the impossible dream

POSTED: Sat Apr 18, 2020 2:05 am

”Salem?”

She wasn’t sure what it was that pulled her to seek out the Troupes fortune teller, but the others were throwing a raucous party inside that could be heard through the broken windows of their schoolhouse. Usually the loud sound did not bother her so much, but for some reason it had grown to be too much for her to bear and so she had slipped out into the fresh air that lay beyond their tiny haven.

Indis swore she heard a glass break somewhere behind her, a loud whoop of glee as someone knocked back another drink.

”Salem?” She found the tent and peered with in it, hoping to find the brightly colored woman inside. They didn’t know one another well, for Indis spent most of her time with Cook and Galilee – quietly learning what she could from them about what life was like as a Trouper. They were used to the ups and downs, the constant travel – having a permanent camp made all of them feel more settled.

”It’s too loud inside, I couldn’t hear myself think,” She offered a tiny smile, though shy, ”I thought maybe we could speak?”

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POSTED: Sat Apr 18, 2020 11:30 am

The noise of an active tavern was an unusual comfort to Salem, especially at some length. Her mother, a refugee, had been a lousy hunter among the quirks of New England forests and its foreign creatures; she tended bar and waited tables to feed herself and her only daughter, and Salem had grown up playing with her imagination inside and outside tavern walls, alone, waiting for her mother’s shifts to end. A book in hand in a tent not far from the noise was pleasantly reminiscent of those times not so long ago, before events had taken place and make it quite clear she was not to return.

The stirring of the veil at mouth of her tent drew up her eyes. Indis. Something of a maelstrom in the eyes of the fraudulent fortune teller: head-in-the-clouds, young and happy, yet with a bizarre underlying intensity that was difficult to discern or understand. There was a level of uncertainty or worry in her smile. Aware of an opportunity, Salem her book and sat up among her furs and cushions.

"Everything all right?" she asked. "Here, let me through, I’ll restart the fire. What’s on your mind?"

life's a riddle, not a game of dice
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POSTED: Mon May 04, 2020 12:38 am

Calrian had mentioned that Salem was a fortune teller. It had taken many days for Indis to sort through the feelings she had about this (when she remembered) and she wondered if the woman was so self-assured because she could see into their collective future. It was something that she had never been able to reconcile - how her story had started in a realm fractured by traditions and had brought her to a place framed by strict scripture.

… and now this.

”Calrian said you tell fortunes.” Indis moved so that the wolf-dog could slither passed her to restoke the fire, ”I was wondering if you could do it for me.” She wrung her hands together nervously and glanced about the tent before allowing her gaze to settle on Salem. She was beautiful in an exotic way – with eyes that slanted cat-like in indigo, her ears decorated with slashes of gold. Hunched in the womans home Indis felt huge and out of place, her wolfish ears flattened out to the side.
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POSTED: Mon May 04, 2020 11:41 pm

She had come for her fortune. The jackal-coy paused as she squeezed out of the tent to read Indis’s face, then continued on her way.

"Of course," she said, tossing set-aside firewood into the modest pit beside her tent. "You seem troubled. I’ll warm some tea while I do your reading."

The Fortune Teller sparked the firepit to a slow-growing life with aid of several handfuls of dried leaves, then placed a kettle gone cold at the fire and settled down beside it. She invited the young woman to sit down across from her, and on the furs placed between them spread out her custom deck face-down.

"Take a deep breath, then select three," Salem directed. "Don’t flip them over."

She collected what was not selected and placed them back into the pocket on her belt. Then, after gauging her client’s readiness, Salem flipped each card and labeled them as she went. "Seashell... whisker... and building, but reversed."

The Fortune Teller leaned back, connecting eyes, firelight dancing flashes and shadows into the curves of her painted mask. After a beat she asked, "How do you interpret this fortune, Indis?"

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POSTED: Thu May 14, 2020 12:45 am

Indis sat quietly as the woman prepared her tea. Watching Salem was like watching someone who was certain of themselves, and Indis was secretly surprised that as she served her that her hands did not shake. Hortensia had always barked at the way Indis approached everything so quietly, though Pax had coaxed an entire persona out of her – one who was self assured and prepared for anything. She pined for the way Calliope could respond to everything with hesitation, or how she had been able to compartmentalize the way Pax had dealt with the rest of their flock.

Indis sipped the hot tea carefully, flaring her nostrils at the wafting steam.

The deck of cards clacked against the womans nails, and as Indis leaned forward to inspect the cards she carefully drew three. She wasn’t sure if she had to channel something as she did it, but she held the tea close, cradling it to her chest as she placed each card face down. Salem worked quickly, flipping each one with a description that left Indis pricking her ears curiously.

”But… what do they mean?” She sipped the tea again, curling her tail around her crossed legs, ”Seashell. Whisker. Building.” She repeated with a frown. They were all words the spun freely, each hiding a facet of herself that she struggled to connect with. Indis saw the whisker first, a trembling, pale, frond of fur - and wondered if it meant that she was fragile and uncertain. "What do you see?" She twisted her head as if to attempt to see from Salems perspective.
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POSTED: Mon May 18, 2020 9:09 pm

Salem hummed, smiling faint. She had asked Indis for her interpretation, her best guess regarding the fortune, but the concept only perplexed the poor girl further. The Fortune Teller ached to know what crept about behind those troubled, dreaming eyes of hers. Every interaction only brought about more and more questions, until the point that Salem began to question whether Indis could be relied upon.

