Bounties of Dorn #13–Fortune Dealer

As always, follow the Bounties of Dorn link in the menu to read the rest of the story.

Dorn raised a solid fist and banged on the door of the mystic shop.  A rustling came from inside, then a small cloaked figure cracked an opening.

“You can just come inside…” she began until she saw her guest, “Oh!”

“I need my fortune tol’,” said Dorn.  He’d left Jexer back in the tunnels to do more research.

“You do?  I mean, yes, of course.  Come in.”  Dorn had never been in the clean shop where Miriel ran the front to her wand business.  Bundles of herbs hung on the west wall, labeled by their purpose.  Luck charms and symbols took up the opposite wall, and front and center was a table with a fortune-teller’s tools scattered on its top.  It was the most organized and least sopping with burnt incense of all the mystic shops Dorn had ever visited.

“Nice place,” said Dorn, peering around.  Miriel jumped and fidgeted, the natural calm she’d had when Dorn came to her shop as a troll was gone.

“Thank you.  Um… why don’t you have a seat at the table?”  Dorn complied.  Did he, a bounty hunter, make her nervous, or was this an act?

“Business good aroun’ here?” he asked.  Miriel nodded with such vigor the hood of her cloak fell back.  She stared down at the table in shock and her hands twitched to pull it back in place, but she forced them down.  They both knew he only had to see her face once to memorize it; hiding now was pointless, even if it would have made her more comfortable.  She cleared her throat.

“It’s not bad.”

“I thin’ you’re the quietes’ fortune teller I’ve ever met.”  This seemed to shake Miriel out of her daze and into the role she’d fashioned for herself.

“My apologies.  A simple fortune for today is one small quartz, for the week it’s a large quartz, and for a deeper look into your future I ask one uncut ruby.”

“Steep.”  Dorn felt in his bag for a rough red gem.  He discerned one by weight and set it in front of her.  Her eyes opened wide before resuming a professional stare.  Miriel took the gem and verified it in the light.  She swept the set of dice she’d been using off into a bag, took them to a cabinet, and retrieved a heavy wooden box.  It weighed down her side of the table.  Opening the lid, Miriel made certain Dorn couldn’t see what she did behind the box though her hands moved something, and he could hear glass and metal tings.

“You are the bounty hunter, well known in the Great City.  As such, I cannot guarantee your future.  With so many eyes on you, the power of free will could negate what I say as soon as you step outside the door.  But… I haven’t been wrong yet.”  She kept her head down; her struggle not to look at him was the only thing she’d left him to see.

“I understan’,” he said.  Something behind the lid whistled as if it spun at high speed, then stopped.  Miriel threw what sounded like a handful of nails into a dish, and poured a potion on them that didn’t slosh, but cracked like crystallized sugar.

She studied the results, and murmured to him, “It’s not the worst future I’ve ever seen.  There’s a strong light I can’t account for.  This axe must be your hooved apprentice.  I see others, but you haven’t met them, friends; a feather, rain, and a… pair of shoes?  Your enemies are stronger than you’ve imagined, they threaten everything around you.  I see a ripped banner, the emblem of the city guard torn in half.  And…”  Miriel fell silent and her head began to wobble.

“Miss?”

“Your future, no matter how it’s prodded, determines the future of the city.  I can see darkness, with the people in chains, lost in shadows and sadness.  You’re dead.  I can see daylight, fresh air in the open market, laughter.  Here, you’re alive,” she swallowed a lump in her throat, “It seems you’re the most important person in the Great City right now.”

“No, ma’am.  That woul’ be you,” he said, “You have the tools to give me the knowledge.”

Miriel nodded, “Something changes, even as we speak.  A passionate red has entered the picture, not of blood, but of… a woman.”

“Go on.”

“No, that’s all the future shows me,” she said, jerking the lid down.  Miriel busied herself putting the case away and straightening the tablecloth.  Dorn sat back in thought.  He allowed her to squirm for a moment.

“Is there anything else you need?” she asked finally, after tidying until it would have been discourteous to ignore him.

“A Sun wan’.  Permanen’.”  Her face stayed in a pleasantly tight smile as the mind behind it went blank.  Dorn pulled a three pound bag of gemstones out of his pack, enough to tempt the most cowardly of criminals, and let it fall open as it slumped on the table.  Miriel calmly opened the bag, her eyes betraying a jump of surprise at the quality of the payment she’d received.  She cinched up the bag, her fingers stiff around the cloth.

“I’ll be right back.”  Miriel slipped behind a door, and little noises of opening and shutting cabinets floated through the crack she left.  The alley door opened and slammed.

Dorn felt pricks on the back of his neck and pulled out his rubber rock wand just in time to catch the biggest part of the explosion that came from the back of the shop.  He was blown from his chair and through the wall of the building as it gave out.  The roof crushed what remained.  Dorn laid flat on his back in the street, the rock shield shoving even more air from his winded lungs.

“Damn…” he moaned.

A day or two later, a package turned up at Dorn’s door, in the shape of a wand.

~ by Rachel Francis on May 6, 2013.

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