Chapter 10 (7th of Taru-Des in the year 6198)

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I dreamt of the forming of clouds

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I dreamt of the forming of clouds. Like a coming storm. I watched as on one horizon clouds of white gathered and on the other clouds of black. They moved towards each other and clashed, producing a thunderous roar. Legends speak of the coming of The Storm. But I do not understand the meaning of two.

-Journal of Reane Matir

As the wind stripped the temperature down to below freezing outside, straggling souls wandered in from the streets of Catersburg

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As the wind stripped the temperature down to below freezing outside, straggling souls wandered in from the streets of Catersburg. The welcoming fire raging in the central hearth of the Red Moose warmed the air, providing a haven from the malaise of winter gripping the city. While winter had lessened its harsh grip upon the city over the past couple days, there was still no doubt about which season consumed the land.

In one corner, Sheala sat with two others. Drumming her finger on the table, she glanced about the tavern. The few other souls who had braved the weather in search of food and drink gave this particular table a wide berth.

"C'mon Civn," she moaned, eyes trained on an ominous lout of a man. His expression resembling the roughness of chiseled stone, he held five worn playing cards in his left hand close to his face. "This is Bahnar, not sorcery. Either raise the pot or call. Or concede."

He glowered at her. "If Civn want advice from de likes of ya, Civn let ya know."

Sheala detested the way he talked. "Quit stalling."

The intensity with which he studied the hand delt to him was akin to someone reviewing every detail in a contract. Perhaps one designed to sell one's soul to the Dark Lord Descist himself and seeking every available loophole before committing. And based on the size of the pot piled up on the table, such a comparison wouldn't have been that far off.

Civn's right arm, concealed with a long black sleeve, rested heavily and unmoving on the table. Like a dead weight, the gloved hand at the end of that arm sat balled into a fist that never once opened.

Sheala had already folded, bowing out gracefully from this round. With the meager hand she'd been able to muster, continued pursuit of the prize laid out before her, taunting her, would have been foolish. Now she couldn't help but feel regret. Not after how she'd added so much to the potential winnings and now being relegated to the sidelines.

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