Chapter 1 - FATE

There she sat at near midnight, her ankles crossed and crossed again as she waited, prim and proper in the Bismarck – the café and restaurant for the Lominsan People. It had already been two gods forsaken bells, she thought to herself as she wondered if he would come.

Surrendering to the wastefulness of her time, she takes another sip of her cold water that washes away the taste of the bloody raw steak she finished not half a bell ago. The corners of her lips give to a frown at the loss. 

There’s a soft thud on the table.

She opens her eyes. The single bright limbal ring around her right eye practically announcing the slow calculated gaze that traces the crumpled parchment. To the fingers holding it down and all the way up the arm to the steely and quietly panicked returning stare from Sterne Evans.

“Is this you?” he nearly demands. The quiver in his voice betrays the piercing stare of his bright blue eyes showing her how stressed he is.

“Ah. Ser Evans, correct?” she replies in the most proper and metered tone he’s ever heard.

“What business do you have sending me this letter?” He curls his fingers crumpling the paper signed Reina Asahi. “Who hired you?”

She blinks calmly at him, communicating that she has no idea what he’s talking about. “Won’t you sit?”

“Who hired you?” He asks again with a punctuation at the end of each word.

“Why would you think anyone would be so interested in your life as to hire me to get involved in your affairs? It’s quite arrogant, do you not agree?” she speaks so pointedly that it humbles him.

He swallows hard and steels himself. Leaning in he speaks in a hushed tone. His blue eyes betray him as his voice did; they glisten having welled up with tears.

“How do you know about my money?” He pleads.

She looks to him without pity and speaks as before. “Ser Evans, I take much pride in my research, my knowledge and my ability to know everything.” Her eyebrows raise ever so slightly as she finishes the sentence. “There is nothing beyond my purview, I promise you. Did you read the letter?”

Defeated he plops into a seat and sighs, searching within himself for a calming place. “I did.” He says simply.

“Good, then are you interested?”

He exhales through his nose an exasperated scoff. “I don’t believe you. How could you have known all of this. I was so careful. . . “ His catches his head in his hands as he lets it hang low.

“Shall I show you?” She sounds so uninterested, but can’t help smiling a little bit as she places a deck of cards on the table.

His eyes and the gilded edges of her cards catch the moon light and reflect it between his fingers, and between hers.

She proceeds to pull each card and tell him a story. The Ewer, the Reverse Spire, and the Spear; his life falls into place before her as she reads aloud to him.

In a rush he stands up using all the strength he could must to lightly press his fingertips into the cloth instead of slamming his palms into them. “Please.” He begs “Stop.”

She does and looks up to him, her legs gleefully swinging as they cant reach the floor.

“Alright. I believe you.” He sighs and crumples, much like the paper in his pocket, into his seat.

As she talks about the Scholasticate she wishes to create, his spine unfolds as he begins to sit erect. He listens intently to every carefully laid out plan she offers, and justification for a donor with pockets as deep as his. His heart leaps as he recalls the brighter days of his time in Eorzea before the Calamity. The good he and his partner did. Could this be a chance for redemption, no, not just that there was more – and she knew about it from the beginning. Her cards, or the stars, told her of Sterne and all he held in his heart.

She’s picked her words carefully, and inside she’s smiling to herself proud with every perfect pronunciation and perfectly placed punctuation that precedes the next sentence.

“I’m certain I’ve convinced you now, just how vital it is that we begin straight away.”

Bells have passed and the sun has nearly come up. The stars seem to have faded into the deep blue above.

“Come with me. I will give you access to my coffers – but know that every gil you withdraw will need my approval. So I’m certain you’ll have to –“

“I’ll have to produce a list of items needed for sometime – basically predict the future of my own needs. I don’t foresee that being a problem.” She says as she hops out of her chair and straightens the hem of her coat.

“No. I don’t suppose you would.”