1963-12-09 - Omens of Swords and Cups
Summary: Marie's casual reading turns darker than she expected from the outset.
Related: The Black Sun plot
Theme Song: Lomea - And It Stares Back Into You
marie-ange wanda 

Note: Wanda is merely doing the NPCing for the reading on this one.

Considered neutral ground for mystics, the Bar with No Doors possesses a certain cachet at Christmas time. It may not yet snow regularly on New York, but the efforts to dress up the tiki bar in some festive hues take on an odd air. For one, the greenery here hardly counts as evergreen or boughs of holly, sadly. Red bows do festoon the upper shelves and tie off things, but the psychedelic plant life belongs to the South Pacific, given the huge hibiscus blossoms happily growing despite a lack of soil, water or nutrients. Other fragrant sprays of colourful, multi hued leaves on twisted branches give a particularly unusual air of festive cheer.

And don’t even ask about the ornaments, which encompass every tradition right down to shrunken heads and delicate blown glass globes with their own storms inside them. It’s quite true: look close, snow falls in there, or rain falls, or it’s a tempest in a tiny teapot shaped ornament that one witch is especially proud of.

The crowd is fairly thin, though not unsociably so. The jarred head telekinetically maneuvering drinks provides excellent conversation, an Old West cowboy of a spellslinger sits at the bar, and two voodoun priests chat in animated tones of Haitian creole. In the corner, a Korean shaman feeds his dog, a great white thing, slices of meat studded by cranberries of all things. Welcome to the world of the weird.


The cards were the subject of much dismay to Marie today, the readig she gave herself? One that promised dark times ahead; it was as she had told Roberto, the influence of the Tower was strong upon the city, if not the country, and the longer she stayed the more it would impact her.

So the very first thing she wanted to do was ensure that if there was to be trouble? She would not have anyone close to her caught in the crossfire. A note was left for Scarlett on the door to her room, detailing that she had stepped out, a request not to worry about her, and a promise that she would be back as quickly as she could.

She left out the reason 'why' on purpose. If she told her friend that misfortune promised to approach her, she may not have been allowed to face it alone… or as alone as she is here. Doubly so if she admitted that it was not a battle for her to win. The Bar with No Doors was not exactly one of her most common haunts; she had been, once or twice… but to her, it seemed like an appropriate place to face the unknown. To sit, and to wait for /it/ to come to her.

When it did, she knew her place in the story. Until it did? She would sit by the bar, quietly sipping away at a glass of water. She may love the taste of wine… but a clear head was needed to follow the will of the cards today.

Only mystics are welcome at the Bar with No Doors. Pick one’s chosen flavour - shaman, magician, cultist, faith healer, sorcerer, witch, diviner. They all eventually gather here among their own kind. Promises of peace enforced by Doctor Strange himself assure a sort of neutrality, even if it’s currently be tested to the utmost as aliens besiege the city and no one seems to have an opinion about it.

Currently a young man with scaled skin acts as the server. His tradition is likely not clear on the surface, unless one looks to the flattened cheekbones and skull, so characteristic of the Mesoamerican cultures at the time of Cortez. Obsidian plugs through nose and ears further assure his nature, though he wears a white button-down shirt common to all servers.

Give him five minutes, he comes up to Marie and sets down a bubbling concoction that smells of peach fizz and a summer’s day near the sea, one kiss of salt behind the buttery caramel finish. “Bartender says this is for you,” he announces, and waits. “Would the lady like anything else?”

Slight rasping resonance on his Ss suggest, perhaps, he is not strictly scaled alone.

The other diners drink and eat, some reading and others speaking. Mostly they stare at one another, and the lone seer warrants plenty of interest from their speculative looks. They may know of her, if not know her personally.

Bubbling away, the effervescent drink in a tall flute waits for her. Time waits for her. The sense of premonition slithers over her in a passing of scales and the steady, solid march — regular tempo, every second the footfalls beat the ground, the swish of a heavy cloth whispering over her.

