Egregoreearliest post first | most recent post first
Mostly, Ocular Space gave me a headache.
"Try working with Ocular Space for just a few minutes a day," @Madam Zita said, "then work up to longer periods. Through time your mind will be able to adjust and manifest meaningful psycho-emotional landscapes more easily."
I don't generally do "emotional." What I did end up seeing was like a lot of flat shapes. Circles, squares, triangles... different colors, moving around over a kind of grid.
"That's a map," Madam Zita said. "Your heart's desire..."
A map? THAT's my heart's desire?
"It's a subconscious manifestation," Madam Zita said. "Which is good. If you'd come in with something specific in mind, it would have taken a number of sessions to deconstruct it."
Well, it's true I didn't spend a lot of time obsessing over my "heart's desire." Really I just keep things moving, job to job.
"But it's clear you'd like to know where you're going... and the lay of the land..." Madam Zita said.
And suddenly the grid took on the shape of what I knew to be the mountains region we were in. The vast primeval forest spread out around us, and there was the abandoned amusement park we'd just left. More icons appeared in the distance for what I realized must be the Matte Kudasi, near a larger, diamond shaped icon and one that was black and white striped. And over the mountains in the east rose a metal skull with horrific mechanical fangs, grinding up the scenery...
"That will be enough for today," Madam Zita said, shutting down the program.
MADAM ZITA'S ENCHANTED CRYSTAL BALL
INSTRUCTIONS (PART II)
Now that you’ve entered the Ocular Space, there are some things you should know.
1) Objects in Ocular Space may be much closer than they appear. Or farther. Or they may be right in front of you. Or all three. Or none of these things.
2) Objects in Ocular Space are both manifestations of your own mind and individual objects separate from your mind. And they are neither manifestations of your mind nor individual objects separate from your mind. Nor are they objects.
3) You may use Ocular Space to find the object of your heart’s desire. You may use Ocular Space to find your greatest fear. You may use Ocular Space to find nothing at all. But what you are really using Ocular Space for will be none of these things.
MADAM ZITA'S ENCHANTED CRYSTAL BALL
INSTRUCTIONS (PART I)
Thank you for your purchase of this Madam Zita's Crystal Ball. While Madam Zita's Crystal Balls can not truly be "owned" by anyone, know that, for the moment at least, this crystal ball is in your possession. And also, that if you weren't wearing proper eye protection, you would most surely have already been driven mad by this short exposure to the wonder that is Madam Zita's Crystal Ball.
I'd had just enough time to loose the moorings and leap on board before Mweek has us into the air, barely avoiding the grasp of the unleashed carnival god. Once we were airborne, it didn't take much to put distance between us. Carnival gods tend to be a localized phenomenon, tied as they are to certain enchanted artifacts. Who knows what foul objects this one sprang from, but I wanted no part of them. We'd report it to the Old Gods Network once we had some free time.
Yes I was fine, and she did a great job saving both our skins.
No, I didn't have any better idea where we were headed before this little detour.
But now we had one of Madam Zita's enchanted crystal balls. And I had just the kind of eye protection it called for.
"Let's just keep heading over this vast primeval forest," I told her. "Down the valley. That away. No rush. It's time for some research."
Mweek had started up the preflight checks as soon as it saw me coming. Actually, I'm inclined to call it a she, though I've got no real way to know, not being familiar with her five-legged, horned and cloven type. But you'd be surprised how capable she is in the cockpit, bouncing round from button to lever to wheel. And she's pretty handy with that tail too.
"MWEEEEEEEEEEEK!" exploded over the loudspeaker.
With the carny and the clowns laid out of on the floor of the big top, I hadn't seen a reason to quicken my step. But apparently Mweek was anxious.
"Ok, ok! Hold your little horses, Mweek!" I hollered.
Sheeesh! She was going to wake all the creatures of the forest. I expected a stampede of squirrels and bluebirds at any moment.
"That's enough there little tyke!" I yelled back. I was getting close enough that I could just make her out in the cockpit of the Egregore, moored as it was at the edge of the abandoned amusement park. Her two glowing yellow-green eyes were looking especially wide. And alarmed.
And after a moment I realized there was something else reflected in the windscreen. It was as if the big red and white striped big top had been lifted off the ground by a tornado, or a great unseen spirit that was wrapping the huge tent around itself like a cloak.
Just like an old carnival god, returning to wreak vengence.
I didn't turn around to get a better look. I just ran for all I was worth towards the Egregore.
"MWEEEEEEEEEEEEK! MWEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEK! MWEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEK!"
And there I was tied up in a chair. Again. For the second time since I met @Billy Sabab.
Another round of seltzer water to the face. These clowns were playing hardball.
"TELL ME WHERE YOU GOT THEM!" the disgruntled carny screams in my face. He's wearing the glasses, but it's clear he doesn't know how to use them.
"Estate sale, like I told you," I sputter, spitting out seltzer, "On Moonbeam Five. A hoarder. All kinds of glasses. They had these super rare Vuarnets I really wanted, but--"
"ENOUGH!" screeched the carny. "Since you're still not interested in telling the truth..." he turned to the hard-eyed clowns at his side. "PREPARE THE PIE!"
Oh god not the old cream pie routine. Who did they think they were dealing with here?
While the clowns prepared their ridiculous concoction, the carny suddenly turned stock-still. I noticed the little green light on the glasses had turned on, followed by a little red light I hadn't seen before. And then a yellow. And then it was clear the glasses themselves were projecting a wild explosion of light directly into the carny's eyes.
What happened next was a blur.
