“I don’t know…” you ponder, tipping the china cup this way and that, rolling it neatly between your dirty palms. The stain lying on the bottom of your teacup looks nothing like anything. You tilt the cup towards the gypsy lady, but she deliberately turns her head away, glancing over at the crystal ball and the swirling gases inside.
“I can’t. You are the one who must read the signs,” she explains.
“But…” you stammer, “How will I know what they mean?”
The old woman laughs, as though you have asked her a ridiculous question.
“It is I who will translate those pictures into words,” she says, “But it must beyouwho must tell me your own destiny. You see, symbols look different to different people. The reader is the key.”
Resisting shaking your head, you wonder what she is babbling on about. You look back to the tea-dregs and suddenly you are surprised by a morphing, swimming figure.
“Oh!” is all you can exclaim, as your eyes begin to train onto the shape, reading it like words.
Soon it becomes obvious to you.
“It’s a pig! With big tusks and a thick hide!”
The gypsy nods.
“Oh yes, that is the Boar.” She lifts out a pack of heavy-backed cards, as though from nowhere (although you suspect they’ve been on the floor below this table all the time), and starts to shuffle through, her grey brows knitted in concentration. “Although not seen as the cleverest of the creatures set upon these cards, the Boar has a lot to say for itself, even as one of the more overlooked creatures of the land.
“Its thick skin is literal and metaphorical; it can defend its family and territory from predators, and those curling ivory tucks make catching and killing its prey one of its strong points.
“The toughness a Boar has extends into its personality too. If the other land creatures throw at it insults of its appearance, the Boar has the ability to turn the other cheek, and walk on with its head held high.
“Unfortunately, this also makes it a reckless creature. The Boar often falls into arguments with those creatures who consider it lower-class; it has the opinion of itself that nothing can touch it…and that is when the hunters come in and take its life. They, with their only advantage being their superior equipment, creep up on the Boar when its guard is down and kill it before it can even turn.”
“So…” you prompt, meaning‘what has that to do with me?’
“I see that you will be tested soon. You will have to back up the points you make, and you will need your physical strength too when defending those you love. Make sure you do not fall into the typical Boar trap of laying overconfidence where caution is needed. Perhaps there will be a danger and a death, perhaps not.Thatis unclear.
“You have seen no more in your cup? No. Well, without consulting the cards, I can tell you no more.”
Although you’re curious, you know that your reading is over now, and it would be courteous to thank the odd gypsy-woman and leave. Her eyes watch as you draw back your chair, glittering in the faded light. Enticing you still…