The Wheel of Miss Fortune [Collab]
The little village was aglow with bonfires. Every house was decked out in greenery with candles in every window, and the air rang with the sounds of music, dancing and merrymaking. In one small cottage in particular, though, the merriment was somewhat subdued.
Kasca, a fifteen year old girl with short red hair and sapphire blue eyes, was sitting in a chair by her mother’s bedside. Her mother, a tall, beautiful woman Kasca took closely after, had taken ill the day before, with a bad fever. She was lying in bed with a cool cloth across her forehead, and a bundle of herbs to dispel sickness hanging from the rafters overhead. The timing couldn’t have been worse, because tonight was the First Dawn Festival. In order to keep misfortune at bay, Kasca’s village held a great celebration through the night and into the dawning of the first day of the new year.
“Kasca, dear, would you get me a drink of water?” Kasca’s mother asked.
“Yes, Mother,” Kasca said. She got up and grabbed the wooden bucket from the hook by the door. Outside, she the other villagers singing and dancing around the main bonfire, which was being tended to by the high priest. He was casting spells over the flames to amplify their powers of keeping evil away from the village. No one seemed to notice the absence of Kasca or her mother, and it was just as well—ever since they had arrived at this village a few months ago, they still felt somewhat like outsiders.
Kasca made her way over to the well and filled the bucket, sighing as she longed to join the festivities, but she needed to make sure her mother got enough rest in order for her fever to go down. Kasca returned to her family’s cottage, carrying the heavy bucket into the main bedroom. “I’ve got it,” she said. She put the bucket of water down by her mother’s bedside and dipped a metal cup into it, handing it to her mother.
“Thank you, dear,” Kasca’s mother said, as she drank. “I’m so sorry you have to miss out on the First Dawn Festival.”
“It’s alright…it’s not like it’s a once in a lifetime experience,” Kasca said.
“Still though, I remember having so much fun at every First Dawn Festival when I was your age," Kasca's mother said. “I do appreciate you staying with me, Kasca.” She settled back down. "I'm going to try and get some sleep."
“Do you need any more medicine, Mother?” Kasca asked.
“I think I’ll be fine, but stay here just in case.” Kasca settled back into her chair and picked up the book she had been reading. Her mother seemed to drift off to sleep, and Kasca felt her eyelids get heavy as well. Then, she heard a knock on the door that startled both of them awake.
“A visitor at this hour?” her mother asked. “Who could it be?”
“Let me go see,” Kasca said, and she opened the door.
As the door swung open, fate itself emanated in a grand gust of wind. Kasca raised her arm and eyed the visitor. It was certainly someone she had never seen before. She had a very self important sense of self about her, with her grand robes and witches hat showing her riches. Already slightly annoyed, Kasca kept an arm on the door and looked up at the woman, waiting for her to speak.
The woman cleared her throat and then rose up, “Greetings! I am the twister of fate, I am the queen of fortune, I am Lady Luck!” She boomed, “I require your assistance, young one. Perhaps your mother too, if she’s up to the task.”
“I...what? Look, whatever is you want me to do I’m not interested” Kasca sighed, “I’d like to help you, but as you apparently already know she’s ill.”
Luck only stepped forward, carrying a serious tone. “Tell me, Kasca. What do you know of fortune?”
“I told you already, please just get back to the festiva--” Kasca felt herself stumble back, and she tripped on the floor as she lost her balance.
“Fortune. A seemingly never ending struggle between good and bad. That’s what this festival is for is it not? It’s what drives out the spirits of misfortune.”
“Not sure what you’re getting at here” Kasca sighed. She picked herself up, still recovering from the pain, and signalled towards the door.
“Heheh, wait! It’s important I assure you! Every year at the festival I need all of you idiots to put on a good show so that RAT Miss Fortune doesn’t get the upper hand! She’s been getting quicker and smarter every year, and if EVERYONE doesn’t put on a show...I’m doomed!”
