The Six of Swords offers a snapshot of Ash Gravedust on his new path, following Alexis Montclaire, a teenager who became a precocious master of the sword by fending for herself in the harsh environment of the Kingdom of Swords. Ash is following Alexis down the winter road, a cold and treacherous path purified by the fallen snow. The Six of Swords doesn’t so much present Ash in a moment of repose as it shows a careful sense of peace in his movement forward. His mind has had time to process his brutal near-death defeat and recognize that he cannot defeat Zombie Red on his own. If only for a moment, Ash can leave behind his fear and terror as he focuses on his new path. This is represented by the haunted house that, while still looming, is now behind Ash and Alexis.
The Relief of a New Way
When we’re confronted by a daunting problem or a personal nightmare, we can find ourselves paralyzed and haunted by indecision. The moment we recognize a new method of meeting this challenge, a sense of relief washes over us. The problem still exists and will certainly challenge us as we move to overcome it. Simply having a direction for our action can bring relief. This clarity is illustrated in the Six of Swords. Twisted, thorny branches and twigs ensnare the swords that would torment Ash, allowing him safe passage on the soft, snowy path.
The Soft Yet Frigid Winter Road of the Six of Swords
Though the path is more obvious, there are clear signs that Ash isn’t exactly moving forward into celebratory times. For one, he is disarmed, having lost his sword in his failed attack on Zombie Red. Now he must put his faith in Alexis and, even now, he eyes her sword with a sense of longing mixed with trepidation. It is clear, however, that the path of her sword is the only path worth walking. Vandalized snowmen seem to call out desperate warnings to Ash and Alexis. Each of these effigies has been run through with a sword, a calling card of the sharp tongued youth, the Page of Swords. Despite the relative calm of the Six of Swords, these snowmen serve as cautionary reminders of the challenges awaiting Ash as he moves further up the distinct winter road. Even the winter road itself is at once harsh in its nurturance. The snow is soft but frigid, the trees that hold back the swords are lined in thorns that care not who they prick.
Holding Back the Blizzard
The borders simply reinforce the theme of the card holding back Ash’s threats long enough for him to process and move forward. The corners show the thorny twigs restraining Zombie Red’s sword, representative of doubt and fear. Likewise, dead leaves line the border, representing the passing of seasons, the movement associated with time, the patterns and cycles of life (and death) that Ash is coming to understand, and the need to let go and continue forward, no matter how bitter the weather.