the story of The
a tale by Cliff Johnson — a deck of cards by Brad Parker
day, a lighthearted Fool strolled along
a hilly path, whistling a merry tune. A
long wooden pole was slung over his shoulder
and attached to it was a cloth bundle which
carried his life’s possessions.
What a marvelous
afternoon! he exclaimed to no one
in particular, pausing to appreciate the
the trees parted and the path led to a small
clearing, ending abruptly at the edge of
a treacherous cliff. But the Fool was undaunted
and kept at his swift pace, steadily approaching
the sheer drop.
folly is most curious, a voice boomed.
Have you no fear of death?
Just as one leg dangled over the side of
the cliff, the Fool hesitated.
dares to interrupt my errand? he demanded
dare, the bright yellow sun replied.
the Fool considered, I seek the fourteen
treasures of the world and I am told that
a man who strays from his path is lost.
That may well be
true, spoke the sun, but I fear
that you are already lost. Take this map
as my gift. It will aid you in your quest.
And in a flash of light,
an aged parchment appeared at his feet.
At last! A path
to follow! cried the Fool, happily
taking the map.
sun murmured, yet things are never
as simple as they may seem.
But the Fool had already
run back down the hill and did not hear
the sun’s parting words.
by the side of a dirt road and carefully
unrolled the parchment. A sudden breeze
whispered through the rushes. A gale whistled
through the trees.
LI, OC.. eg, li, oc.. a voice
The Fool looked up and
saw a young man carrying ten oaken staffs.
That is a strange
song that you sing, he began. I
have never heard such words before.
It is a spell to
ward off strangers! the boy shouted
rudely. These are evil times and my
mission cannot be delayed!
Oh, then I beg your
pardon, the Fool apologized. I
did not know.
over to the shade of a tall stone tower,
the Fool sat down and began to study his
map once again.
there! Help me! I am in great need!
With a start, the
Fool jumped to his feet and looked around,
but could not see anyone talking to him.
Scratching his head, he happened to look
upward and on the very top of the stone
tower saw a man surrounded by seven magical
staffs that floated on the air.
very impressive! the Fool complimented.
You must be a very powerful Magician
But the man was frantic.
Are your eyes blind?
I am under siege and have dropped my BOW!
Eager to help, the Fool
searched the base of the tower and quickly
located the fallen weapon. With a deft toss,
he threw it back to the warrior.
he replied. Someday my bow may be
of use to you too.
away, the Fool returned to the task of inspecting
the sun’s parchment, but sadly, he
could not make any sense out of it. Further
along, he met a Page who stood in the middle
of the road, admiring his polished wooden
That is indeed a
fine staff, the Fool complimented,
yet I am lost and I desire your assistance.
Do you know how to read a map?
I fear not,
answered the Page, not taking his eyes off
the walking stick. I am lost also
and I seek the pyramids.
The pyramids? Why
they are to the South, the Fool pointed
out. See? The middle one is inscribed
with the letter E.
Well so it is!
the Page realized, dashing off in that direction.
Naturally this did not
help the Fool at all.
to the path, he approached a narrow stream
that ran across the road and just as he
was about to jump over it, eight magical
wands appeared on the horizon and soared
over his head.
NZSLTZMBHGZUU.. creaked the
enchanted wood. Ah, a mystical chant!
the Fool remarked. I wonder what it
But he did not wonder
for very long and hopped across the stream.
a great white horse galloped up to him,
carrying a fully armored Knight.
Have you seen a Page come this way?
Yes, he went to
the South to seek the pyramids, the
the Knight puzzled, but the pyramids
are to the East of us. See? The middle one
is inscribed with the letter X.
The Fool saw that this
What was then the
South is now the East. I met him further
That is good! The
Queen shall reward you! shouted the
Knight as he galloped away.
Further along, the Fool
came to a wooden wheel mounted atop an old
A wheel of fortune!
he exclaimed. Perhaps it will tell
me of the fourteen treasures.
He gave the wheel a spin
and, after many long turns, it came to rest
on a set of jumbled letters. But unfortunately,
the Fool knew of such magic and was unable
to decipher its meaning.
He traveled further up
the road and saw three pyramids to the West,
the center one inscribed with the letter H. He stared at his parchment in
dismay. It showed the picture of a stone
bridge crossing a pond.
I may be a Fool,
the Fool mumbled, but either this
map is in error or the land is!
He decided to pack the
confusing parchment in his knapsack.
along the road, he passed under a stone
archway and encountered six young warriors
waving their staffs triumphantly.
there a cause for celebration? asked
indeed! the leader proclaimed. This
day the four Kings have declared a truce
to the horrible war that has ravaged our
land. And it is said that between the
four, one of the land’s lost treasures
will be restored! Spread the news and
Fool found it hard to be joyful though,
for he had yet to uncover even one of the
fourteen treasures. He traveled further
up the road and saw three pyramids to the
West, the center one inscribed with the
letter H. He stared at his parchment
in dismay. It showed the picture of a stone
bridge crossing a pond.
may be a Fool, the Fool mumbled, but
either this map is in error or the land
to pack the confusing parchment in his knapsack.
pyramids stood a quaint peasant village
and here the Fool met a jubilant party of
townsfolk, gathered in the street. In the
middle of the crowd was a beautiful wedding
canopy attached to four oaken staffs and
underneath, a man was searching through
the presents frantically.
