Tea Reading

Title: Tea Reading
Time Period: February 10, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: Hope brings a "cursed" man to the gypsies, who are more than happy to offer him a solution to his problem.

This is not where Elvira Banes expected to be this time of year when she left home with her brother. She didn't exactly expect to be sitting in the lap of luxury, but she didn't think she'd be living in a tent either. Much as she would never want to admit it, attempting to live honestly meant the Banes siblings were going nowhere fast in Dornie. So when she heard word that one of its residents believes the shadow of death is looming overhim, she put out whispers that she might be able to help.

A con is not a terrible thing if one uses it to give peace of mind, obviously. Elvie's home, modest as it is, is decorated warmly in rich reds and golds that give it a warmer feel when one enters the tent. Scarves and silks drape over the surfaces of trunks and make-shift tables, giving the space what she hopes to be an inviting and mystical sort of appearance. She sits atop one a case with a pot of fresh brewed tea on a taller crate covered in mustard-coloured fabric with contrasting embroidery.

Two cups sit ready. One for herself, and one for her prospective visitor.

It's likely him asking if the travelling gypsies could be able to help that caused the word to get to them. Cas Blackburn isn't the most well-known man, but word of a possible Black Dog sighting spreads, especially with attacks having happened this month.

He's looking wide eyed as he opens the tent flap and steps inside, obviously wowed by the location, even if it's not the lap of luxury. "Oh, sorry," he says in a voice that is not from the city. A sound of the West of Yorkshire, in fact. "I'm— not sure if— should I have knocked or…" he looks at the flap, then decides it couldn't have been knocked on anyway.

"A few people mentioned you… might be able to help me with a… problem." He looks anxious, and nervous, and glances back through the flap as if trying to see if something is there.

Or making sure something isn't.

"Yes." Elvira's smile comes easily enough, but seems restrained in a sense. But no less genuine, at any rate. "Sit." She gestures to the seat across from her. "Your coming was foretold." By rumour mill. That part sounds less impressive.

She lifts the tea pot then, pouring first into her cup, then into his. "You fear death is standing at your shoulder," Elvira surmises. "Come, then. Drink your tea, and I shall see what I can see in your leaves."

The sound of her voice brings out a smile, whether he's willing to admit it or not. Cas looks behind him one last time before stepping forward, letting the flap drop and block the tent from the cold air. His clothes are ragged, but there's a colorful scarf around his neck, and his gloves seem to be made out of knitted red fabric— though the fingers have been cut off.

"I don't think I've ever had something foretold before— or— honestly I've never done this, but… I like tea, so." He laughs, still nervous, taking his seat awkwardly. "I'm Cas… Blackburn. But… I'm sure you already knew that. Being a… fortune-teller and all." His voice takes on a rambling sound to it, that trails off as he takes up the tea cup and begins sipping it in the polite British way, despite his appearances.

"Fortune-teller always places a bit too much expectation upon a girl, I find. I simply have an intuitive way. I am open to the energies and the whispers of the world around us. Interpreting everyday occurrences in ways others might not think to." She makes it sound so simple, while at the same time exonerating herself from the notion that she might actually be psychic.

Polite and British goes over well with Elvira, being much the same herself. "Tell me, Cas Blackburn, why do you believe your doom is close at hand? I would know what you have seen, so that I may better understand your state."

From the look on his face, Cas may believe she is politely underexpressing her talents, but at the same time he doesn't look disappointed to hear she may not be everything he expects. A few more sips follow, as he listens to what she has to say, only lowering the cup to set it down when he needs to respond.

"It happened at the beginning of the month— I was attacked by a large black dog. It didn't… seem like a normal dog. I've been around farm dogs and feral dogs, and this was neither… I heard from one of the stablehands I work with that a Black Dog is a serious omen…" And he believed it.
With a pause, he takes another sip, a little longer, as if he needs the tea to free his mind of the bad thoughts. "I was hoping that someone here would know more about them," he says when he lowers the cup again, biting down a little on his tongue as he stops.

Arthur Banes wouldn't have exactly picked to still be here if vould help it. THere had even been that offer from Luna Owens. But even for him, not everything always goes as planned. So here they are, still holed up in a tent with all the other gypsies. It's something that annoys him every day, never mind how Elvie may feel about it.

