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“Lover.” She smirked. “He is my nephew. And flattery is welcome, but won’t change the price. Eight pieces.”

“That much?”

“You have seen others, but none told you your real fortune. Eight pieces.”

Key smiled. He had indeed seen several other fortune tellers in his journeys. They all gave him conflicting futures and advice, but he had always been amused. He doubted this visit would be much different. Oh, well. She was the only fortune teller in town, and she was leaving soon. He fumbled for a moment with the small leather purse attached to his belt, counted out eight coins and handed them to the old woman.

She reached inside her vest and produced a smaller purse of her own. She put the coins in then put it away.

“Good.” She unrolled the paper. A small blue stick fell out and rolled to the ground. “Pick up the stick.”

Key looked at her for a moment, then bent over and picked it up.

Drabardi Fawe turned the paper over and it sat reasonably flat on the table.

“Now drop the stick back on the floor and put your hand in water.”

Key wondered where this was all going, but he did as instructed.

The water immediately turned a deep red, almost the color of blood.

Key wasn’t startled. He was intrigued. He seen a bit of magic in his wanderings, and it always fascinated him. If this was magic at all. Perhaps this fortune would be different from the others.

Drabardi Fawe frowned a little. She passed a wrinkled hand over the bowl. The water grew cold and a mist began to rise from it. Within moments the mist thickened and took on a life of its own. It crawled over the edge of the bowl and spilled onto the table. It crept along the table and dropped to the floor. The bowl continued to spew mist. The whole room grew cold.

A chill ran down Key’s spine. It had to be magic. He searched for something clever to say to break the silence and maybe shake the chill, but couldn’t find the words.

The old woman put her hand again over the bowl and muttered something. The mist above the bowl swirled about and formed a column between the bowl and her hand. Ghostly shapes materialized and dissipated in the column.

Key shuttered. Something inside him wanted to jerk his hand from the bowl and run from the tent. He made a feeble attempt to stand, but found that he couldn’t. The mist weighed him down. He looked up to the fortune teller for some kind of sign, or better yet, some kind of help.

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