Journey to New Europa
Chapter 35, Meeting with an Abbott
We left our heroes in Edinburgh, having had an interview with MacLeish and now seeking one with a local abbott who is a member of the sorcerous Order of St. Boniface.
Early that morning, we get a reply from the abbott. He can meet us in the afternoon. What is the nature of our problem? Tom writes an answer, over Mithriel's signature as "Lady Mithriel of Vinyagarond, Old Faerie," stating our desire to provide information in the form of the Report and get some data about mahatmas and such.
The answer comes back (on the high-bandwidth Victorian postal service) that the abbott had not realized our party included fays. Since the monastery is on consecrated group, he offers to accommodate us by meeting elsewhere. The actual fays in our party are Mithriel and Kate (who started out human). They haven't had any trouble with consecrated ground yet, but then they haven't tried, and Nick did have trouble, so we accept the Abbott's gracious invitation and set about finding neutral ground.
The desk clerk at our inn recommends the establishment of Angus Taverner, out on the edge of town. Robbie and Dafnord take a cab to go look it over and, if possible, engage a room. As their cab approaches, they see what first looks like a quaint little cottage, thatched and all. It turns out to be thatched, but really very large. The door is huge, but swings easily, and inside it is very elegant, in a spacious, rural way.
A burly, red-haired and red-bearded gent is sitting behind the desk. He turns out to be not much taller than wide, being a dwarf -- the first we've had occasion to talk to here. He is, in fact, Mr. Angus Taverner himself. His desk turns out to have a lot of mysterious brass buttons on it. He is rather abrupt in manner, but glad to have our business so long as there are no "peculiar doings" in the room -- (Now whatever could have raised that suspicion in his mind, just because he is approach by the Robot Out of Time and Dafnord of the Apes?) -- and graciously does not charge for the time spent showing the room. Dafnord and Robbie send our invitation to the abbott to have tea with us at Angus'.
Back at the inn, someone suggests that Tom try checking the clairvoyance tracer in Moran's office. This, as expected, is even longer and more tedious than telepathic contact from London to Oxbridge, and turns out to be fruitless.
We arrive at Angus' a few minutes before the abbott, and spend the time in a bar, sipping the chilled beer Angus reserves for the people who have the good sense not to be English. The bar is highly mechanized, delivering beer by automatic pumps and chains with hooks that shove the tankards along the bar. Tom the engineer is intrigued and starts examining the works, which perturbs Angus. Tom apologizes, enthuses about the reciprocating defenestrators, etc., and learns that dwarves hereabouts don't get surnames (like "Taverner") until they produce some sort of masterpiece of engineering, such as a mechanized tavern. Angus leaves and Tom continues his examination only by clairvoyance, learning that the gizmo is as complex as an analytical engine, the clockwork equivalent of a mainframe computer.
The abbott duly arrives and Angus shows us all in to a sitting room, where we are served by gear-driven tea trolleys. The abbott is Father Thomas. We offer him a copy of The Report. He notes it was created by fay magic and wonders if he shouldn't handle it with specially de-consecrated gloves to avoid damaging it. (He is wearing his crucifix under his habit, in deference to our fays.) Robbie offers him one of his calling cards, made by the same magic, as a test object. It survives the touch, which makes life a bit easier.
Fr. Thomas knows MacLeish, and in fact may be the Bonifacean authority MacLeish plans to contact, though he has not done so yet. We ask Fr. Thomas about mahatmas. At rather tedious length, he cautions us that his understanding is necessarily in terms of Christian theology. Yes, yes, understood. He is sure they are not fays, and thinks they might be minor fallen angels. He's reasonably sure they are not UNfallen angels, which is reassuring.
We learn that the Order of St. Boniface was formed in the late Middle Ages or early Renaissance to counter the rise of anti-Christian magic, by which we gather he means witchcraft, not the stuff the Druids, Illuminati, Knights Templar, and Masons do. The Order specialized in magical protections, which means healing magic, warding against magical attacks, and psychiatric magic.
This reminds us of Kate's ominous dream last night. We tell him about it and invite him to investigate. He is leery of using his telepathic magic on an elf, and even leerier of having her do telepathy on him, since he hears confessions at the abbey.
Kate tries to reassure him about doing Christian-specific magic on an elf by telling him that she's only been an elf since she was about 20 ("It was an adventure, you see."), and anyway she was baptized properly and all that. He's thunderstruck.
Tom helpfully points out that he's a Christian, too, despite coming from another world. Fr. Thomas wonders how the gospel could have reached there. Tom suggests that missionaries, especially in the early days, disappeared all the time, so maybe some slipped a continuum. (He doesn't bother to go into other possibilities, like the missionaries slipping TO this world instead of FROM it, or there being separate incarnations on the different timelines.)
After absorbing all this, and hearing a verbal recitation of the dream, Fr. Thomas decides to raise wards and try reading the memory, with a few bits said low under his breath, for the fays. (One wonders what Angus would say about there being "no peculiar doings" on his premises.) Nothing awful happens, and he announces that we are right to be concerned. He detects an alien presence in Kate's mind, connected to the dream, but can't get much data on it, since Kate, a regular user of the telepathy net, has LOTS of alien-presence traces in her mind, mostly us. This nightmare thing is NOT a human wizard, nor is it a mahatma, though it might be similar to a mahatma.
He thinks he could stop the dreams, but then there's that threatened child-presence in them. If it is someone who needs rescuing, stopping the dreams would cut off our only access to them, so Kate decides not to have them stopped.
We finally have tea. Afterward, Fr. Thomas gives us a St. Boniface medal, which we can use as a pass at the abbey, should we need to re-contact him. In return, Tom gives him one of his bound-telepathy calling cards. And with that, we part.
©1984, 1994, 2005 Earl Wajenberg. All Rights Reserved.