Thursday, 9 March 2017
Dreamweaver (part 2)
The light was golden as it shimmered between the leaves, sparkling across the ground and glinting on the dew. Shadows were cast every which way, long black straps resulting from the reaching claws of the trees. A rabbit hopped along, minding its own business, its buck teeth nibbling on the blades of grass and the finer plants, the greater delicacies that nestled amongst the vegetation. Its ears were long, its fur grey, its tail fluffy. It was having a perfectly ordinary day.
Then, quite suddenly, there was a strange humming in the air. Its fur began to rise, as if a acetate rod had been rubbed against it and transferred electrons. Its eyes widened. If it had a pair of eyebrows, it would have frowned.
There was a bright flash of energy, lightning bolts striking off in all directions, and then the air seemed to warp. Large bubbles spread out from the air, inflating, growing, and then there was a bang. The rabbit was blasted back through the forest. It blacked out for a few seconds but when it regained consciousness, it wondered if it was not still dreaming. Lying, on a huge blackened patch on the floor, were a group of teenagers.
One of them sat up, blinked a few times and then picked up the sword to his side. He clambered to his feet, despite a slight dizziness in his head, and turned around, pointing his sword between the trees, worried that Mr Coin might still be waiting for him. When he was sure that he wasn’t, he shouted, “Guys! Get up! I think we’ve teleported or something.”
Sophie sat up. “Teleportation is impossible, except for with individual particles (potentially), and even then you need a entangled quantum states and we haven’t been put in trucks to be driven to wherever the heck we are.” She paused. “It was a lot simpler when Mr Andrews taught me.”
“How many science lectures has he given you?” Steven frowned. “You’re like a little Brian Cox but with better hair.”
“Despite the hair comment, I am still more offended than I have ever been in my life.” She said.
“He natters to her in Tutor.” Freya said. “They’re best friends.”
“I am no longer offended!” Sophie exclaimed. A massive grin crossed her face. “Me and Mr Andrews are best friends.”
Steven knelt down and grabbed Chris’ arm, pulling him up. “You alright, Captain?”
“I’m not the Captain unless I’ve eaten the Jaffa Cake.” He sighed. There was something despondent in his eyes. Steven decided to mention it later; they had more pressing matters to concentrate on.
“Where are we?” Sophie asked, looking around. They were stood in a clearing, large trees of thick brown oak rising up around them. The ground was covered in grass, black streaks spreading away from them. There was a fried rabbit just beyond the nearest trees, looking at them bemusedly. Sophie wasn’t entirely sure how she could tell the animal’s emotions but she suspected it was something to do with the wrinkling of its adorable little nose.
“I don’t know but I’m doubting it’s Beacon Fell.” Steven said, looking around, frowning. “That gun that Mr Coin had, could it have been a teleporter? He’s a physicist by degree, isn’t he? Is it possible the explosion could have given him the intellect to build one?”
“It’s unlikely.” Sophie shrugged. “According to current ideas, the only way teleportation could be carried out would be by taking two particles, and we’re talking atomic particles, it’s almost totally impossible to teleport a molecule, never mind a person, never mind five people! Anyway, you take your two particles, entangled them at a quantum level, then you have to move them apart, keep one particle in, say, Lab A and move the other to Lab B. Then you hook the two labs up with a phone that provides all your information and shizz like that. Then you transfer your information and some physicsy magic happened and, boopydeboop, the particle at B takes on the role of the particle A and…” She trailed off, as she saw the others were staring at her, slightly perplexed, slightly bored. “Basically, no. It’s really fudging impossible, and there’s no way he could fire some teleporty magic out of a gun.”
“I’m not going to argue with Professor Hawking over there,” Steven said, “but I can summon stuff with nothing more than a thought, so perhaps conventional physics should be ignored for now?”
“Whatever’s happened, Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in M-Block anymore.” Chris said, pointing up. “Look at the sky.”
“What about it?” Steven asked as they looked up, but then he saw it. “Oh, good golly gosh.”
The blue sky was perfectly blue, perfectly cloudy, but perhaps a little too sunny. Why, you might ask? Well, dear reader, this was because the sky held two suns.
“That’s a bright idea.” Sophie whispered.
“Guys, I’m so sorry.” Freya said. “I’m so, so sorry. This is all my fault! If my powers had just freaking worked like all yours, we wouldn’t even be in this mess.”
“I summoned a sword, Freya.” Steven said. “I brought a sword to a goddamn super science fiction cannon fight!”
Freya smiled for a brief second but shook her head. “The point is, if I just had more control over my powers, the five of us would be arresting Mr Coin and getting to the bottom of this, rather than just, just standing around here!”
