A white dog capers at his feet, equally unaware of the cliff edge. The youth, cloaked in ribbons and scarves, dances along the bleak edge, his face turned toward the burnblack sun. His eyes are milky white from having stared so long into the void. A necklace of dried flowers and bone fragments hangs around his neck, and a trinity of frozen stars pierces his left ear.
His hands are raised, fingers interlocked and straining in a mystic invocation. On his right wrist is a copper bracelet—a band of twisted wire that holds a burnished scarab against the inside of his wrist. He is missing his left ring finger.
His leather belt is worn and too big for him—it hangs low on his narrow hips. An awl, an ax, and a trowel hang from loops of sinew, and all are stained with rust and blood. All are stained . . .
"The fool." The fortune teller's teeth chatter. "This is the fourth card."
His fingers, like branches and brambles, position the card on the tablecloth—astrological signs rendered as patterns of stars. "This is the mask you wear in the West, the face you wear when the year wanes. This is both belief and being, but neither have weight upon the silver scale. You will shed this face, like the serpent loses its skin, before you walk the line . . ."
The fortune-teller places his twisted hand upon his teeth, silencing them. He raises his other hand toward his mouth, extending two fingers in a geometric sign. His eyes stray to the left, to the West.
I look to see what is lurking in the capering shadows that crawl along the edge of the tent . . .