indirectly.

Fritz told me never to touch the crown princes office under any circumstance.

But he also told me that the words of the royal family are the law in the Arcadia Palace.

”Linnea? ”

I was shocked when Prince Leo called me by my name, much less know it. It knocked me back to reality as I tried to gather my thoughts and managed a wobbly curtsy, ”The will of Their Majesties be done, Sir. ”

”Perfect, ” he answered happily as he prepared to leave, chuckling to himself, ”That lucky git, hogging the best help again. Welp, at least father and mother will not endlessly moan about that citadel of clutter nor his deranged schedule around me anymore. Now, what is that tramp up to? Could it be we are playing at the palm of her hand? Nah, she is too dumb for that. ”

He then left the stateroom, mumbling to himself while I just collapsed to the floor hopelessly.

-0-

As I walked miserably toward the crown princes office, I suddenly remembered my friends dire warnings the night before two nights before I started my job here.

Draped in a black flowing dress and veil, she appeared at my front door without warning.

”The tarot cards told me to come here and read your fortune, Linnea, ” she said in an ethereal voice as she showed herself in my home quietly.

Verda Norn, the enigmatic fortuneteller of our group and acted as a spiritual adviser.

She is very fickle and capricious. Even in our group chat, she barely, if ever, say something. But always reading our messages to each other.

Verda came from a long line of prophetic tarot card readers of the dominion. Our nation has prized these bloodlines, and the House Norn sat on more or less the same status as the aristocrats.

Their predictions are also highly valued and sought after though they are only sometimes giving them out. More often than not, they are the ones who will appear in front of you to have your fortune read and not the other way around.

Much like what Verda is doing, she made herself comfortable on my patched-up sofa while shuffling the tarot cards on her lap gloomily.

The way we all met her is really odd as well.

Several years ago, the nine of us in our circle of close friends hung around in the park on once-a-blue-moon occasions when everyone had time to spare and catch up personally when this mysterious and ethereal lady appeared suddenly, announcing that the cards had guided her to us all before proceeding to read our fortunes one by one before leaving as otherwordly as she arrived.

Each and every prediction she made happened precisely as she had foreseen.

Since then, she has become one of us and become like Frida in a way that she is always observing and monitoring our lives, albeit, in her more discreet and mysterious way, we may never know how.

I sat in front of Verda as she closed her eyes and muttered something I did not understand to her tarot cards before speaking again after her final shuffle.

”Pull three cards, Linnea. ”

I did what I was told and pulled three tarot cards faced down and put them down on the table.

”From left to right, these cards represent your past, present, and future. The Tarot is the means by which fate is revealed. Take charge of your destiny. ”

Verda then opened the first card representing my past.

”The Fool in an upright position. The start of a new journey, adventures untold and leap of faith to the unknown. ”

The next was revealed my present.

”The Magician in reversed position. You need to use your full potential. With repressed skills and talents, a man with the same limited space to make full use of his abilities. A mentorship? This is an awfully accurate spread so far. ”

Finally, for the card that holds my future.

”The Tower in an upright position. A hierarchy in upheaval, uprising and revolution. All will end in flames for us all. ”

I shook my head in disbelief at the grim reading she just told me, ”For us all? ”

”Yes, Linnea. For everyone in our group. Everything as we know it will all end in flames. If you continue this path you have chosen, unleash the potential within, we will no longer be able to see the world as we know it the same way before. ”

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