“No.” Chris said. “The five of us aren’t just standing around here. Where’s Ali?”
They looked around and realised. The Flish was nowhere to be seen.
Birds twittered to each other, unaware of social media. The sun dazzled against a running river, twinkling and splashing over glittering stones, beset with quartz. In the woods, elves probably played, singing sweetly amongst their furry companions. The scene could have been a picture in an English Language exam, with the caption, “Write a description of this summer day’s scene.” To put it more bluntly, it was six hundred goggling tourists, three car parks and a garden centre off being a British natural beauty spot.
That is, of course, all true but for one small factor. There was a rock face, against which a waterfall of frothing white hydration roared on its way down to form the river. The spray from this water fall leapt through the hair, forming cross arched rainbows beneath the glare of the two suns. And this wasn’t the problem, indeed, the waterfall was as picturesque as the kingfishers and the flamboyant plants and the singing trees and the flowing river.
No, the problem was the gigantic tower of darkness that jutted out of the rock face like a pitchfork from a vicar’s chest. From its base, magma oozed like blood and from its peak, ravens and bats shrieked into the gloom of the tower’s dark recesses. It was the type of property that would leave priests needing exorcists, estate agents needing councillors and girl scouts delivering cookies with a tip and a, “Hope you’ve had a nice day!”
Deep within the bowels of that Lovecraftian construction, as much a tribute to gothic architecture as it was to darkness as a whole idea, was the grand hall. It was a chasm of a room, the walls cast in shadowy flames, black darkness flickering across engravings of ancient battles. The floor was a cold stone, the type that sent shivers through the spine, and in places it was strewn with straw. Besides that litter, there was also the presence of huge spouts of machinery, all cogs, levers, pulls and steampunk macgyvering. In the far distance, there was the sound of an electric violin playing but, despite its gloomy horror, that sound was far too modern to fit in.
Ali was sat in a cage. She was not a bird, so she did not appreciate that. The cage didn't have a seat, nor even a bed. Just a bit of straw. She wondered if the room had been a stable once, or perhaps it was run by scarecrows. Deciding that was probably not important, she set about trying to escape.
Her powers still worked fine, but despite all the acceleration she could must, there just wasn't enough force to smash through the bars. By the time she'd come to this conclusion, however, she'd smashed her head into the bars far too many times and felt slightly dizzy.
Summoning what little strength she had left, Ali pushed her back against the bars directly opposite the doorway. She concentrated on the door frame, tensed her muscles and then exploded into a haze, flying forward in a purple flash. Her shoulder smashed into the door way, exerting enough force on the lock to snap it. The door swung open and she stumbled out, just managing to slow herself enough to avoid smashing into the table in front. Solidifying again, Ali looked down at the top of the table. "Say hello to my little friend." She said to herself, picking up the gatling gun that Mr Coin had brandished. It was quite bulky and pleasantly sci-fi, with each barrel holding some sort of crystal and electrodes coming off the top of the gun, out of what looked like a small computer. There seemed not to be a safety- she'd seen enough American television to understand guns- so she picked it up and slid her finger into the trigger.
“I wouldn’t try that if I were you.” Said a voice from the far side of the room. She turned, pulling the gun with her as she did, and saw who was looking back at her. Mr Coin, in all his glory. It wasn’t for how malevolent he looked, she would label him a prat.
At the far end of the chasm of a hall was a stained glass window. It was positioned so that the sun shone through it in just the right way to project huge purple and golden glimmers in every direction. The image matched that of Mr Coin, descending down the three circular steps below the stained glass window and in front of what looked like an organ. He had the pan up to his neck, the bow carving back and forth, creating an incredible sound. The other sides of his neck were covered with huge Dracula-esque collars. A purple cloak spewed down from around his neck, forming a pool of glorious silk around his brogues. He wore a waist coat with his blue trousers, as he always did, except these looked a little more professional than the ones he wore on a Wednesday, Period Three.
His cloak trailing behind him, Coin marched forward, still playing his violin, stalking until he reached Ali. The fiddling reached a crescendo and then, with a dramatic squeak, he finished and lowered the instrument. He fixed Ali with a stare, his ginger facial hair glinting in the light. “Let go of it.”
“Or nothing.” He said. “It only works for me, so you’ll just be stood there like an actor in a sci-fi flick, pretending to shoot.”
“Guns aren’t biometric.”
“It isn’t a gun.” Mr Coin shrugged. “It’s a Doorway Aligner.”
“I thought every teacher was an English teacher?” She frowned.
“Well, evidently, you weren’t in teacher college when they taught how to market stuff.” Ali said. “That’s the worst name ever.”
“It’s not bad! It’s really cool!”
