Song of Scarabs and Fallen Stars (chapter 6)
Lips pursed into a perma-frown, I flipped a fourth card from the deck of tarot cards, adding it to the three cards already laid faceup on the small patch I had cleared on the dining table in front of me. Half-finished sketches lay scattered around the tarot cards, the fruits of a brief but productive manic drawing session.
Scowling at the partial tarot spread, I took a gulp of whiskey—breakfast of champions—then set my empty glass down with a thunk. I flipped another card, the motion jerkier.
“Mother fucker,” I muttered. I flipped another card and slapped it down. “Mother fucking mother fucker.”
When I flipped the next card, I didn’t even bother laying it in the spread on the table with the others. I held it pinched between my fingers and glared at the image displayed on its face. The tarot card quivered.
The Star card displayed Tarset, nude, kneeling at the edge of a pool of water surrounded by palm trees and sand, arms extended over the pool and water dripping from her cupped hands. Seven stars hung above her in the twilight sky, looking like silver asterisks. Near the horizon, in the place of an eighth star, a black scarab hovered, its wings flared up and around a golden disk. Upright, this card represented hope and creativity, which seemed fitting for Tarset. But upside down, as the card kept appearing, The Star suggested loneliness and defeat.
The spread of cards was the same as before. The same as always.
Song of Scarabs and Fallen Stars (chapter 30)
Nik inhaled deeply through his nose, held it for a few seconds, then let the breath out slowly. Only he could make a single breath sound so disapproving. “Are you sure this is wise?”
I snorted a laugh. No, I wasn’t sure. But then, I wasn’t sure of anything these days. Well, except for Nik. He was my rock. My anchor. And every once in a while, my ball and chain.
I drew the next card but hesitated before flipping it over. In my gut, I suspected which card it would be.
“She’s a prisoner,” I told Nik. “That’s what I saw when I was sleeping.”
His grip on my hip tightened, and tension coiled in his muscles, turning him to stone behind me.
I flipped the card and set it down.
The Nine of Swords, reversed. Powerlessness. Suffering. Despair. Again, the design showed Tarset in that cell, only this time, she sat on the floor, nude, her knees curled up to her chest and her face turned away. Her back was mostly visible, displaying the bloody image of a winged scarab carved into her flesh.
I touched the next card atop the deck, but it felt flat and lifeless. No hum of otherworldly energy charged the remaining cards in the deck. Everything the universe wanted to tell me was contained in the three cards lying faceup on the bed.
Song of Scarabs and Fallen Stars (chapter 47)
Corners of my mouth tensing, I sat up straighter and flipped the next card.
The Empress represents wisdom, secret knowledge, and the spiritual realm. I didn’t appear on this card. Rather, the lone figure standing in an ethereal white gown in front of a backdrop of swirling, multicolored soul-energy was pretty, waiflike Isfet, the personification of the soul of this universe. I knew her well. I had merged souls with her to defeat the Netjers, but I hadn’t seen her since she helped me restore the physical bodies of all Nejerets after my people’s mass execution at the hands of the Netjers.
I blew out a breath. Looked like the Five of Cups represented a reunion after all.
I touched the deck of tarot cards, but the otherworldly zing was gone. The cards had shared all they would right now.