Myr took a seat upon the inverted box she'd spent most of the day upon. She collapsed upon it more than sat but the fact was lost within a throng of thoughts that clambered around the woman's warm skin against her own.
A final squeeze of her hand heralded its departure that left Myr suddenly feeling lost. She blinked a few times, staring at her lonely hand, her mind caught within a train of thought rerouted into a loop of nothingness.
From within this slough, a single lamp bearing the thought – 'draw for her', guided Myr's hand to withdraw her deck of roughly cut cards from the handbag slung around her shoulder. In a daze, she shuffled them, careful that not one would slip from fingers bound in lethargy.
“Would you like to draw yourself or would you like me to?”
Myr placed the deck between them. Her hand rested upon the table, face up, hoping that the woman would take it again. Her eyes fell from the woman's healthy face to her deck, feeling her gut wrench as the process began to draw upon what little remained of her natural reserves of energy. From the deck of cards, she spied her hand, waiting and frowned.
What was she-
Interrupted, the thought melted before the warmth of the woman's touch.
“Why don't you, dear?” Her voice was anxious, beautiful, imploring.
The teenager nodded, brushing aside strands of gray tinged hair that had fallen over dimming eyes. She steeled herself for the effort the reading would require and with a tremble that threatened to turn tremor, took her hand out from under the woman's hand and drew the first card off of the pile. She'd only just shuffled the deck and knew that, like all the others, their fate lay in the top three cards. Everything else was inconsequential.
She felt fatigue claw at her eyes, trying to draw them shut, as soon as she touched the first card. The contact meant that fate had already been altered. Somewhere, something small had been caused to occur, that would set into motion a series of events that would culminate in whatever it was that this card had to reveal for the captivating woman.
“Sanguine Puppet,” Myr breathed, staring at a card that she'd drawn after it had come to her in a vivid dream; its purpose till now unknown but as she gazed upon it now, it made sense. The hand sketched card depicted a knight, arms held at odd puppet like angles attempting to charge forwards while a lithe cloaked figure stood behind him, its hands outstretched so that thin lines of crimson connected the pair of them. A puppet bound to its master.
Myr looked up to see the woman staring at the card, her head cocked delicately to one side while a small smile played, tantalizingly, at her luscious lips. The teenager had the sudden realization that the woman knew what this meant without her needing to explain it... but she had to anyways. It was part of the process. Moreover, she could hear the woman's silent voice in her mind, beseeching her to continue.
“It means,” she began slowly, hoping to hide the slur that was infecting her words, “that you will have complete control over someone. I don't know why, but it could be that they love you far too much for their own good... Their fate, their life is in your hands, even if they wish it weren't.”
“I see,” the woman said, adjusting the cloth wrapped around her head like a scarf. Her voice seemed, once again, as being on the verge of laughter. This surprised her. She'd never seen anyone receive a reading with such callousness. She had the sneaking feeling that the reading made more sense to the woman than it did to her.
“Shall I continue?”
Myr rubbed her eyes, stalling sleep but unable to quieten the shriek that erupted within her mind. Her body was rebelling against the exertion. She'd already begun, though. There was no turning back now... she knew better than to leave a reading incomplete. It'd happened twice before and she dare not think of the consequences of a third. Her power was fraught with peril.
The second card was drawn and lain down upon the wooden crate between them. It depicted a queen; a flowing dress, a tall crown and an upturned nose as she strode away from an urchin that seemed to be following her, holding a silver tray upon which rested a teapot and a pastry.
“The Willful Slave,” she breathed yet again, surprised that cards that had lay dormant in her deck for weeks had finally revealed themselves.
“I see someone willfully pledging their lives to you... Its...” Myr frowned, trying to concentrate on the vague thoughts and feelings that visited her. “Its almost like the first... only the first one is forced... this second card's victim... she wants to be at your side. I don't see a possible death either... just quietsuffering.”
“And the last card?” The eagerness in the woman's voice was lost on Myr, whose eyes had glazed over as dream, exhaustion and premonition collided before her eyes.
In a trance, Myr lifted the last card, her body leaden as every breath struggled to keep her tiny frame from succumbing to the nether.
The card was placed atop the other two. A trembling hand withdrawn. Myr's blurring vision caught sight of the final card long enough for her to recognize it and know that something was terribly wrong. So, terribly wrong...
Why did she agree to give this reading and just who was she reading for? A veil was slowly lifting from her clouded mind, but a veil lifted at night was a symbolic victory at best.
“A Lover's Remorse.”
Myr's eyes closed and her head slumped across the table, her breathing shallow, her body trembling despite having won the battle against her will. The card showing a woman cradling a dying man's head in her arm's; her head raised to the heaven's in a perpetual scream while a bloodied knife rest in her hand. The mark of someone who'd forever be haunted by a mistake that had cost them their love, their life... the mark of someone who possessed the will to do both great evil and unfathomable good.
The woman stared at the last card. Wide eyes watching, stunned, until the card burst into violent flames; the teenager's rambling words dancing around her. While the first two cards hadn't come close to phasing her, the last of the series had hit home.
She needed this one on her side. Not only did she possess a power too great to be squandered in a dump like the Red Hollow, but once she'd begun to set her own pieces in motion, Myr's was a power too subtle, too omnipresent to allow her potential enemies.
Now that the final card had been revealed, however, the woman knew for certain that this girl's gifts could not go untended. A single card had revealed more about her well hidden past than all the investigators in Outland could uncover in the last so many years. The girl had fallen asleep the moment the card had been drawn, and yet her tired, delirious mind sputtered out incoherent phrases... ones that the woman could easily piece together, for they described her buried past; but more disturbingly, what she might yet do and what she might have already been planning to do.
The girl's dying...
The thought occurred to her somewhat belatedly. Berating herself for succumbing to distraction, she stood up and leaned across the beaten, charred crate and brushed the girl's dark hair back.
“I'm sorry for what I did to you, dear.”
She bent down and kissed her on her forehead, like a mother putting a child to sleep. The woman felt her own life energies pass into the other, bringing her back from the very brink of death. It was compensation enough for having almost killed the girl to begin with.
“Look for the Red Queen, dear... She awaits your company.” The woman whispered into Myr's ear and then left, stopping to pay one of the Master's on the girl's behalf and ensure that she wouldn't be disturbed for the night. She'd need her rest for tomorrow would see her waking with the woman's final words resounding, wraith-like in her psyche until they drove her to the Red Queen or insane. A final test, of sorts.
The woman adjusted the scarf that hid her flaming red hair and brought the cloak closer about her before she left Red Hollow, renewed purpose guiding her onwards.