Completed The Cards Don't Lie

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A lawless town of anarchists, built on the ruins of an ancient mining city. [Lore]

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The Cards Don't Lie

Postby Erik Murphy on January 30th, 2018, 3:21 pm

7th Bell - 22nd of Winter, AV 517 - Tent City

The air in the tent was hot and humid, unnaturally so for the middle of winter. Sweat trickled down the side of Erik’s face without even a quiver of movement to provoke such a response, meandering through his damn hair and slick skin. The tent flaps were closed, the room refused to be lit by anything other candlelight as the denizen of this tent hid herself from the infantile morning sun. Two figures sat, cross legged on the ground, either side of a low wooden table, covered in a thin tablecloth. Both were content with their faces being stretched and shrouded in the shadows cast by the unsteady candlelight, the atmosphere was not a pleasant one. Erik was forced to endure the brutal heat and had resigned himself to silence while the figure across him stared intently into his eyes, cultivating an air of mystique.

The mystery did not add to her beauty. She was an ugly old crone, wrinkly and worn, bagged eyes and rotten teeth, draped in a light robes and headdress that were dirty, dishevel and Erik suspected that they were seldom worn off the clock, her pale skin revealed light veins branching across her flesh. She was a fortune teller and all sorts of cheap jewellery, strange ornaments peculiar fetishes adorned her and her tent, no doubt more for the image than actual use.

“Why have you come?”
She asked quietly, breaking the fragile silence that had hung in the air since he entered the tent.
“You’re the fortune teller, you tell me” He said bluntly. He could’ve sworn he heard a small, exasperated sigh from the women as if that line had been used a thousand times before him.
“Perhaps to work on your wit Mister Murphy?” She inquired with feigned sincerity and thick sarcasm.
“How di-” He began to ask before she cut him off.
“You killed my grandson, Davis, a couple of seasons ago” She explained as Erik warily eyed her up and upon seeing his suspicion she reassured him by adding “Don’t worry, he was a brat and moron, and if his parent don’t care enough to get revenge then I certainly don’t. But I am surprised to see you seek my services.”
“How come?” Erik asked, relaxing but still a tad on edge, still half-expecting the old woman to lash out with a blade.
“Most mercenaries think a fortune teller is a charlatan. Or a mage. And a man who presides over the hangin’ of mages, doesn’t strike me as a man to be seekin’ the services of one. Don’t look surprised. Sure plenty, of lynches have come and gone since then but a man who cuts out a cryin’ woman tongue and throws it to the dogs is not someone to forget. Your a nasty piece of work Erik.

Erik ran his tongue against his bottom lip, eyeing up the woman with distrust and irritation, she had no right to judge him. But he preserved and replied I met a woman that said things, that made me reconsider, whether you all are charlatans”.
“Well, some of us are definitely charlatans” She said with a soft chuckle before adopting a more serious expression “What did this woman use?”
“Tea.”
“Ah, ever the medium of sweet old cat ladies”
She noted as she pulled out a deck of cards “I favour tarot cards myself, less chance of broken teacups.”
Last edited by Erik Murphy on February 15th, 2018, 10:06 am, edited 1 time in total.
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“And you have your part to play, Erik. You will be fooled, like most, but you will survive. You might even benefit it all. Hold history close to your chest, young man. That’s my advice.”
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The Cards Don't Lie

Postby Erik Murphy on February 15th, 2018, 10:02 am

She quickly shuffled the cards far faster than her wither old hands should’ve been able too. Twisting, twirling and turning them as if they were alive, under her silent command, whether or not she could tell the future had yet to be seen, but she could clearly cheat her way through any card game in Sunberth. She then placed them down gently on the table and lunged forward quickly, her withered hand clasped round his burnt arm as Erik found himself either unable or unwilling to pry himself from the surprisingly strong grip as she carefully took the top five cards and arranged them in a crossed arranged, all the while gazing deeply once more into Erik’s eyes. Hers looked like they had seen even more death than Erik’s.

