chapter 1: THE DEVIL
this card, 15th of the Major Arcana, here signifies Illusion,
Rebellion, Obsession, Evil
In the city of Tarro stood an ancient shining silver tower. In that
Tower of Tarro lived two women, both famous throughout the Empire
of Theland: Luminata, the Royal Sorceress; and Wand, the Sorceress'
Wand was an exceptionally beautiful girl who studied the
witch-ways from her mother, an initiate to magic from infancy.
She had the talent as well as the instinct and will to one day
become as magnificent a sorceress as Luminata herself, with the
proper training and discipline.
One aspect of Wand's studies was the conjuring of visions. Her
first vision, at 12 years old, under the guidance of Luminata,
had revealed to her the Aeon, in which she saw the beginning and
end of history and even her own self as infant, girl, woman,
aged crone, and beyond. It had been a heady experience for her
and she wanted more. However, her mother had forbidden Wand to
experiment on her own until she had the experience and wisdom to
control the potentially dangerous forces she would be dealing
At the age of 14 she found out how dangerous.
Wand had not intended to disobey her mother, she simply considered
herself capable of doing it alone--after all, she was becoming
rather womanly now, her figure was developing and men were
beginning to take notice of her in a new way. Prince Elro, her
childhood friend and companion, had suddenly become very shy with
her, while other boys had become more bold. She knew herself that
she would be a great beauty, as was her mother, and that men would
adore her and be in her power. This was neither a matter of pride
nor vanity, for the race of females who become sorceresses are not
subject to emotional or romantic delusions; it was simply a fact
to be acknowledged.
Thus it was a matter of almost scientific curiosity that brought
Wand to ask herself, "Shall I have many lovers in my life, as my
mother has had, or shall I find One Great Love?" She became tempted
to conjure up a vision to answer this question.
Although she could have asked Luminata to assist with this vision,
she wanted to become more independent. Besides, this was private.
And although she knew it was unwise to look into her personal
future before she was emotionally prepared to cope with it, she
simply assumed that she was prepared, and went ahead and did it.
She waited until night, when Luminata would be working magic in
the uppermost level of the tower. Her mother worked wonders for
the City of Tarro and for the court of Emperor Aleister XXII,
controlling the weather, illuminating the city with the magic
crystals, healing the sick, reading the future, entertaining with
spectacular effects, and protecting the city from any military
threat with the formidable energies wielded by her Powerstaff, the
tool and weapon of a sorceress.
Alone in her room lower in the tower, Wand chalked the symbols
upon her floor; pentagrams, circles, ancient hieroglyphs. She
applied the various potions to her body, belladonna to her
forehead, menthol to her throat, ash upon her breast, water on her
hands. Exotic incenses curdled the air, a candle burned a hole
Wand let her mind fly through the hole the candle burned into
reality. Her consciousness pierced the flame and slipped into
another level of awareness, the mind-universe. Patterns of light
and dark and time flickered stroboscopically. She watched for an
image to become manifest as she chanted, "Show me the face of
my Destined Lover..."
A dot of brightness sparkled across this other universe. She
steered her mind that way, flying easily across the finite/infinite
distances, and so the image grew closer and sharper until she
could see the vision for what it was.
The face of a Clown. He was painted in bright colors, red nose
and cheeks, white eyebrow arches, mouth painted into an eternal
foolish smile, shaggy golden hair like a sheepdog.
Wand looked and did not understand why she was seeing this face.
She looked around for some other face, secure in the knowledge
that this could not be her future Destined Love, but the vision was
otherwise vacant. So she studied the face: beneath the paint
were regular features, but there was something wrong with his
eyes. She looked closer at the eyes, which were not focused on
her. They made her mind shiver, as if she was witnessing a
terrible affliction. Empty, stupid eyes.
Then Wand said to herself, "I do not understand this vision. What
can it mean? I have asked to see the face of my one great love
and all I get is this fool of a Clown. I am the Sorceress' Daughter,
beautiful and famous among royalty. I have powers and talents.
Princes will pay me court. Kings, even, will one day grovel for
my favors. I can waste no emotion or time upon a silly Clown. He
does not even make me laugh!"
She slid her viewpoint back, preparing to terminate the vision on
this unsatisfactory note, when she observed a slight flickering
behind the painted face. She tried to move her perspective to
one side, but the Clown's face moved as well, occluding the
flickering thing beyond.
She changed her chant--an unwise practice, by the way, for those
of you unschooled in sorcery--"Beyond the Clown, beyond..." The
Clown's eyes reacted for the first time, widening as if in fear,
and his face dissolved away to reveal another face behind.
It was then that Wand realized her mistake, for the face beyond
was waiting for her with eyes that snarled of greed and lust,
terrible eyes that promised to use and degrade her, with an aspect
much worse than the Clown's emptiness, for these eyes were Old and
Evil and had Power.
She felt herself lose control of her vision-flight, for those eyes
were like black holes, intense of gravity, and she began falling
The face loomed, filling her view as she fell closer: a very old
and ugly man; a prune-faced, bald, big-nosed mask with an occult
symbol tattooed upon the brow. The wrinkled lips split into a
nasty smile full of yellowed fangs.