Kasca’s eyes only narrowed “Not quite sure how that’s my issue…”
“Kasca dear, who’s at the door?” Her mother asked, growing worried by all the racket.
“No one, mother! She was just leaving, right?”
Lady Luck sighed, only for a moment. Then she immediately brought up her hat in another burst of energy.
“Haha! I’m not so easily gotten rid of. This town is cursed, alright? Everyone here gets bad fortune after a while. It’s not exactly my territory. Your faithful mother isn’t going to recover at this rate. You’ll have to convince everyone to put on a good show, or you’ll have to deal with the consequences…”
Now Luck had Kasca’s attention. “Then...what do you expect me to do?”
“Convince everyone to be a bit merrier! Get some fireworks going, create a whole play. Just keep everyone’s spirits high enough throughout the night. It isn’t a day of dutiful obligation, it’s a day of celebration and merriment.”
Luck turned towards the door and began to walk off, but Kasca quickly grabbed her shoulder, “Wait. Why me of all people? And what’s with this Miss Fortune character?”
“You’re the most lucky one here, it seems. As for Miss Fortune, she’s my counterpart in a way...just watch out for cats and you’ll be fine! Of course, I won’t be able to protect you should you be affected by her, but besides that I’ll do what I can...”
With that Lady Luck rose her hat up once more and walked backwards out of the house, leaving Kasca alone in her thoughts.
"No matter how pitiful they maybe but mortals are masters of their own fate.” Lady Luck uttered while she seemed to walk away.
“The fault dear, is not in our stars but in ourselves, that we are underlings.” She added looking at Kasca’s family cottage for one last time as a wild gust of wind flowed and she started thinking.
“Yes, there is no concept of reality that gives the answer whether I or your kind controls the faith but with my countless encounters with your kind I have witnessed several individuals that have rather proven their existence as something way beyond one’s predicament, and thus my child I have chosen you to alter my own reality.”, Lady Luck.
“I said you’re lucky but do you know why I really chose you?” Lady Luck looked her in the eyes as she asked her this.
“I want to know, please tell me!” Kasca immediately answered.
“You, my child, who couldn’t even have the chance to grace the sight of your father, became one to accept it as if it was a natural course of events. Starting from your childhood you dealt with countless difficulties which a child should never have to face but never once did you sway, even in the mightiest storms in your lives.” Lady Luck said.
“Even now you know that you’re losing your mother, yet you’re not losing hope and constantly working hard to give her the best care and attention she deserves. I have seen something in you which I haven’t in the other children of this village and that’s the reason I chose you. I wonder what calamity has been waiting to befall this land.”, Lady luck ends conveying her thoughts with a pleasant sigh.
To her utter surprise after she finished speaking Lady Luck suddenly started to vanish into thin air in front of Kasca’s eyes as if her existence was nothing but a figment of dreams.
“But Lady Luck wait! I have so many questions to ask” Kasca yelled while trying to reach her.
“Where do I start!” She added.
“Maybe, I should give you a little hint sometime soon” Lady Luck uttered before completely vanishing.
And thus, once again a breeze of wind flew by kissing the leaves of the trees and brushing the tall and high grasslands, and with that Lady Luck had gone before Kasca’s very eyes leaving her bewildered.
Kasca, a child. No! Rather a broken young heart who was still trying to fight against fate as it took it’s sweet time to crumble her down and laugh as she pulled herself up only to make her fall again. This girl had now been assigned with a task with which even the bravest would fall back in fear. However, it is true that the heavens only choose the worthy to be of its an aid.
Being shocked by her dreamlike encounter with the Lady Luck, she had somehow convinced herself with the idea that she was the chosen one. But the question lied as of what was the power that lied in her with which she could hold the torch and be able to plunder everyone out of the plight that was about to endanger this village.
“Your mother!” A silent voice breached her thoughts and pulled her back from into her senses and the very next thing she heard was her mother’s worried voice.
“KASCA! KASCA!! WHERE ARE YOU?”, Her mother’s worried and frightened voice reached her.
