The Journal of Kunigonde Stoutenburgh, Gentlewoman

Roger Burton West

Table of Contents

Newton-X

1720, Friday, the first Day of April: London
5 January 2011
(Times in this Journal are kept by the Standard of London except as Noted.)
Arose betimes and to the Royal Society, where it seems that at long last my Learning is to be put to practical Use. First met my fellow Venturers: a Frenchman, M. Nodier, near as festooned with strange and valuable Objects as myself; an Englishman, Commander Hodgson, by his Dress clearly so unfortunate as to have to live on his Navy Pay; and a Foreigner, Balaban úr, carrying of all things a Greatsword in the Streets of London! I have fallen into strange Company indeed.
Introduced to Sir Hans Sloane and to Sir Edmond Halley, who has singular Ideas about the flow of Time on other Worlds, and who mentioned the idea of some Members of the Society that Mathematics will offer the best Possibilities of Communication with the Natives, having apparently little Experience of the ways of Power; also to Mr Gardner, who has been venturing across the Astral to locate those same Worlds and determine our Targets; finally to Hr. Mortensen, an Astronomer working under Sir Edmond, who will travel with us to make Observations. We are to make Measurements with a portable Clock, very cunning of design, to determine the Ratio of Time between our own World and a Foreign one, the latter said to be uninhabited by humanity.
First then to provision ourselves, where my Edith erred in naming her Mistress before a Price could be set; Balaban úr made his Feelings clear, however, and carried away Food for a Week for the entire Expedition.
Saturday, the second Day of April
At Greenwich Observatory, Balaban úr concentrated on his Sword, a red Glow spreading from the Gem in its Hilt, and cut a Hole in the Air. Being forewarned of its brief Duration, M. Nodier and Commander Hodgson went ahead, followed by Balaban úr, Edith and my self. Hr. Mortensen, with his Handcart of Equipment, followed, just passing through before the Hole could close; Mr Gardner travelled by his own Means. On the Astral, our Party navigated from the outer Ghost Zone towards the inner Astral Sea, then back out to a different Ghost Zone. It seems that some other worlds are hazardous to the Traveller, and none has yet returned from them; this will repay investigation from a careful Distance. Seeing no reason to hide my Talent, I created a Gateway into our new World and we passed through in somewhat less Haste.

Solitude

Winter, in a new World
This new World proved cold, dark, and wet; clearly England casts a great Shadow across the Sea of Worlds. We waited until Dawn in our Tents; while I confirmed our Location and the local Time, the others of our Party felled Trees to establish a crude Observatory and espie the Moons of Jupiter and other calendrical Referents. This Endeavour was obstructed by M. Nodier falling ill, and several others having a Discomfort; my experience with Plants and their Effects on the Corpus allowed me to identify and remove the Influence, a Metal carried in the Stream we had been using for our Water – on future Expeditions we shall bring more Wine.
19 January 2011
Hr. Mortensen made Experiment with magnetic Compass, Sun-dial and Shadow Stick, but the Clouds prevented his Observation. That evening we fell to watch-keeping, my own Vision extended below Light; my Companions seemed surprized by my Boldness in taking a Watch, but I am sure they will come to understand that to gainsay me is unwise. Hr. Mortensen and Commander Hodgson seemed disturbed by the patterns of Stars in the Sky, saying that they were out of their proper Places; it seemed that this indicated that we were far from our own Time as well as our own World; though we could not yet tell whether this Distance were forward or backward.
The next day, Hr. Mortensen required that more Trees be felled; the Day was somewhat clearer than the Rain of before, and he was able to establish true Noon for the Benefit of his Clock. The Time of Sunset was apparently acceptable to the learned Gentleman, and he commenced Observation as it grew dark. We had seen no large Animals, but this was no great Surprize given the Amount of Noise we had been making. Hr. Mortensen believed from his Work that we were probably several thousand Years in the Past, rather than some dozen thousands of Years into the Future; this seems not immediately useful, but the Work seemed to make him happy.
At Break-fast next day, Edith was startled by a Bear; my Companions rushed to defend her, drawing a Variety of lethal Ironmongery. Balaban úr, being closest, drew his Sword and felled the Beast with a single Blow. Commander Hodgson reduced the Creature to its constituent Parts and we planned to dine. Hr. Mortensen had been awoken by the Commotion, and determined with his Clock that the Length of the Day seemed to lie within the Margin of seasonal Variation. The Bear was somewhat challenging to our Palates, but Commander Hodgson in particular seemed enthused by the Taste, if not by the later Effects.
With further Observations, Hr. Mortensen was able to refine his Theories and gain a closer idea of the Time, some time between two and four thousand Years in our Past. Clearly I must learn of the Skies to supplement my studies of the Earth. Balaban úr cut a Hole to our Home, allowing direct observation of the Clock at Greenwich. It appeared that approximately as much Time had passed at Home as for Us, a great Convenience.
When Daylight returned, Commander Hodgson flung himself into the Sky, planning to espie Ways in which we might explore. He reported that the Forest stretched in all Directions, but that a Rise to the South-West, roughly where the Remains of the great North Wood lie at Home, might offer a better Vantage. He and M. Nodier purposed to visit this Spot, but lacking a separate Tent it was felt that the Conditions were too adverse.
The next Night, a full Day and Night after the previous Observation, Balaban úr cut a Hole again, but felt that it was not suitable to our Purpose; a further Hour later, he tried again, with more Success. Hr. Mortensen was disconcerted at this Observation, determining that this World was running more slowly than our own, by three Hours in the Day. If the two Worlds had begun at the same point, this would indicate that both Worlds were some dozens of thousands of Years old, rather than the five or six thousand believed by alpl sensible Men. More importantly, the scope for Arbitrage seems great, paying men in this Place for work done at Home.
The Difference in Time suggested to Hr. Mortensen that the Force of Gravity might differ here, but lacking Instruments the possibility of Measurement seemed remote. Duplicating the Experiment of Hooke, using lead Spheres on a Thread to measure the Force, seemed to promise some Possibility of Success; however, a more leisurely Approach seemed to be indicated, and this Project was deferred until a second Expedition might be arranged. Instead, we remained for three more Days, continuing to measure the Differential.
This Work completed, we planned our Return. As before, I brought up the Rear, being able to return Home on my own should it be necessary, but as it transpired we were all able to cross without Incident.
1720, Friday, the eighth Day of April
We returned to our various Homes, and attended the Royal Society on the next Day to make our Report.
Some Excitement, in that this Difference in Flow of Time was not something that had been learned in detail from the C—. While these Informations were being ruminated upon, it was suggested that another World might be visited, one in which Henry V was still on the Throne; though this Expedition would be one to be kept Covert.
After some Research, it appeared that the Land belonged to a Monastery in Bruges, and that presenting ourselves as foreign Religious (under a Vow not to sleep under solid Roofs) should allow us to claim Hospitality. With one of our Number ill of some unspecified Ailment, and another claiming to be his Physician, it should prove permissible to stay for several days.
2 February 2011
Balaban úr studied the Route to this newer World, but first there was a Party to be considered, held by Sir Edmond.
1720, Saturday, the sixteenth Day of April
I studied further Spells, while Edith arranged for new Clothes for the Occasion. Commander Hodgson was accosted on the way to the Event, by a fellow C––ist asking Direction to Sir Edmond’s Lodgings. The Commander was able to discern his partial Dissimulation, though he appeared not to be immediately Hostile.
On Arrival, the Stranger gave his Name as Mr Collins, and was admitted. He addressed himself to Sir Edmond, and explained that he was seeking Assistance; Commander Hodgson was able to pass on his Misgivings before any hasty Promises could be made.
After some Delay we were invited to join Sir Edmond and to meet several of his other Guests – Sir Hans Sloane, whom we had previously met; Mr Martin Folkes, a Theorist of Magic and the originator of the theory of Mathematics as a prerequisite for technical Development; Mr Robert Smith, a Mathematician; Mr William Stukeley, Antiquary; Mr Gardner; and Sr Rigos Sapienza, from the outworld portion of the C—. They discussed some of the Works of Engineering that were being developed: solar Concentrators, Vehicles powered by Springs, calculating Engines, and other Strangenesses.
I circulated and had Intercourse with these Gentles; Sr Sapienza spoke with Mr Collins, who was pressed to reveal his Mission: to free his World from the “Forces of Evil”. He had no magical Training or ability to travel Worlds, and had apparently been disposed of here. His Evil seemed to be the Forces of “Liberalism and the Jews”, and his home World was in the Year Nineteen Hundreds and Eighty-Five, where his Nation of American Colonies had rebelled against its rightful Masters. This, I must admit, rather shocked me to the Extent of losing Concentration for a Moment, but his further Babblings seemed concentrated on the Power of “Television” and how it could be used as a Tool of Revolution and Sedition.
Sr Sapienza offered Mr Collins a Position as a Consultant on Technology of the Future, and indeed his Alternatives seemed bleak, with no ready Means of returning him to his own World. While he considered his Position, Sr Sapienza spoke with us, in particular noting the difference in Philosophy between his own World’s secrecy and our own Society’s Approach to Inquiry and Sharing of Informaion gained. He offered some information on Worlds through which he had travelled, though quite properly not about his own (the C—’s own) Home; he also described a divinatory Art that offered some possibility of learning some characteristics of a World from study of its Shadow on the Astral, and the Possibility of learning this seemed most promising.
The Foreign parts of the C—, by Sr Sapienza’s Reckoning, tended to be less Curious than our own as to the Underpinnings and Nature of Worlds; but Sr Sapienza mentioned a World of Dragons and Magic, another of Imperial Rome (ruled in Secret by the C—), one apparently still Locked into our own Civil War, and another where the Spanish Invasion of Elizabethan Times had succeeded. Mr Gardner also spoke of Worlds, one from which the first Explorer had not returned, the two we had already considered, and one apparently before the Norman Conquest. He mentioned also a World claimed to be in Eighteen Hundred and Four, one where the Norman Invasion was a Failure, and one in Seventeen Hundred and Forty-Five. (Since their Newton died in their Great Plague, they could not be far technically advanced over us, but they might still repay our Attention.) Another World seemed pre-Saxon, but linguistic Difficulties had prevented him learning much; and one, described as Frightening, had a great deal of Magic, a Plantagenet King, and a concerning Willingness to talk of Angels.
We added our own Experience of Worlds to the Information, and noted a curious Divergence of Histories; even those in our own Past often seemed to differ in substantial Detail. This done, we left the Party and returned to our Homes.
We made further Preparation, and readied ourselves to travel to 1418, M. Nodier planning to be a Doctor, while Commander Hodgson would be unwell with the King’s Evil. Balaban úr went ahead to espie the Layout of the Roads, while the Remainder of our Party remained on the Astral, studying the new Divinatory Form. (It seems that Ur Baladan encountered a Monk and established friendly Relations, at least enough to camp for a single Night.)
1720, Sunday, the seventeenth Day of April

Henry V

16 February 2011
We passed to and through Ur Balaban’s Gate, onto the far Side of the Hill from the Monastery, and approached it on Foot. The Weather was not inclement, and we reached the Hill by shortly after Sunset. We pitched our Tents and espied the Monastery, some two Miles distant. Balaban úr returned to the Monastery to advise them of our Presence.
On his Return, he advised us that here the next Day would be Sunday, and that as Pilgrims we would be expected to attend Communion. As we had discussed, Commander Hodgson would play ill, and M. Nodier would play his Attendant, but the other four of us would go.
Before then, we made Measurement of the Moon and Planets, by magical and other Means. In the Morning we vested and proceeded to the Monastery, doing our best to appear as Catholics and apparently not raising Suspicions, since we were invited to break our Fast. The Monstery’s Physician wished to attend our sick Companion, but we were able to dissuade him, explaining that his own Attendant was more familiar with his Ailment.
We returned and conducted more Measurements; my gravitational Device shewed no Change from our Home. Balaban úr spoke with the Monks again, asking after news of England and her King, and returning his Recollection of contemporary News from Spain. They sent two Monks back with him, but Commander Hodgson’s imitation of a sick Man was sufficient to dissuade them from close Inspection; the ticking of our Clock was rather harder to mask, but with a variety of non-Explanations we persuaded them to leave.
Balaban úr opened a Gate to our Home, which allowed Observations with no Difficulty, and another later in the Afternoon. There had been a ten-minute Shift after some few Hours; this suggested that the Theory of a common starting Year was inadequate to explain the Rates of Time between Worlds.
After Nightfall, Hr. Mortensen measured the Positions of the Stars, to refine Sir Edmond’s observations of proper Motion. Again the Night was uneventful; a third Observation the next morning shewed a somewhat consistent Ratio of Time, some one Part in Thirty-Five.
A fourth Observation was made at Noon, and the Slippage remained as before. Our Objectives now being complete, we decided to take our Leave, visiting the Monastery one last Time. Once out of Sight, we returned to the Astral, Ur Balaban’s gate lasting just long enough for our Passage, and then home, to Bath and to Bed.
1720, Wednesday, the twentieth Day of April
We met the next Day at the Society, where Commander Hodgson had received some good News: that a Prize had finally been awarded to him, such that his Finances would be somewhat less straitened. I promised to ask my Brothers the Direction of a good Tailor for him.
As we spoke with Sir Edmond, it was clear that he was working on a new Theory of Time. He also spoke of several Worlds that might repay our Attention. The World of Seventeen Hundred and Forty-Five, absent Newton, seemed to offer great Possibilities, though the Possibility of meeting our Twins offered Danger. Learning from the new World’s Royal Society presented the greatest Opportunity, and other Book-sellers should be approachable.
As for Measurement of Time, Hr. Mortensen planned a Semaphore system to carry the Signal of Time from Greenwich to whatsoever Place on this World might correspond to that at which we might establish ourselves on the other Side, which by M. Nodier’s suggestion we would call Sans-Newton. We should need to arrange such a Place, some little way outside London but still near a main Road; Blackheath, across the Heath from Greenwich, seemed likely to serve us well..

Sans-Newton

1720, Thursday, the twenty-first Day of April
Balaban úr brought us on to the Astral, and Commander Hodgson brought us to the correct Place to espy Sans-Newton; attempting Divination gave little new Information, so we proceeded. The Season was clearly Autumn, with cloud and mizzle. A quick Glance across the Hill shewed that Greenwich was much as we should expect, with some little new Building but nothing revolutionary.
2 March 2011
The first order of Business seemed to be to procure a Place of Lodging, for which Purpose we should travel up River. Taking a Recommendation from the Boatman, we proceeded to an Hostelry in Clerkenwell to take Rooms for the Night. On the Way, Commander Hodgson purchased several Broadsheets, informing us that the date was November of 1745. It seemed that rebellious Stuarts were returning to their old Habits, having defeated some Armies in Scotland and even pushed into England. The “Astrological Gazette” was apparently devoted to the Subject of that Name, and appeared internally consistent, insofar as such Things can be. Our Coinage passed Muster; George II appeared to be on the Throne, since approximately 1725 or 1727.
The Night passed without Incident; on the Morrow, M. Nodier sold some of the Jewellery that he had brought for the Purpose. Meanwhile, Edith arranged for modern Clothing for us, while Commander Hodgson did the same for himself. After Noon, he went out again with M. Nodier and Balaban úr to rent a substantial House. We moved in, Edith and Balaban úr procuring what small Items were immediately needed.
Over the next several Days, we bought Books and Newspapers to learn all we could about this World. I located a Collection of the London Gazette, to allow us to learn History as well as current Affairs. Commander Hodgson established that the reflective Telescope had not been invented, suggesting that this world’s Newton might have died quite young – or, as I was coming to suspect, his Genius had been channelled in a different Direction.
It seemed also that one Thomas Brown of Winchelsea had predicted astrologically the Glorious Revolution, and had been martyred for it, the result of this being that scientific Astrology had become somewhat respectable. Many scientific Developments had happened later than in our world, but Technology was still somewhat more advanced from that with which we were familiar.
The House had also been built at Home, and belonged to a Gentleman who did not use it all Year; it was therefore arranged that the Royal Society should rent it. Commander Hodgson and Balaban úr considered the Possibility of purchasing Land near London that would soon be built on; my Concern was more in the Direction of Inventions that could be profitably brought Home and patented, particularly Clocks.
Commander Hodgson and Balaban úr travelled to Cambridge, to learn what they could of Sir Isaac’s early Career. By report they were briefly held up on the Highway, but without Loss; indeed, this gave them some Cachet with their fellow Passengers, allowing them Introduction to the Archivists of Trinity. This World’s Sir Isaac, having left Trinity when it closed because of the Plague, had not returned, and was assumed to have died. The Pair continued to Lincolnshire to examine Records of the Parish; this World’s Newton had indeed died in 1666.
Meanwhile, M. Nodier sought Consultations in Astrology, using his own Date of Birth and claiming to be seeking on behalf of an elderly Relative. This allowed him to learn the Elements of the astrological System and how it could be practically used – as well as the Course of the South Seas Affair. It appeared that the normal Means of learning the System was an Apprenticeship, which would take rather too long a time for our Purposes.
While shopping for Books, Commander Hodgson was accosted by the Bookseller’s Assistant, who recognised him as her deceased Brother “Eugene”; he attempted to disclaim all Knowledge, while learning that this world’s Hodgson had disappeared at Sea in 1719 during a Mission related to the Great Northern War; the Lady asked him to return in several Days by which Time she would have had Leisure to reflect on the Situation.
On Reflection, it seemed potentially rewarding to engage an Astrologer of our own, such that I could persuade him to teach me – much as I had learned the Sciences of our own World.
While we had not yet established Observations of Greenwich, Balaban úr reported that this world was running faster than ours, in the ratio of sixteen to eleven. This suggested a Point of Divergence in 1665: the Year of Newton’s Death! However, there were some minor Differences even before that date: different typographical Errors in the printed Bible, and in the exact dates and locations of Drake’s and Tasman’s Voyages.
While we were discussing these Matters, a Merchant named Smythe called unannounced, wishing to speak to the Master; I joined Commander Hodgson in speaking with him. He appeared not to be a Mage, nor was he Possessed or highly emotional. (Commander Hodgson, reading Smythe’s Mind, found him to be considering that both he and we were “blending in” well...)
23 March 2011
Mr Smythe verified that we were “all of one party”, then claimed to work for His Majesty in confidential Matters, and that certain odd Events had been detected in this House – specifically in the Matter of Travel to other Places, not by physical Means. He further claimed that his Job was to detect such Travellers, and ensure that they did not affect the orderly Flow of Society. His Object seemed to be to require us to answer Questions from his Fellows to assure them that we had no ill intentions.
Commander Hodgson was dubious; he felt that at the very least the Reference to His Majesty was surely not to this World’s current King, and that Smythe might well himself not be from this World. Indeed, his Carriage might take us rather further than we hoped. The Commander challenged Smythe with the former, and Smythe admitted that he was from indeed from elsewhere.
After a few moments of Impasse, there was a Crash from the front Door of the House, and Smythe pulled out a pocket Pistol of unfamiliar Design. Balaban úr drew his Sword at the same Moment; Smythe got off his Shot as his Arm was crippled, but this seemed to have no Effect on Balaban úr.
As more Foes seemed to be approaching, I conjured an Illusion of an empty Room to conceal our Positions, and we prepared to be attacked. The Door was kicked open, and the first Attacker threw himself in, to be grievously sliced by Balaban úr. Two more Attackers shot Balaban úr, discommoding him for the first time that we had observed.
As the Illusion had collapsed, I caused a clap of Thunder behind the Attackers to disorientate them. Commander Hodgson and I covered the wounded Foes while Balaban úr advanced on the others, though he was sadly unable to hit them at first. Once he was able to do so, one of them went down but the other survived his hit to shoot Balaban úr in return, apparently doing some substantial damage.
The two continued to struggle with each other, Balaban úr gaining an Advantage; the other, prompted by M. Nodier’s Magic, let fall his Weapon and was induced to surrender. Commander Hodgson proceeded to the lower Floor and outside, to deal with the Coachman, who saw him and took Cover while encouraging his Horses. The Commander caught up and stopped the Coach, at which the Coachman jumped down and fled, but when tripped and caught he also surrendered.
The fallen and now restrained Foes possessed a variety of strange Equipment, including tough Fabric shrouding their Bodies. Commander Hodgson recovered the Coach, which contained further odd Devices. I healed Balaban úr, who was not in Pain but apparently somewhat impaired nonetheless.
While we were discussing what to do with the Prisoners, Smythe made a Proposition: that he should tell us his Identity and Affiliation, in return for which we would leave each other alone hereafter. This seemed worth the Venture, so we agreed.
His Faction and World, it appeared, were called Centrum, and was of a very late Date (the third Millennium!) and great Population, using ingenious Technology rather than Magic to cross between Worlds, and attempting to build what appeared to be a cross-World Empire. We shared some Information; they had detected us by Coincidence, when Commander Hodgson had encountered his parallel-Sister, and watched us thereafter with a variety of Devices of Detection. He portrayed his principal Foe, “Infinity”, as a Collection of Organisations, essaying a variety of different and sometimes incompatible Goals.
In the more immediate Term, Smythe admitted that he could not conceal our Presence here from his Superiors; it seemed that we would have to leave this World (though others from our World might be able to return later).
Some Discussion ensued as to our proper Actions at this Point. We felt that we must indeed leave our Foes alive and in this World, with much of their Equipment. A particular Consideration was the Situation of Miss Hodgson, but there seemed little Possibility of keeping her out of Danger by moving her elsewhere. Commander Hodgson felt that we had taken steps to establish friendly Relations; the Remainder of us disagreed.
While Commander Hodgson went to see his Sister, M. Nodier and I cast Spells to allow us to track our Captives later; we then released them, but took the captured Coach to a quiet Spot sufficiently far from the House and not too far from the River, allowing us to take a Boat to Greenwich. Balaban úr took us to the empty World, Solitude, then to the Astral, and then Home, moving from Place to Place in each World.
30 March 2011
1720, Monday, the sixteenth Day of May
Having arrived on Blackheath early in the Morning, we proceeded to our Houses, then after some Sleep to the Royal Society and to make our Report to Sir Edmond. Our first Concern was to shut down the House corresponding to the Location on Sans-Newton, and remove all Trace pointing to us.
Sr Sapienza claimed to know little of Centrum, indeed to have had his Knowledge significantly increased by our Report. He raised the Question of the Means of Travel used by Infinity and Centrum; they apparently did not use the Astral, but were limited in the Worlds to which they would move by some other Parameter not clear to us.
The Risk to future Missions to Sans-Newton seemed great; however, Sr Sapienza believed he could discern the Interest of Centrum there, very probably hoping to assist the Scots in their attempted Rebellion against the rightful King. For this Reason, they might not be concentrated in London.
Lacking a more powerful Force, we felt that taking direct Advantage of the Spells might not be practicable; starting Rumours of our Foes’ Trachery with the local Authorities seemed as though it might be more viable, though still challenging.
It seemed reasonable to travel at once back to Sans-Newton, to attempt a Trace on the Spells; we did so on Hampstead Heath, but neither M. Nodier nor I was able to locate our erstwhile Foes; we returned to our Home and retired, attempting to re-set our Habits to the local Time. (When Commander Hodgson arrived at his Lodgings, his Sister revealed that she had received an anonymous Parcel containing three Works of Amatory Fiction; it was not clear why or from whom.)
Balaban úr proposed that we selectively rob the Library of the Sans-Newton Royal Society, but this appeared to present substantial potential Difficulties. Commander Hodgson attempted to buy Land that would be developed in the Future, on the basis of the Patterns observed in Sans-Newton, but found he had arrived somewhat late to the Game.
The armoured Fabric that we had recovered seemed possible to adapt for our Use, though none of the Jerkins was cut for a Lady; it proved possible to adapt the Frock-Coat for my use. The Weapons were less useful, lacking sufficient Quantities of Powder and Shot.
We met Sr Sapienza, he having consulted with fellow C—ists. It seemed that Centrum was prone to working on multiple Worlds at once, generally through political Means; some of their Machinations had the Effect of reducing the local Mana on a World. Infinity was less, as one might say, centralised, and seemed to have less of a coherent Philosophy, though they seemed in general to oppose the works of Centrum. It seemed likely that we might more easily find common Ground with some of the Merchant Venturers of Infinity than with the single Viewpoint of Centrum.
Commander Hodgson passed one of the Firearms to Mr Collins, our Visitor, who seemed greatly cheered to see something more advanced than could be developed locally. He recognised them as a form of Fowling-Piece, but was unable to assist us in duplicating Weapons or Ammunition. He also explained, to a very basic Level, his People’s method of communication at a Distance.
I continued with my Studies, attempting to lay out a Framework for the Classification of living Things.
1720, Monday, the fourth Day of July
After some weeks, we were ready to visit another World. After some Discussion, we settled on two: raiding Sans-Newton’s Library, and observing the World of Eighteen Hundred and Four from the Astral.
During the Raid, Commander Hodgson attempted to detect other Gates, but was unsuccessful. Using Magic to see in the Dark, we removed, had copied, and returned as many relevant Books as we were able, over a Period of some Weeks, to assist our the Philosophers at Home. This done, we observed the new World for some Time from the Astral, attempting to locate their Royal Society (it having moved from Crane Court), and espying Fashions and other Matters to allow us to have Clothes made so as to blend with the Natives of this World.

