Week 11, St. John's Chapel
After many fruitless hours of chasing around London after demons and their conjurer, trying to find their missing compatriots, and trying to attract the right amount of notice of the right kind of occultists, our heroes return home to rally their energies.
Sophie puts forward the interesting theory that Daewen wasn't snatched, but left of her won volition. She then draws another portrait of the magician to show the day-servants. "If you see this man, tell us and DON'T let him in." She and Chris then take the picture to Madame Zoltan and tell her it came to them in a clairvoyant vision. (Perfectly true, so far as it goes.) Can she tell them anything about it?
Mme. Z. doesn't recognize the gentleman. How about a reading? They expected nothing less. Mme. Z. throws herself into a trance with no obvious expenditure of psychic energy (Chris was watching for that), and fails to get a geographical fix. She does, however, get a feeling of big trouble hanging about him. (Accurate, but this may be a tribute to Sophie's artistry and Madame's mundane observational powers.)
She does not believe him to be THE dangerous man she has warned us of on the previous visits. Rather, the magician himself may be in danger. She feels that there is partial involvement from many mysterious figures in the background. She also remarks that Chris and Sophie have been through dangers since last they met, and this may have changed their path through these powers. Besides the dangerous journey east, there is local danger. She feels there is something special about the picture. [Well, for a start, it was a critical hit.]
As they leave, Sophie concludes that the magician is from out of town, or Madame Zoltan would have known him.
Meanwhile, Tom and Pfusand go off to St. John's Chapel, hoping to lay hands on the processional crucifix used by the magician to bar the church door against the demons. This might give Tom a fix on the fellow. As they arrive, they see a man enter the church. Entering themselves, they see a curtain fluttering in a doorway to the right of the altar. Tom projects his Second Sight through the curtain and get a view over the shoulder of a young man, at the face of a priest, who is saying, "--will be right back."
Changing the angle of view, Tom is interested to note that the young man is Jonathon Goodhue, the person who trailed Sophie and Cantrel a few days ago and got quietly stunned for his inquisitiveness; Tom found him in the midst of an anxious crowd and, probing him, found that he bore a faintly enchanted amulet with the insignia of a snake or dragon entwined in a tree. He looks like he might be an occultist such as we would want to intrigue.
The priest pops out from behind the curtain and greets Tom. Tom explains he is a researcher into bizarre phenomena and is curious about the vandalism reported here recently. This surprises the priest, because there's a young fellow here, curious about the same thing. He calls out Goodhue and Tom starts the program of intrigue this way:
Priest: "May I present--"
Tom: "Mr. Goodhue! Nice to see you again!"
Goodhue is baffled. "I'm afraid you have the advantage of me, sir," and all that. Tom explains that they met once very briefly, and he has an excellent memory. He then introduces himself and Pfusand under their current travel names and discovers the priest is Father Brown.
Tom asks a few questions about the vandalism and asks to see the door from the nave to the back rooms of the church, which was apparently forced by the intruder (almost certainly the magician). The door is basically undamaged and unremarkable, but Tom performs a Detect Psi on it anyway, partly to be thorough and partly to observe Goodhue's reaction. There's no psi around, but Goodhue seems to prick up his ears a bit.
Tom then asks to see the kitchen that was broken into. There, he looks around a little, then, to the great mystification of Fr. Brown and Goodhue, methodically reproduces Daewen's fork-hanging experiment. Along the way, he "discovers" the holes from the tacks in the ceiling beams, from the last time around. Once the forks are in position, he says, "Now we wait for them to stop swinging," and makes them stop swinging with a little touch of TK. He then points out that the two fork pendula don't hang in the same plane -- vertical is twisted in the kitchen. The two observers are much perplexed.
Fr. Brown is further disconcerted to discover several more lengths of twine in the kitchen dust bin, of very much the same length as Tom's. He asks anxiously about the possible occult significance of the blood stain he found. Tom knows that blood stain from the last time around and knows it was accidental, not ceremonial. He reassures the priest that, had it been ceremonial, there would have been a lot more of it.
He then turns without explanation to an examination of the closet (where he suspects the magician hid). Goodhue actually finds a thread caught in a crack in the door and present it to Tom, who accepts it gratefully, meaning to use it as a Finding token.
Finally, he examines the kitchen door to the outside. Beyond the scorings on demon-claws on the door-knob, which we found last time, he finds scratches on the lintel and blood under the door-mat, pointed out to him by the priest.
He promises Fr. Brown to tell him if he determines a conjuration was performed in the church kitchen, since Fr. Brown rather feels he might have to purify the place or something. (Fr. Brown isn't into the occult much.) The processional crucifix, he finds, is out for repairs. He gets the address of the ecclesiastical supply store from the priest, then bids Goodhue a hearty good-bye and plants a clairvoyance tracer on him.
In the cab, Tom does a Finding on the thread Goodhue produced. He gets a very vague fix on southwest London and sends the results to Sophie telepathically. It seems to point to the vicinity of Penitentiary House or, just as easily, Buckingham Palace.
