Tag Archive: angel

Feb 05

In the Company of Angels: Episode 5.2 – Orbaratus (cont.)


In the Company of Angels, Episode 5.2 – Orbaratus (cont.)


“That doesn’t sound good,” said Jill, “That doesn’t sound good at all! I mean, this place is already spooky enough as it is….”

“Sam, what color were the gems?” asked Mr. Luke.

“Hard to tell because the light was bad, but they looked dark: blue, maybe?”

“Do you think, by any chance, that they might have been sapphires?”

Sam whistled “Holy smoke! I didn’t even think about that! I can go check if you’d like.”

“I’m not sure how we would determine that, to be truthful,” said Mr. Luke. “But, while we think about it, if Polly no longer senses anyone else up there, perhaps we should all go and see the place for ourselves.”

Polly stood poised, listening for a moment. “No, no one remains,” she said.

“Then, would it be possible for you to take Jill up to the cliff top? I know I’m too heavy for you to carry, but Sam can get us both up there together through the Maze. Sam, what do you think?”

Sam grinned. “I’ll be able to, but you sure won’t feel very good when we come back out.”

“Kindly don’t remind me,” said Mr. Luke, looking pained, “But, it is a risk I am prepared to take. Jill, Polly, we’ll meet you up there.”

Sam clutched his crystal in one hand, and Mr. Luke’s wrist in the other, and the two of them stepped through the adjacent wall.

Polly picked up Jill in her arms. “Are you ready to fly, little one?” she thought to Jill.

“I’m as ready as I’ll ever be!” Jill thought back to her.

Then they were off.

Jill would remember that flight for the rest of her life. She had been in airplanes before, of course, and knew that takeoffs were noisy and sometimes frightening affairs, so she closed her eyes and braced herself for the jolt of the launch. But Polly’s wings lifted them both effortlessly into the Orbaratan sky, and their rise was so gentle that Polly might not have noticed that they were airborne except for the change in the breezes surrounding them. She cautiously opened one eye and saw that they were already five or six stories above street level and rising slowly, banking back and forth over the deepening chasm below them.

Far from being frightened now, Jill looked eagerly out at the ever-expanding horizon. She saw that the city of Cenurbus was built, as Polly had said, on steep mountain ridges with nearly vertical canyons between them. The city reminded her of photographs she had once seen of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, and, as in Rio, there were long graceful arches bridging the canyons; but there were no trees or vegetation of any kind.  She also saw many balconies and plazas that led from the structures built into the cliff walls. But she rarely saw staircases, and it occurred to her that, of course, the Ferrumari would not need them, since they could fly!

Polydora reached the uppermost levels of the cliffs but remained close to the walls lest their flight be noticed by unfriendly eyes. Nevertheless, Sam had been correct; it was both brighter and more blustery in the upper reaches of the city, and even Polydora could not prevent the occasional stomach-wrenching gust of wind from altering their flight. Jill clasped her cloak tightly around her to keep warm. But she was soon able to distinguish the rooftops and the plaza that Sam had described. The mountain rose higher just at the plaza’s far edge, and there were benches and the remains of pots or planters scattered throughout the space in addition to the stone pillars.

“So it was almost like a garden,” Jill thought to herself.

“Yes, it was,” Polly thought back to her, “but that was many centuries ago, long before I came out into the world from the place where my parent had hidden me. But I have seen pictures of how it was, once upon a time….”

To Jill’s astonishment, she now saw faint images flashing through her mind’s eye. The planters were filled with shrubs of every hue of the rainbow. Some had great circular leaves and others reminded her of weeping willows, or of weeping cherry trees. There were tall palm-like plants and low trailing vines. Yet, despite the vivid colours, the overall effect was pleasing, and Jill thought that the Ferrumari must have had great skill in the artistic uses of colour, texture, and shape.

“There were, in fact, many great artists among my people,” Polly thought back to Jill. “And I can show you some of their works in the galleries and museums that were spared during the dark times….

“…that is, once we have solved the mystery of who else may have come here.”

Jill felt a slight wave of dread coming from the Ferrumari, and she realized then how disturbed Polly must be that her home world had, somehow, been violated.

But now Jill saw Sam and Mr. Luke on the plaza. Sam was standing next to the shimmering wall that enclosed the plaza. He was watching them fly in while Mr. Luke was seated on one of the stone benches. Polly lightly touched down next to them, and then she set Jill down upon her own two feet.