She had told him of the visitor that was expected today, and that had been perfectly fine with him. He had his own errands in town, particularly now that he had taken up teaching in town as originally proposed. It let his sister work on her own, and allow him to act as though he knew nothing beforehand whenever it was his turn to meet with the visitor about whatever it might be he needs their "help" with.

What he hadn't expected upon his return to find the visitor still there, so there's a bit of apprehension before he pulls open the entrance to the tunnel and peers in at it's two occupants. "Ah! Ph, um, I wasn't expecting us to have guests," he remarks in an amused tone, looking between Cas and his sister. This really wasn't a tent meant for three, but he could squeeze in without inconveniancing anyone is he tried. "Mind terrribly if I come in?"

Elvira brings her tea cup to her lips, drinking deeply with eyes intent on Cas as he speaks. "That is indeed a sign not to be ignored. But all may not be as it seems," she assures. "Our world is teeming with creatures we do not entirely understand. I shall do my best to discern if what you saw is truly what you believe it to be."

Her brother's unexpected arrival isn't entirely an inconvenience, though the effort the younger Banes makes not to let her shoulders slump and her eyes roll is a conscious one. Her smile is a little tight at the corners, which Arthur will well recognise. She's a touch exasperated, but he's already forgiven. "Cas Blackburn, this is my dear brother, Arthur Banes. He may be able to assist us both in this matter. Do join us, brother." Graciously, she ushers the man in with a wave of her hand. "This one believes death comes for him," she explains. "His leaves shall tell me whether or not this is true."

At the voice, Cas starts visibly, but recovers without dropping the teacup, at least. "Oh, no, you can— sorry," he apologizes sheepishly as he hides his face behind another sip of the teacup. The way he holds it is what makes it the most British and proper. For someone obviously of poor breeding he must have had tea-time with someone much more proper once upon a time.

Such manners are hard to lose once gained. Just as they are hard to learn in the first place.

"I had thought it could be something else… but I figured you can tell me one way or the other. I have had… accidents lately, too," he says, looking toward the man who's joined them. The woman's brother. "Just little things, but— more often than I remember. I— I know I'd feel better if I knew whether I was imagining it— or if there was some way to stop… from dying."

With the reassurance that he isn't interrupting, Arthur clowly and carefully slips his way into the tent, straightening his jacket as he makes his way across the compact area. "Ah, he must be the one you said was so sure to come visit you," he remarks. He isn't sure exactly what route his sister took, but given the presence of tea, he can guess. A smart one, and it allows him to bolster faith in her readings easily enough.

"I may be able to help, depending on the nature of things," he remarks as he slips down into a seat next to Elvira. "Accidents?" he repeats, looking over at Elivra with a worried expression. "Well, that is certainly something that doesn't bode well. We'll have to see what my sister can find in the leaves, then. That will be the best way to figure out how to proceed."

"I am sure if anyone can keep death from your doorstep, it is my brother," Elvira insists. "Tell us of these accidents. The devil is in the details, as the saying goes." She smiles then, reassuringly, "Fear not, dear. The future is not written in stone. Death is, sadly, inevitable, but we may be able to delay its coming if only we know how to read the signs of its arrival, and subvert it."

"Oh, of course— This morning I tripped over the fence I always climb over to leave the stableyards. I've done it dozens of times since I've got here and I've never fallen that badly," Cas says, rubbing his shin self-consciously. Even if the pain has passed, he can still feel it.

"I've tripped over my feet a lot. I fell into a stream I've fished in a dozen times. I even fell off one of the horses. The stirrup came lose. I haven't fallen off a trained horse since I was a kid."

"It does sound like more than a run of bad luck," Arthur muses as he crosses his legs, watching Cas carefully while trying to avoid looking like he's studying him. A finger taps at Arthur's chin as he considers all of this, a glance given over to Elvie. He won't be able to say much until the reading is compelte, but already he has things formulating in his mind. "Falling off a horse alone can be a great risk. There was a man, back in our old hom, who had his neck snapped under the hoof of one that had thrown him off on a lark."

While Cas recounts and Arthur weighs in, Elvira swallows down more tea, politely peering between the two of them as they speak. Then, she sets down her cup and tips her head back just slightly, closing her pale green eyes, as if absorbing this information and whatever whispers she can hear as well. "Misfortune can be a portend itself," she agrees in a quiet voice. "We can remedy a case of bad luck."

