The Home Stretch – Notes From the Abyss Chapter 9
February 8, 2012
Oh, woe – my page views have been so low this week!
Followers, please, send a link to someone you know that reads science fiction or likes pulp stories. I’d love to get some more comments on my work, and some more readers, so I thought I’d ask.
Sorry I haven’t been posting articles lately, so much, as I haven’t had a whole lot of time and there’s a few places where it looks like my class article wasn’t enjoyed much so I haven’t felt the urge to keep up with it. However, if there’s anything you’d like to see, I’m willing to put the time into researching stuff. Otherwise I’ll keep it to myself!
Also, we’re getting close to the end of the story for Notes, for now. At 11 we’re done with the first part and I’ll be waiting a month or so to get started on part 2 – but I’ll tell you about my plans when I post it. So, look forward to that!
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I looked around the grounds slowly and took it all in, basking in the beautiful look of the house in the growing moonlight. The estate itself stood at the northern edge of the gorge, looking out across the fields that met the gorge itself and the rainforest that surrounded it. I hadn’t been there in probably ten years, being kind of the black sheep from childhood. I had inherited the Power and I had been trained by my grandmother, Loris, despite the wishes of my mother and father. Since the Family is matriarchal, though, she did what she wanted to do regardless of how anyone else felt.
Unfortunately, my training also coincided with me figuring out how to strike it on my own, support myself, all of that jazz. Being disowned really does strengthen your independence.
We patched things up eventually but I’ve always been kind of on the outs with the family. I was only able to go this time because of the job I was on and the handsome bribe the Gates family had forwarded on my behalf to my sister, Jenna Mac Callan. Jenna, being my younger sister by a year, oversaw the household now. A mistake during a ritual several years ago had taken the life of my father and the mind of my mother. After all of that the other women of the household wanted nothing to do with the day to day operations anymore – they considered the estate cursed because of my training and my father’s hubris.
Jenna was standing on the main balcony, a shelf of rock overlooking the ‘drive’, when we arrived. No gates or fancy drive ways for us, just a large, multi-floor home built into the living rock of the gorge’s walls. Artfully carved windows obscured flickering light from inside while the doorway, a large arch with a pair of beautiful oak slabs acting as doors, seemed to invite only the serious to enter. Jenna quietly was arranging the delivery of the documents and evidence to a work room deep in the house when the town car parked. She glanced curiously at Jennifer as we climbed out of the car, smiling a little when she saw me.
“Jarvis, my brother, how long has it been? Five years? And you only come home when you find work and…?” Her eyebrow crept up slowly again while glancing toward Jennifer. I chuckled softly, “This is Jennifer Cranston, she’s a house manager for the Gates family and she’s helping me process the mountain of data that came out of the theft. She’s also just survived a rather obnoxious hit from whoever stole what we’re looking for.” Jenna nodded slowly, “I see…well that explains the OEA car you showed up in. I’m glad Margret still has the patience to help you. I prepared a guest room for her when I detected her with you just in case, I’m glad I did since you’re not…an item. Your bedroom is still as it was, Jarvis. You know where it is. Are you two hungry at all?”
A few hours of witty repartee, lunch, and settling in later, Jennifer and I found ourselves in one of the house’s libraries on the ground floor. It was one of the few with a permanent arcane circle of inlaid gold set in the ground. Inside the circle I’d drawn a chalk pentagram like the one I use at home and I arranged some of the physical evidence of the break in from the Vault in the different empty sections of the star. Outside, at the points, Jennifer was arranging different things to represent the Gates family as we cycled through a kind of processing spell – the evidence was thrumming in the circle as the Gates family’s thaums passed around it until we found a mystical connection. A crude but effective filter, working especially well since the scar had so much power left in it. Remember, kids, inefficiency is the friend of the investigator, not the perpetrator.
While Jennifer ran that experiment, I was pouring over books of magic from the family and examining how a Name can be erased. The records were spotty from that far back and the spell’s framework was novel, to say the least, so it was hard to find a lot of information on it in any one source. I ended up behind a wall of floating books, carefully cross-referencing everything with a spell designed after ancient Earth logistical databases. Even though Sympathetic Query Logistics is awkward to learn it beats note taking by a mile.
On the fifth round of invocation for the processing spell, Jennifer found a connection. There was a leak of power from the evidence we collected that connected it to Ryan Gates, Walter’s recently deceased grandfather. Jennifer brought me over to examine it and we both sat down on different ends of the circle with Mori and Tarafalix taking notes with my SQL invocation. I took off my shirt and closed my eyes, letting my senses expand to fill the room and then turned them forward, focusing everything I had at the circle until all I could see, hear, feel, smell, taste or even sense was coming just from those objects; a strip of metal, a bunch of chalk, and the effects of one Ryan Gates.
I inhaled slowly and I felt my voice change, the secret vibrations of the True Speech taking over my vocal chords and the front of my mind, and I felt out for the Name of Ryan’s regalia. Instead I found Ryan himself, or at least his soul, hovering within the objects as if he had never left our world.
“Ryan Arnold Gates, Thirty-Ninth Son of the Son of William Gates. Within the Circle before Us, there is a place for You. Manifest so that We may Speak.” I said this with my eyes rolled back until only my whites could be seen, my hands gripping my knees like they were trying to get away on their own, and the muscles in my neck strained taut like piano wire. The Power strains the body in very dramatic ways when using the True Speech, which is why I can’t use it to solve all my problems.
Slowly the spirit of Ryan materialized in the center of the pentagram. A stately old man with snow white hair and a sparse if well maintained beard, dressed in a quietly stylish wool suit, looked back between the elemental spirits and me. “I’m Ryan Gates,” he said, “and I’m glad someone had the good sense to check in on me. I’ve been stuck out here in limbo for over a month now.”
I inhaled deeply and quickly, my voice coming out once more in a booming vibrato, “Ryan Arnold Gates, I am the last in a line of Invokers of the True Names from the Family Mac Callan. You shall call Me Master Jarvis. I have Seen that Your Power was used in a theft in Your House. Can You explain these actions?”
The ghost of the old man shook his head slowly, “It must have been on the night that I passed on. I saw the Golden Road, that place that our power goes to when we’re dying, but before the cohesion of our Self vanishes and our consciousness joins the white cloud of the Outside World. Then, suddenly, I was ripped away from it, left here as that Power that makes up the Golden Road vanished. Went somewhere else. I’ve been following around my cane and dagger ever since and not even the Powers have seemed to notice my absence in the Outside World.”
My chest burned as I took in another gulp of air before I said, “When the Cask was stolen from Your House, was it the same Moment that you Succumbed?” He nodded slowly. I paused to catch my breath, the power burning my mind and my lungs. After my heart slowed again I started again, “The Golden Road was torn from you by a Sorcerer Who then used your Completion to fuel their Practice in order to Move Time and Space to secret the Cask to Elsewhere. You are Released, Ryan Arnold Gates. Take the Power you need for the Golden Road from the Shards of Aether before You.”
With that I collapsed, the spell was broken, and Ryan finally moved on. At least I dreamed he did, it’d be wonderful if it were true, since I couldn’t watch him do it myself. The second I hit the floor I passed out.