Mr. Luke was once again munching on a chocolate bar. “I think next time I’ll take the stairs,” he said between bites.

“That would have taken you weeks,” said Sam. “Besides, I never even saw any leading up here.”

“Of course not, Samuel. It was a feeble attempt at making a joke. The Ferrumari didn’t bother much with stairs.” said Mr. Luke. “But, I’m better now. Going back down, I may opt for a sketch…running one of them, especially one of my own, doesn’t make my stomach do belly-flops the way the Maze does.”

The four of them turned their attention to the plaza. It was fairly large, and despite the crumbling stonework and the wear and erosion of many centuries, it still held a haunting beauty. There were paths worked into the multi-toned flagstones, and these threaded through the planters and stone monoliths that punctuated the space. Jill noticed that there was writing on many of the stone structures. “What do they say?” she asked aloud.

“They are short histories,” said Polly. “This path is itself like a walk backward through time. It begins with events near the time of the Apocalypse, and then traces Orbaratan history back through the ages until the time of the disappearance of the Masters. A visitor, or a pilgrim as they were called, did not need to read the writing on stones at all if he didn’t wish to; all of the Ferrumari had telepathic powers, and these stones have crystals embedded within them that retained images, songs, and performances from other times. A pilgrim could actually experience history in addition to simply reading about it. But now the crystals are mostly silent. I can sense very little of their original contents.”

“I’ll bet there needs to be some power source to make them work,” said Sam. “And I’ll bet that energy source has long since stopped working. Whatcha think, Mr. Luke?”

“Possibly. But, Polly, does anything look different to you now compared to your earlier visits?”

“No,” said Polly, “it is just as I remember it.”

By this time they had followed one of the winding paths past the empty planters and benches and were approaching the cliff wall at the back of the plaza. Jill could see a huge cutting in the cliff base and an immense doorway. A slab of stone filled the space, and its surface was covered with writing.

“More history, I suppose,” Jill thought. “Then she noticed the blue gems that Sam had mentioned. They were large — nearly the size of a half dollar — and were embedded in more of the mirrored glass-like material that seemed so prevalent throughout Cenurbus. They were round in shape, but were nearly the same colour as the sapphire Jill was wearing on her finger, and they were on either side of the stone door, roughly at Polly’s eye level.

“There are the two stones,” said Sam.

“Yes, but there should be a third,” answered Polly. “Look at the top of the door.”

They all looked at the lintel above the door. It was not as obvious to Mr. Luke, Sam, and Jill because they were not as tall as Polydora, but they could see, in the dim light that filtered down from the overhanging rock, a round setting of the mirrored glass. But it held no stone.

“The third gem is gone!” exclaimed Polly. “And now I remember why that is important! In addition to the writing on the stone door itself, there is a rhyme written upon the lintel. It speaks of the three stones that were originally set here.”

“What does the rhyme say? Can you translate it for us?” asked Mr. Luke.

Jill sensed rather than heard Polly’s thoughts as she tried to recast the rhyme into English.

The original Orbaratan language must, Jill thought, have been quite beautiful to hear spoken aloud. But the tone of these verses was dark and ominous.

“Here is what it says,” said Polly, “although this is but a rough translation. The original verse in my own language conveys great authority; they are words of warning and command, but they read something like this:


‘The three blessed stones that seal the thrones on high,

defended by the Ferrumari troth,

restrain the Masters, who, suspended lie,

chained and wrapped in cold funereal cloth.

Yet they will wake and wend a woeful doom,

should none of that great Warden Race endure,

fell acts of terror then they shall resume,

unless the sealing stones remain secure.'”


“But what does that even mean?!” asked Sam.

“It means,” said Mr. Luke after pondering for a few moments, “that we are likely in very grave danger.”

The words were scarcely out of Mr. Luke’s mouth when they all heard a sound like distant thunder that grew and grew. Even as it roared about them, they felt the stones beneath their feet heave and buckle.

“Earthquake!” yelled Mr. Luke. “Quickly, get away from the door and out onto the open plaza!”

                [ To read Episode 6.1, click here…. ]

Jan 30

In the Company of Angels: Episode 5.1 – Orbaratus



In the Company of Angels, Episode 5.1 – Orbaratus


Mr. Luke, Sam, and Jill all gazed intently skyward, squinting in the silvery light to see if they could make anything out.

“I can’t see a thing,” said Mr. Luke. “Polly, did you truly see something, or mainly sense it?”

