Journey to New Europa
Chapter 40, Attempting Fay Identification
We left our heroes making a clairvoyant exploration through the "soft spot" we accidentally made in the world of Castle Falkenstein. Tom was observing through a tracer attached to a ball of glamour that Mithriel tossed through. We saw the fractal cypress swamp and a pair of flying things, but the things just flew away and nothing much else happened.
Mithriel thinks she could patch the soft spot, but only from the other side. Tom immediately points out that she is not going alone and suggests we rig up some kind of trans-dimensional safety net in the form of cooperation from Morrolan or the druids, both of which have shown a talent for conjuring people out of other dimensions.
We decide to discuss this with Morrolan. He was unavailable at the Bavarian Embassy, last we head, so Tom goes to our new magic mirror and calls "Morrolan!" The mirror goes dark. Oops. Have we tuned in on his bedchamber? A female voice with a French accent sternly demands to know who it is. We really hope we haven't tuned in on his bedchamber. However, the darkness is soon pulled aside, thus revealing itself to be the back of a curtain. We are confronting a young woman clothed (Oh, good.) in military blouse and jodhpurs, rapier at the ready. The background is stone walls. Morrolan is next to her and addresses her as "Countess." They want to know what we're doing in their magic mirror. We explain our problem very sketchily. Morrolan is interested, but is busy with an emergency of his own right now. Can we help? Not immediately, but it might be useful to get our analysis of events later. We ring off.
We go back to the bedroom with the soft spot. The spot is over the chair that Tom was sitting in when he started to vanish. Robbie moves the chair, experimentally, but the spot stays put, so it's anchored to the earth or the house, not the chair.
All this happened, you may recall, when the blue tarsier interrupted us at supper to tell us the spot was getting softer. Since we've reached a dead end, at least temporarily, we go back down to supper, where the elven Lord Lauren is still sitting, now a couple of courses ahead of us. We contrive to finish the meal. Then, when we're disbanded, Tom and Mithriel buttonhole de Alqua, who knows about the soft spot but has never seen what lies on the other side, not being privy to our telepathy net. We rectify this now: Tom reads the tracer and passes the image to Mithriel, who projects the image on the wall with glamour. (She has a hard time doing justice to the colors, which have shifted since we first saw the place, and seem to be leaving the earthly spectrum behind.)
De Alqua is intrigued. He doesn't recognize this particular place, but it's a bit like some places at the edge of the parts of Faerie he knows. Ah, so it resembles a place at the edge of the fairy lands of a parallel world. Definitely not Kansas, Toto. How lost can you get?
Dafnord asks if Tom can move the viewpoint. He tries. He can, but it's not a lot of fun, the steering and the perspective both being knocked askew in this stranger dimension.
Turning back to the glamour-ball, Tom sets the viewpoint to nosing about the fractally branching roots of the, uh, trees. The others on the net get telepathic vertigo. He encounters a snakey, centipedal animal with a catfishy, Jabberwock-like face, all of an entirely new color that Mithriel renders, for de Alqua, as lavender. It is definitely slithy, and may even be gyring and gimbling. Perhaps it's a tove. Then the flying things may have been borogoves and this place would be the Wabe...
Tom, who talks to animals a lot, offers to try to contact the creature. Salimar decides that, since she's the liaison officer, she'll contact it. She tries.
She snaps out of it after a bit and announces that it isn't much more sentient than an insect -- so little mind that it almost sets up a telepathic vacuum.
We give up on the Dungeon Dimensions for the night. Dafnord goes patrolling and meets Old Tom Langhorn out on his own patrol. They exchange taciturnities.
Next morning, we go to interview Dr. Arthur Conan Doyle, who Sherlock Holmes referred us to as an authority on sprites and other small fays. He turns out to live in an upper-middle-class neighborhood. He's plump and mustachioed and a lot like the Nigel Bruce Dr. Watson, except he talks more. A lot, in fact. He has tea set out for us. We explain we're trying to identify a fay and were referred to him by a Mr. Sherlock Holmes. Ah... ever hear of him?
"Why, no, but if he's referring people to me, I suppose I ought to make his acquaintance." Tom chokes on his tea.
Recovering his normal color, Tom asks Mithriel to show the bust to Dr. Doyle. This is a 3-D portrait of our mystery fay, rendered in glamour. Doyle doesn't recognize it, but admits it looks familiar. (It seems to look familiar to everyone.) It seems half like a human child.
Salimar asks if Doyle could contact any local petty fays and ask them, in a friendly way, for their opinion. It turns out that he certainly can, being a member of a neighborhood petty-fay-watching club, which seems to be a bit like bird-watching and a bit like being a pixie-groupie. Only, you see, the Wee Folk are rather shy. So we leave him with the bust and Mithriel, who, for the occasion, takes on the size and gauzy wings of a petty fay.
We retired to a park for a couple of hours, and Tom gives Robbie a telepathy lesson.
We return to find Doyle giving tea cakes to Mithriel, who is multiplying her enjoyment of them by remaining tiny ... and giddy. Ever try to get a teenage girl out of a fit of the giggles? It doesn't help it they're fairy princesses. We eventually learn that the bust looked familiar to the petty-fays, too, but they could not settle on who it looked like or what breed of fay it was. They felt it would have to be a very distant relative of theirs.
We leave the bust with Doyle and depart with Mithriel riding on Tom's shoulder. Back home, we meet de Alqua and, poof, Mithriel expands to her proper size, not wanting to be seen acting silly by a suave elven lord.
Casting about for a line of action, Robbie decides to catch up on monitoring the papers. Voila! An ad mentioning Mesopotamia, supposedly looking for ancient artifacts and referring to a P. O. Box. Katrina goes off to investigate.
Meanwhile, Tom checks Col. Moran's offices for more encrypted messages and finds "Our agent has taken out ad and is under surveillance." So the World Crime League is stalking the Assassination Bureau. This could be fun to watch ... from a safe distance ... like Neptune.
Katrina returns with the news that there is no such P. O. Box. Expected. The Bureau always appears to erase a pointer after it has been used. Nonetheless, we try sending off a letter, purporting to offer Mesopotamian artifacts, with a clairvoyance tracer attached. We see nothing more interesting than a clerk writing, "Return to sender. Incorrect box number," on it.
We send a telegram to Holmes, "Today's ad was placed by the magic slate." He replies: "As I had suspected. Thank you. S."
So that's machinating away. Tom tries the tracer to the Wabe again. He has a hard time connecting. The colors have changed, though not much, and there is a general feeling that the bizarre perspectives are somehow smaller. Dafnord suggests dropping in some bait, e.g. a glamour-ball with more glitter. Whatever we do, the soft spot certainly seems like more most immediate problem.
©1984, 1994, 2005 Earl Wajenberg. All Rights Reserved.