But Indis's delay had given the diviner enough time to piece together a fortune that worked for what was drawn, and so she didn’t mind that her question had been left unanswered.

"Let’s see," she began. "The seashell represents your walls and defenses, usually in a mental sense. The whisker: your intuition, your senses. And the building, at least when drawn upside-down... Well, it implies one is on the wrong path, as if one has strayed from what made them, from their foundation. Not unlike the sensation that the ground has been pulled out from beneath your feet."

She pointed from one card to the next as she explained further. "These first two cards are drawing your intuition into question. The last card implies it’s led you astray."

Salem frowned, sitting back. "Not the kindest fortune I’ve told. Are you all right?"

life's a riddle, not a game of dice
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POSTED: Sun May 24, 2020 4:41 pm

”I-“ Indis frowned deeply, the pretty lines of her face criss crossed with uncertainty. Salem was so assured, so centred… Indis felt herself crumble and her shoulders slumped as the woman asked if she was alright. ”I wish I knew what it all means.” Sanctuary had broken her down, had forced her to follow rules that had been stringent and made by a man who thought himself akin to god.

She bit her lip, ”My intuition?”

Astray. It was a word that rang like a bell. They had all been so worried of being lead astray.

As a child she had been guided by the voices of her parents, and as an adult she had found some inner voice that had managed to move her where she needed to go. ”Does it say that everything will be alright?” She sighed, running her hands through her hair before rumbling, ”Have you ever read your own fortune? Did it come true?”
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POSTED: Mon May 25, 2020 4:03 pm

In most circumstances, the hardest part of the process was her false testament as said to be spoken by her cards. To relative strangers the worst of the exchange was over by the point she’d finished making up an explanation for what was drawn; there was no further need to read their body language or worry the fortune was inadequate. What was said was done. She took their payment, and passively rode the waves of their reactions from there. But with Indis the diviner was invested, and to see the Dreamer in such emotional disarray deeply perplexed Salem.

It would have been easy to say the fortune was false, and that Indis was better off believing whatever her intuition was telling her, regardless of where Salem’s lies said it strayed. The jackal knew she needed to steel herself. In her adult life she wasn’t used to anything beyond simple acquaintanceships, and it would all get easier in time. If she wanted to stay safe, it’d have to get easier. There was no choice.

Salem sighed. "Fortunes don't speak in absolute truths," she said, finding space to backpedal where she could if it meant easing the poor girl’s mind. "The cards seek to guide, but the amount you follow them is up to you. If this fortune gets your thoughts moving and only that, the cards have in a way still succeeded."

She had a few extravagant stories in her back pocket for the common question of whether her personal fortunes had ever come true, but none of them applied here with a friend, with someone she didn’t just want to coax and dismiss.

"Yes, a few times," Salem answered, "but I had to really consider how much to take away from what the cards said for me. They didn’t all come true—they’re, well, they’re not always meant to be interpreted so literally. You know?"

She leaned forward, connecting eyes and collecting the Dreamer’s hands from her hair into her own. "Indis. Promise me you won’t overthink this, okay?"

life's a riddle, not a game of dice
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Lin
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POSTED: Tue Jun 23, 2020 6:59 pm

She sat and forced herself not to become lost in the reading that lay before her. She felt that each card was a metaphor, a sweeping brush of some colorful stroke that left her unable to see things in black and white. Indis fought against the urge to have her lip tremble and instead firmly set her hands together – ignoring the way the tilted whisker card seemed to continue to gather her attention.

”I can’t help it.” She finally managed as the fortune teller collected her hands, ”Sometimes I see great meaning in so many things… but to have it here, laid out, like this-“ She struggled for a moment to find herself, and shifted uncomfortable in her seat. ”I wish...”

She sighed and quietly raised the fortune tellers hand to her cheek, ”I wish it was possible to know that the path I walk on is the right one.”
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POSTED: Thu Jul 09, 2020 11:20 pm

"We all do," Salem replied, uncertain.

Seashell, whisker, and building, reversed. The Dreamer's hands clasped within her own, Salem sunk deep into the wistful melancholy of Indis and her surrounding mysteries, and wondered desperately if she had made a mistake. How else could she have warped the fortune? She should have realized Indis's plight upon arrival; she could have provided something more positive, more uplifting. Seashell: walls, mental or physical. Perhaps she had taken the wrong approach. Perhaps she could save this.

Her hands parted to frame both the Dreamer's cheeks, a delicate touch to contrast the stern look the Fortune Teller connected to her eyes. "We all do, Indis. That's part of being alive, I think. The wondering and wandering until you find your way."

She leaned back. "A fortune can help, but it's all what you make of it, my friend. Perhaps the seashell card implied physical walls over mental walls. Perhaps it meant to speak of the recent encounter. That's up to you."

Sighing long and deep, Salem pushed forward a small smile. Words, her only real ally, had become difficult. Fortunes for friends, Salem realized in that moment, were far more dangerous to provide than fortunes for clients. She could have to be careful with these requests in the future.

"Come, let's have some tea and let all of this go, okay? Squeezing Indis's hands, Salem released them and stood up. "I'll get my kettle. We won't let this ruin our night."

As she ducked back into her tent, she wondered how and why she had already become so soft among the Troupe, and what it meant for her own protection.
life's a riddle, not a game of dice
The Troupe
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Lin
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Sticks and Stones