Chapter 20: New Directions
Robbie has just vanished off Daewen's doorstep, before the startled Daewen.
At the moment, she (and presumably Robbie) are the only ones who know something odd has happened. Everyone else is back at the castle, unpacking, sleeping, or otherwise engaged. Kate leaves the omniports floating near the Pudgie Budgie (itself moored to Tom's tower), runs into the castelan, and asks him to get some guards to keep an eye on the omniports. Wouldn't do to have them drift away. The castelan is short of staff, with so many folk fighting grey ninjas across the water, but is able to come up with a couple &emdash; a Marginalis and Fallataal. Fallataal, in fact, asked for the Marginalis after he learned something of the nature of his new guard post; the little fellows have a stablizing effect on things that would be most welcome.
Kate then goes to take a much-needed nap. But her sleep is troubled and she wakes with an odd feeling. She asks the corridor boy (a combination junior page-boy and draft excluder) if anyone called. No one did. Telepathically, she contacts Salimar and asks if anything odd could have awakened her from a sound sleep. Not that Salimar knows. She tries to contact Robbie...
So does Salimar...
Uh-oh. Kate gets blank nothing. Salimar gets the faintest of responses, as from very quiet mind very far away. Very worrying.
They rummage up Markel and Daphne. They're fine, as is Gannar. Daphne recalls Robbie's intention of going to see Daewen and heads up there to check things out. Markel tries dowsing for all the party members and succeeds with everyone but Robbie. Kate and Salimar then contact Dafnord &emdash; alas, in the middle of a tender reunion with Findriel &emdash; who goes into military scramble mode with commendable dedication.
While Markel tries again on the dowsing, Salimar gives Kate's recent nap a good memory audit: bad dreams of night sky and pursuit by dragons.
Daphne reaches Daewen's cottage and finds the Dutch door with the top half open. No one is in sight unless you count the owl perched on the door. "Seen Daewen?" she asks it. "Who?" is the inevitable response. Daphne shrugs and knocks. "No," says the owl. "Not here?" asks Daphne. No. "Where?" It looks around (which owls do very well), appearing baffled. "Outdoors?" It sputters and peeps. "Elsewhere?" It nods. "Have you seen Robbie? A sort of invisible person?" It nods. (Hey, this owl can see invisible people. Recruit it...) Daphne relays all this to Kate and the others.
Kate decides she ought to wake the exhausted Tom. He wakes from a nightmare of screaming homunculi in mazes of doors and stumbles slowly into action. That is, in a couple of minutes, he wanders into Kate's room, where people are accumulating, and flops onto her bed, headed back into sleep.
Back at the cottage, Daphne is perched on the bottom half of the Dutch door. She notices she's on a wet towel. This implies Daewen was here and left abruptly. About the time she reaches this deduction, Salimar arrives on dragonback. The owl beats a hasty retreat into the house. "He's friendly!" Daphne calls after it. Yeah, right. It stays hidden, even after the dragon flies back to the castle.
Salimar pulls out the Map of Here and examines it for extradimensional markers. Of course, Daewen's house is liberally scribbled with witchwalk signs, but there is a fresh one right here at the door. One.
Daphne then calls on her wood magic to do retrocognition on the wooden door, and they get their first look at Robbie in the act of vanishing. They then see Daewen step through the door (through it, phantomwise, without opening) and vanish herself, apparently in pursuit.
Back at the castle, up on a tower, Markel tries dowsing again, gets the faintest of hints, and tries using TK in that direction. Now, Markel learned both dowsing and TK from the Quishonnes, who use an extra-dimensional flavor of psi, so maybe that is why he got even a faint hint, and why the surroundings waver and sparkle, and he sees shadowy shapes flitting over the boggart quarter of town...
Daewen reappears in her front yard, to the relief of Daphne and Salimar. She's fine, but she has no idea where Robbie is. "He went in some very strange direction." It was, however, almost familiar to her. It was a direction she doesn't see well in. (Witchwalkers become connaisseurs of directions.)
Salimar asks Daewen what she and Robbie were talking about when he vanished. "He wanted to learn about witchwalking, so he could climb back onto the world if he fell off it. Very reasonable goal. But what I do is, in its way, physical, and physicality is just what he lacks, now. I suppose the way he moves is more related to telepathy. A multidimensional telepath &emdash; like you &emdash; would be a better teacher for him."