Napoleon Total War

27 April 2011
We passed into the new World, to find reasonably pleasant Weather and no immediate Observers. We progressed into Blackheath Village, listening to the local Accent (and paying Attention to foreign Accents, thinking that we might have to imitate them). In a Coffee-Shop with Newspapers, we attempted to learn what had lately been occurring; the great News was that some man called Napoleon had become Emperor of the French (with no Mention of the French Royal Family), and that Britain was at War with the French Empire (which appeared to include much of Europe).
This gave us somewhat to think. The local English Accent also seemed different from what we knew, more clipped; this would take Time for us to learn to speak. For the Moment, we went in search of a Bookshop, to find that many more Books were available than we were used to. We came away with a Variety of Books (some of them written for Children!) on History, the current War, and Popular Science.
We repaired to an Inn and commenced to read. The late Revolution in France, as well as later Developments, concerned us somewhat. The Failure of the Jacobite Rebellions was inevitable but more encouraging. Developments of Science were profound, manifold, and fascinating, consuming several Days of my Time.
Balaban úr christened this World “Napoleon Total War”, and proceeded with M. Nodier to carry our Treasure of Books back to our Home. Meanwhile, Commander Hodgson and I went to sell some of the Jewellery we had brought for the Purpose, then arranged the rental of a House.
Commander Hodgson purchased a set of Naval Chronometers, while I discovered Gazetteers and started to locate our Targets – firstly, of course, the Royal Society, which turned out to be in a new Building overlooking the Thames. I also attempted to locate the nearest natural Gate, in the Hope that this might allow us to learn when Centrum or other Powers arrived, but had no immediate Success.
Commander Hodgson tried similarly; he received a brief Impression from the general area of Hampton Court, but was unable to locate it more closely. Balaban úr returned a Chronometer to our Home, to allow us to measure the Rate of Time. Sending back a local Almanack allowed Mortensen to verify the Date.
After some further Days of reading, we decided to make an Expedition to Hampton Court in the Hope of re-locating the Magical Activity that Commander Hodgson had detected. On this Occasion I did detect a Gate – but it was many miles away, probably in Wookey Hole as expected, rather than nearby.
After two Weeks, we confirmed the Difference in Time – too little to be sure that it was not within the Range of Error of the Instrument. There was no further Sign of active Gates.
We studied a Factory, being concerned by the Noise and Conditions; we studied the new Science of Economics, making little initial Progress.
After much further Research, we made Plans to investigate the Library of the Royal Society. Balaban úr brought us via the Astral; M. Nodier ensured the Watchman would remain asleep; I caused myself to be able to see in the Dark, read the Catalogue, and started to abstract Books to be copied. We continued this for some Weeks before returning Home.
1720, Monday, the twelfth Day of September
Our next trip was to be the alternate Rome operated by the C—; on the Basis that the Preparations needed would teach us more about Methods of Infiltration on other Worlds, as well as about the C— itself. Sir Edmond asked that we keep in Mind the Return of his Comet, and inform him if we were to visit a World where this could be observed.
11 May 2011
Sr Sapienza was able to instruct our Tailors in the basics of Roman Clothing, as well as the Addresses of further C—ists in their Rome who would be able to provide accurate Replacements once we arrived. (It seemed that their Affairs in C––Rome were tied up with Modification of the Auspices, something they were at Pains to keep Secret.)
We planned to sail to New Ostia in our own World, then displace ourselves to C––Rome, and visit a C—ist there to provide proper Documentation. He would also be able to provide us with Teaching in the proper Accents and Behaviour for Barbarians from the outskirts of the C––Roman Empire.

C––Rome

Equipment was a matter of some Concern; we would have to leave behind not only our Guns but our modern Swords (except for Ur Balaban’s). While waiting for Information and Equipment, Balaban úr cut his way via the Astral to C––Rome’s Londinium, to enable us to measure the Rate of Time (though the two Chronometers, carried together through the Astral by Commander Hodgson, shewed different Times). We startled some of the Indigenes, but planned to stay for a little Time; Balaban úr would return directly Home with one Chronometer, then come back for us a Day later.
A little later, a Shepherd approached, but I was able to hide us under Cover of Illusion; the next Day, Balaban úr returned and brought us Home. The Rate of Time appeared close to identical to our Home.
Hr. Mortensen was concerned by our Observations; they seemed to indicate that the Date of C––Rome was closer to 1700 Anno Domini than to 246 (or possibly an hundred or so Years earlier)... if we could gain Information about Tycho’s Supernova, this could make Matters more Clear.
A return Trip with the larger Telescope left me at Home, but with Edith on C––Rome with the others. Hr. Mortensen confirmed the Date to be most probably 1700 after all. M. Nodier attempted to confirm by Divination that this was indeed C––Rome, with what he believed to be Success; further Confirmation came from Balaban úr and Commander Hodgson making a Trip to the Astral. Further Scrying gave conflicting Results with respect to the Flows of World-Currents, suggesting some Effect centred on this World’s Rome, perhaps even some work of Artifice in the Shape of the World.
On the group’s Return and Conference with Sir Edmond, it appeared that more might be learned by travelling to the Centre of the Effect: to wit, Rome! Of more Concern was whether Sr Sapienza would be informed of our Discoveries... Sir Edmond wished to consult Sir Hans. Some Days later, after further Consultation involving Sir Isaac, the Decision was made to ask Sr Sapienza about the Oddities, observing carefully his Reaction. He seemed more than anything else puzzled and advanced a Number of Theories, the most likely-seeming Explanation being a magical Oddity in Rome.
I was able to arrange for Passage on a Ship insured by the Family, and we packed Gems and other saleable Trinkets. The Voyage, my first of any Length, was most Enjoyable, particularly the little Chop across the Bay of Biscay, though for some Reason the Captain felt that Repairs were needed at Gibraltar even though my Companions had been assisting with needed Work.
On the next Leg of the Trip, all went well until the Attack by Barbary Corsairs. Two Ships attempted to contain us between them; my Magic being of little Use in such a Situation, Edith and I took Shelter below Decks while the Captain brought us much closer to the pursuing Ship than to the Other, allowing our Combatants to Fight the Crews of one Ship at a Time.
When the Noise had abated, we emerged. Many of the Pirates were now dead, and the Remainder had surrendered. Their Rigging we burned, their Deck-Guns we largely removed, and the Survivors we left secured below Decks. On seeing this Situation, the other Ship sheered off. I was able surreptitiously to heal our own Wounded more than conventional Skill would allow.
Some Days later, we arrived at Ostia...
25 May 2011
1720, Monday, the last Day of October
We disposed of the Guns, sharing the Money with our Captain, and proceeded to Rome, to stow the Equipment we would not take out-World.
The Place was in a shocking State of Disrepair, perhaps because of the poor Economy of the State; nonetheless, the Visit was educational and enjoyable. We located a Jeweller, and rented one of his Vaults for six Months (rather longer than we planned to remain), stowing therein various Guns, Clothes, Navigational Instruments and Weapons. More annoying was my Realisation that I would be unable to take Notes, Quill Pens and worthwhile Ink being too advanced for this World.
We took the Road towards Ostia, then stepped away from the Road for a suitable Place of Transition. We gained some few Hours of Daylight in the Journey; M. Nodier and I confirmed that the level of Mana was similar to ours or somewhat higher. Commander Hodgson sensed Currents of the World, tangled and thick above Rome, gradually thinning elsewhere.
We resumed our Walk towards Ostia and the C— Agent, gathering odd Looks from the Travellers we met; our Apparel was clearly out of Place. Furthermore, there seemed to be two Ostiae: both the real, old, Town, and the unexpected, New Ostia, further down the Tiber (though still in the Roman Style of Construction).
We followed Directions to the House of Gaius Aquila Falco, and made ourselves known to him. He seemed somewhat perturbed to meet us, though his Reasons were not clear – and he was at least prepared to take several Weeks to teach us the local Customs, the Foibles of the local Instance of Latin, &c. There was some Discussion of Price, which we were able to Negotiate. Or Story was not to be Romans, but rather to be foreign Barbarians newly arrived via Crete.
Among other Matters, we explained to Gaius the Confusion of Worlds and Time. Another C—ist, an Astrologer named Louis, told us the History of this World: some hundred and eighty Years ago, the World changed overnight, with the Tiber suddenly silting, the Planets shifting in the Sky, and such like Changes. However, Crops were still standing in the Fields, and in divers other Ways the World remained the same.
The current Emperor was Philip the Arab, well-liked but profligate; he was paying the Parthians but not the Germans. The C— had only been visiting this World for only an hundred Years or thereabouts.
We exchanged Information on our future History, not giving away an Excess of Detail, but mentioning the technological Travellers we had met.
Some Days later, Louis returned with Octavian, an Historian and Geographer. It seemed that the southern part of Greece had sunk overnight, as Commander Hodgson had predicted, this having happened more slowly in our own World. Weather, however, had not noticeably changed.
1720, Wednesday, the fifteenth Day of November
Our Lessons complete, we set off by Boat for this World’s Rome. We commenced by looking for a Guide, and found one Julian, who appeared young but competent. The only Lodging to be had was in an Insula, but it seemed more robust than many.
Julian shewed us many of the Sights of the Town, including the Circus and the Coliseum, as well as the Pantheon – though M. Nodier seemed unable to believe it could be a safe Structure.
A C—ist Astrologer named Dionysius would be, we hoped, able to enlighten us further. He regretted that no C—ist had been present to observe the Transition. Records of that Time suggested that Structures such as Fences had degenerated, though not to the extent one might expect for such a Shift of Time. It also transpired that the Great Fire of Rome, in 68 AD, had not happened – though the Transition had cleared much of the same Land, allowing Construction of the Coliseum and such. M. Nodier confirmed that the level of Mana here was higher than it had been without the Walls.
That night, Balaban úr went out alone for his own Purposes, coming back with his Clothing slightly disarrayed and a smug Mien.
1720, Thursday, the sixteenth Day of November
M. Nodier went out to obtain a pre-Transition Coin and a suitable Agate, as well as other magical Ingredients. Commander Hodgson studied the Flows in more Detail, reporting that at their Centre (over the Forum) was a great Eye. Meanwhile, unaware of this, I travelled to the Pantheon to determine the Level of Mana, finding it to my Surprize very much lower than outside – though the Forum was higher. (The Temple to the Deified Emperors was similarly low in Mana.)
M. Nodier discerned the History of a Coin from before the Transition; its Manufacture pre-dated the thousand-Year Reach of the Spell, suggesting that the World had been placed in some form of Stasis.
1 June 2011
A further C—ist Contact was Xerxes, a Persian Astrologer, and we travelled to visit him and ask about his Records. He was aware that, it seemed, everyone had fallen asleep for some Time, but had no Idea as to Causes; he had noticed that the Level of Magic was higher in Rome, and had come here to study it.
It seemed, by his Observation, that faithful Worship of the Roman Gods would suppress the true Magic and substitute another Kind, slower and less effective but nonetheless potent. However, the Adherents of these Ideas were, it seemed, unwilling to engage in scientific Discussion.
Commander Hodgson being indisposed, we explained to Xerxes our own Observations, and in particular Commander Hodgson’s Sense of an Eye over the Forum. Xerxes seemed suitably concerned, and most immediately responded that there was a Problem, graver than he had previously suspected, which we might be able to solve.
He had a fellow-Countryman, not a C—ist, a Worshipper of Mithras in his own peculiar Form, who had been speaking of Rome being “especially watched” and might well have more Information. But it seemed that this Man had been excessive in his Zeal for his own Gods (and more relevantly failing properly to observe the Roman Gods) and was at present a Prisoner in the Coliseum. This Man’s name was Majid, and Xerxes was able to give us a Description.
However, while it might be possible to talk to Majid, getting him out seemed as though it would prove somewhat harder – particularly considering our Wish to remain able to operate in Rome after the Extraction. Some Discussion ensued, leading to an Approach of two potential Strands: to find a Bookmaker able to tell us the Schedule of the Games and the Disposition of Prisoners, and to consider the Extraction of Majid by magical Means.
We returned that Night to Julian, and asked him entirely hypothetically how one would go about finding an appropriate Bookmaker. By a convoluted Route he gave us the Direction of a suitable Man, who would be available in the Morning.
The Possibility arose of learning the specific Spells for travelling to this World from the Astral, which seemed a worth-while Occupation, and I purposed to spend the next several Days doing that.
1720, Friday, the seventeenth Day of November
While I was undertaking these Studies, Balaban úr spoke to the Bookmaker Siderius and gathered Information on the Games. Majid was due to participate in an Event of the second Day, giving us some little Margin. Balaban úr placed a Number of Bets for Verisimilitude.
1720, Saturday, the eighteenth Day of November
This Information gathered, Balaban úr and M. Nodier studied the Coliseum from the Astral, attempting through some Difficulties to locate the Cell in which Majid was imprisoned.
1720, Sunday, the nineteenth Day of November
M. Nodier and Balaban úr continued their Researches on the Astral, encountering and defeating some Creature similar to the classical Fury, though not before it had scraped M. Nodier’s armour. They determined that they were able to re-locate the Cell in which Majid was held.
1720, Monday, the twentieth Day of November
My Studies complete, we proceeded with the Plan, travelling on the Astral to the Coliseum and to the relevant Cell. Two of the Prisoners, not those of Interest to us, were awake, and M. Nodier prepared to suppress them. I cast the Gate, and Balaban úr and M. Nodier stepped through. While Balaban úr picked up and retrieved the Men of Interest, M. Nodier stunned the two alert Prisoners, and we withdrew to the Astral.
Over the next little while we continued to observe the cell; one of the Prisoners who had seen us eventually recovered his Wits enough to start screaming, and was subdued by his fellow-Prisoners.
We left the other Prisoner, calling himself Julius, outside Rome on the Road to Ostia, and took Majid to that Port, I first disguising him somewhat. He was pleased to cö-operate with us, explaining to us that he was a Priest of the Roman Cult of Mithras (as opposed to its native Persian Form, and not discussing why the Persian Empire might wish this Cult to spread in its major Rival).
He referred to the watching Power as "IT", an Entity not lightly to be named, living in the Gaps between Worlds, forming the Astral as a Portion of its Dreams. He regarded his Persian Gods as "larger" than the Roman Gods, and IT was larger again, dealing with more essential Ideas and Concepts, fundamentally unaware of human Concerns. ITs own Imagination, it seemed, created Monsters; the Worlds were its Memories. (We considered this with due Terror.)
His Theory of History was that some Roman Worshippers of IT caused IT by some Means to Forget about Life for a Time – he theorised that this was for the Purposes of Looting. However, he was not aware of the greatness of the Span of Time that had passed without Life.
M. Nodier agreed to arrange for Majid to get away from Rome by Boat, procuring for him a suitable Passport (from Falco) and such like.
8 June 2011
1720, Tuesday, the twenty-first Day of November
We returned via the Astral to our Insula, finding Commander Hodgson much recovered (indeed, having had some gentle Adventures of his own), and considered what might next be done.
Via Julian, we gathered News of the Arena; it transpired that the News had indeed spread, that Majid had not entered the Arena; this Information was given in such a Way as to imply his Death in the Cells. We attempted to contact Xerxes to give him some Hint as to the happy Fate of his fellow Countryman, but without Success.
We felt that the Information we had learned from Majid did not perhaps deserve wide Dissemination just yet. It was, rather, the Time to continue our nominal Mission here, to meet more Members of the C—. We proceeded to visit Louis, who invited us to sup with him.
Louis was pleased with the Profligacy of the Empire, but concerned that the present imperial System offered little Stability of Succession. Among other Matters, we wondered how we might be of Assistance to the C— here in Rome; Louis in return was curious as to our Lack of Bragging, this being a Common Trait of other C—ists of whom he was aware.
On this World, Members of the C— had infiltrated the System of Collegia, both as Sponsors and as Participants, this giving Access to and Influence on the Government. There was however some Controversy as to whether the Government best served the Interests of the C— by Stability or Dynamism; indeed on some Occasions C—ists were prone to sponsor Candidates for the Imperial Throne, though the Results of this were at best unclear.
We planned to exchange magical Theory and Procedure with Louis, as the most direct Assistance that we could easily provide to each other – mostly our Knowledge of Magic and of Navigation. He would also ask his Colleagues whether our small Services might be useful to them. He knew of nobody who was a professional Explorer of new Worlds, but would consider his Connections.
It was not clear what the Women of Rome might do by way of Science and Magic; Louis planned to gain some more Information, and commended me to one Antonia, a female C—ist of his distant Acquaintance.
1720, Wednesday, the twenty-second Day of November
While waiting for other Events, we proceeded to the Baths (Edith and I escorted by Balaban úr). I found myself speaking with a local Lady on the Subject of the proper Place of Women, giving her to understand that in my hypothetical home Tribe north of the Rhine the Men were properly kept under Control. (M. Nodier, at his own Bath, spoke with a local Man, but without useful Result.)
On returning, I found I had received a Note from Antonia, inviting me to visit that Evening. Edith and I spent the After-Noon finding a Vase to serve as Gift, and in the Evening called on the Lady, escorted by Balaban úr and Edith. We spoke at some Length, she clearly testing my Knowledge and Commitment at first, but as the Evening drew on we engaged in deeper Converse with some mutual Benefit – and, some time after Midnight, I gained an Invitation to return the next Evening and meet some Friends and Colleagues of the Lady.
1720, Thursday, the twenty-third Day of November
In the After-Noon, Commander Hodgson and M. Nodier proceeded to a Collegium on Navigation among the Dodecanese, acquitting themselves creditably and receiving an Invitation to return.
22 June 2011
Antonia wished to learn more the Nature and Source of Magic; I was required to disappoint her in this regard, but we were able profitably to discuss the Philosophy of Science and Methods of Experimentation, and to begin to exchange a Variety of Spells. Antonia was most interested in Commander Hodgson’s Vision, and I agreed to make Introductions. Balaban úr escorted me, while Commander Hodgson and M. Nodier passed the Evening in a Wine-Shop.
1720, Friday, the twenty-fourth Day of November
We met Louis for Lunch, and discussed further the possible Exchange of Spells – his Magics of Knowledge, and Antoine’s of the Control of Body and Mind. Louis also knew one Siminax the Gaul, who himself knew an Explorer of other Worlds, but who would desire Compensation for the Introduction.
We passed the After-Noon at the Games, with various of our Party studying the Styles of Fighting used by the Participants, then repaired collectively to Mistress Antonia in the Evening.
Commander Hodgson demonstrated his Levitation to Antonia, then having demonstrated that there was indeed an Effect present he expanded his Perception (failing to see anything unexpected). Antonia, with the Commander’s Permission, read both the Currents of Magic and the outer Layers of his Mind – but in both Cases without useful Result.
The Experimentation continued, with the Commander attempting to read Antonia’s Mind – again without Success. She spoke further with Balaban úr, having previously ignored him as a Servant; she felt that he would most properly seek a Deity of Life and Fertility, but one for whom the Religion was still a Matter of real Belief rather than of Bureaucracy. (Balaban úr, while polite, seemed at best dubious.)
1720, Saturday, the twenty-fifth Day of November
I disguised myself as a more appropriate Gender and accompanied the others to meet Siminax in a Tavern of his Choosing. Balaban úr pointed out (in Hungarian) that he seemed profoundly frightened of us, and I was able to confirm this with Magic (though he held no particular Enmity for us); when I mentioned this to him, he excused himself, claiming that he had made a Mistake, and departed. Balaban úr chased and caught him, but he called for Assistance and Commander Hodgson persuaded Balaban úr to release him.
We decided to speak with Louis and clarify the Situation, but travelled by an indirect Route in case Siminax had taken other Precautions. We explained to him what had happened, holding no particular Grudge but making it clear that the Meeting had been unsuccessful. While we were conversing, Siminax arrived, and after some separate Conversation Louis reported to us that – as we had more or less supposed – he had been attempting to win our Favour in order to gain a temporal Advantage, but retreated when he found that we were more substantial than he had supposed. We agreed that there was no need to take Matters further. We spent the Balance of the Day watching Chariot Races.
6 July 2011
We spent the next Days severally in learning Magic, copying Texts from Libraries, and attending the Games.
One Night I was awoken by a determined Noise of sawing from above us. I shouted magically that "Housebreaking is Frowned on by the Gods", and the Noise ceased. Balaban úr proceeded to the Roof and, after some little Commotion, returned with a Miscreant. He and Commander Hodgson spoke with him, persuading him of the Error of his Ways, and he was enjoined not to repeat his Mistake.
1720, Saturday, the fifth Day of December
With Saturnalia approaching, we felt it prudent given the magical Climate to leave the City for a Time. We released our Lodgings, stored our copied Manuscripts and other Impedimenta with our C—ist Colleagues, and hired Horses for the Journey. (During our Pause for Refreshment, Edith discovered a Taste for the unusual Sauces used on the local Food; I suspected she would cause minor Ructions on our Return.)
In Tibur, a popular Resort at warmer Times of Year, we decided (with some minor Misgivings) to visit the Sibyl. We tested her through asking the Question of what Course of Action would lead to the Success of our Mission, leaving no Detail to be Read by her.
Her Actions manipulated the Level of Magic in the Area, and her Answers were expectedly vague but consistent with our Expectations. The Perceptions of the Mages of our Party were somewhat confused, with an Impression of many Echoes, though Balaban úr and Commander Hodgson had no such Experience; we considered this likely to be in some Way the Result of looking into multiple possible Futures, a risky Business at best.
With the Aim of gaining a better Vantage for the Commander, we hired Luigi, a Guide to the local Mountains, and proceeded up-Hill on horse-back. (M. Nodier did not proceed in Harmony with his Horse, and offered it Snuff to make Peace; he came off somewhat the worse from the Encounter.) However, the Commander perceived something of Interest, and we followed his Sense.
During the next Day, Edith slipped from her Horse and took a bad Fall, being saved from worse only by the prompt Action of Balaban úr. I took Steps to bandage both, applying surreptitious Healing. Our Guide was curious as to our Origin, but seemed satisfied with our Tale that we were Barbarians from Germany.
Continuing into the Valley where Commander Hodgson had noticed the unnatural Phenomenon, we came upon a Section of Roman Road, part of it well-maintained (at least by the Standards of this World), trailing off into crumbling Sections rather than continuing to Civilisation; the Commander declared that two World-Gates were present. M. Nodier attempted to Scry through the Gates, reporting that the Terrain through the northern looked similar to what we could see here; the one to the south was more resistant to his Magic, but did appear to be at a different Time of Day.

