Drifter sidled through Eris's Athenaeum, poking at her occult doodads. Many of the unidentifiable objects were covered in one type of grime or another: wax, tallow, machine grease, or blood. He shook his head with affection, amazed that someone so sharp could be so sloppy.
He spotted the Deck of Whispers spread haphazardly across Eris's lectern and strode across the room, gathering them into a clean pile. He'd had so many fortunes and misfortunes over his many lifetimes, he doubted another one would tip the scales either way. Drifter cut the deck fearlessly and flipped over the top card with a flourish.
As he stared into the card, the magnitude of Eris's undertaking loomed large in his mind. For one dark instant, he allowed himself to consider the possibility of her failure. "Don't worry, Moondust," he muttered. "You got this."
He casually placed the card back on top of the deck. "And when you're done, I'll be waiting."
* * *
Zavala eyed the Deck of Whispers warily. He had been touring Eris's base of operations when the cards caught his eye. They seemed to draw his attention with silent insistence.
The commander had never been one to seek omens or portents. It wasn't that he chafed at the idea of cosmic forces influencing his fate; the far-reaching effects of the Traveler on his life had long put to rest his hubristic sense of self-determination. Rather, he distrusted the riddles that such oracular devices employed. He had heard too many of the Witch Queen's half-truths to trust anything but hard evidence anymore. And yet…
Zavala picked up the deck and immediately sensed its power. It felt heavier than the weight of its materials. As he hefted it in his palm, a card slid from the middle of the deck, as if pulled by an unseen hand. Zavala watch gravely as it fell face up at his feet:
He gave a plaintive chuckle. Perhaps the oracles were not so difficult to interpret after all.
* * *
"Ikorakel?" Mithrax called out to the Athenaeum. He had come looking for the Warlock Vanguard on City business, but having found the space empty, he paused his search to scrutinize her latest operation. Mithrax had strong objections to Eris's use of Hive magic, but knew the Vanguard was not his House to command.
He perused the esoteric artifacts littering the space with mild distaste. They reminded him too much of the relics of Nezarec, which had plagued his youth. As his gaze came to rest on the Deck of Whispers, he felt a familiar numbness spread throughout his chest. Though the sensation had become more prevalent in recent months, he'd told no one.
As the Kell picked up the deck with his upper-right hand, he felt his Splicer Gauntlet pulse with energy. The cards were clearly imbued with a power beyond his experience. With his lower-left hand, he delicately withdrew a card and placed it face up on the table.
Mithrax pondered the omen gravely. It reminded him of all the tribulations his House had suffered in coming to the Last City. Their ascension had been a violent and sorrowful one, filled with detractors. Yet the peace and security they found among the Humans had justified their risks. Now it was Eris who was walking into the sanctum of her mortal enemy to save her people.
Mithrax shook his head in self-rebuke. Perhaps he'd been too rigid in his opinions regarding Eris Morn's mission. He owed her the same grace that the Vanguard had extended to him.
He slid the card back into the middle of the deck and felt the numbness in his chest recede once again.
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