Tag Archive: souls

Apr 30

In the Company of Angels: Episode 11.2 – The Broken Gate (cont.)



In the Company of Angels, Episode 11.2 – The Broken Gate (cont.)

“I guess I don’t understand. Whatever would drive the Amenta to destroy a world…any world?!” Luke asked Azarias. They were passing through the flat in London , and Luke was once again downing a mouthful of chocolate. Azarias glanced at the letters on the table, noting that none had been taken other than Luke’s.

Azarias was, Luke noted with some envy, apparently untroubled by the act of framerunning. But it then occurred to Luke that he had never been entirely sure into which of the three primary categories of the Order the older man fell. He knew that he had some Empathic capabilities, and was also capable of Rendering images; perhaps he had Navigator skills as well. “Some people have all the luck,” he thought to himself as he downed another mouthful of chocolate. “I just know I’m going to weigh 300 pounds by the time I’m his age,” he thought ruefully.

From Father Hildebrandt’s “squirrel’s nest” of a storage room, Azarias had retrieved a staff that appeared to be wrought entirely of matte silver. Atop the rather plain shaft was a large blue crystal. Azarias had said that they’d need it, but he had not elaborated further, fearing to waste too much time on their return to Orbaratus.

“I’m sorry, what was your question?” asked Azarias.

“My question is: what is the point? That is, of the Amenta getting an entire planet to destroy itself?”

“Ah! That might better be asked of Father Hildebrandt than myself; it is more in his line, you might say.”

“Why is that?”

“Well, because it has to do with the nature of evil: of what it seeks and of how it grows.”

“That’s pretty heady stuff…”

“Yes indeed! But, since we need to find your portal — where is it, by the way? — let me answer you succinctly. What are the Amenta after, you ask? Souls. That’s all. It’s really that simple.”


“Souls. I’ll explain more when we have a better opportunity, but where is this portal? I am unable to discern it, even though I am holding one of the sapphires.”

Luke looked around the room; he still had his ring on, and was only confused for a moment. The grey light from Orbaratus was almost identical to that coming through one of the living room windows, and the portal was in front of one of these, making it difficult to pick out from the background.

“There it is,” he said, pointing.

“Ah! Well then, shall we?”

Luke looked through the portal before he stepped through, and he was glad that he did so. “There’s something wrong,” he said. “The horizon is wrong.”

They looked through the glowing frame and saw the plaza on Orbaratus; but it was as if a giant had tilted it upon its side.

“Either the world through the portal is undergoing some tremendous upheaval,” said Azarias, “or your base image sketch has broken away from its moorings and fallen upon its side.”

“I’m guessing the latter,” said Luke, “although I drew it upon a huge block of stone and it would have taken quite a blow to fell it. We suffered an earthquake just before I made the sketch; I wonder if there has been another since I left?”

“We shall soon see,” said Azarias. And with that he stepped through the portal, found gravity to be pulling him sideways, and thus half-rolled and half-crawled out onto the plaza. Luke followed right behind him.

What they saw when they regained their bearings shocked them both. The plaza was swarming with black shadows, and a roaring and howling filled their ears. As they stood, they perceived the gateway at the other end of the plaza, and it appeared to be the nexus of all of the turmoil and confusion. Yet, within that heart of  darkness, they could yet perceive a single bright figure, standing alone: it was Polydora.

“Come,” said Azarias, “there is not a moment to lose.”

    o o o

The raven had been put into a wicker basket with plenty of openings that would allow the bird to breathe, and even to intermittently eye its captors reproachfully. It croaked and clicked at them, and at least once, Jill could swear, it said something that sounded like Latin, although she couldn’t identify the words used.

Sam had initially entangle himself in the selfsame blanket that Jill and the Professor had prepared for the bird when he dived through the portal. There were several moments of sheer panic and confusion when both he and the raven had come careening through the canvas at nearly the same time.

