Kitten on a String

Title: Kitten on a String
Time Period: July 5, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: Luna's come a long way since her first meeting with Deya. The cards tell of a life of torment or promise, depending on how they're read.

The sun is still high in the sky, pocket watches of those who have them would put the time at just after lunch. Even though it's a work day, the faire still has an abundance of visitors, mostly women and small children lucky enough to not be part of the workforce of the ammunitions factory or the power plant. One such woman has been perusing the various stalls and games under the watchful eye of the random militia members that have been placed on duty here to ensure that no funny business happens. Not that they suspect her of it, but if anything should happen to her, they might be in for a reprimand.

Lamb on a stick is sort of a rare treat, not the lamb itself but the fact that it's on a stick makes it exotic enough that Luna's bought three since she first arrived. She munched on her first one as she bickered with a woman selling pearls, gaining a small handful of the treasures in exchange for her hat, a rich thing covered in silky scarves to keep out the heat. She chewed on another as she lost a bracelet, gloves, and a few ribbons in a shell game.

The last, she sucks on as she hovers outside the wagon of the fortune teller. There's barely a scrap left on it when she tosses the skewer over her shoulder, not caring about littering in her fine town. Someone else will pick it up. Or they'll blame the faire folk for not cleaning up after their visitors. Her hand goes enters the wagon first, pushing aside the curtain for the rest of her to follow. Without the accessories that she's lost to various bargains and games, she's rather plain in her grey ensemble. The only thing that sets her apart from the commoners is the sheen of her fabric and the fact her shoes are fairly fancy.

Reclining on her sofa, Deya is smoking a cigarette when the creak of her wagon's steps and the rattle of beads herald a visitor. When Luna steps in, she lifts a hand to indicate the younger woman should take a seat. "Miss Owens," the fortune teller says warmly. "I hear I have my competition in you, that you've been giving our Bear Man advice on love and other fortunes." Her nearly-black eyes sparkle as she pulls a cigarette from a case on the table and offers one to the blonde.

"Do you seek one of your own tonight? What is it you want to know most, child?"

Lofting her eyebrows high on her forehead, Luna's hand goes to her chest where her coin once sat. A sort of who me?! type gesture of complete innocence. "Well I am the foremost authority on practically everything that goes on in the town," she says with an air of self importance, because she is. "But I can't exactly recall what sort of advice I would have given him on his love life, perhaps when I was delirious with fever?" She snaps her fingers and points to the other woman, "Oh yes! I told him that he shouldn't keep his love a secret. Which he shouldn't, it won't do him any good withering inside of him. He should let it out so it can bloom, aye?"

But enough about Wartooth, Luna takes her seat and arranges her dress to minimize wrinkles. Placing her hand in a pocket, she toys with some of the pearls inside and comes out with a few smaller ones. "I don't suppose you're interested in these, I'd like to know if I'll ever be respectable and married. If the road I travel on now is the one I should stay on or if I am simply wasting my time on something that may never come to fruition. I want a daughter."

Dark brows lift in Deya's face as well, and she takes a last drag from her cigarette before snuffing it out in an ashtray. She looks at the pearls and drags away three, leaving a couple of others to Luna's end of the table. "First," she says, picking up her deck of cards and handing them to Luna to shuffle, "you should know that these answers are not absolute. They are suggestions. The cards will speak to us, but you may not like what they have to say. You also should know that they are not certainties, but based on where you have been and where you are now — what will be is never certain. Not even for those with the truest of Sight can be positive something will nor will not happen."

She nods to the cards. "Shuffle. And if you cannot accept that I cannot make promises, then instead we can just have a visit, and you can keep your pearls."

Taking the cards, Luna is careful to shuffle them. Slow, methodical, cheating… it's less of a shuffle than it is trying to arrange the cards to a positive outcome. Never leave anything this important to fate. Ever.

"You can't make promises, aye," the blonde agrees as she looks up at the older woman instead of studying the cards. It makes the 'shuffle' a little more honest at this point, as she eventually gives up trying to fix the draw when she loses track of her favorite cards. "It' be nice though… I don't need a promise of a daughter, a son will do. Even one of each, or more. I wouldn't be opposed to more." After all, Duncan's first wife gave him three children, if Luna is going to compete with that, she'll need to give him at least four.