URN! My red urn! Have you seen
it? he asked the perplexed Fool.
A red urn?
he puzzled. Is not red a gaudy color
for an urn and is not an urn for a funeral?
It is our custom
at such an affair, the man sniffed.
There’s to be a wedding between
our kingdoms and everything must be just
so. Now, have you seen it?
Fool assured the man that he had not and
went on his way.
a group of five boys were fighting with
slender hickory staffs.
YAM! BAD YAM! they shrieked back
are you fighting over something of so little
value? the Fool wondered.
sold us a crate of bad yams! one cried
out. And we want our money back!
But you left
them in the sun! another yelled back.
I will not reimburse you for your
wishing to get involved, the Fool made his
way past the crowd.
By a stone
wall was a burly fellow who guarded nine
tall fighting staffs.
you tell me if this is the correct way to
the Queen’s palace? inquired
GNU was his pert reply.
beg your pardon? the Fool had to ask.
New gnu, he
repeated. An old gnu is not new and
only a new gnu is true.
Fool nodded agreeably and quickly moved
Atop a watchtower,
a lone sentry gazed longingly at the creeping
vines that ran up the walls of a nearby
me! the Fool shouted as politely as
he could, Is that the castle of the
Queen? he groaned. RAT
ivy? the Fool echoed.
indeed, he sighed, leaning against
his two wooden staffs. If rats were
ivy, then they wouldn’t steal into
the royal kitchen. And if they didn’t
steal into the royal kitchen, then they
wouldn’t eat the royal cheese. And
if they didn’t eat the royal cheese,
then I wouldn’t have to set the royal
rat traps day in and day out. But alas,
only little lambs eat ivy.
see, the Fool mumbled, walking over
to the palace. What a very strange
kingdom this is!
On the way,
he picked a bright yellow sunflower and
presented it to the Queen.
is beautiful, she whispered, stroking
its spreading petals, yet it will
not bring back our most treasured possession.
We did not want war, but when the Swords
stole our Royal Wand, we had no choice but
I thought that the war was over, the
Fool pondered. Surely your Royal Wand
will be returned to you in due course.
I would like to
believe your kind words, she murmured
softly, but I fear for the worst.
We are a pleasant countryfolk, not warriors.
“And even as
we speak, the other kingdoms betray our
trust. If only my son, the Page, would come
home, my heart would be lightened.
The Fool considered
this for a moment.
he began, I met a Page in my travels
and he was seeking the pyramids. I told
this to the Knight who was searching for
be! the Queen cried out. You
have brought me much happiness! Please,
take this magic word CLAC and may
it bring you equal happiness.
Eagerly, the Fool wrote
down the magic word and skipped out of the
path lead him to a grassy plain and there
he saw an immense wooden staff mounted upon
a stone pedestal, engraved with the letter S.
ha! the Fool shouted. The Royal
Wand has been returned!
are mistaken, little one, the statue
replied solemnly. Here I have stood
for many generations. I am the symbol of
his Lordship, the King.
my, the Fool stammered, following
the path once again. This must mean
that the Royal Wand is even larger yet!
He could not imagine
such a thing.
great ocean appeared over the horizon and
on its shores, the Fool met a tall man with
three wooden staffs.
is an omen of ill, the man uttered
the Fool commented, walking closer.
Three ships approach
from the South, he continued. I
fear that Bit is a surprise attack by the
Swords. Though I possess the sacred RW, I am helpless to prevent them
And with that, he jumped
on his horse and galloped off. I
am the first of six, he
shouted back Next
you must seek he who chases a fish.
The Fool scratched his
Well, that should
be an easy task! he realized, skipping
a stone across the water, if all I
have to do is locate a fisherman!
further along the beach the Fool came to
a man who juggled two large silver coins.
cannot stop! he shouted, You
must warn the Queen!
Queen and of what?
Pentacles and of the two ships that approach!
The Cups are attempting to land upon our
shores, but so far I have been able to prevent
this with my magical spell. I do not know
how much longer I can last!
Fool scurried northward and came to a small
farmhouse. In a nearby field, the farmer
was at his wit’s end.
have been cursed! he moaned. Of
what good is wealth without food to eat!
was then the Fool noticed that, instead
of fruit and vegetables, seven shiny coins
had grown from each of the hardy stalks.
enemies intend to starve us to death with
their magic, the farmer lamented.
If only I had some fertile seeds
Fool expressed his sympathy, but could offer
little else to help the man’s plight.
a short cut across the field, he encountered
a regal Knight in a dazzling suit of gold
armor, riding atop a stately mount.
am here at the Queen’s request!
he proclaimed. And I have the seeds
that you desire, but they have gotten jumbled
in my pouch. Will this matter?
Fool peered into the Knight’s satin
pouch and saw TEHWA, ERCI,
I don’t know about that, the
Fool reflected, but I do know that
the farmer you seek is not me. He awaits
you at the other end of this field.
are indeed a man of honor! declared
the Knight. In this time of famine,
there are those that would deceive me and
steal this most rare commodity for themselves!
the Fool came to a small craftshop and inside,
he found a young man working on eight copper
dinner plates, each inscribed ’with
the design of a five-pointed star.
the Fool read aloud from one of the plates.
