The Cards Never Lie.

 

Within the darkened halls of a Castle far off in the lands of Blood Rose, a Vampire walks – but little does he know that a woman seeks him out.  To find the answers to his past…his present and his future.

Co-written with SA.

 

RB:   

-It was in the wee hours that most of the Castle’s inhabitants were asleep.  This was Savage’s time to wander the hallowed halls on his night watch.  The Queen had stayed up late to attend to urgent business from one of her lesser allies, and so with the rabble having taken their leave, the Knight had the halls to himself once again.  The echoed sound of his footfalls would alert any that happened to enter the castle grounds that not all slumbered.  Eyes of silver narrowed at the slightest sound.  It was of course just the low whistle of the wind through the tower windows.  The odd clanking of metal chains that hung from the walls within the Queen’s chamber.  This was of course music to the ears of Nick.  Pressing his crimson stained lips together, he hummed to himself, as he walked along with a pronounced swagger.  Shoulders hunched forward, since he was conscious of his tall stature and how it appeared to others.  Onyx locks hung down over his eyes – his head bowed and his gloved hands shoved deep into his trench coat pockets.  Turning the corner, his shadow cast along the wall; almost like he was being followed by a ghoul of malice.  Taking his right hand from his pocket, he placed it up towards the weathered oak door to the Queen’s inner sanctum and let himself in.  Banners of the Blood rose ancestry hung from the walls, along with portraits of the former heads of state.  Soulless eyes staring down at the Knight as he passed under them – without care.  Reaching the middle of the floor, the Vampire tilted his head back and inhaled sharply.  The scent of dead roses still lingered within the air.-

~RB

 

SA:

What else could be said, about the creature that walked in the Halls of the most unlikely? She looked female, but most certainly was not one. More akin to a Monster. There was a presence to her. She wore a dark silk coat over her leather dress, the edges frayed, twisting as if alive. The lower half of her face could be seen, pale skin of alabaster, with dark red set lips. Such a heavy contrast between what was worn and what wasn’t. The coat was adorned with a silver chain, black pearls hung from it. As she entered, each sense held a tell. The sight of her, towering over others, despite an average height. The smell of burning incense, floating in thin air around her. The sound of her obsidian beads clanking together in her movement. Even the feel of her near. The air turned cold as she passed. The astute would notice certain aspects of the woman. Each movement lacked the mouth feel that was reality. When she moved, it was a smooth motion, perfectly done with its intention. And as she stood, or sat, it was completely motionless. The astute noticed she held no sway. Nothing that so attributed to the universal fact, that all are bound by Entropy. The way of Order into chaos, which invariably leads to the involuntary motion of cells fading away to death, only to be reborn, ad nauseam, until nothing but chaos is left. This was her, lacking in that fact. Chest did not rise nor fall. Each white strand of hair had its place, even found her lacking a shadow. There was a feeling of wrongness, however sleight. That which couldn’t possibly be, was. Subtle as it was, many would choose, instinctively or not, to ignore it. This was the Fortune Teller, the Blind Reader. “Fortunes told, for Females bold. Males apply, for a different side. The price is set, as can be. Three questions answered, truthfully.” She spoke in a deep rumbling of a voice, yet with a feminine accent, delicate and suave through a sardonic smile, pearly whites. The only polite way to bare fangs in company and as she spoke, her hand trailed long digits along a silver case in which lied a deck of cards. “Good evening~.”

 

RB:  

The slight sound of the crack of bone, caused by the turning of Nick’s head could be heard by those with sensitive hearing.  This was in response to the sudden arrival of another within the grounds.  The Knight glanced upward towards the time piece – a clock of some five hundred years, and he knew it was too early for dignitaries to grace the castle with their presence.  Turning on the ball of his right foot, yet remaining stony faced, Nick faced the entrance to which a woman appeared.  His brow creased slightly on the sight of her.  Remarkable, would be a word to use to describe her.  But the first thing he was aware of was the scent of burning incense.  Like the kind you found in quaint shops within the Asian markets.  In fact, Nick could not remember the last time he had smelt such a thing, though it brought about a hazy recollection of a woman he once knew.  The woman spoke in rhyme, and it piqued Nick’s interest.  From what was said, he assumed, be it wrong or right that she was a Fortune teller by trade.  Her voice could be described as being rich, yet with a dark quality.  This added to her allure, especially when she smiled.  ~Mmmmm~  The sporting of her elongated fangs, that pressed against her plump lips.  Naturally, it awakened the Knight deep within, and he withdrew his gloved hands slowly from the depths of his pockets.  Eyes like quicksilver traced their way down to the deck of cards that she held in her hands.  A reader of fortunes and dreams.  What price would he pay to hear her wisdom this eve?  The vampire made a curt bow, as he felt that formality was first and foremost of importance when meeting someone new.  “Salutations, my Lady.   Is it not a little late to be out on one’s own?”

