The coins jingled as they fell into her palm, and she closed her fingers over them glancing up. "Thank you again Gypsy!" the man had already turned and was headed for the wooden stairway leading down from her tiny tower room. "Good Fortune," Keja turned and placed the coins in a small wooden box on the shelf. The shadows that lay across the floor from the narrow windows told her that it was getting late in the afternoon. "Perhaps I should stop working for the day," she thought as she gathered her tarot cards once again into a neat stack. She shuffled them absently twice and placed them in the center of the table, awaiting the next customer. An evening wandering in the cool air of early autumn seemed an inviting proposition. Perhaps she would wander to see the Pixie Queen, it had been a while since she had visited the treehouse where the royal one ruled over her domain. Or perhaps she would wander the streets of Minoc, peeping into the shops as she had not done in a long time. Cooking a meal for herself seemed too great a task, and the thought of a warm bowl of savory stew in the familiar comfort of Minoc Tavern made her stomach rumble softly, reminding her it had been a long time since she had stopped for even a cup of tea. For a moment she contemplated going to Moonglow. It had been a while since she had been there, but she stopped the thought. She knew she would only go to Moonglow hoping to see... She didnt finish any of the thoughts. Perhaps they would return but for now she was alone and there was no sense in thinking about what she wished could be. What ever had happened, they would return if they could, she believed that. She could not find them, and they had sent no word, so she needed to trust and believe, and fill her days as she had been, with work. Keja stretched and yawned, then settled back on the bench for a few more minutes. Perhaps one more customer would arrive soon, and then she would allow herself a break for the night. Her finger trailed over the smooth, cool surface of her crystal ball, tracing random swirls as she hovered between thoughts she would not allow to truly form in her mind. Leaning forward, she cupped her chin in her palm and sighed, her finger brushing the arch of the crystal, bringing forth a spark from the depths of the ball. Keja leaned over further, looking; the tips of her hair brushing the table top and falling in front of her eyes for a moment. She brushed her hair back and looked again. That was... odd. The ball never showed anything unless she was consulting with a customer. She never used the crystal ball to look for herself, the same way she never read the cards for herself. It was not only inaccurate but bad luck. The crystal ball should not work unless she wished it to, but there was no doubt, the mist was swirling up from the center of the ball, and lights flashed deep inside the clear surface; reflecting and changing, pulsing slowly. Intrigued she couldnt look away... it shouldn't be happening, but it was and she was drawn in. Fog swirled around her, and she found herself wandering through the swirling mist and deep pulsing light. The fog was thick and hard to see through, and the light, though it didnt seem bright, especially in the murk, left her with tiny, dancing colors behind her eyes as she strained to see where she was going. Hands before her, she moved tentatively, disoriented. Her mild hunger pains had been replaced with a cold fear that seemed to press at her from the inside, as sharply and as persistantly as the darkening fog. From before her she saw the mist part and then remerge, as though a body had moved through its smoky substance. Keja stopped walking and craned her neck to see in front of her. The fog around her made her nearly lose her balance. As it billowed past, she felt as though she were tilting and groped for anything that she might use to steady herself. This time she was sure she saw a figure ahead of her in the mist. Catching her balance she moved ahead, feeling as though she were walking on the deck of a moving ship. It was a feeling she particularly despised, and she renewed her vow of never sailing again if she could help it. The motion turned the pressure in her stomach to a cold ache, but she felt an overwhelming need to see who was ahead of her. When she next caught sight of the figure it seemed nearer, and she called out to them. The world in the mist was silent, and she didnt hear her own voice, so she wasnt surprised when the figure did not respond. She could not tell if they continued to move, but she seemed to be getting closer so she pressed forward, trying not to lose her balance. Overwhelming need to see who was there kept her moving, but she knew she was afraid. That she was not alone in this dark world of fog and light did nothing to comfort her. In fact the closer she got, the stronger her apprehension, but she could no sooner stop moving toward them now than she could stop this vision altogether. She could feel the evil and it was all too familiar. It had been a long time since she had felt the terror engulf her, but it folded her into its embrace like an old friend. The figure rose up before her, the mist moving as though a part of the being itself. Embracing. Soothing. Suffocating. Then suddenly she was there. The figured towered over her, but it no longer held her attention. The mist undulated and writhed over the ground where another figure lay. Crushed. Broken. Lost. Keja fell to her knees beside them but she knew it was too late. Too late. Too late. Her heart broke. The world tilted. The fog thickened. A light flashed and Keja thought her head would explode. Standing suddenly, her bench crashed to the floor. The crystal ball tumbled from its stand and crashed to the stone floor. The heavy crystal surface cracked and a large chip and several small ones lay glittering on the floor in the last of the afternoon sun. Keja was sweating and shaking, her empty stomach spasming as she fought for control over her body. "He's back!" The thought came in a rush she could not stop the words from bursting from her along with her gasping breath. She immediately chastised herself. "Stop it Keja! Migon has been gone a long time, and when he left he was a...." The word wouldnt come, but they had an ... alliance of sorts. Hadn't he given her back her daughter when all seemed lost? Hadn't he tried to help her, asking nothing for himself other than her trust? He alone had figured out what had been wrong with Veisha Taltos, and had told Keja how they could help her. It had been true as he had said it. Hadn't it? He was only trying to help... Help... And then they all disappeared. Migon. Veisha. Vlad. McCoy... McCoy... Tears filled her eyes. Something had gone wrong, that had to be it. Terribly, terribly wrong. Migon just got caught up in it, the same as the rest. He couldn't have been the cause of it.... Keja made those thoughts stop. She had gone over them all so many times when everyone disappeared. She had done everything from blaming Migon to feeling sorry for him along with the others. She had no idea what had happened, and until she knew, she could not really know what she felt or thought. Moving around her small fortune telling table, she knelt and picked up the broken orb. She looked into it, seeing nothing now but a web of cracks across the once flawless surface. It would never again share the secrets of the future with her, and she felt a deep sadness. But the last thing it showed her troubled her greatly. As she knew, the crystal would only show what was a fact in the future. The fact was, a great evil lurked somewhere. Who or what she didnt know. But it would take away someone dear to her, someone she loved. But those she loved were gone... weren't they? She would be alone facing a great evil... alone. Totally, totally alone.