That thick, cotton mouth feeling of an omen builds. The deck practically rattles in her awareness. //Soon. It’s time to choose… //


Go. The cards had been quite clear in many ways, even though they often prefer a particular vagueness to their missives. While Marie may have a definite preference for reacting in most circumstances, she was meant to act, even if these actions were being led.

As the drink's set down her eyes widen for a moment, before she forces a smile — omens hanging above her head or not, manners were always important to her. Even when she is the visitor, the Lyonnaise wishes to make those around her feel welcome; those that catch her attention have it easier today, as the bartender did.

"Merci beaucoup, monsieur — I am good for now, but I appreciate the offer." she replies in a friendly enough tone, full attention devoted. Her time in the city has made those who look… abnormal into far more the norm, and while those appearing to be creatures right out of /her/ religious texts could still stun her… the more outlandish of humanity is regarded with a quiet calm. Sometimes the strange can be the most wonderful of people.

The drink doesn't go untouched for long; Marie /does/ like her alcohol, but more importantly… /it/ came to /her./ This struck her as the motions of fate's hand, and so the flute was snared by willowy fingers and lifted to her lips for a drink. …if this keeps up, she may have trouble finding her way home tonight… but there were certainly worse places to be when without the more operational parts of one's brain than under the protection of the Sorcerer Supreme himself.

The drink has a particularly creamy mouthfeel, unusual for any sort of alcohol that isn’t hops-based. Given her liquor in question fizzes away something like a deranged champagne, it misbehaves to the laws of physics anyhow. Peach and caramel notes rise to the occasion, lassitude certain to follow in its wake for such a lightweight drinker.

“Very good, miss.” That subtle hiss registers on the tongue, probably forked, of her server. He turns to move, flowing away rather than walking with an easy, loose stride. It slows the further he gets.

Others watch, but time feels slowed down around her, a heavy weight to the atmosphere thickening by the moment, as one often experiences in the moments before a thunderstorm gathers in the heavens to pour down on someone. Albeit there isn’t rain here, only a charge. Glittering eyes and murmured words melt together.

A card pokes at her pouch as Marie settles. How did that happen? Shouldn’t it be shut? Irregularities in space and time ought to be understood as part and parcel of the Bar with No Doors. Sometimes things happen. Not as bad as Devizes’, which is commonly thought to be a shop with a mind and spirit of its own, but still.

The corner grazes her arm.


Drinks have a certain tingle to them. They're a delight that Marie takes in feeling those bubbles chase her cares away; when the concerns are larger — and come from the cards, no less, it takes longer for the fears to subside… but maybe that was part of the plan. Part of the reason that she's able to move forward.

The next sign comes easily enough, and in the form of her cards? They may be ordinary slips of paper to most, but she has an attunement to this deck like a blind man does his home. Every tiny fold where a card may have been bent. Every soft spot where liquid's spilled over the decades of use. Each imperfection memorized and usable to determine which card is which, even without the use of her eyes.

However, she's not used to her cards trying to escape that little velvet pouch; so the needs of the moment are to dig in and pull the card out — it's kept in her hand even as she turns it to face her; while they may have had liquid on them in the past? It's not been while in Marie's care. She's extremely careful with the cards!

A care will do her well, to be sure. Marie’s hand lands upon the card, and she must certainly realize the nudge comes from the corner, rounded and soft, of a card worn soft in the midpoint of the bottom. That bottom happens to nudge her palm, biting in when she lifts it to see the face.

Meeting her eyes is a wheel, quartered and laced by Hebrew letters. Four angels enthroned upon the corners peer at one another, the upside down bull facing the lion, the man and the eagle below them. Reversed, the reclining sphinx points her sword directly towards the ground.

The Wheel of Fortune, reversed.

It was barely days ago she started a reading. It began by the same omen. The atmosphere surrounding the matter of inquiry, wrought by bad luck and dark auguries, strange omens. An interruption of the norm due to unexpected events.

The sphinx stares at her with old, old eyes.

As Marie's eyes examine her card, thumb sweeping across the surface in a gentle motion, she can't help but note the history; repeating cards have often meant to the seer that the event, person, or whatever is coming nearer. Just like with the assassination.

