Faith In The Dice


cardinal3_icon.gif tamara_icon.gif

Scene Title Faith In The Dice
Synopsis Serendipity; a shadow finds a prophet in an unexpected place, and asks for the wagers for a difficult gamble.
Date Mar 30, 2010

Brooklyn, not far from Burlesque

It's late. The snow on the ground would be taller than most of NYC's inhabitants, if it hadn't been cleared — or at least mostly. What's left is almost worse, a layer of densely packed ice that resists attempts at chipping and, at these temperatures, doesn't respond well to salt-treatment either. Stained with dirt, soot, and oil, the off-white surfaces glisten alternately green, yellow, and red (with touches of orange and white for good measure) as the streetlights cycle through their colors time and time again. No cars are out on the streets to care, for all that it isn't curfew quite yet; curfew is a formality in these conditions, and cold far more restrictive.

But there isn't a complete lack of people on the streets. Not quite.

Black-ruffed hood settled back against the taupe shoulders of her coat, a young woman sits on the concrete stairs of an otherwise abandoned-for-the-night building, sodium-fluorescent light painting her blonde hair rather unflatteringly orange. Gloved hands rest atop a pile of burgundy scarf that sits in her lap rather than being sensibly draped about throat and shoulders; she pulls the fringe idly through her fingers, first one hand and then the other, gazing directly ahead into the street with no apparent concern for her surroundings — not the snow, not the solitude, and not the night's darkness either. A hint of smile pulls at the corner of Tamara's lips, and then fades, leaving her expression more somber than it was before.

A slice of darkness breaks from the stark shadows of the city, fluttering like a torn plastic bag caught by the wind as the shadow slides without being cast over the road — up the steps where she's seated, then up along her back, twisting around her coat's material and pooling partly within the hood. The hollow, echo whisper of Richard Cardinal comes then, reaching her ears and pitched for none other.

"What are you doing out here, Tamara…?" Tamara…?

The shadowmorph was out hunting an old enemy of his, but the seeress caught his attention immediately. He half expects that he was expected.

"Listening to the lights," the girl answers, without so much as twitching as the shadow flows over the surface of her coat and coalesces beside her head. She turns once he's settled, a twitch of chin that angles blue eyes sidelong, where they focus on her shoulder and the hood's faux fur edging. "Watching the snow." Shifting her weight, Tamara levers herself up to her feet without budging her hands from their place on the bundled fabric; rather, she shifts her burden to be supported by them as she stands, apparently having no intent to wear the scarf. She sets off down the street, ice crackling beneath each of the seeress' slow and deliberate steps; the girl might not watch where she's walking, exactly, but she's careful otherwise. "Do you mind the company?"

"Of course not. I'd say that it was dangerous out here, but… somehow I suspect you don't need to worry about that much…" Don't need to worry… The shadow takes the place of her scarf, draped in rent tatters over her shoulder and hood, Cardinal's whispers stirring near her head as she walks along the street, "…I was planning to look for you, actually. Not… tonight, but…" Serendipity…

"Few pickings, few people," Tamara replies. "And the cold didn't have so many teeth as that. I could tell you where they are — but it's not important," she concludes dismissively. Smiles again, a slow curving of closed lips that is gentle in its disagreement. "Chance, coincidence. Fickle, toying. Easy to blame their mischief; sometimes it wasn't mischief at all." Two beats of quiet follows those meandering words, their cadence measured in rhythmic strides. "Chance, risk," the girl continues, much more softly. "You asked for a gamble."

"Yes…" Yes. There's silence, then, from the shadow as she walks, Richard's dismembered substance merely riding her as she walks, before admitting, "There're no… healers that I know of who're… strong enough to fix me. If the Life power left its mark on Abigail's genes, and any of the Formula remained…" The Formula… He pauses, awkward, "…I know Teo gave you the rest."

She matches Cardinal, silence for silence, and then lets hers continue a while longer even after he's spoken again, building itself a presence about as palpable — in figurative terms — as that of the living shadow. The pacing of her feet, the rasping grate of compressing ice, is background noise easily disregarded, filtered out of focus. "Few who mend," Tamara says, perhaps musing to herself. "Few fix what breaks, make whole anew. You gamble that the broken bowl patches without cracks; roll the dice, saw how many remained. Dice don't like zeros, much," she comments offhand. "They're hard to get. Dice don't like me, either; all sharp edges and quick corners." A moment's silence, an indrawn breath; a shake of the girl's head that sends unkempt hair flying in all directions, as if to dispel distractions.

There's just a subtle breath of humor that whispers off the shadow, rising from the vibrations that pass for vocal chords - or however it works. He isn't Liette; he doesn't know the details of that sort of thing. "You know how much I'm gambling on a daily basis, Tamara… and how much I've won, and lost, before. Sometimes you can weigh the dice, file the corners, erase the dots. Sometimes you just have to hope that God's on your side." On your side…

Tamara doesn't, actually; but the correction would serve no purpose. "The trick is to choose your odds," the seeress says; it could be agreement, in a fashion. It might not be. Her expression, now, is inscrutable, not masklike neutral but simply… uninformative. "These were the ones you really wanted to play?" Not quite a point of no return, this, but the first chance to step aside. She sometimes offers them.

"I'll roll the dice, Tamara. I… don't have much choice." No choice… A whispering sigh, a subtle chill of fear rippling through the living shadow spilt across her shoulders as Richard confesses, "It's getting… harder and harder to hold together. Physically and mentally. I don't know how long I can keep myself like this…" Like this…

"I know," she says softly; empathy, rather than sympathy. Affirmation, also, and perhaps a trace of regret; there wasn't exactly much chance of Cardinal changing his mind. Tamara sweeps an arm across the bundle of burgundy knit, catching a bit of its fold and revealing, however briefly, the reddish glow caged within. "I know."

The tone of her voice isn't encouraging. The odds of this working are already poor, and the precognitive's hint of reluctance doesn't make them look any brighter to Cardinal.

But sometimes, you have to have faith.

"Thank you," whispers the shadow. Thank you…

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