"I'm not the one who brings the babies, Miss Owens," Deya says dryly, looking amused as she watches the shuffling. Eventually she holds out her hand for the cards, bracelets jangling, before she deals out nine cards, four across the center of the table, three above, and two below. A card in in the center line is turned, revealing a forlorn looking man with five cups, two still upright and three turned over; a castle across the water could very well be the very castle Luna now calls home.

"This card represents you, the influences surrounding you. He looks a bit distraught, aye? This is a card of unfulfilled dreams and disappointment. There is a loss of energy — see, by the spilled cups. A sense of suffering over past suffering. Being limited by one's past experiences, by being slow to heal and move on from past pain and loss."

She reaches for another cigarette, igniting it with a flare of flame from a lighter. "This is not the outcome, but where we start from, aye, lass? Not an auspicious card, but it does not have to be, to have a good fortune."

Luna reaches for but closes her fingers into a fist before she grabs the card. She's done this before, years ago, and grabbing the cards isn't a good thing. Leaning over the pile, she hisses a breath inward through clenched teeth and looks up at the woman. "It's true, I've made my parents quite angry with what I've done to them and their name. But I've left the Dove now, I'm at the castle and I'm an explorer…"

There's a long pause as she licks her lips, her gaze flickering between the card and Deya, "It's exactly where I started. Honest to goodness, but I am healing and getting better. I've stopped with the herbs and the drink, most of the drink."

Deya raises a brow at the word 'explorer.' "Are ya now? I've heard some of your adventures; Jibben was telling me about a story he heard of a serpent in the sea and a giant bat; he's never been on the water so he was fascinated by it all."

She turns the two cards closest to Luna now, and explains, "These two tell us about your subconscious mind, about the hidden influences that maybe you aren't even aware of — though there's little that gets by you, I know."

She taps the first of the two. "The Priestess. The influences she suggests to me are positive ones — enlightenment, wisdom, insight — perhaps from all your travels? But also, she suggests some seclusion, being apart from others. Perhaps your change of living conditions — you live in a much quieter place now, no?"

A quick look at Luna's face and a quick drag of the cigarette are taken before she taps the second card, depicting a woman sewing with three discs with stars on them at her feet. "Three of pentacles. This card is about skill and craft, making use of your talents, taking pride in your one ability that makes you valuable beyond measure." A ring of smoke is exhaled, lifting to the arched ceiling of the wagon.

"I've no doubt that Jibben found them exciting, the serpent was longer than all your wagons strung together and its teeth were as sharp as harpy's tongue," or Luna's on a bad day. The blonde's smile widens as she takes all of the next set of readings as compliment. The new location, the solitude of her room in the tower, her wisdom and enlightenment. Until the special talent is mentioned.

It's probably not crochet.

"My one ability? You mean the one Duncan values me for or something else?" She is his mistress after all, what other talent could he deem valuable. "If it is… I don't wish to us that talent with anyone else. I'm beyond that now, I belong to him." Bought many times over, from the bills that arrive to the castle in his name.

A tap of ash into the ashtray, and Deya raises her brows again and chuckles, a low husky thing. "I don't mean anything. The cards read you; we read the cards. That is all," she says, moving to flip over two more cards. "Where those told us of those things influencing your subconscious mind, these tell us about your thoughts and feelings that you are conscious of."

"The Emperor, reversed. This has many meanings — he looks, upside down, as he might just topple out of his throne, his crown falling off his head, and then he'd not be so much an Emperor would he? Perhaps you are worried that you are actually being foolish, that you are inept and unable to hold the positions you've found yourself in. Or," Deya says, tapping the emperor again, "it can represent a man in your life, often one in an authority position over you — an employer, perhaps, who is abusive of his power, a man who throws his weight around."

She doesn't dwell too long on that one, turning to the next as quickly. "The Knight of Wands may represent a quick and clever man who has an unusual way of looking at life, who sees opportunities missed by others. This man is unpredictable, has a gift of language. If it is about influences and not a man, it suggests a journey and a change of residence — both of which have occurred for you, no?"

