Swamped Chapter 7 Page 10

“Can I take a quick look at her deck?” you ask. “Just to see for myself.”

Rushy hands you the deck and taps her foot impatiently as you look at the card backs. Nothing unusual, it’s a different pattern from the deck in the game, but you don’t see any sort of markings. And even if it were a marked deck, you can’t see how that would help with a Four of Leaves.

Something’s bothering you in the back of your mind, but as far as you can tell, it’s got nothing to do with this game. A vague memory… your father… a deck of cards… talking to you about fortune-telling and omens. What did he say that night? What did the Four of Leaves mean?

You pull yourself back into the moment. You can try to remember later. For now, you’ve got to settle this dispute, and you can’t see how it was anything other than an accident and forgetting to inform the judges. At most, you’ll just have to give extra attention to Rushy in the second round in case it was somehow a trick. It’s not as if Penelope is bothered by it.

“Yeah, looks fine to me. Sorry for the trouble.” You give her deck back.

“Good. Now when’s the second half of the first round starting? I’ve got to check out the competition.”

“Won’t be long after dinner,” Grey says, before digging back into his mush. You realize you haven’t eaten a lot of yours yet either.

Rushy seems satisfied, and heads back to the lounge. Once you all finish your swamp mush, you go there as well.

The second half of the round is rather uneventful. Roger Stilts isn’t even in the room, so if he and Jared were plotting anything, it doesn’t seem to be going on this time around. Jared’s actually doing quite nicely, giving Tom Seventh a fierce challenge.

There’s so little to watch for that your mind wanders back to thoughts of your father talking about how fortune-tellers use decks of cards. You can’t recall why he brought it up, maybe Henry had asked a question. But there were a few specific cards that stood out to you at the time.

Now, though, it’s mostly forgotten. About all you can remember clearly is what the suits mean. Blades are generally about conflict, Leaves are about growth, Wings are about inspiration, and Stones are about recuperation. Like picking up the pieces afterwards, that was how Father described it.

But the individual numbers, those you’re not as clear on. What does the Four of Leaves mean? You know that card in particular came up.

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“Ace is the aspect, take two to reflect; three is a stasis for four to clean cleft.”

It’s a not-completely-airtight ditty to remember the less-charismatic cards in the deck, but it holds across the four suits.

The Ace of Leaves is capital-g Growth, passive-inherent yet physical change to contrast the active, sought change wrought by Blades. A sense of destiny, fate, or other mystical happenstance also wends its way through the suit.
The Two of Leaves is that which makes growth possible, either a caregiver or other source of nourishment, or more abstractly opportunity and circumstances.
The Three of Leaves is the product, the harvest; fruits borne less of your labours and more commonly from providence.
The Four of Leaves, to round out the Leaves Anteminor*. Senescence, wistfulness, and selfish want.

Of course, few of the Minors standalone are earthshattering portents – you can always glean more based on the company they keep.

*wherein 1-4 are the Anteminor, 5 and 6 the Divide Diametric, 7-10 the Postminor, and finally the three Faces (aka the Majors).


3 and 4 are numbers that are in the public consciousness as “luck” and “death”, respectively. Both are possible readings, but don’t really capture the full nuances of the draw.

Three is a number of inherent instability, a situation that may appear stable but cannot continue indefinitely. The balance will tip, and it may be to your benefit or detriment. Three’s an uncertain sort of number, in stark contrast to the worldly inevitability of four.

Four’s a number of seasons and cycles, often likened to a spinning wheel. It speaks to inevitability and is the number of completion (of the individual matter) and continuation (of the whole).

Four of Leaves could mean something like… something’s coming to fruition (ha ha) that will open opportunities for something else to grow.