A chill went down her spine and without wasting a moment she rushed towards her mother’s room as she began to imagine the worst. Her wild imagination lead her into her darkest dreams and she fell right before reaching her mother’s room.
“KASCA!”, Her mother screams again and following which there was a sound of someone falling on to the ground. Kasca was already hurt but didn’t let her pain get in her way and stood up and reached for her mother. When she entered, she saw her mother laying on the floor which for her was the epitome of hell itself.
“Is it the misfortune that Lady spoke about?”
“Can I really be able to change it?”
Her thoughts now became the words of despair itself seeing the sight in front of her very eyes but even so, she rushed towards her mother and held her up. She was a bit heavy for poor Kasca and her pain as the chains grabbing her legs prevented her from getting up.
“Even with these odds do you think you succeed?” Again, the silent voice asked her.
Thus, she replied, not to the voice but to her mother saying, “How many times do I have to ask you to stay on the bed? Remember, I am in charge. So, don’t worry, just sleep tight and rest well.” Her reply was not the answer that voice was seeking but rather it came in the form of expression that the voice comprehended itself and that explained it all.
She smiled when she finally told her mother that everything was fine and she let her know that it was an old lady who was asking for directions outside the door. And thus, the voice of Lady Luck thought, “Truth, lies and a smile, seems like your broken heart’s warmth has finally understood the meaning”.
“Let me show you the way young lady” Lady Luck’s voice whispered.
When her sick mother fell asleep, Kasca went out. It was dark and the village seemed empty. She started walking towards the forest near the village. Kasca had never visited the forest during the night. She was visibly scared. But still, she kept walking.
Lady Luck's voice was heard once again "You are ready! Just hurry!"
"Hurry where? Where are you?" Kasca asked.
"You're on the right path. Just keep walking."
"Why can't you come here? I will wait for you here. I'm scared to go deeper."
"Trust me, I can't." Lady Luck whispered.
"Just hurry and come here!"
"But I'm scared!"
Silence. Lady Luck didn't answer to the red haired teenager. Long silence. Kasca kept on walking. The forest was dark. She couldn't see any big animals present; except for a cat that started meowing loudly. She kept walking and walking, sometimes while closing her blue eyes because she couldn't actually believe that she was entering the forest by night.
She ran a lot. And then…
"You've arrived. Here I am."
Lady Luck was laying on the ground with a lamp by her side.
Kasca helped her get up.
"What is wrong? What happened?" The 15-year-old asked.
"I... I can't enter the village anymore. That's why I asked for your help."
"What? Since when? Look, I'm tired of secrets! Just tell me everything you know... Please?"
"Ugh, where to start?"
Silence. Long silence. The lamp was the only thing lighting the witch's face. She looked pale and exhausted.
"Look, if you really want my help, you need to tell me everything! Everything." Kasca yelled.
"The high priest..."
"What about him?"
"He's the reason you have no father."
"No. No. No. That's not a good joke."
"How can you say that? The priest protects our village from evil spirits!"
"Remember when I told you that the town was cursed? And that your mother wouldn't be able to recover?"
"Yeah?" Kasca asked puzzled.
"It's all... his doing."
"Okay, let's suppose I believe you. Why would he do that?"
A cat came closer to the light. It started meowing loudly to them as if menacing them.
"Oh no!" Lady Luck screamed. "Kasca, leave and come back tomorrow. I'll contact you again. G-go take care of your mother."
"I'll go, but I want to know more." Kasca said, her face as serious as ever.
"Okay, then one last thing."
"Go for it."
"The high priest is cruel." Lady Luck whispered. "Just like me, he knows you're special. That's why you're invisible to the other villagers and your mom's sick..."
"But what can I do to fix all this? How am I special?"
"Put on a show for New Year's. Convince the villagers to be merrier. That's how you'll defeat him. Starting tomorrow, try to find a new friend. Little by little, you can gather all villagers and convince them to participate in a huge show. That's your mission and you're the only one that can accomplish this."
