Mother Goose Chase
chapter 21: Angels and Elves, Again
The speaker at the entrance to Beth Yakov Synagogue carefully looks
Dafnord and Fallataal over. He is a healthy young man, who could be
anything from Spanish to Middle Eastern. "Come in, come in." He gestures
them into the synagogue. As they step inside, Dafnord is vaguely
surprised to notice that he is not wearing a yarmulke.
Once they are in the main room, their new friend continues. "Someone has been interfering with your involvement, as well as compelling you."
"Involvement?" asks Dafnord, not quite understanding.
"Yes, your ability to interact with the world at large." The two think of the missing crossroad to Arcangeles Space Inc. and nod. "So, what happened?"
Fallataal cuts the story to the bone. "Simply, we were inadvertently summoned. We were traveling through Cha- um, traveling, and we were re-directed here by a young woman. She is assisted by a powerful entity."
"Yes," the young man nods understandingly. He thinks for a moment, then says, "This is beyond my capabilities." He turns and calls, "Ithuriah?"
Another person appears next to him. The two stare silently at each other, presumably communicating telepathically. Then Ithuriah looks at the two venturers and examines them closely. "It's definitely a demonic compulsion. They wear another one, but of their own free will. They have been traveling across realms." The rest of the statements are true, so it would seem that our compulsion is demonic. Before the two can digest that, Ithuriah continues. "And, of course, this gentleman is an elf."
He turns to our companions and asks, "Are there more of you?"
"Are they in the same trouble?"
"Yes. The girl attempted to summon Samael, but the being she got claims not to be Samael, although he is going by 'Sammy'. He ordered us to kill no one and approach no children, then he ordered us to leave her apartment."
Ithuriah turns back to his companion. "Jeriah, I must look into this. You take care of these people." Without even a gesture, Ithuriah disappears.
Jeriah smiles. "Shall I get the rest of your party? You can either come with me, or stay here."
"Oh, we'll come with you," says Dafnord, "but there are complications. There are nine of us in all, plus seven ponies and a dragon."
Jeriah's eyes widen, and his eyebrows twitch up, but he says, "I can deal with that."
Dafnord contacts Kate over the net. "[We have] made contact [with someone named] Jeriah. [He] understands [the situation, and says he can] protect and help [us. We're] coming to get you, [so you should] pack [and be ready for us]."
Kate's response is a wash of pleasure, and of confidant acceptance.
Jeriah smiles. "Well, since I have a fix now, and since there are so many of you, I'll get us some help."
The group had just finished getting the saddles and packs on the ponies when there comes a knock on the door. Robbie steps over to the door, and launches a second sight viewpoint, without an eyeball, through it. On the other side is a young lady of oriental appearance. She smiles up at Robbie's viewpoint, knocks again, and announces, "Jeriah sent me."
Salimar takes over from Robbie. "As long as you're not going to do us harm."
"On the contrary," comes an amused voice through the door.
Salimar bilocates under the door, and describes the group to the impending helper. She then returns inside and zips up the dragon into mastiff form before opening the door.
"I don't know if you were told," she says, "but I am Pelliel."
Robbie and Pelliel chat as the finishing touches are put on the baggage train. She explains about the interference with their involvement. He asks her about the rest of the compulsion, and she explains that they were forced away from children because children's guardian angels are usually close by. And killing anyone would also have drawn angelic attention. Robbie asks her where she's from. "I'm stationed here," she replies. And before that? She gives an unrecognized series of syllables in response. Robbie reciprocates. "Are you familiar with Faerie?"
"Yes, of course."
"Well, we're from Lanthil, a new realm of Faerie. We went to Tighmark for a visit, and accepted their geas."
"Ah, an accepted compulsion. I understand," replies Pelliel.
The next knock on the door is Fallataal, with Dafnord and a dark-haired stranger who must be Jeriah. "Who's she?" asks Dafnord.
"I'm one of them," Pelliel says with a nod. Introductions are made all around.
Jeriah brightly asks, "Shall we head out to Beth Yakov?"