“Both,” said Polly, “although the movement has now ceased. I knew something was wrong as soon as we stepped through.” The Ferrumari turned to look at all of them. “This is my home. I know how it ought to feel, for I lived here for nearly a thousand of your earth years….”

Jill involuntarily thought to herself “A thousand years all alone…what a horrible thing!”

Polly thought back to her “It was not so difficult; it was all that I knew at first. You only miss a thing that is taken away from you, not something that you never had at the start.” Polly squeezed Jill’s hand.

Aloud, Polly continued: “I know how Orbaratus feels, and this was different. There has been a shift in the taste of the air and in the movements of thought here. The ones who came before, my ancestors, are still here in spirit. They, too, are whispering to me of changes.”

“What sort of changes, Polly?” asked Mr. Luke.

“I do not yet know; that may take some time to understand. But I could fly up to the place where I saw the movements and see what there is to be seen there.”

Mr. Luke thought for a moment, stroking his thin beard. “I wish we could find out without drawing attention to ourselves. If you fly up there, anyone or anything might see you coming.

“I could sketch a view from the cliffs back toward us and Sam and I could certainly framerun it, but that would take time.” Mr. Luke looked around at the structures near them and slapped his forehead with his hand. “Of course!” Polly, are all of the buildings on Orbaratus reflective…like these?” He pointed to the nearest structure, which mirrored them nearly perfectly.

“Yes, most are, although not all,” said Polly. “Those sheets are pressed from a mineral that is mined heavily in the northern parts of this land. It is not metal. Rather, it is more like your glass, or rather, closer to what you might call a one-way mirror on earth. It lets some light through, and some it reflects. But it is much stronger than steel, so it is used throughout most structures in Orbaratus. Why? Is that important?”

“Oh, I see!” said Sam. “If it’s like a mirror, then maybe I can mazerun up to the top of the cliff!”

“It may truly be a Navigator’s dream come true,” said Mr. Luke, nodding. “A whole world built of nothing but mirrors! I suppose it never dawned on me before because I’ve come here so seldom, and I’ve never explored over any great distances.

“But I suppose the first thing to do is to have you attempt it, Sam. Could you just try to pop through this wall near us and return?”

Mr. Luke had hardly finished speaking before Sam had pulled the crystal on its chain from beneath his shirt, clenched it in his hand, and disappeared into the wall beside them. A few moments later, he reappeared, but not in the same spot he had left. He was standing on a ledge about fifteen feet above their heads.

“It all seems pretty normal to me,” he said from above them. “Want me to go up to the spot Polly pointed out?”

“Yes, if you can” said Mr. Luke, “but be careful! And if anything seems odd — in the Maze, I mean — don’t take chances: just come back here. But if you can find your way up to the place Polly pointed out, look out and see if you can see anything. Don’t leave the Maze unless all is quiet. We don’t want anyone to see you.”

“OK,” said Sam. He turned and disappeared back into the wall.

“Mr. Luke,” said Jill, “he was inside the wall for just a moment. How can he have climbed up there that quickly?” She pointed to the ledge above them.

“Space and time don’t work the same way when you’re mazerunning,” said Mr. Luke. “I know, I’ve tried it, several times.” He shuddered involuntarily. “I might never have gotten back out but for the fact that I always had someone like Sam with me to pull me through.”

“Polly,” he said, turning toward the Ferrumari, “do you know what’s up there? It looks from here just like the top of a building, or the top of a cliff. I’ve not spent enough time here to know exactly how the city was built, nor even where we are.”

Polly pondered for a moment. “We are standing in what is, or was, the capital city of all of the world of Orbaratus. During the time of my people, there were no separate nations or states. But this place was called Cenurbus. It was the cultural hub of Orbaratus, and the home of most of its places of learning and governance. Near here, my parents prepared a place for me when I was first born, and when I was old enough to safely leave that place, what I found around me was what you see now: the ruins of a once-great city.”

“So, are all of these…,” Mr. Luke waved at the steep cliff-like walls surrounding them, “are all of these structures? Skyscrapers? Or are they actually cliffs that have been built upon?”

“A bit of both,” answered Polly. “This place was carved out of a range of mountains, the stone of which is like granite on earth. Some of the cliff tops are truly the peaks of that virgin rock; others are homes and halls that have been planted upon the rocky bones of the mountains.”

“And do you know what that specific building was?” Mr. Luke pointed to the one they had sent Sam to explore.

