D’s Table Completed

So, that was the last piece of D’s Table. I’m going to take about 2 weeks and then come back with a new story starting on the week of the 23rd. I think this next one will be a really short one, a novella. But the writing will keep on coming after that.

D’s Table Part 68

Jay was the one to discover Wynn’s body. He heard the sound of something heavy hitting the ground, as well as the hollow sound of a metal container dropping at the same time. It stirred him from a peaceful nap he’d slipped into while working on plans for a new machine he was designing. He entered the bathroom and knocked on Wynn’s door.

“You okay in there, Wynn?” he asked.

He heard no response, and he cautiously pushed open the door. When he saw Wynn on the floor, his first thought was that he was dead, and he shouted an expletive. Then he noticed Wynn was breathing. He stepped forward and felt Wynn’s warm skin and felt the heartbeat and saw the glassy eyes. It was just like Lola. He shouted out an expletive again.

Jay made a public announcement to the whole house that they needed to come up to Wynn’s room. Soon everyone was there at the door, and Jay let them in.

“He’s alive,” Jay said to the people who arrived, “He’s just like Lola. Nothing’s there. You can see. His nous is gone.”

Some gasped when they saw the body; some cried; some grabbed others for support. Their recent experience with Lola had not numbed them to the shock of it.

“What happened here?” Dee asked calmly.

“You’re seeing what I’ve seen,” Jay said.

“Is that the container he’s been gathering spirits in?” Em asked, “It looks like it’s empty. It was pretty stuffed before, wasn’t it?”

Dee reached down to the container and, noticing that both gates were opened, he closed them, for no other reason than as a force of habit. “Definitely empty,” Dee said.

Dee went over to the body and touched his skin and felt the breath out of his nose. “Decades without such an incident and then two within mere weeks of each other,” he said.

From there, he noticed a small slip of paper sticking partly out of one Wynn’s pants pockets. It looked like it had been placed there deliberately to be found. Dee extracted the piece of paper, which apparently had been hastily torn from one of the books in Wynn’s room. On it, a short message was written in Enochian. It conveyed two basic ideas: first, it had the stern but polite command, “Return me to my family”; this was followed by a definitive promise, “I will return here with Lola,” phrased in such a way as to leave no room for doubt that this was an absolute, binding vow. The words flashed in Dee’s mind as he read the note, and the whole house understood what it said.

“So, it was deliberate,” Em said, “He did it on purpose to go out and find Lola. That’s… brave, I suppose.”

“Brave isn’t a strong enough word,” Jay said, “You ever thought about what it must be like to be out there, your nous floating with no means of control, slowly starving to death. It’s crazy. But noble. If that kid ever makes it back, we’ll throw him the biggest Welcome Back party ever. He deserves it.”

“Do we respect his wishes?” Em asked, “Return him to his family?”

“Yes,” Dee said, slowly nodding. “Not immediately,” he added, “Let us give ourselves an opportunity to prepare for his departure, and perhaps we can train him in some of the rudiments before throwing him upon the Davidson family.”

Many people assented in agreement, and the plan was put into practice.

As these things were being discussed, Wynn’s free-floating nous barreled through the void, flexing and reshaping itself to regain control, like an airplane trying to right itself after a sudden dive. With each moment, he was learning, learning of this new world and how to navigate within it. After a long, seemingly endless journey through the void, Wynn gained control and brought his nous to a stop. He realized how different the rules were here when he spontaneously sprouted a set of wings at will. He used them to guide himself through this lonely, empty place and began his initial search, his search for something, anything that might anchor him in this new place.

In the process, he realized that it wasn’t so lonely here as he’d thought. There were beacons of light all around him, like a city at night, and he pursued them. He had an objective complete—he had people to find.

END

D’s Table Part 67

Wynn soon started gathering spirits. He had a small collection net that he’d pilfered from the closet, along with one of the storage containers he’d found there. He was mostly gathering imps, but the truth was, he was on the look out for anything he could find, though most of what he found were imps. He travelled around the house carrying the small, metal box, seeking out the faint outlines of spirits floating through the air or passing through the walls. He would open his net, lure them inside, and then add another to to the storage container that he kept stowed in his room. Each time after he finished, he would touch the container, feeling for warmth and vibration. Then, he would then journey further in search of more prey. He ventured outside, touring the grounds, through the forest, down the hill. He even travelled down the elevator to visit their garage and up into the attic, wading through the piles of old furniture and other discarded items.

He spent all of his free time on this project, continuing it for days without fail. Other members of the house suspected he was planning some grand project. When they asked him about it, he did his best to assure them that their suspicions were correct, that he was trying to fix up some old machines that he’d found locked away in storage. He had an old clock, a piston engine, and a heater that he believed, with a little work, could be made like new. Em, in particular, liked his ambition, though she counseled that his studies should take priorities and that he needed to complete those before he pursued any other independent projects. Wynn assured her that he was on top of his studies and that this was done entirely with his free time.

He’d never received an adequate answer from anyone about how many imps were equivalent to a seraph. They made guesses, which differed wildly from person to person—some estimates as low as twenty-five, to others as high as five hundred. Wynn decided to gauge the equivalence by touch. He felt the surface of the container in which his smorgasbord of spirits were imprisoned and judged whether it was about as warm and vibrated as much as that which had contained the seraph. It was imprecise; Wynn knew that; thus, he erred on the side of excess.

