illusions of fairness.
i. Ten of Swords

Memory is no temptress. She is no true friend to man. She holds no illusions of fairness or durability but lingers where she will and departs idly, leaving nothing but the ashy impression of something that once mattered, once felt strong and real and lasting, dust in the wind; footprints washed away on a sandy shoreline.

Memory hangs portraits of who we were, can be, regret never becoming along the long, winding hallways of our lives.

She is not an enemy but a decisive adjudicator. This, you shall always remember. The warmth of the sun on your face that day, the way hair fell across her brow when she laughed; the smell of his skin. The ache down to your bones when it all ended.

The way the blood on your hands dried into every line on your palm.


The Verbenae cherished the way Memory danced with Life. The insistence she bore to feel now, live now, believe in now for Memory was finite and the dance was only a brief intermission; there were only so many steps to it, after all.


Kiara Woolfe understood this necessity. She understood Memory and Life gave no pretenses to offer company eternal.

That the Great Wheel turned and the cycle progressed; flourished; withered only to be re-born again in Time.


Light candles for your ghosts of Memory and carry on.

She must.
(She will).

She has miles to go, after all.
ii. Strength

"I may not come by for a while."

The porch-swing supporting Neal Perry's weight stopped its rhythmic squeaking and the rancher sat forward with a heavy finality, as if he were settling in to listen for the long haul. He found he usually was, when it came to Kiara Woolfe. The brunette had appeared at their door in Morrison shy of dusk, the way she tended to more and more often of late, her arms folded over her chest, leaning into a column. The homestead had several, they lined the porch; supported the weight of the old, sloping roof-line.

Neal had fetched two beers, the way he usually did.

Then he'd re-joined the younger woman on the porch where she'd retreated to sit and stare up at the first tiny glimmers of starlight and waited, popping the cap off both bottles.

There was something in her voice that persuaded him not to argue. "Okay, then." Much. "You plannin' to tell me why or let me make an educated guess?"

"It's complicated."

Her eyes gleamed in the dark. There was more snow predicted and the air carried a bite he could feel all the way inside his boots. "'Bout what I supposed. You need me to worry about you, Kiara Woolfe?"

There was a flash of teeth, her eyes found his in the dark, she tugged her collar up against the gathering chill; dropped her chin down.

"No, but I like that you want to all the same."


Later, she watched the Perry's Ranch grow smaller and smaller in her rear-view until the trees swallowed it, a tall figure milling in the drive was joined by another. They embraced and turned to observe the taillights vanishing over the hill before turning to walk back inside.
iii. The Empress

Ostara had come and gone while the Verbena had been preoccupied, rescuing Alexander from the Union's sterile laboratory walls.

She's found in the days that followed emptying her apartment of bags of accumulated debris. Seasons old clothing and papers and who knew what else, bundled and tied into overflowing trash-bags; straining at the seams as the brunette sent each in turn to the dumpsters outside her apartment complex. Rows of tiny herb gardens tended and weeded where they sat across window-ledges floors up from true contact with nature herself.

Offerings gifted to lush, abundant ferns that bordered the pagan's doorway. Smatterings of newly turned Spring earth poured into their pots.


It's the last such visit to throw a bag into the dumpster that a screech is heard and a bundle of fur streaks past her legs. The cat was wild, its fur matted but otherwise a striking pale grey struck through with strips of black. A set of gold eyes flashing at the witch from beneath the safety of a nearby jumble of stacked boxes; some sadly degrading where they waited endlessly for retrieval.

The low growl that vibrated from it a sound less of warning and far more pain; a blot of dark red staining one of the creatures paws where it sat; flicking its tail in Kiara's direction.

"Don't give me that look, I didn't see you there."

The cat's eyes regarded the Verbena for a longer moment, its fur matted down by the occasional deluges of rain the overcast skies had been unleashing on the city all afternoon. The brunette turned away from the animal and then paused, cutting a glance over her shoulder. The feline had stopped its low growling and instead sat up, cradling its injured paw against its chest and waiting.

"What? I don't have anything for you, cat."

There was a low meow. Kiara threw the last of her bags into the dumpster and felt a soft, wet body twine around her legs. Gold eyes peered up at her.

Another plaintive meow, this one more demanding. Hungry. Pain.

"I can't. I do not have room in my life for a pet. Do you understand? I'm a disaster right now."

A damp head butted against her calf. Hungry.

Kiara's eyes lifted upward as wind sliced down the alleyway, tangling her hair around her shoulders; sending a ricochet of raindrops against her skin. She leaned down and scooped the small, vibrating body up from the ground beside her.


The lights had been extinguished in the apartment save one lamp, spilling golden light across a bedroom. There was a glass of red wine set on the bedside table and a length of silver-gold chain held between the Verbena's fingers. It held a grape garnet at its end; the facets gleaming where the light caught in its myriad sides.

A small body was curled at the end of the bed, one paw outstretched; observing the swaying chain through narrowed gold slits.

Whatever we are. However things change. I promise I will always see it clearly.

She lowered the chain into a small box and set it on top of a few items, securing the lid on top and resting her palm there for a moment.


The rain only lashed the windows some of the night, by morning, it had eased off and the sun began to warm Denver's streets.


the devil
HDub witnessing!

[Mind 2: Adder's Tongue, Coincidental, Base Diff 5, -1 Focus, -1 Taking her Time]

Dice: 3 d10 TN3 (6, 7, 9) ( success x 3 )

[Thank you! Big Grin]

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