“The past, the present the future”
She said, gesturing across the three cards arranged horizontally with an open palm before moving over to the top and bottom card with the present in between “Inwards and outwards. Five cards, five silvers”. Erik should’ve seen it coming, a fortune teller seldom works for free. He slid over one shining silver coin that glistened in the candlelight. “How about we just skip to the future?” He asked. She took the coin but shook her head.
“Just like life, somethin’s have to be done in a certain order. Time is like a river. The past feeds into the future” She explained, flipping over the first card. It was like nothing Erik had seen, the card bore the image of a magnificent stained glass window, five bright yellow pentacles stained the glass at the tip of a larger central pentacle while beneath this window a crippled man sheltered himself from the cold weather, his face was one of resignation and surrender. Art was hardly thriving in Sunberth and these worn yet clearly cared for cards seemed incredibly ornate and astonishing to the mercenary. “The five of pentacles. Poverty was rife in your past and has persisted. Long nights filled with the cries of hungry children”.

“You’re not wrong”
He noted through somewhat gritted teeth, it was true but this was Sunberth, few had never experienced hard times and as he thought back his did not seem anything to cry about. His father had been stern and somewhat uncaring, Erik and his sibling where left to their own devices during the day, expected to earn coppers doing odd jobs, maybe even thieving, Erik had often tried to catch rats and pigeons for their meat, but his old man had taught him his trade to all his sons. The early days of his marriage had been difficult, Erik recalled the cold nights filled with the cries too hungry toddlers but that had passed, and in truth as his children had begun to leave home, life had gotten easier for the mercenary. Against his better judgement he handed over another coin and she flipped over the centre card.
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“And you have your part to play, Erik. You will be fooled, like most, but you will survive. You might even benefit it all. Hold history close to your chest, young man. That’s my advice.”
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The Cards Don't Lie

Postby Erik Murphy on February 15th, 2018, 10:03 am

“The hanged man” She stated gloomily. It was not the image Erik would’ve thought of when the words ‘hanged man’ was spoken. It showed a man hung upside down, his legs bound together as one, his hands were tied down with weights. He seemed to be trying to reach up, to untie his legs but the weights kept pulling down on him, leaving his efforts less than useless.
“Its not a literal as it sounds” She explained to him “He cannot move, no matter how he tries. Your work, your family, your city. All work against you, hold you back.”
“My family is my purpose.”
“Is it? The cards don’t lie. You are bein’ held back, limited by what you can do for their safety, for their sake. Just because they give you purpose doesn’t mean they aren’t restrictin’ you, suffocatin’ you”.


It was a cruel thought and a bitter truth for Erik did love his family deeply, the toil and blood he had put himself through the years had certainly been for them. But perhaps he had been taken in by those stories in his childhood, he mused, for he had been born two years before the fall of Obal Causten and had listened as Olsten the Giant’s legacy as martyr was told a thousand times over. Did Erik want to be a martyr for a righteous cause? He wasn’t sure. Or did he just resent the opportunities he was never offered? Erik’s father had only ever taught Erik how to be mercenary. The cost of raising a family meant he could never risk doing something he loved because he had to feed them. And Sunberth had seldom offered him hope of a long existence, let alone one of his choosing.

Am I that bitter about lives that I couldn’t’ve had? Erik thought over Or did I want the satisfaction of turning those lives down?

Another coin, another card.

“The five of swords. That is what plagues you inside. You bear the scars of battles you fought but they seem so hollow to you because nothin’ has truly been won. The hanged man and the five of swords are a sad pair to see. Survival is no true victory, yet you’ve convinced yourself its the only victory that matters”.

