Celebrate the TENTH ANNIVERSARY of Tarot Witch of the Black Rose with this in-depth telling of her Origin and how she became the Swordmaiden to the Goddess. Dark forces cross her path. A Coven rejects her. A Sister stands defiant. A Mother sentences her daughter to Death. And this is only the beginning! A good jumping on point for new readers.
Tarot approaches a mountain keep in The Mist Realm wearing a hooded cloak and carrying a satchel and armed with the Black Rose Sword appearing somewhat reluctant to enter but finding Hildegard Firebrand and Bellflare Hearthstone working at a forge.
She presents them with the contents of her satchel, her armor, badly damaged from her last battle with the winter dragon Tarot #60. The two blacksmiths scold her for allowing the enchanted armor to become so damaged, even in combat but set to work repairing it and constructing a new breast plate.
As they begin to work they ask Tarot to relay her experience during her swordmaiden test, when she earned the title of Swordmaiden to the Goddess.
Tarot begins at the very beginning recounting how long ago when the mist world and the mortal world were one the goddess gave a sacred sword to a witch of the Black Rose Coven making her the first swordmaiden to the goddess instructing her to use it to keep the balance of power between magic and man.
During this time the worlds of man and magic were at odds, man's new religions were persecuting the followers of the craft and many magical beings had retreated into the mist realm. One day a army appeared at the edge of the mist realm planning to enter the world of man and wipe them out. The fist swordmaiden led and army of witches against the horde and after days of combat beat them back at a cost of ninety percent of the witches lives.
As time passes other swordmaidens were chosen to meet the challenges of the day. When not carried by a swordmaiden the sacred sword was held in a statue at Black Rose Manor. When the time came to offer it to the next in line for the title the eldest sister, Raven Hex, denied it and refused the mantel, still bitter at the world of man for the death of her father, she wanted no part in keeping a balance with those she saw as an enemy.
When the burden passed to Tarot she accepted although this enraged her sister who accused her of betraying the memory of their father.
Tarot continues to explain how she was then sent to the mist world to prepare for the swordmadins test, receiving instruction from a witch from the mortal world and a being from the mist world who spent months teaching her the ways of the blade.
As Tarot continues to tell the story she watches the two smiths working their enchanted forge. Finally when she was ready for the test she felt a calling from the goddess and left her room for a grove on the hilltop with only the Black Rose Sword in her hand. The goddess appeared to her in the sky with thunder and lightening as Tarot raised her sword to honor her.
Next she found herself among other witches upon a sacred mount, skyclad, she was bathed and cleansed with enchanted oils and adorned with a magic symbol painted on her body then taken to wait and reflect before the next test.
Next Tarot was hooded so she could not see and guided to ascend a staircase, although blindfolded she could scene the presence of hundreds of other witches including her mother. Briefly Tarots mother greets two old friends, Oberon Zell-Ravenheart and Morning Glory from the Grey School of Wizardry. While congratulating her and discussing the responsibility and burden that accompany the title of Swordmaiden. Tarots mother reveals that all past swordmaidens have died as swordmaidens.
Tarot goes on to explain how Raven, who refused to attend the ceremony was approached by members of the Sickle Moon Coven a group of witches who believe in a more "heavy handed" approach to dealing with the world of man. The offered to storm the ceremony and reclaim the Black Rose Sword for Raven if she would join them as the swordmaiden in putting down the rise of man. Raven not only refuses but threatens the entire coven with "A hail of curses put upon you and your kin for seven generations." Just then a hooded member of the coven reveals himself to be Raven and Tarots father. Over joyed to see her beloved father Raven embraces him with tears in her eyes.
Meanwhile Tarot descends the staircase still hooded but on her way down stubs her toe and throws off the hood becoming confused and blind to her task now that she has given up trusting herself to reclaim her more mortal senses. She careful climbed to a level with three cauldrons, knowing she was unable to use any spells as the ritual demanded. Upon looking into one of the cauldrons she sees the form of her sister rising from each holding a long curved blade, suddenly the image of her sister changes into dark evil witches that attack her. Struggling to defend herself she falls from the platform killing one witch but being grabbed by the other.
Just then Tarot is pierced by the blades of both attacking witches. Realizing her fatal mistake of removing her hood robbing her of her intuition and making her rely on sight alone. But it is too late the issue concludes with Tarot in the hands of the evil witches, stabbed through the chest and stomach by their blades.