Lords of Being
Chapter 38: On Diamond Head
A quick regression: What Rosamund was doing while we were on the Island.
When the desperate, raving goddess burst into Dr. Fu’s office, Rosamund observed as he ministered to Her. Metaphysically, she looks almost utterly devoid of mana. A lot like Charlie, the ghost that accompanied Peri. The mana-laced rum that Dr. Fu gives Her supplies some mana, as does Dr. Fu’s direct efforts. However it is a drop in the bucket compared to the vast void that needs filling.
Rosamund reaches out metaphysically. Contact with the goddess is like walking through a vast building which has been stripped of all furnishing. However, there’s a “scent” of the missing occupant. In the center is a figure stripped of all clothing, power and dignity. She’s pretty catatonic. Rosamund reaches to the figure and places her hand to her shoulder. “Guide me. I am your sword arm.” The memory of the “scent” comes to her. She’ll recognize it wherever she comes across it. Rosamund gives the goddess a “sense” of her, to hold with her, which appears to calm her. Somewhat.
The rest of us see her put her arm on the goddess’ shoulder.
We’re headed back to Hawaii. Captain Barron is on the radio. Honolulu air traffic control isn’t happy with the fact that we’ve turned around and come back. Eventually they accept that we’re having engine trouble. Captain Barron turns the craft over to one of the Catalyst instances (and the autopilot) and comes back to discuss how to handle this with Hellgrammite.
“We’re going back to Honolulu on the pretext of engine trouble. We don’t want anyone inspecting these, do we?”
“No. The only things these engines have in common with the old ones is the cowling. Everything else was just raw material to make new parts.”
Captain Barron isn’t sure that he wanted to know that Hellgrammite did quite that much work on the engines. However, they seem to have been working OK… “Just keep in mind that you might want to do a little fast talking about the repairs that you’re making. I can help, to keep them from looking too close. I’ve got to put something in the report… Would you like me to make something up?”
Mabel suggests that he report that the oil pressure was low. It’s what the workers at her estate are always telling her about the car.
Captain Barron nods. “Yes, ma’am.” Of course there is no oil in these engines anymore to measure the pressure of. Or at least, no gauge on his console. He turns back to Hellgrammite. “Anyway, be prepared to talk with the inspector.”
After stocking up on “mana cookies,” the two instances of Catalyst decide that maintaining separation at this proximity is too much. They turn to face each other, walk towards each other, and collapse into a single instance, which sighs happily.
We arrive in Honolulu without incident, despite the “low oil pressure.” There’s a fair bit of chatter in the cockpit about the problems we’re having. We’re directed to an out-of-the-way hanger for “repairs.” Hellgrammite jumps out and starts “working” on the engines, with assistance from Catalyst. Some folks from the airport in coveralls enter the hanger and offer their help. For a small fee. Hellgrammite intercepts them before they get too close. “No, it looks like it was just a sensor problem.” He manages to techno-babble them off.
Inside the plane, Neville looks at the compass Hellgrammite constructed that is supposed to point at the owner of a possession. It appears to be a standard compass mounted on a wooden box with a drawer into which is placed the object whose owner is to be found. When we were returning to Honolulu, the needle was pointing steadily at the island. Now it’s swinging slowly in a circle. Neville opens the drawer to check that the necklace of the goddess is still inside. He sees a mound of shiny champagne pearls.
Mabel observes that the pearls are shinier than they were before, but other than that, they appear to be the same.
deVerre suggests that perhaps the goddess’ power has come to the necklace. She takes the necklace out of the drawer, and observes that the compass now just drifts directionlessly. She looks at the pearls. There appears to be a concentration of mana around the necklace, which is concentrating. There’s a flare of mana, a tang of sea in the air, and a voice that calls out “Mine!” The necklace disappears.
Rosamund recognizes the presence as that of the goddess and says, “What is of her in this world has come to take the pearls.”
deVerre feels that the presence went “that-a-way”. She takes the glasses from Simon, and goes out of the plane and looks in “that” direction. She’s staring towards the beach.
She hastens towards the beach with Rosamund, which isn’t very far way, since Honolulu’s airport is built out into Mâmala Bay. She retrocogs, and picks up a “flicker” of something like lightning coming from the sea.
On the beach, Rosamund reaches out with her life sense. She can feel life teeming around her. She can also feel the goddess’ presence fading. She stands on the edge of the beach and calls the goddess’ name, “Namaka!” There’s a bit of a reverb, which is unusual. The echo seems to come from a number of specific directions. In particular, down the beach yonder, in the direction of Sand Island State Park. Diamond Head is also in that direction. There’s also an echo from behind her, in the direction of Honolulu. She relates this to Sylvia. “I’ve always believed that if you’ve lost something, you should start looking in the lamplight.”