The Roman Road

20 July 2011
Balaban úr took Luigi to one Side, distracting him and hunting for Food, as the others of our Party considered our options. Commander Hodgson perceived an Aura on the whole visible Length of the Road, describing it as more blue than the predominant purple of this World’s Aura – and even more so on those Sides of the Gates that faced the Road. Sr Sapienza had mentioned Gates, but had never seen one himself; I had heard some Rumours of a Road in central Europe not unlike this, but only usable by Members of the fair Sex. We considered the possible Danger of visiting a World where Magic was without Function, but could not give up the Promise of further Worlds.
These Gates seemed egregiously concealed from Detection, being invisible to mundane Senses; further, the Result of M. Nodier’s Scrying was visible only to himself, where one might have expected it to be perceptible to all. For the Moment, we decided to explore further in the hope of finding additional Gates, then to return to this Spot; particularly since Luigi had been paid for some Time in advance and we did not wish him to be present when the Gates were breached. We proceeded through two more Valleys to one with good Hunting (and a welcome opportunity to Bathe), then started to return.
In the Valley of the Road, M. Nodier caused Luigi to sleep deeply, and we considered the northern Gate. Rocks, thrown, fell to Earth still on our Rome, but when Balaban úr and Commander Hodgson attempted to follow they disappeared; M. Nodier and I succeeded them, and we later discovered that an Intention to remain on one World was enough to keep one there. The World had a lower Level of Magic than C—Rome, though not none at all. Balaban úr was able to return without Difficulty, and Commander Hodgson sensed another Gate half a Mile ahead. The Sky was clouded, preventing us from many of our usual Observations, and my Magic revealed only that we were in much the same Place as before the Transition. The Road was clearly old but apparently well-maintained.
The next Gate was apparently even more shielded against Scrying than the last; M. Nodier was unable at first to penetrate its Shield. The Sound of a Stream passed through the Gate, but this gave little away assuming Geography to be relatively invariant across most Worlds. M. Nodier’s second Scrying was briefly successful: the World beyond was in Sunlight, he reported, and the Stream was dammed. The Risk of proceeding to a World potentially without Magic appeared severe, and some Discussion ensued, eventually cut short by Balaban úr, who planned to pass through and return at once. This he did, saying that he had felt profoundly unwell on entering the World and had experienced difficulty in returning. For now, this World would not be explored further, at least by our Group.
We returned to C––Rome, noting that the Flow of Time in the northern World was much like that on our present Base. Our Guide was still safely asleep, and we proceeded to the south. In this world was Daylight, a wider Road in good Condition (wider, indeed, than the Roman roads), and a great Number of Sheep. On entering we found that there was also a Shepherd, who addressed us in unlearned Latin and seemed happy to talk with Strangers. In this World, perhaps the most advanced in some Ways that we had encountered though the local Year was only 180AD, it turned out that Newcomen-Engines had been adapted to allow horseless Carriages travelling at some Speed. This seemed to offer the Possibility of a rapid Journey back to London, if their Range were sufficient, though a Pall of Smoke over Rome suggested that there were Drawbacks to this Technology. This World we dubbed for the moment Roma Mechana.
Half of another Mile to the south, was the next Gate; M. Nodier scryed a Valley, with Daylight and pouring Rain. Its Road was oddly grey and uniform, and Fences proliferated; this World seemed potentially far-Advanced, perhaps to the degree of Centrum.
Balaban úr proceeded through to learn the Feeling of the World for subsequent Investigation, noting that the Road here was no mere isolated Segment but part of a longer Route. While he was making this Study, a self-propelled Carriage approached him, and two blue-uniformed Men accosted him, speaking what seemed most probably a Dialect of Italian, though Communication was found to be challenging. They demanded Ur Balaban’s Papers, and when he had none required him to accompany them.
Commander Hodgson, concerned by Ur Balaban’s Delay, appeared behind them at this point; I followed, being somewhat taken aback by a peculiar Odour to the local Atmosphere. With prolonged Explanation, our Bearing and Mien (and a Suggestion that our Ball had been a little too successful, and a Gift of "antique" Roman Coins) persuaded the local Men to depart; we concealed ourselves for a while while Balaban úr memorised the World as he had Roma Mechanica, then did likewise. Commander Hodgson was unable to locate a further Gate.
Back on C––Rome, we decided to tell Luigi that M. Nodier had slept poorly, so that we would take the next Day as Rest.
17 August 2011
He did not object, and planned to spend the Day hunting. Commander Hodgson updated his Maps, and others of us rested and slept; on the following Day we returned to Tibur, dismissed Luigi, and rode back for Rome.
Mistress Antonia greeted us, and we informed her of the occluded Gates and Highway above Tibur. She was most willing to accompany us on a return Trip to the Highway, but first we would need to raise Money by moving Spices between Worlds. It seemed also that someone had attempted to kill a Senator, for no readily apparent Reason; he had not survived the Attempt, but the Vigiles were more attentive than had been usual.
We asked Mistress Antonia to consider a suitable Merchant to be our Agent on this World; then Balaban úr moved across to Solitude. It seemed that this Designation was something of a Misnomer, since he detected the Odour of Fires and roasting Meat. While he was building a Platform to make the Return easier, a local Man encountered him, but backed away. More of them returned later, with Gifts of Food; he gave them his Cloak, then returned.
We proceeded to visit Louis the Astrologer, whom Mistress Antonia had recommended in his Capacity as a Merchant. Some Research in the Markets suggested that Cloves would serve well as a Medium of Carried Value, being sufficiently expensive that a heavy Load for our selves would provide a Sufficiency of Funds. After Consideration of Prices, Mistress Antonia chose to invest in our Venture; we then proceeded to Ostia to speak to Falco on the matter of Passports and other Documentation, in Consideration of the Possibility of a rapid Trip Home. This seemed likely to present substantial Difficulties, and travel on the Astral seemed more likely to be of Use. However, we did arrange that he would copy Passes from Roma Mechana when a Contact of his from that World next brought some.
We stayed for the Night in Ostia, then en route back to Rome transferred to our own World, proceeded to our own Rome (spending the Remainder of this new Night in an Inn) and in the Morning reclaimed our Belongings. We began to purchase Cloves, and a little Silk.
Some of the Manuscripts we sent home, lodged until a Ship from the Family should arrive; the most choice, we planned to take with us. We moved to Solitude, rested for the Night, but discovered at Daybreak that we were close to a Camp of the Locals. They did not attempt to interfere with our Passage, and we continued to C––Rome and Mistress Antonia.
In the Morning, we visited Louis, who proceeded to make Arrangements for the Sale of our Cloves; the Silk we left with Mistress Antonia for her own Use in the long Term. With that in Train, we returned to Falco in Ostia; his Contact, Sextus Decimus Augustus, had returned, and we spoke at some Length about Roma Mechana and its steam-driven Machines. He believed that he would be able to carry us to Gaul aboard one of his own Engines, in return for learning more about our own World... We agreed to meet in Ostia after six Weeks. Augustus seemed to think that declaring a Race from Rome to Londinium was a good Plan... Balaban úr travelled to our Home’s Rome and returned with Silk as a Gift for Augustus to help defray the Costs of the Trip.
We proceeded to Tibur, and made Camp nearby; Mistress Antonia wished that we travel separately, to avoid Connections’ being drawn. The Lady wished to investigate who owned the Valley with the Gates, with an Eye to buying it...
31 August 2011
Some Hours later, we met again; the Owner was in Rome and had no local Agent. We hired Mules once more and proceeded into the Hills; this Journey taking some Days, and our Inexperience with long Marches becoming very Apparent. We made Camp in the Valley of the Gates, planning to travel on the next Day, though Mistress Antonia was unable at first to perceive the Portals.
In the Morning, we proceeded to the northern Gate, leaving Edith with the Party of Mistress Antonia’s Servants. The Road was, in this Light, clearly older but better maintained than the Road on the C—’s Rome – and of slightly differing Construction. We proceeded to examine the Dam, a basic Construction of Logs and Rocks, apparently made for the Purpose of watering Animals. There was no Pall of Smoke to the West, but Rome itself was not in Sight.
M. Nodier and Mistress Antonia considered the History of the Road, he determining that it had been here for at least a thousand Years in various Forms – indeed, changing Form without human Intervention. It seemed highly likely on this Basis that this was a later Rome than those we had met elsewhere.
Balaban úr returned, then attempted to cut from C—’s Rome to Rome Unfallen, a world with which he was already familiar; this was not immediately successful.
Commander Hodgson and Mistress Antonia’s Body-Guard proceeded up-hill towards the Sheep, thereby locating a Shepherd. They thereby determined the Year to be 1575 AUC (823 Anno Domini), and departed.
Ur Balaban’s second Experiment was a Success, and we determined that this World was indeed the one he knew – one in which the Caesar Germanicus was not Poisoned, and the Empire survived in the absence of Caligula and Nero. The Basis of Technology was somewhat more primitive than our own, and the History was somewhat convoluted. Mistress Antonia felt that the Road probably pre-Dated the Founding of Rome, and planned to Test this on the mechanical World.
We proceeded to consider the next Gate. It seemed plausible that there might be no Magic at all on the next World, so we determined a series of Rendezvous in case we were not able to return. First we returned to C—’s Rome for Packs of Equipment for Camping, in case they should be needed, and for me to explain to Edith the Situation.
Commander Hodgson and I proceeded through the Gate; this World proved indeed to be entirely without Magic. The Condition of the Road was good, but its Antiquity was not immediately possible to determine. A Goat-Herd approached us, speaking in what we determined to be relatively early Latin. The Year however was 1206 Anno Domini, and the Emperor Mark Anthony V. We joined him for Lunch in his Hut; his Knife was of rather better Quality than we expected given the Date; there were also Books, or rather a crudely-printed Old Testament in Latin.
(Meanwhile our Colleagues attemped to Scry what had become of us, seeing no immediate Cause for Concern.)
We took our Leave, and returned to the Road, confirming that there was another Gate further north. The southern Gate seemed to resist our Passage, but we returned without substantial Difficulty.
Given the Problems encountered by Balaban úr in this World, it seemed worth an Experiment as to his Ability to Survive. The Bodyguard of Mistress Antonia was unable to lift him, which closed off one Line of Consideration. M. Nodier, Mistress Antonia and I colluded with regard to Gates and No-Mana Worlds. It seemed quite clear that these Gates operated by no Principles with which we were familiar.
Balaban úr, Commander Hodgson and the Bodyguard proceeded through the Gate; Balaban úr was able to survive, though in some Pain. The Bodyguard found some Trouble in returning.
14 September 2011
We next proceeded to the Astral, in an Attempt to learn how these new Gates appeared there; they were rather less Concealed, though not blatant. The Road was also to some extent visible.
We proceeded towards the Astral Sea, but found no particular Correlations with other Worlds. The next Consideration was what might occur if someone were to pass through one of these Gates on the Astral; Balaban úr felt that he was most able to survive on his own a hostile Event. M. Nodier scryed through the Gate, seeing an apparently normal Portion of the Astral, and Balaban úr passed through and disappeared, returning after a short Time – and reported that he had seemed to be in Portion of the Astral near the expected World.
We proceeded through these Gates towards the World without Magic. M. Nodier’s Spell passed through the Gate, but failed at once. Commander Hodgson and I passed through – a somewhat traumatic passage, which apparently returned us to the material (and Magic-free) World. We decided to probe further, to see what Magic might be present in the next World, leaving a Note in case our Companions should investigate. The next World had a little Magic, though not a great Amount, and of a curious Kind, though I was unable to discern Details; its Road was in good Repair, though narrow.
Meanwhile, the remainder of the Party returned to the Material of Rome-Unfallen, and arrived through the Gate as we were drawing Close. After a little Discussion, we returned to Rome-Unfallen for Refreshment and Consideration.
Next we travelled to Roma Mechanica, where M. Nodier attempted again to determine the History of the Road – this World being young enough that his Spell should be able to reach past the Foundation of Rome. As far as he could tell, the Road had come into Existence as a Path shortly after that Foundation – though whether that might always have been true was not at all clear...
We continued to the World of high Technology, dubbed "Italian Police [A]  [A] Later “Roma – Il Duce 1933”", to examine it further and to introduce Mistress Antonia. The Substance of the Road, an Agglomeration of Stones in a sticky Substance, was new to us. Commander Hodgson took astronomical Observations, while Balaban úr and M. Nodier investigated one of the nearby, brightly-lit, Houses. They found well-appointed Rooms, Music being played without visible Musicians, and steady Light throughout. Balaban úr knocked on the Door, and it was opened; he asked for a News-Paper, and after some Discussion, Confusion and a flash of Light he was able to obtain one. Its Date implied that the Year was 1933 of our Lord. Commander Hodgson completed his Observations, and we prepared to depart. This World’s Italy seemed still to have an Emperor, though his Manner appeared odd to our Eyes.
We decided to explore the next Gate; M. Nodier’s Scrying revealed a more usual Style of Roman Road, with a Flock of Sheep nearby. The Magic here was still low, but usable, and there was no Scent of Machines. At Commander Hodgson’s Suggestion, we returned to C––Rome via the Gates on the Astral.
I studied the Newspaper with the Aid of the Gift of Letters, skimming at first to gain a Sense of its Subjects. The Italy of that World had both a King and "Il Duce", more or less an Emperor of the same Territory. We learned of flying-Machines and Travel by Rail, of the continued Importance of the Pope and the Roman Church, of the Independence of Greece, of Schedules for "wireless" Communication, of this Italy’s Claims to be the New Roman Empire, and of many other Things – though Mistress Antonia was in some Ways more concerned by our Familiarity with the Idea of an Anno Domini date.
21 September 2011
We proceeded to plan further Experiments. On the World without Magic, Balaban úr cut to Rome Unfallen, and found his Sword reluctant but able to perform its Function. Later, on his Return, he found that his Gate lasted rather more briefly than usual, though his Sword was able to recover its Charge more or less as normal.
The final Experiment of the Day, at least with the Sword, was to cut onto the Astral; the Gate did not open at first, but the second Attempt was successful. Balaban úr and Commander Hodgson reported on their Return that the Astral seemed distinctly more fragile than the usual, and that the Presence of this World on the Astral was not particularly correlated with those of the other Worlds we had used on the Road. Approaching from the astral Side was something like walking out on thin Ice, and the two Explorers dropped back onto what we now christened Roma Nil Magia.
On our Return, M. Nodier encountered particular Difficulties in escaping from the World, though we were able to pull him to Rome Unfallen. Mistress Antonia healed Commander Hodgson, who appeared to be suffering from a Ring of Bruises arising from his Precipitation from the Astral.
During the Evening, we spent further Time reading the Newspaper from Roma-Il Duce. gaining a better Sense of that World; then we camped for the Night.
In the morning, we performed further Experiments; taking Mules through the Gates appeared to require Contact with the Skin. From Rome Unfallen we proceeded to the Astral, then in to the Sea, the Commander looking for Landmarks that would lead him back to other Worlds that we knew – in particular either C––Rome or Roma Nil Magia.

First Steps onto New Renaissance

We proceeded close to a new World that seemed likely also to contain part of the Road; there was no immediate Sign of it, but a Fence with Posts of Stone and metal Wire between contained a Flock of Sheep. Commander Hodgson could not detect the Road once we had proceeded to the World. We moved to investigate some Buildings nearby; they seemed to be Barns, though with similar volcanic stone Walls and a metal Roof.
A Track nearby had Ruts both wider and further apart than we expected to see. It ran between fenced Fields, and we followed it up the nearest Hill. Gates here seemed to be made of steel Tube. Once we had gained some Height, we could see Tibur: brightly lit and large, similar to what we had seen on Roma – Il Duce; there were also self-moving Vehicles.
We rested until Dawn; Tibur was indeed larger than any we already knew, though some of its Buildings looked familiar from C––Rome. A Vehicle approached, apparently as part of the Work of the Farm; the Driver greeted us, and after a little Discussion was pleased to offer us a Lift into the Town. The Magic, or Technology, seemed most substantial, and was in liberal use even on this fairly remote Farm.
Buildings here seemed quite variable – some brick, some stone, some that we could not identify. Eventually we pulled into a Farm-Yard. and were offered Break-fast.
5 October 2011
The Family seemed quite extended, and we variously managed to converse with them. It seemed that the Family was going to Mass later, and we were invited to join them, to which with some Reluctance on my part we agreed. Meanwhile we established that a Joke had been played on us by Friends in Rome, leaving us stranded here; they said they would take us back to the "Station", by which we could return to Rome.
Music was being played, but with no visible Musicians; the Structure of it seemed somewhat convoluted, but distinctly interesting; the "New Renaissance" was mentioned, as was the equally incomprehensible "broadcast from Milan". As we listened, another son, Michael, arrived by powered Vehicle, in what seemed to be a brown Uniform (he worked for the "Air Force", it seemed).
We set off, with some Disconcertion, in these "Self-Mobiles", at alarming Speed, and soon arrived at the Church. The Service was much as expected from Catholics; Balaban úr arranged to take Confession afterwards, apparently somewhat disconcerting the Priest. Meanwhile we outside observed a Variety of Aircraft.
Following this, we were delivered to the Station, a Point on a System of overgrown Mine-Carts, and bid farewell to our Hosts. Once we had shed our idle Followers, we proceeded to the Astral, to make best Time back to the Valley.
After some Hours of walking, we were attacked by four Individuals, perhaps native to the Astral, using some Musket-like Gun fired from the Shoulder. Balaban úr and Commander Hodgson charged ahead, leaving little for the rest of us to do, though I was able to knock one of them down for the Commander to finish off. Once killed, they gradually vanished.
When we stopped for Lunch, we were approached by what appeared to be a normal Rabbit, though Commander Hodgson seemed rather concerned by the Complexity and Subtlety of its Mind, or perhaps Minds. Mistress Antonia regarded it as the Platonic Form of Rabbit, and while it did not behave threateningly we felt it best to move on. Once we returned to the Equivalent of the Valley, we returned to our Companions on C––Rome, and Rest.
Ur Balaban’s "Greater Hungary" did not contain the Road; nor did Newton-X, nor Aristotle-X.
We planned next to make a concerted Push along the Road, to attempt to discern some Theme or Pattern...