The card is tucked back away inside the pouch, and the pouch inside her clothes once again. The flute is lifted carefully to her lips… and then she tilts her head back to empty the thing in one last swig. She feels like she's going to need it, after all.

Then she's turning in her seat. Hands move to fold in her lap, emerald eyes scanning over the various people in the room. Examining closely; out of place can be tricky to spot in a place like this, but she's going to do her best. Just in case whatever's coming is with her now.


Can any of those mystics sense the divination at hand? At least one of them, the voudon priest, pauses in his drinking and conversation with the other loa whisperer to shoot a look directly at Marie with intensity usually rivaling a kodiak after a salmon. But the promise of neutrality has ever been the price of The Bar With No Doors, and even a young, relatively untried Sorcerer Supreme is expected to back it up.

The jarred head of a bartender swivels, his telekinetic belljar floating higher, and he gives an utterly unimpressed look upon his 'guests.' The warning is implicit: watch yourself.

The pressure keeps building; whatever the cards mean to say is not fully said. What drawing is ever stopped at one?


It's the kind of look that makes Marie recoil, like a dog that's been struck. She's back in her seat's original position in a hurry, eyes closed for a couple of long moments and her fingers gripping onto the bar, enough to turn an even lighter shade of white.

After taking the moment to calm back down, she turns her attention back to the cards. The warning didn't seem to mean anything immediate… a fact that she had to consider, but now those long, slender fingers dip back into the pouch, feel over the ends of the cards — the place where they're most alike — and draw another card. It's time to see what comes next.


The priests bare their white teeth in dark, handsome faces. In an era where segregation is the norm, it doesn't apply in the Bar; least of all among proud practitioners such as those two. Tacit promises lie there, while the bartender in his liquid suspension mutters loud enough to hear, "Oh, stop putting on airs. You aren't gonna do shit, and we all know it."

That deflates the wind from their sails. A little. But the glares intensify before they go back to discussing the finer points of a goat sacrifice some fool in Long Island tried, probably anticipating Erzulie would favour him.

The door opens, another pair of souls enter. Spectral forms take on physical shapes, an unnaturally beautiful woman following a man of no real outstanding features, middle aged, rather plump, and certainly not of her calibre. The Sight, if any use it, reveal her for what she is: a vanity spirit, albeit one contained by seals at throat and shoulders and belt, incapable of taking on her incorporeal form without leave. She smirks over everyone and ends up frowning at Marie. It's hard to be vain and humble.

The second card to be plucked forth, as the position of the obstacle, is the Four of Wands.


The cards have her full attention — as they do more often than not, any time that they're out. The Four of Wands brings her alarm as she tries to place it's meaning /here./ It can reference one's home… is Scarlett in danger? Should she be here right now? She can feel every muscle in her body tensing up at the thought. She came here to try and /spare/ the other girl from that which came for her. If she's not there to protect her from that which comes after Marie… oh, she'd feel horrible.

Of course, it can also mean other things, stability, working together, even being welcoming to people. That's how she's able to draw her attention over to the door to see those who enter; the disparity is noticed with a brief smile — brief because it's chased away quickly enough when she sees the frown directed in her direction. She doesn't know the reason behind it, but she tries not to dwell on it too much. Instead, she retreats to her previous concern. It's time for another card in an effort to clarify.


Ten shining goblets adorn the surface of the card in aureate splendour, the arch inverted to show all of them presumably about to spill their contents on once gravity acknowledges their upside-down status. The cups have none of their lustre as someone walks by to take a seat in the corner, throwing a shadow, an omen of omens. Rage and unhappiness, quarrels, are signified by the reversed state of the Ten of Cups, a severance of friendship and happy cordiality often foretold by its upright state.

The vanity spirit sits upon a tabletop like a lounge singer about to belt out a glorious old tune, her master settled beside her out to order a plain old Pilsner. "Nothing for the dame. Nothing here going to perk her interest," he says with a gloating grin at the Mesoamerican serpent son.


