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The High Priestess

- - - - - high priestess

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Alraune Kestrel

Alraune Kestrel


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Thin, tired mist cut a faded line across the landscape of the dreaming, creating a false floor that Alraune’s bare feet sank beneath. The woven ground beneath her did not cushion nor cut her feet, the dull coolness as mundane as the damp breeze that barely moved her hair across her breasts. She stared forward toward the endless horizon, no path to follow, no mountains to strive for, only the undisturbed canvas of dreams waiting for her touch.

Alraune allowed the smallest smile as she continued her journey. It never ceased to amaze her how smoothing the bumps and edges of dreams took far more effort then twisting nighttime fantasies into the most elaborate terrors or treats.

“Feel better?”

Alraune turned around slowly, her influence on the dreaming still well in her control. Behind her several paces, the mists undulated in the smallest ripples around the base of a full-length mirror, the shining oval surface framed in beautifully crafted bloodwood; the design an intricate knot of arcane symbols and representative figures – a frozen mandrake flower crowned the top of the frame, eternally in bloom at the apex.

Alraune approached the mirror, intrigued by the lack of reflection within the silver glass; only the gray dreaming appeared.

She stopped an arm’s length from the empty glass. Quietly, she answered. “Some.”

From behind the mirror she watched herself emerge, black eyes glowing with secrets, her white hair swirling around a body as nude as Alraune’s own. Her reflection leaned against the frame of the mirror as if lounging against a wall, one leg up, her bare foot balanced on the rounded frame of the mirror.

“You shouldn’t resist your fate.”

Alraune stared into the empty surface, the words of her reflection resonating in her mind.

“This wasn’t resistance. How can I read the cards without an understanding of what it is to live?”

Her reflection stretched, catlike, grace personified, with a touch of mocking. She turned to Alraune with a tolerant jut of her chin and smirked. “A clever argument, one with truth lacing the edges, but be honest, you simply chose to ignore the most basic rule of the Arcana. You let your emotions get in the way.”

“I broke no rule. It is not forbidden by the Arcana to have friends,” Alraune defended.

“Stop. You know what I mean. You have spent months cultivating emotional ties that have woven themselves into quite a thick veil. How do you see through all that color and conflict? At this point, I’m surprised you even know how to shuffle a deck, much less read the spread. And need I mention your failed forays into the dreaming?” Her reflection crossed her arms, and arched a brow, pinning Alraune with her accusatory gaze. “Be truthful. When was the last time you read for a Querent? Worried are you that your personal involvements might distract you, or cloud your vision?”

Alraune frowned, the mists of the dreaming roiling with a flash of her rising anger, but just as quickly as the anger invaded her, it slipped away beneath the resigned mist.

“I don’t need the obvious restated. I know the shape of my failures.”

Her reflection looked down a moment, her moonlight hair a curtain against Alraune’s quiet gaze.

“There is nothing wrong with friendship, but you must remember, emotions cannot dictate the touch you have upon their lives. Read their fate in the turn of the cards, but you must not act to shape their destiny or steer their path.” Her reflection lifted her head and stared at her for a long moment. “The Falling Tower is made of the weak bricks we have all mortared there, one by one, by our failures and our mistakes. Do not add more debris to landscape. You never know where it might land.”

Alraune nodded, her eyes closing. She had lost perspective and with it, reason and vision. She’d been so focused on trying to help Keina and others, so absorbed by her concerns, fears and need to try and help make things right, she had lost the one thing that might have truly been of use – objectivity.

She looked up. Within the frame of the beautiful mirror, her reflection stared back at her, naked and serene.

Turning away, Alraune continued her meditation through the unchanging dreamscape, the vastness narrowed by her will until only a winding path of grey mist stretched before her. This was her fate, and Alraune accepted it. She was the High Priestess. It was time she acted like it.

In the near distance on the path, a lone figure stood patient and inviting. Alraune smiled. The mists widened and shimmered around Adam’s feet, the soft tendrils of dreams curling around him like a vibrant vine. As she reached him, he opened his arms and enfolded her in a loving embrace. With a tender kiss, he slipped his hand in hers and turned toward the horizon, their footsteps matched upon the single path.

Wherever it might lead.
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All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.
~Edgar Allen Poe

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