What does that mean?
craftsman spoke without looking up.
Isabel Heatherstone! he snapped. And
she wants these plates monogrammed by sundown.
Now trouble me no further! I have much to
another word, the Fool obliged and left
the shop, following a gray cobblestone road.
He approached a dark cathedral with three
high steeples and paused for a moment to
inspect each of its five stained glass windows,
each in the shape of a circle and each containing
a five point star.
read the Fool, noticing some letters in
the center window. Now why would someone
want to monogram a church?
down the road was a quaint chapel and gathered
in front were three craftsmen.
that’s it. MYR. Right above
the three Pentacles, the tallest man
watched as one man climbed a ladder and
began to carve the letters into the steeple.
No, no, to the left
more! the second man cried.
no, to the right more! the third man
done is done, the first man pointed
out. I cannot move an inscription
like a piece of furniture.
true, the Fool thought as he turned
to walk away.
By the side
of the road was an elderly gentleman with
six shiny gold coins. Judging by his fine
silk apparel, he was a man of great means,
yet his behavior was most odd.
said the man, giving one of his coins to
he repeated, giving another coin to an old
When the gentleman
approached the Fool, however, he was not
so generous. FIE, he
snorted, not giving any of his remaining
Fool huffed. Well I do not want one
of your coins anyway! Soon, I will have
the fourteen treasures of the world!
the Fool marched down the road, wondering
all the while why he had been unable to
locate even one of the fourteen treasures.
Before long, he came to a merchant seated
in front of his shop. The man had one silver
coin balanced on his head, another in his
arms and two more under his feet.
the man sighed. I have only half a
how is four a half? the Fool inquired.
When the puzzle
is eight, naturally, he replied sourly,
and even in this I have failed. I
need the words of the four who precede me.
But why can you
not obtain such a simple goal? the
the man grimaced, if I were to move
from this spot, then the four that precede
me would no longer precede me.
Ah, I see your point,
the Fool was quick to realize.
the cobblestone road and discovered that
it ended at the entrance to a maze of tall
not go in there if I were you, warned
a woman tending to a garden of nine star-shaped
flowers. No one has ever found their
the Fool pondered, since you are not
me, then it must mean that I should go in
He disappeared into the
maze and very quickly found his way to the
would not go in there if I were you,
warned an old man tending to a garden of
ten star-shaped flowers. No one has
ever found their way out.
I have just done so from the other side!
the Fool boasted.
That cannot be!
the old man snorted, for if you
had, one of the land’s lost treasures
would be found!
Not wishing to argue the
point, the Fool continued onward.
inside the gates of a magnificent palace,
the Fool located the Queen in a lush garden
you the messenger from the Cups? she
demanded sternly. Tell them that we
must have our most cherished possession
back at once! We will accept no bargains!
that I am not the messenger you expect,
the Fool answered politely, but I
was told to warn you that two ships approach
from the South.
this is how they honor the truce!
shouted the Queen. So be it. We will
show them how we deal with such treachery!
If they think that we have grown fat and
idle over the many years, they are sadly
mistaken. Our vast wealth has only made
us stronger and our revenge will be swift
against those who dare to steal from our
bounty. I thank you for your most timely
information. Take this magic word TRSC as your reward. Use it wisely.
The Fool thanked the Queen
and bowed graciously.
the palace, he came to an elegant gold statue,
glistening by the side of the path. It was
a monument of an immense coin inscribed
with a five-point star and in its center
was the letter B.
the Cups have decided to return their treasure
after all, the Fool wondered aloud.
No, the statue
replied in a low voice. I am not the
One Treasure of which you speak. I am the
symbol of his Lordship, the King.
Oh dear, the
Fool thought to himself as he continued
on his way. What could be of greater
value than a giant gold coin?
along the path, he came to a haughty Page,
intently studying a map etched onto a shiny
you seeking the fourteen treasures also?
worried the Fool.
Page sneered. I have hundreds of treasures.
Why should I seek fourteen more? Magic is
what I desire. And once I have consulted
with the four sages that await me, I shall
be halfway there.
But the Page had not yet
finished reading his map and so the Fool
went on ahead of him.
he came to an aged stone monument set upon
a carved pedestal. It was a model of the
the Fool exclaimed, running over to the
globe and searching it carefully. There
must be a clue to the fourteen treasures
the World suddenly replied.
be! he cried, leaping for joy. Please,
I am in haste. What can you tell me?
Yes, the World
scratched his head in bewilderment.
You say yes, yet
was its final word on the matter.
the Fool wandered toward a small cave in
the side of a sloping hill. As he peered
into the darkness, a fierce lion leapt out
of the shadows and pinned him to the ground.
Stop, my pet!
a voice commanded and out stepped a beautiful
woman in a white silk robe. I am Strength.
Why have you come here?
she petted her lion, the Fool eagerly stated
the purpose of his his errand. Ah,
but such a task would take an ERA,
the woman advised.
you cannot help me? the Fool replied
But I have,
insisted Strength. It is you who do
not listen very well.
continued on his way and came to a stone
bridge that crossed a crystal clear pond.
Floating over the water was an angel who
held a jeweled chalice.
am Temperance. Why have you come to this
the Fool stated the purpose of his errand.