“It was a place of veneration, I believe, as well as an archive. It was there that all of the lore of the Masters was kept by my people.”

“The Masters? Who were they?” asked Jill.

“They were the ones who came before the Ferrumari. Some of the sages wrote that they created us, and that the Ferrumari were either bred or built by them to be their servants. Others claimed that they were a competing race that died out just before speech came to us and we began to populate Orbaratus.

“All that I know comes from the archives, and I was unable to distinguish truth from legend, for I had no one to guide me in my studies. But there are rhymes and songs written about the elder days, from long before the time when the Masters vanished, and many of these are beautiful and speak of a wondrous age of joy and prosperity. But there are also other songs that speak of the final days of the Masters, and these are not so beautiful. They are filled with grief and with dire prophesies.”

“Prophesies? Prophesies about what?” asked Mr. Luke.

“About the end of days, about evil times to come,” said Polly. “And, you can see, much of what was written has come to pass, in a way.”

Jill felt a wave of sorrow and anxiety wash over her, and she realized that it had come from Polly. She looked around at the ruined buildings and, for the first time, began to feel uneasy.

“But, Polly,” said Mr. Luke, “if someone — someone not of the Ferrumari — came to Orbaratus, would there be anything about that building particularly that might attract them? You said it was a place of veneration as well as an archive. Was it a temple?”

“Not as you think of it,” said Polly. “But there is a garden of meditation at its summit, a place of remembrance.”

“You mean, like the tomb of the Unknown Soldier? Or an historical memorial of some kind?”

“Yes, something somewhat like that. At the top of the cliff is a hallowed door, or gateway, into the mountain, through which the Masters were said to have departed from our world. Or, at least, so it appears. But there is nothing behind that door, and I do not believe that it can be opened. Writings are engraved upon it: verses from the last days of the Masters, written in an ancient mode of speech.”

“But, is there anything that anyone might want there?”

“Not that I recall, but perhaps Sam can tell us what he has found, and whether the place is as I remember it.”

Sam had just popped back out of the wall behind Mr. Luke.

“Well?” asked Mr. Luke, “did you see anything?”

“No, not really,” said Sam, “There was no movement at all, except for what was caused by the wind. It’s pretty blustery up there!”

“Did you look around?”

“Yeah. Since I didn’t see anyone there, I popped out of the Maze and explored a bit. I don’t know if you saw me; I couldn’t make you out down here because of the angle of the buildings and the shadows at the bottoms of the cliffs. It’s a lot lighter up there!”

“I felt that you were there,” said Polly, “Although I didn’t see you. But what I sensed before seems to have departed. I was aware only of you this time.”

“Was there anything up there that seemed…well…disturbed?” asked Mr. Luke.

“The place is pretty old and deserted. There’s something like a plaza made of stone, with stone pillars scattered around on it, and benches, and things that look like planters. A cliff wall rises on the side away from us. It looks like that’s where the building stops; beyond it is just rock.”

“Did you notice a doorway built into the side of the mountain?”

“I saw something that looks like a doorway. Just a slab with writing on it and two gems set into the walls: one on either side.”

Two gems?” asked Polly.

“Yeah. One on each side of the door.”

“Why, Polly? Is that important?” asked Mr. Luke.

“I am unsure. It has been such a very long time since I was in that place, but there was something about the stones: some dark legend, or perhaps it was an evil prophesy.”

“That doesn’t sound good,” said Jill, “That doesn’t sound good at all!”

                [ To read Episode 5.2, click here…. ]

Jan 23

In the Company of Angels: Episode 4.2 – The Empath (cont.)



In the Company of Angels, Episode 4.2 – The Empath (cont.)


“Take it off! Take the ring off!” she heard Mr. Luke say to her, as if from a great distance, but Jill could not move. Then strong hands grabbed her by the shoulders, and she realized that Polydora was holding her up. Immediately she felt calmed, and she heard the most beautiful singing, high and sweet, that seemed to be coming from the rafters above them. Polly had turned Jill around, had kneeled before her, and was holding her up and peering into her eyes.

Jill looked into the Ferrumari’s face and heard a voice in her head say “Those are the ones that were lost, but they are not sad voices. They are voices of joy; echoes from the times long before I was born. Do you understand?”

Jill shook her head. “Not really. But…I’ll be OK. I just need a moment….”

“Sorry,” she said, looking up at Mr. Luke and Sam. “It was just getting used to the ring, I think.”

