Of The Emperor


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Scene Title Of The Emperor
Synopsis While offering fortunes read at the Roosevelt Island Carnival, Hokuto Ichihara runs into a familiar face who lays out a familiar name.
Date October 11, 2009

Roosevelt Island, Carnival Grounds

Every year, the city of Manhattan holds a carnival on Roosevelt Island. In spite of the hardships that New York City has suffered since the last time a celebration graced the island's shore, this year is no different… with one exception. Fifty percent of the revenue generated by ticket sales will go toward funding medical treatment for cancer patients whose conditions are the result of radiation poisoning received in the wake of the 2006 explosion that decimated Midtown and killed thousands upon thousands of the city's citizens.

Bright lights, colourful attractions and a family-friendly atmosphere are designed to make its visitors forget all that. Even before it comes into view, the sounds of a carnival make its presence well-known. The low drone of the crowd, the sounds of mechanical rides and electric buzzers, and of course, the music — most of which is being provided by local artists.

Admission at the front is five dollars, half price for children twelve and under. A short walk through the turnstiles leads inside the event proper where snaking dirt pathways have been tromped flat by thousands of feet and divide games from rides, rides from games, and games and rides from the numerous other attractions that have drawn the city's public here: free concerts, auctions, fortune tellers and an exhibition hall to name a few.

No carnival is complete without a Ferris wheel, and it's accompanied by bumper cars, the tilt-a-whirl, a small rollercoaster, a carousel with painted white ponies, saddled tigers, ornate Chinese teacups, and more. Some rides have a height requirement, but the majority were chosen by the carnival's organizers with the general populace in mind. There's something here for everyone, and for those who aren't interested in throwing their arms in the air or spinning themselves sick, there are games to compliment the other entertainment. Games of chance and games of skill are interspersed evenly throughout the fairgrounds, though the prizes they offer are all very similar and range from goldfish in plastic baggies to cheaply made stuffed animals, some of which are missing eyes or are already beginning to come apart at the seams depending on the quality of the tent. All take tickets rather than cash, easily purchased at a number of specialized booths.

Food is cheap to accommodate a struggling economy; fried cheese curds, corndogs, kettle corn smothered in salt and sugar, funnel cakes, chicken wings, onion blossoms and chilli cheese fries are all on the menu and can be purchased from a variety of vendors at low cost, each with its own specialty. This is, after all, a charity event.

One of the carnival's most popular attractions is the exotic petting zoo with animals on loan from the Bronx Zoo. Enclosed in its own tent to protect its stars from the inclement October weather, it houses over twenty birds, mammals and reptiles from all corners of the world, including emu, porcupines, a python, mute swans, pygmy goats, wallabies, ringtailed lemurs, a pair of fennec foxes and even a Siberian lynx.

The carnival's gates are open between the hours of 10:00 AM and 11:00 PM.

The sounds of a weekend at the carnival are jubilant ones; the warbling musical sounds of carnival rides and the cheer of children. Despite all of the pressure on the public to buckle down, to fear and to carefully consider their travel plans in light of the destruction of the Municipal Building in Midtown, people still need a release — still need escapism.

The carnival provides that, a place where people can escape their day to day lives, and find home with something otherworldly, something more ephemeral than peace; their childhoods. Amidst the carnival rides, food booths and attractions there rests a large purple tent just beyond the Ferris wheel. It is a layered cloth tent, bound down to the ground with dark cabling to stakes driven into the soft earth. Outside of the tend, where a black velvet piece of cloth conceals the interior, a sign posted into the ground reads: Get Your Fortune Read, Free.

Stepping out of the tent, a young woman and her mother both look absolutely perplexed, both staring at one another before looking back at the tent and grimacing awkwardly as they shake their heads and start walking off deeper into the carnival grounds.

Alia approaches the tent, cotton candy in hand. She's had a long week. Her job has been attacked, her life flipped upside down… the carnival however seems to be the best thing in town… she pauses, then pushes back the curtain to step inside.

