They day before he left the kingdom, he went to see a fortune teller. Removing all his jewelry and fine robes and wore his simplest clothing. Despite being chosen as the next in line he had very little to no security around him. Most people were unaware of what the royal fortune teller had said and those who did know chose not to except it.
He walked down the street, daily life going on around him. Children playing in the streets, busy merchant’s stalls and woman chatting outside their homes. Castor ignored all of it. His body felt stiff and his thoughts were heavy.
Walking down an unsuspecting alley, he came upon a door which seemed to have been dug into the stone wall.
In the inside room was humid with thick insence smoke wafting around. Castor recognized the scent of jasmin and cardamom. On a mat in the centre of the room sat the fortune teller. She was an elderly woman with white hair and bright red and pink garments wrapped around her.
“Hello,” said the fortune teller. Castor felt the the way she looked and the way she talked very unsettling. Almost as if she was not quite human.
“Good evening,” replied Castor and sat before her. She wore a long necklace with large white ceremuc beads.
“What brought you here today?” asked the fortune teller. There was something almost vicious about the way she spoke. “Do you need me tell your future? Do you need a charm? Do you need me to lift a curse?”
The word curse it curled on her tongue. Her words seemed to wrap around him, constricting like a snake.
“I need advice.”
“About what?” asked the old woman as she took a small box hidden in her sleeve.
“I’m going on a journey tomorrow.”
“Yes, go on.” The old woman opened the box and took out a deck of cards. There was a beautiful swirling pattern painted on the back of the cards in red and gold leaf.
” I want to know, if it will be dangerous. Will I need to be careful?”
The fortune teller shuffled her deck of cards.
“Will it be successful?” asked Castor, cautiously watching the old woman shuffle her cards. She placed her deck in from of him.
“Cut the deck into three.” Castor followed her instruction. “Now, put it back any way you like.” Castor obeyed, putting the middle of the deck on top of the pile on the left and then placed it on the pile on the right.
The old woman took the cards and placed the first five in a cross. Then placed the next eight around it in a circle. The fortune teller flipped the cards open one by one starting from the middle cross.
“You had great wealth and fortune. You have a lived a grand and easy life.”
The old woman flipped open the last card in the cross, the one closest to Castor.
“Until now,” she continued, the tone of her voice seemed to shift to a more sympathetic tone. He words were softer and smoother, almost soothing.
“You have a challenge before you. The cards predicts much misfortune and hardship in the task you have taken on. There will be many people who stand in your way, some from unexpected places.”
The old woman started turning over the cards in the outer circle. Starting from the card closest to herself in a clockwise direction.
“You will travel for many months on land and sea,”
The upside down city
“You will face many obstacles that will change the way you think.”
The tree tailed fox
“There will be people and experiences which challenge what you belive to be true and question the world you live in. Early on in your travels-”
“You will be in threat of danger from an unexpected source. If you are cautious enough and thoughtful enough you will mange to avoid it.”
The impure prince
“You will suffer greatly-”
The old woman became quiet. She stated at the cards for a long time.
“You will be saved. Saved both emotionally, spiritually and physically by someone you meet during your travels. However, be careful and not to get too close as they may become your greatest weakness.”
“There is great strength within you more than you expect.”
“You will be successful even if you do not return and even if you cannot complete your task at hand. The hardship will not break you as you fear.”
Castor patiently listened to the fortune tellers words. He did not feel he got what he wanted but he felt a bit lighter. He took out his pouch to pay her. She help her hand up and spoke kindly as if he were her own grandchild.
“No, don’t pay me now. I do not except payments for bad fortunes. Pay me when you return.”
“What if I do not return?”
“Then my prediction is as bad as it was accurate.”