Astral Rome

19 October 2011
After a Day of Rest, we proceeded South along the Road. We encountered no Difficulty in Roma Mechana, but in Roma Il Duce we were somewhat delayed by a travelling Circus and its strange Beasts. The next World was dark, untenanted and damp; we made Plans for a Meeting on Rome Unfallen, an Attempt at Rescue after a Day, and an Abandonment after a Week, should we not be able to regain Contact, then Balaban úr proceeded through the next Gate.
He did not promptly return; M. Nodier was able with some Difficulty to see him conversing with a Stranger in a small Street or Alley. After some Minutes, Commander Hodgson followed; when he also did not return, M. Nodier and I went after him, with Mistress Antonia planning to take the Servants and Baggage Train back to the Rendez-vous.
We found Balaban úr and the Commander speaking with Decimus Sixtus, a junior Tribune of Rome. It seemed that this World, at 66 AD in our Reckoning, was in some way the Template or Ideal of the Empire of Rome, though whether it accrued its pattern from those others or sent it out was not clear.
It seemed that the two Gates on the Road in this World were known to the Natives, and that they operated only in one Direction at a time: this one was presently only allowing Passage into this World, while the other was allowing it out. With "the Comet" full in the Sky (though not visible to us), Travellers were expected; we would be brought to amuse the Emperor, then probably allowed to continue our Journey. Balaban úr attempted to cut directly to Roma Il Duce, but failed; it seemed that we must accept the Hospitality of these Romans.
We learned that the History of this World repeated over a long Period: when the Decadence and Decay of the later Empire grew too great (and the Keeping of Records grew too burdensome), in some unclear way the early Republic arose again from the Desire of the People for better Governance. The Cycle was not without some Variation, or so it appeared.
M. Nodier attempted to scry through the Gate, acquiring some Injury which I was able to heal. We were then admitted past some high Fortifications to the City proper, and met one Gaius Ludus Scripto, the Secretary in charge of arranging the Amusements for the Emperor. He explained the Procedure by which Nero was allowed to dissimulate Knowledge of the Arrangements: we would go in with a Message for his previous Guest, and ourselves be relieved after a time, perhaps as much as two Hours. Stories, for preference true, were the main Currency of Diversion.
After we had been fed, I attempted to locate the next Gate, gaining a good Impression of its Location; we felt that leaving rapidly after our Audience might be wise. In the Morning, we proceeded to the Palace; I gave amusing Tales from the History of the Netherlands, and attempted to avoid the Importunities of the Emperor by bringing in my Colleagues. The martial Stature of Balaban úr was clearly a Distraction, and Nero ordered one of his own Men to kill this Stranger. The Mastery with which Balaban úr wielded his Sword allowed him to amuse the Audience by gradually disarming his Foe of Shield, Sword, then Belt, and the Praise which Balaban úr gave to his Foe allowed the Man to live.
Commander Hodgson gave a stirring Tale of a naval battle, but the Emperor was distracted by talk of Cannon and Gunpowder; a Demonstration followed with Pistol. This was in turn interrupted by news of a Fire in the City; we proceeded out, and the Advice of the Commander to pull down Buildings in the Path of the Blaze seemed Helpful. He and M. Nodier were sent to teach the Alchemists of Rome the Techniques of Manufacture for Gunpowder, ostensibly to pull down Buildings with greater Speed; they gathered the raw Materials, explained Techniques, and introduced some elementary Precautions of Safety.
Meanwhile, finding the Attentions of the Emperor lacking in Manners, I gave him a kindly but stultifying Lecture on the Philosophy of Leibniz, specifically the Monads that make up the physical and spiritual World and their harmonious Interaction. I was able to remove myself with only an Invitation to the Banquet for that Evening.
2 November 2011
On meeting again, we decided to be ready to leave at very short >Notice, but first to consult the Scribes who had Records of other Travellers. A junior Scribe admitted us to the Scriptorium, which seemed to be in a State of Desuetude – and a more senior Scribe told us of the most recent other Travellers he had met, in patterned Clothes and speaking a Language which Balaban úr identified as something like Spanish.
I read the Scrolls on which previous Visits were recorded, but it seemed that only one or two Parties typically arrived in a Year. Many of them sounded as though they might well be of the C—, from a Variety of Factions. Some claimed that they had travelled hundreds of Miles, but were not Believed. One sounded as though he had been attempting to open a Route for Trade, and had last been seen around ten Years since; the Coins he had left behind had been studied to learn the Dates of other Roman Emperors, but not with complete Consistency.
Overall there seemed no particular Bias to one Gate or the other. We spoke in vague Terms of Patterns seen in some of the other Worlds and from our own History, particularly Monotheism. After a brief Interruption by the Alchemists, we continued our Research. Of recent Years there had been a small Influx of strangely-dressed Men, by ones and twos, with no Latin or known Language. One was at present in Prison, and we proposed to speak with him.
It seemed that this Rome was prone to Move along the Road, though slowly. The next World to the South was a Matriarchal Rome. We shared some Knowledge of the Worlds to the North. The World immediately to the North apparently had vast flying Whales in which people Travelled – which sounded perhaps like the Vehicles we had seen on New Renaissance.
There were at least Dozens more Worlds along the Road, though Records were fragmentary at best. We refreshed ourselves, and Balaban úr copied a Scroll of material lost in our World.
The imprisoned Man spoke English, and was most startled to meet someone else who did so. Simon Waugh was an Australian from 2015, "inter-World Traveller to the Gentry", and seemed to have some Trouble fitting us into the Hierarchy of inter-World Powers with which he was Familiar. He was a user of natural Gates between Worlds, but had no detailed Knowledge of the Astral or of the Nature of this Rome – some of which we gave him. He had been here for the better part of a Year, he thought, after a Misunderstanding involving his late Partner having shot one of the Locals as a Demonstration.
We offered to try to procure his Release. in return for his Information about the major Factions of Travellers. We also looked at some of the Equipment taken from other Travellers, including their clothing that seemed curiously hard to look at, and a variety of Insignia in a military Style. Their Firearms seemed most advanced, akin to those observed from Centrum (branded "Colt Mfg M16A4" on one, and "Beretta 1935" in the other), and Commander Hodgson seemed to have some Facility with the Examples we examined.
It seemed that we would have to ask a Boon from the Emperor to obtain the Release of Mr Waugh; this seemed likely to present some moral Difficulty, but I agreed to make the Attempt. More immediately, the Alchemists were exploring the Possibilities of creating Fire-breaks with Powder. Looking at an Insula, I worked out from first Principles the weak Points at which Charges should be placed, and the Commander and I did so. The Powder was not as potent as that made by the Experts, but the Building collapsed nonetheless. We hoped that the Fire-Fighters might be persuaded to put in a good Word with the Emperor’s Majordomo...
At the Banquet, the Commander was mysteriously absent when the Emperor called on us to present ourselves. I compounded Flattery and Suggestion to persuade Nero to grant us, in return for the Secret of Blasting-Powder, Mr Waugh. When the Explosions, that had been occurring periodically, became close enough to knock Shutters into the Room, a sense of Panic took hold in the Room, and we took the Opportunity to depart, retrieving our Baggage and Mr Waugh (after a certain amount of Negotiation with his Gaolers; I explained to him that for reasons of Technicality he was now my Slave, but that this would be remedied as soon as Practicable).
We left the Palace, located the Gate, and Departed to the next World; it was Morning, and two Shepherds were hard by. We asked them for Directions to a place of Refreshment, just over the Edge of the Valley. For administrative Purposes, I manumitted Mr Waugh.
16 November 2011
We planned to return to C––Rome, which we would call Antonia’s Rome for Mr Waugh’s Benefit. The first Stage was a cut to Rome Unfallen, to get around the Astral Rome and meet our Colleagues; Commander Hodgson took the Opportunity to read the Mind of Mr Waugh as he picked him up.
We made our Introductions, and found that we had lost slightly less Time here than the Duration of our Sojourn in Astral Rome had implied. Mistress Antonia hypothesised that the Nature of that World might be in some wise influenced by the Beliefs of those in other Romes.
Since by our Bodies it was late Evening, but here it was mid-Morning, we decided to continue to the home of Mistress Antonia, first by Gate to Antonia’s Rome and then over-Land. As we travelled and once we had arrived at her Home, Mr Waugh gave us a brief Description of his Travels, explaining that he had travelled from Australia to Paris to study History, with some Divagations into Scientific Antiquarianism. He had found himself kidnapped, via a mechanical Contrivance for such Travel (a "Conveyor"), and suborned into inter-World Fraud (evaluating the Porcelain in which he was expert).
This worked for some Months, but the Conveyor failed in a troublesome Manner, arriving in an unexpected Place; at this point he started to perceive the Auras of off-Planar objects, but one of his Companions could read Minds, another could throw Bolts of Energy, and the Pilot of the Conveyor had gone mad. The Group attempted to continue to operate the Conveyor, but found themselves surrounded by Soldiers, attemped a final Escape, and then landed in the Location of Paris, but without that City.
At this Point the group travelled over Land from Gate to Gate, with the Madman left at a Monastery, and the other two taking up Positions as trival Wizards. Waugh himself continued, growing increasingly weary, but met Lorenzo, who already knew about the Roman Road. They gradually worked their Way along the Road, and ended in Astral Rome.
Waugh was now hoping to get to a world with Flight, whence he could return to Australia and search for Gates there. We explained to him the Race in which we purposed to engage; once we were in London, we could take him to the London of New Renaissance. (We mentioned Il Duce, but he felt that things there would go very wrong in the near Future.)
Waugh introduced us to the broader Canvas of the Infinite Worlds: explaining that some were divergent Histories, some seemed to be non-divergent but earlier Versions of other Worlds, and some were simply strange. The Methods of Travel he knew included Magic (perhaps including some monstrous Creatures), natural Gates and Roads, Worlds that changed their Adjacency to other Worlds, some odd natural Ability, and the mechanical Conveyors of Centrum and Infinity – and their close Kin, machines that could send Items to other Worlds, farther if they were used to send Conveyors.
Centrum, it seemed, was trying to build a cross-World Empire in its own Image, having grown from the Anglo-French Empire of Eleanor of Aquitaine. (A brief Divergence into the Theories of Atomick Weaponry was Needed, which he apparently found Plausible.) In Response to their Atomick War, they set up a System of Global Government based in theory on Intelligence but which in Practice seemed to devolve into reflexive Bureaucracy.
Infinity, on the other Hand, had had no Atomick War, and Countries persisted in recognisable Form; the Inventor of their Conveyor had somehow managed to maintain some Control over his Invention... so that a Variety of Companies and Governments used Conveyors for a Panoply of Uses. They seemed to have some strong Feelings about minimal Interference to Worlds, but the Reason was unclear.
Another inter-World Actor was some subset of the National Socialists, also explained to us at some confusing Length, who on one particular World had some Means of inter-World Travel not entirely Clear to us, though including one natural Road, and had much in the Style of Centrum set out to conquer all Worlds.
There seemed to be a Plethora of false Mages in a Variety of Worlds from the late 1800s, with Claims of Magic but no Practicality. We found this most Surprising. We spoke further with Mr Waugh of various Techniques for not being noticed when entering new Worlds.

Roma Mechana and the Great Race

7 December 2011
We proceeded to Ostia, meeting Falco and Sextus Decimus, then travelling via Gateway to Roma Mechana. What appeared to be our Transport was waiting, a Construct some twenty Feet in Length with six solid Wheels, powered by a condensing Steam-Engine, and a separate Trailer with further Supplies of Water and Fuel. Enchantment gave us Advantages: an Elemental of Fire in the Boiler, an Enchantment making the Condenser work, and magical Illumination. His fellow Driver was Aulus Grattius Vindex, and the Mechanics were Argentus and Canius.
We had five Competitors, two from the blue Faction, one each from the green and red; most were smaller and probably faster than our own Vehicle, though the red Car was probably about the same Size as our own. Domitian Equitius, not of the Factions, was a Descendant of one of the Inventors of the Steam-Car, and had an long, low, eight-wheeled suspended Vehicle. A Merchant had gone ahead with Stocks of Fuel and Food, which allowed for the Possibility of mischievous Purchases...
Some of our Party were interested in learning to Drive the Vehicle, though I found the Details of the Mechanism more fascinating. I suggested that perhaps a Winch might be added, since running off the Road appeared to be a significant Hazard. When we returned to the Villa of Sextus Decimus, I assisted the Mechanicks in adding the Winch, and we retired for the Evening, meeting the Family of our Patron.
On the next Day we tested the Winch, considering the types of Tree that might provide sufficient Anchorage, and made final Adjustments, then had a small Feast before Departure, set for Noon on the next Day.
Something of a Crowd had appeared to watch the Start, and the Auspex found the Omens favourable. The lighter Vehicles took an immediate Lead, but we found ourselves at the Front of the slower Pack; after some time we pulled away slightly from the Reds and Domitian, to enable us to use our unofficial Improvements, and soon passed the Blues, who had apparently run out of Fuel or Water.
At Saleborna we made our first Stop for Fuel and Water, learning we were perhaps half an Hour behind the Green, though he was short of Fuel when he made it; another Car approached from behind as we were leaving, and Commander Hodgson identified it as Domitian. When we arrived at Pisis, Darkness was beginning to fall, and the Green was now an Hour and a half ahead of us. We ran off the Road, but recovered with the aid of the Winch (and Balaban úr, and M. Nodier’s Magic), and arrived at Genua some hours after Midnight, having passed the Green at Camp. We took on further Fuel and Water, then made Camp nearby.
Considering the Time of Day, we felt that the best Approach was to make a short Leg the next day, ending at Augusta Taurinorum, thus leaving a full Day for the Mountains. We were passed by the Green during the Day.
On the Road, when considering a Pause to change Drivers, we came upon the Green again, shewing some Sign of having been burned. The Commander and I, by various Means, spotted several People in the Undergrowth; when the Commander called to them, they shot Arrows at us; Balaban úr dismounted and charged towards them. Others uncovered, and shot at Balaban úr, without great Effect. The Commander fired on our Attackers, while I readied Pistols and aimed, but failed to hit my Target. With the effectiveness of the Fire of the Commander’s and the Sword of Balaban úr, the Attackers were induced to flee; we discovered the Crew of the Greens, freed them, then proceeded to Taurinorum, for Fuel and Rest. Following us, the Greens and Domitian rolled in.
The following Morning, as we were getting up Steam, the Reds rolled in, looking the worse for Wear. We heard that the Blues had abandoned the Race, lacking Range between stops for Fuel. The Greens soon over-took us as we headed into the Hills, planning to take the most direct Route through the Mountains to Culabone. We had some Difficulty as the Trailer struck a mountainous Wall, but Commander Hodgson was able to levitate a Rope to the most advantageous Positions and we soon got under Way once more. Having crossed the Pass, we descended into Transalpine Gaul at Morginno.
21 December 2011
At a narrow Bridge we encountered the Greens, who had come to Mishap in attempting to ford; the Bridge was too narrow for either their Vehicle or Ours. They were clearly unable to Continue, with a sheared Axle; our own Progress was at least temporarily halted.
Our Solution was to construct a Causeway down the River’s Bank, across the Stream, and up the other Side: thus avoiding the Need to build a free-standing Structure.
The Reds and Domitian arrived as Evening drew in, and after some Discussion they agreed to combine all Efforts to continue the Construction; they would gain Time, but we would all benefit from the Collaboration. Some suspicious Glances were exchanged, but the Night passed quietly.
We hauled the Green Vehicle out of the way, and continued to cut and strip Trees, binding the Logs together. At the end of this Day’s Work our own Vehicle had crossed the River, and was being used to aid Construction on the far Side.
On the third Day we finished the Construction, and starting to bring the Machine of Domitian across; Red followed, but the Coupling of his Tender was excessively Rigid and caused the Vehicle to Ground. We allowed Domitian to Pass, then assisted the Reds in un-coupling their Tender, and winched both onto the Road.
After a light Lunch, we set off, and arrived at Lugdunum more or less together, only to find that our Supply of Fuel had been unofficially requisitioned by a local Faction. We decided to attempt to recover this from both sides: the influential people following official channels, and the Remainder of us taking a more direct Approach.
Some gentle Questions to relevant People elicited some Pointers, and we visited the District of the Horse-Renderers; while M. Nodier conducted a Divination for a Passer-By, I allowed Magic to lead me to the Fuel. A Gentleman of low Aspect failed to prevent our Admission, and we borrowed – or, technically, rented – sufficient Horses to move the Wagons. Several of the Locals accompanied us, but did not object with any great Vigour. Given the political Situation, we decided to depart at once, making a few Hours of Travel before the Light failed – and indeed pressing on through the Night, to Durocortorum.
We there left at first Light; Domitian arrived, very tired, as we were departing, and reported that the Reds had tried to sabotage him at Camp; he thought they might have run off the Road while chasing him. We rolled into Portus Itius clearly before Noon, and began to search for a suitable Boat. Some Captains had arrived in spe, but their Boats were too small for our Vehicle; we negotiated Passage on a Stone-Boat, but first needed to obtain more Money, which Balaban úr achieved by travelling to our Home. This took Time, allowing Domitian to arrive; we took the Passage together, on a slightly blustery Day, with some wallowing as we crossed.
We waited for Daylight to unload, then set off for Londinium at full Tilt – in some Confusion as we negotiated the Streets of Dubris, and Domitian came out ahead of us. We caught up, and pressed him on Speed. On the narrow British Roads, there were few Opportunities to pass, but eventually we were able to achieve this, with the aid of a judicious Apportation to retard one of Domitian’s Wheels.
We ran astray and off the Road, losing our Lead, and raced Domitian for the End of London Bridge; Sextus Decimus dismounted, raced across the Bridge with the Aid of Balaban úr, and was welcomed as the Victor. The Hungarian returned to assist Domitian in his final Run, parting the Crowds for him. We were welcomed with a Banquet at the Governor’s Mansion, and a small Parade.
4 January 2012
This Affair completed, we proceeded to the Hampstead Heath of the World, and returned to our Home on Newton-X; the Weather was Poor. We walked to London, finding the date to be
1721, Tuesday, the twelfth Day of January
Our first Call was the Home of the Commander, to call on his Sister; Mr Waugh was introduced as an Associate from the American Colonies. He was prepared to accept a Status in the C— of Associate.
We sent Messages to the Society informing them of our Return, then proceeded to our various Homes to rest.
1721, Wednesday, the thirteenth Day of January
To the Royal Society once more, a Meeting with Sir Edmond and others – and one Master Book, a student of Sir Isaac with Knowledge of Magic. Our Notes and Journals were presented over several Days.
Sir Edmond recommended that we learn from Mr Waugh a greater Detail of the History of the Future, as well as Techniques for the Infiltration of other Worlds; as an Example, we might jointly approach New Renaissance, particularly since we had promised him Passage thither.
Master Book was working on the Project in Measurement of Time of Sir Isaac, and appeared through Mishap to have acquired some limited Ability to travel between Worlds – in some cases even being able to proceed to the World of Origin of an Object in his Hands.
Speaking with Mr Waugh suggested that the process of Infiltration and Insinuation would be more length and complex than we had hitherto supposed, particularly in Worlds of later Date – involving the progressive Theft of Clothes, Books, and the like. One Consideration was the Possibility of attaining for Mr Waugh a Sinecure as Dealer in Antiquities, and Agent of the C—, on New Renaissance.
Several of our Party wished to stay at Home for some Months, but Balaban úr carried Mr Waugh and Master Book to New Renaissance via several Worlds and the Astral, for Purposes of Reconnaissance. They spent some Time there in petty Thievery, for local Clothes, Books and Money.
18 January 2012
The Fabrics of New Renaissance seemed most promising, though not as resistant to Fire as one might have hoped. The Commander spent time with the literary Circle of his Sister, collecting an Admirer.
Sir Edmond gave us some more Questions to consider in our Peregrinations: Why do the various Worlds exist? What determines the magical Character of a World? How did inter-World Empires become established? Did any of them use the Astral? If we met Nazis, we should probably put them to the Question where we found them, rather than risk bringing them Home.
1721, Monday, the 15th Day of March
We planned at first to separate on New Renaissance, to learn the local Accent without being a blatantly mis-assorted Group. Consideration of broadcast Wireless suggested that using this might be a better Approach. Finding a House extant in both Worlds seemed also worthwhile, and we examined new Construction in order to locate one.