We file out, ponies, picnic baskets, and all, in Chaos-traveling order. Robbie matches his steps to Pelliel, and explains his little problem to her. Since he became a Djinnish eidolon, he has become wary of entering religious spaces. Portions of his anatomy (such as eyes) which do so tend to evaporate. Pelliel smiles, tucks her hand around his elbow, and says, "Don't you worry. I'll take care of you."
This time, as we walk down the corridors of Arcangeles, there's no one around to stare at us, although it is only late afternoon. Kate observes, "It certainly beats being stared at." She and Jeriah smile at each other in perfect understanding. She twits him gently. "Isn't this interfering with our involvement?"
"Yes, but this is therapeutic." They smile again.
When we arrive at the synagogue, Robbie holds back fractionally and sends an eye in first. This is successful, so, along with the rest of us, he enters the building. The Marcher ponies and the mastiff amble in without hesitation. We stand around in the main room, and suggest that Salimar should project the arrival of Sammy for our new friends to examine. This is greeted as a good idea. Ithuriah and another figure flick into existence on either side of the Ark, facing it.
Pelliel introduces them. "Ophaniel, the archangel of Arcangeles, and his Watcher, Ithuriah." We try to absorb this information, which we had half suspected.
Salimar displays the events of three months earlier in the park. Ithuriah makes the identification. "It is Uzbal ben Samael, recently conjured back from the Abyss. He is a follower of Samael."
"Ah," says Salimar, understanding. "Beverley."
"Yes. Apparently, Beverley was, as it were, lucky, and provided him with a trace which he exploited to escape the Abyss."
Salimar displays him as we saw him in the Conroys' apartment.
"Fetch him," orders Ophaniel. Ithuriah takes Robbie's elbow as Pelliel and Jeriah vanish.
After three heartbeats they return, with Sammy held between them in a hammerlock. Ophaniel draws forth not a flaming sword, but a bar of light, and strikes down at Sammy. Sammy shrieks, and then, instead of Sammy, there is a pile of charcoal rubble that looks as if it could be assembled into a charcoal statue of Sammy. No one feels so inclined. What we do feel is that we are free of that compulsion, and of that interference with our involvement. Gannar calls Paper Moon and cancels our purchases.
"Will you be taking care of Bev?" asks Salimar.
"Yes. Don't worry," the archangel tells us.
"We'd also like to continue our interrupted journey," she goes on. "And..."
Ophaniel anticipates her. "The best thing to do is let the ponies have their heads."
Kate muses on the problem of Bev. "I'd like her to understand that... her willingness to use compulsion is wrong, and that her desire for slaves is wrong. About wanting the VR berth and the Up... I'm not clear. That's... just part of growing up."
The angels assure us that we shouldn't worry about it any more; they'll deal with Beverley appropriately. They disappear.
Once again we lead our troupe out onto the corridors of Arcangeles, and once again we are unbothered by the stares of passing strangers. The ponies trot briskly into the park, and head for a spot near where Sammy appeared. They start a dancing sidestep that leads them into a mist which has just formed. Markel, in the lead, exclaims that Tighmark is "right there!" We follow his lead. Almost immediately the mist becomes more textured, and we can dimly perceive twisty trees. It starts to feel like Tighmark, and soon we're walking on a dirt road.
Ahead of us are two enormous, bushy tree shapes, with the light of dawn streaming through them. Gannar checks his watch, and informs us that it is only a few minutes after we left Arcangeles.
Daphne breaks in with a loud and cheerful "Hi, Quirky!" directed at the tree on the right. The tree rustles in response. Now we can see the gate between the guardian trees, and a footman leaning against it. He gives a start at the pixie's greeting, and then focuses on us. He whirls around and starts for the house, but turns around almost immediately, takes a few steps towards us, and comes to attention.
"Hello," says Kate. "We have returned successfully." He dithers for another second, then dashes for the house.
Daphne asks Quirky about the other tree. (We can see that both trees still have quadrufurcated trunks.) She gets its scent signature, and that of its elf-friend, which she suspects is Hirgalad. She produces the bonsai tree, and proceeds to have a discussion about it with Quirky and his fellow guardian.
