- Background sounds and music
- Panning effects (sounds will be different in right and left headphones)
- References to death and dying
- Mentions of political and religions oppression and subjugation, particularly of Romany peoples, (brief, sparing details)
- Raised voices (brief, not notably louder than the rest of the audio)
- Mentions of unnamed characters disappearing
- Implications of a character taking their own life (an immortal character; mention is fleeting and non-descriptive; the implied previous deaths are temporary but multiple)
- Existential horror
- Howling wind
- Mild expletives
Trust is a thing of glass that takes care and careful maintenance. Hope, on the other hand, is a stone that could be thrown off a cliff, wash up on distant shores and barely show a scratch. With enough hope you could build a house, but without trust, you wouldn’t have any windows to see out of it and glimpse the world beyond. Welcome back to Spirit Box Radio.
Hello, faithful listeners! Welcome back to Spirit Box Radio’s Enlightenment Segment, with me, Sam Enfield, a— guy with too many cats, Eggroll, would you stop chewing that cable? Please? Thank you.
Sorry, faithful listeners. What was I saying? Oh, yeah. The forums have been absolutely teeming with theories since we came back on the air. It’s incredible, how far the reach of you faithful listeners really goes! As some of you requested, I posted some photos of the journals we found in the wreckage of the house on Banemouth Road, but there wasn’t much else any one had to say about it. One helpful user, SirTomato, suggested the dates might be appointments, but they’re far to wide-ranging for that to make any sense. Karl suggested that maybe they were encounters or sightings of the Man in the Flat Cap, but there was no suggestion of that anywhere else in the journals, and they don’t match up with anything she talked about on the forums and given we know, or. Well. We assume that Madame Marie was using the forums to try and find him, to circumvent the whole ‘if you seek without searching’ thing, that strikes me as pretty odd, if that’s what she was going for.
Oh. Wait! But there is context, isn’t there?
[BOOKS AND PAPERS SHUFFLING]
Yeah… leaf through the pages a bit and here, just names and dates, all crossed out, and then, here!
[SAM TAPS THE PAGE]
This one isn’t crossed out, and there are no more names and dates listed, even though there’s plenty of space on the page, but overleaf.
Not more names and dates. Another story. Or entry. Or whatever. This isn’t Madame Marie’s handwriting. I… could it be her grandmother’s? I don’t know. This story, it’s like. It’s like the one about the boy in the kitchen with the kittens but, it’s also not. It’s…
[THERE IS SCRITCHING IN THE BACKGROUND]
— Eggroll would you stop!
SAM: [AWAY FROM THE MIC] What is that?
Is it a. Box?
SAM: [BACK AT THE MIC] Mr Sam Enfield, PO Box Spirit Box Radio. It’s a parcel, for me.
It’s a box? This wood, it’s so smooth. It’s dark, almost red. Mahogany? And laid into it, tiny golden stars. They’re linked up with lines, but they’re not constellations. Not real ones, anyway. There’s a keyhole. I wonder…
[THE BOX LID CREAKED]
It’s not locked. The inside is structured, it’s a dark purple velvet over something hard. There’s a little ribbon here. Oh! It lifts up. oh. Just a hollow, big enough for my fist. There’s another ribbon on the other side, though, and under this one is.
It’s. Some kind of wooden cylinder?
[ANOTHER METAL CLINK]
It’s… I don’t know. There are gold inlays all over it, they’re weird, though. There are seven cylinders, they all slot together.
[A PLEASING ‘SHRRK’ SOUND OF THE PARTS COMING TOGETHER]
There’s glass on one end. What is this thing?
[PASTS SHIFT AROUND SOME MORE]
OLIVER: [SLEEPILY, AND DISTANT] Looks like a seeing glass.
SAM: Oh, I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to wake you.
OLIVER: [MUCH CLOSER] That’s quite alright, Magpie. May I?
OLIVER: Hmm. Yes. It certainly looks like a seeing glass.
SAM: I thought that just meant like, a telescope.
OLIVER: Yes, it can, in mundane terms, but this is one is specifically made with a full sphere of glass, like a crystal ball, rather than in a lens.
SAM: The engravings on the side, what do they mean?
OLIVER: Oh, it’s mostly nonsense, but some of them are constellations, you see? There’s Virgo.
SAM: Oh yeah.
[THE SEEING GLASS SNAPS CLOSED, OPENS OUT AGAIN]
OLIVER: It’s in proper working order. I don’t suppose you have your True Arcanist Tarot to hand?
SAM: Um, sure?
[SAM OPENS A DRAWER]
OLIVER: Much obliged. Hmm.
SAM: Why have you spread the whole deck out like that?
OLIVER: Here, look.
SAM: Huh. Through here they’re sort of… glowy. What’s that coming off them? Those sort of… drifting lines? What is that?
OLIVER: Arcane energy. Now, look at me.
SAM: I– I saw you like this in the Impossible House, you’re—
OLIVER: I know. Now, ask the deck what I am.
SAM: Oh, um.