Despite the card drawn, Marie relaxes /just/ a little bit. Anything that happens to her, from a papercut, to losing everything, or even death? She can accept. She'll accept with relative ease, really. If it were something bad that were to happen to people she cares about, that would be the way to really and truly hurt her.

Once again she turns from the bar, leaning back against it loosely. The effects of alcohol coming around to her brain a little more as it has the time to set in, reflecting in her movements which are less graceful and more fluid. It's back to people watching she goes, this time the deck stays out — in the pouch, but in her lap instead of tucked away.


The alcohol is creamy smooth and bubbling like mad, stirred up on a peachy backbone. Whatever fizz was in there tends to incandesce after a bit like the finest effervescent wine. No doubt it would be easy to get highly inebriated highly quickly on that.

The next card almost refuses to come to Marie's fingers, for while there is much at this time of year to be festive about, the appearance of that card is not. Some fear the major arcana, the appearance of Death or the Tower. Some should know better.

Nine swords stand out in sharp relief against the colourful background, one blade after another laid out in a treacherous splay assuring hatred and pain, for it is the card of cruelty. If this is the foundation of the situation to follow the goal she pulled, it is built on confusion and faithlessness and manipulation. Not a happy message. Not in the least.


The alcohol is creamy smooth and bubbling like mad, stirred up on a peachy backbone. Whatever fizz was in there tends to incandesce after a bit like the finest effervescent wine. No doubt it would be easy to get highly inebriated highly quickly on that.

The next card almost refuses to come to Marie's fingers, for while there is much at this time of year to be festive about, the appearance of that card is not. Some fear the major arcana, the appearance of Death or the Tower. Some should know better.

Nine swords stand out in sharp relief against the colourful background, one blade after another laid out in a treacherous splay assuring hatred and pain, for it is the card of cruelty. If this is the foundation of the situation to follow the goal she pulled, it is built on confusion and faithlessness and manipulation. Not a happy message. Not in the least.


Karma was something that Marie certainly believed in, and it seemed fitting that bad tidings would come after what's honestly been the best year in at least a decade. Freedom from the convent that made her feel less than human. The making of a great many friends, and if the cards are to believed — and she does wholehearted — more. A place to live and people who she can be herself around without fearing a sharp smack or a thrashing from a ruler. Freedom to read her cards in peace.

It all had to end some day, right? Marie's face twists into a smile of acceptance. Her path is set, and she will walk it without fear. She will take the bad with the good, and she won't complain. She pauses to bite down on her lower lip in thought… and then goes digging for next card to be drawn. The path of life has one way to travel; forward. Just as she will continue with the reading.


The irritated summoner and his vanity spirit occupy their corner, glaring at everyone in sight. She bats her lashes and strives to induce whatever she drinks from this assorted collection, all while being constrained by the neutrality laws that govern behaviour. Likely they know it as much as she does, but that doesn't stop her from sitting attentively and shifting about with an insidious wiggle, her clothes perfect, hair too perfect, eyes shining in a way that no human could ever match. Look at how lovely she is, her gestures and statements say with all the subtlety of a slap across the face.

The server ignores them upon delivering their drink. The middle manager with a summoning license, of sorts, makes an unhappy noise. "This tastes like concrete. Tell the bartender I want something better. No, I demand it. This isn't a drink I want." The server inclines his head and doesn't argue.

The next card coming to Marie's hand appears inverted, her gown spreading over a throne and her hand balancing a sword that lances towards the ground. For that which must be released, the Queen of Swords' malicious smile stares outwards. What could be considered intellectual and bright in this respect is dark; she personifies vengeance, malice, and treachery embodied in the individual, if any.


Even Marie can't help but glance on occasion towards the pair in the corner; they cause a certain spectacle for viewing, and it is an interesting combination to be sure. She can't help but wonder how it came to be; being… far less versed in the mystical than many of the people here. She knows the cards, and she serves the Sorcerer Supreme as needed; this is her place in the magical world for the moment. Learning will come with time, and patience is something she has in spades.

