Smith produced a deck and shuffled it like a Mississippi riverboat gambler.

“I thought tarot cards were supposed to be bigger,” Briley said. “Those are, like, playing card size.”

Madison elbowed her from behind. while ‘Madame Smith’ ignored the remark. She pulled a card from the top of the deck and laid it down.

“Malach of the Dawn, inverted,” Smith said. “An angelic creature, its inversion means evil, and peril.”

The sun rises, but the world still feels dark,” Briley read from the card. “Pray for the arrival of the malachim—they’ll bring Dawn to the world and to our hearts.” She wasn’t familiar with tarot, but from what she’d seen in movies, she didn’t think the cards were supposed to have flavor text.

Smith laid down the next card. “Lightning Hounds. The danger will be relentless, but with quick reflexes you may avoid it.”

“What does the 3/2 at the bottom of the card mean?” Briley said, reaching out to tap it.

Madison bent over and swatted her hand away. “Reading in progress!” she snapped. “Let her finish.”

Smith flipped a run of several cards onto the table next.

“Whirlwind Denial…Mossfire Egg…Emergent Growth,” Smith read. “You try to deny the problems that beset you, but like a birth, the process must be traumatic. You will emerge in a space ready for growth.”

“Target creature gets +5/+5 until end of turn and must be blocked this turn if able,” Briley read from the last card. “By accepting my smallness I am vast.

“Very profound,” Madison said.

Briley picked one of the cards up and flipped it over. “These are just Magic: the Gathering cards!” she cried. “What are you trying to pull here, Kayla?”

“Madame Smith if you please!” came the curt reply. “The form of the cards does not matter, but rather the spirits that guide them. Maybe I can’t find an affordable tarot deck. Maybe my parents freak out about occult stuff and borrowing the roomie’s Magic deck is the best I can do. But your reading is still very important, very psychic, information.”

“Come on, Maddie,” Briley said, standing up so violently that she upset the folding chair. “Let’s go.”

Frantically, Smith continued turning over cards and reading their pronouncements as Briley left and dragged Madison along with her.

“Angler Turtle! Beware of something that seems helpful but is a trap!” she cried. “Draconic Disciple! Your enemy has an assistant to help with its bidding! Illumination! You will be blinded, and then illuminated, by your discovery!”

Briley slammed the door behind her. “Well, that was a waste of time,” she groused.

“Don’t be so hard on her,” Madison said. “The other tarot readers wanted money, and I think she’s rebelling against like fundamentalist parents or something.”

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