UNIVERSAL WAITE TAROT: III of Coins + King of Swords

"Artemis" is a Flash Fiction story inspired by UNIVERSAL WAITE TAROT: III of Coins + King of Swords


Artie gazed at the ruins with the twisted tree. The roof had crumbled long ago; only the walls remained with the simple decaying arch for an entrance. A dead tree stood in the middle, and Artie wondered how it came to be there. Was the structure built around the tree? Or did the tree grow from a stray seedling after the building collapsed?

Snowflakes swirled around her and the snow clouds blocked the last rays of the setting sun. Artie sat on a rock, contemplating the eroded stone structure. She knew she should go home, but she longed to stay in this place of silence and tranquility. At home, a battle awaited; a muted war, a bitter war between two distant parents who only cared for themselves. She wished … Well — she wished often, but no good ever came of it.

 The icy wind blew around her, nipping at her ears and nose, and the snowflakes swirled and danced to its meandering melody. Dusk fell and plunged the world into royal blue and the twisted tree stretched and bent its skeletal branches in all directions. Artie watched it, entranced by the eerie beauty of the place on this cold and dreary winter night. But she felt no cold, and the snowflakes twirled around her, like twinkling stars, while a liquid and golden glow emanated from the twisted tree.

The icy wind murmured with a thousand forgotten voices. Artie scanned her surroundings but glimpsed no one, yet the voices were distinct, and their soft, melodious cadence crescendoed in her ears. Full darkness fell, and the sparkling snowflakes glinted and swirled, and the light from the dead tree spread out like fog and illuminated the crumpled walls.

In the archway stood a man with a simple crown of glinting beads winding around his forehead, and a gleaming sword by his side. The dancing snowflakes tumbled around him and molded themselves into figures glimmering in the eerie light. Knights in shining armors of silver and bronze gathered in a circle and kneeled by their king. The hooded figure of a lanky old man with a long gray beard appeared beside the king and whispered in his ear. The king nodded and spoke in a language so ancient it tumbled out of the abyss of time and oblivion. 

All heads turned towards Artie, who sat frozen and with mouth agape. The king raised the magnificent sword, and only then did Artie realize the sword exuded the strange and unearthly glow that shone over the place. 

The king pointed the sword at Artie and smiled.
“Artemis,” his booming voice resounded like the grave peal of a giant bell. 

Surprised at the mention of her full name, Artie’s gasp vanished amid the overpowering clanging of armors as the knights beamed at her and cheered. 

She wanted to stammer a reply, but a ray of light flashed from the sword’s blade and hit Artie between the eyes. She fell backwards onto the snow-covered ground. The blast winded her, and darkness surrounded her. When Artie awoke, the figures were gone, and the place was plunged into murky darkness. She distinguished the ruins in the hazy moonlight that fought and jostled with the clouds.

She sat up and, brushing the snow from her coat, trudged home. Her forehead burned, and Artie wondered whether the flash had seared her skin. She entered the dense silence of her dreary house. No one greeted her. In the bathroom, she splashed her face with cold water to ease the sting, then gazed at herself in the mirror. A thread of gleaming beads encrusted into her forehead like a simple crown glowed with the same shimmering gold that had tinted the ruins and their twisted tree. 


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