The next card draws a frown. Often times it /does/ point towards an individual… usually unkind, and with dark hair or eyes. Marie's mind briefly goes along those that she's encountered that could fit that description…

Morgan Le Fay, the sorceress that the Doctor battled in the park months ago? That's the first that comes to mind, the woman striking a particular fear in her heart. The thought of more of those demons coming forth was not a happy one in the least… so it was time to think, instead, upon the next card pulled from her deck.


The smooth back of the card comes to the young woman's agile fingers practically wiggles into her hand, eager to make its presence known. As soon as she flips it over, the image of a man and woman staring at one another, eyes adoring and bodies naked, in larger than life detail. An angel looks down upon them, while a tree sprouts in fine, verdant glory. The Lovers, in the position of the present, look to one another.

"Master, I don't think they respect you properly here. Someone of your power… Must we always come to this miserable place? They act as though you're not even worthy of casting a single spell." The manager hmphs at her, nodding grimly.


Any time the Lovers come to her hand, Marie can't help but blush. The art on the card is beautiful, and these days more than ever it's a card that makes her think. Considering back to the last time it came up for her — and that makes her blush all the deeper, especially considering recent events. The cards are never wrong, she assures herself quietly.

…but in the present position? It's a card that speaks of a partnership, often of lovers, as depicted on the card. She herself has none; despite the desire to change that. Could it even refer to the pair that sit at the table in the corner? These are all the questions that color her mind.

However, the cards are speaking; and her politeness extends even to them. Perhaps /especially/ to them. Her hand reaches for the pouch once more.


A man stares towards a river, tipped over goblets in a row near him. His traveling cloak hangs from his stooped shoulders, his face a mask of mourning and regrets. No joy can be found in this card; disappointment is prophesied, and broken alliances to follow, and the bittersweet taste of disappointment stands practically upon the air.

A shadow falls over Marie, not unkindly. "More of the drink?" The bartender hasn't sent out a new glass, but his Mesoamerican server to fetch the glass or top it off as need be.


It's fortunate that Marie knows multiple possibilities to the earlier cards, as the card that comes next could easily break her heart if she focused on one. However, no matter how it'll come into play, it brings a rather defined frown to her face. To say the least, this is a painful reading, no matter how the pain ends up playing out.

"Two, c'est vous plait." comes a rather defeated, if not tired voice from Marie. She definitely wants… if not /needs/ more alcohol in her system. Especially if this reading continues the way it has. Her movements slow, but she reaches for her cards again. She's determined to make it to the end. At this point, she /has/ to know everything that the cards are willing to tell her.


The young, scaled man inclines his head, dark eyes full of compassion and a distance necessary for all customers. "Very good. I will see whether he has any of his mango chutney left. It goes well with naan bread." He withdraws carefully and hastens over to the bell jar, where things involving delicious alcohol happen outside of the disembodied face floating in its suspension. Their conversation is muted. Teleportation is not frowned upon here, but a creme brulee appears on a dish in front of Marie about a minute later. It's still crisped from the flame brushing the top.

The next card might make her smile and it may not. Lightning forks from the bottom to the midpoint, striking a central, tall building. A body falls towards the ground at the top, and the omens of the Tower are tipped on their head. There is continued oppression promised here, an environment of entrapment in an unhappy scenario, a voice of following the old way.

"Merci, monsieur." replies Marie — honestly, the idea of food appeals to her too, providing a more pleasant thought to distract her from the ones that dismay her instead. This is done doubly well as the little dish appears before her to present the French delicacy to the delicate French girl. Food is an easy way to find favor with her, and she lifts up her head to offer a smile in the direction of the server and the bartender showing her appreciation.

The card to be pulled — the Tower, reversed, is a card that brings more thoughts to her mind. Some positive, some not… but she chooses to focus on the positive, for the moment. The time she's spent away from France has turned her into an optimist, a fact that wasn't true before… and even in the face to these bad omens, she stands firm in an effort to cling to the good.