It's not an entirely unusual appearance inside of the tent, but the fact that Hokuto Ichihara has come out to the carnival and set up a booth might be a bit of a shake up for a woman who treats her life so much like a hermit. Seated ona chair inside of the spacious tent, Hokuto looks up towards the door with a distracted expression on her face, shuffling a deck of cards. "Welcome to— " those dark eyes settle on Alia, head quirking to the side as her brows furrow together. "Well that's quite the coincidence, I didn't think my tent came with tech support." The quirk of a smile on the older woman's lips comes with a nod of her head towards the chair opposite of her.

"Come on in, sit down…" Shedding the only light inside of the tent, an ornate and finely crafted stained-glass lantern hangs from the central structural support of the tent ceiling, shedding a warm golden-hued light down inside. "Been a while, hasn't it?"

Alia nods. "It has." She grins. "Coincidence indeed." The younger lady takes a seat, and offers a second bag of the cotton candy to Hokuto, a bit surprised herself.

"Oh— ahahah oh God no." Hokuto notes with both hands out in front of herself, one awkwardly holding the deck of tarot cards as she tries to fend off the cotton candy. "Corbin stopped by a few hours ago and we walked the park and I think I ate so much of that my insides are going to be cotton-candy blue." There's a wrinkle of her nose, a grimace, and a slap of the cards down on the table.

"I'm glad to see you're holding up, and getting a little bit of time away from all the troubles. Things haven't been very peaceful around here, between the riot at the Suresh center and the earthquake…" Dark brows furrow together, and Hokuto slides the tarot deck towards Alia. "You can go ahead and cut that however's natural for you, then slide it back to me when you're done."

Alia picks up the deck around the middle and cuts the cards in two. "… I know. I work at Suresh. Missed by fifteen minutes." She sets the deck back down and slides it back before taking her first bite of the cotton candy. "… One bad habit?" she giggles as she looks at the spun sugar.

"Oh you— " Hokuto bites down on those words and rests her hand over her mouth. "I— I'm sorry about that, but I guess it's fortunate you missed it. I could hear the noise from my shop, it sounded like a warzone." To many people it was, too; a warzone more of ideologies than pure physicality, but there was that too. "So…" dark brows alight, Hokuto rests her hands on the cards and considers them with a thoughtful stare, dark eyes halfway closed before looking up at Alia again.

"What's on your mind?" A loaded question if ever, especially considering what she's about to do. "More importantly, what do you want to have some insight into." That small smile grows just a little, and an anxious thumb of Hokuto's toys with the edge of her cards.

Alia looks at the cards a moment. She bites her lips, and considers. "A job offer from Adam Monroe." She finally says after a few moments of putting the thoughts into words.

Swallowing drly, Hokuto opens her mouth and breathes out a hushed sound and stares at Alia as if she just said she had sixteen heads and breathed fire. Fingers curling around the card, Hokuto looks to the door of the tent, then back to Alia with wide eyes. The dark haired woman looks down to the table top, biting down on her lower lip, then up to Alia again. "I— " her voice cracks, trepidation somewhere in her eyes that reaches to the mild tremor of one hand. "You— " her words fail also, and she takes a moment to steel herself.

Breathing out a heavy sigh, Hokuto's head dips down into a slow nod. "Right then… a job with Adam Monroe." The cards begin to be uneasily laid, out, dark eyes uplifted to Alia with a worried stare.

Alia sighs. "you… know the name?" the words cost her. More focus, more work, more effort. But it's what she wanted, needed to find out.

"Ah— N- no, I— I just heard it recently is all." There's an awkward and nervous smile from Hokuto as she shifts her weight on the stool and rests her hands over the cards. "It— it's just surprising to hear it come up twice in as many weeks." Dark brows rise up at that, and nervous laughter slips out from Hokuto as he lays out an arrangement of seven cards. Two columns of three, and a card set at the middle. Looking up to Alia, there's a mildly nervous smile given as she nods her head to the pattern.