Erik stared at the card, surveying the scene. There was one man, triumphantly standing alone as two men limped off into the distance. He had bested them by the looks of it, he held their swords in his hand while another two lay at his feet. But the victor was injured, left to lick his wounds while those that had been defeated seemed to be limping off into an inviting ocean and splendid sunset. Perhaps defeat had allowed them to serve a higher calling while the victor continued to indulge in baser pursuits. By Erik couldn’t reconcile these thoughts with his situation. Defeat in Sunberth did not lead to a higher calling, it led to death. “Survival is the only victory that truly matters” Erik stated bluntly but she remained unconvinced.
“And if all men continue think like that, will this city ever truly change?”
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“And you have your part to play, Erik. You will be fooled, like most, but you will survive. You might even benefit it all. Hold history close to your chest, young man. That’s my advice.”
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The Cards Don't Lie

Postby Erik Murphy on February 15th, 2018, 10:06 am

Her words were starting to ring to true Erik, he tried to remind himself that this is how charlatans worked, they could read a person, tell them exactly what they feared and what they wanted. But still, he had been lulled into a dull silence and he slid over another coin.

“The tower. This ominous and expected."
It was a terrible scene, far more so than the ones that had preceded it. Fierce waves wrapped around an ebony tower, lightning rain down on it relentlessly, and fires had began to burn on the highest levels. Meaning cracks had begun to form at the base, only exacerbated by unyielding waves. With all this, two men had leapt from the tower, one filled with terror, the other one showed calm ed restraint.
“This city lacks a strong foundation, the tower represents a crumblin’ one. This city is built on sand and even the seasons have failed use this year. This burdens you, it weighs on your mind. The dead refuse to die, strong men fight for crumbs, and what future will this city have keeps you awake at night. And a hanged man cannot do anythin’ about it”.

Erik had no thoughts to share about this revelation. He knew this was far more fragile than he would ever care to admit. It endure, but it did not thrive. And whether simply enduring was enough for it citizens, that was up for debate. He had come this for, so he slid over the final silver with little resistance.

“The Hierophant. An important man. A man of tradition, of wisom, of stature. That could be your future” She declared with certainty.
“I go from bein’ a hanged man to a hierophant? Is that what you’re sayin’?” He asked weakly, he felt like he had come out of a deep sleep with his sudden words, his mind felt drained. He stared at the card, it bore a seated elderly man, clad in fine clothes and holding a golden staff with symbol and engravings Erik did not recognize. People surrounded him, watching and listening the man eagerly, as if whatever he was about to say was gospel. Erik felt an intense dislike of the man, he was a symbol of wealth and authority as the poor masses flocked to him but Erik did indulge in the thought of being such a man. He did not find the idea as reprehensible as he wished too.
“Perhaps. You need to win true victories, not hollow one, to make this transition the five of swords must no longer make you the hanged man. Then you can address the tower, the shaky foundations of this city. Perhaps even both at the same time”.
“And how do you propose I do that?”
He inquired expectantly as she pursed her lips, considering her next words carefully.
“A priest of Dira looks out to Lodestar island and seeks help while winter fails to claim the weak, rumour horrors and treasure. Seems to me to a real opportunity to win a true victory and prevent the tower from crumblin’.”
“How convenient”
He noted, his suspicious tone returning slightly as the fortune teller pocketed her coin with a slight smile touching the corners of his mouth. He couldn’t tell if he can been read and conned, or if she could truly see the future.

Either way, I’ll have to be careful He thought, his mind on the gang the currently controlled Lodestar Island Thorns have a way of making you bleed if you grab them too tightly.

He glanced over the beautifully painted cards once more. The resigned cripple in the bleak winter snow, the gaunt man bound and blinded, the scarred warrior with bloodied hands, the ominous black tower surround by fierce waves, and the old wise looking man surrounded by eager listeners. Would it be worth it?
ImageImageImage
“And you have your part to play, Erik. You will be fooled, like most, but you will survive. You might even benefit it all. Hold history close to your chest, young man. That’s my advice.”
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Erik Murphy
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Posts: 73
Words: 130410
Joined roleplay: December 12th, 2015, 12:38 am
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