Journey to New Europa
Chapter 10, Attack from the Golden Dawn
It's the wee hours in Montague Street, where we have been hobnobbing with Sherlock Holmes, King Auberon of Faerie, and the wizard Morrolan. These worthies takes themselves off and we do the same.
Dafnord suggested we need to talk to the reclusive widow, Mrs. Blackthorne. We put it on our list but, for the moment, decide the most productive thing we can do is to go to the Scarlet Crow pub and meet this elf we were told shows up there and is pretty approachable.
We seek out the pub, and the proper corner of the pub, and there find a number of fashionable ladies gathered in a clump, laughing and engaged in witty repartee. Dafnord sends Kate in, who uses her small size and experience with crowds to elbow her way to the center. There she finds the elf -- and it's Iarien, the fay hussar we've been bumping into ever since Somerton. He's pleased to see us, but clearly this meeting gets us no further ahead. We back out and return to the hotel.
On the way, we decide to send Widow Blackthorne another letter and this time cast a pattern on it to take photos of the first several people who touch it. We might also try some clairvoyant spying on the house where we found the Necromancers' Trash Can. And we should keep in touch with Katrina in the matter of the word "Mesopotamia" appearing in the agony columns. Finally, we should look into the matter of temporal magic, since that seems to have a bearing on the case.
On the mundane side, we should start looking for a house to rent.
And so to bed.
Next morning, there's nothing interesting in the papers. We write our letter to Mrs. Blackthorne:
Dafnord and Cailin go for a walk in the botanical gardens near the Blackthorne house and keep watch as the mails come through. Meanwhile, Nick, Kate, Mithriel, and Tom go to the Gryphon Feathers book store to investigate time magic, Ashleigh goes to an estate agent to shop for a rental house, and Lorelei goes back to Holmes, to pump him about time magic, the Golden Dawn, Druids, and the like.
Holmes doesn't know much about magic per se, but time magic is reminiscent of stuff the Illuminati do, or fay gateways. Also, the Temple of Ra is rumored to do that, but they're new and haven't been infiltrated much yet.
On Druids, Holmes says they are pretty neutral, largely uninvolved in all the intercollegiate sparring, but they often pick up members from the other orders, which wins them some resentment. Also, the Order of St. Boniface is (obviously) religiously based, with parallel divisions within itself according to denomination. Some of these are very adamantly anti-pagan and regard the Druids as pagan, hence execrable.
At the bookstore, the hobbity proprietress can't say much about time magic except that it's wizardly stuff, especially reminiscent of the Temple of Ra. Tom buys a book to thank her, and leaves for the occult bookstore.
Back at the botanical gardens, Dafnord and Cailin see the postman pass through. Shortly after, Dafnord is accosted by a deferential policeman who asks if they'd mind moving along. It seems some of the more nervous residents are wondering about a couple including a seven-foot man hanging about the gardens all morning. So much for stealth. (By Dafnord, anyway. No one even noticed Cailin was there at all.)
Dafnord gives monosyllabic replies and wanders off into Regents Park, to feed pigeons.
In the occult bookstore, while Tom browses, Nick checks the tracers on the letter. It's in a pocket. The butler's, who is in the kitchen, playing cards. Nick moves his viewpoint out and prowls the house until he finds Mrs. Blackthorne. She's in bed, reading. He sets a tracer in her chandelier and leaves.
Still in the bookstore, Nick asks the storekeeper about the Temple of Ra. He dismisses them as newcomers, neither fish nor fowl, trying to combine science and magic. Tom finds nothing useful on them.
Dafnord, meanwhile, has observed that servants come and go through the back doors, here. So he'd probably get a better view from behind the Blackthorne house. Telepathically, he asks Nick to locate the letter again. It's still in the butler's pocket, but this time the butler is in a carriage, headed south.
Dafnord parts company with Cailin and takes a cab in the same direction, into Hyde Park. They pass Speakers' Corner and go on to a three-story brownstone, the home of the Necromancers' Trash Can. The butler enters--
--and Nick's viewpoint cuts out. Dafnord can do little more than change cabs and go on. But we've established that the Golden Dawn is reading Mrs. Blackthorne's mail, via her butler.
Back at the bookstore, Tom buys several contradictory histories of the Temple of Ra and some theoretical works on temporal magic. Kate gets a transient impression that she can see through Nick's hand. She is about to remark on this when Mithriel leaps at Nick and they both vanish through a nearby bookcase, ghostwise, and tumble out on the other side.
