Chapter 28: The Doctor of Form
When last we left our heroes, we'd completed our heavenly shopping spree in the bazaars of The Eleventh Paradise in the City of the Seventeen Spires on the Moon. We boarded the Pudgie Budgie and prepared to head to Djinnistan, hoping that Robbie would spontaneously re-embody in that rarified realm.
Of course, we're not entirely sure how to get to Djinnistan from here. Fortunately, the Prefect of the City of the Seventeen Spires had given us a ring containing a multicolor rock from a mountain very near the gate to Djinnistan. Markel dowses for Djinnistan using the ring and concludes it's "That-a-way." Salimar tries also, using her hex talents. She feels that the Markel's heading is a bit off in the higher dimensions, but it's the right general direction.
With their guidance, Gannar sets sail "That-a-way." We pull away from the City of the Seventeen Spires at a moderate pace. As we rise, the moon grows smaller, until there are stars all around us. Mindful of how we ended up on the Moon, Daphne chats with Robbie on the mechanics of the building of the ship, to keep him focused on HERE. She explains each piece of the ship, it extreme detail; what it does, where it came from, who created it, how it was done, what it was made from, and how it was assembled.
As we sail through the heavens, Dafnord notices something "funny" ahead and down. The stars appear to be wavering there, ever so slightly. Almost as if we were sailing through a perfect night sky full of stars and above a calm ocean. Dafnord can almost make out a horizon in front of us, black against the night sky. He believes that there are a number of islands ahead of us, more by the absence of stars where the islands appear to be than by anything else.
When Dafnord mentions this to Salimar, she attempts to look head with Third Sight. This reveals the islands that Dafnord had been struggling to see, and shows some color. The islands vary from octarine (greenish-purple) to sparkling white. Interestingly, the color is flowing over the landscape instead of localizing. Not to be outdone, Markel tries looking at the islands with his Qui Second Sight, and describes the shifting of the colors as harmonious and melodious.
Faster than we'd expect, we approach the land. Everyone can now see the colors as we head towards the highest peak. The mountain is rippled with bands of color that fade to pink at the heights. Below us is a fathomless depth of black sea.
We swiftly come into a huge bay. A rainbow appears before us. Above the rainbow the sky appears to be a burning blue with white clouds. We sweep past a landscape of impossibly steep hills out of an oriental painting, swooping up a fold in on of the mountains and (barely) over the sharp, snow-capped crest. A valley falls away below us. There's a very colorful sparkling ahead. Our destination appears to be a peak with many colored rocks, matching the stone in the ring.
Salimar comes on deck with Robbie's glamour body. The psi signature of the body is similar to the one surrounding us. Daphne hands her a seed she collected from the park on our last venture to Djinnistan. Salimar dowses using it as a token and feels that it came from the direction of the bright colorful sparkling we can see in front of us. Dafnord can just make out some type of figures or towers or very tall trees among the glitter.
We head towards the lights. After all, there might be shopping. As we get closer, the sparkling lights resolve into a city.
But before we get too close, we pause at a handy rock outcropping. Robbie was supposed to spontaneously re-embody, and that hasn't happened yet. Perhaps he needs to actually set foot on Djinnistan. He floats over the rail and lowers himself to the rock, until his feet begin to submerge. Maybe he needs more contact. He tries creating an ectoplast of Djinnish snow and binding it to himself. Other than appearing to be an amazing parody of Frankenstein's Monster, there's no effect. Robbie re-boards the ship (leaving the hollow "snowman" behind) and we continue on towards the city.
Markel dowses for the Djinnish ambassador, and gets a reading over that way. Gannar adjusts our heading, and then realizes that we're not alone. We're being escorted by a strange flock of large birds; each one is a different species. There is a humanoid rising towards us. He's very large, very muscular with his lower portions shadowed in a cloud. A classic Djinn.
Gannar brings us to a halt and the Djinn rises to our altitude and lightly vaults over the railing, landing on the deck. Somehow during his landing the cloud has faded to billowy pantaloons with shoes that curl up to points. This is a vision out of a tale of Arabian Nights.
Salimar chooses this moment to make her entrance, dressed in silver and black and her Kai Seneese diplomatic cloak. She sketches an elaborate salaam and says, "Welcome to the Pudgie Budgie."
The Djinn folds his arms over his bare muscular chest and stares at us, looking stern.
