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Episode Three: Chapter Nine

The Time Before

This is it, thinks Tycho.  It’s really happened.  I have finally gone insane.


He is standing at one end of a massive dining table, and he wants very much to be a detective and detect some shit right now, for real, but the silverware at every place setting on this thing is the eentsiest bit wrong.  He scoots a knife into the proper ratio, and then jabs a finger at it sternly.  A warning.

The room seems to have, for lack of a better term, multiple other rooms inside of it, all slightly askew.  It’s been like this since they pushed open the front door, and seen a hatrack whose hooks would flash with momentary garb.  Here at the table, there are moments when every seat seems to be populated by statues.  Or people made to look like statues.  Or something.  They share a single placid face.

“This is like when you got unmoored from linear time awhile ago.  Remember?”  Tycho makes another slight correction to the silverware.

Gabriel does remember.  He’d gotten a bottle of milk from the icebox back then, shook it to mix the cream, and suddenly his mouth was full of milk.

“It’s like that, but…”  No, now the fork wasn’t quite right.  He made a precision adjustment.  “I don’t think is happening now.  I think it happened already, but it’s…  stuck, somehow.”  He took a moment to absorb the room, digesting the wallpaper, the chandeliers.  “And something is fucked up with these forks.”

The only thing that didn’t change, a kind of anchor in the flicker of burning time, was a book at the table’s head.  In powerful script, a script whose form implied some rudimentary graphomancy, it reads La Société de l’Inconnu.  Tycho liked that.  Old school.

“What’s that?” whispers Gabe, from behind a shielding palm.

Tycho responds without looking.  “It’s French.”

“Yeah, but what does it mean?”

“It means The Society of The Something,” he says.  “Hush your mouth.”  He lifts the heavy cover, and is pleased to find that he has not been electrocuted, or burned, or had the book freak out and bite him, or any of the other ways people protected their personal libraries.  

“Oooh!” says Gabriel, his tiny claps clustered and compact.  “Story!”


It was not always thus.

It was not always thus; mortals crawling the rough skin of the earth, and Gods roiling above and below them, and then, only below.

In the time before, Yog Modaigh who is God of Doors


“Yog Modaigh doesn’t sound so bad,” says Gabe.  “He’s, like, a Door God?  I thought all the ‘Gods Below’ were supposed to be real assholes.”

“It’s not just doors,” replies The Scholar.  “They’ve taken some license here.  Passage might be better.  It’s any transition, any movement from one state to another.  You know…  Like Broiling, or Death…”  He trails off.  “Death, mostly.”

“Oh,” says Gabe.  “What happens if he dies, then?”

There is no reply.


Yog Modaigh, who is God of Doors, walked the earth a tyrant and wore the fear of man as a cloak.


“Okay, yeah,” says Gabe.  “I was wrong about him.”


In the time before, his arrival meant the end of a city.  But when he came to the town of Alalai, its last man Phaedes said to him Come, and I will capture you; there are those who will swear that you live in the paint itself.  But Yog Modaigh did not believe him, as such power was the domain of those below.  The follies of men are a succor to the Gods, and with a smile of violet knives Yog Modaigh bade him try.

Indeed, His image stood so well upon it, so true, that Yog Modaigh barely noticed he was looking out from the canvas.  But Phaedes laughed, and said to him Your yoke is broken; men will pass not according to divine whim but by the world’s own law.  And as I have kept you, so will I carve you.  I will hew your head from your hands, and your hands from your black shadow, and break you forever. 

So no more did the Gods walk upon the earth, where some scheming scribe could seize them in a sonnet or a drunken bard could bind them with a silver string.  It was then that Gods learned to fear man, for man’s terrible conception, for his crude makings held within them an unmistakable power.  This is our testament: that the mind, the voice, and the hand have within them the power to fetter the very gods, to seize them, and ultimately to


The reading was interrupted at this juncture by a woman’s entrance.

Her hat was a milliner’s nightmare, a kind of landmass affixed who-knew-how, topped with what looked to be a living rain forest in high summer.  The riding gloves she tugged free daintily, only to hurl them atop one another on the long table.

Hat, early Victorian; gloves, perhaps Medieval deerskin, chewed soft by servants.  The riding boots she could have bought somewhere in Riverbrook Park for the price of a stable.  At least four hundred years of fashion was on display, not that it made any particular impression on The Scholar or The Brute, because they were idiots. Although, in their defense, she was luminous.

She was luminous.  That is not to say that she was beautiful, though that assessment (generally speaking) might have been apt.  What I mean to say is that her very being produced light.  She was not, strictly speaking, alive.

“Like it?” she said, leaning in a highbacked chair, legs crossed on the oak slab to imply maximum leisure.  “You should, you know.  I wrote it myself.”

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