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Queen of Swords: a novel

Chapter XXV – The Hermit

After lunch I was astonished to see Whitney in the courtroom, sitting right up front in the “cheap seats” along with the rest of the public. I was so flooded with rage that if we had been alone you would have had your sacrificial victim right there.

The defense was putting on its case beginning with the testimony of Haymaker’s psychiatrist, a bald-headed bumbler in a cheap suit who babbled on at length about what a psychopath Haymaker was; that in fact his diagnosis was “anti-social personality disorder.”

I could barely focus on his nonsense. I attempted to calm myself by scrying – seeing distant or past events in my crystal ring. It’s a well-accepted form of astral travel for adepts. After a moment’s clarity I began to see how it could have happened. What if Whitney went to my house; found me absent and engaged the judge in conversation? She couldn’t have talked to the gardeners. They don’t know where I go each day. Judge Sugarman on the other hand is a born blabbermouth. That’s a problem with arriving at the top of the tree. Things become so easy for you there’s a tendency to forget how tentative a winning position really is. The fact that all your underlings are looking at you adoringly doesn’t mean they’re not plotting your overthrow.

I also think the judge’s vision is defective. Whitney is sufficiently youthful to qualify as “pretty” in his book. She’s no dummy. Most likely she could get any fact out of him that she wanted to know. He might even have been stupid enough to suggest he had a hand in my privileged position.

I should have been better prepared for this turn of events. My morning’s card was the Hermit, but I was distracted by my horoscope. My horoscope offered such a vision of joy and power: “Glimpse of future revealed. You will perceive possibilities and opportunities. Romantic relationship beckons. Do not give your trust to anyone who reveals a secret. What seemed a setback boomerangs in your favor.” And it could still be coming true, if I could put the Hermit in his rightful position.

The Hermit is a special card others lacking gifts often interpret incorrectly. Beginners see his sad face, his rough clothing, hard path and cave dwelling and are frightened. They allow their intelligence to be clouded by fear. When terror threatens to rule you, its time to double down.

In my case I know the Hermit card must mean a cycle of depression is ending and one of success is beginning. I am coming out of the sacred loneliness in which my power was ordained. I will leave the cave behind, drop my monkish disguise and assume my royal prerogatives. With you at my side.

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