Week 62: Fay Time Slip
We left our heroes laying low at the Dancing Bear inn, having unsuccessfully
tried to answer what looked like the call of fate. The moral seems to be: If
you think you have a date with Destiny, don't call Destiny, Destiny will call
After a quiet night, we are roused just before dawn by a strange, warbling cry. Soon, some of us recognize it as a horn-call, from the general direction of elven crown. Along with other guests at the inn, we fling open the windows, and launch eyes and clairvoyance, and look around. We see w rider in the sky, who must be huge if he's as far off as he seems, blowing the horn. Soon, a cavalcade of other riders streams after him. Rather a lot of both mounts and riders are horned.
A Hunt. The pixie burrows under her pillow. We hear lots of pattering and slamming of doors elsewhere in the inn. After the Hunt streams by, we get dressed and go downstairs. We find that, like ourselves, everyone else is now thoroughly awake, and so has decided to have an early breakfast, though lots of folk seem short on appetite...
Robbie snags a passing dwarf -- one of the staff, who are atypically flustered and caught off guard -- and asks if this sort of thing happens often. No sir, not often at all. The dwarf doesn't know why and doesn't want to inquire.
Isn't it a trifle late for a Hunt? Don't they usually happen at dead of night? The dwarf eyes Robbie and recalls that he's from Very Far Away. The dwarf explains that, when the Hunt has far to go, it tends to depart around dawn or dusk. Something about half-light and half-worlds. (Obviously, the scheduling of Hunts is different at the Hunt's home base than at the Hunting ground, where most reports of Hunts come from.)
Tom looks around for a High Elf to query. He doesn't see any, but he does spot a wizardly-looking fellow busy being extremely inconspicuous (to those not using clairvoyance, anyway). Anxious not to blow the fellow's cover, Tom glamours directional silence over himself as he sidles over and asks if he knows why the Hunt is abroad.
"They don't confide in me," the wizardly chap answers. "But there was some business with a dragon spy down south, they say. But you'd know about that." Tom allows that this is so.
Salimar collars another dwarven waiter and asks what the horn calls mean. The dwarf is hasty to proclaim ignorance, but says there's a fellow staying here who might know. "What's he look like?" Much as he likes. "Can you give him a message?" Maybe. Who should he say is asking? "Someone who looks much as she likes." O-o-o-okay. The dwarf suddenly remembers something to do in the kitchen. Polish the coal. Floss the cockroaches. Anything. Bye.
Salimar relays this to Tom, who suspects the knowledgable gentleman is the same as his wizardly chap. A second round of clairvoyance re-locates this worthy, still in high-gear inconspicuousness, now eating a melon at a table. Tom uses the same tactful glamour to ask him if he knows anything about the horn calls. Only a little. There were three he understood. The first was a summoning to the Hunt, and the other two were warnings, or announcements that warning notice had been given -- in the first case, to outlanders, in the second case ... he isn't sure.
Tom thanks the gentleman profusely and butts out. Feeling duly warned, we don't hurry at all about getting under weigh again, to let the Hunt get as far ahead as possible. Robbie asks the dwarf at the desk if there's any problem with our continuing. None that he knows of. So, eventually, we get our carriages loaded and the ponies hitched up, and head south.
We leave the foothills of the Crownpoint Mountains for the plain of Taurion. Between the hills and the forest, we see a roiling storm. Salimar notes an additional strength and agitation to the high background psi of Faerie. The storm breaks over us just about the time we enter the forest. Tom and Robbie conjure outsized umbrellas over the ponies and drivers of the carriages and we plow on, down the forest roads. Tom notes, uneasily, that the forest looks different. It usually looks grand and mysterious. Now, it not only looks wet (of course) but sinister. Less like Taurion and more like Mirkwood.
The journey seems very long. The storm lets up late in the night, and the ominous atmospherics subside. Around dawn, we make our way into a clearing near Vinyagarond, fog and drizzle slowly dissipating around us. A stablehand takes charge of the ponies. Daewen comes out to greet us, pleasantly pleased that we brought the ponies back. That seems a little puzzling, and a few exchanges make Tom doubt his ... dating.
Tom has a tree in the front yard that he puts psychic marks on, to keep track of his sequencing. He goes to check it and finds an extra mark on it. But it isn't numbered, the way Tom usually does it. It might not even be Tom's, though again it might be. Which is odd in itself. Puck's?
Tom goes back and asks Daewen how long it's been since the Second Council. Dating is deliberately hard to do in Faerie. She calculates in her head and announces that it must be a little over a year.
Pensively, the party goes to their rooms, reflecting on the odd weather you can get around here...
Tom goes back to the Grey Room to look for the door to his pantope. It isn't there. Poking around carefully, he finds a false back to the closet -- a layer of glamour. The signature on it is that of some family member, but he can't place it. Peeling the glamour back carefully, he is rather surprised to find a very long, black tunnel, ending in a remote star-field. Between this and the family smell on the glamour, he rather suspects he has found Runyana's bolt-hole.
Summoned, the rest of the party comes in to look at it. Robbie goes down, exploring, tied to a rope with the Gargoyle holding the other end, and with Salimar coiled like a second rope around his waist.
Robbie adjusts his vision until, between dark adaptation and UV, he can see fairly well. The tunnel seems to be roughly hewn through something like slate. Salimar consults the Map of Here, but finds nothing on it but tunnel.
As Robbie walks along, his connection to our telepathy net wanes, except through Salimar, who can telepath across dimensional boundaries. For a while, he is able to keep up a telemetric comm link to Gannar, but then that fades, too. He sends a remote eye ahead. It seems to stall, and he loses contact, about ten meters ahead. But there's something definitely wrong with the perspective here.