New Renaissance

On New Renaissance, Master Book and M. Nodier made astronomical Observations and confirmed the local Date was more or less as expected. Balaban úr had been studying the History of the World, and noticed a Divergence from the Pattern established by Mr Waugh: in the 1930s, the Northern American state had disintegrated into warring Principalities, and the War of the Nineteen-Forties had sputtered rather than flamed.
We established an initial Address in Camden Town, and gained Accounts at Banks, then travelled on the Under-Ground Railway, a most distinctive Experience. We visited the Royal Observatory, finding it somewhat less changed than expected, and generally gained an Impression of this London.
With the Assistance of Balaban úr, we made several Trips, exchanging Spices and Herbs for Porcelain and Gold, then established our Base of Operations in a House on the Outer Circle of the Regent’s Park.
After we had been established some six Weeks, Master Book found himself being followed when returning from a Book-buying Expedition. His Poursuivante was a young Lady; he accosted her and accused her of following him, which she admitted. They established that both were from other Worlds, but reserved their Factions for the Moment; she claimed to be willing to establish peaceful Contact, and set up a Meeting for the next Day.
We felt that the Lady most probably represented either Infinity or another Faction of the C—. Commander Hodgson. Master Book and I would be overtly at the Meeting, with Balaban úr and M. Nodier nearby.
The Lady arrived nearly on Time, having also apparently brought a Pair of subtle Friends. We introduced ourselves (she calling herself Hilary, though the Commander, reading her Mind, thought this untrue). She had apparently closely considered our Activities here, and established that her Goal was to confirm our Affiliations and establish Contact with part of the C—. We explained that of an Organisation that was essentially mad, we were a differently mad Part, and carefully approached the matter of our C— Affiliation without stating it explicitly. Her own Organisation was clearly Infinity, a relatively flexible Faction.
While both Sides remained cautious, we seemed to be establishing a mutually beneficial Understanding. The Mission of Infinity here was to study the unusual technological Developments of this World.
Balaban úr joined us as we retired to a Tea-House for further Discussion. We explained that we had only a loose Theory of Magic, but that the Ability to perform it varied greatly between Worlds. Hilary seemed to specialize in Relations with the C—, to Date more in Theory than in Practice. It appeared that she regarded Centrum and the Nazis as a greater Threat than our own Colleagues. Commander Hodgson revealed that we wished to use this World for rapid Travel, but gained in Return the Knowledge that Infinity was similarly restricted in Terms of Points of Arrival.
We exchanged more Information, remaining moderately Careful, and keeping most of our Secrets, but maintaining essentially friendly Relations. We used our Experience with Centrum as a quiet Warning that we were perhaps easily Underestimated.
1 February 2012
It seemed that the Manifestation of physical Laws could vary from one World to another – the atomick Aircraft of this World seemed much more dangerous back on the home World of Hilary than they were here. The Physicists of that World were also troubled by the extent to which Time varied from one World to another.
Hilary wished to normalise our Relations, or rather those of our respective Powers – at the very least, we could both ask Questions freely, and understand our Attitudes to each other. Balaban úr suggested that a Series of regular Meetings seemed as though it might be mutually Beneficial. We considered that we might trade our Knowledge of the Astral for Knowledge of advanced Technology.
Hilary was also interested in Devices to detect Magic, and in particular to prevent the reading of Minds; Commander Hodgson sought the Ability to detect cross-World Intrusions. Considering the World of Sans-Newton, Hilary considered that Centrum might have been seeking to create an Anglo-French Empire, apparently a Habit of theirs. I hinted that an associate Membership in the C— might be a Possibility, and we ended on a Note of mild Confusion.
We returned to Newton-X and reported to Sir Edmond. We explained what we had learned about his Comet, then mentioned our Encounter with Hilary. Once we had explained the Basics, he called for Sr Sapienza, who was somewhat surprized by the Degree of Contact which we had achieved, but not intrinsically opposed to such Contact – or indeed to the possibility of a Status of Associate for Hilary.
It was agreed that Hilary could be introduced to the Astral, though nowhere near Newton-X; and could perhaps be taken to Sans-Newton, though not immediately.
As we left, Balaban úr was approached by a Gentleman who offered him Employment in the Potsdam Guard of the King of Prussia.
Balaban úr, M. Nodier and I returned briefly to Sans-Newton to obtain a Broadsheet. It seemed that the Stuart Rebellion had prospered, and their Army was encamped in Birmingham.
We returned to New Renaissance, and took a Journey by Train, to become Accustomed to the Mode of Transport. On the following Day we met Hilary for further Discussion; we considered that we might be transported by them to suitable Worlds for the gradual Learning of Technology. It appeared that our Systems of locating Worlds were not directly Compatible, not entirely surprisingly, but she was able to describe some of the underlying Principles, including the Property she called the Quantum Level, that Centrum would call a Wave (and that this was on their Quantum 6.
We agreed that she would provide us with an Apparatus able to determine the Quantum of a world, in return for information on the Levels of twenty Worlds that we visited. We further agreed to transport Hilary and her Colleagues to the Astral, in return for a fuller Understanding of their System of Coordinates of Worlds.
Hilary suggested that we might visit a World of Interest to Infinity, where armed Resistance against the Centrum-supported Empires was progressing; she wished to Discover whether Magic was involved. (The Reports of Bolts of Fire, and Mind-Reading, seemed indicative to us.)
We agreed to test Hilary for magical Power, then to shew her to the Astral.
15 February 2012
We conferred at some Length, then retired to an Hotel, where I read the Aura of Hilary; alas, she had no magical Gift. Meanwhile, our Colleagues and the others of Infinity played Chess and discussed various Matters.
We travelled by Underground Railway to Epping, Master Book produced a Gate to the Astral and we passed through. The Detector operated by Hilary did not work at all; we gave her some Warnings concerning astral Denizens, then began to travel.
We came upon a Vehicle, a flying Nautiloid of some Type passing over the astral Sea. Balaban úr waved to it, and it changed Course towards us. In the Opening of the Shell was a Platform carrying three Figures, Human in Form other than the Tentacles on their Heads.
They communicated mentally with Commander Hodgson, but apparently did not like the Conversation, as they attempted to control his Mind. M. Nodier stepped forward with the apparent Intention of joining them. The situation appeared to be one of Hostility.
Balaban úr ran, leaped. and cut at the Lip of the Vessel. Commander Hodgson hit one of the Attackers with an accelerated Rock. I attempted to board the Vessel, casting some of my limited offensive Spells, but failed to have Effect before another Rock went in from the Commander, and Balaban úr decapitated another Foe; I increased his Grace, and he and the Commander finished off the Remainder. Sadly, the Vessel ascended and turned away over the Astral Sea, Balaban úr leaping clear just in Time.
Commander Hodgson explained to Hilary the Essentials of astral Navigation and Divination. Balaban úr left us to take the Body back to Newton-X, while we returned to New Renaissance – in a slightly different Location from that whence we had departed. The Detector used by Hilary recovered, eventually.
She planned to returned to her Superiors to report, and we thought we would probably do the same.
22 February 2012
We arranged to meet Hilary again in five Days in a different Park, at Noon. We also reassured her that the Astral Plane is not normally that eventful, although M. Nodier, lacking Tact, qualified the Reassurance with some Remarks on our previous Encounters. We Returned to London by Underground Railway, parted from Hilary, and re-entered our House.
On Newton-X, Balaban úr handed over the Corpse of the Monster for proper Preservation and Study;
With the aid of Master Book, we re-joined Balaban úr, who had taken the Corpse of the Monster to the Royal Society for proper Preservation and Study. Efforts at the former had failed, and the Flesh was Dissolving or Shrinking; with the aid of an Artist we preserved as much Information as could be had. Sr Sapienza gave them the outlandish Name of Yithoglu, commenting that normally some Difficulty attached to their Transport away from the Astral; they were Beings of psychic Power, making their home in the "Citadel of Polished Bone"; the Flesh was following its essential Nature and transporting itself piecemeal back to the Astral. We spoke with the Fellows, reporting both on this Situation and on Hilary.
For the next several Days we conducted Experiments on the Astral, finding it slightly less alien than our previous Experiences had indicated; Gunpowder burned slowly, rather than not at all, and inanimate Objects removed from our Persons disappeared after several Days (in one case at least returning to its World of Origin).
Returning to New Renaissance, we delivered some Items to Master Waugh, who believed that he could obtain limited Passports for us, widening our Scope of Travel. We met Hilary again, and explained the Experiments on the Astral, then agreed a Trip to a World in the Year 1418. Master Book brought us across to the Astral, and we conducted further Experiments (an electric Torch gave only a weak Light and rapidly Faded, but a Book describing Electricity was still legible).
We located the Pool for the World, after something of a long Journey through the Astral, and traversed it, though our Destination appeared to be dark. The Torch now worked normally, though its Batteries were drained. The Arts of Hilary informed her that our Quantum was 7. We returned to the Astral, then proceeded to the Pool for Sans-Newton (a rather shorter Journey) and travelled there. According to Hilary, the Arts of Centrum could detect Arrivals almost at once, but not locate them with Precision, so Time should not be of the Essence. Whether they could tell such Gates apart from the Spoor of Conveyors was not known.
Sans-Newton turned out to be on Quantum 9, suggesting no Correlation between the Proximity of Astral Pools and the Quantum Scale, and Hilary was happy to leave again with some Expedition. We espied the Site from the Astral, and viewed a Party of Soldiers, led by "Smythe" of Centrum, investigating the Area and studying our Footprints. We considered the possibility of kidnapping one or more of them, but this seemed both risky and provocative. We studied them instead as they departed, following them to a Barracks, of which they seemed to have Control of at least one Building. Their Manner with Mr Smythe was more informal than seemed proper for Soldiers, and Hilary believed that their Guns were more advanced Firearms than were native to the World, disguised to casual Inspection.
14 March 2012
Hilary expressed some Concern about the Possibility of Espionage from the Astral; she asked about un-magical Worlds, and we confirmed that no Access from the Astral seemed possible there. Considering both that and the Problems or Opportunities posed by the widespread Ability to read Minds, she wished to ponder further.
There seemed some Irregularity in the Arrangement of the Barracks – not only the Presence of the Officer with the Men, but the Paucity of People. We observed the Remainder of the Building, but found no blatantly unworldly Equipment. Commander Hodgson expressed Concern that the Abilities of Centrum to detect off-World Travel had improved since our previous Visit. We returned to the Hampstead Heath of this World, then to New Renaissance. Or so we had hoped, but the Odour of our Destination was more industrial and faecal than that of New Renaissance... and there was no Magic in the air. Aircraft were in the Sky, though of unfamiliar Design. Hilary stated that this was on Quantum 3, but knew nothing of the specific World. Commander Hodgson detected a Gate somwhere in central London, and we descended into the City.
We encountered a Man walking across the Heath with his Dog; his Clothing was not immediately familiar, comprising Trousers and a bulky Jacket. His Hair was short and augmented by a Moustache. Hilary estimated a Date of the late twentieth or early twenty-first Century, but found the Styles of Clothing unfamiliar. Once we encountered the Names of Streets, we found them to be in English, but not those we expected from New Renaissance. A News-paper gave the Year as 2027, which the Commander and Hilary both recognised as that which the Theories of Hilary stated was the latest possible Date.
Hilary believed that she recognised the World, and felt we should leave it as quickly as possible. We reversed our Course and entered a Stand of Trees, where she explained that the Name of the World was Shikaku-Mon, one where a Swedish Empire owned London and overall Power rested with the Japanese. A working Theory was that the Gate detected by Commander Hodgson was a Projector belonging to the Indigenes. After some Negotiation, Balaban úr cut us back to New Renaissance, and Hilary summoned a Vehicle to take us all back to our various Lodgings.
We invited Hilary and her Driver into our Lodgings. She raised the Possibility of a Device or Indicator that would demonstrate the Presence of Magic on her World; we considered how this might be achieved. We agreed that Balaban úr would give Infinity Astral Locations as well as Quantum Levels on the Worlds that he examined, after which the Theoreticians of Infinity would attempt to build a Scheme of Mapping.
We agreed to meet again in a Week, to give time to speak with our respective Superiors and to take some Rest. Hilary planned to travel with us to a remote Place, perhaps in the Wilds of Scotland, then to take us by Conveyor to the World of Magic in the early twentieth Century, with magical Opposition to Centrum. And so to Bed.
Balaban úr and Commander Hodgson visited several Worlds to determine their Quanta, and to retrieve Items for Master Book to follow. He, meanwhile, was purchasing a Variety of small Items, including a Camera. M. Nodier and I read local Books.
Overnight, by the Time of New Renaissance, we travelled via Hampstead Heath to Newton-X to report. I spoke briefly with Edith, and we discussed Methods by which the comfortable nether Garments of New Renaissance might be duplicated with our own Materials. After some Delay we spoke with Sir Edmond to give our Report.
We speculated on the possible Correlation between Levels of Magic and present Date, but without a sufficient Number of Worlds to theorise in great Detail. We considered that we might reasonably ask Infinity for multiple comprehensive sets of Text-Books in the Natural Sciences, in return for the Information on the magical Status of their World and that we had already given them on the Location of Shikaku-Mon.
We decided that we would try the Journey to the World of the early Twentieth Century, both for our Interest in a Trip by Conveyor and as a bargaining Tool with Infinity.
28 March 2012
“Yes, but six Months of theoretical Work could save us half an Hour in the Field.” – Nell
We conducted several Experiments at Greenwich, to determine how our Detection of Magic could be extended. A refracting Telescope extended the Range, but a Reflector of Speculum-Metal did not – though one of Silver did, as did tests with Mercury Amalgam and common Glass.
Back on New Renaissance, we took Vaccinations in an Attempt to forestall any Passage of Disease, while Balaban úr (who had no Need of such Considerations) visited several more Worlds in Order to record their Quanta.
In order to accommodate ourselves to the local Technology, we travelled by Express Train to Exeter; I spoke with the Driver, who explained some of the Intricacies of Signals. We passed on by local Train to Penzance, where we remained over-Night. The following Day we encountered mass Tourism, and rapidly returned to Plymouth, where Commander Hodgson would Plymouth Dockyard much expanded and supporting atomick Battleships with Crews of more than a Thousand.
We passed the next Night in Exeter, and visited Bristol on the way back to London to see a commercial Dock, though its Days of Glory had passed; we also saw Aircraft of the Bristol Aircraft Company.
After our Return to London, we met Hilary, and negotiated for Books. We agreed that I might cast an Alteration of Visage, which would expire after an Hour; if this were to survive Passage in a Conveyor, it would give them Information as to the Level of Magic on their Home.
The next Day, with Agreement on the Matter of Books, Hilary began to move the Conveyor to Scotland, while we agreed to follow by Sleeper Train, this one Diesel-hauled by a "Napier Quad". Master Book fell into Converse with a young Lady going by the Name of Marilyn, of whom Commander Hodgson seemed somewhat suspicious at first; we meanwhile were accosted by a man with what he claimed was a secret Invention, though he turned out to be insane.
In the Morning, Marilyn had attached herself to Daniel, and he decided to remain with her for the Moment. His Absence rather startled Hilary. Once we had travelled away from the Town to the Conveyor, I altered the Visage of Hilary, and we (and Balaban úr) travelled to Greater Hungary via the Conveyor – while M. Nodier and Commander Hodgson remained to observe.
Since the Alteration had persisted, we returned to New Renaissance while Hilary travelled to her Home; she joined us later, reporting that the Alteration had faded as soon as she arrived there. This was somewhat reassuring to her, as we explained the relative Difficulty of magical Espionage in such a Situation.