Salimar continues "We are here on a medical emergency of some importance." This gets an artfully raised eyebrow. "A member of our crew became disembodied in an act of 'purification' to help save another of our traveling party. The disembodied one's essence is that of Djinnistan from a previous visit to your land. We have come here with Godspeed directly from the City of the Seventeen Spires in the Eleventh Paradise on the Moon as they have directed in order to save our disembodied Mr. Roberts."
At the sound of his name, Robbie comes on deck. The visitor stares at him. Or through him. It's hard to tell. After a few moments, Dafnord comes on deck carrying Robbie's glamour body in his arms.
Salimar continues, "We have tried to land quietly on the edge of Djinnistan to effect the restoration of Robbie's essence to his body, but it's not working."
Robbie pipes up, "We were hoping that the Djinnish Ambassador would be able to help us."
Several more figures approach, with assorted appearances, many not humanoid. In addition to the birds, there are a number of boats and flying carpets. We're becoming the center of quite a traffic jam. We can hear the sound of many people discussing the strange sight we make. Suddenly the voices quiet. A tall, slender man with a golden complexion is striding our way from the city, walking through the air as if he were on pavement. He has long black hair and an elegant silver robe. He pauses, just off the railing. Salimar bows even more elaborately than before. The figure steps over the railing and alights on the deck. Twirling his long mustachios, he remarks, "I'm told that you were asking for me."
Salimar introduces herself, and then summarizes our mission once more. The Djinn replies, "I don't recall meeting you before. I am the Ambassador to Faery."
Robbie explains that it was the Ambassador to the Council of Lanthil that we met. "Oh. Her." The Ambassador looks more closely at Robbie. "It is uncommon to be able to be alive while being in such a state. I confess that I've never seen an animate eidolon leave is eidolon behind and just be animate."
Robbie asks, "Is there anybody who can assist me in regaining my body?"
The Ambassador strokes his mustachios as he considers. "There is a sage in Djinnabad, the city at the peak of Kaf."
"What is his name?" The Ambassador glares at Robbie. Oops. Major faux pas. "Please excuse me. How may I refer to him?"
The Ambassador replies frostily, "Sir, or your honor, I would imagine." The Ambassador gives Robbie another hard look, as if reconsidering whether to offer his assistance to such barbarians. "I will arrange for a guide."
One of the "birds" breaks from the "flock" and approaches the ship. As it comes in for a landing, it morphs into a humanoid form.
"I will leave you in these capable hands and return to my duties." Salimar and Robbie bow. The Ambassador bows in return, and then steps onto the railing and off, returning to the city as swiftly as he arrived.
The newcomer speaks for the first time, "I was told to guide you to the Doctor of Form in Djinnabad. Mr. Gannar, it's the peak you can see the glitter on. Gannar glances at Dafnord, who gives a small nod. Gannar engages the engine and brings the Budgie about nicely, accompanied by an entourage.
As we get closer to the peak the glitter resolves into the city of Djinnabad. Our guide directs us to a silvery building with blue highlights. Gannar lands the ship lightly in the "street" in front of the building. As our keel touches down, two identical individuals with ruddy, bronzy skin come streaking out of the building. Each of them is about 3 feet tall. One stops on either side of our vessel. When they speak, each asks alternate words. "What do you wish in this place mortals?"
Salimar asks our guide, "Should we be introduced?"
"Answer the question."
Salimar explains that the Ambassador to Faery directed us here. "We were recommended to the Doctor of Form to assist us in our medical problem."
Once again the two ruddy individuals volley the words of their sentences back and forth. "Wait here. We will announce you." And then they streak back into the building. After a brief wait, the doors open and the two servants (?) hold them open for what appears to be an elderly gentleman in black and silver who comes walking out slowly. Once the gentleman has come to a halt just outside the doors, the two servants streak past him and come to a stop on the rail. Then announce, "The Doctor of Form," and bow towards him.
Salimar asks, "Shall I go to the Doctor, or would he prefer to come aboard?"
The two reply, "If you can go, it would be best."
With a quick telepathic ping to Robbie to "Stay here!", Salimar floats to the ground and bows to the gentleman. "Sir. We have been guided to your expertise by the Ambassador to Faery. We have a medical problem." and once more relates Robbie's tale.
"All who are concerned are present?" Salimar nods. "Then alight and I will see you within." With that, he turns and enters the building.