“No, it was a lot more than that. Polly, do you think she’ll be alright in Orbaratus?”

“Yes, if I am with her. As I said, she sees very far, and she may soon come to sense the presence and emotions of those around her as well as can I.”

“You mean,” asked Jill, “you mean you’re an Empath too?”

“Of course,” said the voice in her head. “That is how I sensed what you were thinking and feeling.” Polly smiled.

“But I can’t do that,” said Jill.

“Can’t do what?” asked Sam.

“Hush, Sam,” said Mr. Luke.

“But, you already are!” thought Polly. “You’re doing it now!”

Jill looked at Polly, wide-eyed. “OK, let me try this…” said Jill.

“Try what?” asked Sam.

“Hush, Sam!” said Mr. Luke.

“Can you hear me?” thought Jill, looking directly at Polly.

Polly nodded and smiled, “Of course!” she thought back.

“Well, that’s a first!” she said aloud.

“What’s a first?” asked Sam. Mr. Luke clapped his hand over Sam’s mouth.

“But, Polly,” thought Jill, “if I can understand what you’re thinking, why can’t I understand what anyone else is thinking?”

Jill heard a tinkling sound in her head that she recognized as Polly’s laughter. “Because, little one, you’ve not tried to! And because it is always easier to read the thoughts of another Empath than of anyone else, provided, of course, that the Empath is allowing you to do so.”

“Oh!” said Jill aloud. She closed her eyes and rubbed them.

“What’s going on, Mr. Luke?” asked Sam, clearly confused.

“Something you’ve never seen before, Samuel, nor I, and something you should remember and cherish; you may never live to see it again! Jill is learning a new thing about herself, a wonderful thing. You remember when you first discovered that you were a Navigator?”


“Well, this is like that, only more so.”


While Sam and Mr. Luke were talking, Polly and Jill had been silent, gazing at each other.

“Polly?” said Mr. Luke after a few moments, “I know I’ve asked already, but are you sure Jill will be alright in Orbaratus?”

There was a long pause while Jill and Polly appeared to be chatting with each other, then Jill said “Yes, Mr. Luke. Polly was already telling me about her world, and I would really like to see it for myself.”

Sam shook his head. “So now you can read minds?!”

“No,” said Jill, “not yours. But Polly says that will likely come in time.”

“Sheesh! Bad enough having to watch my mouth, now I’m going to have to watch my thoughts too?!”

“You’ve not done so around me thus far,” said Polly, smiling. “Why should you have to do so with your friend?”

“It’s…it’s different with Jill…” Sam said, sulkily.

“Well, we can sort such things out later,” said Mr. Luke. “But now, if we’re all agreed, let’s go explore another world….”

Mr. Luke went behind a curtain nearby and emerged wearing the duster coat that he had been sporting when Jill first discovered him in her library. He also had brought two short, grey, hooded cloaks with him. “It’s not really that cold on Orbaratus,” he said as he handed one cloak to Sam and the other to Jill, “but it can be a bit damp and windy. These will serve to keep you warmer and drier while we’re there.”

The four of them then gathered before the painting. “Everyone please make sure your skin is in contact with your crystal,” said Mr. Luke.

Jill clenched her fist and felt the sting of electricity. Then came the wash of emotions and the sound of singing from the painting once more. But whether it was because she was prepared for it this time or because Polly had her hand on her shoulder, Polly found that she was now able to bear it.

“Is everyone ready?” Mr. Luke asked, looking pointedly at Jill.

Jill nodded.

“Then hold onto you hats!” said Sam. With that, he jumped, with both feet, straight at the painting. Jill saw him one moment, and in the next he was gone. She gasped involuntarily.

“You two next, Polly,” said Mr. Luke.

Polly stepped forward without hesitation and strode into the painting, stooping to fit her head and wings through it. She kept Jill’s hand grasped firmly in her own. Jill followed her, hesitating only for a moment. Once through, her feet crunched on something like gravel and she felt a cool, wet breeze blowing through her hair.

Jill looked around her. The silver skies above were racing with clouds, and the cliff-like buildings towered on all sides. Polydora was still holding her hand, but the Ferrumari stood just ahead of her, gazing at a particular spot high atop of one of the buildings.

Sam stood before them both grinning. “Whatcha think?” he said.