There's a short pause as she seeks out a spoon to serve herself a bit of the dessert — digging in and depositing the treat into her mouth, just letting it /sit/ there on her tongue for a few moments to savor the taste… before it's time to go after the next card.


So much for mango chutney, but creme brulee in a little white ceramic ramekin is hard to beat. The surface can tolerate bouncing a spoon from but it still has the fragility of thin ice. Break through and the custard has a creamy finish, albeit shot by a very non-French addition: berries. They're not even in season. Where did the jarred bartender find blackberries at this time of year? He must have them in the freezer or a direct line to a subdimensional pocket where his conservatory contains said gifts.

He barely acknowledges the nod, but his eyes thin and mouth makes a ghost of a smile. See, now, he takes care of his people, even the vanity spirit. The 'master's' drink? It's reflective, served in a rather glitzy, ridiculous margarita glass. He groans when it arrives, but she stares at her own reflection in pure fascination.

"Molly! Molly, stop it. You're supposed to pay attention to /me/." At least one of them is getting fed right now.

The next of her cards, found while she puts dessert in her mouth, is something probably familiar to Marie. The inverted figure of Justice, wielding her scales, appears on the bright surface of the next card. All one's hopes and fears emerge in her warning: bias, abuse, closed mindedness, unfairness. False accusations.


Marie's certainly not a girl who objects to being treated well; it's something that she's starting to become more accustomed to as the days go on, but at the same time? Something she'll likely never tire of, never cease appreciating.

The dessert definitely makes the news a little more tolerable; focus on the positive, enjoy the little things, whether they be exotic desserts, or even little spongy creme-filled cakes. The sight of the Justice card really isn't a surprise to her… she's already seen influences in that order on the news. Foretelling a world that will be less and less kind to her, even on this side of the ocean, as the days go by. That the cards confirm this news for her is no surprise; things often must get worse before they get better, afterall.

Once again she digs the spoon into the dessert with her left hand, as her right reaches for the cards.


One more card awaits, for a standard Celtic Cross, the final choice in a draw. The creme brulee is very good, if very sweet, balancing the saccharine and the creaminess in a way that only a custard gets. The hints of blackberry are tart, but not impossibly so. The medley exists to tantalize the senses without overwhelming them too much. The spoon passes through and leaves carved trails, a skier turning fresh powder into sculptures.

The very last of the cards displays four goblets, cups of gold shining cold and separated, the sheen on them not unlike the manifested spirit sipping her drink and staring scornfully upon anyone who doesn't meet her level of interest, which is everything and everyone.


ROLL: Wanda +rolls 1d100 for a result of: 27


Marie lets out a slow breath as she prepares to bear witness to the outcome of the reading; even without turning it, she knows what it is. The crease that she can feel under her pinky serving as a telling reminder of which card remains unseen. Taking a breath, she flips the card to face her. The Four of Cups. A card that she saw in her past many a day; reminiscent of the days when she used to withdraw into herself and hide within her mind from the torments of the outside world. It was her only place of safety; and she has to consider that it might be a moment in history that will lead her to repeating her old ways, hiding from the things that could harm her; or at least as best as she could.

…even now she hides, to be truthful. Hiding here, rather than back at the apartment. Surrounding herself with strangers rather than loved ones who could be harmed. Drowning her sorrows in booze and desserts.


The Bar with No Doors goes about its usual rhythm. She has heard the will of the fates, at least as the card guide her for the day. It begs the question what more the message could provide, but they are otherwise serving their purpose, as Marie serves her own. The ramekin will be picked up by the server, and another drink delivered as necessary. As ever, a tab is busy enough, and there is no question they know whom she is. No one bothers her, and neither is anyone interrupting.


She is ever the witness to the messages that her cards wish to relay to her; always willing to hear them and try to interpret the meanings. She might not always like what they have to tell her, but she responds faithfully as she must. She will eat, she will drink, and she will ponder; she'll likely pass out there eventually, and only after waking again would she attempt to return home. Until then, it /is/ a time to be introspective and try to better decipher what she's going to be facing.

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