The tapestry hanging over the entryway was pushed aside, its threads twisting into folds as a man entered.
“Come to have your fortune told?” Spoke a wizened voice.
“I don’t think that will be necessary,” the man said. He moved further inside the tent and sat in a lavish armchair on the other side of the table. The tent itself was lined wall to wall with tapestries. Intricate patterns depicted historically significant events woven from delicate thread of the highest quality.
“Ah it’s you is it?” The crone sat in her own armchair, a long cloak wrapped around her with a hood obscuring most of her face. A few wrinkled patches of skin around dry lips and a pointed nose were all that could be seen. “What is it you seek from a humble fortune teller such as me?”
“Humble? You do yourself an injustice,” the man said, his fingers tapped on the table before him, gold bangles that adorned his wrist jangling with the motion. His eyes wandered the room taking in all of the woven images. He brought his eye close to the ball of crystal that sat firmly in its stand at the centre of the table. Magnified in the mirror his eye reflected that of an ancient life. “I come merely for the company.”
“I fear I am too old to provide interesting company,” the crone intoned. Her blue-veined hands rested atop a pack of tattered cards. She licked her lips as she watched the man. “Are you sure I cannot tempt you with a fortune.”
“We don’t have nearly enough time,” the man replied, he leaned back in his chair crossing a leg over the other, his motions accompanied by the jangle of his bangles. “Perhaps you could tell me a story?”
“You would like to hear the fortunes of others, is that it?” Nestled against the back of the crone’s chair was a large rod, a few feet in length, the top of which was sculpted into an orb.
“The future is dull, and always ends the same way. No, I am not interested.” The man’s foot pushed gently at the tablecloth. It was a black sheet of material dotted with embroidered stars and further down its length, hanging near the floor, suns, planets and other celestial bodies.
“The past then? To discover what makes a man a hero.” The crone spoke with an eternal patience, with no pressure to have the question answered then or now. The tapestry of the tent muffled almost all noise from outside, only a dull murmur could be heard. Inside, the tent was silent but for the sounds of breathing and the tap and clang of the man’s fingers and bangles.
“Things that have already been, things that I have already seen. No, I am not interested.” The tent had three entrances, all covered with a length of tapestry. The one from which the man had entered was woven with two figures, one slightly bowed the other tall and proud. Around these figures were rectangles each one with a different image woven onto it.
The second entryway led to one of the crone’s sisters. The tapestry over this door depicted a small boy seated on a hill. Behind the boy a female figure stood and was depicted with a golden aura surrounding her. A trick of the material gave the appearance that the women was approaching the boy whenever the tapestry was ruffled by a breeze.
The third entryway led to the chamber of a second sister. This tapestry depicted a man and nothing more.
“Perhaps then, a tale of the present,” the crone nearly whispered, “to hear of what is not yet to come but also yet to have been?” The tent had a dry air, the heavy material creating a musty atmosphere.
“You have my ear,” said the man with a smile. The crone lifted her hands, the withered digits moved firmly and with purpose. She picked up the pack of cards and shuffled them, all the while watched by the steady eyes of the man. Satisfied she placed the pack back on the rounded table and pushed them towards the man. Without question he cut the pack into three even piles. The crone removed the middle of the three piles and dealt five cards face down on the table before her.
“I would have you chose the tale you will hear,” the crone intoned. Leaning over the table the man gazed at the five facedown cards, their backs painted with an image of spinners surrounded by a web of thread. Deftly he selected a card and flipped it face up.
The crone nodded in recognition of the card. She leant back in her chair and grasped her rod with a gnarled hand. Her lips parted and she began to tell a tale.