Salimar becomes uneasy and wants to go back, remembering her traumatic mitosis the last time she went spelunking between dimensions, back on Destine with Tom. But Robbie wants to experiment a little more. He finds he qui-style levitation works on his errant eyeball. And some bits of triangulation Tom recommends show that the local space has a slight negative curvature.
"Now can we go back?" Salimar asks. Robbie turns around and discovers that the perspective here is exaggerated. And biased. It's easier to walk back out of the tunnel than it was to walk down it.
Salimar tries peering through the walls with her clairvoyance, and gets the feeling that either there's sheer nothing past those walls or the matrix goes on forever. She moves her viewpoint around and finds the same bias on the closetward direction. She leaves a psi tracer, and decides to push forward to the other end. Eventually, she is clairvoyantly peering out a cave mouth, on a cliffside. There's forest below, and water beyond There's a suggestion of light around the bend of the cliff.
That's enough for the first look. She drops her clairvoyance and, still wrapped around Robbie's waist, withdraws with him to the Grey Room.
Dafnord, meantime, finds one of the elven servants and learns from him that Tethycles -- yet another nephil acquaintance of ours -- is now in Lanthil (along with most of the rest of the household), helping with construction at the harbor. Dafnord decides to send him a letter.
Salimar, meanwhile, has dowsed for Tom's pantope. Down the tunnel. Tom, who wants his pantope back, ties on the rope, hands the end to the patient Gargoyle, and heads down. He pauses to check his watch. This is a replica, acquired in Chaos' Rim, of a highly futuristic and psionic watch that always gives the local date and time, in the local system. Now, it reads "13 month, 7 day." Not a familiar notation, but it is just about the length of time since the Second Council, or about the length of time we've been gone.
He feels the glamour in the tunnel again. The same as before. He feels around for the Emerald Metaphor and gets the bare feeling that it exists, but no direction. He returns and feels that it is definitely not in Faerie.
Tom turns around and marches all the way down the tunnel. He comes out at the cave mouth, where there's a convenient bit of ledge and some scrub. Now he gets a clear bearing on the pantope -- over toward that dim light.
He sends out his Second Sight and follows the light. Soon he sees the lights of a town, with the suggestion of a castle beyond, and a second town down by the water. Looking up the mountain and back, he is not surprised to see the Lightfall. This is a tunnel from Vinyagarond to Lanthil.
He checks his watch again: Year 37, Month 3, Day 17. Whoops. This is also a tunnel across time. And the dating makes it even likelier that this is Runyana's bolt-hole.
Meanwhile, broadly speaking, Dafnord has posted his letter to Tethycles: "Hope you're finding satisfaction in Lanthil. Looking forward to sailing on your harbor." It will go out with the next post to Lanthil. The ones that take the (snicker) "normal" route along the Chaos Roads.
At the other end of the tunnel, Tom feels that going any further would invite a time-tangle, and so retreats. A much shorter trip.
We go down to lunch. There are only a couple dozen folk in the house, in addition to ourselves. Everyone else is in Lanthil. Tom asks Daewen how long it's been since she saw him. About six months; why? Are we twisted? Tom says yes and lays out our chronological situation -- fresh back from our first trip to Elvencrown. "Oh! Then all sorts of things haven't happened yet. Um..."
Yeah, um. We should try to get back in sequence. "Oh, is that why the mirror's locked?" The mirror back to the ranch on Hellene? We hadn't known it was locked, but probably. Daewen isn't sure how long it's been locked; she just noticed it was, a few months back. Maybe it will unlock for us.
Tom sure hopes so. He wants his pantope back. There are all sorts of reasons you don't want to mislay things like that. Dafnord suggests checking for it on the Map of Here. Good idea. But when Salimar opens her vacuole for it, she finds it gone. She's outraged, in the manner of a kangaroo victimized by a pickpocket.
Daewen volunteers to loan us the original Map of Here (Salimar's being a copy), but then can't find the key to the desk it's in. Tom smells a timelock, and suggests that Salimar's Map, being a piece of pure glamour, simply stopped because of said timelock, and will resume when doing so wouldn't promote paradox.
We eat lunch, then decide to try to mirror now. No, it's still locked, even now, even for us. Daewen shows up dressed more for action, with a gun on her hip, saying she now realizes it's been a long time since she heard from Hellene, and she's getting concerned. We offer the mirror to her. She is able to pick at the spells over it better than any of us, but the only result is that it ripples under her hand and starts to get hot. She announces that it isn't just locked, it's blocked.
We then repair to Daewen's bedroom, to try the magic handmirror linked to Braeta's. It doesn't work. Clairvoyance through it is totally dark, as is clairvoyance through the library mirror.
Tom suggests looking for clues in his lab, but Daewen brightly offers to check there for him, considering his state of twistedness and all. She comes back and says there wasn't anything anomalous -- or more anomalous than usual -- in the lab.
Daewen asks if we really want her to witchwalk us to Hellene. "You know me; whatever I find there, I'll get involved in." Right. Well, then, we do have another option. We don't tell Daewen what it is -- and she carefully doesn't ask -- but we now feel that the best route is into the closet. (We could try going back through the forest, but we've never heard of a fay time-slip taking you back.)
It would be nice if we weren't so short on sleep, but at least we've had lunch. We pack up and head into the closet. We leave our heroes on the cliff's edge, in Lanthil Year 37, hoping to find the pantope out there somewhere.
©1984, 1994, 2005 Earl Wajenberg. All Rights Reserved.