"This… ah, arrangement, it's— it's used by people who're looking to figure out how they relate to someone, how someone may fit into their lives, for good or bad." Grimacing, slightly, Hokuto bites on her lower lip, and reaches for the top left card. "This card represents how the offer mister— mister Monroe— made you feels." There's a flip of the card over, to reveal the image of a family — a man and woman and two children — with arms upraised towards a rainbow spread over a landscape. In the arc of the rainbow, ten cups glow brightly.

Furrowing her brows, Hokuto looks from the card to Alia. "The… ten of cups." Her head quirks to the side. "It indicates a feeling of fulfillment. Perhaps— whatever it is Adam has asked of you, it seems to give you purpose, and direction?" One dark brow quirks at that notion.

lia gives nothing more than a brief nod. She is focused on Hokuto's words and movements. She can tell that the elder lady is holding something back. The tremble she saw, she noted the emphasis on words the choices of them. What has her worried is this is the first anyone has had something to say about him, who seemingly knew something. And she wouldn't say what.

Creasing her brows, Hokuto reaches for the next card. "This represents how you view Adam. It may not even be something you're aware of, something subconscious perhaps? But the feeling— the idea behind your thoughts, it's root lies in this card." There's an uncertain look offered to Alia, and Hokuto turns over the card, revealing the image of a man in a robe holding aloft a candle burning at both ends. An infinity sign floats above his head, and an array of implements — a sword, a disc marked with a pentacle, a staff and a chalice — rest on a table near him. But, notably, this card is upside down.

"The…" Hokuto swallows awkwardly, "The Magician, inverted." Dark eyes narrow slightly at that. "You see him as someone who is a trickster, someone who is deceitful and hiding truths. The card also implies suggestions of abuse of power to great heights." There's a searching look in her eyes, concern edging into it hesitantly.

Yhe Magician does get a reaction… there's almost a double take, but she's taking the words, and perhaps the wisdom in the words, seriously. "I… That card… many times lately." She falls silent and looks at the spread as it currently lays.

Some noticeable relief wanders across Hokuto's face, fleetingly, as her hand moves to the next card. "This card signifies your emotions in relation to what Adam offers, how you feel — knowingly or not — and that can often differ greatly from what you think. Head and heart…" she grimaces, "aren't always connected."

Turning the card over, there is a depiction of a man in a crown seated in an alabaster throne. He has a disc around each foot, one in his lap and one atop his crown, each marked with a pentacle. "The Five of Pentacles, represents power. But…" Hokuto's nose wrinkles slightly, "you're clinging to something Adam is offering you because of a fear that there may be nothing else out there for you. Your heart is attaching to this worldly ideal of advancement, even as your head is screaming at you to listen to something less satisfying."

Alia tries not to wince as that mark hits home far too easily. She nods again however. "Please… go on."

Much the same reaction that mother and daughter who came in here had. Sometimes, people don't like to see the truth, let alone hear it told by a stranger. Moving her hand to the next card, Hokuto taps the back with two fingers, then looks up to Alia with a hesitant smile. "This card represents what stands between you and Adam, what will make your working with him so turbulent." As she overturns the card, the image is shown of a young man standing on a grassy hill holding a sword close to his chest in a warding stance, and the card is upside down from Alia's perspective.

"The… Page of Swords, inverted." Even Hokuto seems to be feeling a little skeptical that these cards just fell as they were and that some higher power wasn't amusing itself with her own suspicions. "This card represents the use of clever argument and eloquent speech to mask the truth. The words of a forked tongue, and representative of a person filled with a destructive appetite for all matters of mind and logic."
Alia gives another nod. It isn't so much that she didn't want to see the truth as it is the fact that there are some truths that one tries to keep close to the chest. Alia looks at the card, and eyes the bladesman's stance a moment. "… How fitting. On many levels."

