VIII: The Eight of Pentacles
From what we understand, a lot of the basis for the genetic work that the mystic pioneered came from data collected by her assistant. After a period of testing behind closed doors, a call for volunteers was issued by House Pentacles, requesting that able-bodied citizens donate their genetic material for the experiment. At first, it was hard to sell the golden people of the Kingdom of Pentacles on such a donation. There were probably a variety of reasons for this but the prospect of becoming the universally recognized face of the Pentacles army was daunting. However, a spirit of patriotism gripped some of our people and the donations began to file in. Weeks passed without result and as the request for volunteers spread across the kingdom and the monetary reward for a successful candidate steepened, it became painfully obvious that the experiment was not progressing for some reason. We were receiving daily reports of the struggles between the Swords Army and Pentacles Army. Our people desperately tried to show gratitude for our victories and not get too caught up in lamenting our losses. During this uncertain time, neither the mystic nor her assistant were seen publicly. It can only be assumed that they were committed to their work.
Little did we know that they had already selected a successful donor, though the source was never officially revealed. It was popularly believed that the donor, often referred to as “the golden youth”, was not from the Kingdom of Pentacles. Naturally, this stirred wariness in the patriotic people of the Kingdom of Pentacles. It’s widely believed (though again never confirmed) that the donor was a drug addict that frequented a gray area between the Kingdom of Swords and the Kingdom of Pentacles; a vagrant that held no allegiance to any kingdom. Several merchants travelling the roads recognized his likeness when the new soldiers for the Pentacles Army were finally revealed. Further fire was given to the rumor due to the disappearance of the addict and the refusal of House Pentacles to divulge the name of the donor as a matter of privacy.
The first wave of the clone army was introduced to us in a public ceremony. The King of Pentacles himself introduced them as his “Golden Youth.” With the mystic and her assistant silently to his right and the Page of Pentacles and Queen of Pentacles wearing supportive smiles to his left, the King of Pentacles praised the Golden Youth as the “perfect fusion of science and magic.” They were designed to be completely subservient to the orders of the King of Pentacles with a quiet respect instilled in them. They obediently followed his commands with silent devotional reverence. The demonstration did not completely eliminate suspicion, but doubts were eased significantly. Those weakened doubts would reverse into full confidence as the King of Pentacles himself joined the Golden Youth in their march to the Kingdom of Swords.
The Eight of Pentacles is often referred to as the apprentice’s card so how fitting that it finds the mystic adding her magic to scientific concepts primarily developed by her assistant. Here they are hard at work on a new enterprise though they are facing it with confidence and enthusiasm. Scarecrow Agriculture is behind them as they dive headlong into developing a clone army for the King of Pentacles. Gone are the mystic’s moral reservations and doubts, fading in the light of progress and new possibilities. The robes of both the mystic and her assistant are adorned in pentacles, indicating that they have embraced and been embraced by a profitable profession in the employ of the Pentacles Family.
Life Beyond Scarecrow Agriculture
Scarecrow Agriculture could have been the end for the mystic and her assistant but the Eight of Pentacles finds them proving (to themselves as much as anyone else) that their brilliance is far from exhausted. Behind them, incubating in tubes of blue life liquid are three clones though it’s insinuated several more are incubating just out of view. The Eight of Pentacles often finds the results of hard work and ingenuity on display. Here the mystic has her genius creations unobscured, bold and naked behind transparent glass. The clones’ tubes are graced with the symbol of the pentacle, fusing the mystic’s magic and the assistant’s science.
Eight of Pentacles vs. Two of Pentacles
Some view the Eight of Pentacles as the inverse of the Two of Pentacles. The composition of these cards is similar. However, where the Two of Pentacles found the mystic and her assistant split between a robot and a scarecrow, facing opposite directions to show their divided attention, the Eight of Pentacles finds them facing one another with their unified focus on the clone army. They are now fully dedicated to this project with confidence.
Twilight Apprentice Days
At times the Eight of Pentacles can also allude to a feeling that the subject’s apprentice days should have been long behind them, echoing the dynamics of the master becoming the student. Since the mystic already found her humbleness during the Six of Pentacles, she is undeterred by such feelings of doubt. Rather she is beginning to see life as the eternal student and is instead consumed by her excitement of her latest endeavor.