Journey to New Europa
Chapter 41, Meeting with the Theosophists
It is evening, after tea. Lord Lauren remarks that he has enjoyed the stay, but he does have business in London to attend to. He rolls off. de Alqua breaths a sigh of relief and we finally feel free to ask him what he's here for. (We just "happened" to encounter him here when we returned from Edinburgh.)
He answers that he is here to guard us. Also, he finds us vastly entertaining. Also, he felt he had to counter the presence of Lauren, who is Seelie but still a security leak, being a gossip, not highly regarded among the Seelie. Oh. We didn't know. Thank you.
Turning back to our investigations, Tom tries to check the tracer he left at the Theosophists'. Ack! He wholly blows the attempt, destroys the tracer, and is left with massive vertigo. He calls for some watered wine and bids the others take over the investigating.
Robbie suggests his spy-eye. This is another newly-discovered accessory in his new body, being a little camera with a comm link and tiny antigrav motors. That is, it's a little metal eyeball that pops out of the top of his head and flies around at walking speed. Slightly icky, but effective. We resolve to call on the Theosophists later this evening.
First, Mithriel goes to check on the soft spot in Kate's bedroom. She announces it's changed again. Tom takes a telepathic look in her visual field and, not being a witchwalker, is massively disconcerted to be looking at a scene with a number of dimensions somewhere between three and four. Tom leaves to go stick his head in the autodoc. It is not his night.
Robbie would like to try his perceptual system on this, so Kate does the telepathic honors between him and Mithriel. He promptly crashes, first in the software sense, then physically as he topples to the floor. This attracts the attention of de Alqua, then of Jenny the housekeeper. He reboots and staggers to his feet. Kate, who weathered Mithriel's extradimensional perceptions just fine, tries to share her memories of the experience with Robbie. This fails, too, and he stumps off to restore his fuel cells by sucking on a gas lamp. This, in turn, affords entertainment to Katie the maid, who has already paused to observe Tom with his head stuck in the sleeping-bag-like autodoc.
Once we get over these exhibitions of incompetence, we convene, get in one of our coaches, and head off to London, while, no doubt, our drivers keep an eye on us for any other unusual behavior. (We once warned the staff that we were liable to vanish on short notice. They're probably wondering if we're warming up.)
We arrive at the Theosophical Lodge, still quite evidently under repair. Robbie finds a quiet moment to doff his hat and launch his spy eye. While we approach, knock, and go through the other rituals of admittance, the eye flies up into the evening air, over the walls and into the wreckage of the Theosophists' Lodge. The roof is temporarily replaced by a drapery of oilcloth.
Robbie wriggles the eye in and discovers a number of pigeons. He nudges them with the eye and observes their flight-patterns, looking for invisible walls. But no birds smack into wards. Robbie sends the eye further in, keeping to the shadows.
Meanwhile, Kate knocks and tells the ensuing doorman, "We came by some days ago to discuss something with you people, but it was a Bad Time. Is now a better time? We wish to speak with the recipient of The Report." He bustles off and eventually returns to show us in. While Robbie's outlying anatomy harasses pigeons, we are guided through various rooms and corridors, circumventing the damaged sections, into a library, where we meet a robed gentleman who introduced himself as W. Michael Reston. We trade cards. Kate asks him what conclusions the theosophists have drawn from The Report. Does it have any relation to their recent difficulties? Reston says he can't discuss their difficulties.
Meanwhile, Robbie sends the eye into the conjuratory. It hits something. Looking around, he sees a nearby pigeon and experimentally nudges it. The eye gets a similar hit. So the pigeons have taken exception to the floating eyeball. One can't really wonder.
The conjuratory contains several statues, currently draped in oilcloth. There are some new-looking supports under the floor around the hole blown in it. Everything is draped. Robbie tries poking the eye under the oilcloths, but finds that it's too dark to see anything useful in there.
He tries sending the eye into the hole in the floor, first having to fight his way through aggrieved pigeons. The basement is full of architecture-in-progress, as would be reasonable.
Meanwhile, back in the library, Reston says it was interesting to get so much apparently trustworthy data on the other Orders of wizards, but he can't see a connection to the destruction here at their lodge. He asks some suspicious questions of us, and it appears the Theosophists were put off by our apparent resemblance to their traditional rivals, the Temple of Ra -- like, them, we blend science and magic.
We assure him that we are not affiliated with the Temple of Ra, but are from Faerie -- remote Faerie at that -- and are just using the skills we happen to have to cope with the situation we happen to be it. We have no intentions of promoting our methods as a Way of Life or anything.