Jill felt quite disoriented — dizzy, and even slightly sick to her stomach. She turned around just in time to glimpse Mr. Luke stepping up behind her. Just past where he stood she could still see the lights and the desk of the Gallery. Jill leaned to one side of Mr. Luke to see it better and realized that the window, if one could call it that, was simply hanging in space. She let go of Polly’s hand and stepped back toward it. She opened her hand and reached out to touch the edges of the bright frame, but as soon as she did so, it vanished, and she was staring at the empty landscape of Orbaratus. She pulled back her hand, startled.

“It’s still there, you know,” said Mr. Luke. “Close your hand upon the crystal again.”

Jill clenched her fist, and immediately the frame reopened in space before her.

“It will remain here for us to use when we return,” said Mr. Luke, “but no one can see it or use it without one of the sapphires.”

Jill continued to look throughthe portal for a moment, and then she relaxed her hold on the sapphire. The view from her own distant world dissolved away, but not before she thought she caught a glimpse of something, or someone, moving in the background of the vanishing image. She was about to mention this to Mr. Luke, but in the Orbaratan light, she saw that he was very pale. “You don’t look so good, Mr. Luke. Are you alright?” she asked.

“Don’t worry, he’s always that way after a run,” said Sam, stepping up beside her. “But, how are you feeling…OK?”

“I think, so. A bit woozy, I guess.”

“Yeah, just like Mr. Luke. Here, have some chocolate.” Sam gave her a chocolate bar, and after eating a few bites, Jill began to feel better.

“I thought that only worked in Harry Potter books,” she said.

“Naw. I think J.K. Rowling must have known someone in the Order and stolen the idea. Chocolate seems to help if framerunning an image ever makes you feel woozy. I hardly ever do, but I keep some with me just in case, and you should too.”

“Well, we’re not all Navigators, Samuel,” said Mr. Luke, who was likewise now munching on a chocolate bar.

“Why do you call Sam a ‘Navigator’, Mr. Luke?” asked Jill.

“Because that’s his special talent, just as yours appears to be that of an Empath.”

“But what does it mean to be a Navigator?”

“It means that Sam is very adept at framerunning. He can do it all day long without getting tired or disoriented, and in fact, he has a special ability to sense the existence of frames, or portals, even without the aid of a crystal. Also, he can use mirrors to move from one place to another, something that we call “mazerunning”, without ever losing his sense of direction. That is an ability that you and I do not possess; we would likely find it nearly impossible to mazerun on our own without becoming hopelessly confused, and perhaps even end up getting lost in the Maze for good.”

“So that’s how Sam got out of our house last night? Through the mirror?”

“Yes, apparently, although I’ve not heard all the details yet. He found his way back to his own house without ever going outdoors. I quite envy him the time he can save instantly getting from one place to another when the need arises….”

“So you aren’t a Navigator yourself, Mr. Luke?”

Sam snickered.

“Ahem!” said Mr. Luke, scowling at Sam. “No, Jill. Nor am I am Empath like you and Polly. I’m a Renderer.”

“That’s a fancy name for an artist,” said Sam.

“There’s a lot more to it than that, but the description is certainly close enough for our purposes,” said Mr. Luke. “That said, right now….”

Mr. Luke looked past Jill.

“…right now, we need to find out what Polly is so fixated on….”

Jill turned around. Polly had not joined in their conversation; she had remained looking fixedly up at the top of one of the cliff-like buildings. She was completely still and silent, and once more Jill thought she could easily have been mistaken for a statue. But Jill could almost feel Polly listening; listening intently not only with her ears, but with all of her empathic senses.

“What is it, Polly?” Jill asked, stepping forward and putting her hand in that of the Ferrumari.

“Can’t you feel it?” Polly spoke to Jill in her mind.

“What, Polly?” Jill thought back.

“Someone else is here. Here, on Orbaratus.”

“But, I thought you said your home was deserted; that no one else lived here but you…?”

“That was true, little one,” thought Polly, “but it is so no more. Someone is up there.”  Polly swept her long arm upward and pointed at the cliff tops. “Someone, or something….”

                 [ To read Episode 5.1, click here…. ]



Jan 16

In the Company of Angels: Episode 4.1 – The Empath



In the Company of Angels, Episode 4.1 – The Empath


Jill stood up and turned fully around so that she could see Polydora more clearly. But what a being! The graceful-looking woman stood nearly seven feet tall and appeared to be made entirely of silver. There was no fixed color to her other than the reflections she cast, but her shape was clearly feminine. She appeared to be wearing a tunic or robe, richly engraved with strange symbols. But the wings! These Jill could only see partially, as their tops framed Polydora’s head, almost halo-like. They, too, were bright, shining silver.