Nick: "What was that for?"
Mithriel (pulling a sword no one had really seen before): "You were under attack. A dimensional magic attack."
Nick casts about with second sight, feeling magical weirdness. He raises shields and falls off the telepathy net. Tom confirms his magic-readings. He notes a definite similarity to the magic at Somerton Hill, the magic that brought us here. Mithriel says that it doesn't seem to be active now.
We notice a faint sulfur smell. Examining the skeins that make the local magic-matrix, we see they are all twisted to hell and gone -- metaphorically, we hope.
So, someone was trying to do dimensional magic on Nick. An attack? Or a rescue? (Or accident?) We leave the store and Nick pulls out the Map of Here. It shows two recent dimensional disturbances, one here, the other in South Kensington. The Golden Dawn again!
Lorelei, back at the hotel, starts setting up some Deryni Wards Major, very heavy-duty magical protection.
Nick suggests we report this to Morrolan, and we all agree. Nick also suggests we just knock on the door of the Golden Dawn and say, "You wanted to see us?" Cute, but no...
(Ashleigh, meanwhile, has found a promising house to rent, near a military prison, which keeps the price down, called Old Oak Manor. It has a gatekeeper's cottage and apartments over the stables. We'll need a couple of carriages.)
Once we are all back at the hotel, Lorelei checks out her son Nick. There's no sign of tracers or tags. Katrina shows up, hears us out, and tells us of three assaults on members or properties of the Temple of Ra that she rejected as unrelated to the pattern, but maybe not, in view of the Goldies' activities and the involvement of time magic.
The Temple of Ra, we learn, has been in England only two or three years. They claim to be descended from the pharaohs, of course, but have existed in the present form for only a dozen years or so. They want to have the combined best of magic and science, and may have been inspired by the super-science written up by Jules Verne.
Nick tries using a plain ol' 25th-century psilencer. It works. The magic skeins all go taut. We've learned that fays are ethereal, here, so he also tries pushing his hand through a table. No luck, but a sort of promising feel to it.
We send a message to Morrolan, asking for an interview. Morrolan himself comes in reply, much better in the leg now, thanks to Lorelei's healing. We tell our tales and he informs us that the heavy-duty wards Dafnord and Nick encountered indicate a big spell in progress there. Perhaps the summonation that grabbed for Nick a bit later. The Golden Dawn do try that sort of thing sometimes.
Lorelei: "Might they still have a hook into Nick?"
Morrolan: "Depends. Do they have any magic of yours?"
Nick: "Yes, the letter, with its tracers."
Morrolan: "You should be safe until they follow the tracer back."
Nick: "Maybe we should just write them a letter, too. A regular letter."
Morrolan: "...Ah, yes, that would probably put them off balance." (He's amused.)
Nick posts a polite but peeved letter to the Golden Dawn.
Morrolan, meanwhile, tells us that the Temple of Ra is enemies with the White Lodge. He has also heard rumors of their time magic. For more on that, we must wait on Auberon. We opines that we should definitely try to get the Golden Dawn people to the conference table, as it were, before they start getting destructive.
Lorelei raises the Wards Major, which very much impresses Morrolan.
Morrolan examines Nick for magical residues and finds none. Nick shows him the Map of Here, and Morrolan is very impressed again. He decides that we are so alien, magically, that Auberon's investigations at Somerton will settle nothing, so he might as well act on his own.
He tells us that the various wizardly orders have special spell-books, grimoires, kept very secret, as the basis of their power. The Temple of Ra's grimoire is a very heterogeneous collection, including thin sheets of metal or foil, oddly written on in dots - dot matrix, or so we infer. So we further infer that the Ra grimoire is itself trans-temporal. Morrolan asks that we keep this very quiet.
Tom reiterates his offer to let Morrolan check us out telepathically. Morrolan understands exactly what Tom is offering for the first time. He declines, and warns that his own order, the Illuminati, are specialists in coercive magic, so such offers of contact could be dangerous. Tom thanks him for the warning, but tells him that telepathic contact is always reciprocal, which might complicate efforts to coerce through that channel.
We drop the Wards Major and resolve to open diplomatic relations with the Golden Dawn at the first opportunity.
Copyright © 2003, Jim Burrows. All Rights Reserved.