• KING of CUPS tested by QUEEN of CUPS
    • Simple tie
    • KING of CUPS @ 3 o’clock

Still, he tried levity. “Indigestion,” said Ishrakon, “One hopes.” It was the kind of irreverent joke the cynical Brelk would have appreciated, but he was not their ruler anymore. Today, he was the king of the Falothlon people; they did not look reassured.

One of them jabbed a finger at the floor, pointing through 10,000 meters of masonry, soil, and island bedrock. “My king, ten days and nights the dragon’s fussed. My wife sleeps one blink, no more, all that dread grumbling.”

“She’s steadier than I,” said another. “Its breath chases me in every dream. I can’t stand it.” Others grunted agreement.

Ishrakon looked among them, his wry expression abandoned. “Let’s not lose our heads. It has fussed this long before.”

“Yes,” said the first speaker. “When the moon went missing, and when fire slowed down.”

“When words fled!” said another. Their faces all become troubled as each one remembered the week where language had failed and pictures lost their meaning. Ishrakon was no stranger to wars and conquest: he had broken the Siege of Ten Armies long after all hope for rescue was gone, yet no siege on Earth or heavens had ever inflicted the kind of turmoil and desperation that one week without meaningful communication among a populace had done.


  • KING of CUPS tested by QUEEN of PENTACLES
    • Querent’s edge
    • KING of CUPS @ 3 o’clock

“True,” he said. “But there have been times when the dragon fussed and nothing came of it—nothing in Faloth Island, at least. You are right to be cautious. I too have my worries. However, we cannot let those worries drag us by the hair. Let’s hear this woman out, this pylon woman, and separate suspicions from fact.”

That seemed to dull the edge of their fear—until, with a groan and a clatter, the tower chains began to spool. Everyone tensed. The man whose job it was to wind the crank remembered his duty and hopped to it, as Ishrakon got to his feet. They all stood in the chill, flowing brume, listening to the long chains rattle in the shaft. Before long, the lift reached their floor, holding the pylon woman and two guards. They opened the gate and brought her forward.

She had not yet spoken, but Ishrakon knew the look in her eyes: it was the wild gleam of one who has made contact with the Shapes of the Earth, the walking Elements themselves. He had borne that look himself after the Shapes came to him. He had seen the way others regarded him, the way they were all regarding her.

“Tell your tale,” he said.

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