The Fortune Teller

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Chapter Thirty-Five

Mist enshrouded the boat as it approached the strange sight of Gonecity, or as Derek thought of it, the City with Wet Feet. Massive, towering structures peaked over the top of the fog, staring down at the tiny little boat that had made it so far. They wouldn't get a clear view of then until they were much closer.

Giba had been left behind. He couldn't swim fast enough to keep up with the boat and in ten miles he would have been exhausted and useless anyway. He had insisted on trying, but they left him in the dust and figured he'd gone back to the Monastery.

“Derek?” Clooney asked, not taking his eyes off the mist enshrouded city, “Once we get in to the city what exactly are we looking for?”

“Not sure,” Derek answered, “Go to the City with Wet Feet is as specific as my instructions got. I never really thought ahead of that.”

“I'd imagine whoever summoned you will contact us with further instructions,” Zoey commented. “That's what I would do.”

A sudden, unnatural wind blew across the water, hit with a sudden ferocity that prevented further conversation. Derek twitched as the wind blew across his battered face, and he closed his eyes to beat down the pain of his boils. When he opened them again, the wind had cleared out the fog and Derek got his first clear look at Gonecity. And his jaw dropped.

There were dozens, hundreds of buildings, all a thousand feet high. And further if you counted the two-hundred foot deep ocean. They were towering, although not as towering as the Sphere, but never the less vast constructions of steel and glass overlooked everything for a hundred miles. They were rusted and in many places decayed, but they still stood after a thousand years of neglect. They were masterpieces, showing the incredible architectural heights of the Ancient World. At that time this had been a bustling city, full of more people then Derek could ever see and meet. But their works had survived in this city, a testament to their skill.

“Look in the water,” Zoey commented breathlessly. Derek looked down through the layers of green and blue to see a vast ruin of the old world. Silent, waterlogged buildings and streets, covered in moss and rust. Ancient skeletons populated an underwater suburb.

Derek suddenly felt an immense surge of pride for his species. Regardless of whatever else humanity did, they excelled at creating beauty.

But as the boat came closer and closer to the outskirts of the City with Wet Feet, a cold hard fact was forced down Derek's throat. The city was dead. As they passed between the buildings, no one came out to greet them, no one challenged them, and all the great glass windows were empty. Waves crashed over onto the buildings and scraps of metal floating in the water clinked together, but was the only sound. The king of this city was not a man, but silence.

“What killed this man?” Clooney suddenly sang, sending a solemn note across the silent water. It was part of an old song he'd been sung as a boy. He suddenly felt moved to sing it now, over the bones of the corpse city.

What killed this man?

Bare, bare fat

What killed this man?

Bare, bare fat

Who'll stand his funeral?

Me, me, me

Who'll bury him good?

Me, me, me

All the souls he he be ridin'

He went kickin' he went fighin'

What killed this man?

Bare, bare fat

What killed this man?

Bare, bare fat

Lookin' at the South is bad for yo health

Look to the East to get quite a feast

Lookin' at the West will give you a rest

Look at the North and brothers go forth

What killed this man?

Bare, bare fat

What killed this man?

Bare, bare fat

Who'll stand his funeral?

Me, me, me

Who'll bury him good?

Me, me, me

“Vere did zat come from?” Kurt asked.

“I don't know,” Clooney said, “It's a song I've heard since I was a little boy. This felt like the right place to sing it.”

“Willie!” a sudden cry sounded from somewhere in the city, “Little Willie! Little lost Willie!” The voice had the cracked sound that you get when a song is stuck on repeat. It should be the same notes, but it feels altered.

“Where's that coming from?” Derek asked.

“Dis vay,” Kurt answered, shifting the rudder and carefully navigating through the buildings. After a few moments of turning the crier came into view, standing on a tiny ledge right at the water line.

There was not a hair on her from head to toe. Not even a few scraps on her head. She wore a threadbare overcoat and layers and layers of pants and shirts, so much that any normal person would have been slicked with sweat. She was perfectly dry. Her only other noticeable feature was her narrow but shockingly green eyes. “Little Willie!' she cried again.

“Who are you?” Derek yelled.

“Little Willie!” she screamed at the top of her lungs. “Little Willie hung his sister, she was dead before we missed her. Willie's always up to tricks! Ain't he cute? He's only six!” She reached out with her arm and motioned them to come towards her.

“Come on,” Derek said, and Kurt steered the boat towards her.

“Willie poisoned Father's tea. Father died in agony. Mother was extremely vexed. 'Really, Will,' she said, 'what next?'” the woman said, still motioning for them to come.

Suddenly Derek's oar hit something. The boat ground to a halt. “What happened?” he asked.

“Ve've run aground,” Kurt said with surprise.

Derek got out of the boat and put his crutches into the shin deep water. He hobbled towards the woman, and everyone else cautiously followed. Derek was relived to see Kurt had drawn his gun and pointed it at the strange woman.

“Who are you?” Derek asked again.

“Willie saw some dynamite, Couldn't understand it quite; Curiosity never pays: It rained Willie seven days,” the woman responded. She lifted her finger and pointed at the water just in front of her.

“You want me to stand there?” Derek wondered.

“Willie, in one of his nice new sashes, Fell in the fire and was burnt to ashes. Now, although the room grows chilly, We haven't the heart to poke poor Willie,” the woman recited, and then nodded vigorously.

