The Fool climbed out of the chariot and stood watching as the Charioteer disappeared in a cloud of dust. Looking down at his dog, he murmured, “I wonder how he knew what I was looking for? Oh well, let’s rest a bit then we can go find this woman and her lion. I’d like to see that, I think.”
So the Fool wasted no time at all. He whistled to his little dog as he set off at a brisk pace. All the time he wondered what he would find when he found the woman and the lion. The sun was high in the sky when he began but as he walked, time passed while the sun fell lower and lower in the sky.
“I don’t know if we will ever find this lady the Charioteer told us about, Dog.” The Fool stopped to drink from a crystal clear stream. “Do you think we should just forget about all of this searching for Will? I mean–is it that important after all?”
A sharp bark from his companion made the Fool jump. When he jumped he lost his footing and fell into the stream. It was COLD! Scrambling back up the bank, he frowned at his little dog for a moment but then laughed merrily.
“Yes yes, I can see you are right, Dog. We should go on lest we lose all the knowledge we’ve gained from the others we’ve met on our journey so far. Still, I think it is time to stop for dinner, don’t you?”
The dog sat down immediately wagging his tail so that the dirt of the road flew about.
After sharing some bread and cheese with his friend, our Fool pulled himself back up to his feet. With a nod so firm his hat jingled and nearly flew from his head, he set his feet back on the road. With the sun so much lower in the sky, the journey didn’t seem as arduous. Finally, just as it was getting dark, he came upon a small village. The first person he saw was the butcher who was just closing up shop.
“Pardon me, sir butcher. I am seeking a lady who owns a lion. Do you know where I might find her?”
The butcher wiped his hands on his apron. “Yes, lad, I do. You want the Lady Audacia. Her home is to the north of this village. But I wouldn’t start out by telling her she owns that lion, oh no, not me. She might feed you to that beast instead of buying my meat and bones. You seem like an honest lad. If you will sweep the shop for me tonight and help me put things away, I will feed you supper and give you a place to lay your head. Then in the morning, you can carry my delivery to Lady Audacia as your introduction.”
Our Fool immediately took the broom he was handed and began to industriously sweep the floors. When the butcher told him job well done, he slumped to the floor. Shaking his head at the Fool, the butcher reminded him that there was still work to be done. So the Fool helped the butcher put away the paper, wash and store the knives and even set small traps to discourage mice from eating the twine the butcher used to tie up his packages.
“There now, job well done indeed. Let us go to my home. I’m sure my lady wife has made a sumptuous meal so there will be plenty for all including your little friend there.”
So the Fool went home with the butcher to enjoy a good stew and a soft bed of hay in the barn. The next morning he took the heavy package from the butcher with a little sigh. “I am not sure I am strong enough, sir. How far is the Lady Audacia’s home from here?”
Laughing, the butcher patted the Fool on the head. “That,dear boy, depends on how determined you are to see her. Now go straight down this road and don’t turn until you see the white post with LA enscribed upon it.”
The Fool set out thinking about his determination. “I think I’m determined enough. I mean I want to see her to see the lion. And to see if she can give me Will. I don’t really know what the butcher meant – how determined I am.”
He kept up his ramblings to his little white dog who nipped at his heels when he felt like setting his burden down. Finally, after what seemed like forever plus two days and a hour, he saw a white post. Sure enough, it had LA engraved on it.
“Let’s go!” He kicked up his heels even with the heavy packages as he hurried down the shady lane. A loud roar stopped him in his tracks with his hand on the gate of the manor. Did he really want to do in?
“Come in, dear. Don’t mind Leo. He’s hungry this morning and you are bringing him his breakfast? Are you the butcher’s new boy?”
The Fool gaped like a hungry goldfish. A beautiful woman in a white gown had appeared as if from thin air. She wore a crown of vines that wove through her hair as if they grew there. Above that floated a symbol. And around her waist was a garland of greenery and flowers.
The Fool went through the gate but skidded to a halt when he realized that the garland around her waist also went around the neck of a very large lion who was looking directly at him.
“Will that leash hold him, lady?” The Fool’s voice quavered. “I don’t want him to eat me or my dog, please ma’am.”
She smiled as she beckoned the Fool to come closer. “He and I have an understanding, don’t we, Leo?”
Smoothing the muzzle of the great beast, she gently pried his jaws open. “See, Fool? His passions bend to my will because I have chained him to me only with love and compassion. Had I used force, then he would not have listened and I might be his last meal instead of his friend and companion.”
The Fool cocked his head. “You called me Fool. Do you know of me already?”
“Yes, I do. The Charioteer was here and told me he’d sent you to me. I’m sorry though. I can not give you Will. I can tell you this though. Control your base passions to find your Will. It is a higher power than simple physical strength.”
Nodding, the Fool thanked the lady. He realized he had found Strength in Lady Audacia. “Who might help me next, my lady? And where should I find them?”
“Well I can tell you who but not where. Next you must find the other wanderer of the Tarot. You are the first and he is the other. We call him many names, but you will know him best as the Hermit. Good luck on your journeys, Fool.”
And with that, the Lady Audacia turned back to her lion friend as they strolled into a meadow. The Fool turned to his dog.
“That’s that, then. I must find this Hermit fellow.”