Reston seems but middling reassured, and he is completely unmoved by our offering references to the Druids, the Order of St. Boniface, and the Seelie Court. He regards these other Orders as no more than false religions, and says the Theosophists have little to do with the folk of the "half-world." He is also resolutely secretive. Tom, deciding that we are NOT going to get any more information out of him, makes a tart remark about their misapprehensions of us reflecting their closed minds, and frostily bows us out.
On the way out, Tom launches a clairvoyant viewpoint out of Robbie's eye. This is his first chance to view the conjuratory; it was warded against clairvoyance, but he has been able to piggy-back in on the spy-eye. He senses lots of magic, of course, and recognizes the signature of mahatmas. Mithriel tries to compare the signature to that of the soft spot, but fails. The statues under the drapes are all vague Hinduesque. No surprise. Robbie leaves his eye parked in the rafters and we and go to a restaurant.
On arriving, we note that de Alqua, who started out with us, is no longer here. He's very good at sneaking. Probably does patharchic Distraction or some such. We order a place for him at table anyway, and, a few minutes later, one of the waiters turns out to be de Alqua, who changes roles and sits down. He tells us we were followed from the Lodge by a thug -- i.e. a fellow who looks like a Thuggee, a devotee of Kali. de Alqua led him astray. We thank him.
After dinner -- interrupted only slightly by a pigeon attack on Robbie's eye back at the Lodge -- we split up. Robbie, Dafnord, and Kate walk off down the street, into questionable alleys, attempting to lure the thug into attacking them. Mithriel, de Alqua, and Tom return to the Lodge, now, under cover of darkness, to do some more snooping.
At the Lodge, Mithriel tries to cast a glamour of invisibility. She totally fails, producing an explosion of largely blue disney-dust. She follows this up by tripping over a garbage can. Totally disgusted, she glares at the Lodge kitchen staff, who were attracted by the commotion, snaps on the invisibility, and stomps away, followed unobtrusively by Tom, who is just plain sneaking in the shadows and, at the moment, rather glad of it.
Well, they'd never think we were going to try any sneaking after that...
So we now scale the Lodge walls, with the aid of some Daewen-style glamour rope that Mithriel has with her. Tom sees a lot of sawdust on the floor, smearing itself toward the hole. Using claairvoyance to see through glamour, Tom sees Mithriel standing in the midst of the hole, on a sheet of solidified air. (This, he later learns, was the cause of the moving saw-dust, as she shoved it into position.) Mithriel is busy feeling the area, comparing it in her mind to the feel of the soft spot.
She announces that the two do feel similar. And, oh, by the way, the difference is that the soft spot now has a new influence acting on it, that she hadn't realized was there until she compared it with here. This place feels like the original soft spot.
Having at last confirmed a connection between the mahatmas and our soft spot, Mithriel creates a cylinder of solid air, sets it spinning, then melts it again, thus stirring up a whirl-wind to re-settle the sawdust. Tom locates Robbie's vagrant eye and pockets it, despite several last-ditch attacks by irate Theosophical pigeons. Just before starting the climb back down to street level, he telepaths at them, "You're daft! You hear me? Daft!" Blocks away, Robbie breaks into laughter.
De Alqua oozes out of the shadows, where he was on guard, and we rendezvous with the other half of the party, who had no luck in trolling for thugs.
Back home, we go examine the soft spot again. Mithriel announces that the mahatma(?)-like influence seems related to the creation of the soft spot, but the new influence seems just a presence.
Mithriel creates another glamour ball ,and Tom stick another viewpoint on it. She tosses it into the soft spot, and it explodes. sigh We try again and succeed.
Tom, recalling his bad trip earlier tonight, waits for the ball to go through before activating the tracer. Looking around, he sees nothing like the fractal cypress swamp. Rather, he sees prismatically colorful clouds, no ground, and a sky of that famous but obscure color, sky-blue pink. Aside from the odd coloration, it looks a bit like the Chaos Marches.
He feels for the presence that Mithriel mentioned. There is a presence, but it's receding. Probably back at the soft spot, while the glamour ball is sailing away from it. Tom moves the viewpoint back and forth, zeroing in as best he may. He sees nothing. Is it a mental presence? Or just a magical signature? He'd know it again, by now, on a second encounter. It feels more mortal than fay. Tentatively, he reaches out telepathically. "Hello?"
And there we hang our cliff.
©1984, 1994, 2005 Earl Wajenberg. All Rights Reserved.