Journey to New Europa
Chapter 20, Searching for Tom Olam
We left our heroes en route and en masse to visit Sherlock Holmes, after a brief test of the claim that high elves are put off by holy objects (which seemed to be likely true).
We update Holmes on our latest encounters with the Unseelie and signing the Treaty with the Seelie, and hand him his copy of the Report. We ask where to send Mycroft's copy and are told the Diogenes Club.
Holmes says we are likely correct in believing that the Assassination Bureau and the World Crime League are not connected. The apparent head of the Assassination Bureau, Dragomilov, leads a very open and apparently blameless life, doing very good cover-up. He came from Russia -- he claims -- at a time when there was a lot of turmoil in that area, and arrived presenting himself as a well-financed refugee.
Holmes says we may be correct in our idea that someone is trying to put the World Crime League and the Assassination Bureau at odds with each other, just as they are trying to do, it seems, with the wizardly orders, but it's hard to tell because big criminal organizations are naturally competitive.
We take our leave and mail off a report to the Masons (who are wizards here) at their main temple. We go to the Russian restaurant for dinner, bluff and bribe our way in despite lacking reservations, and discuss what our next move should be. Lorelei recommends preparing to break in to the Temple of Ra via the London sewers. Tom suggests dowsing for the missing Mr. Olam, now that we may be on good enough terms with the Bavarians for them to give us a dowsing clue from Olam. And that stands a very good chance of leading us to the Temple of Ra, giving more motive for breaking in on them.
We stop off at the Bavarian Embassy, leave the suggestion with them, and return to East Acton. Tom browses through our literature on wizards and finds we've neglected two orders in our distribution of Reports -- the Knights Templar and the Order of St. Boniface. Dafnord goes out to patrol our perimeter and sees a very nice carriage approaching. It pulls up and de Alqua and his servant emerge, carrying a box. It's our dowsing clue for Tom Olam. It is, in fact, his wristwatch. These are virtually unheard of in this world, and digital ones are certainly novel. So this is our first personal evidence that Tom Olam is indeed from another timeline.
Tom starts dowsing. The first result points back toward London, which is hardly surprising. We ready our carriage and head into London, the party consisting of Tom, Kate, Nick, Mithriel, and de Alqua. After some triangulation, Tom has the definite impression Olam is in the neighborhood containing the Temple of Ra. But there's an odd feel to the dowsing. Tom has knocked around a lot, and the feel suggests something extra-dimensional to him. We drive to the very block of the Temple of Ra, Tom dowses, and gets a definite pointer into the Temple building -- and a definite "funny" twist to it. So Olam is sort of in there, but stuffed into another dimension, or in stasis, or something of the sort.
De Alqua, meanwhile, has spotted something in the alley that we are loitering at the mouth of. It is, by now, a classic foggy London evening, and this may explain why the others did not immediately spot the fellow in the white robe, wreathed in fog, with something luminous in his hand. A little psychic feeling around assures us that he is magical, even the fog around him is magical, and the thing in his hand is most magical of all. He also has a staff. He appears to be sneaking about the alley, not, for example, standing guard or sneaking up on us.
Over the telepathy net, Lorelei remarks that his robe has a cowl, which is not a cut of robe she saw in the Temple of Ra last time she was in there.
De Alqua folds up his collar to hide his white shirt, goes into elvish-ninja mode, runs to the alley wall, then up it, then grabs the railing on a second-floor window, with his cape between his hand and the rail, which is iron. He then unfortunately snags his cape, nearly falls, grabs the rail again, and hisses in pain, since this time he contacts iron.
The figure turns at the sound and Nick knocks him out with a stun-gun. Or tries to. Nothing obvious happens, so Kate uses an old-fashioned sonic stunner. He crumples.
We gather round and see an infinity-sign on the border of his cowl. "Theosophist," de Alqua tells us. Therefore another spy, sneaking around the Temple of Ra just like us. All rather embarrassing. Tom and de Alqua load our catch into the carriage and Mithriel takes charge of his staff and the glowy thing, which turns out to be a sort of ball of mist. Mithriel calls it an "elemental ball" and remarks that her mom has one.