~RB~

 

SA:

She could be the easiest categorized as a puzzle, the pieces of it scrambled all over the ground as none of the pieces had any connection to each other – They didn’t fit, no matter how much one would try to assemble the puzzle. A black mask placed upon her upper facial features, hiding them from sight as if guarding them away from outside view – Her greatest, darkest secret which laid beneath that mask. The appearance of this ‘woman’ lacking beauty defined by society’s standards, the appearance of a rather anorexic build and an impressive height, making her almost like a walking skeleton, if not for the delicate curves, though very slight contoured. Alabaster skin, porcelain pale, with no blemish on them but a single scar at the middle of her chest, hidden by her dress and a Mandalla tattoo, on her upper back: The Flower of Life. How ironic, for a being who was closer to Death, than to being alive. She made no sense, at all. Her movements, robotic, performed like a true machine, lacking sway and yet feminine at the same time, as if trying her best to enhance and intensify the façade of being an actual living girl. One would almost feel obligated to pity a Blind woman and yet there was something different about this one. A mixture, a synesthesia in all its beautiful meanings, from the scent of incense burning seemingly from her own body, to the coldness which now surrounded the room, most to all of the surrounding’s heat absorbed only to emanate back the cold air. From the mechanical movements of her form to the delicate features to create this beautiful façade to don upon. To his bow, she returned with one of her own, figure bending at the waist like a true machine would, snow-white tresses cascading down over her features, until she rose back up. “You see, I am a Seeker. Many would call me a Stargazer – A Seeker of Knowledge. I travel this realm in search for new discoveries, new ways to push the boundaries which hold life’s limitations. I seek Art, but what is beyond that written on a papyrus or painted on a blank canvas; I seek the Art of being.” She paused. A long pause, as if to take an inhalation of breath, though there was none – There was no breath to take. A hand placed upwards again as index finger pointed, towards her own face. “I wouldn’t feel so threatened. After all, I am Blind.”

 

RB: 

-Nick found himself drawn in by the woman’s charm and candour.  She was so different from the many beauties that had graced these halls in a way that was hard to describe.  Those he had seen before had vitality, and colour to their skins, but he found them shallow and wanting of attention that was never to be gained.  Nick frowned upon such silliness that he had seen and had to endure silently.  This woman was unique and not only intriguing – be it from her scent, but also in the way that she moved.  Call it hypnotic, and in some ways robotic.  A beautiful woman of noble stature who was quite tall, taller than those within the palace walls.   Skin pulled taught over her frame, yet the curves that were shown from the tightness of her bodice and skirt showed she did carry some muscle.  They say that beauty is skin deep, but in the case of this woman, hers was haunting yet refined.  She was…a work of art, and she spoke the words of one that was worldly.  Travelled far, and seen so much.  Yet…that was the catch.  She wore a mask over her eyes, and for reasons that were still unclear, she was by all accounts blind.  A seeker; or a stargazer as she so eloquently put it.  Ever searching the lands to learn more, to drink in what others have to offer and feed her taste for the art of life.  Nick brought his arms up and while his left crossed his chest, he held up his right elbow so he could strum his long fingers along the edge of his chin.  A woman of winter white, pale soft skin that looked to be kissed by the moon’s light.  She did not breathe….her chest did not rise nor fall.  Alive, but not.  Had Nick found her to be a kindred spirit?  She spoke of seeking knowledge within outer realms, but not the kind that are written by scribes, or painted by the masters – but word of mouth.    Lowering his arms without word, Nick took a step towards the woman, regarding her with interest.    “You do not look as though you would be threatened easily, my Lady.  I have no doubt in my mind that you could hold your own.”  This was said with the slight hint of a smile.  He was taken in by her, though he might well wonder why.  “Though, I don’t know if this is the best place to find the kind of art you seek, I know of a tale or two that may interest in you.”

 

~RB~

 

SA: 

