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Jul 20, 2019 11:58 AM
Audrey in Wonderland
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"Well, Hatter seems likely to be the Knave, given his somewhat more disreputable nature: but you're no minor piece either, given that you would have been a Rook in the chess game. So I expect you'd be the Ten. I could have you two backwards, but I think it's near certain one of you is the Knave and one of you is the Ten."

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Everless stands a little bit taller and dips her head to preen herself.

"You haven't met any other Resistance members yet," she points out. "What makes you so certain that we're the two most important after Faramund and Araminta?" 

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"You personally know King Faramund, and were able to get him on short notice. You also personally knew the Sage before he went mad. You're a raven, and ravens are often known as Rooks, and a Rook in chess is second only to the king and queen. Even if the world has shifted tremendously, you would never be a minor piece - Faramund is still a King, as Sophia would still have been a Queen. The Sage, then, would be a Bishop, and as for Hatter..." 

She looks over at him.

"Hatter is, well, the Hatter. Has there ever... not been a Hatter?" 

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"I inherited the business from my father, and he from his, and so on. I'm not sure how far back it goes, but this house is more than a hundred years old." 

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"Well, there you go then. And - let me see, were you ever in service to Queen Sophia?" 

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"...yes, technically, I suppose. I worked for her brother the King." 

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"I'd suspect you for a Knight, then."

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"I suppose you could say that, yes. Is that important?" 

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"- It's interesting, because my intuition is that Everless is lower rank than you now, when you'd have been lower rank than them before. I think that's because you can be a Knave, while they're a bit -" 

She pauses. 

"...I am not going to say the thing I just realized, because it's both rude and off-topic. And no it doesn't have to do with ranks, just - names around here are tricksome things." She coughs. " - what was I saying - Everless is too reasonable to be a Knave, whereas you are a classical Mad Hatter. So the new system may have swapped your relative importances - or it may not. Can you tell me honestly which of you seems to be directing the other more often?" 

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"Probably Hatter, if either of us," Everless admits. She opens and closes her beak a few times like she's debating whether to ask a question. 

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Hatter nods agreement and reaches out to smooth down the feathers on her head. 

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Audrey hums to herself. 

"...honestly, given the amount to which the current Wonderland is themed around poker and chess, perhaps I should take the time to explain the two games in detail."

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A certain little bird, who has been dozing on the windowsill for the last while, perks up at the word 'games' and comes to see what they're talking about. 

"Games?" 

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...sure, okay, that's cute. Everless hops over to say hello.

"Yes, that does sound like a good idea." 

She starts cautiously preening the Jabberwock's feathers, tilting her head to listen to Audrey while she does so.

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(This is...fine? Slightly confused quiet cheeping.)

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She looks over at Hatter. "- do you have a pencil and some paper? And maybe some scissors to cut it? I can't improvise chess-pieces very well, but I ought to be able to do cards with fairly basic materials." 

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"Yes, of course." He gets up to fetch them. "I do have a deck of cards and a checkers set if either of those would be useful."

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"I would absolutely like a deck of cards, because if you didn't recognize them as corresponding with the way your court and Marcella's are organized they must be very different from mine. And the checkers set would be nice too."

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These items are duly fetched, along with the previously-requested paper, scissors, and writing implements.

The checkers set is exactly like the ones Audrey is familiar with: a board of eight squares to a side in alternating colours, with twelve black and twelve white pieces. All the pieces are identical wooden discs, carved from the same light-coloured wood with the black pieces stained darker. 

The card deck has five suits: suns, moons, stars, leaves, and swords. Suns are drawn in red ink, moons in black, stars in blue, leaves in green, and swords in black again. The cards are numbered from one to twelve within each suit, for a total of sixty cards. They're clearly handmade. 

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"... Swords. That's interesting. Two black suits, one red, then green and blue as well - that's even more interesting. And twelve ranks, not thirteen..." 

She feels the edges of the cards, hums to herself. "Hatter, did you make these? Or - where did they come from?"

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"I made them, but the suits and numbers are standard. The colours are just to help people tell them apart," he explains, "and it's mostly dependent on which inks you have. The King and Queen had a set with gold and silver ink for the suns and moons." 

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"On earth, traditionally there are four suits - Spades and Clubs, the black suits: and Hearts and Diamonds, the red suits. Each suit goes Ace, two through ten, Jack, Queen, King. Aces can be read as "one", "fourteen", or both, depending on the game - or they can be wildcards. Sometimes there's a pair of Jokers as well, which can be any rank and suit, but I suspect if that were the case here Hatter would be one of them, so more likely he's the Jack, sometimes also called the Knave."

Her fingers flick through the deck as she slowly piles cards into the table. 

"What's less commonly known is that Earth's four suits grew out of a much, much older deck - the Tarot deck. Tarot... Is old magic. Deep magic. It's a way of seeing outside yourself - the oldest and most fundamental kind of rite." 

The corner of Audrey's mouth quirks up. "But, humans being humans, they couldn't resist fiddling with it and playing with it. And so the older deck was reduced, the suits changed, and completely new games were invented. But the roots are still there." 

She taps the Ace of Swords in Hatter's deck. "The suit of Swords is the ancient name for Spades: they are the same suit. And here is its Ace, right here in our deck, in the house of the Hatter, in the place where I returned to this world. That's no coincidence." 

She runs a hand through her hair. "I'm getting ahead of myself, though. Let me draw the suits."

And so she does. 

♥, ♠, ♣, ♦.

"Hearts, Spades, Clubs, Diamonds."

Audrey smiles. 

"Or, in their old names: Cups, Swords, Wands, Coins. The four fundamental implements of magic - also known in their fullest forms as the Chalice, Athame, Scepter and Pentacle."

Her fingers work against each other on the back of her neck, and her brow furrows. "Those, in turn, come with a host of symbolic associations too long and too deep to list. The main ones - Water, Air, Fire, Earth. The four classical elements said to make up the entire world. The cup collects water: the sword cuts through air: the wand unleashes fire: the pentacle binds to the earth." 

She looks around at the assembled Diamonds. "That would make us the element of Earth, opposing Marcella's element of Water. Mountains, holding back the sea - but not forever. The power of life, growth, stability, duty - against the power of mutability, change, community. The waters of life. But, looking around this table..." 

She points to Everless. "Justice. The rule of law, the suit of Swords: the power to discriminate, used well or poorly. " 

She points to the Hatter. "The Magician. Chaos, formlessness, the power of Will and Creation. The suit of Wands." 

Jabberwock. "The Moon. Illusions, intuitions, anxieties - and their release and dissipation."  

Faramund. "The Sun. Warmth, vitality, and optimism, but also depression or foolishness."

Herself. "The Star. Hope, faith and spirituality, but also despair and disconnection." 

She raises an eyebrow. "Funny how precisely we correspond to each suit. Wands to clubs to leaves is a bit of a stretch, perhaps, but the Magician can make do - and every one of us is a Tarot trump, one of the Major Arcana that was lost from the deck. Against that, Marcella has... Death. The Hanged Man. The Empress. The Tower. The Devil. All reversed, if I'm not mistaken."

 

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"Say more about those? 'Empress' is obvious."

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"Inability to change, being trapped in stasis, denial, pride in being cruel. To summarize very briefly. Sorry, I got kind of off-topic." 

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"I would like a more complete summary of Tarot later, but yes," Everless concedes, "you were teaching us about poker first." 

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