Journey to New Europa
Chapter 43, Working with Auberon
This week's log is brought to you by Barry Tannenbaum. Our usual chronicler, Earl Wajenberg, took the week off to be with his wife Tina and four-day-old daughter, Holly.
Meanwhile back at East Acton, our heroes are waiting for Secretary Goodfellow...
Robbie goes up to the mirror and calls out for "Goodfellow, Secretary to King Auberon." Goodfellow pulls a cloth from over his mirror and greets us sitting at his desk which is piled high with papers. We inquire into the availability of King Auberon, and are informed that he's not available until tomorrow morning. Mithriel says the soft spot is stable, at least for the moment. We agree to wait until tomorrow morning at 10AM. Either Auberon will come here at 10AM, or we'll call him on the mirror.
Having no better ideas on what to do, we have lunch.
In the late afternoon we receive a letter from a Father Padraic O'Henry addressed to Lord Nick and Lady Mithriel asking to speak with us. We send a note back inviting him to dinner. Two posts later, we get a note from Father Padraic begging off; he hadn't expected such a quick response. We invite him to join us for Breakfast at 8:30. He writes back on the final post of the day to say that he'll be there, God willing. Jenny the cook is distraut, but that's not unusual.
After dinner, we set up the dream monitor and send Kate to bed. Tom and Mithriel go off and have a conversation on the ethics of feeding Mithriel's pet tarsier, so it can become fully embodied. Interestingly, the tarsier gets excited at the same time that Kate starts dreaming and the monitor lights up. This time we see a forest running towards us. Then we realize that we're the ones running through the forest. Looking back over our shoulder, we see that "he" is there.
"He" is a person of about our size running through the woods pell-mell, like us. He's dressed in simple and ragged clothes, getting more ragged rapidly due to the clutching branches, slips, etc. We don't get a clear picture of him, just an impression. The woods become dark and sinister, and we're getting tired from the running; either the footing is poor or we're getting exhausted.
Kate looks uncomfortable -- dreaming and not happy about it.
In the dream, the woods are getting darker and darker. Then we realize that the woods aren't getting darker. It's as if there is a shadow on us and on the woods ahead of us, as if we're being followed by some great dark creature.
Finally we come to an open area, more a heath than a meadow. We realize that the shadow is wider than it is long as if the creature has wings. We find we can run faster in the heath. The shadow falls back, we seem to be gaining on it. Then the ground begins to rise and the running becomes harder. The shadow is starting to cast itself ahead of us. Then we see hands ahead of us, as if we've fallen and then are scrambling along, half crawling, half climbing.
The hands look "somewhat familiar", like a 10 year old boy after a lifetime of work. (nudge, nudge). There's another presence scrambling next to us, up the wall to a ledge.
Then he passes us. We can now see that he looks like a ragged 10 year old boy, like would match our hands, in tattered clothing. We now realize that someone is crying out for help.
After hearing the call, Kate realizes that she's the one who's calling for help.
After a while the slope softens as we reach the top and are scrambling up a ridge. We hear the beating of heavy, leathery wings behind us. He is running ahead of us and we're trying desperately to keep up. We run along the rocky ridge and then he turns and looks over his shoulder and gets a look of utter horror. Someone calls "Look out!" and then he tumbles off the cliff. We see him falling off the ledge. We stop at the edge as he's falling out of view to his eventual fate. We realize that there is another problem when the viewpoint character looks down and sees a spear coming out of his midsection.
Kate wakes screaming. The monitor goes blank.
We comfort Kate and ask her what she remembers. She adds the first person details that she recalls. Interestingly, the thing through us was a spear, not a talon.
De Alqua comes in shortly after Kate screams. We wake Morrolan. Mithriel does the psychic equivalent of hitting the instant replay button, then plays back a series of the past dreams to bring both of them up to date.
Neither Morrolan or de Alqua recognize the boy in the dream. de Alqua notes that all of the intermediate dreams seemed to take place in a less physical realm than the first and last. Kate points out that there's no indication of the proper order of the dreams.
