Blue smoke rose in wraith-like tendrils from the dying fire, the pungent smell filling the visitor’s nose and stinging his eyes. He kept his gaze on the woman who hid behind a thick black veil, all but her piercing blue eyes hidden from sight. She crooned softly to the embers, long fingers dancing through the smoke, and conjured up a scene in the fire’s dying light.
“See the traveler who wanders through the fire
The figure that fought through the embers suddenly flickered out of existence, and a castle rose up to take his place, tall spires made of wavering smoke, walls glowing with the fire’s amber light. As the visitor watched, the castle began to crumble, smoky spires dwindling down as the walls collapsed back into nothing but embers on the fire.
“Find the traveler and the throne will be yours. Lose him, and you lose the kingdom as well.”
“Who is this traveler? Where do I find him?”
Her eyes snapped up to meet those of her visitor, narrowed to unforgiving slits. “I will not do all your work for you. Where is the fun in that?”
Before they could speak, she smiled behind her veil and sat back from the fire, the embers finally swallowed up by air and ash, the warm glow vanishing in a swirl of smoke.
“Work for your future, or you shall never see it.”