We go home and Lorelei heals up de Alqua's iron-burns. Tom and Nick start in on a memory-audit of the theosophist, who is still unconscious. They immediately turn white and gurgle. Mithriel was standing by with the elemental ball in a silk bag; it blows up, throwing her against the wall and knocking her out. Lorelei immediately brings up her famous Wards Major, which she had ready. This seals us all in except for Dafnord, who is still outside standing guard.
The whitening and gurgling, by the way, were caused by an immensely powerful mental message to GO AWAY that hit Nick and Tom as soon as they probed the theosophist. With some truly ghastly psychic overtones.
Having more brains than sense (though slightly less brains than they had a few minutes ago), Tom and Nick try again. After all, maybe it was just a shielding spell. This time Tom falls over. Ashleigh now notes that the fog leaking out of the shredded silk bag is very cohesive, even for London fog. Tom tries a very light telepathic touch at the fog, to see if it is the source of the trouble. It must be, because he passes out.
The fog continues to expand and everyone who can revs up their patharchical battle skills. Lorelei probes at it and detects an enormous sense of personal presence in it. And we're shut into the Wards with it. She brings the Wards down.
The fog is still expanding. Ashleigh notes, by second sight, that it is sucking all the local mana into itself. Also, there's a face forming in it. Lorelei warns Ashleigh back and draws her disflorger (like a phaser, only messier). "What is it?" she asks de Alqua. "Mahatma," he answers. After considering a couple of other ways to deal with it, Lorelei blows away the bag it's pouring out of. A good chunk of floor goes, too.
The Mahatma screams and flees through the ceiling, eroding a hole in it as it passes. The scream does a bit of shredding on all the conscious minds nearby. Tom wakes up screaming and finds himself staring up at the stars through the new skylight. The floor is now buckling. We leave.
The theosophist is still unconscious, lucky fellow, and not obviously damaged. [The GM suggests telepathy again. Jon laughs at the thought.] De Alqua demurs and Tom feels that he, for one, has spent all the brain cells he wants to on this guy. He suggests leaving him where we found him, for the Temple of Ra to deal with. The others modify this to leaving him on the steps of London's main theosophical lodge. Lorelei, meanwhile, heals and wakes Mithriel.
We drop off our erstwhile victim and totter over to the Bavarian Embassy, where they hardly flinch at all, now. Once glance at de Alqua gets us entry. We roust the long-suffering Morrolan out of bed and Nick confesses, "We've been bad." We tell our story and ask, "What's a Mahatma?"
Morrolan tells us that theosophist claim there are "higher beings," "ascended masters," who guide them, now dwelling on the ethereal plain, once human and living in Lemuria and Mu. But no one else has ever seen them. Auberon might be interested in all this...
Auberon is. After he hears our story, he commands, with great emphasis, "MY carriage." It has six perfectly matched black steeds and goes roaring off through the night, preceded by a pixie doing duty as a siren and a red flashing light.
Auberon and Morrolan give the battle-site a good, arcane looking over. When they're done, Auberon explains that some magical experts think "Mahatmas" are agents or constructs of the Unseelie, used for manipulating the Theosophists. This attack has left more arcane clues about than they've had before, and it seems the things are beings, not artifacts, very chaotic in nature, not fays, certainly, but from the chaotic edges of Auberon's native Faerie.
Lorelei offers to let Auberon or Morrolan audit our memories for more clues. Tom seconds this. Maybe later. Meanwhile, Auberon would like us to let him repair our floor and ceiling, and let his people take all the contaminated wreckage for our safety and later analysis.
With pleasure. Auberon also offers to put us up at a country house of his, while his Faerie workers do the fixing. (They and we wouldn't mix well.) Likewise with pleasure.
We pack up for a short respite, a mess of gnomes, brownies, petty fays, etc. show up in jig time, and Lorelei goes off with Auberon and demonstrates the disflorger to him by blowing away a fence post.
We leave for a little vacation in the country, at the house of the Fairy King, leaving our own ravaged home awash in Seelie fays.
Copyright © 2003, Jim Burrows. All Rights Reserved.