“It sounds like something from Classic Doctor Who.”
“Exactly! It’s so cool.” He paused and sighed. “The youth of today, no appreciation for the finer things.”
“What is it?” Ali asked, looking it over and then placing it back onto the table. She had no idea how she was remaining so calm but she wasn’t going to question it; the calmness was good.
“It’s exactly what it says on the tin. It takes the doorways between the universes and aligns them, to allow for simple and easy interversal travel.” He grinned. “Clever, isn’t it?”
“But there’s only one universe.” Ali said. “There can’t be anymore; that defies the whole meaning of the universe!”
“Someone doesn’t know Everett’s Many Worlds Interpretation.” He said, almost mocking. “Or inflationary multiverse theory.”
“Actually, I do.” She said. The Flash Seasons 2 and 3 had introduced the idea and a quick Wikipedia search had educated her well enough. “But that’s science fiction.”
“So was hyperspeed.”
“It still is.”
He hummed for a second. “I really must publish my findings.”
“You’re completely mad!”
“Mad? No. I am a messenger of the Gods! My work will bring about the Convergence and the ends of these frightful days.” He grinned a manic grin. “Ali, the multiverse implies that there are infinite universes but I believe that there are only three of true import. One is our own, another is this one in which we talk, and the third is the Banished Dimension, home of my almighty lord.”
“Mr Coin, you’re talking nonsense!”
“Coin?” He laughed. “Jon Coin is dead! He was drowned beneath a sea of radiation, from which I awoke. I am the vessel, the mouthpiece of the reckoning, the mechanic of the Convergence. I am Dreamweaver!”
Sophie changed the probability of there being a series of signs pointing to the nearest settlement and Steven summoned some horses. Sophie had control over her powers and so the signs included numbers indicating the distance yet to go. Steven didn’t and so they got donkeys.
It took them about an hour to ride to the village, which was apparently called Fanderling. The town looked old; the stone buildings were dressed in scarlet ivy and the wooden buildings had begun to crack. There was a street down the centre, like the village was one from an old Western, except there were too many trees around the small settlement.
It gave way to a large drop at the end, which the heroes rode towards and looked down. The town of Fanderling spread out for countless miles, into a mixmatch of various farms, all contesting for space. It was almost patchwork in its tapestry of crops. With the two suns starting to dip into a yolky set, it was almost beautiful.
“I feel like I’m in Dungeons and Dragons.” Steven said.
“I love it.” Sophie replied.
“I’m so sorry.” Freya muttered.
Chris said nothing.
“Hey, you four. Dismount your mules and put your hands up.” Said a voice from behind them.
Freya, Chris and Sophie dismounted the donkeys. Steven fell off and very nearly broke his leg trying to get back up again. Once he had however, he assumed his role of gnomish bard and attempted a Charisma check. “Hail, fellow man. How can we helpeth ye?”
In the vernacular of Dungeons and Dragons, he rolled a natural one. Chris facepalmed.
“You talk funny, kid. What’re you doing in Fanderling, and where in the name of Fharlanghn did you get those asses?”
“Are you talking about my mates or the donkeys?” Steven asked.
Freya rolled her eyes and tried to take over. She might have got them into that mess but she could sure as hell try her best to get them out of it. “Sorry about him, your liege. We bought him as a fool but it turned out he’s got enough of a brain to speak.”
In the vernacular of Dungeons and Dragon, she rolled a natural twenty. The man, who was rotund in an imposing way, let out a raucous caw of a laugh. “I like you, young girl, I really do, but you don’t answer me questions. What are you doing in Fanderling?”
“We’re looking for our friend.” Freya said. “She’s about my height, blonde hair, perhaps a little cheeky at times. It’s possible she was kidnapped by a guy with ginger facial hair.”
“And a purple cape!” Steven added.
The man’s face lit up in horror. “You speak of the Mage, Dreamweaver! Be you not his slaves, I hope!”
“Nope, we’re not loyal to him one bit.” Freya said. “We want to stop him and rescue our friend.”
“Well, I cannae help you with that, my girl, but I can tell you who might.”
“Who?” She asked.
The man peered over each shoulder, conspiratorially. “You need the hermit on the outskirts of town. She’ll tell you where you can find the Mage.”
“Sidequest time!” Steven squealed. “Think of all the experience points.”
Sophie rolled her eyes. “Thank you, sir. We’ll be on our way to see her.”
“Aye, well, you four be careful. She’s a mysterious wench, and an evil one at that. She speaks of other worlds and something she calls… the Highlighter.”
“What’s… what’s the Hermit’s name?” Freya asked.
“They call her Celia. Celia N. Carpenter.”
The Winter Highlighter. They all thought, with a gulp.