Polydora stood entirely still; Jill could scarcely believe, at first, that she was a living creature at all.

“P-pleased to meet you Ms…uh…Ms. Polydora,” said Jill.

The statue’s lips moved, and Jill heard a tinkling sound that she recognized quickly as a sweet laughter. “I am delighted to meet you, Miss Jill,” said the statue.

Polydora nodded her head graciously and then stretched out a long arm toward Jill. Jill reached out to shake hands, but was quickly unsettled; Polydora had six delicate, slender fingers, the outer two of which were thumbs, so that their first handshake was one of those moments that most brought home to Jill the fact that she was not in the presence of a human being.

“Polly,” said Mr. Luke, “is the keeper of the Gallery, our secretary, our computer, our filing system, and, especially, our hostess, all rolled into one,” said Mr. Luke. “If there is anything of grace and beauty here in the Gallery, it is entirely due to her.”

Polly turned toward Mr. Luke, placed her palms together, and bowed.

“But, Ms. Polydora…?” asked Jill

“Yes, Miss Jill?”

“If it’s not impolite to ask, what are you? I’ve never met anyone like you before, nor even read of anyone like you. Are you an angel?”

Polly laughed in her chime-like tones. “Dear child! It is true that I resemble what you might call an angel, but I am of the Ferrumari, and I come from a world called Orbaratus.”

“I don’t understand,” said Jill.

“Perhaps I can explain it to Jill, Polly. And while I do so, would you be so kind as to retrieve the landscape of your world so that we can share it with her?” asked Mr. Luke.

Polly bowed, and then, to Jill’s great delight, she spread her silver wings and rose glittering into the air above them. Then she banked steeply and swept into the darkness beyond the railings. The gale from her departure blew through Jill’s hair, and she finally understood the source of the fluttering sounds that she had heard since arriving at the Gallery; they had been Polly’s wings.

Mr. Luke ushered Jill back to the table. As she and Sam sat, Mr. Luke began pacing back and forth before them.

“Polly,” he began, “is the last of her kind. Her home world, Orbaratus, is deserted. All of her people, save her, were destroyed in great wars thousands of years ago, and she lives here and helps us in our work because she has no other family.”

“How sad!” said Jill, “But what were the wars about? And how did she survive them?”

“I’m not sure of all the details, and Polly does not like to dwell on a past that is so painful. But we do know that a race of creatures instigated the wars on her planet; creatures that invaded it from another world.

“I’ve said, Jill, that we, as Framerunners, can visit other realms, both in space and in time. But so, apparently, can others, although their manner of travel is not entirely understood by us. But, many thousands of years ago, an army whose members are sometimes called the Amenta appear to have made their way to Orbaratus. There they found the Ferrumari, a sentient species of servant beings whose creators had long since become extinct. The Amenta have no fixed form; they are what we might call ‘spirits’.”

“’Spooks’ is what I call ‘em,” said Sam.

“Yes, that is Samuel’s preferred term,” said Mr. Luke, “but whatever you might call them, they are dangerous creatures. They persuade and bully others, binding them into a form of slavery. Thus they goaded some of the weaker of the Ferrumari people into instigating wars of power and domination, and these grew in intensity as each of the Ferrumari chose either to uphold peace and harmony, or to ally themselves with those who sought power.

“In the end, much of Orbaratus was laid waste, and all of the Ferrumari destroyed. The Amenta victory was complete, save for Polydora. She was a newborn at the time of the Orbaratan apocalypse and was secreted away by her parents. When she was old enough to leave the haven they had provided for her, all she found left of Orbaratus was a desolate planet devoid of all life.

“But, such are the Ferrumari that even then, Polly did not despair, but rather learned all that she could about her people from those resources available to her: ancient histories and legends, tales of other worlds, poetry, and art left behind not only by the Ferrumari, but also by the race that had brought the Ferrumari into being, about whom we know little. Many of these treasures had survived, you see, in the rubble of the libraries, galleries, and museums. But Polydora’s parents had also provided her with books and paintings of her own so that she could learn as she grew.”

“Almost like my library!” said Jill.

“Precisely!” said Mr. Luke. “And as Polly read the stories of her people, she nurtured her own belief that no creature could ever be truly alone forever in the universe. And her hopes of meeting other intelligent beings were fulfilled at last when some of our own forebears visited Orbaratus. They did this by framerunning a landscape painting of her home; the very one that Polly is bringing to show us. That was her first physical contact with any other living creature.