They say a certain flame could burn so bright as to steal the heat of its surroundings, giving it the feeling of being no flame at all – but ice. If this was the case, it surely was a characteristic of the woman. The temperature dropped increasingly so, as if her very being there created an upset in the world around her, a state where reality met illusion and tangibility had no grasp on the laws of this earth anymore. An omnipresent feeling of coldness, heat perfectly absorbed by her – She didn’t bring the cold, no – She simply burned so scolding hot for it to emanate from her in waves of cold air, even though her very skin was the touch of ice itself, colliding against flesh, upon contact. That sardonic grin came again to pull up the corners of crimson lips, only to bring a response to the male’s words, a non-verbal communication given by just that simple, yet remarkably complex gesture. And then what? There was no sight for this woman – at least not the certain sight a commoner would be familiar with for she ‘saw’ beyond what others could see and the price for that was her own optics, optics that were kept secret from view. It almost caused a paranoia from her, a tick which soon came into stage as one hand was brought up to scratch along her temples, fixing the mask, keeping it in place. An ordinary tick, performed frequently according to her own paranoia of having the mask somehow slip from her face. Which she could not afford. While he took in her, she took in everything there was about him, like Predators encountering each other on an open field. Each detail, perfectly soon deposited in the depths of her mind, each characteristic of this male simply placed as input, data, stocked like a machine whose sole purpose was to gain…knowledge. As he moved towards her, she moved too, with a step forward and then, one to the side, as if creating a small dance only to soon have them both circle each other. “A tale?” That piqued her interest, slightly and with that, her hand moved to pull and pluck the deck of cards from her silver case, their metal prison, putting it aside to have them in her palm. The back of them, black, with an odd looking sigil cast and painted over the dark backdrop, assumingly the brand of Tarot used – But the front was an oddity. Each card, no matter how many there were, was blank white. “I would love to hear a tale…”

 

RB:

-Walls that had stood the test of time, held within them the stories of the many families that had lived and died.  If only those stone cold walls could speak, they would tell the most amazing of stories, that could captivate the listener into a bright and colourful world that existed long ago.  Over many years, one does acquire a taste for the unusual and macabre.  Nick felt that to tell anything of what had gone on before this woman’s arrival could be the giving away of the secrets to which he had been sworn to keep close to his chest.  However, with all asleep, the Vampire was going to be bold, and tell the tale of the current monarch.  Nick moved his arms back, so as to clasp his hands in behind him, as he straightened his posture.  He did not stare at the girl’s mask, but rather – looked past her to a simple picture that hung upon the wall.  “You would think that a woman of noble birth would want for nothing.  Least that is what some would believe.”  Nick lowered his gaze momentarily, to show a darkening of his irises as he remembered the fateful night.  “Deep divisions within her family had driven her to despair.  War looming, and the constant bickering of children that were old enough to know better drove the Queen to split herself.  One that would feel nothing, the other part of her was to become a simple rose, whose colour changed with that of her mood.”  This may sound fanciful and even farfetched, but truth was often stranger than fiction.  “The children simply did not see the change.  The lack of emotions as the Queen walked among them, while in a special chamber, the petals of the rose were slowly falling.  One by one.”  Nick paused for a moment, before continuing.  “You would expect that the children could see the change…feel no warmth of love from what was once a woman that exuded it so passionately.  They were blind to her sadness, and it was this…recklessness on their part.  The immaturity and selfishness, that was in fact killing her slowly.  Softly.”  The vampire’s voice trailed off….

~RB~

 

SA: 

She listened. It felt like ages since she actually listened to a story that managed to pique her interest and intrigue her, at least, after such a long time when stories were what she lived for, the Seeker – A true Seeker, at heart, yet she had none beating in her chest, despite the pulse that could be heard at a close distance. There was no blood to rush through her veins to create one, but more. A hand came up to make sure the mask was still placed upon her vision, hiding it from sight of others as the story went on. All the while, those wide Cards shuffled in a one-handed almost impossible shuffle given the shape of her petite limb which enwrapped along each card in their dance. As if waiting for something to happen, they obeyed their master, caught in an endless shuffle, anticipating the climax of the story – each card, stark white, with no description at all and yet, there was an aura to them, an energy which only emanated waves of darkness like raging tides crashing against the rocks on the shore. A nearby table was spotted by whatever lied beneath that black bandana as her body soon circled his once more, like a Predator, to make sure its prey would not flee away – and yet, by now, she knew they were both Predators. And the game has begun. With ease, her body shifted to take a seat at the table, as a chair was instantly pulled across from her, with no intervention from the Reader, at all. A chair awaiting him as Cheshire-like grin only came to take its rightful place upon the femme’s alabaster features into a sardonic mockery of sorts as the cards kept shuffling now on the table in front of her. “Poor child…” Was all she could mutter out. Her lack of Empathy made it so she could not resonate with humanly known emotions and yet her intelligence only cast a sense of understanding. She understood emotions, enough to get her way around people in certain socialization situation, despite lacking the skills for them – But she could not resonate in feeling them; Which is why her statement came off rather crude. Mocking, even though it was never her intention.