Salimar notes that the barb was sharp shiny bakelite. Robbie attempts to identify it and comes up with a series of video plays done a couple of hundred years ago in the 21st century (Kate's home line) in a Fantasia like (night on Bald mountain sequence) fantasy/horror series of animated flicks. We ask Mithriel to make a "print" of the frame with the spear and plan to send it off to Holmes in the morning to see if he has any luck identifying it.
Now rather tired, we all rest in our own inimitable fashions. Kitty comes and wakes us up in the morning for Father Padraic's visit. Not being morning people, we're not at our best as we wander into the breakfast room. Robbie chooses a cheerful dayglow orange to greet the morning.
At 8:30, there's a knock at the front door. Kitty goes to answer it, and then leads in a gentleman. She announces him as Father Padraic. He tells us we can call him Father Paddy. He's full of sparkling Irish good cheer, which we're not really in the mood for. Kitty tells us that breakfast is waiting for us in the dining room. We go in.
Father Padraic tells us that Father Thomas told he about us (ears perk up) and he's interested in the fact that we've heard the Gospel of the Lord from beyond the Faerie Veil (a groan can be heard over the ether). Kate handles the discussion, since Tom is indisposed at the moment. Kate admits to being baptized when she was born and then later becoming an elf. This certainly piques Father Padraic's interest. Kate describes being healed in an autodoc and then being biosculpted into an elf. Father Padraic then says "Ah, the shape of an elf, but not an elf!" Kate allows that she'll live as long as an elf, and can do psionics, which he would consider magic. Father Padraic asks for the origins of our humans. Kate gives him chapter and verse on the evolution of the species, starting about 2 million years ago. Father Padraic notes that this is similar to Mr. Darwin's theory. He then asks if we believe that we're all descended from Adam & Eve. Kate hedges. A splendid philos! ophical discussion ensues about the origin of the species, the origin of elves, and parallel universes. Then breakfast fare.
Salimar asks if Father Padraic might know anything about dreams, their interpretations and causes. Father Padraic admits that he's not well versed in that area. Father Padraic's area of specialization is a church history and philosophy. He's especially interested in the theological basis of the non-human races on this world. Robbie asks Mithriel to show Father Padraic the bust of the child from Kate's dreams. Father Padraic says that he's got a great number of books that may have a picture that matches the bust. He also notes that the eyes... Suddenly he notes that Salimar isn't human. Back to the eyes. The orbits of the eyes (the underlying bone structure) aren't shaped like a human's. They look like a fey, or an idealized portrait of a child. If it's a dream picture of someone, it could be anyone, but from the physiology, it's a Faerie creature.
We offer a room to Father Padraic, since he hasn't yet found lodging. He accepts. We ask Kitty to arrange a room for him. Father Padraic says that he will go to London to finalize his affairs, collect his things, and then return. But first some more of these fine rolls...
As we're finishing breakfast, there's a knock at the door. Kitty comes bursting into the dining room with the news that King Auberon is here with his retinue and she hasn't been warned so nothing's been cleaned or dusted or vacuumed or anything! We ask her to show him into the study. Father Padraic is taken by surprise that we've got visiting royalty, and quickly takes his leave.
We join King Auberon. Unfortunately, we didn't think to send Morrolan and de Alqua on ahead, so we've got a study full of elves who are annoyed at being kept waiting (except Auberon, who seems to be used to us by now). We explain that we've got a hole in the universe in one of our upstairs bedrooms and it's getting "softer". Somehow Auberon doesn't seemed surprised. We take Auberon and his retinue upstairs to see the hole.
Auberon looks at the Tarsier and asks Mithriel about it. She explains that she created it to watch the hole and notify us of any changes. He complements her on a very elegant and resourceful solution. Auberon "chats" briefly with the Tarsier and convinces it to move to another chair. This is the first time it's moved away from the hole. Auberon then inspects the hole closely, from all sides. In at least three dimensions. Auberon says that this is not a hole through the Faerie Veil. Or at least his Faerie Veil. In his world, one is little more than the will to be something. At the edge of his world, one is unable to control the chaos. Over the eons, they've developed ways to enter other worlds where they've become physical beings. This hole leads to other worlds that are not entirely like this one, nor entirely like Faerie. Without attempting to pass through it or probe it, he cannot say exactly, but he believes that it leads to a world which is n! ot a s physical as this one, but not as "unphysical" as this one.
