Continues from, The Woods of Dunwhick Hill
Daton stopped, panting hard from the run, but that wasn’t why his heart raced… somewhere out there in, the wilderness that the family grounds had become, his Granddaughter was alone, lost, because he’d been too old and too slow. His vision spun, head throbbed, the blow from the bear had been a glancing one but it had caught him right across the temple, and wrung his bell good and well.
Clinging to the thick-trunked tree until the world did the proper thing and ceased it’s infernal spinning, Daton looked up to realise the grey obstacle he had reached was in fact the yellowstone walls of the house faded and worn as if ravaged by a century or more of neglect.
Daton couldn’t Identify this wing of the house this was but it was clearly not one with a door anywhere near. He tried the sash windows his explorations uncovered not far away, locked, or stuck, the wood looked bloated and warped, paint a forgotten memory. He searched again and spied another window, one that inspired in him a memory, of a painting. On the first floor there was an open window, heavy red drapes fluttering in the breeze slightly, just like the one in the painting that had been so real he had had an attack of vertigo. Open.
Perhaps not thinking fully clearly Daton sized up the newly-old oak and it’s boughs that reach tantalizingly close to the open window. He found the lowest of the branches and hauled himself into the tree, then up to another, and another, climbing in a way he had not since his youth 30 or more years previous.
An unexpected expletive halted his ascent, it was so faint and far he scarcely believe his wits, until it came again.
“Fuck this forest and fuck this HOUSE!”
Daton’s momentary offence at the uncouth language gave way to a big stupid grin as he realised his young charge – Tilda, was the only Green for miles around who cursed quite so well. She was alive. His heart lightened he pressed on, inching along the bough in a way that brought back his post war basic training.
Reaching the window Daton half lunged, half fell toward the open window, punch drunk from the blow the bear had struck, so he missed entirely as he rolled through and into the gallery, that there were no windows on that wall. His foot caught the edge of the canvas as he emerged and it toppled from the wall. He remained ignorant of his entry, even as he shakily stood and turned to look at the fallen canvas.
“Odd” he remarked, nothing the backing of the wooden frame holding the surface tight and flat. It was fairly stuffed with what looked to be a folio worth of studies, charcoal on rough white paper. he took them to be experimentation in cubism, such were the angles, but why hide them away?
Moving around the tower room gallery, each of the previously overlooked paintings, each one a surrealist masterpiece, or were they life studies, it was hard to say in this place. Behind each he found similar studies, these where in pencil, these soft chalks – although the latter must not have been a suitable medium as most had been slashed through with a pencil or torn up and stored in such a state.
Clearing the easel from the middle of the room he spread the pages and jottings across the bare (and now faded) splattered boards. Slowly the angular drawings showed a repeating pattern, multiple forms, but always the same elements. Always the Dagger of a Thousand Blades, always of it. The trinket they had got from his original unfinished painting, pockets and forgotten amidst the japes and games of 1470, discovery of his granddaughter, or the mysteries of the Numa. He hadn’t given it a passing thought in months.
now at the studies, many he believed to be taken from life.. Studies of it. Sometimes on its own, sometimes in the shape of a man, or a woman, or an animal. Sometimes as part of a chair or table or vehicle. But always at the heart of something made of knives. Without reason or explanation a dread seized him, a chill, not at what the images meant but at being found with them. Could he explain the families apparently connection to the blade man, the painting, the clues that had lead them to Island Y and the mysteries thence?
No. Not now, he gathered them up and, finding his breast pockets too small, slipped them inside the back of his waistcoat.
He had to find Tilda and they had to get out of the house. Coming here had been a mistake, far from protect the young lady he had put her in harm’s way!
“I mean a bear? The nonsense of the thing.”
Gathering his strung-thin wits he called out to the void and prayed it didn’t look back.
“Goggles, I name thee; Goggles, and I summon thee, and so be thrice named and summoned: Goggles!”
There was a prismatic flash of colours that the human mind refused to comprehend and made the human eye itch to behold. And the little grotesque dragonfly bug hung in the air, 6 gossamer wings a blur on it’s back keeping it aloft. Those damned miniature 1470’ sunglasses on it’s round head.
“Yeeaaazzzz Mazter Dazon!”
“Goodz goodz, why ripz Gogglez acrozz zee realitiez pleaze?”
“I need you to find something here”
“Yeahz?” Goggles asked with leading curiosity in it’s voice.
“I want you to lead me to the most powerful source of magic in this house”
“Yerz! Powerful!” the little creature vibrated with happiness, before zipping out of the room with an unnatural whine of wings. Daton gave chase, sure that this would prove to be Tilda, if she were still on the grounds, for it had been her magics that had got them this far and far exceeded his own.
The house was again a chaotic and nonsensical geometry that refused to conform to architectural normality, or reveal its secrets, but it was a grey world now, red carpets faded and threadbare, there was no sign of the thought-form servants, but with his attention focused on an oversized dragonfly -as conceived of by a committee of mad-men – he was suitably focused and arrived in an old, neglected corridor, in front of a worryingly familiar door… complete with feeding hatch.
A moment of guilt turned his guts to ice as he realised it had been months since he had even thought of his uncle. Checked in on his health… why had Goggles brought him here? Suddenly he didn’t want the little spy around.
“Goggles I dismiss thee and cast thee back”, he commanded before coming over all british and adding “… I say I’m frightfully grateful for the continued assist old fiend”… he could swear the big doffed an imaginary hat t’ward him, before it was gone.
He tried the door. Locked. Tried again… took a step back and called forth the lantern, this time made of silver light…
“No old boy, that road leads to laziness, we practiced very hard for this kind of misdemeanor.”
Suitably self admonished, he produced a set of antique lock picks from within his layers of tweed, and nealt at the lock.
A full 30 seconds later the door clicked open.
Daton stepped inside, at once confused, he had to brush aside motes of dust that hung in this way just to enter, and once inside he saw the room, quite unlike the rest of the house, didn’t appear to have aged at all, and there was his uncle, sat, statue-still, reclining and in the act of consuming a spoonful of soup. He moved not an inch for the minute Daton observed him, perfectly frozen like the dust in the air, apparently unstuck from time.
He plucked a pen from the dresser and noted a bead of ink not fall from the nib, so much as being left behind in the air, but he discarded this when he noted the steam, hanging lifeless above the bowl, and moved to take a closer look, he was thus engrossed when Tilda appeared in the doorway behind him.
He watched her survey the scene for a moment before she addressed him:
“Careful, remember what I said about time turning backward before when we were fighting the clocks’?”
There was a pregnant pause before he nodded slowly:
“I fear you may be on the money there my dear… not for the first time I find myself suggesting we leave this place with some haste!”
Concluded in ‘How Many Bears Could Bear Grylls Grill if Bear Grylls Grilled Bears”