Madam Eva’s Reading

Withered hands shuffle the deck, it’s bright colors vibrant against the black velvet of the table. With finesse surprising for her age, her withered finders deftly deal out five cards in the shape of the cross. The deck is set aside and her eyes meet yours.

“The first card,” she says, indicating the card to the west. “Tells of history. Knowledge of the ancient will help you better understand your enemy.” She turns the card slowly and studies it with you. The card shows a tall, somber, gaunt man, dressed in robes of some religion you’ve no seen, holding a censer as if the smoke emanating from it would light the face of his artist. “I see doors of amber, beyond which a great treasure is stored. There you will find the knowledge of the ancients.

“The second card tells of a powerful force for good and protection, a holy symbol of great hope” Her hand moves to the northern card. She hesitates a moment, then turns it over. “I see a fortress within a fortress, in a place hidden behind fire.” The card depicts a decrepit man, desperately clutching a chest to him. His clothes are fine and the windows behind him are large and spacious, as if he were in a fine manor. His face is in a scowl, as if he knows you want to take the chest from him.

The third card to be revealed is to the east. As she picks it up off the table, she says “This is a card of power and strength. It tells of a weapon of vengeance: a sword of sunlight.” She studies the card for a second, before setting it down for your inspection. “The Eight of Swords. Fitting. I see the blade you seek near a throne fit for a king.” The card does seem to be fitting, if morbid, like much of her deck. The swords are easy to see, backlit around the pyre they encircle. In the pyre is a man, though not by his choice. He’s bound to a stake that has just begun to catch fire. His skin has started to char as well and his face is in a scream of pain, the moment captured forever in paint.

The fourth card is turned without ceremony. It’s a happier card of a young woman with pale skin. Her eyes look out of the card pleasantly, if a bit vacantly. This card, unlike the others, has the name of it over top. It says “Innocent” and truly, the girl depicted within doesn’t seem like she’s seen much of the world. Madame Eva runs a finger along the edge of the card. “This card sheds light on one who will help you greatly in the battle against darkness. The one you seek is Evil’s bride herself.”

The final card sits in the middle of those already revealed, its content still hidden. “Your enemy is a creature of darkness,” says Madame Eva.”His powers are beyond mortality. He is everywhere and nowhere. But he is Fated to be found This card will lead you to him.” She turns the card slowly. A shattered mirror reflects a man in torment. Or maybe there is no reflection and the shattering is of the man himself. He’s reaching out to the mirror or the artist, depending on your view of the torment he is in. This card is also titled. And as Madam Eva reads the name, the soft flickering flame of the lamps flicker and dim for a second. “The Broken One. A card showing defeat, failure and despair. You can find the devil in the tomb of the man he envied above all.”

With all cards revealed, Madame Eva straightens. “This is what the Fates have in store for you. Heed them, gather your courage and save this land from the evils of Strahd.