All things in moderation,
the angel commented. You are too eager
and have missed much already. You must take
a SIP of my mystical waters.
Thank you, but I
am not thirsty, he answered courteously.
Can you tell me anything else?
A sip is all you
need, spoke Temperance somberly.
The Fool found it rather
odd that the three who had offered their
advice so freely had nothing of importance
to tell him.
his shoulders, he crossed the bridge and
discovered a man hanging upside down from
a tree by one foot.
that not hurt? the Fool wondered.
I am a hanged man,
said the hanging man.
is most obvious, the Fool retorted.
What is obvious
to some is not obvious to all, said
the upside down man. Consider that
the TOP is at the bottom of the upper
But the Fool was weary
of such confusing talk and did not wish
to consider this at all.
to the shores of another great ocean and
met a Page who held an engraved copper cup.
Just as the Fool was about to say ’hello’,
a tiny green fish jumped out of the cup
and fell to the ground, wiggling its way
back to the sea. Help me! the
Page screamed. My KD is getting
removed his pointed hat and, after a few
tries, captured the slippery fish within
your fish, he offered, but I
did not see your KD.
Ah, but they are
one and the same! the Page told him
happily. Now I owe you a favor. Seek
she who holds two swords.
Shaking the water out
of his hat, the Fool departed.
that will not be an easy task, he
reflected. Few people in these parts
carry even a single sword!
along the shore, a Knight atop his gray
horse stared off into the still waters.
The ocean is calm,
yet no ship approaches, he uttered
that is good, is it not? asked the
Fool, walking closer.
the warrior replied. The Wands had
promised to return our most treasured possession
and have not done so. The Queen must be
told. I will wait here until sunset, no
The Fool promised to deliver
a gray gravel road, the Fool came to a quaint
stone cottage where two children were arranging
flowers into six straw vases.
flowers are very lovely, the Fool
you, said the little boy, but
I’m afraid they are not for sale.
A wise decision,
he agreed. It would be very difficult
to place a price on such beauty.
Yet we might part
with one basket, the little girl whispered,
if you were to tell us the word
of a star.
And the word
of the pyramids! the boy quickly
the Fool did not know these words and so
he bid the children farewell.
At the next
house, a young couple stood on the porch,
drinking a toast from two crystal wine glasses.
my dearest love, the man toasted.
to peace between our kingdoms, the
congratulations and best wishes respectively,
said the Fool. You have been recently
the young man affirmed. We are the
last of those who CARE.
You see, the
young woman pointed out. He is a Wand
and I am a Cup. Our union will bring peace
to the land.
this restore your kingdoms’ lost treasures?
the Fool asked.
That is the work
of the Devil and Despair, she
cursed. It is sad that their words
must be spoken with ours. But as you can
see, our friends do not share our concern.
On the front
lawn, three women were engaged in a merry
dance, each drinking from a hefty goblet
of wine. LEAP for JOY,
my friends! yelled the first.
Yes, leap and forget
our troubles! cried the second.
Will you not join
us in our dance? the third asked the
I’d really like to, he fibbed,
but I am on a most urgent errand for
with that, the Fool scurried away, his face
A few houses
down, he met a family, celebrating in the
rainbow of hope smiles upon us! the
father shouted gleefully. Our WISH has been granted!
up, the Fool saw a beautiful rainbow stretching
across the sky and amid the many colors,
he could see the faint outlines of ten heavenly
For what did you
wish? the Fool wondered. The
food of fertile seeds! declared
the mother. At long last, the famine
is at an end!
In the center
of town, a large crowd had gathered for
the local auction and near the front, a
man with a feathered cap carefully arranged
a collection of antique cups on a wooden
Are you a merchant?
the Fool inquired. Certainly not!
the man huffed distastefully. These NINE are mine and I am the last.
What more could one hope for?
fourteen treasures of the world, thought
the Fool, but kept silent on the matter.
a wooden bridge spanning a dark moat and
quietly entered a castle of solemn beauty.
There, he found the Queen sitting beside
the shimmering waters of a majestic fountain.
Do you bring word
of our treasure? she asked eagerly.
Alas, I do,
he sighed. Your Knight says that no
ship has landed upon your shore.
So, they break their
agreement, the Queen hissed through
clenched teeth. What can be expected
from such faithless ones! I fear that a
holy war is the only way to scourge this
evil from the land. And those who do not
believe in the words of truth shall live
to rue the consequences! Please, I must
have some time alone. My heart is not yet
hardened to the grim task that lies ahead.
Take the magic word YNAL for your
troubles and go in peace.
departed from the royal palace and came
to another fountain at the edge of the kingdom.
It was an immense ivory chalice, engraved
with the letter T, and from it issued
four glittering streams of water.
will not be Fooled a third time! declared
the Fool. This is the symbol of his
Lordship, the King and nothing more.
across a grassy knoll, he discovered a young
man sitting under a spreading oak tree.
Before him were three fine goblets and emerging
from a small cloud, a pale hand offered
him a fourth.
do you refuse such gifts? the Fool
had to ask.
should I be satisfied with less than I am
seeking, the boy grumbled.
you do not look like one who is seeking
No, you are wrong!
I seek the sacred 6 and 13,
but this cloud offers me trifles instead.