“But…now you can see for yourself what Polly’s home looks like; here she comes with the painting….”

Polydora fluttered delicately to the floor of the platform. In her arms she held an image painted on a wood-like panel that stood nearly six feet tall. Mr. Luke mounted it upon an easel and Sam focused a floodlight upon it so that it was fully illuminated. Jill saw an alien landscape in silvers, purples and greens. Beautiful metallic structures were built into the sides of cliffs, or perhaps, Jill thought, the cliffs themselves might actually be buildings; it was impossible to say for sure.

There were signs of great violence and decay in the painting, despite its beauty: rubble in the streets; damaged windows; gaping holes in walls; dead vines creeping into cracks in the buildings. But the overall impression remained ethereal and, oddly, lyrical. The landscape and structures, like Polydora herself, were largely made of shining, metallic materials that caught the light and reflected it in graceful curves. Despite the metal, the impression was not of a cold and impersonal place, but of a great but ruined civilization. Even without any living creature depicted, there was something organic and achingly beautiful about the world.

But Jill also felt an emptiness, a loss, and the long flow of time that must have passed since this city had fallen into ruin. She no longer had Sam’s crystal in hand, but she could almost hear the wind sighing through the city streets and feel how hard it must have been for anyone to have survived there – alone. All that beauty, all that history, but none to share it with. Jill felt a lump rise in her throat.

“I believe you like my home,” said Polly to Jill. Jill jumped slightly. She had been so captivated by the painting that she had not noticed Polly step up beside her. Polly gently grasped Jill’s hand and squeezed it.

Jill looked up to answer her and noticed tears in the eyes of the Ferrumari.

“Yes, I like it very much,” she said, “very much indeed….”

Polly squeezed Jill’s hand again, but then turned her head toward Mr. Luke. “This one sees far.”

“Really? How far, Polly?”

“Farther than any I’ve met other than Azarias.”

“Is she a Renderer, then?”

“No, an Empath.”

“An Empath?!!! Holy smoke!!!” Sam blurted out.

“Are you sure, Polly?” asked Mr. Luke.

Polly nodded.

Jill looked up at her, and then at Mr. Luke. “What does that mean, Mr. Luke? I know what ’empathy’ means – it’s kind of like the ability to share someone else’s experiences and emotions – but that’s not what you’re talking about here, is it?”

“No, Jill, it’s not. It’s a term we use to describe a particular talent – a very rare talent – that some very few of our Order have possessed over the years. If Polly is correct – and I can say in all honesty that I have never known her to be otherwise – you may have a skill that we have needed for some time, one that could help us in our work should you wish to join us.

“But, we can discuss all of this later. Polly says you like the look of her world. How would you like to visit it?”

“You mean, right now?!”

“Certainly! Polly, might I persuade you to come with us? I know it may be difficult for you, but there is so much that you can explain better to Jill than can Sam or I.”

Polydora looked longingly at the painting, and then back toward Jill. “I will come.”

“Thank you. I know what returning to Orbaratus may cost you….” said Mr. Luke.

“Two firsts in one day,” mumbled Sam.

“Hush, Sam. Now, let me retrieve two extra crystals, and we’ll be off.” Mr. Luke returned to the desk Jill had seen when she first entered the Gallery, and stepped to the wall on one side of the door. He pushed aside the curtain, and Jill saw a flash of gold as he opened a cabinet door. He returned with two rings; a small one for Jill, and a larger one for Polly.

“Now, these can be kept on your finger at all times, because the crystal is not usually in direct contact with your skin. But, when we framerun, you can turn the jewel around and close your hand shut; then you’ll feel the crystal’s surface against your skin. Try it now.”

Jill put on the ring and felt nothing. But then she did as Mr. Luke said: she turned it around on her finger so that the plain silver band was facing outward, and clenched her hand shut.

She immediately felt the electrical tingling, but then an enormous flood of emotion filled her, almost knocking her to the ground. She turned and stared at the painting of Orbaratus, which was now glowing in a truly unearthly light. The feelings she had had before; of beauty and harmony, but also of loss, of heartbreak, and of pain, were amplified a thousandfold. Motes of light swam before her eyes and she hardly noticed that she was in danger of falling.

Take it off! Take the ring off!” she heard Mr. Luke say to her, as if from a great distance….

              [ To read Episode 4.2, click here…. ]