Salimar wonders if the people who disembodied him in the first place could help. This entails Salimar, Daphne, and (telepathically) Gannar giving Daewen the most detailed account we can of what happened to him with the Purifier, and why Robbie volunteered for it, in the belief that it would help find Tom (which it did), since, as Daphne explains, we thought Tom was in a direction we couldn't go in, and the Purifier said it would help if Robbie could be "made pure." She mentions that the Purifier had a real problem with Gannar, calling him an "abomination."
While all this is recounted, Markel arrives to examine the spot where Robbie disappeared.
Daphne remarks that the Purifier said that Robbie was very close to an ideal, so that he (the Purifier) would be happy to help. Daewen notes that others have called Robbie an "eidolon," which has the same root as "ideal"; might he, she wonders, have slipped off into the Platonic Realm, the realm of ideals?
Daewen thinks for a bit and whistles up her daughter Mirien. (This is a disadvantage of being the witchwalking child of a witchwalker. Just try getting away from the family.) Mother and daughter look around, witchily, from Rbooie's departure point, and Daewen remarks that "going to the ideal" reminds her of something Mirien once said, but she can't think what &emdash; and this failure strikes her as suspicious.
Mirien hems and haws, and confesses that it was "When Mithriel and I went to the Back of Beyond&emdash;" "What?!" "-and found that island and explored it some. We thought it might be inhabited by archetypes." "And you 'helped' me forget this?" "Well, it would have been out of sequence..." Mirien offers. "We'll talk about this later." Oh, goodie.
So maybe the giant grey Purifier was an archetype. Of Purity, perhaps, or Order. Such folk, or things, Daewen explains, don't like sheer raw chaos, but they do fancy the more amenable chaos of Chaos' Rim, which is "near" the Back of Beyond, and which is ever-eagar to leap into form.
Robbie hasn't gone in that direction, though. She knows that one...
Back at the castle, Tom wakes from a nightmare of screaming people, and a river, and talking philosophy with Daewen. (That last, at least, is probably the result of falling asleep on the telepathy net.)
Back at the cottage, Daewen and Mirien are fading in and out as they experiment with witchwalking in various directions. Then Salimar's luck comes in (rolls 00) and she gets a good dowse on Robbie. Good and odd. She shares it, telepathically, with Mirien. "Oh, right. Mother can't see that direction at all. Damn. Uh... Well, Father Paddy always says confession is good for the soul. I think I know where Robbie is. Could everyone stop doing telepathy?" Back at the castle, Kate pulls down the net.
Mirien gets all the available details on Robbie's disappearance, including Daphne's retrocog of it, then ... step ... from the cottage to Kate's room in the castle and asks her about having nightmares when Robbie vanished. Tom chimes in with his own. These may be from Robbie trying to contact them. In fact, Mirien concludes that Robbie may have vanished into the Dream World. Or he may have gone to some nightmarish place that kate and Tom dreamed of.
But, on reviewing Tom's dream in detail &emdash; screaming face, river &emdash; "Uncle! That's The Scream by Edvard Munch. Dafnord, you named your ship after him!"
Dragons. Doors. Stars. The Munch. The battle in space with the draconians and the Jack B. Nimble. Is Robbie on the Munch? At the battle site in deep space? In the Dreamworld?
We hope he is not with the draconians, who are the folk who complained about us to Allied Epochs and so one side, at least, of the current political crisis. So, what say we go to the Dreamworld?
Anything, Mirien says, rather than hang about Mother just now. (By the way, the reason Daewen can't witchwalk or witchsee toward the Dreamworld is because she's no good at telepathy &emdash; the psychological dimensions, as it were.) Mirien once went there, very much against orders, when she was a child. She got very lost and it took her a long time to get back (though, being a witchwalker, she managed to return the same night she left). Everyone remarked how much she seemed to have grown, the next day...
We make preparations for a witchwalking expedition to the Dreamworld, led by Mirien. We put all kinds of clairvoyance tracers on each other, and Daewen (when she comes back into the conversation) conjures up little silver threads to attach to us, which become invisibly thin, but are undoubtedly still there.
On the mark, dream.
©1984, 1994, 2005 Earl Wajenberg. All Rights Reserved.