So here I will sit until it gives me what
on his way, the Fool came to a barren field,
pitted with jagged rocks.
can see them! a man shouted, spinning
about in a daze. They are just out
of my reach!
do not see anything, the Fool remarked.
the man pleaded. I see seven cups
of treasure in a vile black cloud. And wait,
I can see something else! The numbers 15 and 2 and 20!
are clouds in the sky, the Fool observed,
but no numbers or cups.
he cried. It’s your fault. You
have no faith! You are blind like all the
the man ran off, laughing maniacally.
field stood a woman in a long black cloak.
Behind her were two chalices filled with
a bubbling liquid and before her were three
others, their contents spilled on the ground.
You have knocked
over three of your cups, the Fool
felt obliged to mention.
the woman snapped. You will disturb
The Fool watched as the
bubbling liquid seeped into the cold earth.
To his dismay, a cloud of bluish-green smoke
curled upward and formed the numbers 14 and 8 and 15. Not wishing
to see what might happen next, the Fool
departed in a hurry.
up a steep mountain path, he discovered
eight silver goblets, abandoned on a rock
ledge. Looking about, he spotted a man in
a scarlet robe scaling a distant peak.
You have forgotten
your cups! the Fool cried out.
No, I choose to
leave them behind! he shouted back.
I have grown weary of this kingdom.
Blind faith is no replacement for true knowledge.
I have the mystical 16 and 16.
That is all I desire.
the eight cups where they were, the Fool
to the path, the Fool located a hidden fortress,
perched precariously atop a lonely crag.
It was here that he encountered the mighty
I know of your quest,
spoke the priest suspiciously. Four
others have come before you.
I seek no harm to anyone, the Fool
but harm has already been done. The four
kingdoms are on the verge of another war.
The countryside is ravaged by famine. And
even as I speak, the specter of Death roams
could not imagine how he had been the cause
of such things.
the priest continued, I am compelled
to help you in this matter, little good
it may do you. Take this and be gone!”
And with a flash of lightning,
the Fool appeared back on the mountain trail.
Etched into the rock at his feet were the
numbers 15 and 24 and 2.
shadow of night had cloaked the land and
the Fool could not tell from which direction
he had come or to which direction he should
this map made any sense, he moaned,
removing the wrinkled parchment from his
knapsack and staring at it.
sun is a trickster! echoed a voice
it was he who gave me this map! replied
the Fool, looking up. It was to be
my guide to the fourteen treasures of the
And so it will be,
but not in the way that you think,
the crescent moon replied. The
map shows you only of the places you have
visited and never of the places you have
how will that help me find my way out of
these mountains? the Fool pleaded.
Just follow the
path to the West, he replied.
into the darkness, the Fool did just that
and by daybreak, he had come to the home
of the Emperor and the Empress.
treasures? the Emperor boomed in a
raspy voice. I care not for the other
thirteen, but someone has stolen our One
Treasure and they left me with this ridiculous WIF DOVE! An absurd trade at best!
The Fool looked at the
pathetic creature and had to agree. It was
a small bird with three wings, two heads,
and one leg.
it is magical, The Fool remarked.
Magical? Ha! It
is totally unnecessary! And look what
has happened to my beloved wife!
was seated on a long satin couch, her tired
eyes barely open. On the wall, she cast
two distinct shadows, her normal one and
another jagged silhouette that stood next
to her like a second person. In its black
hand was a crystal sphere with five mouths
that wailed incessantly.
the Fool mumbled, not really knowing what
the Empress sighed. My husband may
be bewitched by that wretched little bird,
but I am cursed with this VILE SHADOW and its unrelenting FIVE CIRCLE.
I have been unable to sleep ever since it
Fool expressed his most solemn sympathies
and departed from the unhappy couple.
further, he spotted a lone star in midst
of the morning sky.
curious, he commented. A Pentacle
in this faraway place.
are in need of wisdom, my friend,
the heavenly body replied. I am the
Star, nothing more. But to ERR is
human, so call me what you will.
Then I beg your
pardon, the Fool said with a low bow.
I stand corrected.
narrowed into a winding path that climbed
up the side of a desolate plateau. As the
Fool reached its top, an explosion of crimson
fire blocked his way and out of the flames
walked a stern woman, unscathed by the heat.
You have dared to
trespass! she screamed wickedly. It
is common knowledge that to face the High
Priestess is death, yet you have come here
am just following the path that the sun
advised, he blurted out nervously.
Please tell the High Priestess that
I meant no harm!
her yourself, she grinned, for
I am she!
Fool trembled in his pointed shoes.
Yes, and I know
of the sun’s tricks, she cackled.
He has sent you on a mission to uncover
the fourteen lost treasures of the world.
Well, you are doomed to failure, for no
one can undo the treachery I have inflicted
upon the land!
he murmured. You have taken the fourteen
have no use for such foolish trinkets,
she boasted. I have merely disguised
them from the sight of their owners. I admit
it was a most amusing game, however, the
manner of your death may prove to be more
High Priestess laughed sinisterly.
I will spare your worthless life if you
fulfill these three tasks. First, bring
me the sacred inscription from the evil
dark tower. And second, deliver the
letters from the banner of Death!
And the third?
the Fool asked meekly.
sky erupted with lightning.
the Magician that his days are few... for
I have conquered the Book of Thoth and now
its power is mine!
