Week 26, Witchwalking to Bath
When we left our heroes last time, they had just barely won out over Musgrove for possession of the Eye of Dalgroom, our latest diadem segment. We are in a subterranean lava chamber, and Daewen recommends we leave soon and oddly, to avoid worldbenders homing in on the psychic signature of our recent battle.
Lorelei and Chris fly out to the edge of the cavern, where we left Sophie and Jonathan, and ferry them back to the middle. There, Daewen has reeled out her rope. With all of us grasping it, she marches us through a slab of rock into the same misty nowhere-in-particular in which we made the transit from London to Bath after the worldbender attack.
The haze is bluish above, greenish below, and seems to include a faint golden path. Beyond that, no detail. Chris examines his watch for hyperspatial coordinates. It gives local time as a few seconds past zero. Other dimensions shift in a flickering barrage of numbers, laced with occasional "ERROR" signals.
We emerge from the walls of an alley in Bath, at dead of night, two weeks to the day from the last time most of us were here. Jonathan feels about psychically for intruders, but all other minds nearby are asleep (or shielded). Alag unfolds our enchanted Map of Here and checks for recent dimensional activity. None. We patch up our invisibility and hike out of town, meeting no one but a gravely suspicious cat. (Remember that next time your cat gazes intently at nothing in the air.)
We pass the night in exhausted sleep on some haystacks, camouflaged and warmed by some silken sheets that Daewen pulls out of her rope. Next morning, we nurse our wounds some more with mundane and arcane healing, then take a close look at the Eye of Dalgroom. As far as our psychic senses and the diadem detector can tell, it is indeed our latest segment. But even close at hand, the detector gives no clear directional reading.
We stow it in a psi-proof bag, which dims and blurs its psychic signature, but does not completely hide it. So we put the bag in our psi-proof, mail-lined, Chinese-puzzle-locked carpet bag, which we stow in the semi-levitating back pack for ease of transport.
We then hike to the nearest train station, fix up our battle-warn appearances with Glamour, and tack tickets to some place we've never been before. We choose Liverpool. There, we find a lower-middle-class hotel and check in for two weeks. We spend the time refurbishing our tattered wardrobe and buying weapons (including a sword-cane and an elephant gun for Cantrel, who also buys some presents for Victoria), supplies, and souvenirs. Chris and Sophie travel on to York for a much-needed vacation alone together.
At the end of the two weeks, it is a month since the worldbender attack in the London hotel. We make our way cautiously to London and, while the rest of us loiter about in nearby shops, Cantrel goes and visits the contact he made at Scotland Yard while making his investigations into the case of the Gentleman Burglar. He asks his contact to take a letter to Holmes, since his (Cantrel's) amateur detective work has made him unpopular in that part of London. The contact complies and returns with a message from Holmes.
Cantrel's letter was written by Chris, known to Holmes under his travel-name of Robert Burns. It read: "Have you met our friend in the picture? /Burns /PS It isn't over yet." Holmes' reply reads: "I'm holding a letter for her husband. /S."
So Victoria has dropped by 221B Baker Street, as we hoped. Cantrel and Lorelei go there now, while the rest of us trail along out of sight, with no psychic activity. Mrs. Miller shows them in to Holmes, who hands Cantrel a letter sealed in wax with a thumbprint. Inside is an itinerary of dates with clues more than places:
Cantrel thanks Holmes and gives him a gift -- an infrared sniperscope and rangefinder Daewen created with Glamour. That ought to keep the great mind busy, maybe long enough to kick his cocaine habit.
We then send a cautiously worded message by wire to Massawa: "Missed Ferdinand. Will try to meet him a week later." Who is Ferdinand? You may recall that, when we were first casing this timeline, we opened out into a pasture in Yorkshire, fifty years ago, occupied by one startled and indignant bull -- dubbed "Ferdinand" by Victoria. We hope Victoria realizes we are asking her to look us up in that pasture this coming Monday.
We book passage to Boston, just in case, then hustle up to Yorkshire and search for Ferdinand's meadow. Locating it is a bit tricky, since we only knew it from coordinates on the console, and glimpses of aerial views. But Tom and Sophie combine their mnemonic and telepathic abilities to work it out on a map, and Daewen confirms it with some calculations based on Tom's memory of the coordinates then and Chris's watch-readings now.
We get off the train one station away to the one nearest Ferdinand's meadow. We then assume the pose of folk on a walking-tour, making our way from one bed-and-breakfast establishment to the next. We find the meadow well ahead of schedule and loiter about in the guise of scattered picnickers, hikers, and amateur painters. Ferdinand, of course, is no longer about, but a farmer is. Sophie paints his portrait for him. Victoria never shows.
We wait until Wednesday, but no luck. Pooh. We make our way back to the trains and take the one to Liverpool, thence to take ship for Boston.
Copyright © 1998, Jim Burrows. All Rights Reserved.