Tom, Gannar, Markel and Daphne elect to remain behind. The rest of us debark. Our guide looks perplexed, and then shrugs and leaves. Oops. We probably should have thanked him.
The two servants of the Doctor of Form lead us into the building, and into a room that looks like a study. There are racks of scrolls a wardrobe, an ornately carved desk, and a cluster of chairs. The Doctor is seated in the largest, most ornate chair. There is one for each of us, including one for Robbie's body, which Dafnord is carrying.
Robbie chooses not to sit (not that it would do any good) and ends up standing in front of the chair nearest to the Doctor, who looks him up and down. "An odd form. You're not by nature Djinnish, are you?"
Robbie retells the tale of how he asked the Djinnish Ambassador if he could visit Djinnistan, and how his mortal body was left behind, and he spontaneously re-embodied in the body that Dafnord had brought in. The Doctor examines Robbie's glamour body. "And how did you come to lose this one?"
So Robbie explains how we were on a quest to find a missing member of our party, and encountered the gray humanoid at the edge of chaos widdershins of Lanthil. How he was offered a chance to be "purified" which would help us find Tom faster, and took it.
"Lanthil? I don't know of this realm."
Salimar steps in. "It is a new realm," and relates the story of the founding of Lanthil. When she finishes, she produces a vial of Lightfall water, hands it too him and explains how we recently discovered that the Lightfall comes from the Paradise on the Moon, through the Dreamlands, to Lanthil.
The Doctor examines the softly glowing vial in his hands. "I see..." He looks at Robbie. "From Djinnish eidolon to very near a pure ideal. That doesn't work very well you know." Robbie nods. "For those of us wedded to the mundane dimensions it can be very dangerous."
Robbie relates his unplanned excursion to the Dreamland.
The Doctor muses, "One who contemplates and observes and values. Who contemplates the purity of form. But form without substance, to me, is not interesting. One who has become absorbed by form without substance could be very dangerous to mortals."
Robbie thinks back to our return with Tom, and his attempt to ask "the purifier" to restore him to his body. Only Salimar's insistence that it would be A VERY BAD IDEA(TM) stopped him. "Can a new eidolon be formed around me?"
"Had you asked me before you'd arrived, I would have said certainly. Now I'm not so sure. What was your form before you came to our realm?"
"A self aware automaton..." The Doctor ponders the implications of this bit of new for a moment. "You understand that physical law is different here than in other realms." Robbie nods. One can't travel on a pantope between dimensions for too long without pickup up some of the concepts. "Our realm is more celestial, but still physical. We are very much alive. This is not a place where machines work as well as living things. Do you move between realms regularly?"
The Doctor pauses to ponder the implications of this. "So our eidolon is the manifestation of an ideal of the not-entirely-abstract idea of the mechanical being. And now you have been ripped from that and are nearly that ideal without substance. The question is how to embody this? You must have changed in essence. Or else you would have embodied upon arriving here."
Dafnord asks, "Could something of his essence remain in the eidolon?"
"That it still exists at all means that the essence is still present. The Doctor turns to Robbie, "What is the essence of you?"
Robbie thinks of Tom's advice when he examined Robbie's (then new) body, 'Always believe in yourself.' "I am who I am. I can be no other."
The doctor continues to muse, "The robot is essentially other created. If you have taken this creed to heart, then you are essentially self-created. And that difference between now and then could be why you don't have a body. Are there others like you?" "Not that I know of."
Dafnord and Kate explain about the New Blood, who are essentially self-created. And Lanthil, which is a realm created by the Marginalia as a gift for Daewen.
The Doctor absorbs this information, and then continues, "You appear to be in some way close to unique. Something of a self created mechanical being. When the eidolon was created, it was created by a Djinnish agency. I would advise you to attempt re-embodiment in your native realm. What is it?"
"The literary realm."
Once the party has explained the relationship of the Literary Continuum's history to other worlds' literature, the Doctor, says, "If this realm's soul is so strong that it extends out and slips into nearby realms, again it speaks to the whole notion of mind and body."
The Doctor looks at Robbie, "I begin to have a hypothesis. Mr. Roberts, you need assistance to re-embody. The original re-embodiment was Djinnish in nature. To determine what assistance you need, we need to know what you have become. What is your aim?"
Not being a deeply introspective thinker, Robbie is flummoxed. "I don't entirely know."
Last Updated: 7-Oct-06
©2004 Barry Tannenbaum, All Rights Reserved