The Isle of Dread

Grimsdottir leaned back in her chair and gently blew at the contents of the chipped cup in her hands. It was some sort of local alcohol that was served hot in a comically small cup. A halfling brew, perhaps? She glanced at the contents one more time before shrugging and sipping the contents.

Ah. That’s why the cup was small.

After she stopped coughing, she dumped the remainder into her tea. She sipped experimentally at her Dwarven’d up tea.

Probably should’ve stuck to having them separately.

She turned back to the table and her companion, continuing to sip at her beverage. “So, three cards, was it?” After Mira nodded in response, Grim picked three cards at random from the spread in front of the ascetic. “Why can’t you do this on yourself again?”

Mira slumped forward and sighed. “Performing the Harrowing on oneself is… bad. Attempting to discern one’s own fortune is an intrinsically selfish act, and it taints the energies of your own fate.”

“Really?”

The monk shrugged. “Eh, probably. Ask a seer of thaumaterge if really want to know; I just do this for fun.”

Grimsdottir chuckled and flipped over her first card. On it was an image of a disheveled figure in broken chains, exulting under a bright blue sky. It was upside down. “Past…”

Mira continued. “The Big Sky, inverted. Freedom, lost.” She raised an eyebrow. “You don’t look like a slave.”

Grim sipped from her drink again. “Press-ganged. Went to sleep one night, woke up the next day on a ship in the middle of the sea. I was given the choice of joining the Imperial Navy or being ejected from it. Naturally, I joined. With some resentment. Turned pirate a few years later.” She flipped over the next card. “Present. How’d you get these, anyway? I thought you were some sort of… religiously poor person.”

Mira grinned. “The term is ascetic. And they were a gift. While frivolous spending does… distract from the path, it is important to be appreciative of the gifts one has received. If not for oneself, then for the giver.” The revealed card depicted a skeletal corpse strung up in an endless field of thorny vines. “The Tangled Briar, True.”

The pirate looked down at the card. “Well, that seems fairly straightforward. I’m all trapped in something then, is it?” Her gaze shifted to Mira’s robes. They didn’t look like the robes of a pauper. “Same deal with the robes then? A gift?”

“Yes and yes. I take it you’re confused about something?”

Grim grinned. “Yes and yes.”

The monk sighed. “Well, the Briar suggests you’re trapped, or perhaps lost. Perhaps it has something to do with how you arrived here.”

“And the robes?”

“They were a gift. From my… family.”

“Oh? They’re pretty fancy, at least to what I’ve seen around here. The phoenix thing they’ve got going on-” Grimsdottir gestured towards some of the more intricate patterns on Mira’s robes. “That doesn’t look cheap. Your family must be pretty well off to be able to afford that. How’d you go from that to being an… ascetic?”

“That is a… long story.” Mira picked up her blackened quarterstaff and prodded the large, unconscious man on the floor. “And I don’t believe we have the time to discuss it at the moment.”

“Fair enough. The guards should be along to pick him up shortly.” Grim flipped over the final card, letting it rest sideways. “You twist Future like that, right?”

Mira nodded. A twirling figure surrounded by lights was on the card. “Correct. The Dance. Whatever you’re up to will be quite profitable, so long as you can keep up with events. If you falter, things will spin out of control and end badly.”

“Well that can describe just about anything.”

Mira grinned. “Exactly.”

Grim let out a short laugh in response, before waving at the guards that had just entered. “Oi! Over here!” She gestured down at the unconscious figure as the guards picked their way through the ruined tea shop. Shattered tables and porcelain lay scattered about, as did scattered piles of ash. When the guards reached the prone figure, one of them spoke. “So, what happened here?”

Mira placed her teacup on the table. “This individual made a large number of poor decisions in a short span of time, and I… enlightened him.”

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DustinGebhardt Deudanann

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