Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Chapter Eleven

Lorelei shuffled the deck before her, practiced hands making up for her blindness. She smiled at the man on the other side of the table from her, who shifted nervously as she dealt three cards. She sighed and said, “Please tell me what the first card is.”

She heard the man shift in his seat as if to look forward, “The King of Spades.” He said warily. She nodded and gestured to the second card, and he said, “The Ace of Hearts.” Once again she nodded and gestured for him to read the next card. “The Five of Clubs.”

She took the cards back and said, “You will meet a very important person today, most probably a man, who will change your life for the better most likely. Also, it seems that he will make a favorable business deal with you and many of your problems shall vanish. But be warned, this man may very well have his own ends in mind and will most likely betray you.” She smiled, “That will be five rubles please.”

The man wordlessly dropped the money on the table and left the room. She sighed and put away her cards. She began to pack away the rest of her possessions and waited for the knock she knew would come. She placed her dried herbs in several pouched which hung on a belt that she strapped around her waist. She also placed her medicines and poisons in vials which she carefully set in a case that had cloth lined sections so the glass would not shatter.

What little else she had she packed into a back that she slung around her shoulder. Then a large boom echoed out of nowhere. She shook her head, the future was becoming ever more clouded of late. She waited as the smell of smoke permeated the air and the shouts of the Sergeinov performers rose up. The smell and noise drew nearer and a knock came at her door. She stood and opened it, knowing her way well enough to find the door handle.

A woman's voice said, “Come on, before they burn this whole place down.”

Lorelei frowned, “I do not understand, where is the Circus Leader?”

The woman seized her arm and said, “Ashen's busy at the moment, now come on!” The woman pulled Lorelei along and out of the inn. Lorelei heard the frightened gasps of the staff as they rushed out. She smelled horses and before she knew it the woman had her on a horse and they rode out of the circus.

When they came to a stop the woman said, “We'll be joining Ashen shortly, so let me explain your situation first. That explosion was part of one of Ashen's plans...I think. At any rate, the townsfolk will blame you for it on account of you being a 'witch' so I got you out of there as soon as I could. Ashen just said we'd find him somewhere along this road so we'll continue until he finds us.”

Lorelei frowned but said nothing as they continued down the road, then she said, “Which are you?”

“Which card are you?” Lorelei asked frantically searching her memory of all the Spades so far. Ace, King, Queen, Jack, Ten, Eight, Seven, Six, Five, Four, Deuce. The Queen? No... She's-

“I'm the Ten of Spades. And my name is-”

“Scea.” Lorelei said, the future clearing a little as they continued down the road. She felt the woman nod and said, “My name is Lorelei.”

“Nice to meet you Lorelei. We're almost where Ashen said he'd be, don't worry about the others that will be with him. They won't hurt you.” Scea paused then continued, “Well, Wilder might, but that's just the way he is. Besides, he usually just makes threats.”

After about five more minutes they came to a stop and Scea dismounted and helped Lorelei off the horse. Lorelei heard the sounds of a small group walking toward them. She felt the ground tremble and frowned, she hadn't seen anything that large in her visions, it had to be at least twelve feet tall.

Scea gasped and said, “We need to get out of here now!” She seized Lorelei and shoved her back in the saddle, then jumped up herself. “Yah!” She shouted and kicked the horse into a gallop.

Shouts came from behind them and Lorelei had a sudden vision of bullets racing after them. She heard Scea scream in pain and felt one of the other woman's arms fall from the reins. They continued to race away from the men and eventually were surrounded by silence.

Then Lorelei heard more voices and Scea said, “Ashen? That you?”

A man's voice came back, “You've got our friend, Scea?”

“I got her alright, but that's the last time I ever go after a fortune teller when there's a giant metal thing walking around with canons on it's shoulders.”

“Twelve is more than nine.” Ashen said.

“What's that supposed to mean?” Scea asked irritatedly.

"It isn't," Ashen said, and Lorelei heard the others draw nearer and Scea slipped off the horse. Then Ashen said, “I see you got hit.”

Scea laughed, “I've had worse. I just need some -.”

“Henbane.” Lorelei interrupted, “To kill the pain. And Fox's Clote to prevent infection.”

"Fortune teller and an herbalist?" Ashen asked, "Are you sure you're not a witch?"

Lorelei smiled, “I never said I'm not a witch.”

"Well, there you go," Ashen said.

She heard the crunch of leaves as booted feet crossed the clearing and a man's hand grasped hers, a card pressed into her hand, “When you were a little girl, did you ever wish you could run away a join the circus?”

She smiled and slipped the Nine of Spades into a pocket, “All the time.”

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