Tag Archive: Mazerunning

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…. ]