In an flurry of movement, the carny whirled at the clowns, and with a series of swift strikes and kicks the clowns lay on the ground, covered in custard and cream.
Then the carny was at my side, untying the ropes and releasing me from the chair.
An uncanny voice came from his lips. Or maybe it was the glasses.
"30 degrees SE. About 100 clicks."
And then the carny collapsed in a pile on the floor. I plucked the glasses off his head, wiping off the bits of custard and whipped cream.
I grabbed the Madam Zita crystal on my way out. And the Cloak of Leon. I figured it was fair.
"As, yes, a discerning haunted artifact connoisseur, as I live and breathe! I'm sure we have a number of things that will, catch your eye, so to speak."
Just as I'd suspected, there was a disgruntled carny living in the broken down big top, enchanting pieces of obsolete machinery and preparing for the return of the old carnival gods. There were tables and tables of old junk, stretching off into the darkness of the big tent.
"Haunted pinball machines? We have a Mermaid Imperium Deluxe, one of the only two known to exist!"
Yeah I'd seen a few of those.
"Dunk-a-bum Spell-a-lie. Guaranteed to tell the truth!"
Too big. Not my style. Plus, lie detection sensors were a lot more sensitive these days.
"The Cloak of Leon! Impervious fur protects the wearer from all assaults, physical and otherwise."
Tiny moths flew out when he picked it up.
Down the aisle a flash of light caught my eye. The carny saw me look.
"Oh.... yes, you do have an excellent eye. One of Madam Zita's enchanted crystal balls. But, everyone knows, it will drive you mad if you look at it too closely... or without proper... protection...."
The carny was sizing me up like a juicy steak.
"How much?" I asked.
"I'm sure we could arrange an equitable exchange. For example, those remarkable glasses around your neck."
"What, uh, these? Sorry, family heirloom."
"Ah, yes, well, I'm sorry to hear that. Get her boys!"
It was only then I noticed the clowns in the shadows.
I'd surveyed my share of abandoned amusement parks. It came with the territory. It was practically cliche in the dangerous and haunted artifacts racket, and there was no shortage of them. At its peak, the amusement park bubble put one on almost every street corner. Tastes changed, leaving them abandoned in droves. Some were remodeled into strip malls or gas stations or hotels, but it didn't stop them from rusting and sagging and being condemned. Usually with some incredibly disgruntled carny living in the rubble, enchanting pieces of obsolete machinery and preparing for the return of the old carnival gods.
Pretty standard stuff. But looking at one through the glasses brought a whole new perspective on things.
Down the broken midway, I saw patterns. Lights slowly pulsing like blood in a circulatory system. The haunted house and hall of mirrors worked like capacitors and resistors, modulating the frequencies that passed between them. Different energy flowed through the ferris wheel, radiating out through the arms and into space like an antenna. And all roads converged at the big top, dark and torn when looked at without the glasses, but by adjusting the levers and dials on the glasses it was clearly some kind of central hub, pulsating with power.
Ought to be something haunted and artifactual in there, I surmised. And I had time for a side gig. Solving the mystery of Uhrenfabrik AG wasn't paying any bills, and The Egregore and I still had needs.
"Yes, and you too," I answered. "You stay here with the ship. I'm going to check this out."
"Yes of course it's a trap."
"Mweeeeek! Mweeeeek Mweeeeek!"
"Well, it's bigger than what I'd generally call a haunted artifact, but, well... what is it, anyway?"
Floating above a thicket of forest ahead of us was the classic embodiment of death -- the Grim Reaper. It had the cloak, a hint of a skeleton poking out here and there and holding a giant scythe. The whole thing must have been 50 meters tall, holding its massive scythe and slowly swinging it two-handed, over and over.
And over and over. And over again.
"It's not a haunted artifact, ha!" I told Mweek. "It's a projection. A giant road sign. There! Look where it ends up pointing the scythe."
In a clearing in the woods was a tiny amusement park. There was a roller coaster and a ferris wheel and a midway, but it was empty. The whole place looked abandoned and a little decrepit.
"This isn't on the maps?"
"Guess we better take a look."
Verdant valleys. Snow capped peaks. Lazy wandering rivers and occasional farm houses. Puffy clouds.
The "general region" of Uhrenfabrik AG was a wide swath, but the scenery was beautiful. I seemed to be out of any immediate danger. I could see for miles in all directions and was under no pursuit. And as I didn't know exactly where I was headed, the chance of an ambush seemed unlikely.
It was time for a little housekeeping.
What do you do on vacation? Me, since I fly around in my house all the time, downtime means catching up on overdue domestic maintenance. Starting with my library, which is also the bridge. Mweek kept lookout while I sorted the books back into their shelves, papers into their folders, tidied up my writing desk and the magnifying table...
I always keep a clean kitchen.
Made my bed. Seems like I've hardly slept in it lately. My cabin looks unlived in. As does the guest room. and the dining room. They've all been unlived in for longer than I care to remember. But it's funny how even spending all my time in the air, you still need to dust every once in awhile.
The Rare Book Room needed a bit of sorting--mostly replacing volumes I'd taken to the bridge, but a bit more dusting never hurts. Plus, I just love to check on them, pull them out and hold them. And I ran a routine diagnostic of the Grade 7 Artifactual Containment Chamber.
Wasn't much to take care of in the cargo hold, which is pretty spacious. And empty. Took me a while to figure out how to concentrate on the high-value but very small and light haunted artifacts.
"Mweeeeek! Mweeeeek Mweeeeek!"
I could just hear the squeals over the engines. But when did Mweek learn the word for "haunted artifacts?"