Somehow, they had managed to isolate the bird from the boy, and the former was held tightly until a suitable repository for it could be found. The Professor had discovered an old basket that a friend had brought him back from Ethiopia a few years before. It was a pretty thing, and something he rather hated to part with, but he had no qualms in offering it up for the bird’s safekeeping.

The three of them, with raven in tow, had returned to the attic once the bird was safely tucked into his temporary home. The painting of Orbaratus has been turned around and uncovered. Jill knew that time was pressing, and that they’d likely broken every Framerunner rule in taking the Professor into their confidence, but she somehow sensed that it would be alright in the end.

“Professor, I wanted to ask you, where did you get this painting? I mean, the one we used to come here?”

“It was given to me by a friend at Oxford. Painted by a dystopian writer: one named Acasi Simaov, if memory serves. I don’t believe his works ever caught on, but my friend liked the painting and he bought it at an estate sale. He thought I’d like it since I had been working on books on space travel to other worlds. It’s a strange painting, and I never got around to framing it or hanging it, which is why it is still here in the attic.”

“Well, Sir, if you ever decide you don’t want it, I know of a group of people who would be interested in keeping it safe for you,” said Sam. “I don’t know who is in charge there these days, but let me write them a note and jot down an address for you.”

The Professor brought him an envelope, some paper and a pencil, and Sam wrote a quick explanation to the Abbot Primate of the Benedictine order, outlining in general terms that the painting was of Orbaratus and might need safekeeping. Then he added the address of the Monastery de Sant’Anselmo to the outside of the envelope.

“There, Sir,” he said to the Professor. “If you ever decide to part with it, just pop your own note in with mine and send the painting with the envelope to that address. It’s entirely up to you, of course, and without access to a crystal, it’s unlikely that the painting could cause any further mischief. But, ya never know….”

Then there came the awkward moment of having to say their goodbyes.

“I wish we had more time for me to ask more questions,” said the Professor, “but I also know that to do so might cause even more harm than may already have been done. I shall have to either hope to see you again some day, or to spend some time speculating, for my own benefit, what framerunning might be like. In any event, it has certainly been a very interesting and thought-provoking afternoon!”

With that, Jill and Sam bid the Professor the best of luck with all of his works, clenched tightly hold of their crystals, and disappeared into the painting of Orbaratus. The Professor rubbed his eyes once he was sure that they were gone, and gone for good. He then left the painting as it sat for the remainder of the day and all of the next. Thereafter, he boxed it up and shipped it to Rome, where it came, in due time, to be in the hands of Father Hildebrandt.

        o o o

When Jill and Sam arrived back upon the Plaza of the Masters with the raven and basket in tow, they were astonished at the change. The howling and roaring that had greeted Luke and Azarias was, if anything, louder still, and thunder, wind, and lightning had blown up from the south. They, too, could see that all of the movement and noise centered near the gateway at the other end of the plaza, and they knew that’s where they would be needed. They could not make out precisely what was happening, but they saw two figures heading toward the maelstrom before them.

“I think that’s Mr. Luke!” yelled Sam as he picked up the basket, “and I’m betting that’s Azarias with him!”

They narrowed their eyes against the gusting wind, and Jill was forced to put her hands over her ears to try to block out the howling. She was feeling even more queasy than usual, and although Sam had immediately started toward the gateway, when he looked back at her and saw how pale she was, he returned and fed her some chocolate.

“You gonna be OK?” he yelled in her ear.

“I think so. But that noise; it’s driving me crazy!” said Jill.

“Just Howlers, but more than I’ve ever heard at once. And you usually don’t see them, ever, in the daylight. They’re the things that look like flying sheets of black tissue paper, and they’re thick as smoke over by the gateway. We need to get over there, because we have the two crystals that the raven stole. Let me know when you feel well enough to walk….”

“We shouldn’t wait,” Jill yelled back at him. “I’ll be alright. Let’s just go!”

They turned back toward the gateway and followed Mr. Luke and Azarias into the heart of the storm.


       [ To read Episode 12.1, click here…. ]