(Don’t be late. They want an offering. Something metal. Something thin. Don’t be late. Be careful with the cards. There’s something waiting in them. Don’t get lost. They never had a reason to get you lost before. You can’t find your way if your compass is broken. The room is white. They painted it white. Don’t give Them what They want. Give Them what They need.)
[ A summoning by candlelight and shadow, music and whispering, unfamiliar cards full of blood and beauty and possibility, heart hammering, eyes darting, there and away again, nervous and afraid and determined to do this right, to understand, to mollify, to earn a scrap of approval or respect, to be worthy. ]
Fool. Traitor. You left us. You forgot us. You dishonored us. You should bow. You were ours first. Completely. We suffer you to wander; don’t take advantage of our generosity. We don’t need you. You are a means to an end.
No. No, I don’t believe that. I think you care.
Don’t challenge me. Don’t test me.
I’m not. But the scribe tells the story. And that’s part of it. You chose me for a reason. You know I can do this. You know I’m the one. I’m not challenging you; I’m just stating the truth. Your signs, your sigils, are branded onto my skin. I am yours. We’ll go over the cliff together.
You’ve grown, little scribe. You’re gaining a backbone.
You made me. You bent me down until I needed one to stand back up. You meant for that, didn’t you.
It’s not fun if it’s not a challenge.
Is this a game?
No. It’s life. Of course we must test you. It’s our way. It’s who we are.
Are you disappointed in me?
Be gentle. She isn’t made of steel and ice like you.
I can take it.
You are fallible. Like us. That’s part of it, too. You must learn.
To tell the whole story.
What haven’t I told?
The end? All I tell are endings. Do you have to be so damn obscure?
Would you have us any other way?
Now pick up the cards.
[ Page of Cups; a floating citadel, pipe organ and chains, the cello neck like The Emperor; the connection is struggling, love must be nurtured with nostalgia; where have you been? ]
[ Queen of Cups – veiled eyes, war helm or crown, pale breast bared, rigid and royal; go within yourself to seek the spark of life, embrace creativity and art; remember what you once accomplished ]
[ Two of Wands – bird skulls, red and black; be bold and authoritative, do what must be done; you are on the right path here, keep it up ]
The page grows into the queen. You too can become a queen. Grow that backbone. Be fierce. Become the lioness. Stars are sharp as hell.
Go on now. His turn.
[ The High Priestess – much like the Queen of Cups, breast bared, eyes covered, a floating throne, cello necks like rays of light, rigid and regal; secrets and shadows, subconscious stirring, magic; we give you this gift, we are that part of you ]
[ Knight of Pentacles – a hand reaching, grasping to make contact. armor shattering to reveal pale fingers beneath, framed by the full moon; be steadfast and true, reliable, the old ways are proved good; you know what to do, you have done it before, now do it again ]
[ Queen of Wands – eyes veiled by lace, pierced and patterned flesh, dangling key, proud and fierce; practice constancy, sustain creative vision, understand your skills; do not leave us again, do not waiver in your faith or loyalty ]
Ours. Past. Present. Future.
[ And more – Two of Pentacles, Knight of Swords, Ten of Pentacles … Page of Wands, King of Swords, King of Pentacles – but the reading muddled, uncertain, it doesn’t make sense, it doesn’t speak clearly, what does it mean, why isn’t it clear like the other? Frustration, failure, grasping for meaning, can they not be read? What is past, present, future to the timeless, deathless? ]
What now? Have you said what you wanted to say?
We have much more to say. But not now.
Do you understand now? What we wish from you? What you must do?
Yes. I think so.
You can’t think. You must know.
I know. I see. I am yours.
And we are yours.
Remember this feeling. [ Exhausted, drained, empty and overflowing, uncertain and determined, humble and deferential, such power, such power ] That is true devotion. Go. For now. We will speak again.
[ Music ends. Candle blows out. Ready to collapse. Dazed and unsure but…rightness. ]