Every day, the fortune teller peddled his trade in the same corner of the park square, right beside the fountain. His tools were but a worn pack of playing cards packed in a paper box that had long since lost its cover, and a cardboard sign propped up against the fountain edge that announced in a loud marker red, "$5 for a fortune."
As far as I knew, his readings were uncannily accurate. There was, however, a catch to this prescience. Before he would tell a fortune, the fortune teller would begin with a well practiced warning.
"The secrets of the diving are not to be learned, not without cost. Each time that I would read into a future, your fortunes would be correspondingly reduced."
It was a chilling statement that undoubtedly increased the sense of mysticism to his practice, but I could not help but think that he would have been more successful if he had adopted a different pitch, especially one that did not discourage repeated business. Once, I did mention this poor marketing decision to him, but he only shrugged in response.
"More business would be good, but that sentence is not something that I can afford to change. It's something that's necessary in this line of work, you know? Without it, who would suffer the price of leaking Heaven's secrets? Me. Which does makes the profession impractical as a business, right? Well, historically it was so, and most prophets and seers did tend to meet unfortunate ends.
But if the risks were transferred- if you think of it as a sort of mystical contract, not unlike a transfer of liabilities- then it becomes possible to deal in fortunes."