The Chaos Marches
Chapter 11, Losing Mithriel
We left our heroes with the task of taking down the tunnel connecting Memory's valley and the Special Place to Last Valley. Toward this, Tom has gone to the twilit Chaos' Rim on the "high side" of Last Valley and wished up a portal into the tunnel.
Before we start to deploy it, however, we decide to send a message back home to Daewen, via the blue gyrfalcon Mithriel created a few hours ago. Tom conjures a piece of paper and writes:
We've met Memory, who has since died. We are now trying to take down your tunnel. There is very little land left. Wish you were here.
He doesn't bother to sign it, because Daewen knows perfectly well who goes around creating blue animals and who goes around writing on paper made of air.
Mithriel sends off the falcon and we return our attention to taking down the tunnel. Tom suggests trying to substitute the portal for one of the seams in the tunnel (where it joins at either end to Last Valley and the Special Place) then finding a safe place to take the other side of the portal. He admits this is an uncertain approach.
Dafnord suggests using psilencers to destroy the seams (as distinct from using them to destroy the whole tunnel, which would be disastrous to anyone IN the tunnel), and using the portal to beat a hasty retreat. Tom likes this idea.
Mithriel doesn't say no, but is less sanguine. She says she's always been told (without explanation) that it's "bad luck" to use psilencers on witchpaths, and the tunnel is, in part, a bound witchpath. On the other hand, that advice may merely have meant psilence was disorienting to normal witchwalking (if you can call any of it "normal"). The real problem is that the tunnel is made of bound witchwalking and bound Second Order Glamour, very robust forms of magic that do not always succumb to the psilence that annuls lesser psychic activity. But we can try.
So we do. Mithriel steps through the portal, from the twilit cliffside into the tunnel, and locates the seam nearest Memory's home. This she marks with a dotted line, in blue glamour. Tom thrashes around a little and eventually succeeds in putting a psychic trigger on a psilencer (a self-destructing one, obviously). We leave it on the seam, Tom says, "Go," and we hear his voice counting down from 30. We retreat. At zero, the view through the portal wobbles a little, but that's all.
Robbie's floating eye, Tom's Second Sight, and, eventually, Kate in person all soon determine that nothing has happened except the glamoured dotted line has gone away. Damn.
We decide, with Mithriel's blessing, to try physically destroying the seams. Lessee, what do we have that goes boom loudly enough to blow away the psi patterns embedded in the stone at either end of the tunnel? Not much. Shall we wish up some TNT in the twilit Chaos' Rim? (Right! And how long do you think an explosive will stay stable IN CHAOS?)
At this point, Mithriel coughs uneasily and admits to having discovered that you can use ectoplastics to create some really good nitro-cellulose from thin air. "Brilliant!" Tom exclaims, giving her a kiss. She looks (and, on the net, feels) very subdued, however, as she goes off to conjure the stuff, leaving Tom to recall a time about a decade ago when there was a small forest fire near Vinyagarond and two little elf-girls were suddenly very scarce -- about the time people were questioning his wisdom in teaching basic chemistry to Daewen's children...
In short order, especially after Tom gets the hang of it and joins in, we have several cottony-looking dynamite sticks. Tom does use the Chaos' Rim to wish up a heavy glass carboy to help the explosive pressure build up. Mithriel adds the finishing touch by extracting a pill of compressed oxygen out of the air, binding it, and popping it in the carboy with the nitro sticks. We then plant our mind-made bomb at the tunnel seam, Mithriel releases the oxy-pill, and we boogie out the portal.
A little debris flies out the portal, just before it wobbles, warps, collapses, and flies off randomly, all at once.
We trek across the valley to the tunnel entrance. On the way, we are met by a Marginalis, who points at us, says, "Ah! There!" apparently to himself, and runs off.
As we reach the tunnel mouth proper, two Marginalia trot up and announce "Bad coming. Many. Edges. Dark side." Then they run off to warn others. So we have a battle shaping up, but we really must check the tunnel first.
The nearby seam is in tact, but the further one is now under a heap of rubble. Mithriel thinks the second seam is still there but greatly damaged. She will go try to take it down herself. She leaves the rest of the party, save for Salimar, and heads down the tunnel toward the rubble.
Mithriel starts to work, and Salimar gets a premonition of disaster. The tunnel starts to wobble and is soon clearly collapsing -- not so much because of falling stonework as because its space-time is coming unraveled.
Most of us bolt for the exit. Dafnord runs down the lurching tunnel to grab Salimar. Tom heads down the tunnel after Mithriel, trying for telepathic contact. But she's gone very quiet, he hopes because of intense concentration on her task. He tries launching a Second Sight viewpoint from her mind and succeeds. He doesn't see anything intelligible, but he's confirmed that he still has her on the net.
Dafnord, meanwhile, has overtaken Katrina and Fr. Paddy in the rush out of the tunnel, picks them up too, and heads back for Robbie, who fell down in the general catastrophe.
Tom has smacked his head on convulsing rock, and so is now flying very low on TK, trying to push back the walls with his half-trained Second Order Glamour. Just as Dafnord picks up Robbie, Tom gets thrown back, feet first, hitting Dafnord in the head. (Sorry.) Dafnord staggers out with Robbie while Tom tries again to dive in after Mithriel. He finds the space thicker, jellyish, making headway hard.
Dafnord notices Tom has fallen off the net. Tom, meanwhile, can still get a faint connection to Mithriel, though without any data coming across. He encounters a "bubble" of clearer air and finds himself being expelled as the bubble rushes up the tunnel.
Tom and his bubble catch up with Dafnord and Robbie. Tom lands on Dafnord again, and they are now ALL in the express bubble outbound.
The entire party, minus Mithriel, is scattered about the ground around the tunnel mouth, and the connection to Mithriel is gone. Various bits of rock that came out with us are expiring in fizzles of silvery disney-dust, as the magic that made them unravels. The rest of the party can feel Tom's mind clenched around the memory of their encounter with the elf on the air-cycle, who hailed Mithriel as "Sis." That elf was almost undoubtedly from the future, and is an omen that Mithriel is not gone permanently. It will have to do for now.
Because, just now, the Lilim are coming. Dafnord recommends we return to the high side of the valley, where we can get a good view and access to Chaos' Rim. There, with binoculars, Dafnord discerns three to six airborne Lilim circling over the dark side.
A Marginal scout shows up and tells us that most of the Marginalia are at a big hideaway at the light end. Good. If we lure the Lilim here, we won't be luring them toward the Marginalia.
We turn toward the twilight and begin making shopping lists and battle plans.
©1984, 1994, 2005 Earl Wajenberg. All Rights Reserved.