Teller of Fortunes

Teller of Fortunes 2-6: Riverside Plans

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Ane gives a leisurely stretch as she stands, stepping away from the dying coals in her stove. The temperature is mild enough to not need it at the moment, but it’s nice to have a convenient heat source for tea when she wants it.

While the wagon drivers go about unhitching the wagons, she begins to get ready — dressing in a fresh set of clothing, combing her hair, even braiding a few extra twists and ornaments into the dark, silky mass. She’s not sure if Jarrik’s going to want them to set up and get to work immediately, but she might as well save some time by prettying herself up, just in case. 

As soon as the wagons are unhitched, people begin to pile out and go about their business. Strangely, the call to get ready for a show doesn’t come, at least for now. Mostly, people are setting up camp by the river and taking care of their needs. Many never received the chance to properly gather bathwater or stretch their legs while on the road, and this is the first time in weeks that people have been able to stop moving, settle in, and relax.

It seems that even if Jarrik did call for people to work right now, a fair portion might be of a mind to ignore it anyway. After all, what good is a performance if the performer is grimy, smelly, and moves with the stumbling gait of someone fresh off a moving wagon? It’ll take some time for people to find their feet, and when the caravan makes its first impression on S’varga after so long…

Well, it ought to be a memorable one.

Ane takes the opportunity to wash up and do some laundry — even though she often wears a robe around  her wagon to preserve the integrity of her small wardrobe, spending this much time on the road is nonetheless a recipe for a large load of washing. She’s knee-deep in a geyser-fed creek, bent over to hold a soapy chemise in the gentle current of the water. A humming melody wells from within her, gently vibrating the wooden clothespin held between her lips.

She’s soon joined by Vasht, who comes out wearing dark trousers and a loose shirt, sleeves rolled up. He’s carrying a large basket, filled to the brim with his jackets, jerkins, pants, and such. His arms, while brawny, are strangely free of scars —  unlike his face, neck and shoulders. Apparently he has a real way about getting cut in all the wrong places. His tattoos of feathered knives, swords and the like do well to balance it out.

“So,” he says, as he kneels down near Ane by the riverside. “I know I’m not s’posed to ask dumb questions, but… Any luck so far?” He asks, making a show of pulling out a shirt to wash. 

“Mm?” She murmurs inquisitively around the clothespin. 

Luck…

Well, she wouldn’t call it “luck.” Her hum drops to the swirling surface of the water, watching the bubbles skid and twirl as she considers things for a long moment. Eventually, she plucks the wooden pin from her lips, and takes a deep breath.

“Alright,” when she turns her hum back to him, her voice is firm and solemn, “I need all the clown’s paint, all the liquor Brair can spare, whatever hot peppers he’s got stashed around, every empty bottle in the caravan, Dynkala’s mortar and pestle, and Vila, Wila, Zila, Korin, Jiselmo, you, Narue, and that monk at my wagon, in one hour.”

He blinks.

“Do I just tell Brair, Dynkala, and the clown that you need their stuff?” He asks, bewildered, frozen in his washing.

“Tell ‘em whatever you want, point is we need booze, pepper, paint, bottles, and something to grind with,” Ane shrugs, as she fastens the chemise to a line strung between the tail ends of two wagons. 

“Shit, wish I brought something to write with… Clown paint, Brair-liquor, hot peppers… Every empty bottle? As in, from all the wagons?” He asks, now making another attempt at washing clothes. He misses with the soap a few times, instead scrubbing the air. 

“All of them. All the bottles. Every bottle.”

Vasht lets out a heavy sigh.

“It’s better than being poor and getting robbed,” he reasons, and gives up on his laundry. “Alright, see you in an hour.” 

Though most of the performers keep their preferred attire in their wagons, there are a few advantages to sharing your living space with the caravan’s trove of retired costumes. For instance, after hanging her laundry, Ane has spread her brocade tablecloth on the ground outside of her wagon, and is now elbow-deep in a chest of somewhat moth-eaten skirts. Her bed is almost entirely covered in odds and ends of clothes, most of which a casual observer wouldn’t be able to make heads or tails of.

That’s alright, though. In fact, right now, it’s preferable. 

Vasht wanders away from the riverside, clothes under his arm, using his free hand to rub at his forehead. 

“Ugh, I don’t even… Alright, let’s just do this.”

It’s time for a new grift to keep the purses full and the wagons rolling.

(Thank you for reading! Please like, share, and comment below if you enjoy! Best, P&R.)

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