“I see you can’t sleep either, Lohner,” Olesya remarked wearily, seeing the innkeeper leaning over his table of maps and battle pieces. He looked as though he’d aged ten years since the fall of Ubersreik.
“My work keeps me up all hours of the day, Olesya,” Lohner answered, sounding as tired as he looked. “Did the cards tell you anything today?” Olesya ruffled her furs irritably and bunched them together, leaving her looking like a disgruntled hen.
“You know as well as I do that divination isn’t an exact science, and what the cards have to say…it’s not comforting. Not in the least,” she said. “Divination, scrying, dreams, interpretations, bah! I have little time for such things that cannot give me a straight answer.” A wave of her hand belied her irritation with such things and she stumped away grumpily, her peg leg clacking against the stone floors, leaving the exhausted Lohner to his maps. She stomped down the stairs on her way to her work table, shooting the Bridge of Shadows a nasty look as she went. She had made the blasted thing after all, why couldn’t she open it up to where the Ubersreik Five had been abducted to? Grey magic was not always so easy to shape to her will but it rarely ever failed her like it did now. Perhaps once these cards gave up even an approximate area, she could stretch the Bridge of Shadows to pinpoint a more exact location. She sat down in her hard wooden chair with a sigh, shoving various bottles and bowls aside carefully as she laid the deck of cards face-down in front of her. She found herself wondering if it might be easier to shoot down one of the crows flying around Taal’s Horn Keep and attempt an augury divination from its insides, and then sought to clear such thoughts from her mind so as not to unduly influence the tarot deck. Once she was quite certain she had dispelled her annoyance and held the question she sought answered in her mind, she drew the first card and turned it over. She laid it face-up on the table, the same card she had drawn each time before, an elaborate reaper on a gilded backdrop of skeletons and fire. An abrupt end, she decided, but an end to what?
A crack of thunder echoed throughout the keep as the rain fell more heavily. Olesya sighed again; why had she made a Bridge of Shadows here, of all places, to a corpse of a once-splendorous keep deep within the Grey Mountains? It must have been a grand structure once; now it barely had half a roof, and what was left was slowly being reclaimed by the trees around it. The stones were the only thing left standing, and they still leaked in more places than she could count. She found herself missing the Red Moon Inn, which at the time had seemed cramped and too close for comfort, but now seemed positively cozy in comparison to this forsaken place. The Red Moon had been the ideal place to be in the center of the action. Taal’s Horn Keep, on the other hand, was the perfect place to lie low and be forgotten, abandoned by time and unmarked on any map, which made it exactly what they needed right now.
She shook her head, chasing away the wandering thoughts and seeking to empty her mind, to focus on the question she had needed answered for several days. Again she held the question in her mind: where did the Grey Seer take the Ubersreik Five? She drew a second card, and the screaming image of the Grey Seer himself stared up at her, mocking her question. Another card she had drawn before, she had previously been tempted to place it up to a candle flame and watch it slowly curl and wither as she set it alight, but somehow she didn’t have the heart for it this time. She set it next to the reaper and drew another card, this one emblazoned with an armored image of Karl Franz the Emperor staring imperiously up at her, a fan of red, blue and gold spread across the bottom half of the card. All three of these went together, and in them she saw what she had previously seen many times before: the end of Ubersreik and the forces of the Grey Seer Rasknitt pitted against five heroes brave enough to stand against the Vermintide. She grouped them together and set them aside, drawing three more cards in quick succession. The first was a dark warrior bearing a banner of decay decorated with skulls and curling tendrils of rot; the second, a pair of armored Skaven stormvermin crossing their halberds in combat. The third one was new: a crumbling keep, lost to the ages of time, struck by a green bolt of lightning.
“Warpshot?” Olesya murmured. “Surely that doesn’t mean…” She trailed off, staring at the three cards. She felt the Grey Wind of Ulgu shift from its usual fog-like state, spiraling around the table like a cyclone, wreathing her and her tarot cards in the eye of the storm. Another three, she decided on instinct. The number three was significant to magic users, and a trio of threes was significant indeed. She drew a card from the deck and nearly dropped it in surprise: a great roiling warpstone gate was etched onto the little card, the light from her guttering candle casting shadows on the smoke so that it looked almost real, like it could jump off the card at any minute. It was surprising because this card didn’t exist in this deck. There was no such card in tarot, at least none that she knew of, and she had been through the entire deck many times. Perhaps the Grey Wind was playing tricks on her eye…or pointing her in the right direction. Card number two was another one that didn’t exist, showing a long line of cages carried along by what looked like a Skaven conveyor belt. She didn’t recognize most of the faces in the cages, but there was one face she did see from a man collapsed on his back, a recognizable face that was marred by a blind eye even in the tiny portrayal given by the card: Victor Saltzpyre. She bit the inside of her cheek to keep from swearing and sought to purge her mind of all thoughts one last time as she drew the final card with a trembling hand. In it, she saw what she had hoped for: a small but intricately drawn depiction of Axe Bite Pass, drawn from a perspective of a person looking up from the road at the fortress of Helmgart.
“I have it, Lohner!” Olesya called out, flinging the card down and shoving herself away from the table. She felt the Wind of Ulgu disperse and gather itself around the Bridge of Shadows. She stumped over to see that it had opened, connected with the point at Helmgart she had sought for so long. She heard the swift steps of leather boots on stone and Lohner appeared beside her, his mouth open in an unusually flabbergasted expression.
“Well I’ll be absolutely blowed, you found it! Good work, old girl!” he exclaimed, clapping her on the shoulder lightly with a powerful hand. “Now to get in contact with them.”
“By comparison, that should be easy,” Olesya replied, trying her hardest not to be annoyed at the expression ‘old girl.’ “Let me reach out and see who I can get to.” She stretched her consciousness out through the Bridge of Shadows, carefully feeling around for the right mind like a blind woman searching for a dropped key. Mostly Skaven minds were what she found, but one in particular almost glowed to the touch, a beacon of faith in the darkness. She reached out and linked with it, and saw the world through Saltzpyre’s eye.
“Ah, Saltzpyre, there you are. You have no idea what effort it took to locate you after that blasted Grey Seer ran off with you,” she thought, feeling him recoil in a mixture of shock, disgust and relief.
“What are you doing inside my head, witch?” he demanded.
“What am I doing? I’m doing you a favor, and you’d better appreciate the effort this takes. There is an open Bridge of Shadows on the surface. I can get you out of this cage. Find a weapon, and free the others.” She expended some of her power to perform a little trick of hers, manipulating Saltzpyre’s shadow to rise up in a tendril of darkness and wrap around the cage’s lock, snapping it with a quiet crack. The door swung open and the last thing she saw was Saltzpyre stepping out into a dimly lit tunnel before she severed the connection, wiping sweat from her brow.
“Saltzpyre’s out,” she said with a small smile. “Now for the others.”
Total word count: 1499
Inspired by: Vermintide 2 Opening Cinematic
Source: Original link
© Post "[CONTEST] All in the Cards" for game Warhammer: Vermintide.
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