fallen but stars already gleamed from the dark purplish blue sky and those faint lights offered more comfort than one would believe, small enough to barely offer any light on their own they were still lights. "Sorry if I'm a little late," she said, the heat from the fire having chased away any lingering chill from the evening breeze. "I lost myself in my work." A somewhat ambiguous statement, her first immersing in her work had been on purpose to hold of any stray thoughts on what dark events lay in her future but in the end she had lost track of time, even the simple, and boring by some, task of cleaning and caring for her tools was a task she liked and found calm and comfort in.

    "Did you attract any more customers or were they scared off?" How many wanted to learn their future when the person before them had such a grim expression although their own reading might be brighter than Thea's. "It seems you picked the wrong person as advertisement," she said with a crooked smile. The less she focused on the reading and the dark cards the more she could convince herself that it was not going to happen, that she had just been unlucky in which cards were dealt, but she couldn't completely get rid off the bad feeling the cards meaning had brought.
     
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