David Madore's WebLog: Gratuitous Literary Fragment #146 (nothing but a pack of cards!)

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Gratuitous Literary Fragment #146 (nothing but a pack of cards!)

Upon returning home, I take my deck to contemplate the meaning of my latest victory. Of all my victories: all twenty-one of them. From the first one I was destined to achieve: the High Priestess.

The easiest of the lot: Temperance. That hadn't seemed like a test at all, but I think it motivated me to go further.

The one which made me most satisfied: the Star. I could remain forever in awe of the gem's brilliance, and the whole event was a thing of beauty. I can truly say that I am proud to have conquered the Star—more than the Sun or the Moon.

The one I felt sorry for: the Hermit. It was unfair to the old man who had, after all, done nothing wrong of himself—at least not willingly. Also: the Lovers and their sad story.

The most subtle: the Magician. I almost fell for that one's tricks, almost took the bargain he offered me. (I wonder what would have happened if I had. Better not dwell upon such things.)

The most bizarre: the Hanged Man. Expect the unexpected, the Hierophant had told me. And I expected something to be upside-down, but certainly not that way.

The most terrifying: the Devil, of course. I don't think the nightmares he brought me will ever end. It is the Devil who taught me that victory comes for a price and that paying that price does not grant peace.

But the most unsettling is still the Tower. The sixteenth Arcanum seems to have been following me all my life: in hindsight, the clues to the Tower were obvious and were everywhere. I try to avoid reflecting on what I did there.

The hardest, however, was Judgment, by far. But then, in a sense, I failed that one, so should I list it as a a victory, even if it counts as one?

And now: Death, in the form of a handsome young man. Surprisingly easy, indeed, for the dreaded Unnamed Aracanum.

And the only one missing. I look at the final card.

I am suddenly struck by realization. I remember the sentence the World had spoken: I am All and you are Naught. The Emperor's remark about jest. And the parting words of Death: You Fool!

The Fool!

Fool that I am!

I fall to the floor.

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