But the eyes were also mouths, widening to eat her, sucking her in.
She attempted to break away, but it was too late and panic seized
her as the psychic vacuum asphyxiated her soul. She was very
afraid, she cried yet another chant, "Take me away!" But there
was no escape.
"Clown!" she screamed instinctively, trying to find that other
face to hang on to before she fell all the way down into those
malevolent eyes and was consumed entirely. For an instant the
Clown's face reappeared and she clutched at his hair. She caught a
psychic handful and stopped falling, dangling above the doubled
abyss of Hell. But the ancient face sneered and spoke a soundless
spell, the Clown dissolved away again and Wand resumed her fall.
Down, into that hideous face, closer it came, now larger than her
entire self, and growing rapidly, like a moon, like a planet.
Great pores and wrinkles covered the face, craters and mountains,
a gigantic landscape of leathery skin, she seemed to fall into an
atmosphere, like a meteor from space. and began to burn.
And as she came between the eyes, where her psyche must be
torn in two and fall equally into each eye, the agony was absolute
and the terror infinite. Her vision darkened into blindness. She
But suddenly felt herself spinning off at an oblique angle and
spiraling through the mind-universe, unable to see or comprehend
what had happened. Then there was floating.
Wand concentrated on regaining her lost senses and could hear that
she was no longer screaming, but only whimpering and sobbing. She
also sensed that there was someone with her, holding her.
She feared that it was the wicked man, and she tried to recede
into the mind-universe to escape, but then she heard her mother's
voice. "Open your eyes now, Wandii."
Wand slipped back into her body with a shudder. When she opened
her physical eyes everything was a blur and she had to wipe away
tears to see at all.
Luminata was holding the Powerstaff over Wand's head and it was
aglow with the green healing-force.
"Oh, Mother!" She clutched her for comfort and protection. "I
saw a face, so old and ugly, and it was killing me!"
"And how did you come to see that face?"
"In...in a vision."
"So." The word was severe.
"I was afraid," Wand whimpered, as if she were a little girl still.
For the moment, of course, she was.
"Yes. And with reason, child. You were in the grip of a psychic
trap. Had I not heard your screams in time, and had I not known
exactly what to do, and had I not been charged with power from
working other magic--you would now be a mindless body, probably to
become the property of a demon or sorcerer."
Luminata's voice became angry, "Do you now understand why I forbad
you to exercise vision-witching without my assistance until you
have the competence? Do you now believe me if I tell you that
it is dangerous?"
"Yes, Mother." Wand broke into tears again, a very rare thing for
her (first time in ten years), even more upset now to have
Luminata angry with her. Her mother's beautiful face was very
calm and her voice neutral, but Wand knew her mother's ways. "I'm
sorry. I'll never do it again," and she buried her face against
the sorceress' breast.
After a moment Luminata said, "I felt...I felt fear that I would
lose you, daughter. I was not certain that I could pull you back
even with the Powerstaff, and for a second--for a terrible
second, I thought..."
Wand looked up and saw that her mother was no longer angry with
"Thank you for saving me, Mother."
"Of course. I love you, child."
Wand clutched her mother's hand. A sorceress did not speak much
of love, it gave away too much magic power.
"Describe for me what you saw."
The moment had passed and Wand had not said what she also wanted
"I don't want to think about it. It scares me."
"Describe, child. there may be more to fear if you do not. I am
not certain what precautions to take, if it indeed be a demon."
Wand felt a stab of dread at the thought of those eyes returning
and told her mother all. "I was looking to see who my...who my
Detined Lover might be. You know, if I would ever have one or not."
Luminata raised one eyebrow in silent surprise, but was not one
Wand felt embarrassed. "Anyway, all I saw was the face of a Clown.
I knew he couldn't be my Destined Lover, so I looked beyond and saw
the Old and Evil face."
"A clown? But you rejected that vision. Why?"
"A Clown? How could my one great love be a stupid Clown? I could
"You are a fool. And the Clown is THE Fool. You do know of
Wand pondered. "Does sound familiar..."
"The personification of the null factor agent of Powertext..."
"Null: the unformed...oh right, The Fool!"
"Yes. The cosmic voyager, the innocent hero, the ignorant godling
on his quest for enlightenment. That is the symbol you rejected!
So you went on to the other...?"
"The fifteenth agent? The adversary--" Wand whimpered --"The
"Perhaps. Or the first: Magus. This smacks of sorcery, Wandii.
But the Clown seems to be between you and some destiny with that
Old and Evil one."
"Can you explain it?"
"No. And I dare not conjure a vision now with that energy out
there. This will not be fully understood until it happens."
"But it won't happen," Wand insisted. "None of it. It can't!"
"You wanted to see your future. Do you think you can ignore the
visions you do not like?
"I won't love that Clown! I won't! I couldn't!"
"Vanity, child? You are too good for a lowly clown?"
"No. Something more. His eyes. There was something very wrong
with his eyes..."
"I can't say. Just something...lacking. His eyes made me feel
end of chapter 1
Chapter 2: THE EMPEROR
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