Swinburn comes pelting down the greensward and only recovers his dignity some five meters from us. He completes the rest of the distance at a composed walk. "You are most welcome back, madam. The family would like to thank you. Please join us in the dining room."
We flood him with questions. "Is everyone well?" "Will there be food?" "Is every member of the family here?" "Are the cakes gone yet?" "Are the visitors still here?" "Is the Warder around?" "What should we do with the Marcher ponies?"
This last question brings him to a halt. He signals a footman, and instructs him to cope with the beasts.
He leads us into the dining room, where a large number of Oakleys, some of them still in pyjamas, have gathered. The misbehaving uncle, Amrod, is not among them. Tintilasea, holding a sleeping Aldamir, enters, and goes to stand by Hirgalad.
He leads the questioning. "You've been to Earth and back?" Kate nods and smiles. "You have all returned?" Kate continues to nod and smile. "Safely?" Kate continues nodding and smiling. "With the... ?" More nods and smiles. "All the... ?" Kate doesn't stop. "Oh, we're so glad." With a flourish, Markel hands the purse to Hirgalad, who turns it over to Swinburn, who scurries off with it in a fine imitation of Chaffer.
Salimar spots Nanny Cob, sitting in a chair to one side, fully dressed, even to her shoes, and looking complacent. The alien teases her into admitting to running a betting pool on their return, and to having made a modest profit on the event. Being a diplomat, she does not ask who bet which way.
Another person enters the room. Our elves recognize her from the reception at the palace, even though she is now in night dress and robe. "Good morning, Madame Wardress," says Kate.
"Good morning, Madame Ambassador," replies the Chief Wardress. She sends Tam Brightman to re-ward the gate, and indicates that she would like to debrief us. Tintilasea firmly suggests that we be given a chance to freshen up, and this is agreed to. We all work our way through a gauntlet of hand-shaking Oakleys, and find our way to our rooms, where we bathe and change.
Back downstairs, we find the entire family, perfectly dressed, waiting for us at the dining room table, with the Chief Wardress, in uniform, at the head of the table. Diffidently, Kate describes our travels. We learn that the group of three standing stones is still there, southeast of Colchester, and is still used as a transfer point. Daphne describes the musician's little dog, and is assured that it probably was a fairy dog, since it could perceive an invisible Cy, flying with an invisible bag of coins. It takes them entirely by surprise that the choir of Tighmark sang appropriate nursery rhymes for us as we transferred from one locale to the next. It turned out that Tintilasea, Hirgalad, and Megilriel had only the dimmest recollection of attending a ball at Lady Pembroke's some six hundred years earlier.
Our two encounters with angels were the most interesting parts of our story for the Tighmarkers. They know no more about those beings than we did, and no one recognizes the name of the realm that Pelliel gave as her previous posting, even though Robbie reproduces it perfectly. We end our recitation to a rapt audience with uniformly dropped jaws. The Chief Wardress thanks us again for all our efforts, rises, and leaves the room still shaking her head.
Everyone else now relaxes. Mallammen expresses the universal feeling with, "Well, you have had a difficult time of it, haven't you?" We realize how different our lives are from those of other folk, because, except for the side trip to Arcangeles, we thought we had a very easy time of it. She continues, "We do want to thank you very much." This opens the way for many other expressions of thanks.
Soon conversation turns to more local events. On the positive side, Daewen's squirrel and their little "Koli" (Aldamir) are constant companions. On the negative side, the Prince and Princess of Tighmark have taken an interest in Aikenyard. They have expressed their unhappiness with Galentarma's choice of gift, and with the terms of the Oakley succession. It will be changed. Amrod has been exiled to Earth, bound with a few extra geases, to stay there until an appropriate punishment can be decided on.
Further discussion is interrupted by the arrival of letters. There are several for Lanthilos, including two for Kate. One is from Nick, and the other, addressed simply to "Katherine Carter, Envoy of Lanthil" has no identifier other than a blob of emerald green sealing wax on the back, pressed with an intertwined "O" and "Z".
©2002,2005 Ann Broomhead and Earl Wajenberg. All Rights Reserved.