Grimacing knowingly, Hokuto moves her hand to the next card, teeth toying at her lower lip. "This card shows how Adam sees you, what his perceptions of you may be tempered by." Dark brows alight to the notion, and Hokuto's black-painted nails lift up the card and flip it over, revealing the picture of five youths fighting together with gnarled staves. Curiously, Hokuto stares at the card for a moment, then looks up to Alia with an anxious expression.

"Adam sees you as something to be forged, molded and shaped. To him, you're something that will achieve a greater form and purpose out of conflict and competition. You are a project to develop, something to… mold and shape." As she continues, Hokuto seems increasingly uncertain about exactly what this reading is suggesting.

Alia sighs as the words say it simply enough. She has no illusions. "A tool." She says simply. There isn't anger to her voice, but simple belief that Hokuto's dealing of cards is accurate tonight beyond most belief.

Frowning uncertainly, Hokuto moves to the next card with a slow, considering motion. "This… this card here," her fingers trace the symbol on the back, "it represents what Adam may feel about you. Like what you feel, it may differ from what he thinks." Swallowing noisily, the card is overturned to reveal the depiction of a woman with a crown seated in a throne, a great forest behind her. Though this card, like others in the reading is upside down.

"The Empress," Hokuto says with a certain gravity, "inverted." That qualifier seems to carry much as much importance. "Adam feels indecisive about you, and has some paranoia stemming from who and what you are. There is unhappiness in his heart, but also selfishness. You create conflicting, but not particularly strong emotions in him that he may not even be aware of."

Alia nods once more as she sees the card, understands the meaning. A much more cohesive picture then one might think possible, yet this all made too much plausible sense for her to brush off, even if Hokuto may or may not believe in 'greater powers'.

"The… the last card, shows the challenge of continuing to work with Adam. The longer you find yourself by his side, the more this card will become relevant, and you will find yourself forced to confront that arcana's truth." Dark nails turn the card over, to reveal another inverted card, one displaying the image of a wizened old man bearing a heady crown, a scepter in one hand, and ram's heads sculpted all over the stone throne he is seated on. "The Emperor, inverted."

Hokuto's expression turns dark, and her eyes warily inspect the deck of cards, wondering perhaps if it were possessed in some fashion. "This card shows weakness in character, a weakness leading to tyranny and the abuse of worldly power." Hokuto's dark eyes consider Alia, words taking a warning tone. "It speaks of a loss of confidence and ambition, coupled with the cold execution of the unthinkable. The inability to carry out plans or command respect. It speaks of being unreasonable and prone to fits of rage. It shows a deceiver."

Alia considers the words carefully, before she takes the efforts to speak herself. "… You speak truly, my friend. For this I thank you." She sighs. "Life… is not simple for anyone."

"It never is…" Hokuto mumbles quietly, picking up the cards and sliding them into a more organized stack. Her eyes drift away, down tot he ground and then slowly back to Alia. "Please… be careful of Adam, Alia. I— I've heard things about him, and I wouldn't want you getting yourself into something dangerous. You're too— " her eyes close, head shaking. She sounds too much like her mother. "Just— be careful."

A tired smile crosses Hokuto's lips when she finally goes to make eye contact again to the young woman who finds it so hard to find her words. "Uh, and— if you happen to mention this reading to him…" a grimace replaces that smile, "don't, ah… bring up my name?"

Alia gives a smile and a quote. "Only… a fool gives— uh— a trickster all the cards." She sighs. "No worries. This… between us." She sighs, again. "Glad I have friends like you."

With an awkward smile, Hokuto looks up towards that lantern hanging from the framework overhead. Her brows scrunch together and her nose wrinkles. "Well…" she says with a wistful tone of voice, "don't say that just yet. At least— you might change your mind if those cards turn out to be as true as they sounded." Then, with a more wry expression, she shakes her head and adds.

"That's how it goes for everyone else."

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