 

RB:

It was so easy for one to get lost in the telling of a tale.  In a way it revealed a side to Nick that few had ever seen.  While his often cold exterior and being known as a man of few words, he had managed to weave a tale, that was both sad, and romantic even.  Like a fascination with a fairy tale, that may never have a happy ending.  It took the Vampire a moment to compose himself – that was until the woman responded by simply saying “Poor girl..”  It was like a slap in the face, and one that brought Nick around quickly.  Nick had not noticed the appearance of the table that she was now seated at, and it was unusual that something like this would arrive almost unnoticed.  The chair opposite the fortune teller moved outward so that the Vampire might take a seat.  Before making his way towards the table, the Queen does appear.  Nick’s eyes snap open, and he is lost for a moment, till he knows he must show respect.  He had just been telling her story, to the fortune teller, and now she is amongst them.  He changed direction, and came before her so that he may bow politely.  “My Queen.”  Nick notices her take off her mask and that she is wiping something, that he knows right away is blood.  “You have taken ill?”  He is of course, worried for her health.  “My Queen, a teller of fortunes is here.” – He raised his hand to where the girl is sitting at a table with a deck of cards. –

 

SA:

‘Closer…’ She could almost feel him entering her own territory. Her own little game, about to start. She could almost feel how close she was from installing her own grasp as the cards began to shuffle faster now, in an almost hypnotic trance only to drive the man even closer. And closer and closer until he would sit down – But then, the interruption happened, one which only caused the femme to lose focus, stifling a small growl in as the cards fell flat on the table, rearranging themselves back into the deck. “Queen?” She managed to muse out softly, realizing that the odd woman coughing blood was actually the one in the story, slim white brow quirking upward as the male went to greet her in such a respectful matter. She didn’t rise from her seat – but only given a small nod in greeting, those black claws slowly digging into the wood, impatient and displeased by the woman’s verbal approach. “Mi’Lady.” She began, one hand rising up eventually, palm facing them both. “…Reading ones Fortune is far beyond telling ones Future… It’s a far more complex art than just that.. for you see.” Her hand lowered gently, index finger tapping along the now neatly arranged deck. “…The Cards never lie.”

 

RB:

The Queen dismissed Nick’s concern off the bat.  Something she was prone to doing from time to time.  The Knight did not persist to question her further, as she had just fixed a new mask on to replace the one that she had soiled.  The smell of her blood was still faintly wafting in the air, and Nick’s jaw tightened as he showed restraint.  Swallowing hard, he resumed a more regal stance but then remembered that the Fortune teller was waiting.  Silver eyes darted to the table, where the cards were now neatly arranged again in the formation of the deck; her index finger tapping them as she explained that what she did was more than just telling fortunes.  In her words, the cards never lie.  “If you don’t need me, I wish to see what this woman has to say…about my fortune.”  The right hand corner of Nick’s lip twitched, and there was the flash of an elongated fang on display.  He didn’t think that sitting down with the woman, would hurt.  Much.  So, he wandered over and turned the chair around with the quick flick of his wrist, then straddled it, so he could fold his arms across the top.  “Enlighten me.”  He was to the point, and stared at the woman’s bandanna that masked her eyes. –

 

~RB~

 

SA: 

“To Read ones Fortune entails so much more than the Future. The spreads I used, they are based on the questions my clients put. You see, my most common one is using the 3-star fold, in which there is Past, Present and Future as well as one card that represents my client. So, in all honesty, Fortune Telling is an art – The art of truly –Reading- a person in the deepest meaning, down to their core, regardless of their future. It depends on their question.” A hand came up in the air again and this time, her digits folded together, palm facing the strangers a sign that she had more to say. Another faked inhalation, only to primarily carry on the facade of humanity, for her chest did not rise in normal respiration phenomenon. “Fortune Telling is all about helping my client get an answer. The Future is ever changing, indeed, for Fate’s twisted ways change with her ‘current mood’ so to speak, and so I do not read Future, per-se, but the consequences of my client’s answer, which the cards show. Mi’Lady. The Cards never lie.” And they were odd cards, in all honesty. Completely blank, white, null and void of traditional imagery. “Furthermore…” Pause. “I state my price first off depending on gender. Now, I don’t mean to discriminate, of course…You may find this odd, but Fortune Telling has a much higher percentage of Women customers. Simply put… I tailor my advertising to my largest audience. The price point is also much different. As I do not take money, but something far more… idealistic. Men have much different, idealistically, to offer, then a Woman. On top of all that. . . Then there is the fact that most Men do not wish to pay the price for a Reading as refined as my own” She shrugged again. Her head craned to the side. “Let me put it in laymans terms, that you may know. Men do not ‘believe in bullshit psychics’; and the con that they perpetual on their ‘weaker’ Female counterparts.”; She paused, and leaned forward. The grin went from being Sardonic, to being cruel grin. The only polite way of baring ones teeth in Civilized company. “So, that is the first aspect on which I base my price in. As for the other, the price is decided after all Three questions from the Reader were answered. So, of course… Each price is personal. Individually crafted, to match the one who wanted the pact.”

