The Devil
Stage Fifteen

The Tower
Stage Sixteen

The Star
Stage Seventeen

The Moon
Stage Eighteen

The Sun
Stage Nineteen

Stage Twenty

The World
Stage Twenty-one
Part One
Part Two



As the Fool opened the door to the Devil's room, so the last rays of the setting sun flickered out and the Tower was plunged into darkness. This darkness was matched by the cloud which extinguished the spirit of the Fool, as he realised he had been tricked into wasting time examining the Devil's gifts. He had thought himself so wise to reject them, yet all the time precious moments had leaked away until with sunset Time's gift of Clairvoyance vanished leaving him utterly alone and anxious.

His heart beat a tattoo, while his legs turned to jelly. His paralysis was released only by an almighty thunderclap which hurled him from the door, so that he half-ran and was half-blown from his high spot through the measureless gloaming.

Lightning flashes revealed falling debris, as with a thunderous rumble the Tower collapsed around him.

He hit hard earth with a thump that crushed the wind from him, yet almost immediately he was up and running from that cursed spot, fighting his way between slabs of stone which tore at his legs. Twisted in a heap lay the broken Chariot, and from under its wreckage could be seen the crushed bodies and staring eyes of the horses which had bravely carried him there.

He ran until, exhausted, he collapsed and sweet oblivion overcame him. When he awoke he was aware first of his bruised and bleeding body, and then of the greater pain of his defeat. Horses and Chariot were no more, so return to the Emperor seemed impossible. And, somewhere in the debris of that god-forsaken tower, he knew the Devil was still lurking, laughing at his pretension and subsequent loss of nerve.

He saw in an instant, for the first time, what a Fool he was, to have believed himself on top of the world, a hero, while all the time his arrogance had been leading him to this disaster and the death of the noble beasts under his charge.

FOOL! Before now he had born that title lightly, happily. Now he hated the word because it filled him with guilt and shame. If only he had paid better attention to his mentors along the road, perhaps he would have been more careful and not smugly assumed he could outwit the Devil himself.

FOOL! Yet he was not wholly to blame, he told himself resentfully. The Emperor himself had encouraged and pandered to his folly, setting a task which was beyond most ordinary men. It served the pompous bighead right that he should lose his glorious chariot, and, if he could find his way back he should certainly tell him so!

Yet, as this last thought entered his mind so he remembered his pleasure at taming Tenebrous, and he sobbed for the loss of the splendid animals. For, if he did not deserve to taste the bitter fruit of Failure, so much less did they, who had not willingly chosen to be party to his escapade, but had merely followed his bidding to their doom.

FOOL. He rolled the word speculatively around his head, examining it for some way to make sense of his current misery. And as he did so, a curious warmth spread through his chilly, battered body. Even the dark night seemed to lighten, as the stars seemed to direct their light to him alone.

He sat up carefully, testing his limbs, and found that though they were stiff they all seemed still to work. He got to his feet and shook his head to see if anything was loose within. All seemed still serviceable. He looked skywards.

One star shone more brightly than the rest. The Fool remembered all the characters he had met, and all the voices he had heard. They seemed to constellate in this single point of light, so far away and high above his world. Words formed in his mind:
"Whatever twist or turn events take today, none of us here can say whether, ultimately, it is for the better or worse. Only the one who sees the rivers of our lives flowing into the vast ocean of time, knows that."

This thought seemed curiously comforting. Instead of being himself, looking to the sky, he felt he was the star, looking down at tiny people who believed the earth revolved around each one alone.

The star cast down a beam of brilliant light to an area nearby, illuminating forests and hills with a rosy glow that beckoned him like a magnet. He cut short his reverie of regret - no amount of thinking could undo what had been done - and resolved to follow the light wherever it may lead. Soon the fallen Tower was left far behind.

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Copyright © 2000 by Jenny and Chris Gilders,
Tarot cards by Rider-Waite, U.S.Games, Inc.