Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Daimone-Haunted World: Roshan

Previously on A Daimone-Haunted World: 1, 2, 3, 4. (I really thought I'd written more than this by now.)

Great-Uncle Roshan was the strangest member of my family, and the most notorious. When he was in college, he'd been involved in some very strange happenings. Kidnapped by a cult calling themselves the Freemasons or the True Freemasons, survived a close encounter with a daimone (losing an arm in the process - I remember the time, as a small child, I asked him to take off the prosthetic, to show me. Grisly.), and, as a small side effect, ended up creating the field of thaumaturgy. (A historian might quibble with that. But he was the one who took the Freemason documents from the building, deciphered the secrets they saw fit to protect, and published them on the "web"... close enough, I say.) There are other parts of the story he tells that haven't been accepted as widely... his story of 'travelling through a giant beating heart into a pocket dimension' and, upon leaving it, finding himself in another reality, to specify.

It's true that both he and my grandfather are here; identical on the genetic level, like twins that the birth certificate clearly shows my great-grandparents never had. But Uncle Roshan - I called him that, for shorthand - is an odd fellow by nature. (Couldn't be less like my grandfather, most of the time.) There's ample reason to doubt his testimony on the stranger things he reported. When I was a kid, I believed him absolutely. These days, I'm less sure, but I give him the benefit of the doubt.

Enough about ancient history, though. Uncle Roshan popped in and out of my life - he'd show up, enjoy my parents' hospitality for a few weeks (or my grandfather's, or my aunt's), and vanish again. We were never quite sure what he did for a living - he'd tell us, but the answer changed every time we asked - and it was impossible to reach him if he didn't want to be found, which was most of the time.

I loved him - when I was younger, for the gifts he brought. Later, for his humour, his insights into the world, and his willingness to tolerate - to encourage! - my studies of thaumaturgy, in a time when it was far less widely accepted - and when my grandfather, as he still does, shunned me for them. If any person in the world was responsible for who I was today, it was him.

So you can understand, then, my joy in hearing his voice on the comm - and also my surprise. For while space travel had grown only easier, over the last twenty-five years, it was still no trivial matter to journey all the way to the outermost part of the colonized solar system.

"Pratthy! Glad you still recognize the sound of my voice!" Uncle Roshan replied to my exuberant greeting. "Oh - sorry - should that be Doctor Pratthy, now? I never got a chance to congratulate you on your accomplishment!"

"It's fine, it's fine, thank you," I said, still off-balance from Uncle Roshan's presence here, of all places. "Great-Uncle - why are you here? What are you doing on Io?"

"Can't an old man go places without being interrogated these days?" Uncle Roshan replied, mock-snappishness in his voice. "I might as well ask, what are you doing here? Actually, I will. What are you doing here, Dr. Pratthy?"

"I'm doing research for the University," I told him. "It's a bit technical, but I'll explain if you want - ah. Hold on a moment."

Notifications were popping up all across my vision. You're that Saravagi?, one asked. Wow, this'll end the slow-news doldrums! another remarked. A third requested, Can you ask him if I could talk with him - just for a few minutes? It'd mean a lot to me.

"Looks like our conversation's hit the feeds," I said, replying to the notifications with a small part of my concentration. "Can we continue the conversation in person?"

"Sure!" Great-Uncle Roshan replied. "I'll set-up a rendezvous scheme."

I opened my mouth to interrupt him - we were on the feeds now, and an automation-arranged rendevous would end up with a crowd - but he'd already closed the connection. I shrugged. Uncle Roshan had some celebrity, but he was no King of Canada; even on remote Io, the hubbub wouldn't last. Watching the tracker-arrows at the edge of my vision, I turned my course away from home, moving to meet my Uncle - filled with an increasing curiosity. What was he doing here? He may have evaded, but I'd known him for years - I'd get an answer out of him yet.

Then I saw the daimone.

Instantly I snapped out of my distraction, dismissing the tracker-arrows leading me to the rendevous and conjuring thaumaturgic Sight. There she was - standing by the side of the road, facing away, and, in the Sight, burning like a flame - clear as day, there she was!

I hesitated, and then turned on video-recording. It wouldn't be as useful as a layperson might think - thaumaturgical creatures were like old flat display-screens, solid and real to a human eye, but distorted and wrong to anything that tried to record them. Flickering strange colours and shapes in the gaps between our sight... still, it would be have good to have some recording of the encounter. And it would hardly cost me anything, either - the memory-diamond I had installed at the moment was a pitiful, antique one-zettabyte model (and hadn't I borrowed it from Uncle Roshan, now that I thought of it?), but it'd do for a few minutes of simple video-recording.

I considered my options again - put up a Ward? Try to approach without, for stealth? Back away? I discarded the third - I needed to hunt this thing down, figure out what it was doing. And the second... if I knew what it was, I might be willing to go without thaumaturgical protection, but I wasn't going to risk it at present. My Wards went up; the daimone began to move, walking smoothly away from me. I pursued.

After following it through two alleys, I lost sight of it when it entered a small building. A corridor, with just one door at the end - locked. I had no time to waste - bringing out the old habits (hadn't used them since high school!), I drew a quick sigil and a Binding upon the door, bringing forth a Locks-Hath-Not-Power demon. The door slid open, and some sort of trap fired, bouncing off my wards - ha! Pathetic! What were they thinking? I couldn't see the daimone anywhere - it was a small room, sparsely furnished - but there was a book, on a desk, heavily used. A book? Really? Someone was feeling paranoid. Paranoid because they were indulging in prohibited summoning practices, perhaps? Summoning daimones? If the door was trapped, the book would probably be as well - and if it was of the same caliber of protection, I laughed at it! There was a bookmark, showing wherever the writer had left off - was that a fountain pen next to it? Wow. Hadn't seen one of those since I was yea high. No time for nostalgia - what was inside?

As I fell to the floor, my vision fading, I considered that playing with unknown, thaumaturgically trapped artifacts was probably not the wisest of ideas, no matter what my adrenaline-pumped reptile brain had to say on the matter.

Lesson learned, I thought, just before everything went black.

1 comment:

Calvacadeofcats said...

what happned to his girl frend