 

RB:

Nick leaned forward whilst using his arms as a way of propping himself on the chair.  Left arm draped across the chair back, with his right fist poised beneath his chin.  The vampire listened intently to what the woman had to say, but also was taking in her mannerisms.  Noting that although she appeared to be taking in breath, her body or chest were not inflating, the way a humans would.  She moved her hands, like a carnie at a state fair.  Digits moving fluidly as though almost dancing, and mesmerizing in a way that was hard to look away from.  It was like she used her hands to do the talking.  Animated, yes that was how she appeared.  The deception of being life like, when in fact she wasn’t.   Nick understood what she was saying, when she was to name a price, that was rated according to the gender of the customer.  From her point of view, Fortune tellers had more women folk as clients.  He could totally get as to why that was.  His reason however was more of curiosity if anything.  That and he had been kind enough to tell the story of the Queen, and now he wished for her to do the same.  Though, he was to pay a price.  But what would that be?  What could he possibly have that she would want?  Silver coins?  No, not material that was for sure.  It was then she showed a change in her facial expression.  This was a woman who was used to get what she wanted.  Nick made up his mind then and there that he was willing to pay that price, since he felt he had nothing to lose.  “Alright.  You have set the deal.  Now, ask away.”  –

 

~RB~

 

SA:

The Queen left. A shame, for she could’ve shot 2 rabbits with a single bullet, at that, yet she didn’t mind as much – Before going for the big prize one must crawl their way step by step, no? Her attention directed itself back to the male who sat down at her table again – The moment he did, the cards began to shuffle once more, in understandment of his statement, which brought out a small chuckle from her. “So impatient… You don’t even want to know the price.” Yet, she knew what he was thinking of being the price, what everyone with a little bit of working grey matter in their brains believe to be the price and yet the reality was much more grim. But, he agreed. And as she spoke, she took her hand. A solitary black claw, that slipped between the pale lines of her palm. From it bubbled dark pitch. A solitary droplet hit the table. It ate away the wood work like acid. It followed a lined path all its own. A circle, with two diagonal lines intersecting it. Her symbol, the one that was present on the back of her cards, as well. “The pact is made.” Her other hand held the deck of large faced cards, oddly blank. “Ask your question.”

 

RB:

The pact was made.  The two now facing off against each other.  Oh her chuckle showed that she did have the upper hand, as the fortune teller had not revealed a price.  “I’ll take my chances and see what the outcome is.”  Nick’s lips thinned as he gazed down at the droplet that had hit the table, and now created a pattern, that was her symbol, like the backs of the cards.  The vampire drummed his long fingers against his chin, before dragging his fingers downward and finally letting go.  He decided then and there he was going to enjoy this.  Now that the Queen had retired, he had a more relaxed posture and knew he didn’t have to snap to attention anytime soon.  “Right then, my question.   Why didn’t Legion kill me when he had the chance?”  Legion was the one that Rose had chosen to test Nick if he wanted to be a part of her guard.  The creature, that even Nick had a hard time figuring out, had used an attack that was designed as a last resort….a kill shot.  Yet the moment that Nick accepted the strike, and what it entailed….ie, death, Legion offered a vial to counter the effect of his virus.  Nick stared at the woman’s face and awaited her answer.

~RB~

 

SA:

The solitary black droplet of what was supposed to be her blood, if she even had any, soon rearranged all the woodwork on the table and shifted each line carved in the hard surface to mold into her own symbol. It was her Pact, the way to let them know that now? Now they’ve stepped in their territory. “I will read you a 3-Star fold. One card will be drawn first, the card which represents you – That card is ~you~ and each card, later on, will revolve around it. The Past. The Present. The Future.” She didn’t ask if he understood. Whether or not he did, she would still enjoy this game, for she felt this was no ordinary man. His question actually brought back her curiosity. . The Reader heard them all: Questions about Fame, Lust, Power, Love, Eternal Youth or whatever-the-fuck Fortune one might state, believing that Fortune Telling was simply based on the good things. It wasn’t. So, for somebody to ask such a question, so different from the rest, was like a breath of fresh air, finally, after years. Centuries? She almost lost track of time. “I really did hope, my dear, that you do not expect my Reading to be one of those cliches where I tell you that ‘You will meet a tall dark stranger and live happily ever after, right? Because it won’t be – The cards never lie; They always speak the truth, even when honesty is cold heartedly… blunt. So, I thank you. For giving me a change.” Despite such mocking words from the Reader, there was curiosity to it, mainly deduced by the fact that smoke started to come from the card, each time she tried placing them down in a shuffle – The deck itself did not like this man present at the table. The tendrils which looped around her feet, those black cannibals of darkness almost roared, displeased towards the Reader herself, revolting against the one across her. “Hush.” – She bluntly grunted, towards her own shadows of those cards, until they obeyed, stopped fighting against the Teller’s will. “The cards do not like you…”