At the ecclesiastical supply store, he presents a note of introduction from Fr. Brown and learns the crucifix was sent on to the brass smith. Chasing on to the brass smith, he gets a lot of curious glances and, finally, a look at the crucifix. He tries a Finding. Nothing. Several tries are all ineffective. Oh well, time for lunch.
There is this much comfort: in the cab to the brass smith, he made a second effort with Goodhue's thread and got a much sharper fix . Sophie can now pinpoint the locale of the thread's wearer to Westminster, Grovsnor Square. (Please don't let it be a tailor shop. Oh well, if it is, we can show the tailor a picture of the magician.)
After lunch, Lorelei has Chris glamour her up to look like a fashionable young man. In this guise, she goes to the British Museum, where she asks for an interview with an expert in ancient religious symbols, especially Egyptian or Middle Eastern ones. She gets a curator.
She introduces herself as Dominic Layland and says she is researching some manuscripts that have been in her family a long time. She had run across this symbol in the family seal: (She then presents a picture of the snake in the tree, the symbol on Goodhue's medallion. She also turns on her Truth-Reading power.)
The curator says he doesn't recognize the symbol, [Lie.] but it would be hard to be sure without some context. Lorelei makes up a few details about stained glass windows and frustrated ancestral desires for a genuine coat of arms. "Ah, then it is probably just an arbitrary symbol made up by one of your relatives" [Ambiguous -- he's uncertain, or perhaps hopes this is true.]
Lorelei asks if he has ever seen it before. "I don't recall [Lie.]... seeing it used as a family emblem before [Truth.]" How about the symbol of a society. "No. [Lie.]" Is there anything in the museum like it? "I couldn't say off hand. [Truth.]" Lorelei asks Chris to put a tracer on this curator via the telepathy net, and makes her farewells.
Late in the afternoon, Chris and Sophie go call on Holmes. They ask after Jonathon Goodhue and present Holmes with a picture of the snake-in-tree. Holmes gives them Goodhue's address and says he is of an upper-middle-class mercantile family. He consults some books and identifies the symbol as that of a secret society, the Society of St. George (not to be confused with the knightly Order of St. George). It is midway in nature between a mundane secret fraternity, like the Masons, and a fully occult society. They are four or five centuries old, at least by repute, have a small but international membership, and are said to be a break-off group from the Masons. They might be interested in the Eye of Dalgroom. While they are more secretive than the Masons, one should still be able to locate them.
Holmes has also been looking for the magician, based on the portrait Sophie left him. The man does not appear to be prominent among London occultists.
Sophie and Chris take their leave and take their standard clairvoyant peek behind. Holmes sends Watson off to the library, to find a certain book on secret societies. Watson harrumphs a bit about not being a physician so as to run errands, but goes.
That evening, Alag and Lorelei go back to Barrow Hill, to have another try at locating Daewen or Cantrel. They go invisibly. Sophie and Chris follow a little later, also invisible. Tom and Pfusand go out fully visible, with the evening papers for diversion. These papers report the theft of some jewelry from the Worthingtons, in the classic manner of the Gentleman Burglar.
It gets dark early, due to oncoming rain clouds. Somewhat oddly, we find no cops about. However, once we are in position, a young man comes along and settles into a somewhat obvious spy-nook amid some bushes at the foot of the hill -- it's our friend Goodhue.
Tom and Pfusand rather startle him by sneaking up upon him and bidding him a good evening in conversational tones. He recovers his poise, removes his deerstalker hat respectfully, and returns the greetings. He'd offer them a place in his bush, but it's small. Quite all right; Tom and Pfusand will take up positions in plain sight near a trio of trees. "I'm afraid there's no place here to hang forks," Goodhue observers. "True, but we might improvise something with a hat-rack."
Everyone assumes their stations. Inside the hole on Barrow Hill, Alag tries his Retrocognition to discover what happened to his grandmother. He sees Daewen become transparent and walk off THROUGH the earth, out of sight. It seems Sophie was right about her leaving of her own volition.
Goodhue whistles like a bird. Not a healthy bird, but a bird. Tom and Pfusand stealth over again. "I thought I saw some activity up on the hill," Goodhue whispers. Did you indeed? And with all concerned being invisible. That's interesting. "Let's go look, then," Tom proposes. The three of us sneak up the hill, where now we CAN see figures moving on top. "Oh, it's you," Tom says aloud.
As Tom had well known, thanks to the telepathy net, Chris and Sophie are at the top of the hill, the one strumming his guitar, the other sketching in the gloaming. Tom introduces them to Goodhue as his niece and her husband, then everybody returns to positions.
Under the hill, Alag is trying various psychic tricks to walk through the dirt as his grandmother did. None of them work. Lorelei detects odd traces behind his magic and Daewen's -- possibly demonic, or conjurational, or having to do with dimensional transits.
They go home, soon followed by Chris and Sophie, who pause at Mr. Goodhue's bush to wish him good night. Around midnight, Tom and Pfusand take their leave as well.
Copyright © 1998, Jim Burrows. All Rights Reserved.