Machen

11 April 2012
We readied ourselves for the Trip to Machen, the World of Interest to Hilary. Our Objective was simple: to ascertain the Level of Magic and its Location on the Astral.
Sensing the Level while in Transit suggested that it was low, similar to our World of Origin. Commander Hodgson studied the Quantum Flows but appeared not to become enlightened.
On our arrival at Machen, we determined that the level of Magic was Low, and disembarked; Hilary and her people removed themselves. I could detect no nearby Magic, and the Commander saw nothing particularly unusual with his own Senses – though he thought something odd might be occurring in the Direction of Edinburgh. Balaban úr took us to the Astral – but our Location there was not clear, being far from any of our known Landmarks. With this in Mind, we returned to Machen, then moved our Location some Distance, both to confound potential Minions of Centrum and to give the Commander a higher starting Point for the Flight he planned.
He ascended, reporting on his Return a Pillar of distorted Space rising out of Edinburgh – and another similar one in the Western Isles. I attempted to locate the nearest Gate, but saw neither of these: rather, I found one roughly to the south-west, less than a hundred Miles away – perhaps near Stirling or Dunblane. M. Nodier was able to locate another, some two thousand Miles to the east.
We returned to the near Astral and rested, watching for a possible Response by Agents of Centrum. A half-Dozen of cavalry Troopers arrived on Machen after nearly an Hour, apparently searching for Tracks, it seemed without Success, even with use of Devices such as we had seen before. After some Time, they departed, and we passed on to the Astral Sea. On some higher Ground, I espied a Feature of the Terrain not entirely unlike one seen near Astral Rome. We proceeded in that Direction, but were approached by a Mass of gelid Matter; since it headed directly towards us, we attempted to draw it into some astral Hazard; this allowed us to increase the Distance, but it continued to follow.
We passed the world of Dragons, and with some Effort maintained our Separation until we reached C––Rome, whither the Mass did not pursue us; Balaban úr brought us back to New Renaissance. We rested briefly, then rejoined Hilary and her Colleagues to report. She was most concerned at the Disparity between our various Perceptions of Gates and other Phenomena.
Infinity had learned of Machen from Agents of Centrum who had suffered a Mishap in their Travels, and were not themselves entirely clear on the Situation. The Resistance to Centrum had occurred some Time later, perhaps as a Coalition of rebellious Groups; it was not apparent just where Magic entered the Equation, but the Resistance was most successful in Anglo-French Colonies.
We were curious as to whether Conveyors and other parachronic Machinery registered as Gates, and planned an Experiment to determine this.
25 April 2012
We returned to Glasgow by Train, and Balaban úr attempted to locate Master Book by Telephone, finding us invited to visit the Residence of his Inamorata and her Grandmother.
We located the Place and were invited in. Daniel evinced some Reluctance to rejoin us, but after Refreshment and some careful Converse we left together – Master Book giving his Lady his great Cogwheel from Roma Mechanica.
We returned to London, and to Newton-X, where Commander Hodgson and M. Nodier updated their Maps of the Astral. Balaban úr and Master Book travelled to the Royal Society to gain an Appointment with Sir Edmond, while I carried on with my own Research. In the Afternoon we met Sir Edmond and Sir Isaac; the Latter seemed concerned about Marilyn, regarding her as a potential Agent of the C—.
Sir Isaac was most interested in the Pillars, and planned to ask Sr Sapienze more about this World – and about the Nature of Factions and Splits in the C—.
Edith was working on Underwear, not yet aware that I intended to assign to her the Majority of the Profit in this Business. I considered the Importation of Sewing-Machines, but considered that our local Thread might be insufficiently consistent.
Balaban úr returned on the next Day from New Renaissance with the promised Books from Infinity, though we discovered a slight Problem; these Books were written for their own People travelling to more primitive Worlds, rather than for raising the People of those primitive Worlds to their own Level. They were, it seemed, working on this.
With Sr Sapienza now present, Sir Isaac questioned him closely on the Matter of Factions. These seemed to fall into several Species: principally those following a particular Master or Grand Master, those existing to oppose another Faction, and those taking a particular interest in an Objective or Cause not in Opposition to any other. One curious Aspect of the Royal Society as a Faction was our Ability to allow our overall Goals, the Acquisition of Knowledge, to surmount our individual Cupidity.
Sr Sapienza claimed not to know of Machen, but would ask his Colleagues. We considered with Sir Edmond and Sir Isaac the Difficulties of operating on Machen without becoming involved in the Conflicts there. Sir Isaac suggested that we first discern the Nature of the Pillars, avoid the Attentions of Centrum, and make Contact with the C— as possible; if some of the Resistance were purely Native, we would of course have to use our own Judgement, but we would have first to determine their Affiliation or otherwise with the C—, without ourselves being discovered.
We returned to New Renaissance, for our Meeting with Hilary on the next Day. Before that Time, Balaban úr visited a Book-shop, compiling a small Collection on the History and Philosophy of Science; Commander Hodgson had less Success obtaining original Texts, but made some Progress; I purchased a pair of Sewing-Machines for Edith, including an Array of spare Parts.
We discussed Matters with Hilary at some Length. We requested her Assistance in obtaining suitable Clothing and Equipment to allow us not to be blatantly out of Place. Money might be more difficult, though we should be able to start by selling Jewellery; Hilary enquired about the Possibility of reshaping one Coin to match another, but this was beyond our immediate Capacities. Infinity had little Detail on the specific Differences between this World and the others of the same Period, but even on the usual Model there was plenty to interest Centrum.
16 May 2012
We spend a small Number of Days studying the History of New Renaissance, in particular the earlier Part of the present Century, on the Basis that this would be useful both to us here and on Machen, the two Worlds not being extremely divergent.
Master Book asked after his Inamorata, and verified that her Story was more or less Correct. Commander Hodgson looked at small sailing Vessels, to see how Technology had modified them, but was unable at first to gain Permission. At a different Club, he was better able to persuade the Owners to allow him to try a small Boat, and impressed the Locals with his Aptitude.
Our Clothing arrived after some Days, and Edith was able to perform the necessary Alterations. We planned to be reasonably subtle in our Transfers, and I obtained the Lease of an isolated Cottage some Miles from Edinburgh to serve as a Base. We then proceeded on the Moors to an isolated Point, whence we could proceed to the Astral; thence Balaban úr cut directly to Machen, and Master Book brought us to the near Astral – by which Means we progressed to Edinburgh. Commander Hodgson found the astral Texture round the City somewhat odd, but was unable to articulate Details.
Observing the Locals, we felt that our Clothing would probably pass as lower Class, but acquiring more would be a Priority. Commander Hodgson found the Distortion centred on the Rock, but was as yet unable to confirm whether this was the Location of the Pillar. Pedestrian Traffic seemed much as expected, and we located both the central Station and several Pawnbrokers’ Establishments.
We emerged on the Rock via the good Offices of Master Book, then travelled down-hill into the City, making Efforts to blur our Trail. I pawned some of the Jewellery, after which we proceeded to book Rooms in the Railway Hotel, then to go shopping for Clothes and appropriate Styles of Hair.
The Magic was higher here – and aspected in the Mode of Connections – and Commander Hodgson confirmed that we were inside the Pillar. Sensing Gates gave me the Locations of nine, though this was still not one of them. We walked towards the Forth, and found the Pillar to be roughly cylindrical and some two Miles in Diameter, centred on the Castle, and with a soft Boundary – coincident with the Change in Level of Magic.
For the Moment, we Rested, planning to visit the Castle on the Morrow. I enhanced my Perceptions with Magic; we dined; and we retired for the Night.
I maintained the enhanced Perceptions the next Day as we travelled to the Castle. There appeared to be a School for Boys attached to the Castle, something that was not present in New Renaissance or our own World. I observed a man in his Forties with active Magic, as he observed me; I nodded to him and we moved to a more private Area.
We exchanged Signs of Recognition of the C—, though he was unwilling to speak of the Nature of this Place (and claimed not to be a Native). He regarded Centrum as being mostly a Nuisance to be avoided, rather than a serious Threat, and did not seem to be aware of any Involvement by the C— in the Uprisings in the outer Parts of the Empire. He asked us to leave Edinburgh, on the basis that his own People were conducting delicate Procedures, but we continued to converse, and it proved that he wished us to speak with his Superiors. He led us back into the City and into the Rear of a second-hand Bookshop, where we met an elderly Man introducing himself as Israel Rosenkrantz.
He was quite surprised that we could perceive the Pillar, and while not claiming to have created it did assert that he was now its Custodian. We revealed that Sir Isaac was our Master, and had given us the Task of learning more about this World.
Centrum were indeed attempting to promote the British Empire, and some of Rosenkrantz’ People were backing the Uprisings against them – on the Fringes, because these were the easiest Places to get such things Started. We mentioned that we could put him in touch with Infinity, who might be able to assist in this Rebellion.
Rosenkrantz asserted that Centrum attempted to be a Meritocracy, though with the usual Friction and Difficulty of any human Endeavour. We discussed the Nature of Centrum (and indeed of Infinity), and speculated on their Plans. His Branch of the Order had been here for some twenty Years, less than the thirty since Centrum had arrived.
The other Pillars of which he was Aware were at Callanish on the Island of Lewis, on Anglesey, one in in the Wash, at Glastonbury Tor and at Aldershot. He wished to provide us an Escort as we investigated others, being concerned that we not interfere to a great Extent with these powerful Areas.
We discussed the Possibility of taking someone from this Branch of the C— to Newton-X; this seemed as though it should be a Possibility, though we wished to confirm it first. We bought some Books, and started to consider Arrangements for our Journey to the Western Isles.
23 May 2012
We decided that we would remain in Edinburgh for a Week or so, without interfering with the local Magic; we would learn more of the World, and (the Hope of Balaban úr) we might encounter Minions of Centrum.
Over these Days, we gathered a variety of Books dealing with the Knowledge of the Era, as well as some of the more portable practical Examples thereof (some Firearms, some small Steam-driven Engines, and such like Matters). By the efforts of Balaban úr, these were stored in the Cottage on New Renaissance. Back on Machen, I travelled with the Commander and M. Nodier a few Miles across the Bridge, a somewhat impressive Artefact, and then to the Coast at Crail, in order that he might try out some of the local sailing-Craft.
We repaired to the Yacht Club, where the Commander was able to persuade a Member to take us out; the Afternoon passed pleasantly enough.
Our Escort to the Western Isles was Vincent du Thym, and our Plan was to travel by Train to Inverness, then proceed in some suitable Manner overland to Ullapool, and onward by Ferry to Stornoway.
The Site at Callanish was under the Control of the Laird of Clan Lewis, whose Family had been practising informally for some Years prior to the Arrival of the C— on this World – there were quite a few such Groups, though the Majority of them had been below the Level of sophisticated Art required for true Effectiveness.
du Thym’s View on Sources of Magic was intriguing, regarding Civitas – the Effect of the Collection of many intelligent Beings – as a potential Source in itself, though clearly the presence of Pillars only in Britain suggested that while this might be a necessary Precondition for them it was clearly not sufficient.
From Inverness we travelled on to Dingwall, then hired Horses for the next Stage – though Balaban úr could not be accomodated. With more than forty Miles to travel, and Rain delaying us, we broke our Journey at a Distillery en route (the local Spirits being unimpressive compared with Hollands, but not as much so as the Food).
On the next Day Master Book disagreed with his Horse on the proper Methods of Locomotion, but we arrived at Ullapool still in Daylight. We disposed of our Horses and stayed in the main Hotel of the Town, the next Ferry not being until the early Morning two Days later.
Being educated People, we were expected to wish to speak with the Minister; his Passion was Geology, though his Converse was more varied. His apparent View of the female Sex as a lesser Species was something of a stumbling-Block.
We arose early, broke our Fast, and made our Way to the Boat, a somewhat small and slow Vessel. The Weather was mostly clement, but strong Tides slowed our Progress, which took up most of the Day. We spoke with du Thym, who mentioned that some other Worlds shewed Evidence of similar Pillars in similar Locations – and the other common Factor seemed to be an historical and celtic King Arthur, based in North Wales. We discussed Matters Astral, and mentioned to du Thym the Roman Road; he described another, a Pair of Roads of the same Type passing through Turkey and Mesopotamia, this Set being infested by Nazis.
We arrived at Stornoway, and turned in almost at once; in the Morning, we hired more Horses, and proceeded the short Distance to Callanish – where we confirmed another Pillar, of much the same Size and Nature as that at Edinburgh, centred on the stone Circle but encompassing the Village. We arranged to stay at the local Inn, while du Thym spoke with the local Servants of the Laird to establish our Bona Fides; MacDougal, apparently the senior of these Men, came to speak with us later, bringing with him an Apprentice or similar.
We discussed our own Origins and the Nature of the Pillars, and reached a tentative Agreement to conduct Experients with the Goal of mutual Enlightenment. MacDougal confirmed that a long Working, Details of which he was not willing to disclose, was in Progress, and that this was not a Matter we should disturb. We also introduced MacDougal to our own History, which he found most fascinating. He knew nothing of the detailed History of the Stones – some slight Excavation had been done, but without interesting Result.
6 June 2012
We set Watches, but were not disturbed. In the Morning we met McLeod, one of MacDougal’s Subordinates, who was apparently to be assigned to us for Moment-to-Moment matters. We began by surveying the Extents of the Pillar, until the Commander mentioned that the Pillar had just flickered, something McLeod had never previously observed. There was no other obvious Effect, but a Cloud now contained a visible Gap, and there seemed to be some Agitation in the Village – and thus we returned there expeditiously.
M. Nodier strode ahead and engaged in somewhat hostile Converse with MacDougal. As we began to catch up, the Ground began to shake, and one of the standing Stones leaned visibly. M. Nodier began to walk in that Direction, and we followed, particularly as we could hear Screaming. Odd shapes were passing out of the Circle, and the Term "Qlippoth" was mentioned, something we had heard about but not previously encountered; a Class of contaminant Beings believed to be Relics of an earlier and inferior Creation.
I temporarily lost my Composure, but understand the Commander was throwing Pebbles at great Speed, while M. Nodier enhanced his Speed and Balaban úr engaged the Creature, or one of them, they having human Form but remaining connected to each other, with his sword. While these Attacks were not wholly ineffective, they appeared to inflict no great Injury on the Creature(s), though a Ball of Flame from MacDougal was more potent, and repeated Attacks, it seems, caused more Damage.
As I regained my Senses I found Balaban úr at the Centre of a Group of the Creatures, but was able to take a Moment to examine their Aura before moving to assist. This appeared most interesting, even intriguing, but I did not have Time at that Instant to consider the Implications.
I was of some slight Assistance, principally by healing the Combatants, as M. Nodier, Balaban úr, and MacDougal were all corrosively wounded.
MacDougal averred that this was not an Error of Casting, but rather a deliberate Attack; his Faction, the Order of Phlebas, was one attempting specifically to defeat Qlippoth, and another Faction (which we christened Cumberland) in a similar World to this one was believed to have fallen Prey to the Lures of such Creatures – and indeed the Order of Phlebas had already been conducting Attacks against them. This Attack from elsewhere, it seemed, might well have been repeated at all the Pillars, but our Evidence might at least be of some Use in the greater Dealings of the C—. The Actions of Centrum might also be a confounding Factor.
MacDougal was able to bespeak the Groups at other Pillars: Edinburgh had come off worst, with several dead. At Anglesey the Intrusion had been handled well; at Aldershot there had been an Escape and some public Involvement; at Glastonbury, the Attack had been aborted as the Gate closed early; and no word had come from the Wash.
In order to travel there in Haste, we purposed to return to New Renaissance and travel by Air, then return to Machen – taking MacLeod with us.
20 June 2012
First we would go to Solitude, to provide a little Isolation between Worlds, considering recent Events. The Terrain was favourable in spite of the Snow, and we quickly progressed half a Mile across the open Ground, with the aim of muddying our Trail. Master Book opened the second Gate, but it closed quickly, isolating Balaban úr on Solitude – with the majority of the Tents. I put up my own, to shelter our Baggage from the Rain, and we waited until Balaban úr could arrive, then waited out the Night.
We located a Telephone-Box and called on Mr Waugh to wire Funds, as well as to tell us the Location of the Air-Port, after which we walked into Callanish and took an Omnibus to Stornoway. I negotiated the Charter of an Aircraft, which took us to Edinburgh and then on to Skegness in the Afternoon. By Taxicab to Long Sutton, then out into a less-observed spot, whence Master Book took us to Machen.
Here it was early Morning, and nothing was apparently wrong. Commander Hodgson was able to perceive the Pillar, which looked to him much like the others, and to confirm the Presence of Fishermen on the Wash. MacLeod told us that the local C—ists were expected to be in some Houses by the Shore, and we walked in that Direction.
M. Nodier was the first to observe an Oddity: a narrow Line of some Description leading from House to Sea, or perhaps in the other Direction. We approached the House, seeing that the Line led to the front Door.
Nell: “Just on previous form, if when we see them I scream and start to bibble, this is probably a bad sign.”
A Woman answered our Knock somewhat timorously, and did not respond to a Phrase of the C—; when Balaban úr stated that we had come to meet the Occupants, she hesitantly asked us in. I spied her Aura, and fell back with a Cry to my Comrades, upon which the House seemed to stretch and attempted to engulf Balaban úr.
Master Book and I retreated to what we hoped might be a safe Distance, while the others of our Party attacked with Sword, Rifles, and many Pebbles. The Inhabitants of the House retaliated with Spells of Fire, wounding the Commander, but neither side was able to prevail for some time. The Sea was starting to boil and rise, and the Line in the Sand had disgorged a Tendril between House and Sea which now seemed to be under Tension. I drew a Knife and cut at it, though without immediate Effect. The Mass in the Sea heaved itself higher, and I temporarily lost my Presence of Mind.
As I was later informed, the House collapsed when Balaban úr more successfully cut at the Tendril. The Mass in the Sea continued to writhe, and apparently took on a molluscan Form. M. Nodier shot at it, but most of us were to some extent hors de combat. Master Book took MacLeod, who had also lost his Composure, to the Astral. The Mass started to collapse as it moved inshore, but still perturbed the Commander, to the extent that he lost Consciousness.
Janos: So, that’s a few tentacles, then.
Balaban úr carried the Commander, and M. Nodier assisted me, into a further Gate to the Astral. Balaban úr calmed MacLeod, while I healed the Commander. We travelled via the Astral to New Renaissance, and for Verisimilitude doused ourselves in the Wash, before approaching the nearest House to the Shore with a Tale of Boat-Wreck. After some Discussion we were able to persuade the Locals to take us back to Skegness, where we arrived about an Hour before Midnight.
We returned to the Skegness of Machen, where MacLeod sent a Telegram to MacDougal to apprise him of the Situation – then departed by Train for Edinburgh.
As we were leaving Skegness, we saw a Flash behind us and felt a Tremor in the Earth – and considering the Number of Gates we had used in the Area, we suspected that Agents of Centrum had discovered the Intrusion and used puissant Weapons upon it.

Mr Collins’ World

17 October 2012
My Dear Mistress Stoutenburgh,
Following your decision to remain at home during our latest venture across the worlds, for purposes of Study, it was put to me that I might prepare for you a Note concerning events on that expedition. Such an Account follows, which I hope that you will find convenient.
As you will recall, we had determined that a visit to the world of Mister Collins’s origin was appropriate, for purposes of reconnaissance. To protect the secrecy of our own origin point and for other reasons, we determined to travel by way of the world of New Renaissance, and when all were assembled, Balaban úr cut a passage to our house in that realm. Once there, we changed into what would, by the standards of New Renaissance, be considered subdued garb, thinking that this would likely attract least attention in another world of similar history and with a present date a mere few years later.
We then travelled by way of rail-way tunnel to the all too familiar Hampstead Heath, where Daniel was given – I hesitate to mention this, but delicacy must be subdued in the interests of the promotion of the Art and of scholarship – an item of under-clothing extracted from Mr Collins’s possession, an overly refined form of breech-clout. Applying his Gift to this, Daniel enabled up to make smooth passage to this new world.
The time there proved to be Night, and the weather to be most unpleasantly chill; a full foot of snow lay on the ground, and much more was descending. My own senses informed me that the degree of Mana was low, while Commander Hodgson’s observations lead him to suggest that the date was in December or January. (This was excellent news, in that Master Halley’s comet may be expected to return to view there in February.) Taking shelter under convenient trees, we operated the appropriate instruments and established that the "Quantum Level" of this world was of the seventh order – placing it in the zone of contention between Infinity and Centrum, with Centrum perhaps favoured.
This raised the undesired possibility of the powers of Centrum being turned against us here in short order, and the snow was already proving displeasing. Hence, we transferred to the Near Astral Realm to escape these inconveniences, and resolved to make observation for a period of one hour, curious as to whether Centrum’s minions might come into view.
In fact, none that had that look did appear, but two other persons did. They were of quite modest years, and carried neither exotic devices or tools nor evident weapons. They were, however, dressed as befitted in this weather, so much may have been concealed on their persons. They fell into what appeared to be some dispute, eventually as it seemed resolving to take shelter under the trees and watch the scene more. However, in so moving themselves, they chanced upon the tracks which we had perforce left, which terminated suddenly where we had departed that Realm.
This gave them concern, as it seemed, and they clearly resolved to depart the Heath. We followed them, surely invisible to their mundane senses, and yet they gave signs of thinking themselves watched. A modest way from the Heath, they attained a Motor Carriage to which they had access, and used this to depart at a speed which we could not emulate, even in our Astral guise.
Wishing to determine more of the world, we located a shop which was continuing to do business even at this late hour, and then a nearby alley-way, where Daniel returned us to our material presence, apparently, from his remarks, narrowly avoiding any inconvenience caused by the imprecision of his Power. We resolved that Balaban úr should serve as our agent now, and he took a modest amount of specie which we had carried from the world of New Renaissance and entered the Place of Commerce.
At this point, as he subsequently explained to us, it emerged that the coins which he bore were inappropriate to his needs. Perhaps the two worlds are divergent in subtle ways, or perhaps there had been a Re-Casting of the English Coinage at some point between the two dates. For certain, Balaban úr reported, prices were marked with the letter "p", presumably indicating pennies, rather than the Shillings and Pence we have encountered in other aspects of the English Realm across the many worlds. Furthermore, the shop-keeper, a Hindoo whose grasp of the English tongue was not entirely perfect, seemed most confused by Ur Balaban’s attempts to discuss or negotiate the matter, and Balaban úr was reduced to presenting himself, accurately but no doubt humiliatingly, as a confused Stranger from the lands of the Hungarians.
Hence, he made no purchase. However, he did at least determine from brief examination of the news-papers on display that the date was the 30th day of December, in the year 1985, and also that the shop-keeper, whatever his own beliefs regarding Religion or Ur Balaban’s nature, wished him to have a happy Christmas-time.
While all this passed, we remained in the snow in the street. Daniel found a waste-bin and extracted an empty glass bottle therefrom, to facilitate other returns to this world, the garish papers on which bottle declaring it to have held a substance, unknown to any of us, termed Tizer.
The Party thus reunited, we resolved to depart and explore this world’s position in relation to the Higher Realms. Daniel gave us passage once more to the Astral Plane, where we made expedition in the direction of the Astral Sea.
On our way there, we encountered another traveller, seemingly a mortal man by appearance, seeming healthy if rather stout of person, but dressed in some wise peculiarly, being clad in tunic and trews together of iridescent white sateeen. He bore no weapons nor signs of hostility, but hailed us fairly if in vulgar mode, saying "Howdy Strangers". We returned his salute, and he enquired what we might be doing in, as he put it, the Realm of Ideas. We informed him that we were simple travellers, and asked as to his own concerns, which he said were the Maintenance of his own Legend.
This of course suggested that he might be less mortal than he appeared, and we enquired as to his name, which he gave as Elvis Presley. Some of our number knew of this person from our visits to worlds in the later years of the Twentieth Century of our Lord, informing others of our number that Master Presley was an entertainer, by birth an American, and yet of such renown that, perhaps like Orpheus, his various occurrences might indeed cast such an Archetypical Shadow into the Astral Realm. (That century sees some strange transformations in the world, does it not, Miss Stoutenburgh?) Daniel, having heard of Master Presley and perhaps in his youth being susceptible to the mundane glamours of worldly renown, or perhaps seeking merely to impress his inamorata, requested that he sign his name upon a fragment of paper which he had about his person, by way of a keep-sake.
The Archetype seemed accustomed to such requests and amused by them, consenting willingly and asking for whom he might be writing. When Daniel gave the name Marilyn, he displayed amusement and even a little respect; it is possible that there was some confusion there regarding bearers of that name.
Venturing onwards, we came to the shores of the Astral Sea, where we were able in conference to identify some landmarks, which suggested that we might return to our own world of Newton-X, by way of an extended walk. As we made our way, though, we were distracted by other World-Pools. I exercised my trained skills of Divination upon it to full effect, learning thereby that it gave access to a realm in which both Magic and Holy Power held great sway. Venturing closer to that reality, we met a being which flaunted all the traditional and arcane aspects of a true Angel. Balaban úr shewed it the reverence which he felt to be due to such a being, kneeling before it. I however chose to preserve my calm detachment, holding that even if this was in truth a servant of the Highest Power, it was but a servant, to be respected as such. I have little training in theology beyond the minimum befitting a scholar, but my understanding is that offering worship to a being which is created to serve is greatly inappropriate. A shew of respectful dignity seemed more apt in my judgement.
We questioned the being as to its identity, and it declared itself openly to be named Brookiel, guardian of this world and servant of Michael, Archangel of War. From this and its other responses to our courtesies and inquiries, Balaban úr formed the belief that the world was one which he had visited in his past travels, and to which he refers with the words "Richard’s Grail", as there, the Duke of Normandy and King of England, Richard, is said to have discovered the True Grail while upon Crusade to the Holy Land. This unleashed such powers upon that Earth that even the bold Balaban úr has little desire to return there.
Thus, we walked on, soon encountering another World-Pool, which proved somehow less susceptible to our divinations, although we could tell that the world is not inherently inimical to human life. Venturing closer without encountering guardians in this case, we again observed Hampstead Heath. London there was, as it appeared, again in the late part of the Twentieth Century, with motor-cars upon its streets. The time was dusk, with few persons present, so we formed an intent to learn more, So Daniel opened a gate to its materiality.
It was cold but not snowing on this Earth, and I sensed a degree of mana that I am enjoined to term Normal. Our own device assigned the world a Quantum value of four, but that which Hillary had given us gave only an unpleasant screeching note, and no numerical value. I cast a spell of Sense Mana to good effect, and thus determined that the very fabric of reality here was more malleable than usual for most worlds, which explained the mana level in a way that I will be happy to clarify when we have time and opportunity for detailed scholarly conversation.
Casting about, we located a waste-bin in, some of us observed, the precisely identical place as we had found one on the world we have been told to call Shikaku-Mon. It contained a news-paper shewing a date in 1984, and making references to a person named President Formby of this land. This seemed quite curious to us, as it is rare to find an Earth where the people of England have discarded their monarchy in favour of other arrangements.
And here I must pause. I will continue my account in due course.
With the Respect Due a Sister in the Art, I sign Myself,
Antoine Nodier, Scholar
31 October 2012
My Dear Mistress Stoutenburgh,
Circumstance permits and impells me to continue the Note concerning events on the recent expedition from which you were absent. I continue to hope that you will find this convenient.
Our party being placed in another wint’ry circumstance, we discussed the charms of warmer garb. But how should we return home to acquire such, we wondered. In due course, we reached agreement and required Balaban úr to cut a portal to the world we term Solitude, where it proved to be both evening-time and raining. Moreover, we caught the odour of smoke, suggestive of human settlement, as we had not previously detected in the British Isles in that realm. It seemed only wise to investigate this phenomenon.
The others moved forward with due caution, while I held back, lest aid might be required in desperate emergency. They later told me that they heard voices, speaking in no language known to them, and then discovered a Clearing among the trees, which in turn proved to be the site of a pair of dwellings of the lowliest kind, mere huts. No persons were out and about, but it was clear that the inhabitants were not entirely fools, as they owned dogs which were trained to make noise when they sensed intruders, as now. A pair of sordid and lowly fellows emerged from the dwellings, but failed to detect our friends.
Young Daniel decided to slip in closer and acquire something of human artifice, that he might regain this realm with ease at later date. Balaban úr too moved closer, and he was seen. Daniel took fright at the possibility of detection, and fled, but Balaban úr stood his ground, bowing with due respect, but also casting what some seem to regard as his most Fearsome stare upon these persons.
Daniel met the good Commander, and instantly claimed that Balaban úr was taken prisoner and perhaps pressed into battle, but the Commander observed the absence of any cries of strife, and doubted this. In sooth, Balaban úr was preserving all politeness, and seeking to offer coins as a gift. The gross unsophisticates regarded this presentation with suspicion, clasping them only with the protection of a leather patch, presumably lest they burned or suchlike.
The good Commander, approaching, observed these exchanges and therefore spoke with Balaban úr, demanding to know the justice of his acts, as all of us were growing damp in the typical British weather, and leaving our coins in this place brought the risk of later discovery by other venturers across the Worlds. Balaban úr justified himself by reference to the desirability of making fair acquaintance with these persons, against future need or use.
By now, Daniel and I had met, and the Commander regained our position in a mood of wrath, proclaiming Balaban úr a disobedient servant who was expending valuable time on futile and possibly dangerous endeavours. He favoured immediate return to our own world, using our own magical resources, leaving Balaban úr to join us when his sword’s powers were restored. However, I was most curious as to what Balaban úr sought to gain from his acts, and did not feel that our time was so short as to make the desertion of even a servant and guard necessary. Nor did Daniel share our naval colleague’s sense of urgency. Hence, we stood our ground despite his ill mood.
Hence, we were still present when Balaban úr came to us, bearing the shell of some local mollusc, of some modest quality as decoration. This, he declared, was a gift from the denizens of this place, with whom his association was now passably courteous. He declared that his long experience of roving the Many Worlds had taught him the great virtue of such courtesies. He handed Daniel the shell, and Daniel evidently found his alchemically augmented senses awoken, perhaps by entire chance. It was, he declared, a valuable gift in the eyes of its previous bearer – but insufficiently worked by human hands to serve as a focus for his own Gift of gateway-opening.
We retired a little distance, and then Daniel employed that gift to transport us to the world we know as that of New Renaissance, where we once more took passage by rail-way to our local domicile, seeking a warm shower-bath each and then dry clothes. We used local devices to contact the woman Hilary, who suggested a meeting on the morrow morn to discuss our recent experiences. We also gave Master Simon Waugh Newton’s list of books that he did desire.
Refreshed, we fell briefly into discussion of schedules, and decided to remain in this place for one or two days or thereabouts, as we had assorted matters to accomplish. Daniel wished to renew his acquaintance with the girl Marilyn, his inamorata, but first, he went with the Commander, who sought to purchase a player-device for recorded sounds, for his own delight. Daniel himself acquired such a recorded sound, being the work of the mortal aspect here of Master Elvis Presley. The words of the song therein being printed on the wrapping-paper, he made study thereof.
He decided to surprise Marilyn, apparently feeling this to be in keeping with his mission of secrecy, now that he was charged to determine the Good Faith of her love. I accompanied him, feeling that his safety should be our concern, and took a seat in the nearest coffee-house that I could find to his destination, where I could read in peace while remaining alert for violent occurence. He later spoke a little to me of what passed for him.
Marilyn proved to be dwelling in a Hall of Residence associated with the University now grown up in London in this world. The porter, preserving correct proprieties, refused Daniel admittance to this Place of Women, but could inform him that the girl was not at the time present there. Daniel’s response was to wait.
His inamorata returned at around the sixth hour after noon, in company with a band of woman-friends. She proclaimed herself glad at the sight of Daniel, introducing him to her company with great enthusiasm. He presented her with the record-music and with the signature of Master Presley, claiming that his Uncle in some wise had access to the Great Musician, and she was vastly impressed.
For this, she carried him for further converse to a coffee-house – not, regrettably, the one where I awaited – and there did talk considerably. She spoke of the weather, following the customs of this country, and of her pleasure at the Tolerance of Religion in London, which is more advanced than her native Scot-land in this.
Daniel in response sought to speak to her of matters of theology, hoping to discover more of her spiritual life, with some view to discovering the likelihood of her being some manner of Spy. No doubt, this was a greatly cunning plan, but all that appeared to ensue was that Marilyn thought him a clever fellow and knowledgeable. Then, he sought to speak to her of Geography, that being her chosen course of study at the University. He proclaims that she appeared convincing. Then, seeking to disguise his intent in a cloak of misleading truth, he made jests to her that he did consider that she might be a spy. She found true humour in this, responding with jests concerning a nest of spies lately discovered connected with the great and ancient University of Cambridge.
When he made account of all this to us later, some of the party expressed the thought that Daniel’s great intellect defends him against normality. This I take to be English Humour. In any event, continuing his policy of befuddlement by means of truth, Daniel spoke to Marilyn of an uncle named “Isaac Newton” who travels greatly and who might take him off on travels at any moment, giving this as a reason why his fervent hope to see her again on the night of the morrow might be frustrated. They parted with, no doubt, the usual mutual expressions of regard.
On the Next day we met Mistress Hilary, who was greatly interested in our report, and dumfounded at some of the detailed elements, even though we were circumspect in some points, as seemed wise. She expressed a desire to visit the World of Sans Newton with our aid, to examine the progress of events there for herself. We gave her some explanation of matters there, forming together with her the theory that Centrum might be presumed to be promoting the Jacobites cause as a route to building an Anglo-French Empire that they could exploit. We agreed to make expedition there after two more days.
Hilary also expressed a desire to meet Master Edmund Halley, on neutral ground if we so wished. The world where his comet might soon be observed was suggested.
Hilary retired to digest our news, and we returned to the house which is our base, and had Balaban úr cut a gate to the world of Newton X, where it proved to be night-time. So we retired.
The next day, we assigned largely to the resolution of each our personal concerns, while making appointment with Master Halley in the afternoon. At that encounter, we laid further practical plans.
Later. we made some practical experiments to determine the drift rate of New Renaissance with regard to the comet world. The results of that, we will publish in due course.
Then, back to the world where we might meet with Hilary again. The savants of Infinity had offered a Theory as to why their Quantum Measuring Device might be incapable of useful action on that world where it failed us; the claim is that it places pressure on the fabric of reality itself, and where it met no resistance at all, its function was perhaps discommoded.
Then we progressed to the comet-world to make preparations for observation there in due course. This was best done outside London, we decided, as the lights of that mighty city of futurity pollute the very sky itself. We also made arrangements to have useful funds there, so we could in turn acquire clothes in the local fashion, and concerned ourselves with finding a house that would be available for rent or purchase on two worlds including this one, for convenience of our peculiar travels.
And then, we progressed homewards, to report to Master Halley, explaining the problems with cometary observation from London. Indeed, if we could somehow make shift to travel to the southern hemisphere of that Earth somehow, those observations might be greatly improved, but that may prove too hard to undertake. At this point, we also received notes from the great Sir Isaac Newton about possible explanations for that world of unstable realities, which are so wise and convincing that we will take some short while to comprehend them, I fear.
Then we made swift transit to the world we call Sans Newton, by way of those we name New Renaissance and Solitude. However, we arrived in that realm in the afternoon, in vilely pouring rain, and most unpleasantly of all, in the midst of what appeared most surely to be an encampment of a great army.
And there, I must once more set down my pen.