 

RB:

“What’s to like?”  Nick said with a shrug of his shoulders.  Since his arrival in the Kingdom, there have been those that figured that the vampire wanted something other than just to sit in a chair all day and greet those that entered like a mindless twat.  The truth however was something that no one would expect.  As for resorting to the types of questions like…a romanticized ideal of Miss or Mister Perfect, it was enough to make Nick snort loudly in disgust.  “Please, I am not some hapless fail who is seeking the dream come true. “  Now Nick was being honest.  His face displayed that he thought little of the ones who constantly asked him for a date.  But back to the cards.  He didn’t get an answer to his question.  “My first question was asked, I was not expecting the cards to play profiler.”

~RB~

 

SA: 

“Good.” – She mused out in a sort of chuckle, pleased by his response even though there was still irony in the skeptical way of the Reader’s doings. She understood, so far, that he was not ordinary, quite far from it and yet she did not have the certitude that he would live, by the end of this Reading. After all, it’s why she based her price according to gender, first, taking quite the discrimination towards men. A living dead girl with a perpetual amnesia of her former life except that of her killing – by the one she loved. But what was she? One would simply mistake her for a bloodsucker, of sorts, like the man across her and yet she was nothing, not even close to it. Oh no… This woman was something else, as the first hint would’ve been those dark tendrils rummaging under the table to soon take grasp of her own being, coiling, lacing and dancing around the table, as if forming a circle around it. Their Pact, their own moment of intimacy. Like having a romantic dinner, under the moonlight – Although he might prove to be the Dinner at hand. “I will ask you 3 Questions, throughout the Reading… If you choose not to answer one, another will be asked to replace it. If you choose to lie in your answer… well…” The grin was back, cruel now, as if to show that he had no reason to lie, for his own existence laid like under a constant swinging pendulum. “The Cards will know. And after their little fit, I don’t think I have to explain further why that is such a bad, bad idea…” They submitted, in the end. Allowed the creature to place them into an odd formation, with one vertical and three other cards horizontally placed, below the first one. Two digits hovered above the vertical one, as she spoke. “This is the card which represents you. It is the one all the other 3 will revolve around. This card, is you.” And while she spoke, she lifted it and placed it face up. It wasn’t blank anymore, no – But the image of a Lion and a woman, tugging at the creature’s maw, the image of an Infinity symbol shaped halo hovering above her head. “Strength”.

 

RB:

Nick watched with a raised brow when the first card was shown, and this was the card of strength.  It was not exactly what the vampire was expecting to see, but then again he was new to all of this.  Once again he rested his chin upon an upturned fist with his shoulders turning in slightly almost like he was hunched over.  With his height and the angle of the chair, he just found the need to sit with an almost casual air.  He was informed that she was going to ask him three questions, which was not at all what he thought was expected.  He still didn’t get the answer to the question he asked of her and her cards.  There was that sinister grin again.  Like a cat that just ate a plump canary.  He half expected feathers to be poking out the sides of her mouth.   Nick let out a heavy exhale of breathe when he was told not to lie.  The cards already didn’t like him, so what point was there in lying.  “Three questions?  Alright, ask away.”

~RB~

 

SA:

‘Ah, Strength. Quite the misleading card of the Major Arcana. This card continues the lesson of the Chariot, showing that once we have learned to control emotion. This is a Fire card, and therefore detrimental to all the emotions. The only qualities that abound in Strength are courage and patience. Courage, the antithesis of Fear. There is no emotion here, but determination. The Symbology of the Lion…The image of the woman opening the mouth of the lion shows both courage and patience. It’s a card which, first of all, explains the Duality between them both. So Strength is not a card of compassion and love, but a card of quiet yet unstoppable power. Such power radiates from the soul, and for a consciousness aware of this power, there can be no resistance, and no defeat. But with Strength and Power, comes responsibility. One must be aware of it, at all times. One might fall in the pits of their extremes. Interesting.” She slid it against the woodwork, until it reached the other side of the table, to him. “How did you die?” It was her first question, which quite bluntly stated that she ~knew~.

 

RB:

“How did he die?”  At the asking of this question, Nick automatically pushed himself up so that his back was straight and rigid.  His lips twisted and he reached up to scratch his cheek.  All this movement, so sudden off a direct question.  It was one that he could answer of course, but it also fostered memories that he would rather forget.  “A woman..”  Nick said, almost flatly.  “One that to this day has been able to hold part of me in a vice like grip.”  There was now a coolness to his voice, his eyes also reflecting the somber change in mood.  “Course, you already knew that.”  Nick’s eyes narrowed as he stared at the bandanna covering the woman’s eyes.  “Promised immortality….but she left out one small detail.”  At this there was an almost haunting smile playing upon his lips.  “That I’d die at her hands to get it.” Nick scoffed, and then looked away momentarily.  “Next question?”