Luna's eyebrows draw down together sharply. Opening her mouth slightly, she draws in a short breath as though about to dispute the representation of her man. Her man. But she doesn't say anything, remaining quiet and clicking her jaw shut in a sullen pout. He does abuse his power but so does she. Too many times in recent history, she's taken liberties or done things without regard to others because whatever mess she makes, Duncan will clear it up. "He doesn't mean it, any of it. He's gentle at heart." Most of the time, usually when they're alone.

The next card springs her eyebrows back high on her forehead. "Septimus? No, he doesn't talk to me much… But Isabelle D'Sadonne, could it be a woman? She's quite intelligent and graceful. She's French, you know, and very exotic. Her people brought us back to Dornie much quicker than our own ship could ever have."

The next two cards are overturned, tapped with that long nail. "These cards represent how past events influence your current situation or question. The first shows cups with various things coming out of their tops — jewels, a castle, a face, a serpent, a wreath. "Seven of Cups. This tells me that you had many dreams and a fertile imagination. You've had in your life many, many desires that sometimes conflict one with t'other." Deya, with raised brows, examines Luna's face to see if she agrees, but the next card is tapped.

It is a much less cheerful card; a tower on fire, struck by lightning bolts in a stormy sky. "This card is one of destruction. Upheaval caused by unheeded warnings. Self-destruction caused by greed or pride or arrogance."

Deya lifts the cigarette to take another long pull, then blows it out and adds, "This card is one of destruction, but it can also mean a breakthrough. A triumph over the behaviors that destroy us, like vices or obsessions. It is not necessarily a bad card. The past is what it is. What matters is coming through the storm."

Swallowing dry, Luna doesn't say anything as the three cards are explained to her. If she could claim at being a good cheat, she would simply brush off the message of the reading and be on her way. She can't because she lost track of the cards midway through the shuffle. If Deya remembers the locals at all, she would remember that all three cards ring true. If she doesn't, the prostitute would rather not explain. Her expression tells it all through quirks of her eyebrows and lips, nervous fidgets, and wringing of her hands.

"It's a breakthrough," she says simply, not wishing to acknowledge the rest. Namely, her greed, pride, and arrogance. "What do the next ones say?"

"These show the potential future events or influences," Deya says, lifting a finger. "Remember, there is no future written in stone, lass."

The first of the three remaining cards is turned over. A blond man with a small dog frolicking seems a cheerful card until one notices the fact the man is about to step off of a cliff.

"The Fool," Deya begins. "This can be positive — that by acting without thinking, without being aware of the dangers and risks surrounding you, that you somehow manage to succeed in your goals, where someone more wise and prudent might turn back and fail. Sometimes it takes such foolishness to achieve our dreams. Ignorance is bliss, as they say. It can also mean chasing rainbows and having unrealistic goals." Well, that clears that up, doesn't it?

The next card is turned over and tapped. "This is the Wheel of Fortune, but topsy turvy, it's not a lucky card, lass. It suggests instability. A temporary fortune, perhaps, but one that won't last, one that leads to displacement. To wandering."

She raises her eyes again to study the fair woman in front of her. "There's one more card; it is the bridge from present to future, to show us what will determine your actions or what other forces may be affecting your path from here to there."

The future, not written in stone. The trembling breath that the tow headed woman takes, along with the prideful lift of her chin suggest that she's about to put her own spin on it. "I'll go on more exploring adventures, to more ruins and more cities. That's where I'll wander, that's why I'll be displaced, I'll be looking for more and more." Not because Duncan would rid himself of her. He wouldn't, not after she's finally told him those three cursed words.

After this explanation, she smiles at the fool card. A smile that widens and turns to a shy titter. "Duncan said that to me once… Exactly what the card reads. That I'm a dreamer and that because I see things that most don't, I'll be something special, I'll be a leader." He's told her a great many things, though.

"Mm," Deya says with a nod to Luna's interpreting of the cards. "Perhaps so. But keep an open mind, lass. You need to find the answers in your own life as to whether it's courage or folly."

She turns the last card over, and even her breath is stolen for a moment at the image of the moon.

