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"Sequence and the suits. That is what is important."

`"Importance relates only to consequence."`

"How do I solve the riddle of the three queens?"

`"The pattern. The pattern is always the same. Like a warm blanket, made up of interlocking squares, each in the same pattern as its neighbors."`

Three Queens Rising

It wasn't much of a card table. It wobbled when you put your arms down on it. It wasn't much of a place. Somewhere in the desert was a tent and in front of it was a card table. The winds were blowing up a sandstorm, but the old man who emerged from the tent beckoned for him to sit down. When he took his seat, the old man produced a deck of playing cards and sat across the table from the stranger. He nodded, smiled, and then flipped over the first card in the deck. It was the queen of diamonds. The old man pointed to the card and motioned for the stranger to pick it up.

The stranger reached for the card, but the queen of diamonds moved away from his hand. It somehow managed to always just stay out of reach. After a few moments, the queen of diamonds vanished. The old man reached for his deck of cards and flipped over the next card in the deck. It was the queen of clubs. The stranger reached for it and it jumped into his hand. He held onto it for a few moments, gazing at it absently until a blue flame swept over the card and burned the stranger's hand. The card was consumed by the blue flame and was gone.

`"As I have always shown you, this is the pattern. Learn to play the cards you are dealt."`

He turned over the next card. It was the queen of hearts. The stranger reached for the card and picked it up. Instantly, the burns from his hand were healed and warmth and joy swept through his body. He felt as if a presence had entered into him and that he understood the lesson.

"Which is the right queen? Which one do I need to choose?"

`"The pattern is the answer to your question."`

The pattern had risen again. It had taken many forms in the past, but this time it was bringing in the big guns. Sometimes the pattern was as simple as seeing and taking notice of three women in sequence and sensing the pattern. At other times there was much more emotional involvement. This time they were bringing in the "A" list. Or maybe it was just the A-Team.

Somewhere, the music is humming, almost buzzing.
Somewhere, there are birds and children running through grass.
Somewhere, there are people who know nothing of betrayal.
Somewhere is never where you are.

The first queen is always seen as someone unobtainable, and because she will always remain at least one step away, the stranger could always identify the beginning of the pattern. This wasn't a case of hitting on a woman in a bar and having her throw a beer in your face. The nature of the first queen is that she wants you to catch her, but even she doesn't know how to let you. There is an electricity to the meeting, something comfortable and familiar and yet the opposite at the same time. Eventually, pursuit leads to surrender. When surrender is near, this is when the second queen appears.

`"To the first queen, you will pledge your soul."`

With the second queen, connecting happens at a base level. One will make note of things you have in common and interests that are similar. There is a physical attraction and an emotional one, but that river does not run as deep as it needs to. Yet, the second queen will always know she was a second choice. She will never be satisfied, and as time passes you will unravel. The endings are often brutal and angry, but the ending always comes.

`"To the second queen, you will pledge your body."`

Just as things reach critical mass in the stranger's relationship with the second queen, a third queen will rise. She will offer comfort, solace and new passion. She will heal him.

`"To the third queen, you will pledge your heart."`

As the stranger sat and sipped coffee alone, he pondered the nature of his pattern. The three queens always came in order and on cue. For years he considered the possibility of avoiding the first and second queens and finding the third queen first. Then he realized that would never work. Without the sequence, he would never follow the progression and connect with the third queen. Situations matter in how they develop. How things play out is what carries true importance.

He also wondered if he needed to instead remain focused on the first queen and not divide himself. This was also not possible, for there would come a time when the first queen's elusiveness would require the strange to walk away rather than be damaged by holding on and beating his shoulder against her stone walls. There were times when he needed someone to hold, and thus the second queen would give him new life in her own way. She offers herself to the stranger with empty arms.

Three Queens Rising

Nearly twenty years had passed since the stranger first saw her. For many years their destinies, hopes and dreams were tied together in some cosmic way, and yet they could never connect in an earthly way. For years now she had been missing from his life, but he never gave up hope of finding her again. Then he found her, they connected as they always had, and she remained elusive. She was back in his life now, but he knew she would soon run again. She was the original first queen, the true queen of diamonds. She had returned.

And then the stranger understood.
The pattern had not been created in order to be broken.
The pattern had been created to be followed.
By following the pattern and learning from it,
the stranger could come to understand it.
That was the nature of the riddle.
For years he had misunderstood.

`As you follow the road, you follow the patterns. Many roads are frequently traveled. Others less often. Sometimes a new road is created where there was one before. That road may never be traveled again. It may see sparse traffic, or it may become a highway. The pattern is made up of the roads you are familiar with.`

The stranger had gotten married in his travels. She was a good and honest woman, much younger than himself. They had enjoyed each other's company and found enough in common to create a connection. He married her in order to help her, but soon found out he could not help her enough. She had become dependent on him and had forgotten how to take care of herself. They would experience a slow and painful split over the course of many months. Once it reached the point of no return, the stranger found himself alone. He did not mind the feeling. He relished it, as his need for solitude and the nature of his journey causes him to rejoice in such times. As the house of the stranger's marriage burned down, the third queen would appear.

The prophesy says nothing about what happens to the third queen after the healing is complete. As the dream ends, the stranger is still holding the queen of hearts. The suits are not important, for in the end the deck of cards is merely a familiar item used to convey a message. The stranger realizes he has always interpreted the prophesy incorrectly. Just as he was not meant to break the pattern, his obsession with diamonds, clubs and hearts had little to do with the underlying message.

One cannot appreciate having something until they have gone without. No one can understand victory without first tasting defeat. This changes the entire equation. Within the equation it is also true that one cannot be healed until one has been wounded.

"You would never understand the joy of healing, unless you needed to be healed."

With the healing, the stranger wonders, is the cycle complete? Every third queen he has even known has slipped away from him not long after the healing is complete. Eventually, another first queen will rise, but this time the stranger understands something he failed to witness in previous cycles.

One queen rides through the air on the back of a winged horse, circling and watching. A second queen begins to reconstruct herself, and eventually they will forgive each other. A third queen smiles and embraces the stranger. One cannot exist without the others, for as everything, their fabrics are woven together. He lifts his arms to the sky and feels his wings returning. In the end, all the queens shall rise, and this will be the beginning of the time of convergence.

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