Journey to New Europa
Chapter 21, Preparing to enter the Temple of Ra
We left our heroes recuperating from their encounter with a Theosophical mahatma at a country house maintained by King Auberon, somewhere north of London. The last thing we do, before going to bed and/or passing out, is Lorelei sends Auberon our latest data on the whereabouts of Tom Olam -- somewhere at the London HQ of the Temple of Ra, but with unknown dimensional complications.
Next morning... We stay in bed.
The NEXT "morning" is actually 9 PM, but we finally feel like rising, and do. Tom decides to temporarily edit his own memory and forget about the entire adventure so far, at least during breakfast. Or dinner, or whatever it is.
What it is a perpetual feast. We wander in and browse. De Alqua shows up, and is a little puzzled that Tom fails to recognize him. Mithriel comes down after raiding a closet and dressing like Maid Marion as conceived by Flo Zeigfeld. Auberon shows up around midnight. Tom sees all the deference going his way and decides he'd better remember who this is and why he's here. sigh
Auberon tells us that our house is still largely in a state of disassembly, while his folk pick out the mahatma-contaminated bits for lab analysis and get ready for re-assembly. It will be done in about three days. Meanwhile, Auberon has learned much more about the mysterious mahatmas. They do indeed come from beyond the Veil of his Faerie, they are sapient beings, not constructs, and they are not obviously employed by the Unseelie.
We give all the details on what we've discovered about Tom Olam. Auberon is annoyed, since he can't interfere directly with the Temple of Ra without violating the First Compact. And he basically can NOT do that; it's magically binding. Of course, WE can... And, while diplomacy forbids us requesting Morrolan to come along, we could sorta let him know we're going and wouldn't mind company...
Lorelei suggests we also get Holmes in on this. How about we invite Holmes and Morrolan out to Auberon's place for elevenses? Sounds good.
Tom, meanwhile, asks Auberon if he knows Dragomilov, the head of the mysterious Assassination Bureau. Auberon recalls a family of that name who left Kiev about a century ago, a scholarly lot, who got in conflict with one of the pretenders to the czarship. He really can't say for sure if the family is at all draconian, which is what Tom is wondering about.
Auberon obliquely suggests de Alqua might have some tips for our upcoming raid on the Ra Templars, so Tom quizzes him. De Alqua says that, in his experience -- not, of course, while on any official business of the Seelie court (No, no, of course not.) -- Temples of Ra are very different by night and day. During the day, they are very busy and very well-supervised, with all manner of security checks and guards under temporal acceleration spells.
At night, they are very empty and unguarded, but protected by dream-based magic, i.e. nightmares and portals into the dreamworld. There is often a chapel, usually closed, with a dream portal in it. Dream portals don't open often, but they tend to stay open a long time when they do.
Tom suggests that Olam is being retarded by their time-magic or held in dream-bondage by their dream magic. Z suggests that perhaps the Ra Templars are trying to get a second Olam out of the dream realms.
Lorelei wants to know more about this dream magic we'll be going up against. De Alqua starts by telling her some generalities: There are polarities in the rivalries between wizardly orders. The Ra Templars' main rivals are the Theosophists. They, too, do dream magic, but it is more (he gropes for words) spiritual in nature. The Ra Templars developed their dream magic by copying (to parry) the Theosophist stuff. But theirs is more psychological than spiritual, designed to attack by derangement, obsession, terror.
(Meanwhile, somewhere far away, the Adversary is reading the morning copy of the London Times, in which there is a lengthy story by Katrina Constantine about our attacks at his hands and how we should now be safe(r) from them because of having signed a treaty with Auberon. He grumbles and goes back to the crossword.)
We hang around resting until Holmes and Morrolan show up for elevenses (or perhaps thirteenses, having seen this place). Nick fills them in on recent events. Holmes tells us that the Ra folk have a grimoire that is, in part, futuristic, according to some very indirect reports he has. Most grimoires are forbidding tomes of spells. This one is a motley collection of papers in a box. The "protective runes" on the box read:
"Imperial Star Fleet Ration Pack"
Fascinating. So we could be up against futuristic technology as well as magic.
Morrolan thinks he might not be much use on the actual raid, but admits that the magics of his own order, the Bavarian Illuminati, are not only telepathically coercive, but also teleportive and extra-dimensional. So he might be able to help pull us or Olam out.
Now, as to the mechanics of our sneaking in -- Nick uses Glamour to make a fork invisible, then uses Cloak to hide the magic of the Glamour. Morrolan and de Alqua observe. They proclaim the result a good first try, giving creditable cover against cursory magical examination. It could probably be improved with practice.
De Alqua then mentions a magical treasure of his: three cloaks that not only provide camouflage but also hide magic. He fetches one and drapes it on Z so we can see the result. They were given to him 300 years ago by one of the rare sorcery-working fays of the Tuatha de Danaan. Lorelei fetches her Lorien cloak. It is different in style but achieves the same effect.
Should we go by night or day? Lorelei recommends day, if we can have some backup waiting for us outside.
De Alqua makes us a loan of all three of his cloaks, and volunteers to come along. So does Morrolan. Nick recommends Morrolan keep the motor running on the metaphorical getaway car, so we each give Morrolan personal possessions he can use to tune in on us for a teleportive escape. Morrolan can also whistle up six Bavarian guards to hang around outside with him, for backup.
Lorelei recommends putting Morrolan on our telepathy net. He reminds us that his magics are telepathic AND coercive. "But I'm sure you wouldn't want to make an enemy of me!" replies Lorelei prettily, smiling ... showing her teeth. "Oh, no!" Morrolan assures her. "That's fine, then."
So we weapon up, armor up, glamour up, and set out for London, the Temple of Ra. We arrive around 4 PM.
Copyright © 2003, Jim Burrows. All Rights Reserved.