The relief is obvious across his face, the smile melting the worry even more than he likely means it to. Cas had been nodding at Arthur's words, but now his smile widens and eyes look hopeful. "You can? Brillant," he says enthusiastically. "I knew someone could do something. I definitely don't want to die. What do I need to do?" He scoots up and leans forward, looking expectantly for an answer.

"You just need to rely on us," Arthur remarks as he looks behind Elvira and at a small stack of papers. Grabbing them up and sliding his glasses up on to his face, he begins to look over them, a smile on his his face. "I'll have to look for just the right thing in this. Something I'm sure that'll work, since they took all the books that helped me with this sort of thing before. But luck can be a capricious thing, and if you think there's some outside force bringing doom and trouble, there's likely some measure that can be provided to ward or appease it." He pauses, realising what he sounds like, and laughs as he looks up at Cas. "Nothing too cheesy, I promise you, not like in the stories you read sometimes, those are all rubbish. We may live with the gypsies, but…"

"The gypsies are lovely people," Elvira insists (reminds) gently. "Free spirits, I find, are less likely to dismiss phenomena they do not understand at first glance." She opens her eyes again and holds out her hands. "Come now. Drain your cup and let me have a look."

"Oh, yes, sorry," Cas says, draining the last of the tea he had forgotten about rather quickly, if still in what could be called a 'sip'. A very generous sip. Holding it out, he gives it to her, and then reaches into his coat to dig something else out.
"I was told I should bring a gift. I am afraid I don't have much, but… I believe that at least your brother could find some use out of these."

What he holds out toward Arthur is a set of knitted socks. With an argyle pattern. Red and white, of all things. No holes, no stains, and very little signs of wear.

Arthur watches curiously as Cas hands his cup over to his sister, genuinely curious as to what she's going to say. There's a million and one things she could say that would all work in their favour. It's just a matter of seeing which one she decides to go with, really. The presentation of the gift, though, distracts him sufficiently as he raises an eyebrow. Socks weren't exactly what he was expecting or hoping for. Still, Cas is right, there's use to be had in them, particularly since his current pair sports more than a few holes. With a gracious nod, he leans forward and takes them, setting them aside. "I'll see if my sister wants them first. She's the one doing the most important work."

"Your offering is appreciated," the supposed mystic assures gently, accepting Cas' cup from him. "A cuppa tea makes better so many of life's little worries. Let us see what yours tells us of your larger worries." Elvira tips her chin down toward her chest, peering down coolly into the porcelain.

What she sees there causes her lips to part and her breath to visibly hitch in her chest. "The Black Dog," she whispers, reaching out with one hand to clutch at her brother's arm. "It is precisely as you have feared," and by this she seems astonished, suggesting she had dismissed Cas' fears as coincidence and bad luck. "You were right to come to us," Elvira tells Cas. "We can help you. And we will. Regardless of the burden to us."

There's a myriad of reactions from the young man. At first Cas is smiling across at the green eyed woman, with a dimple on his cheek, and then the smile vanishes and his shoulders slump as she announces his fears were accurate. Ever since Sir Wartooth dismissed it he'd gained a new HOPE. But that hope just seems smashed, right up until, a second later, that smile returns. One of relief.

They can help.

"Thank God," he says, thanking someone outloud that he rarely does. After all it isn't exactly high class to be religous. Still, his relief is almost infectious. "Oh thank you. Thank you. I mean all I got is my life, you know, and I'm not exactly done with it yet!" It's not even an exaggeration. "How— how much of a burden will it be on you, though? I— I don't have a lot, but I can come up with some way to repay you. Both of you."

"With any luck, not much of a burden," Arthur remarks offhandedly as he continues to root through papers. "The biggest of burdens will be time and preperation, unfortunately. Tending to something such as this is not as easy as just a mere snap of the fingers." Arthur looks up at Cas, and then over Elvira, offering a smile to them both. "But it certainly is doable, in fairly short order…"

Abruptly, peering at his papers, he tosses them with a huff behind him, and reaches back behind Elvira for another stack. "Ahem," he starts clearing his throat, "as I was saying! In fairly short order you shall be cured of this hex, I promise you that." He flips through pieces of paper, pulling out out towards the back. "And even without our poor books that were taken from us, you needn't worry about the issue of mishap. Magic allows me to…" He trails off for a moment, before grinning at Cas, "know things, so to speak. It'll be fine."