We explain how the hole appeared. Auberon opines that Tom didn't create the hole but served as a focus for the person or creature who was trying to reach our world. If the hole were to fully open, this world might be contaminated with the chaos, or non-physicality, of that world. This would be bad for the mundane occupants of this world and make it difficult for the Fay to remain.
We explain that Tom and Mithriel have gone through and brought back a sample, which evaporated. Auberon takes this evaporation as proof that the world has different physical laws than our own.
Salimar proposes a memory audit to Auberon. Unfortunately Tom does those tricks. There's also the small problem of sharing memories with a king, which would be two way. We have Mithriel play back the dreams for Auberon in sequence. Auberon is now certain that the "child" is not one of his folk. He also notes that no one knows where Mahatmas come from. They are not native to this world, nor do they come from his Faerie. One of the other worlds that a different generation of elves was able to attune themselves to may be the origin of the Mahatmas.
Salimar points out that the Mahatma blew up not far from here; perhaps there's some coincidence. Auberon notes that there was a bit of tearing in the world wall that was sealed. This might have something to do with our soft spot. Auberon leads us to the living room which is the site of the tear, leading a parade of elves down the stairs and into the living room. de Alqua manages to position himself at the head of the parade, near Auberon. Morrolan looks amused.
Auberon circles the living room and announces that 3 if not 4 agencies are responsible for our rift. The outburst of the Mahatma strained the fabric of this world. The second agency was the artisans who repaired the tear. There are onion-like layers, or rings like ripples in a pond (standing waves, standing still) in the fabric of the world. The 3rd agency appears to be Tom with his attempt to probe through to the dream side.
Then there is the entity on the other side. In all likelihood, Tom was the hard place, or focus which the entity on the other side leaned against when it attempted to come through. Auberon likens it to trying to pierce a piece of leather with a knife. Unless you've got something to lean against, it's very difficult. Tom was the metaphorical anvil.
The good news is that this is unlikely to happen again, elsewhere. The bad news is that this is difficult to repair, and the rift must be repaired. Salimar asks "How?" Auberon looks at his retinue, then back at Salimar. The retinue scuttles out of the room, leaving us, Auberon, de Alqua on Morrolan (who's now looking very amused). Auberon confesses that he doesn't know how to repair this rift.
Mithriel has been hiding in a corner trying to look inconspicuous. A "quick" conference over the net convinces Mithriel to mention her abilities as a witch walker. Suddenly looking every inch a regal Elven maiden, Mithriel addresses herself to Auberon: "We might be able to do something about it." Auberon raises an eyebrow. Mithriel flushes and continues, "I haven't quite come into my own in these matters, but if I can remember my mothers lessons..." Auberon suggests that perhaps it would help if we study the both old rift and the new.
Auberon gestures and first Morrolan and then some of the retainers approach. They discuss. Auberon announces that he will spend the remainder of the day to examine the rifts. He requests that the superfluous retainers and the servants stay out of the room.
Auberon, et al continue their studies until evening. He announces that they've completed their researches, and have not reached a definite conclusion. They are going to go study and analyze what they've found. He suggests that we all reconvene tomorrow evening with one or two others of his court. Auberon and his court then head off.
A short while later, Father Padraic appears at the front door with a large carpet bag. Jenny & Kitty start laying out a formal and elegant dinner. In fact, a dinner fit for a king. As we're assembling for the feast there is an authoritative knock at the door. Since the servants are all busy, Robbie and Dafnord go to the door to find to find Dragomilov and his oversized manservant, dressed for the evening.
Robbie tells them that we were just sitting down to dinner and asks them to join us. Dafnord grunts.
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