Derek hobbled forward and stood exactly where she pointed. The ground shifted slightly as he did so. He looked down and saw a pale white light glowing in between his feet. “What do I...” he started to ask, but then a blue pulse shot out from the light like a ripple, bringing dozens of other lights under the waters surface to light wherever it spread. The entire city was suddenly illuminated in a glowing spectacle of colors like the night sky. Derek was standing on the night sky. He gazed at the giant building of the city illuminated by thousands of points of light and stood there, awestruck.

He didn't get much time to look however, because just behind the strange woman a cylindrical pod rose out of the water. Derek could hear voices from inside.

“He made it! He made it!” Derek recognized Fate's voice. “Now give me my money!”

A door on the pod slid open, revealing the same ragged, tattooed figure Derek had seen in his dream. He was holding out his hands so the other figure in the pod could toss a few coins into it.

The other man in the pod took Derek by surprise. He looked... normal. In fact he looked extremely normal. Average height. Average build. He wore plain clothes. He had a face that's every feature seemed nondescript. He very plain brown eyes. The only thing that made him remarkable was the fact he was utterly unremarkable.

“Sviv blf tl,” the man said grudgingly as he handed over the coins.

“Hey!” Derek remarked, “You're Gi-” His tongue simply refused to make the strange sound.

“Gizmhozgli,” Fate clarified. “He likes that name but he also goes by The Other. You can call him that.”

“Ivgxsvw mznv,” The Other said dully. Although it was hard to call anything he said dull, as each word was a cascade of sounds in unusual patterns.

“I think you know me,” Fate said, “For all those not being physically transported, my name is Fate. And this...” he said, gesturing to the woman still muttering her grim rhymes, “is Mother.” Before anyone could respond he continued talking. “Now lets see how many we got... Scheldter, the man with no name, fair-haired folk singer, and the chick... there should be another. The greedy bastard pirate, where is he?”

“He abandoned us,” Zoey said, her voice possessing a tinge of contempt.

Fate let out a long tired sigh. “Stupid! Stupid Murphy! Well, can't be helped,” he reached out his robe and pulled out a gold entry card from his ragged robes. “Here you go,” he said, handing it to Derek.

Derek read the writing on the card.

Derek Wheeler: Licensed Controller

This card gives the user permission to enter the Fortune Tellers Chamber+4

Now get a @#$!!**@#$ move on!

“Now lets go! Everyone into the elevator,” Fate said.

“I've come this far...” Derek muttered to himself and entered the strange device. It was cool plastic on the inside, without any visible controls.

“Ve can't all fit in zer,” Kurt remarked skeptically. But even as he said the words the pod expanded to fit everyone inside.

“If anyone wants to stay here you can,” Derek said.

“I'll vatch za boat,” Kurt said almost immediately. Derek didn't blame him.

“I think I'll stay behind too,” the doctor said, “Kurt might need help.” Derek didn't blame either of them.

“Everyone in?” Fate asked. Clooney, Zoey, Derek, Mother, and The Other had all entered. “Good! Now lets get to the bottom floor. No messing around.” With any apparent command the pod started moving downward. It had no windows and Derek became disoriented.

“How does this device work?” Clooney wondered.

“Physic impulses,” Fate answered, clearly not interested in carrying on a conversation with him.

Clooney's eyes lit up. “You mean that the wiring is capable of picking up brain waves? I'd love to take this apart and have a look.”

“Nzbyv ozgvi,” The Other said with a grin.

“Gizmhozgli is much more of a people person then I am,” Fate said, “Which is pretty funny because I'm the only one that gives a damn about what he says.” Fate let loose a off-sounding cackle. “You know, me and Gizmhozgli had a bet going about you. He thought that Murphy would stop you before you got here just like all the others. But I bet you would make it.”

“Murphy?” Derek asked.

“Murphy is the cause of everything that goes wrong,” Fate explained, “If anything unavoidably bad happens to you, always blame Murphy.”

“Where are we going? Why did you summon Derek here? How did you summon Derek here?” Zoey asked, slipping in between Fate and Derek. The door of the elevator slid open, revealing a poorly lit hallway.

“If you will come this way,” Fate said, gesturing to the hall. “I'm not the man to answer these questions, but the master is.”

Zoey casually led the way out of the elevator and into the hall. Pale neon lights flickered overhead and gave the hall a dead feeling to it. At the far end their was a double doorway.

Zoey and Clooney opened the door together for Derek and were greeted by swords scraping from scabbards and clanging to meet in front of them.

“You shall not pass,” two voices said simultaneously. Two abnormally tall figures blocked the doorway with their swords. They were bald, extremely muscular, and were albinos. They were also identical in every respect. They wore long flowing whitish-blue robes that seemed to have quite a bit of embroidery on them, but underneath they had belts with a huge assortment of knives and swords. They looked quite dangerous.

“Who are these guys?” Derek asked.

“They are Good and Evil, the master's bodyguards,” Fate said, “And they are just plain creepy. Talk in unison. You never see one without the other. All the time I've been here I've never been able to tell them apart. Show them you're card and they should let us slip right though.”

Derek flashed the golden card and the guards swiftly moved to either side, allowing him to enter a room that was clearly vast, but didn't have any lighting.

“He must first meet with the master alone,” Fate said, holding back the others. The door closed behind Derek, and he was immersed in total darkness.

“Who wishes to see the Fortune Teller?” a female voice said. It sounded ancient.

“D-Derek Wheeler,” Derek said, fighting down nerves.

Suddenly a pillar of blue light was ignited in the center of the room, casting away the shadows from every corner and revealing the strange, technological throne. Upon which an old woman sat.

And Derek knew he looked upon the Fortune Teller.

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