"Yes. If anyone can save you from this, it is Arthur here. He has a way with such things." Elvira reaches across the makeshift table to pat Cas' hand. "Why do you believe you have been marked, though? Have you perhaps angered someone who might have cause to curse you?" Whether this is at all relevant to his situation is unclear, but information is power to the Baneses.

"I— wish I could say I knew where your books might be, but— " Cas trails off, looking worriedly (and a little curious) at the papers that the man pushed aside. Even books seem to be some mythical relic to him, as interesting as their magics.

"I wish I knew— the Dog showed up near the farm of a woman I know, but I don't think I could have possibly angered her— I was nothing but gentlemanly! And I was going to bring her a gift… a blanket. Cause… it's cold right now and I figured it was an appropriate winter gift."

He hesitates for a moment, mouth open as he stares at them. "Wait— I guess it could have been something from before I came here… Was I really cursed? Did— did someone intentionally do this to me?"

"People can be slighted by things you might not even imagine," Arthur remarks ruefully, adjusting the glasses on his face. "But even if this isn't the case, it might be best to check and see if she holds any ill will for you. It's hard to say if someone cursed you intentionally," at least it is for Arthur. Or, well, for anyone, but at least Elivra is in a position to fake it. "For all we know some wayward spirit decided it just didn't like the look on your face one evening. THey are such fickle, awful things."

Arthur shrugs, setting his papers aside. "It doesn't particularly matter either way. If they should persist in their cursing, you know who to come see. Hopefully, it won't come to that."

The idea that someone might curse him for his face seems to make Cas cover his mouth a little. It seems almost self-conscious. His teeth were a little odd, after all! And well exposed when he smiled. "I— hopefully it will end when you fix it, sir," he says to Arthur, only realizing his voice is muffled in time to lower it for the sir. It was till audible, just… not polite.

"Do you need time to prepare or can you do… whatever you need to do now?" There's an anxious shifting to him as he asks that.

"I believe some amount of preparation and research is required on our part, yes. But we should have your solution before long. We shall make this right." Elvira smiles reassuringly. "We shall be in touch with you once we have the remedy. In the meantime, simply take care to avoid further accidents. Death is not yet so close as to engulf you in its shadow. Sleep easy."

"I would recommend avoiding that farm, unless you go by seeking to rectify whatever wrong you may have done the owner, if you think the case originates there. Certainly avoid the forest or off road, anywhere spirits may lie." Arthur pulls the glasses off his face and slides them so they hang off the collar of his shirt. "When we're ready, we'll send you a missive in a black envelope. It'll tell you where to meet us. You're welcome to bring someone else in the event you don't totally trust us, but it'll go faster the fewer people are present. Less… distractions."

"Oh, yes, thank you," Cas says, already moving to stand up from his seat, looking anxious to get back to a safer location before it gets late. Especially since he's not getting safe until later. Really safe, at least. "I think I have a friend who can keep an eye on me on the way home, but— I'll avoid going anywhere… too dangerous."

Like the farm, and the forest. No more fishing for a while.

Pressing his lips together, he looks thoughtfully around the tent, as if trying to examine the taste of the occupents for a moment, before he adds, "Oh, you— Could you drop the note off at the…" he hesitates. "At the Dovetail. There's a woman there named Mariah Larke. She's a… friend of mine. She'll make sure I see it."

And she'll actually be able to read the directions.

"Certainly." Elvira rises to her feet and steps past Arthur and Cas to the mouth of the tent, pulling the flap aside and gesturing outside languidly with one ring-bedecked hand. "I will listen for the whispers of spirits for you. Your friend at the Dovetail will receive word from us soon."

"That's that, I suppose," Arthur says conclusively as he leans back, now that Elvira had gotten up and there's room to. "We will try to be as quick as possible in getting back to you, but I'm afraid without our books I have to rely on memory and notes, out side of regular preperations." He looks towards the door, then back at the scattered papers he had thrown aside earlier. "Be well, until then."

"I'll do my best— thank you, sir," Cas says, bowing his head toward the man, then turning toward the woman and giving her a slightly deeper kind of bow. "My lady." Very polite dealings with a pair of gyspies, but he's just a lowly stable boy!

"I'll try to find some way to repay you." And the fact he'd tried to bring even a lowly dontation today, he probably will try to find something of value. It's just his life he's trying to buy!

Elvira smiles graciously until Cas has moved outside and she's made sure the flap of the tent has fallen back into place behind him once again. Then, she grins widely to her brother. "Of that I have no doubt."