"After Buddha was dead, his shadow was still shown for centuries in a cave — a gruesome, terrible shadow. God is dead, but given the way of men, there may still be caves for thousands of years in which his shadow will be shown. And we, we still have to vanquish his shadow, too."
Wednesday, January 13th, 2010
The dawn was close at hand. All the Kindred of London had returned back to their hovels and havens to wait for the first rays of light. The Lady of London had left, and so had the Seneschal, and so had the High Sheriff, and so had gone all the Great and Good and Vile and Foul. Yet Bartholomew's Hospital was not yet empty of its nightly denizens, for two remained.
Perched high in the rafters of the Great Hall was a blackbird. This was the first of the nightly denizens. He had spent much of the evening there, a tiny blackbird with gleaming eyes -- one black, one blue -- watching all that had happened. This had always been one of his favorite vantage points, for he could see and not be seen, but mostly it was just a game. A magpie's curiosity consumed the god (for, when he thought of himself, he considered himself a god, and named himself after a god), but tonight he had seen something that actually mattered.
What had happened so many years ago? The blackbird frowned, trying to work through the shards of what might be charitably called its mind to piece together a picture. The big man had been there -- his name was Solomon -- and he had driven the god because machines were complicated, operating with cause and effect, and gentle touches, and strange requests. But the big man had stayed outside? Yes, yes he had. And the little girl, she'd been so beautiful, he'd loved her then, and loved her hatred, and he set her forth -- he was a god, he had made her a saint, yes? -- but she had eaten her brother's soul. He had made her a saint. That was the important part. So she could go and murder and debauch and destroy. And the big man had only driven the car? Or had he come inside? He had come inside. Or was the god's memory playing tricks on him? And now the big man wanted credit for the god's work. And the other one... Othello? Why did that name stick so... he had... he had lied! They were going to steal the credit for his work!
The blackbird shook its little head, the difficulty of connecting so much time and space wearying. He'd see the amber-eyed woman. She was always so very good at explaining things... There. That was a decision. The blackbird took flight, and flew away, out of the darkness and into the night sky. But one thing was certain to the god. He wasn't going to take this lie sitting down.
Were Eddie Treadwell mathematically inclined, he might have noticed that when he had arrived, he had brought sixteen of his mortal herd. He also left with sixteen of his mortal herd. If he was particularly clever, and had been paying very close attention, he might have noticed that given how mortals went in and out of the main room, sometimes one of them came back a bit more quickly than expected. And how that one always seemed to go away whenever Erin and her friends came near.
Right now, the seventeenth meal -- though he'd never actually gotten around to being bitten, funny how that had worked out -- was unwrapping the ribbon and barely managing not to burst out laughing. Really, did anyone expect him, who had engineered this entire drama, to sit back and get second hand reports?
"Erin, you wonderful girl!" He chortled, shaking his head and letting his usual dark skin tone flood his face. "You delightful, devious little girl, that was sheer genius. I'm going to buy you a pony. Green Park!"
This time he did laugh, and when he opened closet door, he stepped through into a Land That Was Not. He had friends and allies in the Hedge and in the Goblin Markets, they'd keep him under wraps for the moment. And then, he'd need to get ready. There was still so much work to do!
Thursday, January 14th, 2010
Squick -- Lydia's boyfriend -- had consented to take Lauren to the Ebon Engine, though this had first required Lauren to visit the Battersea Water Tower and ask Lydia for a favor. Squick was a nice guy, anyway, and he took Lauren to a station in the Hedge, a little platform surrounded by marble statues and ancient Roman mosaics, ice-encrusted vines crawling about them. There, they had awaited the Ebon Engine, and it was there that Lauren had her first glimpse of the Unseelie Court's headquarters.
Ten massive cars of carved black steel and prismatic crystal, racing down a set of icy steel tracks. It was huge, and it looked somehow ever so faintly alien, like a train out of a dream, or possibly out of some opium nightmare. The carvings on the outside of the train had been repaired, and they reminded Lauren of something not quite right, something not quite human, a little too organic to be natural.
A helpful, if rather sardonic, crow-faced woman had taken Lauren to the Archives, and this was where Lauren found Rebecca and Horus, working in the great library. It wasn't actually very large, as libraries went (the entire train car, though wide, was still only some ten feet across), with the shelves stacked so close together that one couldn't slip so much as a hand between them. They were on a set of rails, and had wheels on them, so that they could be pushed apart when access was necessary, and then pulled shut to save space. It was an ingenious system, certainly.
Rebecca was sitting at a little table, copying out the writing of some ancient scroll into a typewriter -- electronics tended to perish in the Hedge, and even a typewriter was pushing it. In the background, Horus puttered about, sorting books. "Hi Lauren." Rebecca had smiled when the vampire had entered.
Outside, the Thorns shot by at great speed, covered in snow and frost. The Ebon Engine was at the heart of its own personal blizzard, always and forever, and Rebecca was wearing long sleeves to ward off the chill.
Thursday, January 14th, 2010
Erin, Underwood, Cynthia, Mary
Erin had told Mary Mack what Birch had said -- in very, very, very vague terms. Using very generous terminology. And being very vague. So it was that Mary didn't kill anyone, hadn't broken anything, and hadn't even frenzied, though Cynthia had taken one look at the other vampire and spent the rest of the day keeping Underwood between her and Mary. Cynthia was many things, but she had a keen sense of self-preservation.
Right now, she was sitting on the other side of Underwood from Mary in the attic of the Russell House, while the Harbinger's in-house occultist searched through dozens of books for the diabolic sigil that had been inscribed on the door of Mary's home, in that dream so long ago.
"Erziel... no, that has ten points..." Rakesh Morgan, the aforementioned in-house occultist, was muttering to himself. There was a stuffed hyena standing in the corner, a new addition, and Erin noticed a row of human skulls on which Rakesh had been apparently practicing trepanation. One didn't ask. "The Rider in Dreams has the ends bent counter-clockwise..."
"Where did you find this sigil?" Cynthia asked, very quietly. Her eyes flicked to Erin and Underwood, and then to Rakesh, lost in his work, and to Mary Mack, who had been singing softly to herself for the last hour and staring off into the distance.