Fool ran for his life.
out of breath, he collapsed near the banks
of a foggy moor. Ahead lay a blackened dirt
road, discolored, he realized, by the blood
of the dead.
this kingdom at your own peril, a
voice rumbled. This is a time of war
and no one is safe.
Fool whirled around and saw a quivering
heart pierced by three sharp swords.
But I must go this
way, he pleaded. I cannot go
back to the High Priestess!
you would be wise to procure a charm of
protection, the ominous sentry warned.
Take the blood of a man killed
by ten and smear it upon the weapon of an
outnumbered warrior. Yet even this will
be of little security against what lies
no such things, however, the Fool had no
choice but to hurry on his way and hope
for the best.
distance the sound of thundering hooves
grew louder and out of the fog galloped
a Knight wielding a fierce blade.
have you here? he demanded. You
are either very brave or very Foolish!
The latter, if
you please, the Fool answered meekly.
Our men are being
attacked by eight magical wands which
fly through the air, the Knight
told him. The truce has been broken
and the Queen must be told, but I am on
a mission that cannot be delayed. Will
you deliver this message for me? Or would
you rather feel the edge of my sword?
The former, if
you please! the Fool quickly replied.
Satisfied, he sheathed
his weapon and galloped into the fog.
scurried down the road and discovered the
ruins of a once great village. On a stained
marble bench sat a blindfolded woman with
two rusty swords held in her crossed arms.
she murmured over and over again.
me, the Fool began, but is this
the road to the Queen’s castle?
Seek the family
who departs by boat, the woman
will they know the way? he inquired
the woman repeated over and over again.
further down the road, the Fool entered
a desecrated temple and within, a pale man
lay asleep on the stone slab of an ancient
crypt. By his side was a long jeweled sword
and on the floor were three others.
Who are you?
the man shouted, reaching for his weapon.
Just a Fool in a
place where he does not belong! he
the man lowered his sword and lay back down.
I have had this one dream night after
night, he sighed. A giant
wheel stood near the pyramids and I saw
three mystical words, one atop the other.
A voice told me that these words were of
great importance. But alas, every time I
awaken, I cannot remember what they were.
Then the man drifted back
the Fool tiptoed back outside and inspected
the ruins of a red brick cottage that stood
nearby. In a room towards the rear of the
house, he discovered a woman sleeping on
a long bed, many times her size. On the
wall were nine precariously mounted swords.
Oh, it was terrible!
she cried out, awakening from a nightmare.
I saw a man carrying ten wooden
staffs. He sang this haunting song again
and again. I was lost and he refused
to give me any directions. I shall never
forget his awful words.
is very strange, the Fool puzzled.
You are the second person to have
a dream that is familiar to me. It is a
most curious coincidence.
she reflected, yet dreams can have
great meaning if one knows how to interpret
them. Some say that they can foretell the
future? the Fool mumbled as he left
the cottage. Unless I am greatly mistaken,
I believe they remind me more of the past!
At the end
of the dirt road, he approached a bleak
three-towered citadel, ravaged by the strife
of recent battle. Gathering his courage,
the Fool took a deep breath and walked inside.
The Queen was startled by his sudden appearance
and drew her great sword.
you friend or foe? she demanded.
Neither, I believe,
replied the Fool bravely. I bring
a message from your Knight. He tells of
an attack by eight magical wands.
That cannot be!
the Queen shrieked. We have never
troubled the kingdom of the Wands! Our grudge
is against the accursed Pentacles who have
dared to steal our most treasured possession.
It is they who have broken the truce, not
us. We only fight to reclaim what is rightfully
ours. But if the Pentacles have enlisted
the aid of another kingdom, then we must
strike quickly and compel their surrender
at the points of our blades. You have earned
the magic word EKE for your most
timely counsel. Guard it well.
across the desolate countryside, the Fool
came to an immense monument — a fierce
battle sword thrust into the dry earth,
its dented blade encrusted with reddish-brown
rust. On its tarnished handle could be seen
the letter E.
this be the symbol of his Lordship, the
King, he stammered, then I for
one, am in no great haste to make his acquaintance!
along the path, the Fool crossed a rocky
ledge and spotted a small boat departing
from its gloomy shore. A woman and her child
were huddled together at one end of the
tiny craft and at the other end, a tall
man steered the boat and guarded six heavy
try to stop us! the father shouted.
We will not take part in this horrible
war. Too much blood has been spilt already.
It is our intention to follow the path of
the sacred YH and then seek the
broken wheel. You will have to fare
As the boat
faded into the mist, the Fool pressed onward
and discovered an old woman bound and blindfolded
to one of eight long swords, stuck point
first into the ground.
I will help you, the Fool offered.
Let me be!
she croaked, much to his surprise. I
am the shadow of Despair. It falls to me
and me alone to bear the burden of the land’s GRIEF. Now be gone or you too shall
share my fate!
Fool did not have to be told twice.
In his haste,
he stumbled into a briar patch and tripped
over a limp body, sprawled in the dirt.
In its back were ten glowing swords and
instead of blood, vile green PUS hissed out of the wounds.
the Fool scrambled to his feet and ran until
he was utterly out of breath.
for air, he looked up and seated on a crumbling
marble throne was a somber woman with a
crown of iron. In one hand she held a fiery
sword and in the other a set of scales.