~RB~

 

SA:

When he got up, she felt like instantly pointing to the circle which now grew closer to him, as if making sure he would not leave. This was a Pact of life, one he could not escape until the Reading was over. Even if he were to step out of the Circle, he wouldn’t have gotten far. A small reminder. It didn’t faze her, when he reacted that way. There was no compassion to this woman, nothing but the cold which soon travelled along the entire room. Oddly so, it felt cold, but it felt like the warmth of the room was instantly absorbed by her. “Refrain yourself, please.” It was such a cruel, crude statement and yet never sounded as dismissive as thought it would – It was honesty, such cold hearted honesty that it seemed like she wasn’t much different from the Cards she shuffled in her deck. “You’ve wandered off.” It was such an odd, vague statement from the Reader, as it all was with her. No beginning nor end in everything which concerned her being, a statement left to the man’s interpretation. She did not continue it in order to state from what he wandered off, but it became visible that the Darkness –knew- at least something of this man. In many ways, they were alike, despite being so different – They both had creatures lingering within with which they have created bonds, they both found Death by the hands of people they assumingly cared for and yet, the Teller was… much more grim. Two digits hovered once more above the next card – One of the horizontal ones. And it shifted it around, to become vertical, before flipping it over. The first oddity of this card was that it was Upside Down. The second oddity, being that the card was The Wheel of Fortune. And on the wheel, the image of the Lion, hanging upside down onto it. Each Card revolved around the First One. “Huh.” She stated. Almost surprised by the outcome, given the fact that a wheel, placed upside down, is still a wheel as it becomes regular once spun around. “How ironic…” A few seconds passed for the Reader to make grasp of the situation itself, before musing out once more. “Your Past is represented by the Wheel. You’ve never had balance in your past. Your Past was a continuous spinning motion of the Wheel. A constant cycle. You’ve been to the highest point of it. But soon found yourself at its lowest. You’ve never found an equilibrium to it, and yet you’ve always stayed constant…” She did not pass the card along. None of the others were, except for the first one. “Second question… Why this Kingdom? What made you swear Loyalty?”

 

RB:

His movements may have seemed abrupt, but it was a mere change in posture, from a more slouched, or hunched over way of sitting, to actually sitting up straight.  He hadn’t left the table and so her comment left him feeling somewhat confused.  He answered the question in his own way and spoke of it as though trying to detach from it.  Or stay impassive.  “If you mean I wasn’t direct enough in my answer, I didn’t feel that I needed to give you the ins and outs of the actual act or deed.  Just…who did it and why.”  Watching the turning of the next card, Nick stared down at it and surprisingly knew exactly what it meant.  The teller’s reaction though actually was comical.  She didn’t expect it, obviously.  Now Nick folded his arms across his chest on the asking of the next question.  “Why did he swear loyalty to this Kingdom?”  Nick paused for a moment, as he remembered when he first entered.  “Honestly?  Because the moment I walked in the door, I was asked to be tested.  That has never happened before.”  The vampire’s bottom lip jutted out momentarily; before he sucked it back in.  “I was taken to an arena and pitted against a man loyal…deeply loyal to the Queen.”  You could see Nick’s fingers drumming his forearm slowly.  “I was injured in an attack that I refused to run away from.  I’m not a coward, and I don’t run.  The Queen insisted healing me…even after I told her no.  Something about her selflessness in helping me made me think.  If she was willing to suffer herself, then she was worthy of my service.  If that makes sense?”

~RB~

 

SA:

She remained stoic to both his answers, choosing not to respond in any way – It wasn’t her place to disrupt his train of thought, as long as she was given truthful answers to her questions. She’d keep the feedback, for the end. Her index and middle finger now hovered upon the middle card. Shifted it into a vertical position before flipping it over, to reveal the image. The image of the Lion and Maiden, standing in front of Seven Cups, each Cup holding something, either a gem, a necklace, or even creatures like snakes and dragons. “This is the Seven of Cups. The Seven of Cups represents your Present. Who and what you are now. The Card symbolizes a Decision, one you must make at a certain point in your present, one you are currently confronting with. Careful, for not all the choices are real – Some are imaginations, hallucinations. Some are represented by your own delusions. Most of the times, the card symbolizes Temptation, when confronted with so many options, that you need to have the will to choose the right one. You’re confronting yourself with the decision. Which cup to pick.”There was one more card left unturned, on the table now. One horizontal card, which held his Future and 2 questions by the reader. “If you had a choice to change your question right now, at this moment, before the card which holds your Future is lifted, would you change it? Or would it still remain the same?” It was a test, to determine the price of her Reading – All three questions were in fact little tests in order to place an individual price for the woman across the table. It was how she worked – Each reading was personal and each price was molded individually to match her clients.