Kasca nodded. She still wasn't fully convinced by the witch's words, but she would try anyway. And she knew exactly the first villager to reach out to.
Kasca’s chest burned as she entered the village from the cold that surrounded her. After seeing what happened to Lady Luck, the witch, who spoke of curses and fatalistic promises, had cowered before a cat was etched in her mind. If she was an actress, she did a fine job of almost convincing her.
Thoughts swirled in her head as she wandered into town - she had to pick up food for the night as it were and cook for her sickly mother - she reflected what the witch mentioned about the high priest.
The high priest was someone of high position in the village after all. He protected everyone from the ‘witches’ that supposedly hunted the good people for their evil spells and curses. He never liked these festivals - always found it frivolous and took away from the Lord’s word but he was convinced by way of tradition. The village survived without him at one point, her mother had said once, but he came in and assumed the head position. Kasca and the other children and younger didn’t know life without him. He always seemed to loom over them and watched their every move.
The first villager she came across was her best friend, Loreli. She was an unusual girl whose skin was dark and her hair was darker. She and her family were the last to move in until the high priest closed the borders permanently. The teenager, who was the same age as Kasca, always had odd dreams of the future - sometimes they were accurate but others, they were fanciful and she seemed to only trust Kasca with these dreams. Not even her own parents were aware of them - perhaps it was for the best.
The young teenager carried groceries from their favorite shop and Kasca couldn’t help but run up to her. She had to hear of this strange plot!
“Loreli!” Kasca’s voice rang out and immediately the girl turned to her. Soon, Kasca got closer to her and stopped running. For as active as she is, she felt anxiety cloud her heart and shadow her thoughts as she pondered the choice words to tell her about the task at hand. The thought of her mother possibly dying because of her failure… it brought tears to Kasca’s eyes.
“Kasca? What’s wrong?” Loreli’s concerned voice was a drop of light. Kasca tried to push the tears away and put on a smile. There was no way that witch was right - lest of all the priest. What did he have to do with her father’s disappearance? What did he have anything to do with Lady Luck not being able to enter the village? Why was this her problem?
“This is going to sound very strange,” Kasca bitterly laughed. It sounded so ridiculous to say it out loud but Loreli trusted her with her dreams. Kasca should trust Loreli with this heavy burden in her heart. She couldn’t do it on her own. Lady Luck said it’s imperative for the village to be festive and loud and proud - anything to prevent Miss Fortune from coming.
This is why, Loreli's response was quite simple:
"Huh, what do you mean?"
What kind of question was that? She was clear when explaining everything, right?
"Like I told you. We need to make the town more festive -" The blue eyed girl tried to explain once more but she was interrupted mid sentence.
"I don't get it." Loreli brought a finger to her chin. "We are known for being the most festive town out there. Seriously, don't you see all these decorations and all these holiday songs going around all day? How do you want to be even MORE festive than that?"
Somewhere down the line, something had gone terribly wrong. Think, Kasca, think. What was really going on here? Just what was the truth?
And yet, it's not something she could have noticed so easily. After all, she was still a mere human. If one were to trace back their steps, there were two keys to the truth of this situation. Two keys that Kasca couldn't see thanks to her clouded mind. The first one. Lady Luck. She had come to her house, she had given her a task, and then, she had left.
Yes, it was a matter of seconds, it was a really small gesture that had flown past her head.
"Greetings, I am the twister of Fate!"
"Heheh, wait! It’s important I assure you! Every year at the festival I need all of you idiots to put on a good show so that RAT Miss Fortune doesn’t get the upper hand!"
Those were the words from Lady Luck.
But then, something had changed. At that moment, once she stepped outside she met with "Lady Luck" once again. But her demeanor had changed. It wasn't that of a bright woman radiating with the energy of luck itself. Her demeanor had changed into a gloomy one as she spoke about the frailty of humanity and about fate.
After meeting with her in the forest. It had been the same. But their information conflicted each other. One blamed Miss Fortune while the other put the blame on the high priest. What was the meaning of this?