[SAM GOES TO GATHER UP THE CARDS, AND THE MAGIC HUM RISES A LITTLE]
OLIVER: No, leave the deck spread. Don’t shuffle them. It will work that way too but I want you to see how this works. Hold out your hand over the deck. Yes, like that. Now ask it what I am.
[THE MAGIC HUM PEAKS]
SAM: Um. What is Oliver Boleyn?
SAM: That card, it’s– it’s glowing.
OLIVER: Draw it.
SAM: The Unrelenting, but I— the heart, it’s over you, I can see you in it, in the image, I–
OLIVER: Look without the glass.
SAM: Oh. It’s the same as it was before. I. Huh.
OLIVER: The name, True Arcanist Tarot. Sometimes people mistake it for meaning that this deck is in some sense the truest tarot deck: not the case. It’s a version of the old tarrock. Before the traditional tarot you would recognise today, with its strict recognisable forms and designations, there were a variety of decks with different suits and major arcana, which nonetheless you would want to call tarot decks as opposed to the more general, modern term ‘Oracle Deck’. Using cards for divination is ancient and widespread but the tarot itself has a murky, but traceable lineage. It’s hard to document because it is a history drowning in the blood of oppressed people, not least the romany people, with whom tarot has become inextricably entangled as a result of vicious persecution and a tendency by the catholic church to condemn all religious practises outside of itself heretical and dangerous.
The True Arcanist deck shares only the earliest lineage of tarot and breaks away a century before the first decks we would recognise as standard tarot decks would emerge in 1400. Properly speaking, it is a ‘True Arcanist Tarrock’, not strictly a tarot as most witches today would recognise it, but just as the words ‘true’ and ‘Arcanist’ have been modernised and naturalised from middle english to modern english, the word ‘tarot’ has been comfortably substituted here.
The ‘true’ is about it’s supposed ability to reveal things about nearby arcana. It can be used to determine the rough identity of arcana, hence the inclusion of fire and wind. Cold spot in your room? Perhaps a ghost, perhaps a draught. The deck will tell you. Problem is, they’re tied to belief, consistent use, and the power of those using them. It depends on how skilled the reader is, how clear a definition you can draw. Did you see how clear, how obvious it was that the Unrelenting was me?
OLIVER: Usually it wouldn’t be that clear. Who sent the seeing glass to you?
SAM: I don’t know. The box was unmarked.
OLIVER: May I see the box?
SAM: Sure, here.
[SOUNDS OF THINGS MOVING AROUND]
OLIVER: Hmm, yes, I think this hollow is meant for a True Arcanist deck, if I – Sam, what are you doing?
SAM: What is Scourge?
OLIVER: Sam. Why?
SAM: A metal card. The one with the hand, flesh dripping right off the bone. What does that mean, what does it—
OLIVER: Stop asking these questions Sam, please!
SAM: But I have to know what he is, Oliver, I have to—
OLIVER: Don’t answer it.
SAM: It’s not him.
OLIVER: How do you– ugh.
[SAM ANSWERS THE PHONE]
KITTY: It’s Kitty, Sam.
KITTY: Are you alright? You sound out of breath.
SAM: Uh, I’m fine.
OLIVER: [DARKLY] He’s fine.
KITTY: Oh. Right. I can call back—
SAM: No, no! We’re broadcasting. It’s time for the segment.
KITTY: I– with. Oh you know what, never mind. I’ve got a lead on the Inconvenient Sins, but I’m going to have to head out of the country. I don’t know how good communication is going to be, and I might be a while, so I wanted to let you know.
SAM: Oh, okay. When are you leaving?
KITTY: There’s a boat waiting right now. But there’s something else, Sam. I got wind of something weird happening in York. People have been disappearing. Six of them, so far. All people connected to people I know, friends of friends. And they all left the same note.
SAM: Wait, like, exactly the same?
KITTY: No, but they all used the same words; ‘I have become one with the One’.
SAM: You don’t think that could mean–
KITTY: The One Who Walks Here and There? I don’t know. But we’d be daft not to consider it.
SAM: You know… a few forum users have got wind of something strange; it’s an advertisement, for some kind of Arcanist meeting place, and it says something like ‘one with the one’ on that, too.
OLIVER: [WITH WRY AMUSEMENT] Arcanists coming together? That makes no sense.
SAM: I mean, it sort of tracks because nobody can seem to work out where it is or what it’s supposed to be for. It makes me think about that anti-social club joke.
SAM: You know, it’s a flier for a club that says ‘Anti-Social Club Meeting Next Tuesday, Please Do Not Attend’ or something.
OLIVER: Ah, wordplay.
SAM: Come on, it’s funny!
OLIVER: I’m sure.
KITTY: Listen, I need to go now. I’ll call you as soon as I can, Sam. And Oliver?
KITTY: Take care of him.
OLIVER: Of course.
[PHONE GOES DEAD]
SAM: I don’t need babysitting.
OLIVER: She’s worried about you.
[MAGIC HUMS VERY FAINTLY]
SAM: I’m worried about her. She didn’t say where she was going. Did you notice that?
OLIVER: I did. She can take care of herself.
SAM: So can I!
OLIVER: [WITH ALMOST SAD SOFTNESS] I know, magpie.