I beg your forgiveness!
the Fool stuttered. I did not mean
to trespass. Please do not take any offense!
You have nothing
to fear, she answered solemnly. I
am Justice and my wrath is reserved for
those who have wronged the land.
The Fool considered this
have you judged the thief who stole the
treasure from the Emperor and Empress?
he asked, remembering their sorry plight.
They have lost nothing,
Justice told him. To lift the curse,
the Emperor must simply take what is his
from what is hers. Until that time,
however, their treasure will remain hidden
from their eyes.
leave, the Fool came to a narrow pass and
was stopped by a stubborn Page, swinging
a heavy sword.
cannot come this way! he ordered.
The four Kings are in counsel!
Oh look! cried
the Fool. Eight giant letters have
just appeared across the face of land!
Page demanded, looking all about. I
cannot see any such thing!
the Fool did not reply, for he had taken
the opportunity to sneak past the Page and
run up the road.
along a narrow mountain path, the Fool was
startled by the sudden approach of a swift
out! yelled the driver, steering it
spun about and flipped on its side. With
a loud crunch, one of the wooden wheels
broke into two pieces. The Fool offered
to assist the man, but was shoved aside.
Out of my way!
shouted the driver, leaping onto one of
the horses. I have uncovered the mystic HA and with it I must locate a
thief who steals seven!
with that, he thundered away in a cloud
As the sound
of hooves faded into the distance, the Fool
became aware of the low murmuring of many
voices, coming from over a small hill. Departing
from the road, he scaled the slope and stood
on the top, overlooking a wide valley. Stretching
out for as far as he could see were the
mighty armies of the four kingdoms and gathered
about a huge bonfire were the four great
Kings engaged in a vicious debate. The Fool
crept closer to observe the proceedings.
The King of Swords, a
most imposing figure, stood and flourished
his weapon which was engraved with the letter N.
demand that the Pentacles return our One
Treasure at once! he threatened, Or
I shall order my men to attack!
of Pentacles wore a fine silk robe and held
a gold scepter, engraved with the letter Z.
you no ears? he cursed bitterly. I
have told you repeatedly that we do not
have it nor have we ever desired it! But
mark my words, the Kingdom of the Cups had
better surrender our One Treasure or the
consequences will be most severe!
of Cups calmly took a sip from his jeweled
chalice, engraved with the letter T.
We would have no
use for such a thing, he sniffed.
We are a people of faith and have
always abided by the law of the land. Unlike
the heathens who have stolen our One Treasure,
the Kingdom of the Wands!
of Wands tightened his grip on his stout
fighting staff, engraved with the letter U.
a lie! he shouted. We are not
common thieves! If you open your eyes, you
will see that there is only one among us
who is capable of such treachery! The very
ones who have dared to rob us of our One
Treasure! The murderous Swords!
With a vile curse, the
King of Swords leapt forward and waved his
gleaming blade. Undaunted, the King of Wands
held his ground, thrusting his staff forward.
The King of Pentacles withdrew a hidden
dagger and the King of Cups reached for
a fierce battle axe. A sudden stillness
came over the wide valley as the many armies
awaited their Lordships’ commands.
Oh no! the
Fool lamented. It is just as the Hierophant
had predicted. The four kingdoms are on
the verge of another war!
for his life, he dashed down the slope and
stumbled into a man sneaking off in the
same direction. With a loud clatter, the
seven swords in his arms fell to the ground.
All is lost!
the Fool shouted. Another war is at
the man whispered. They will hear
you! Is it your desire to be hanged for
Fool shook his head nervously.
then, be silent! he continued, retrieving
the stolen swords. If a new battle
is to begin, then my enemies will have to
fight it with seven less weapons. The magic
word RW has given me the power of
stealth, but it is the last of its kind and has to be used wisely. Now I must be
man darted into the shadows, the Fool kept
to the path and went as far away as his
legs would take him.
for a moment to rest, he noticed a nearby
soldier gathering the five fallen swords
from a host of fleeing warriors.
is it that one unarmed man can so easily
defeat five? the Fool asked.
take no credit for this, the man replied
somberly. My comrades were stricken
with a sudden madness and have abandoned
their posts to search the land for four
mystic spells that will restore four
of the world’s lost treasures. I tried
to reason with them, but alas, they could
not be swayed.
is indeed ill news, the Fool realized.
I must make haste if I am to outdo
the efforts of five!
the Fool found himself lost in a confusing
tangle of crooked paths. After wandering
aimlessly for hours and hours, he got so
exasperated that he just sat down in the
dirt and refused to move any further.
The one who built
this road is a greater Fool than I!
he huffed. This is hardly the shortest
distance between two points!
croaked a scruffy Hermit, popping out from
behind a bush. And what is the shortest
distance between two points?
a straight line of course, he snapped,
which this path does not in the least
but a straight line can be the most difficult
puzzle of them all! the Hermit insisted.
Especially if you do not know where
to begin. If nothing else, you must remember
to locate a J and proceed from there.
Eventually, the Fool grew
tired of sitting and decided to walk a bit
further, coming at last to the end of the
tangle of paths. The next road was indeed
as straight as an arrow and naturally he
had no difficulty whatsoever in following
must have stayed out in the sun too long,
he laughed to himself. This path is
the easiest one yet!
ahead, the Fool approached an angel who
sat atop an enormous hourglass.
who blindly follows a path without question,
she spoke, “is as lost as the one
who follows no path at all.
beg to differ, he replied politely.
