ACE OF SWORDS you will die

Placement: The Minor Arcana

Description: The giant hand in the cloud has returned, now looming over mountains and wielding a silver sword. In many cards, a floating crown surrounds the tip, or perhaps the giant hand in the cloud has stabbed an invisible giant king from stern to bow. Why an invisible king would wear a highly visible crown, and why he would tie an olive branch and a palm frond on either side of said crown, is a mystery for the ages.

Many taroists believe that the sword depicted here is Excalibur, the legendary sword of King Arthur. These are the same taroists who believe that the cup in the Ace of Cups is the Holy Grail and that the disc in the Ace of Coins is the LP of Caerleon, upon which the fearsome yelps of the Questing Beast are recorded for posterity, accompanied by lute, panpipes and doo-wop singers.

In certain decks from previous centuries, the card shows a man carrying a sword that is at least a third longer than he is tall. This man is also attempting to carry a bow and a club at the same time. He does not, however, appear particularly bothered by this burden. If anyone offers to help, he may insist that “It’s not heavy, it’s awkward!”


Right side up:

This card indicates a new way to approach an old conflict by cutting through your own fears, blazing a trail with sharp objectivity and quick decisive action. Your choices may not be wise, but they are yours and reflect your ideals.


Upside down:

Put down your weapon and step away from your target. Ask for advice from someone wiser than yourself because you currently lack objectivity. Make no sudden moves. Do not press Send or Post or mail any letters just yet or their contents will haunt you later. The Ace of Swords reversed epitomizes the expression, as made famous by Whiskey Stone Jackson, “Examine thyself lest thee wrecksamine thyself.”


Classic Ace of Swords deaths:

  • Hoisted by your own petard
  • Offended the wrong troll
  • Engaging in battle with a pen
  • Beaten into a ploughshare


I apologize for the brevity of this post. My mind has been elsewhere, with the shocking miseries that have been thrust upon us here at the Secret Assembly Unearthing Cartomantic Eventualities.

As I wrote my Monday post, my mind latched onto an impossible idea regarding the mysterious villain known as Lace, who abducted our friend Anais Herschel. I took my suspicions, or barely coherent threads of connecting thoughts, to my comrades.

“Fingers?” said Danny Delaire, who has taken charge of our efforts. “You think those…things, those massive monolith whatevers that took Anais are fingers? Like, the hand in the cloud from the Ace cards? That’s not a real thing, Mrs. [MY SURNAME WITHHELD], it’s just a symbol.”

I reminded her, “There were five, all finger-shaped. They reached down through the roof a house and pulled her up the way you or I might reach down and pick a blueberry off the carpet. Imagine what human fingers would look like if you were the size of a blueberry.”

“Okay, sure, but even if the Ace hand were an actual physical thing, what kind of motive could it possibly—” Ms. Delaire’s expression fell.

She tore open her briefcase and pulled out the photograph of the skywritten ransom note.


I read it out loud. “For the swearing girl’s life, the gold and free Hand. You have ‘til Midsummer to meet my demand. Lace.”

“No, look!” said Ms. Delaire. “Hand is capitalized. The A in Lace is capitalized. I think. And it’s hard to tell with the lines all wobbly, but there’s a bit of a space between the L and the A. We assumed that the person’s name was Lace, when maybe we should read it as… L Ace. Quick, get your cards out!”

I obeyed, choosing the simplest of the six tarot decks that I had on my person (all of which are still missing The Fool, not that it matters at the moment) I fumbled through until I came across an Ace.

Ms. Delaire showed me her Ace cards as well. “What do these have in common?”

“A hand…”

She shook her head. “It’s a right hand. Right Ace. What about the Left Ace?”

It dawned on me after an embarrassingly long silence, “L Ace.”

L Ace wants us to “free Hand.” I am truly baffled.

We ran down the stairs to ask Elsie Cabret, who has not left the basement of Headquarters for weeks (and whose olfactory presence is now exactly as one would expect)

Ms. Delaire called, out of breath, “Elsie! Is the Ace real?”

I expected that Ms. Cabret would find the question puzzling, to say the least. I did not expect her eyes to widen into a look of pure terror, a look that the rest of us shared when we heard a thundering BOOM from the wall behind her.

I send the contents of this post from the basement of headquarters, via one of our recent members who acts as messenger. Elsie Cabret refuses to leave, Danny Delaire refuses to leave until Ms. Cabret answers the question, and I dare not leave either of them with the source of that terrible sound. I have lost enough friends to this mystery. I will lose no more.