sit,” she said, gesturing to a little table. “I’ll get the
left him alone in the little room, looking nervous and uncomfortable.
“How are you enjoying the Valley of Peace?” Shifu asked. “Are
you finding business good here?”
good, thank you. The people couldn’t be kinder,” she replied.
“It’s been a lovely three months. But I don’t believe I’ve
seen you before. I’m sorry, I didn’t get your name?”
Oh how rude of me. I am Shifu. Master Shifu.”
Shifu? From the Jade Palace? My, what an honor!” She set down two
cups and poured the tea. “My name is Mrs. Xan, but you may call me
raised an eyebrow. “Mr. Xan doesn’t object to you entertaining
chuckled. “He passed many years ago, so I’m afraid he no longer
gets a say.”
winced and looked down into his teacup. “I – I apologize.”
need. I’m the seer, not you.” She smiled, sat down, and unwrapped
a deck of cards from a piece of red silk. “Here, you take these.”
pushed the deck over to him.
do I do with them?”
hold them and tell me what brings you here.”
studied the cards for a moment. “I’ve never seen cards such as
many have. They’re a Western invention. They’re called
ta luo pai, but in the
West they’re known as tarot.
My family were spice merchants. We
came across all manner of odd things from afar.
I’ve been using them for fifty years and have found them to be much
more straightforward than Chinese systems.”
nodded. “Perhaps this is why I’ve been told such glowing things
about your sight.”
she said. “I feel more welcome here all the time.”
smiled at one another.
on,” she said, tapping the table with a well-manicured claw.
“Shuffle them, and think of your question.”
– do I say it out loud, or?”
cleared his throat and set about shuffling the deck. “Very well.
I’d – I’d like to know
…” He winced here, a
spasm of deep regret passing over his face, “I’d like to know the
fate of my … my children. What
is a dire question
that brings you here so late. Think
of them, and shuffle till
you feel you are done.”
did as she asked.
them in the middle of the table, and cut the deck into thirds.”
did this too. She stacked the cards up in the opposite order Shifu
had placed them, picked up
the deck, and began to
flip cards out onto the table. Two, at first, a man running with a
sword, and a woman sitting with one.
boy and a girl?”
Well. Man and woman,
they’re not little
children,” she said and smiled. “But they’re always little
children to their parents, aren’t they? I’ve three of my own. No
nonsense with either of yours,
I see. Warriors of your palace?”
placed two cards more cards below the
first. “She feels caught
between two things, two options. Two paths perhaps,” she said,
a dancer juggling two coins. She pointed to the other card, a naked
woman floating in a wreath. “He feels he has the world at his
fingertips. Or he did. The card is upside down.” She looked up at
Shifu. “They are missing?’
Let us see what became of them.” She
adjusted her glasses and
cards. “A long and
difficult journey. Conflict, much conflict between them,” she said,
a card that bore a man and a woman in a boat with yet more swords,
and a set of flying sticks. She
placed another, a building
struck by lightning and
falling to the ground. “Goodness,” she said. “A disaster.”
heart with three swords through it. “A broken heart, my my my. But
then – hmmm.”
She stopped on a card, a robed man holding a wand in the air. She
threw three more, a reclining person made of stone, a little boy
offering a girl a flower, and a man and woman standing naked
beneath the wings of an angel.
is it?” Shifu asked.
are your children, you said?”
man and a woman?”
flipped another card. A man and a woman facing one another, bearing
cups. She bit her lip.
- ?” Shifu asked. “What is it, what do you see?”
– they’re - “ she stammered, throwing another card, this time a
demon with a naked
man and woman chained about the neck. “Oh my.”
killing me,” Shifu said flatly.
sorry,” Lihua said. “I’m…are they … siblings?”
a manner of speaking.”
she asked with a tinge of anxiety.
“No no, adopted. There’s no blood relation among the three of us. I
took them in as children, trained them to be warriors. They never
even met until … until recently.”
held her hand to her chest and gave a great sigh of relief.
do you ask?’ Shifu said.
it would be the first time I’ve had to tell a father
that his children have eloped.”
from a M rated Taigress fic that lives here or if you prefer here