Wanting to get there quickly before the trail of the goddess disappears, deVerre pulls out her railgun and shoots towards Diamond Head. The bead falls way short, landing in the water with a “sploosh.” Clearly that won’t work. deVerre pulls out her phone and calls Simon, who’s still on the plane. “Why don’t you get to Diamond Head? Yes, right away.”
He goes whizzing out, having stopped time to do it, then calls her back.
deVerre asks, “Can you see anything interesting? Metaphysically?”
“There’s a lot of glass. It’s rather distracting. There were some interesting things done here in antiquity. And there were some obsidian blades chipped out over here…”
Tired of waiting while the distracted Simon tells her what he can see, deVerre joins him. Unfortunately, she can’t sense much interesting either. She sends him back to pick up Rosamund.
Simon pops out of Neville’s phone and trots down to the beach to where Rosamund still is, and asks if she’d join them at Diamond Head. She agrees, and he pops her to the crater, where Sylvia is.
Rosamund looks around. She doesn’t pick up much either. She calls out again, “Namaka!” She thinks she hears a faint noise from the hills. It’s almost like a continuous tone. It’s hard to pinpoint a direction since it’s very echoy here.
deVerre pulls out a piece of the sandstone she’d taken from the other beach. She crumbles off some sand, tosses it up, and retrocogs for the passage of the goddess. She clearly hears a musical tone, and can get a direction for it. She and Rosamund head in that direction over the rugged terrain of the crater.
deVerre trades the sandstone to Simon for the watch, and boogies in that direction, trying to get there before the tone fades completely. She suddenly remembers that she’s got the specs, and sets them to night vision. The ground glows gently in the infrared at the end of a tropical day. She can see a scattering of upright infrared holes in the distance, up the hill. She returns to Simon.
Simon asks Rosamund, “Should we get Mabel and Hellgrammite?” Before she can answer, Sylvia appears and suggests the same thing. They send Simon back to the plane to get the others.
Sylvia relays what she saw to Rosamund, who suggests, “They didn’t notice you because you were fast.”
deVerre nods. “And I left fast.”
deVerre takes Rosamund’s hand and using the watch to shift into into “fast time”, trots up to the crest of the hill with her. deVerre sees seven human male figures wearing headdresses and not a lot else. And they’re cold. Rosamund reaches out with her life sense. As deeply wounded as you can be, physically – i.e. dead. But walking around. She mutters, “Ghosts.” They’re fairly determined about something. And possibly hostile.
deVerre says softly, “That makes sense. They look humanoid, and very, very cold.”
“And they’re very determined, strong ghosts. They’re hostile against something, I’m not sure what.”
“I hope not Her. It could be us.”
Rosamund nods. “It could be her. If they are the Kahunas of Pele, they could be hostile to her sister. Or it could be something else.”
“Something has to hold them here. Anger or loss could be it.”
There’s another crest a bit closer. They go there, and drop into normal time.
Back at the plane, Simon arrives and announces “We’ve seen something. A number of figures. I think they’re humanoid. Cold rather than hot. Do you want to join Rosamund and Sylvia?”
Mabel replies, “Certainly Can Roper come too?”
Simon’s not certain, but says, “Sure. I’ll get him in a future pass. Do you have something glass?”
Mabel points to her necklace. “These beads are glass.”
That’ll do. Simon entangles an atom in one of the beads, grabs her, and pops to where Rosamon and Sylvia are. He then pops back.
Roper has nothing on him that’s glass. Simon grabs a pinch of sand, pops it into the surprised dog’s mouth, entangles one off the atoms in the sand, pops back to the ridge where deVerre, Rosamund and Mabel are crouched, and is gone before Roper can react.
Roper is NOT happy, and starts barking furiously. He’s not quite sure what just happened, but he wants it to know that he’s mad at it, whatever it was. Mabel attempts to soothe him.
Back on the plane Simon picks up Hellgrammite. They arrive to find Roper still voicing his discontent. Simon leaves Hellgrammite there and returns to the plane to ask Neville if he wishes to join the others. Neville slips his phone in his pocket and Simon whisks them to the park.
Meanwhile, deVerre walks down into the valley, away from all the noise. Simon and Neville appear on the slope of the crater. Fortunately, Neville is on the slope when he arrives. Simon arrives in mid-air and starts drifting away. He accuses deVerre, “You moved!”
Not far away, Roper is still voicing his upset. deVerre replies, “You annoyed the dog.”
Simon shrugs. “Mabel will take care of it.” He starts making swimming motions in the air.
deVerre bends down, picks up a rock, says “Here, catch.” And throws it at him. Simon deftly catches it and starts drifting downward.
deVerre turns to Neville and asks, “So, what do you do about ghosts?”
