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View character profile for: Horo Inu
View character profile for: Severos Aven
View character profile for: Madam Esmerelda
As Horo and Severos exited the extradimensional ‘Hallway of Doors’ and emerged back into the old temple, the change in the atmosphere around them was very noticeable. The air felt heavy and charged with electrical static from the massive sandstorm that was still raging across much of the Zataran desert, its thick, billowing clouds of burning grit and an eerie purplish light filling the sky as far as could be seen.
“I thought that the storm would be over by now,” Severos said as he craned his head up.
“I’m not sure it’s even a real storm,” Horo replied, holding onto his striped hat to keep it from blowing away.
“Do you think the Nameless caused it? To trap us?”
“It's possible, but who knows.”
As they walked back to Nettle and the others, trying to protect their eyes from the dust, the pair passed a smallish tent that was staked firmly to the ground in the courtyard of the temple. Only looking large enough for a few people to sit inside it had a conical top and the overhang of the ‘roof’ dangled past its walls slightly, the edges adorned with tassels that flittered in the whipping wind. The oddness of the tent being set up here of all places and its faded yellow and purple, patchwork cloth walls that were covered in strange symbology gave Horo pause.
“What?” Severos said, halting next to his very strange friend.
“Is this what I think it is?” Horo asked.
“You mean the tent?” Severos said. “It looks like a fortune teller’s to me.”
“That's what I thought. And magic’s a real thing here, isn't it?” Horo said rhetorically,
“So a fortune teller is someone who would actually be able to tell us our future?”
“Some of it. Unless the person is a mountebank...”
“I don't think Nettle would condone any fraudsters in her troupe.” Horo shrugged. “But even if it’s not true, wouldn’t you like to hear something positive to give us a little more confidence going on?”
“Confidence that we'll be able to triumph over the impossible odds that we're up against, you mean?”
“Well, confidence might not be the right word. Hope, let's call it. Something to make us feel like this suicide mission is a bit less suicidal than we think?”
“Uh…” Severos was for a moment lost for words. He had been trying not to succumb to negative thinking despite their quest at times feeling like a fool's gamble. Under the very best of circumstances Zatar was a dangerous land and with the Nameless and its hive minions clearly wanting them both very dead it had been only a matter of luck so far that they had survived up to this point.
Horo looked down and kicked a stone with his shoe. “I'm a realist, Severos, and a man of science. But I like to take advantage of every resource and source of information, and I think we could use a dose of hope right now, don't you?”
Severos smiled. “Yes, Horo. It would be nice to know that we're going to live through this somehow and save Orla. It feels like we've been trying to find her for years. But what if what we are told is not what we want to hear? Wouldn't that do the opposite to our sinking morale?”
“Nonsense.” With a burst of jubilance that did not seem feigned, Horo clapped his friend on the shoulder. “All that would tell us is we need to go with a different plan that we haven’t thought of yet. Zig where fate thinks we Zag!” He tapped Severos’ temple, “Outsmart the gods.” He plastered a cheshire grin on his face. “Not like I’ve never done that before. I've looked gods in the eye and laughed in their faces and I'm still here to tell about it. So let's go talk to this soothsayer and see what the fates have in store for us!”
Severos could only smile at his friend's optimistic attitude. And shake his head.