Sans-Newton

21 November 2012
We were rapidly surrounded by armed Men. M. Nodier sensed some change in the Flavour of the Magic here, though we had no immediate Scope for Discussion. We presented our selves as friendly, considering the Odds not to be in our Favour, and gave the Names we had previously established here. M. Nodier came up with a plausible Idea, suggesting that a philosophical Investigation had produced unexpected Results, and I performed some Embroidery on this Canvas; the Captain who accosted us was not entirely convinced, but was prepared to take us to his Colonel. I repeated the Story to him, and he seemed essentially unconvinced at first.
We were kept under Guard while the Field Marshal was fetched; the local Date seemed to be 9 April 1746. One Marcus Brown, Astrologer to the Field Marshal, entered, and I attempted to baffle him, with only limited Success. Commander Hodgson read his Mind as he spoke with me, and he seemed concerned particularly about Strangers in the Jacobite camp, some of whom had been observed leaving Tents that they had certainly not entered.
Seeing that we had made little Progress, I spoke with Brown privily, explaining that we were indeed Travellers from elsewhere, and that those assisting the Jacobites were also such – and that as a Result we had Interests at least touching on theirs. It occurred to me also that the Centrans might be concerned at our Arrival, and I suggested to Brown that their investigating Parties might be ambushed.
We gave our Parole for the Moment, and Brown left to consult the Field Marshal. Master Book mistrusted the Intentions of our Hosts, and chose to move himself to the Astral while we were briefly unobserved.
I sensed the Magical Currents, and found the Level substantially lower than it had been on our previous Visit. We ate, and retired to sleep, though keeping Watches. When I awoke, Master Book had returned, and we were supplied Breakfast, of Bread, roast Pork, and Rum – the latter of which appeared distinctly Unhealthy, and Brown caught the Soldier – one James d’Alembert – who had brought it when he attempted to escape. Commander Hodgson easily read his Mind, and we confirmed that he was indeed a Spy for Centrum – with wireless communication Equipment. He offered us his Services, and although he had no Magery we were inclined to accept. He had little direct Information, having been deliberately kept ignorant of much of the Centran Plans.
We travelled, with d’Alembert, to speak with Field Marshal Wade, who was concerned and impressed by our new Prisoner. We discussed the Centran Effort, which appeared to consist primarily of Resupply via Conveyor, and how it might be fought; the Puissance of the Centran Arms would clearly present a Difficulty.
5 December 2012
With some Suggestion that at least some of the Centran Conveyors were known to be coming from a specific Wood, and with the agreed Threat of Force if we did not cö-operate, we agreed that some of our Number would be willing to search the Wood for the Conveyors’ Site.
Balaban úr would take our Prisoner to Roma Mechanica, which required some Travels with Master Book to get him some suitable Clothes. Commander Hodgson, M. Nodier and I mean-while considered Maps of the Area and planned our Approach. A first Stage would be to Trace one of the Wagons as it left the Enemy’s Camp...
With the Prisoner bestowed to Balaban úr, we transferred to the Astral in order to leave this Camp and approach the other. In our Passage we felt we were being Followed, and Master Book mentioned that on a previous Trip he had been Accosted by non-human Beings.
We stopped, turned, and waved, and saw two twisted Creatures, apparently non-plussed, who changed their Course; Master Book called out to them, and offered to buy back his Sword. We conversed at some Length, and learned that they stole from both Armies, mostly by doing so at Night; we parted on friendly Terms, apparently something of a Novelty to them.
We crossed the Picket Line and continued, on the Astral, into the Camp; we searched for the Tent of the Commander, and looked inside, where a bibulous Discussion was in Progress.
A large wagon was leaving to the North, and we followed it. There were several more in its Train, and we progressed ahead on the Astral past at least eight more to reach the first. Eventually they were met at a large Clearing in the Woods, where all fifteen stopped. There were Pickets further out, who remained hidden in the woods. All the local Drivers returned towards the Camp in a small Wagon, and another Team arrived to take over the Wagons, continuing to the North.
The Wood became thicker, and the Convoy paused in a smaller Clearing. The lead Driver used a Device, there was a delay and then an astral Shimmer, and a large, tracked, metal Box appeared in the Clearing. The Wagons were driven into it, one at a Time (seemingly its Capacity), and it disappeared.
This Site also had its Pickets, with plain Sight of the Clearing. We considered how we might more closely observe the Transit, and interfere therewith. The Tents of the Pickets had thoroughly modern Conveniences, and their Firearms, while disguised, were Rifled.
Once all the Wagons had left, the Conveyor returned and the Pickets were replaced, with new Soldiers who continued to look more or less like local Men.
The Conveyor left again, and did not return for some time. We camped on the Astral while waiting to see if this would happen; Master Book awoke us when he espied a Knight on horseback, in rusty Armour. M. Nodier spoke with him of Philosophy, and he departed.
In the Morning, the Guards were replaced again via Conveyor; Master Book believed it was the same Machine. An Hour later, loaded Wagons began to arrive, being marshalled in the same way as before – only thirteen in Number, though some of them were the same individual Wagons. There seemed to be no Pickets on the three Miles of Road back to the first Clearing. There were no Drivers waiting there, though after about half an Hour they arrived. The Pickets here appeared more likely to be local, though we could not be certain that they had no Equipment from off-World; the Drivers from the Conveyor were all armed with concealed Firearms.
12 December 2012
On the Road back to the Camp, there were Pickets and Guards of local Men; they appeared quite competent but not to Excess. We returned to the Camp of Marshal Wade, ate, and readied ourselves to report later in the Morning – to the Marshal and his Astrologer. The Astrologer asked about the Dysfunction of his, and others’ Divinations; the Precision of Forecasts had dropped sharply in recent months, consistent with the general Decay of magical Puissance. He was able to detect some Activity when M. Nodier and I cast minor Spells, though not from the Commander’s Levitation. We believed, and mentioned, that there was some Correlation between the Worlds favoured by Centrum and those with little Magic, though whether there might be any causal Relation in either Direction was not at all clear.
We mentioned among other Details the Influence of Sir Isaac, particularly into the Future, and he grew most interested in the possibility of Trade. But that was in the longer Term, and more immediately we considered our Options for attacking the enemy Supplies – and for the later Conduct of the War. Our ultimate Plan was for Balaban úr to take us from the Astral into the Conveyor, with a Stock of Powder and a Pair of skilled Sappers, and for us to do as much Damage to the Vehicle as we were able before Master Book or I returned us to the Astral; mean-while a Force of Skirmishers would be useful to provide a Back-stop.
We returned, on the Astral, to the first Clearing, though with some Delay, so we were not able to see the Centran Drivers arriving there. They were seventeen in Number, and were spending Time largely as the Indigenes would; they were not obviously armed. We carried on to the second Clearing, which appeared deserted, though the Pickets were in place.
After the Wagons arrived, the Leader activated his Device, and after a Delay of some Minutes there was a brief astral Disturbance and the Conveyor arrived; Balaban úr confirmed that he was able to enter the Vehicle, as expected in the Astral, and went in ahead of the remainder of the Party.
The Floor, Roof and Walls were Metal, the Floor being Textured for Grip and the other Surfaces being painted. Near the far End was an internal Door, of some thickness, which he passed through and ascended a cramped Staircase
Commander Hodgson, M. Nodier and I ascended the Ramp, and I apported myself upward into a cramped Area that appeared to be the Bridge – at least to judge by the Controls, and the two Men operating them. The Commander and M. Nodier studied the lower Room, and we all removed ourselves before the Machine departed – I through the remaining Space for which we had not accounted, which appeared to be filled with odd Machinery.
On future Trips we examined the Conveyor in greater Detail; the Bridge had room for only two or so more People than were there already, which rendered Plans difficult. The internal Doors were secured.
Our eventual Plan was for Balaban úr and M. Nodier to enter via Sword and subdue the Operators, after which I would follow up with a Gate to allow the Powder in and our Companions out. All this would have to be done up a Ladder, providing extra Complication.
“We do not know how firm the Astral is for standing step-ladders on.”
2 January 2013
We would need first to survey the area and draw a Map thereof, so as to allow the Troops of Marshal Wade to mop up the Pickets; Commander Hodgson went with some of said Troops, while Balaban úr inspected the Stores of the Pretender from the Astral. The Skirmishers would attack when loud Noises were heard – either from our Charges, or from the Resistance of the Enemy.
Master Book took us to the Astral, where the Sappers were somewhat affrighted. We proceeded to the Site of the Transfer, and practiced with the Ladder. On the first appearance of the Conveyor, the Commander corrected the Position, and Balaban úr stood ready to ascend.
As he passed through, we learned later, at least one of the Operators activated the Machine, and it began to shimmer. Balaban úr struck rapidly at them, heavily wounding both; I ascended and began to cast my Gate. Balaban úr laid about him with his Sword, attempting to damage the Vehicle. However, it still disappeared; I ceased my Spell.
As we later learned, the Vehicle arrived in a Shower of tiny Frogs, in a World without Magic. Balaban úr and M. Nodier observed the Efforts of the People in the Hold to Escape – which they achieved with some Difficulty – but were not able to determine their Location beyond that it was on Quantum 9. From the Outside, blue-uniformed Men addressed our Brethren of the C— by some mechanical Device, then attempted, and failed, to open the interior Door. After some Minutes, more and more heavily-armed Men arrived, trying the Door again. An Attempt by M. Nodier to convince the Strangers that he was of the Crew was a Failure, and they breached the lower Door. Balaban úr completed his Demolition of the Panels, starting a Fire in the aft Compartment. The upper Door was breached, Gas was piped in, and M. Nodier lost Consciousness; Balaban úr cut at the Hose, then threw back a Grenade, and charged out at the Invaders. He evaded their Gunfire, stabbed at the first Man up the Stairs, and forced him to retreat, pushing him into the second Centran as the latter attempted to shoot, an Evolution ending with a pile of Bodies at the base of the Stairs, Balaban úr mostly atop it. He was confronted by yet a third Man, whom he attempted to stab, but the return shot knocked him out.
Neither Balaban úr nor the Conveyor returned immediately – nor for the next two Hours. At about that Time, the two Drivers of the first Wagon began to set off for their second Camp. We moved ahead on the Astral to lay an Ambush, where Commander Hodgson struck them down with Pebbles. We searched and bandaged them, removing Weapons, Armour, and what was perhaps Equipment for Communications; then we moved the Wagon a little closer to the main Site, and the Sappers set the Gunpowder; we retreated to the Astral with the Sappers and our Prisoners, and returned to the Clearing, where our Skirmishers’ Numbers were telling, but the Centrans were holding their own for the Moment. On further Thought we retrieved some Pieces of the Wagon, with the hope that Master Book might be able to Trace it to the World from which the Conveyor had been travelling; Commander Hodgson detected a new and odd form of Quantum Flow, that he thought might represent the Changing of History; then we returned to the Astral to question our Prisoners.
Later, M. Nodier woke up in a Sickbed, confronted by Smythe... and Balaban úr in a steel Cage...
16 January 2013
The Arm of M. Nodier was sore, as after an Injection. Smythe addressed him in the English of our home World, and quizzed him about the Nature of the C—, its Headquarters and Organization; he seemed to know very little of the Ways of Mages. He asked further about those left behind by M. Nodier, and while he mentioned other People on the Astral he went into no Detail. M. Nodier confused him with talk of the Mechanics of the Astral, and of our Travel between Worlds; ultimately M. Nodier accepted a Glass of Wine, though not his Hospitality.
Meanwhile, Balaban úr requested of his Interlocutor that he might speak with someone senior in order to make an Offer. Such a Person arrived, and was somewhat confused by the un-living State of Balaban úr; Balaban úr attempted to give his Parole, but the Agent was so lacking in Education as to be unable properly to accept it. Balaban úr expressed Relief that none of those he had fought had perished. He offered as part of his Ransom the Possibility of Access to Worlds on Quanta, or rather Waves, to which Centrum could not travel by its own Efforts. This interested the Agent, but produced no immediate Results.
M. Nodier was later asked about his Relationship with Infinity, and revealed some of the Truth.
Commander Hodgson tied the Prisoners, and we returned on the Astral to the Camp of Marshal Wade. En Route we encountered something that appeared to be a Star, at the same Time both huge and a little taller than a Man; we changed our Course, but it followed us, then greeted us in a profound Voice. It claimed to be Aldebaran, a Star I had often observed, which often listened to and answered Questions from this World, but of late had found the Voices incomprehensible. I explained that we hoped that Matters might soon return to normal, and were working towards this; Aldebaran offered to help, asking who had studied the Arts of Fire, and passing to me an astral Flame, advising me to cast it towards that which I wished to burn. It rose above us, and stated that it intended to observe. With the Jacobite Army in our Sight, our Course seemed clear.
Master Book felt that we should at least call upon the Rebels to surrender, but after some Consideration we felt that any Plan to send a convincing Message was too complex – though as a Compromise we agreed to concentrate on the Generals. The Commander carried me up for a better View, and I opened the Gate, concentrated my View, cast the Flame, and closed the Gate. The Flame spread apart into many smaller Fires, and anything Flammable began to ignite, including Tents, Clothing, and Stores of Powder both large and small. This Army was clearly in a State of disarray.
We set off for the Camp of Marshal Wade, and Master Book, Commander Hodgson, and the two Sappers travelled into the Tent of the Astrologer, where they adverted him of the Situation; the Forces of Marshal Wade were already readying their Attack. The Commander detected wildly-moving green Flows, of the History-changing Species he had seen earlier, and he and Master Book returned to the Astral.
Balaban úr was questioned extensively on Matters he felt unable to answer. Some Hours later, M. Nodier was asked whether any of his Comrades was particularly puissant in the Magic of Fire...
Our Prisoners were most traumatised, and one at least believed himself to be Dead and in Hell. I healed their minor Wounds, and the other started to recover himself somewhat. He expressed himself willing in Principle to cö-operate in an Exchange. He explained the operation of his signalling Device, and I purposed to leave a Note offering the Exchange at the Site of the Conveyor. He was willing to write this, and did so.
We travelled to the Site, observing something of a Rout in the Enemy’s Camp as we passed, and Master Book and Commander Hodgson dropped to Sans-Newton. They placed the Note, activated the Device, and returned to the Astral, Master Book even more malaffected by the Transition than usual. Our next Move was to wait for a Response from Centrum, so we made Camp and waited...
30 January 2013
A mechanical Device appeared, in the Manner of a Conveyor or Shuttle; it appeared auto-mobile, and moved to where we had left the Note, picked it up, and stowed it inside its Structure. It moved back to its Point of Arrival and disappeared.
Less than than Hour later, it appeared again in the same Place, deposited a Note of its own under the Rock, and removed itself again. After a short Delay, Master Book and the Commander descended to retrieve the Note; the Commander believing himself observed, they moved behind a Tree before returning.
The Substance of the Note indicated a willingness to consider an Exchange, and described the Names of our Colleagues and their State of Injury; it mentioned that the People of Centrum were speaking with them.
The Centran Agent released Balaban úr, taking him up on his offer of Parole and a Visit to Shikaku-Mon. He explained some of the Limitations of his Sword, and requested that M. Nodier come along, but this was denied; the Centran was also unwilling or unable to provide him with new Armour, though his own would be restored him.
The newest Interlocutor of M. Nodier informed him of the Plan, and of his impending Release. He discussed the Nature of Magic, at Length, and managed deliberately to confuse the Centran.
Balaban úr was transported by Omnibus to the Site for his Mission, introduced to two Soldiers and one Scholar, and briefed on what would happen – the Chain of Command, and the Priorities in Case of Difficulty. He cut to Shikaku-Mon, where it was dark, and the Scholar worked with his Instruments. An Hour later, they all returned without Incident.
We left another Note, suggesting some Procedures and asking when the Exchange might be effected; some Minutes later, it was collected. The Reply agreed, and suggested that they would be ready in some three Hours (Sans-Newton time).
Both M. Nodier and Balaban úr were taken back to a Tent containing the damaged Shuttle, where a smaller Model was used to return them to Sans-Newton.
A small Shuttle arrived, and we all returned to the Material to see Balaban úr and M. Nodier; we released our Prisoners, cautioning them not to worry about the Dreams. We returned to the Astral and exchanged News, and I began to heal Balaban úr, still damaged from the electrical Charge in the Shuttle.
We speculated on the magical Level of Sans-Newton, and on whether something done by Centrum, consciously or not, might be provoking this Loss of Level. We returned briefly to Sans-Newton to gain a more detailed Impression of this Magic, and thought it still weak but more stable.
After some Discussion we decided to walk across the Astral to New Renaissance, both to confuse any Centran Devices and so that we might leave the captured Equipment there.
While we rested, we were approached by a Knight armoured in Green. He sought a worthy Opponent, and Balaban úr awoke before he moved on. He explained that he wished to die by Beheading, and those valiant enough would accept his Challenge to allow him to behead them in turn, after the Span of a Year.
The Commander attempted to relieve the Weariness of the Knight, and woke M. Nodier to ask him to expound his advanced Philosophy. Balaban úr and the Commander tried more generally to interest the Knight in the Results of his Actions, the Consequences stretching beyond the Span of the Life of one Person. As the Knight seemed about to leave, Balaban úr made the Offer which I had hoped he would not...
The two stood to fight, Balaban úr evading the first Blow and returning a good Hit to the Neck of the Knight. His first Blows were inconclusive, but he continued to parry and evade, and the Weight of his Strikes ultimately told. He delivered a coup de grâce, and finally the Head of the Knight came off – and his Body began slowly to dissolve (as, alas, did that of his Horse).
Once our Rest was complete, we set out again for New Renaissance, arriving after several more Hours of Walking and returning to our House there. Commander Hodgson contacted Hilary, and we met after we had bathed and rested.
She seemed somewhat taken aback when we mentioned Aldebaran, but we distracted her with Questions about Centran Equipment and Technology. She felt that the Centran Agent might use the Information from Balaban úr in order to save Face with his Superiors in spite of the Failure of his Operation.
We further discussed Centrum and its Policies as regard to shifting Worlds, and hypothesised that the green Flows encountered by Commander Hodgson were related to major shifts in the historical Record, what Infinity called “Reality Quakes”. We wondered about the astral Presence of worlds without Humans, and agreed that it would be interesting to visit one in the Future.
M. Nodier arranged for an Appointment to be examined in a Manner that should reveal any Devices implanted in him by the Centrans...
13 February 2013
Balaban úr, Commander Nodier and I travelled to Roma Mechana to rejoin Master Gardner and to interrogate our Centran Prisoner d’Alembert – the former achieved after some Difficulty. It seemed that d’Alembert hoped to retire from cross-World Travel – some effect of the Astral, perhaps.
He seemed still somewhat bemused, finding us somewhat terrifying, not having previously met autonomous Travellers – particularly ones who were able to make social Connections with Speed. I did explain that his Departure from Sans-Newton had come at a propitious Time, but this only seemed to worry him further.
We engaged in some philosophical Debate on the Ethics of Interference in other Worlds. We gained from him some Information on the Arrangement of Centrum, the thirty Worlds fully Part of the System, the others that were Colonies; very few Worlds, it seemed, were very far back in Time, and it sounded as though our own Solitude might be one of the earliest.
We discussed the nature of Waves – Quanta – and how the Centrans travelled between them, which added substantially to the Information we had gained from Hilary.
(At the same Time, insofar as this was meaningful, the Examination of M. Nodier took place. Under the Guise of an artistic Endeavour, he obtained the Films and examined them privily; he found nothing untoward, though he took the Occasion to wax philosophical.)
d’Alembert waxed confused on the Nature of Infinity, or the World of Chaos as he understood it; he clearly had little Apprehension of the true and deliberate lack of Organisation of the C—, and we chose not to enlighten him.
As for other Travellers across Worlds, he mentioned natural Gates, Creatures capable of their own Travel, and psychic and magical Humans – but he had little or no Experience with any of these, only Rumours and half-remembered Lectures. As for the Experience of d’Alembert himself, he had operated on only two other Worlds, neither of them especially odd.
We discussed Matters further, considering the Procedures by which Centrum would find and explore new Worlds, and Balaban úr wished to learn the Basics of the Centran Language. Balaban úr was prepared to take him to the Centran World, and we purposed to bargain one for the other.
d’Alembert was agreeable to this, and we studied with him for a Fortnight, M. Nodier joining us. After this we considered Means of getting to the Centran World: only Balaban úr would be able to move us either in or out, without immediate access to the Astral.
We travelled at the Suggestion of d’Alembert to Verulamium, then Balaban úr cut to the Centran World. We arrived in farm Land, under a white Flag, and spoke with the female Operator of a Tractor – and with some Explanation – d’Alembert, or Johannes Goethe, claiming to have been lost among the Worlds – she was willing to inform the Authorities. A Helicopter soon arrived, with Centran Soldiers, and the Explanation was repeated, to some Confusion. The Centrans seemed at a Loss for the proper Procedure to deal with us, and we dared hope that we might be able to remove ourselves without further Complication. Their Leader departed in the Helicopter to fetch his own Superior. This turned out to be Smythe, whom we had met before, some of us more recently than others. Goethe gave him an Account of his Travels and Travails, and admitted that he had not been maltreated or severely threatened.
In the remaining few Minutes before our Departure, Smythe said that he had not fully understood the Accounts of M. Nodier on the Nature of Magic; we concurred, especially where Wine was involved. We admitted that our Group was relatively new to Travel between the Worlds, though Balaban úr had been doing it for rather longer. We explained, with some Difficulty, how our Part of the C– was in no Wise wishing to conquer the other Parts, and indeed that we found the Concept something essentially impossible of Achievement in Theory, still less in Practice.
We considered Means of staying in Contact, but while we could easily come here to leave a Message, Communication in the other Direction might be more troublesome – but we arranged that a Shipper on Sans-Newton would hold a Message for us.
Smythe did not attempt to prevent our Departure, and we moved to the Astral – several of us noting our Location, in such a way as this was meaningful. We seemed to be a Day or two distant from areas we knew; we proceeded for some Time to be sure of our Marks, and then Balaban úr returned us directly to Roma Mechana. I completed my Report for Sir Isaac and Sir Edmond, and we prepared to return Home.
27 February 2013
For convoluted Reasons, we returned first via the Astral to the Vicinity of New Renaissance, where it was Night – an Hour and a Half short of Midnight, according to a large Clock. We therefore walked back on the Astral to our Lodgings, where we entered the Cellar astrally and returned to the World.
We took a brief Rest and arose betimes, readying ourselves for the Return to our Home. I conducted a belated Experiment, and determined that the Gates created by Balaban úr were to some extent congruent with my own Gates.
We passed on many of the Papers and Books we had retrieved for Sir Isaac, and met Sir Edmond and Sr Sapienza, to whom I recounted our recent Activities – in particular the matter of Aldebaran.
It appeared that we had gained something of a Reputation among the wider C—, particularly for our Habits of sharing Information. Those of the C— who valued their Secrets might be ill-disposed towards us; but one Annio da Viterbo had a possible Commission for us.
da Viterbo was an Expert on ancient History and Documents, and had a burning Desire to learn Etruscan. While we knew of no Worlds immediately Suitable, several Avenues of Enquiry presented themselves, including the Roman Road and Worlds known by Infinity – however, since all of these would probably involve some Travel, this would have to wait until after our Observations of the Comet. Sr Sapienza would begin to negotiate with him on our Behalf.