Rosamund, who also came down here to get away from the noise, explains “The reason that we’re here…” she glances at the ridge where Mabel is soothing a still growling Roper. “…quietly where they can’t see us, is that there are seven ghosts that we think may be shamans who feel a bit hostile, but we’re not sure towards what. And that’s the direction where we sensed the goddess.”
Neville relates the ghost lore he knows. How sand may be used to entice them to build a new body, and coins may distract them. Of course that didn’t work with Rene. “The thing that worked best with Rene was talking with them.”
deVerre grumbles, “Fine, as long as you don’t send Simon. He’s not good at subtlety.” Roper growls once more and then is quiet.
Neville asks, “Where are they?”
deVerre gestures. “Over the hill.”
They scramble back to the crest of the ridge and look down. Neville can’t seen much in the darkness. deVerre hands him the specs. Through them he can see seven black silhouettes. He asks, “Have they moved?”
Rosamund also looks. The figures are looking this way, but they haven’t moved. Yet. “I think our ploy to attract their attention worked.”
Simon joins the group. There’s a rumble from Roper, but Mabel hushes him.
Neville recalls some of the Hawaiian lore he’s read, “These might be Nightwalkers. They’re capable of cursing people, and according to legend if they surround you, you die. I think I’ll stay back here.”
deVerre agrees, “That’s probably a good idea, since you’re the mortal in the group.”
There’s the sound of a conch shell being blown. _That_ was the tone Rosamund heard earlier. Louder now.
Rosamund asks, “Neville, did you hear that?”
“Yes. I don’t recall any legends of them sounding hunting calls.”
Rosamund stands up. “Time to go talk to them. Who’s coming?”
Mabel also stands. “I’ll join you.” She point at Neville and says, “Roper, guard.”
deVerre says, “One of us should go. Simon it should be you. The dog is still growling at you.” She gives him a small shove as the three go over the ridge, and down a bit.
As they head up the hill towards the waiting figures, seven torches are kindled. The color of the torches is off; they’re too pale. With the IR specs, Neville can see that, while they’re bright, they’re not particularly hot. The ghosts stare impassively at the approaching party. Each ghosts holds a torch on one hand, while the other holds a wooden sword with shark teeth edges. One of the ghosts has a shell on a thong slung over one shoulder.
Rosamund recognizes the ghosts as Hawaiian warriors. She walks up to the closest and states, “Greetings, my children” in Hawaiian.
The ghost considers her, and the replies politely, “And how are you my mother?”
“I watch the islands.”
“And who might you be, then. You are not Nakama.”
“No, but she knows me.”
“Have you proof of that?”
“I followed her here. She is not where she should be.”
“So you know that too?”
Some of the other ghosts are muttering among themselves.
The near ghost continues his interrogation, “Why did you come instead of Her?”
“She may already be here, in part. That’s why I followed Her here.”
One of the other Nightwalkers interrupts, “You followed Her here? You have traces of her?”
Rosamund replies imperturbably, “I asked her to guide me.”
“And She guided you here?”
“Yes. She is holding her lands together, where they should be.”
There’s buzzing in the background as the other Nightwalkers confer.
The closest ghost states, “She has come to us here in Oahu fleeing some disaster.”
“Yes, she is partly here, and partly there. And that is not good for the land.”
“We know that She has been wandering. We have been calling Her.”
“Good. She needs a place to focus.”
The second Nightwalker again interrupts, “Did you hear us calling Her?”
“I heard the conch.”
The first Nightwalker nods. “So we have both been looking for Namaka and have found each other.”
“Yes. I felt she was either here, or there.” She gestured towards the lights of Honolulu. “The parts of her that are where she ought to be. She might have come for her pearls that we had.”
The first Nightwalker looks at Rosamund. “Had?”
“She took them.” Rosamund shrugs. “They are hers.”
“That is all very well, but she is not here now. All we can do is continue calling to here. You say that you had trace of her elsewhere?”
“Here, and there.”
“She loves the city full of the living. She could be anywhere, among them.”
“I’m not familiar with that. When people became too many, I began tending Molokai.”
“What of your friends? They dress like haole”
“We are all a little different.”
“Go there and seek for her. We will stay here and call.”
“We will see.” The Nightwalkers stride off into the darkness and fade from sight.
Rosamund summarizes the conversation in Hawaiian to her companions. “They seek her too.”
Mabel asks, “Should we track back along this line?”
Rosamund shakes her head. “They are more familiar with Her than I am, and say She could be anywhere in the city.”
They walk back to the group and Rosamund reports on what she learned.
Neville asks, “So I guess we should leave the search here to them?”
Rosamund nods. “It’s pretty well covered.”
Last Updated: Feb 21, 2010
©2009 Barry Tannenbaum, All Rights Reserved