Broken

            The fortune teller's place is an old and dusty, shadowed building. Book cases loom over everything, against the walls yet pressing inward. They straight-backed edges seem to curve into the room oppressively.

            "As I t-told you," a middle aged man chokes on his words with frantic stuttering, "I ha-haven't s-seen him since t-two n-n-nights passed."

            The one he's speaking to is a woman, or something like one. Her skin is opalescent and filmy. Her eyes are black orbs that give away no direction to her gaze. Her lips are beautiful though, hanging seductively on a face that seems so far from love. Her voice is neither velvet nor satin. It is like a sound in the night that should not be made, "He's your apprentice, you say?"

            "Y-yes, Investigator, ma'am." His legs are trembling. His robes betray that.

            She casts a stern black look of unwarranted impatience at him, "Does he have quarters here?"

            "Aye," he manages, trying to pull his eyes from falling to her bosom. "Up those stairs."

            For a moment, she looks down at him. Then she looks where he was pointing, from the chair where he sat. Sure enough, a winding staircase is nestled in one corner.

            And she goes upstairs. Relief.

            He remained, without her, in his shop. The fortune-teller could not stand to see her emerald uniform any longer, for the memories of the Nameless War were fresh in his mind. He knows what she'll find. He knows what she'll fine. He knows that he'll pay. A hefty, ruining sum.

            It is not long. After all, the shards of glass are there to be seen on the fabric-covered table. Even the tiny, empty pedestal. And one can not forget, especially one's nose, the old man who lies dead upon the ground. Without question, she'd recognize him. Without question. Even with the pen that had lodged itself in his eye.

            "Broken!?" her voice seethes down the stairs in cascades of rage. "Who in their right mind? Who let a crystal ball break?"

            All the man can do was gulp. All those shards of glass, mist clinging to them with reluctance. She hadn't looked on the floor yet. She hadn't seen the duke, with his gray hair neatly combed back. He knew that would unsettle her even more.

The End

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