Sarai sat in her anteroom, feeling apprehensive. Strong fingers kneaded her back as Kara worked the knots out, but the High Priestess’ distress was not physical.
“What’s bothering you?” Kara asked, quick to pick up on her husband’s moods.
Sarai smiled, tired, and placed a hand gratefully on Kara’s. The massage stopped as the Fire Priestess moved to sit beside her. “Did the reading distress you?”
“Yes.” Sarai nodded.
Kara stroked her fingers across the back of Sarai’s hand. “Tell me about it.”
Sarai shook her head. Where to begin? “It is not the possibility of a love relationship for him that worries me―quite the opposite,” she responded to Kara’s question. “It is the other cards. They predict what we have come to fear…and more so, what I fear: losing another family member to these troubled times.”
She sighed. The cards were hardly ever wrong. But my interpretation could be, her mental voice reminded her. Somehow, her heart doubted it.
“The cards speak true―darkness has taken the Sceptre―but more so that Jules is central to Kore’s banishment of Her dark twin―again.
“And though it sounds as if I am giving myself airs, I believe strongly that Zameera herself is speaking through these cards.” At Kara’s sharp intake of breath, Sarai stopped.
“Underworld’s Queen in the fifth-card position means only one thing, Sarai. That’s not giving yourself airs.” Kara’s face was earnest. As a Fire Priestess, she specialised in prophecy. Sarai could always count on her husband to give an honest critique of her readings.
Sarai rubbed her face and stood, starting to pace in frustration. “Assuming I’m correct―the dead Queen is speaking to me―I can’t understand what she’s saying. At best I can make assumptions based on what I think she would want―and we both know I’m not qualified to make those decisions. Tyvian, I’m not sure anyone is.” She stopped, shocked at her cursing. I’m more upset than I realise.
Kara had stayed silent during her husband’s tirade; now she looked at the High Priestess shrewdly. “You should make an offering to Muerta.”
Sarai shuddered and looked away. “Barter for an audience with the Mighty Dead?” She didn’t need to look at Kara to know the other woman nodded. She didn’t need to say anything to let Kara know her one failing as a priestess―how completely creeped out she felt when face to face with Muerta.
She sighed and looked back at Kara, whose look had become shrewder, if possible. “I suppose I haven’t much choice in the matter, have I?”
Kara rose and joined Sarai, linking her arm around Sarai’s waist. “I’m afraid you haven’t, Love.”
Sarai sighed and let herself be lead by her ever-wise spouse, down to the second deepest level of the Temple, to seek an audience with the decades-dead Queen.