Halley’s World

We returned to our House in Halley’s World, and negotiated some Specie and Items into local Cash; then to pay Bills which had accrued in our Absence; then on to buy Clothes (ordering some by Measurement for Sir Edmond). The Date was the third of February, 1986, and we obtained Guides to Observation of the Comet. We would have to travel South to gain Sight of it, and considered Naples or a similar City as a suitable Location.
The News was filled with Images of the Destruction of a high and fast Aircraft, clearly a Casualty of the lack of Atomick Engines such as would be used on New Renaissance.
Travel would be Problematic, but using the Astral might allow us to cross Borders without Documentation – if we could board a Train from there. Experimentation was indicated, and we went to a suburban Station at a quiet Time. Boarding was difficult; I was able to remain there for a little While, but not all the way to the next Station.
Our second Plan was to walk on the Astral across the Bed of the Sea; we travelled to Portsmouth to make a Test, onto the Astral, and set out into the Sea. It was dark, and the Footing was a little poor; we made slow Time, and felt that the many Hours of a Trip across the Channel might be too much for Sir Edmond. We spent the Night on the Island, and returned by Hover-Craft and Train. Our third Plan involved taking a small Boat, and scuttling her on the far Side.
Then to New Renaissance for more Money, and to meet Hilary. She was not immediately available, so we spent the Day establishing a more accurate Measurement of the Rate of Time between New Renaissance and Halley’s World, and making other Preparations.
27 March 2013
At our meeting with Hilary, she suggested that she would be able to obtain local Passports within a week or so, and we agreed that travel on New Renaissance would be the best Approach, perhaps into Italy given our potentially increased Range. I bought local clothing for Edith on New Renaissance, and we returned to Newton-X to bring Edith and Sir Edmond to be photographed.
Sir Edmond was taken somewhat aback by the Styles of Clothing, but he and Edith dressed and returned with us to New Renaissance, where we helped him to acclimatise himself to the Technology of the Day – electrical Lights, recorded Music (particularly Beethoven and Mozart), and such like.
Hilary arrived, we performed Introductions, and the Photographs were taken. We considered the Recruitment of Staff from our Home, taking into Account the Risks of bringing in Locals. Our Party split: Edith stayed at the House; Balaban úr went with Hilary to Halley’s World to find out Details of the best Site for Observation, and to buy local clothes for Sir Edmond and (as it transpired) order two Telescopes and a Case for a Contrabassoon suitable to the Transport of his Sword; the others of us went to see how well Sir Edmond would adjust to rapid Transport, taking a Taxi, an underground Train, and a larger Train to Glasgow – where we finally had sufficient Privacy to engage in philosophical Discourse, though Sir Edmond preferred a lighter Choice of Subject.
We spent the Night in Glasgow, and learned by Telephone of the Success of Balaban úr and Hilary. It seemed that the Cape Colony in South Africa might be a good Choice. The next Day, we flew back to London, and Sir Edmond dealt well with the Trip – at least until the Landing.
Hilary reported that the best Approach would be to fly to Cape Town, which we could do in one of the atomick Aircraft, taking some ten Hours; I obtained the Tickets.
We spent the next Week taking care of our Affairs of Business.
10 April 2013
The Commander began Arrangements to marry a Lady he had been courting. We met again on New Renaissance, where Master Book had been attempting to follow the Instructions of Sir Isaac to find out whether his Inamorata was a Spy.
We moved to Halley’s World, to continue Preparations for the Trip. Balaban úr, the Commander and Hilary went to collect the Telescopes, then continued to a Library to determine the political Situation in South Africa – noting that there were Areas most unwise for us to visit, and a strong Presence from the Police.
We made further Preparations over the next Weeks. We initiated Balaban úr formally into the C—. Master Book studied the Technology of New Renaissance; M. Nodier and I learned Spells.
Commander Hodgson and I joined Master Book and his Lady for Lunch. He spoke with her about a Film concerning Espionage that they had recently seen. The Commander and I applied various arcane Means to determine her Motivations and Personality, to attempt to answer the Question posed by Sir Isaac. I had not previously observed Master Book through this Sight, and was most interested to observe his thaumaturgical Field.
However, while we were able to determine that she did not appear to be a Spy, she became concerned that we might be of that Profession ourselves. We discussed how we might act next, with Master Book and I considering that simply demonstrating to her the reality of cross-World Travel would be a reasonable step.
A Day later the Lady telephoned Master Book, and asked that they meet in a public Place. Balaban úr and I followed, he to provide physical Surety and I to detect other Threats. No such Threat appeared; the Conversation appeared somewhat emotional but seemed to be essentially friendly, at least after a while. I retired at this point; Balaban úr continued to follow, as they walked to an Alley where as we later learned Master Book demonstrated his Magic by taking her to the near Astral. She reacted somewhat better than might have been expected. They returned slightly off the Target, but eventually Master Book returned to us – without the Lady.
17 April 2013
M. Nodier and I spent the next little While increasing our arcane Knowledge, while Balaban úr learned to Drive; the Commander made himself familiar with the Telescope; Master Book, Balaban úr and I all studied Methods of Research on this World.
In the matter of Marilyn, Master Book met her again, finding her somewhat nervous. He and Balaban úr, with some careful Discussion, offered her Employment – both to satisfy her Curiosity about us and to give her Protection from potential Enemies. As it transpired, she also desired Matrimony, and Master Book was not entirely averse to the Idea.
I went with Master Book to obtain a Ring for his Lady, and she was introduced to Master Waugh. After some Persuasion from the Commander, she decided to continue her Studies, but would move into our House.
The Commander visited his Intended again, and Edith spoke with her in Consideration of Undergarments and other commercial Ventures.
We were summoned to Sir Isaac, and he explained to us a Speculation of his on the Theories of Einstein. One Solution to Equations of Tensors that he had found (among the Papers we had retrieved for him) involved Universes that could sub-divide themselves. He would therefore aim to construct an Enchantment to precipitate this State, while we would attempt to locate an expendable World on which it could be attempted.
With all the Preparations made, we flew to the Cape Colony with Sir Edmond. Our Cabin on the Aircraft was large and comfortable, though not as luxurious as I had hoped. The Commander asked Hilary about the Spread of Disease across Worlds; it seemed that many Animalcules were harmed by Passage from one Universe to another. The Theories of Infinity could not account for this. Some of Infinity held that Worlds were mere Shadows of another, and not as separate as they appeared – some even claimed that Narrative, or God, was a measurable guiding Force – but Hilary was clearly not enthusiastic for these Ideas.
Hilary did reveal that, unlike the Worlds we had mostly encountered, Infinity had not particularly observed a Preponderance of Worlds at Moments of great Decision; this suggested that there might be significant Numbers of Worlds not accessible to the Astral. We asked her about Worlds with Speakers of Etruscan, and she had no immediate Candidate, but would consider further.
We spent a Night in Cape Town, then collected our Vehicle, which Balaban úr would drive. We also purchased Tents, Provisions, and some Rifles.
8 May 2013
We travelled through Towns and across the Wilderness of New Renaissance, this being safer than that of Halley’s World. We attempted to leave People pleased in our Wake, and not to make our Trail too excessively plain. A short way off the Track, we found a good Place to conceal the Vehicle during our Absence; then Master Book took us, and the Baggage, across.
The far Side was somewhat warmer, and we looked around and set up Camp. The Comet was visible in the Sky, though not impressive without aid.
Balaban úr and I mostly stayed awake during the Days, while the Astronomers of our Party were active at Night. The Hyenas that gathered around our Camp waited for us to sleep, gradually realising that we were not planning to do so. Eventually, Balaban úr shot one with Arrows, disposing of its Corpse. We spent the day in Study of the local animal and plant Life, and spoke with Hilary of Philosophy and Magic once she arose, in particular the Identification of potential Mages – whether in Person or by Device.
In the Evening, the Commander detected a Fluctuation, which he thought might be a Gate, some Miles distant. The Observation was good. Later in the Evening, some Visitors approached, apparently Local and armed. The Commander detected no Residue of Gates on them. We spoke to each other in somewhat broken Dutch, and explained that we were watching the Sky; they explained that we should not be here, but I reassured them that we were not harming the Animals, and we established friendly Relations and ate together. They were glad to meet Outsiders who were not Anthropologists, though careful and suspicious of us (particularly when I borrowed their Language); they explained that the Site beyond the Hill was a Place where Spirits of larger Animals came and went. Commander Hodgson thought that this was a rather specialised Form of Gate, and decided that it would probably be worth avoiding, though M. Nodier and Master Book felt otherwise. He further discussed our Observations of the Comet, and they left, apparently regarding us as harmless – this being more or less my Goal.
The next Day, M. Nodier, Master Book, the Commander and Hilary went to visit the Gate, via the Astral. Commander Hodgson continued to urge Caution, but Master Book and M. Nodier advanced with Interest. Master Book unearthed a Scorpion, and considered the Shape and Size of the Rocks – in a Fibonacci Sequence – and the Symmetry of the Hill nearby as deliberate Markers. The Gate itself was a roughly conical Form lying in the centre of the Rocks.
M. Nodier used his Magics to look through the Gate, and gained the Impression of many different Places overlaid, containing different Climates and the Animals that suited them.
Master Book suffered slightly from the Effects of the Scorpion, and the Party returned over Land. We moved to the Astral to see if it would affect the Progress of the Poison, but it did not have any apparent Effect, so I cured it on the Astral.
5 June 2013
There were no further Incidents overnight. We discussed the Possibilities of closer Observation of celestial Bodies, and several of us studied farther in Astronomy and Mathematics.
In the Morning, Balaban úr observed two Vehicles approaching. One Man, Laurent Bicquet, dismounted, and Balaban úr conversed with him, eventually settling on French as the most convenient Language; they turned out to be Anthropologists, and asked after a local sacred Site, Knowledge of which we denied politely.
As they left, M. Nodier and I noticed that the Head-Band of the Leader was in some way Magical, but we did not have Time to examine it in more Detail. The Party passed round the Hill towards the Site, and we felt we should find out just what these Newcomers were doing. After a light Lunch, Balaban úr and I set off to observe, walking up the Hill and proceeding under Cover. Balaban úr was, unfortunately, spotted, and we re-made Contact. Bicquet was standing in the affected Area, so we did not approach him closely, but I was able to observe him magically. His Head-Band, and the Amulets that all three of his Assistants wore, all reeked of Magic to control Minds.
Bicquet had worked on roughly similar Sites before, but knew more of northern Africa; he was studying the Symbolism of Animals in various Places. (The one of his Assistants I tested was clearly under mental Control.) We conversed for a little Time in the Shade; Bicquet was keen to get back to Work, and we then observed for a short While. As we left, Bicquet looked a little confused. He did not respond to C—istic Words.
We returned to our Camp to consider, it now being Evening. It seemed most likely that getting in to the animal Heavens would be easier than getting out. Hilary and I considered that the Natives would have mentioned it had a human Heaven been present. The Commander viewed the Area from our Camp; the Glow he had observed now seemed larger, and was oscillating regularly (speeding up very slowly); he believed it might be something like a Heart-Beat.
I located our Friends from the previous Night, but they were some twelve Miles away and I was unable to convey a Message to them.
Balaban úr, M. Nodier, the Commander and I moved to the Astral, where the Commander – and even I – found the Quantum Flows most visible. We moved quickly to the Site.
Bicquet, now wearing Robes and with various Implements around him, was holding a Sack or similar Object, very apparent on the Astral, into which animal Spirits – sheep, goats, cattle, horses, and other large animals – were being captured. His Procedures were essentially distinct from our own. This seemed very likely to have poor Effects
With some Discussion we decided to threaten Bicquet, and to strike him down if he would not immediately coöperate. Balaban úr went through first, shouting at Bicquet to stop, which he was so foolish as not to do. M. Nodier and the Commander followed, stepping to the Sides, and I brought up the Rear.
Someone had apparently persuaded him of the Implications of his Spell, for he asked a “skilled Magician” to take the Bag – a soft, old Piece of Leather – and to open it at his Word; I did so, and he began a Procedure to control the Gate. When the Gate was back to something like normal, I upended the Bag, and after a slight Delay the Majority of the Spirits returned through the Gate.
We held something of a conversational Advantage; Bicquet admitted that he had been trying to achieve Dominance over Agriculture, but there had been more Spirits than he had expected. When the situation was explained he was taken somewhat aback.
Balaban úr went after the three Assistants, and after some Contretemps managed to remove their Amulets. They were at first determined to kill Bicquet, but after some Discussion were persuaded to take his Money and depart.
On Reflection the best Resolution seemed to be Education: he would of course not keep a Promise not to continue his Research, as indeed we would not, and killing him seemed wasteful, so we would have to take him with us for proper Training. On Consultation, Sir Edmond agreed. Hilary considered how we might go about obtaining a Passport for him on New Renaissance; Forgery seemed like a Possibility.
Bicquet had developed his own System based on what sounded remarkably like a C––ic Book (from its Description, no earlier than the sixteenth Century); it seemed likely that his claim to be the most powerful Mage on this World might indeed be correct, since these new Techniques were substantially more effective than those of the soi-disant Ritualists of this World.
The next Night, the Tribesmen returned, and with the Situation explained thanked us for our Intervention.
19 June 2013
Commander Hodgson asked them in return to explain more of the Principles of the Gate, and this was done.
We considered how we would arrange ourselves, our Guests and our Prisoner. The Commander, Master Book and I would take Bicquet and his Assistants back to the Cape at once in two Cars, so that Bicquet could recompense the Assistants for their Trouble and prepare for the Journey, while the others would remain for the last Days of Observation.
The Headband gave Bicquet clearer Thought, or so he claimed, but it seemed to be specific to him. The Amulet, as we had suspected, was a Master for the others. These would remain with Balaban úr and the Comet-Party.
I kept Bicquet distracted by suggestions of the greater Knowledge that he would be able to gather as a Member of the C––, and he made no immediate Attempt to escape. In the Morning, the Commander found him thinking of Evasion, but prepared to cö-operate for now. That Night we stayed in a small Hotel, and I hoped to keep Bicquet distracted with some elementary Techniques, but he was unable to apprehend them.
With no Disturbances during the Night, we transferred all of the Funds locally available to Bicquet to his three Victims – the Commander was aware that he had other Accounts, but chose not to reveal his Abilities just yet. The three departed, wishing to have no further Connection with us.
We ascended Table Mountain, waited for the Crowd to depart and for a Time which would be Night on both Worlds, and passed through a Gate of Master Book. Bicquet coped moderately well with the Situation, and with our Explanation of the Realities of multiple Worlds – and indeed of the Identity of Sir Edmond.
We returned to the City, and joined our Colleagues; they had arrived two Days before us. Hilary, Balaban úr and Bicquet went out to obtain a suitable forged Passport for the latter. In the mean while, M. Nodier and I examined the Head-Band, determining that it increased both Alertness and magical Puissance, though only in the Field of Control of Minds; however, when he tried it on, he found himself briefly intoxicated. The Commander also tried it, and to my Perception he gained a limited Magery.
Bicquet asserted that he had constructed these Items himself, following Directions in his Book; we decided that retrieving this was even more important.
10 July 2013
We began in the airport boarding lounge, in Cape Town. We all boarded together (we were after all travelling in the same cabin), but we were a little concerned to see the emigration official making some manner of notes regarding M. Briquet’s passport; we suspected that the forgery might not be perfect. There followed some discussion of the best way to get through UK Customs, if they had been warned. Antoine could try some from among his spells, but there might well be range issues involved; M. Briquet declared that he could do better, if he had his headband, so we decided to give that back, after politely pointing out to him what a bad idea trying to run away would be. Antoine cast a Trace spell on him in case he was arrested nonetheless.
In London, he worked his trick, which seemed to work well enough, despite strong resistance from the official’s mind. We sauntered away calmly.
Sir Edmund decided to stay on that world for a night, to recover from the flight and enjoy some high-tech comforts. Hilary took her leave of us. We reclaimed the headband from M. Briquet.
We then talked to him about his magic. It seemed that he built up power in advance, then released it on “casting” – an interestingly varied approach. We also discussed his other competences – the fact that he came from a high-tech world, for a start – which might be useful to the C—. He admitted to having his own objectives, of course.
Nell had received word that her family back home were attempting to marry her off once again, and vanished to resolve that problem. We three other C—ists made our way back to Newton-X with Sir Edmund, to report to Royal Society – and to deal with some paperwork of assorted kinds. The next day, we dealt with some more shipping of items through from other worlds, for purposes of profit, and with a little more accumulated business. The Commander talked to his lawyer about his prospective bride, concluding that this arrangement still seemed satisfactory.
We also sat in an outer room while Sir Edmund reported to the Society. Sir Isaac considered M. Briquet’s application for membership, and noted that his book sounded like it definitely demanded retrieving – our gaining access to it would be a condition of his joining.
So we (now once more including Nell) set out to return to Halley’s World with Briquet, and discussed travel arrangements and methods for gaining access to the vault in Paris where he stored the book. We travelled by train, boat, and train, and then by Metro to the Bois de Bologne area, took hotel rooms until the wee small hours.