But as you can see I am no longer
but have you yet uncovered one of the land’s
Fool shook his head sullenly. Then heed the advice of the Hermit and
gaze into the sands of time! she commanded.
Reluctantly, he looked
into the hourglass and watched the twinkling
grains of sand. The longer he stared, the
brighter they seemed to become. Then his
eyes began to itch. His knees weakened.
His stomach went queasy.
a faint voice spoke... 4
to the North... 7 to the West... 3 to the
North... 8 to the West... 6 to the South...
5 to the East... 9 to the North...
up alone on the edge of a barren field.
The Fool leapt to his feet and could find
no sign of the angel nor the hourglass.
On the horizon stood a dark abandoned tower.
As he walked nearer, he observed that the
parapet was engraved with the letters QM.
Then, without warning,
a twisted bolt of lightning burst from the
clear sky and shattered the tower utterly.
a sinister voice cackled.
Fool whirled about and came face-to-face
with the Devil himself. He had the wings
of a bat, the horns of a ram, the legs of
a goat, and the feet of a bird.
is good! he gloated. Tell me
little one, which do you prefer? To be living
or to be DEAD!
the Fool answered without hesitation.
Then you had better
choose another path to follow! the
Devil cackled, waving a sizzling pitchfork
over his head and vanishing in a burst of
the smoke cleared, the Fool beheld a rocky
plain, strewn with the sun-bleached bones
of the dead. On a flat slab of rock, written
in dried blood, were the words: To
secure that which cannot be gotten, you
must invoke the points of a compass and
convince it to come to you.
if from nowhere, a black knight astride
a pale white horse appeared in the distance.
The Fool became too scared to move.
It is true!
groaned a wary voice. You do not have
any fear of me! The sun has won his wager.
Death replied, I had agreed to spare
your life if you had the courage to face
me unarmed and alone. It is a bargain that
I heartily regret.
armored knight raised the visor on his helmet
and a skull, writhing with worms, peered
out to the northeast.
but still, he hissed, the outbreak
of war may yet offer me satisfaction.
And with an awful shriek,
the knight raised a black banner bearing
the letters ZA and galloped away.
with fright, the Fool dashed down the road
and fell at the entrance of a dark cavern.
Not knowing what to do, he scurried inside
for safety and trembled in the shadows.
In the dimly lit chamber
stood an old man in a tattered gray robe
chanting an incantation over four objects
on a wooden tablea Sword, a Pentacle,
a Wand, and a Cup.
last, you have come! cried the Magician.
I had begun to fear that my spell
was insufficient to lead you here. Now!
Have you the Sun’s map?
The Fool was not the least
bit aware of having been led to this place,
but kept silent. He removed the parchment
from his knapsack and the Magician studied
is no wonder that you have been unable to
locate any of the fourteen treasures,
he realized. This map has been corrupted
by a powerful enchantment!
has? the Fool worried, backing away.
It is not meant
to harm, only to confuse, the Magician
assured him. The High Priestess may
have learned how to command the sacred Book
of Thoth, but even she cannot force it to
do anything inherently evil. Still, her
mischief is not without consequence. The
fourteen treasures must be recovered without
must visit every corner of the land and
talk to its people. As you do, each missing
piece of the sun’s map will reappear,
yet not always in its correct position.
To fully restore the map, you must use the
knowledge of your journey to rearrange the
many pieces into the proper order.
The Fool had hoped to
do far less work.
where will I find the fourteen treasures?
Magician turned away solemnly. Each
of the four kingdoms contains one of the
lost treasures and all require the use of
secret words. But in every case, the townsfolk
have either told you of these words or told
you where they can be found.
The Fool was quite bewildered.
that I can offer you little else,
the Magician sighed. Now it falls
to you and you alone to undo the treachery
of the High Priestess. And once you have
returned the fourteen treasures to their
rightful owners, peace will be restored
to the land.
Fool shuffled his foot along the dirt floor.
But I had hoped,
he began meekly. Well, actually I
had hoped to claim the fourteen treasures
what would you do with such things?
said the Magician with a smile. The
land is in great need, my friend, and only
you will have seen all of its secrets. And
if you are able to accomplish this great
task, I know that you will find what you
are truly seeking in the end.
The Fool could not imagine
how he would accomplish this without any
further help. Sadly, he rolled up the parchment
and walked into the sunlight, feeling very
sorry for himself. He looked back to the
Magician’s cave for some encouragement
and saw that it resembled the shape of a
lucky that I did not notice this before!
he blurted out. Otherwise I might
never have met the Magician at all!
As he turned
away, however, the Fool discovered that
there was one last road ahead of him. So
without another thought, he hurried along
the path and very shortly came to its end.
There he found a man and a woman seated
on a marble bench, their hands embraced
look, a wise man approaches! they
both exclaimed. At last, there is
hope for the land!
Fool twirled around, but saw no one standing
next to him.
you doubt their words? the bright
yellow sun asked.
back and forth, the Fool took a moment to
reflect upon the events of his errand and
then snapped his fingers with a smile.
Why not at all!
he suddenly realized, for I am
the one who will save the land!