Surrender, she had to surrender. That had been the problem before: Her subconscious resistance and anger had created glamour during her magic that bedazzled her into believing her spells were working. Sometimes, when a spell was over, it was the virtual Faerie gold turning into old, dried and crumbled leaves. So it was no wonder that Queen Mother had crippled Alethea’s powers, barred the door, left her forlorn and alone.
Otherwise, Alethea would have escaped from life’s problems, deeper and deeper into the glamour – – not the nourishing glamour of stardust sprinkled over morning oatmeal, but a glamour that would have eventually allowed her to be snared by Unseelie.
Alethea’s remaining powers, those left after Mother stripped her, were worthy of any Fey, to be sure. In fact, few could compete with her; even in her diminished state, most of her magic succeeded. But if you do not have access to your full potential, it does not matter that your remaining assets are great. Because the emptied part of you is mighty, it is a tool of the Unseelie. It will do everything it can to defeat you, so that you are your own enemy, an inner warrior who knows you well, who can rob you of love and joy, and even kill you.
After her banishment, Alethea had learned to better succumb to Mother’s will. She practiced it daily. But now, she finally grasped the missing piece: She had not let go of whether she was allowed to return home. Alethea shifted every cell in her body, each stardrenched cell, one at a time. She released from every atom of self all but obedience to the Queen’s desires, in all their beneficence.
The two panels of the huge oak door parted. Not a lot, but enough for her to slip through. Home. And it wasn’t the same. Her longing was not fulfilled, as it once would’ve been. As it once always was when she returned here, her home.
Instead, the landscape was twisted, reminding her of a background mortals had created for an animated film by the human male Tim Burton. She’d attended it with a human lover, a poet. She’d loved him, and the film had been fun. But the memory held no joy because, unlike that cinematic background, there was no Goth-charm or attractiveness to what the opened gate revealed. Faerie was utterly sad, devastated. She realized it also reminded her of something else from the human world: European cities bombed to the ground. “Devastation” is just a word until you’ve actually seen something or someone devastated. Faerie had been devastated. War had come to her homeland, leaving the vegetation—as always, there was nothing but vegetation by the gate—charred and bleak, and grotesquely twisted from spells gone mad.
No wonder she hadn’t been able to get back here. It wasn’t just because of the banishment or her imperfect compliance. For years, she’d kept looking for a place that no longer existed.
Her thoughts went to the day before, when she’d finally admitted to herself, “The Unseelie court actively wages war against me. Perhaps since my birth.”
So she had called through the veil to the Faerie Queen, “Mother, will you fight for me?” The answer quickly returned, “Yes.” Alethea asked next, “Then, Mother, what do you want from me regarding this?” Mother had responded, “Drive the chariot” and sent the picture of a tarot card—of a man in a wheeled vehicle, driving it and controlling its two horse’s reins—into Alethea’s mind.
Alethea still did not know if that meant Alethea was to actually enter the battlefield or that she was to harness her will, aim it to energize Mother and Her warriors. But this was one of many questions that would need answering.
She pondered another of them: Alethea was Truth; did that mean that the emptied parts of her were the most potent deceiver alive? She shivered. Studying the colorless view ahead, she wondered if she might have an incomparable ability to lie to herself. Is that why she’d never admitted to the war? Another chill ran through her. She had to regain her full magic and sacred glamour.
Alethea’s thoughts wandered eons back, to a poem she’d written, a light-hearted ditty that spoke of happy times and had pleased Mother: “Stars have fallen from the sky. They’re in our eyes. Let’s have a faerie tea party.”
It wasn’t a poem as humans knew poetry: It had no metaphor. Stars had indeed fallen, when the worlds were created, and those stars filled Alethea’s eyes and sight. But there were no tea parties in Faerie now. She moved forward, into the despairing landscape. Though she walked for quite a while, nothing changed, nothing happened.
Except that she found peace. No, perhaps peace is not the name for what Alethea felt. She was not happy. Her belly twisted. But, oddly enough, her longing was actually being fulfilled. Because no matter what it looked like, no matter what was going on, she was home. And she would fight to keep it.
 A traditional interpretation of the Chariot card is the mastery of one’s subconscious forces through use of will, and use of those forces to good purpose for the community.