He had a hay barn at the bottom of his vegetable garden behind the pub. We could stay there, until after the next market day. In return I could play and sing at the tavern for tips and Imara could set up her fortune telling outside. The tavern would provide Imara and I with meals in return for the extra customers he hoped we would attract, but we would have to find Hodari's meat ourselves. This sounded ideal, there was plenty of wild game on the land back towards the door for Hodari and we would have a week to gather information about this area and other settlements.
Later, as Imara and I laid ourselves down on opposite sides of the upper floor of the hay barn, while Hodari snored below, we agreed that this had been a much better start in our new home of Nova Albion than we could have expected.
The next week passed quickly. By market day we had a much better idea of the layout of settlements and where to go and where to avoid. This town of Doorway was the oldest settlement. The land back eastward towards the door had been left as open range, while on the other, western, side of the river they had cleared the land for farming. A natural barrier of cliffs about 100 miles west of the river had allowed them kill off the local carnivores to allow safe grazing. The biggest of the carnivores they had wiped out were larger than Hodari and had been wolf like.
To travel beyond the cliffs to the other settlements, the safest way was by sea, which would mean making enough money to pay for a passage. Imara and I invested in a strongbox to keep our coins in. Only in Nova Albion would you see a gold strongbox with copper and iron coins in it, but it did have the advantage that it would need two people to carry it away even when empty.
We stayed in Doorway for several more weeks as the inn-keeper found that the extra business we got for him was worthwhile. On our last night in the hay loft I finally asked Imara if she would make a tarot reading for me. I had hesitated before, did I want to know what the future held? What if it showed Imara and I going our separate ways? “Are you sure about this?” she asked, and I could sense that she was not sure either. She explained, “I make it a practice not to read my own fortune and I sense that you, at least, hope that our fortunes are linked.” I could not deny that and hoped to see in those mysterious eyes if she felt the same. She caught me looking and laughed, “I am not that easy to read.”
As I shuffled the cards I thought of the question that was uppermost in my mind. Would the Lady Imara someday be my lady? As she laid out the cards in the pattern of a cross and staff I waited for her reading. I watched her as she turned over the cards in front of her. The few first cards told of the present, the challenge facing me, and then the past, I grimaced as the card for my distant past came up, the Six of Swords, it spoke of despair and depression.
Things grew better as the reading progressed, and I could hardly contain myself as she moved onto the Staff, where the Ace of Cups showed a seed of love had been planted. Imara's own card 'The Strength' showed as an influence and I heard a sharp intake of breath from her as she turned over the next card 'The Lovers' as showing my hopes and fears. She paused and asked, “Are you sure you want me to turn over that last card to see the final outcome?” “Let me.” I replied. As I turned it over I saw a smile light her face. It was 'The World'. “We shall be joined together.” she said and reached out to me. The cards scattered amongst the hay and she was right.