[ALMOST SILENCE, BUT FOR THE FAINT HUM OF MAGIC]
OLIVER: [HIS TONE NOW UPBEAT] I’m going to go and get ice-cream. Do you want anything?
SAM: I– uh…
OLIVER: Not a hot-chocolate?
SAM: No, thank you.
OLIVER: One of those tiny cakes you like?
SAM: Gods, you’re such a fiend for sugar. It’s a wonder you have any teeth left.
OLIVER: If I need to I can always just reset.
SAM: [APPALLED] Reset. Oliver.
OLIVER: [UNFASED] What?
SAM: Nothing. Nothing.
OLIVER: Very well.
SAM: How many times have you done that?
OLIVER: I don’t know. I don’t really keep track. You know, beyond. This.
SAM: You just gestured at your whole body.
OLIVER: Never mind. Do you want a tiny cake or not?
OLIVER: Excellent. I won’t be long.
[OLIVER’S STATIC FIZZES]
SAM: Gods, bloody show off. It’s only ten minutes to McDonalds. He could have just walked.
Anyway. What was I doing?
The journals! That’s right.
Oh. I wonder. Hmm.
[SEEING GLASS MAKES SOUNDS]
[PAGES LEAF OPEN]
Regular tarot deck, okay, so, if I was to ask this deck, um. What can I expect from tomorrow. And I look through the seeing glass and… oh, it’s like. It’s not like the cards glow in the True Arcanist Tarot, but there’s a kind of… string? Of mist? Connecting my fingers to a card. If I draw it I get? High Priestess.
Okay. So. The seeing glass works roughly the same with a regular deck, but the True Arcanist Tarot picks up arcane energy, somehow. That must be how it’s different every time I look at it. Why sometimes it feels like there are hardly any cards at all, and others, it feels huge and unwieldy. But the principle is the same. A set of parameters with agreed upon meanings which can combine in chorus and interpretation of a question to provide an answer.
But all I have are a handful of sketchy definitions for a few of the cards.
SAM: Right. The deck is arcane. So maybe it’s less about knowing the actual set parameters and more about… I don’t know. Trying to grasp at them?
SAM: Yes, exactly like how to seek without searching; it’s a kind of surrender to unknowability. If you wanted to know what a presence you encountered was like you’d need traits, wouldn’t you? And that’s all ghosts are. The arcane parts of us, like the elements of our bodies stuck in a peat bog, ghosts are those arcane things left behind, preserved in arcane amber. And the part of us we call a soul? Aren’t we more our preferences, our likes and dislikes, our traits, than we are our memories?
And the Major Arcana, they’re… traits. Ignorance, Ingratitude, Indifference, Unrelenting. They’re His Major Arcana, they’re sort of people but. What if the Major Arcana cards, they’re like the others, too? Sort of attempts, uh, to set parameters on arcane things? And. That would be helpful for how Oliver said the deck was used, too, right?
SAM: [WITH GATHERING EXCITEMENT AND MOMENTUM] So, all of it, it’s all factors of the arcane. And we can interpret it like that. And we can use it to get answers, by placing cards in chorus. And we can know which cards to place by looking through the seeing glass!
But what about the cards the deck shares with the proper tarot deck? The Moon and the Sun, and this one, the Mouth? What trait could any of them represent? And that does raise an interesting question; if the cards that represent the Sins are just cards that actually represent the traits that they embody… which comes first? The Major Arcana cards, or the people that embody the traits? If the deck shifts and changes, maybe it responds to the people who have made that kind of a deal with the Man in the Flat Cap. But, the Moon, and the Sun, and the Mouth? What do they have to do with anything?
Okay, okay. I know I’m getting sidetracked, Revel, stop looking at me like that.
And, if I shuffle the cards, and lay them out…
[MAGIC HUM RISES]
What are these journals?
[MAGIC HUM GROWS]
It’s… what? A blank card? I swear, there are none of these when I spread them out, but.
Wait, another one is glowing.
[SAM DRAWS ANOTHER CARD]
And… a metal card. The grinning face.
[A STRANGE, DEEP DRONE BEGINS, AND A THIN WIND WHISTLES, AS THOUGH AROUND THE EDGES OF A DOOR]
A blank, an echo, and the grinning face. Huh. It’s funny, when you look through this seeing glass, his eyes, they look like roses.
[THE DRONE GROWS STRONGER, THE WIND HOWLS]
[REVEL MOANS ANGRILY]
SAM: Shit! Shit! Uh, UH!
SAM: WHAT IS THE MAN IN THE FLAT CAP!
[THE SOUNDS FALL AWAY INSTANTLY]
[SAM PANTS, GASPING FOR BREATH]
I suppose that’s… one way to seek without searching.
The grinning face is glowing. It’s him. That’s his card. He’s in the deck. He– he’s in the deck. I.
Faithful listeners…. Can you make some sort of, I don’t know, tracking program or, or something, so that there’s always something looking? I.
We all got distracted for a moment. We can’t.
I know I said that I should stop looking for him. But. I don’t. I don’t want to find him. Not yet.
[SAM BREATHES HEAVILY]
Oliver will back soon, I. I should go, faithful listeners. Goodnight.