Saturday, March 12, 2011
Before calling Willett, however, Jones, Kevin, and Leah finalize plans regarding the rogue Otherspaces that have appeared in Los Angeles, both the one in Kevin’s bedroom and Khalifastan in the grotto in Long Beach. They all decide to focus on Khalifastan first, and they consider the possibility of searching for a ritual to close the gate. Surely one exists somewhere, right? Leah plans on canvassing her social media followers for possible rituals, while Jones tries to call Mabel, although he gets no response. They also discuss the possibility of dealing with local Merchants to find what they want; even though things ended poorly with Edna, they think she might be the best option, as she’s not terribly powerful yet, even if she is predisposed to dislike them. With this decided, the trio parts company.
While driving to work, Jones gets a phone call from an unknown number. When he answers, it’s Mabel, sounding significantly older than normal, like perhaps she’s playing up her age. She seems strange and curt in her responses, which Jones quickly surmises to be the result of an intruder listening to the conversation, which she obliquely confirms. He says he’ll be over as soon as he can.
He lets Kevin and Leah know that Mabel’s in trouble, and they both decide to head in her direction. Jones also calls Willett to let her know that a friend is possibly in trouble, and could she arrange a welfare check? She agrees, and he tells her to wait twenty or thirty minutes, just in case they’re not needed.
Kevin gets there first by cutting through yards and pedaling like a madman, and he finds a secluded place to observe the house. Everything seems normal, but after a few minutes of watching, a very disheveled old woman wearing an old house dress and carrying a sledge hammer walks out the front door. There are no signs of violence on her, and she just walks down the sidewalk until reaching the beach, when she turns and starts heading up the beach.
Meanwhile, Mabel calls Jones to let him know she’s fine, and the intruder is gone. He indicates he and his friends are still coming over, and he calls the others to let them know the danger is passed. Kevin conveys what he saw, and Jones explains that he’s still coming over. Jones also calls Willett to cancel the welfare check.
As such, Kevin decides to go to Mabel’s house, and she is surprised to see him so quickly. She invites him inside, and says she’s fine, but she’ll explain further once everyone arrives.
When Jones arrives, he manages to sight between two houses and sees an old woman with a sledgehammer watching Mabel’s house. He stares her down for a bit before knocking on Mabel’s door. They wait for Leah to arrive, and once she does, Mabel explains that was Red Claire. She hadn’t heard anything of her in over three decades, so she assumed Claire was dead, but apparently she’s not. Based on what Claire was saying, she came from the Otherspace on Long Beach, and came to ask if Mabel knew who opened it. (When asked how Claire knew how to find her, Mabel said this is the same house she would have owned back then.) Jones notes she’s still around if they want to inquire further. Mabel warns them that she’s potentially dangerous — some manner of Communist sorceress, Claire was always grubbing for valuable objects, ostensibly to destroy. Notably, Mabel once saw her take a gunshot and heal it by “giving” it to her attacker; Leah remarks that she redistributed the wound. With that in mind, the four of them head up the beach to meet her, although Jones and Mabel both have their pistols close at hand. They find her walking away, but they catch her attention and invite her back to Mabel’s house to discuss these matters. She agrees.
It takes some digging, but she admits she made the Otherspace as her personal utopia, a masterwork of magickal skill, although she refuses to admit how she did it. She notes that a group of five kids came through a couple of weeks ago, looking for a friend of theirs, and based on their conversation, they came from the “real” Los Angeles rather than Angeliy. It took her some time to find the source of the gate, but she wants to know why it opened and how to close it. Kevin apologizes, and says he thinks it’s his fault, but he’s trying to figure out how to close it. Claire seems displeased, but satisfied with the explanation, and she admonishes them to close it. She leaves, and everybody breathes a collective sigh of relief.
Mabel notes that the power necessary to permanently craft an Otherspace is enormous, probably requiring a major charge. She does not know what Claire needed to destroy to gain such a charge. She also notes that Claire has apparently inhabited Khalifastan for thirty years or so, so she was unaware of cell phones and other such developments — that’s why Mabel called Jones on her house phone, by the way.
Jones also brings up the prospect of closing the Otherspace gate with a ritual, and Mabel notes a couple of sources she knows. The Merchants in town could probably help, as could the New Alexandria Library out near Chicago. That library trades functioning rituals for rituals, and you have to prove the provenance of a ritual by enacting it, although plenty of disreputable types have defrauded the New Alexandria Library by enacting some phony ritual and then using some adept spell or avatar channel to perform an uncanny effect. (Some well-known rituals that are difficult to enact, like the Unspeakable Servant ritual that requires you to sacrifice an eye, are just accepted on word alone.) During the course of this conversation, Mabel also learns that Kevin is an adept, apparently to her chagrin.
With a few more avenues to explore, and Mabel apparently safe for now, Jones leaves to go to work. Kevin and Leah both leave shortly thereafter, although Kevin notes he might have some people over tonight if Mabel wants to join.