 

RB:

“I see no reason to change it.”  Nick was quite serious in his delivery. “It would remain the same.”  He felt he had nothing to gain from changing it.  The last card that had been turned over, was supposed to be about temptation.  While he could not see as how that related to him within the Kingdom, it was clear that the Fortune teller believed that he was going to have to make a decision and soon.  To choose one of the offered cups.  Nick had nothing to say about the card, other than he had sworn loyalty to the Queen after the fight with Legion, if that counted for anything.  There was one card left to be turned, and this was of his future.  Did he even have one? Did anyone?  “Ask your last question.”

~RB~

 

SA:

Her digits hovered above the last card. Tapped it a couple of times, as if anxiously anticipating herself the outcome of it. It was soon flipped, after being turned to a vertical position. And to her card, the Reader almost gasped. Froze, before a sardonic grin came across pale nude lower features, a Cheshire-like grin to spread lips apart and bare her sharp pearly whites to the imagery of the card: The Lion, on the ground, stabbed with Ten Swords into its body. “My my my…” She began. “…Your Future is represented by the Ten of Swords.” It was such a morbid visage. It would’ve only taken One sword to kill a man and yet this card had Ten. It wasn’t murder – But annihilation. “This is the Card which bares your Future, regarding to the choice you make in your Present. The ultimate manifestation of the Swords, inevitable result. Those who refused to listen to the Ace of Swords shall, in the end, be impaled by the Tenth. Many take this card for its negative implications and yet…” Index finger tapped along the upper part of the card, against the black night background which held, in the corner, one small ball of yellow. “…The Sun is up, against the black sky. Enlightenment. A new beginning. You will learn from your mistakes. Or you will be impaled by them.” After she was done speaking, she leaned in, forward, having both her elbows on the table and her head resting onto her palms, as if directly looking at him, beyond the bandanna. “Did you figure out the answer?” This wasn’t a question for his prize, just curiosity – With all the cards turned, and the first one closest to him as the other 3 rested to her side of the table, she wanted to see if he would figure it out, before stating her price.

 

RB:

The final card.  Such shocking imagery…macabre, yes, but intriguing and enlightening.  Throughout life, it is all trial and error.  It’s the only way we learn.  Growing in fact through the pain of our mistakes.  This card brought everything back full circle to the question he had asked initially, and that was why did Legion spare him with the vial?  “I believe I did find the answer after all.”  It wasn’t the fact that Legion didn’t kill him, but that he accepted the vial, and thus lived another day.  Or an unlife, if you could call it that.  Legion would have never heard the end of it from the Queen, after she had specifically called the match to be no death.  Nick was prepared to fight to whatever conclusion there was.  It just ended so abruptly.  “I chose my fate.  I agreed to fight…then I accepted his offer of help…eventually.”  After he said this there was nothing but silence.

~RB~

 

SA:

There was one card left, where there were none. The woodwork created by the Pact bond by the Reader seemed to boil down, like acid sinking even deeper into the material. It burned. It boiled and sizzled. It let out smoke, like a furious dragon and made ~one~ card jump from the deck, right in the open palm of the Teller, to which her expression changed drastically into a scowl, deeply infuriated. She knew what it was. “…Blood Tarot is the most consuming system. It always ends with a Card for the Reader.” She wouldn’t show it to her client, but she looked at it, herself, despite already knowing it – The card never changed, despite numerous Readings performed. A perpetual state which leaped beyond tangible grasp only to lay neatly into the creature’s hand. The Card of Death, Upside Down. The Creature who could never find Death. It took her awhile to snap out of it – The trance it created, looking at that card for so long as if desperately trying to force it to change – It never did. One card for the Teller and never a good one. That was the way of Blood Tarot, the price she had to pay in return for the Reading. The card to damn her entire existence, her whole ‘life’ condemned by one simple card around which revolved everything. Darkness itself. Her. With a snap, her body stretched and with it, each joint crackled into a loud noise as if trying to shake off the whole Reading. Detach and cut the strings she placed on the woman in front of her. “As I said…” She began, before leaning forward, against the table which was now slowly turning back to normal. The black engraftments of her blood slowly fading away, letting the woodwork come back to what it originally was. Her pact, written off. The cards slowly went back to being full white, blank, except the one which was left in the man’s hand: Strength which represented her client. “The Cards never lie… Now. For my price.” Pause. A single digit was brought up, to rub against her own chin gently before fixing the mask over her vision once again. “Dinner?”

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