"As I said, this is the card that determines how you move from present to future or perhaps the things that influence your path. The Moon, for which you were named, aye?"

She studies Luna's face for a moment and then the card, tracing the moon as she chooses her words. "The Moon requires courage. It can bring both stagnation and higher consciousness. If a traveler were to get too mesmerized by its beauty, they become stuck, stagnant, losing sight of the final stage of their journey. But," she lifts a finger, "if the traveler manages to move beyond the bright light and beauty, he or she can enter into a higher state of being. The task is to decide what is illusion and what is truth. The moon, she tells us to look at ourselves for those areas that have blinded us before. We need to have courage to learn not to be blinded by the shallow things and to move past them to our true goals."

She touches the water below the moon where the light can be seen bouncing back. "Another aspect of the Moon is reflection and she speaks to us of cause and effect. She reflects our behaviors and instincts back to us — we have to decide if our behaviors match our goals. She asks us, do we want to rise into the higher consciousness or stay attached to our illusions? She warns us not to be consumed by fantasy and mirage, but to find and seek what is real."

There's the sparkle of water in Luna's eyes as the last card is revealed. Her own card, as Deya points out, the image that she is named for. Drawing a short breath in through her nose, it sounds too much like a sniffle, she lets it loose in a gasp of air. A huff of a laugh.

"I've not so much in the way of courage," she admits quietly. An itch at her shoulder begins to niggle at her, and she responds to it with an absent minded scratch. The ugly seams of skin under the fabric cause her to slow, reminding her of what little courage she might have had once. "I've tried but it's not where my greatest talents lie." The meaning implied is that there's no courage found for her not when her talent is between the sheets.

Looking down at the pattern of cards, the pictures painted on them, and the message of each one, Luna remains quiet for quite a span of time. Her only movement is to blink, until she glances up to meet Deya's eyes, then her lips quirk just a little. "I suppose this means I shan't have my daughter, at least, if I were to believe the cards a message of my future."

Deya shakes her head and smiles, though it's not a mocking smile. "That isn't what they say, lass." She pushes back two of the pearls she'd taken, keeping just one for herself. "There are never exact answers in the cards, not the way I read them. There are messages for us. You have things that you want — but they contradict other things that you want, aye? You have things that you want to be, but you're not yet ready to be them."

Her cigarette is picked up and inhaled, a series of smoke rings puffed back out. "There are too many factors for the future to hold true. What would be the point in knowing it, if there weren't a thing you could do a bout it, aye? If I told you all the things these cards see, and told you the path was absolute, and there was no straying from it — why bother knowing? Just live your life and you'll end up where the fates would have ye. But," she says, tapping the cigarette against the ash tray, "this tells you things your heart knows and it might give you insight into things you don't want to face. And those things together may help you get to where you want to be, aye?"

"Aye," whispers Luna, she's not of the age yet where it's imperative that she forces such a thing. One ultimatum for now is good enough, though the wounds have healed over better than her scars, they're still a bit too fresh. Besides that, she now knows what she is in the eyes of her chosen man's family. "I can wait. I can dream and explore and conquer a world of my own before needing an heir of my blood to give it all to." She does, after all, have ambition beyond Duncan Rowntree. He is a foundation for her success, not the whole of it.

The rolls one of the pearls back, a tip for a job well done, and then pockets the remains. Pushing herself to a stand, Luna smooths out her dress and straightens the cuffs at her wrists before bowing her head to the Ceardannan woman. "Thank you for everything, it's not what I wanted to hear but I think it's what I needed."

The older woman nods, smiling as Luna heads to the mouth of the wagon. "The cards don't say what I want them to for me most of the time, either, Miss Owens, but they do help me 'hear' what needs to be heard when otherwise I turned a deaf ear to it. That is their magic, really. I am just a translator, a humble one at that."

She snubs out her cigarette in the ashtray. "You've come a long way from the girl with the kitten on a string, at any rate, and I am sure the world holds many opportunities in wait for you, should you choose to take them."

When the steps creak and there's the subtle shift in the wagon's weight, Deya pulls out a flask from beneath the table and takes a long swig before the next customer comes along.