It took several day before he was happy with the storage container. The container vibrated like a plucked string, and it felt warm, like sunlight through the window.

By the time he’d completed this task, all thoughts of uncertainty and all desires to quit or turn back had long ago been expunged. Every reason that could be proposed against it had been submitted, considered, and rejected. There was nothing left than to do it.

That didn’t mean he wasn’t nervous. Wynn sat in his room with the small, warm, vibrating metal drum sitting on the floor in front of him. The vibrations were strong enough that when he placed it on his desk, the drum skittered about with a loud rattling sound. It made it seem as if the things inside were angry, belligerent, ready to pounce on whatever they encountered when they left.

However, Wynn proceeded with his plan. He took the metal drum in his hands, and he pointed the opening towards him, towards his head, towards the seat of his nous. He could feel the vibrations in his bones while he held it—they caused his arms to vibrate from within.

He first opened the inner gate. The pin at the top of the entry tube rose up violently and jittered. Then he opened the outer gate, and the spirits within poured out at him in a rush.

It was like suddenly opening a waterfall onto his face. They poured out in a streak of light and energy. And he didn’t keep his mind quiet. They could see his nous directly in front of them, and they attacked, jostling his nous from its perch—nudging and knocking and pushing against it in their mad dash to escape. Until, finally, his nous was untethered from its place, and his body collapsed to the floor, alone in his room, only a soft thud to alert anyone in the house that anything was amiss.

D’s Table Part 66

Over the course of the next several days, Wynn was quiet, even more so than usual, an attitude suited to his supposed state of mourning. However, the less he talked, the more he thought. The rest of the house was unaware of it, but he was planning something. In his mind, he was like a prisoner secretly arranging the details of his escape, and the day was approaching.

He also spent a considerable amount of time around Lola. She needed to be attended to at all times. Though more personal tasks were left to the women of the house, Wynn was able to help her with some things, like eating and guiding her while walking (she was taken on regular tours of the grounds of the estate for exercise). But he kept close not simply to be helpful, but also to investigate. He was better able to search the psychic space for her absent nous while near her, thinking perhaps that it would return to its home—though he didn’t know how. The possibility that her nous was completely adrift in that space, with no means of locomotion, was very real. But, perhaps, if she could figure out how to control herself and if she could thereby find her way back to her body, he certainly wanted to be there to meet her and to help her reconnect to her body, if this was at all possible.

That other part of Lola—the physical, tangible, nice-to-look-at part—seemed to be learning as she was receiving her assistance, learning how to eat, bathe, and dress herself, along with all the other innumerable little skills that she had apparently completely lost the mastery of. She was like a child, brand new to the world, but she was growing up. It gave them hope, since it betokened the possibility that she might become somewhat autonomous after a time, free from the constant attention.

In light of these facts, the decision the elders had made concerning her fate was to keep her here at the house and see how she was after a month, and then they would try to reassess it from there.

Meanwhile, Wynn had still to attend his classes on metallurgy, and Dee had began to show him some of the basics of forging metal. They had an old forge in an underground floor of the house, which they used to craft sheets of metal using some rather primitive methods. They had been reluctant to outsource this process to some large-scale manufacturer, since the metal they used was a unique alloy that they preciously guarded the secret of. They called it Blue Metal, though it wasn’t blue in color.

During this time, both during the forging demonstrations and during the metallurgy lectures, Wynn ceased to perform as the exceptional student he had been before, and Dee was visibly disappointed. Wynn was falling behind in his studies, was distracted in class, and had to be frequently reminded of concepts he’d already learned. He, somewhat like Lola, was not entirely there.

And, during this time, to several members of the house, he asked strange questions, such as: “About how many imps would it take to equal the strength of a single seraph?” and “Has anyone figured out how to move their nous, that is change its shape?” and “Do you know how the spirits navigate through the psychic space? Are there landmarks?” and “What type of sustenance do the spirits survive upon?” Dee and Em and Thorn listened to these questions and answered what they could, usually not to Wynn’s complete satisfaction. They were subjects and questions they simply hadn’t ever been interesting in answering before.

However, though they heard the questions, none of them put the pieces together; none of them gathered that Wynn had some grand goal in mind; none of them understand that Wynn was planning some bold rescue mission. Perhaps they would’ve tried to prevent him if they knew. He was planning something dangerous, and surely he was too young to decide on his own whether he could do such things. But instead, they ignored him and focused on their work, on their projects and their designs and the things that mattered to them while Wynn devised his plan of escape.

D’s Table Part 65

The chatter was light and disconsolate in the house that evening. Wynn didn’t participate. He merely sat in his room and thought. Unlike the rest of the house, he felt alive with energy. One wouldn’t describe this upbeat mood as happy so much as eager and excited by the possibilities that had been opened up for him. He wasn’t affected by the gloomy mood like the rest of the house because he did not look at Lola’s accident as a death. If she had truly died, he would’ve been in a state of mourning just like the rest of them, but no, she had not died. He was convinced of that. She had forged a path to some new place worth exploring.

Wynn didn’t have any class the next day. Dee wanted to give Wynn a chance to grieve.

Meanwhile, Dee and other senior members of the house gathered together in the dining room, all of them sitting around the large table and discussing what they were to do with Lola’s body. They preferred the term, “Lola’s body” (instead of simply“Lola”) because it made discussion of some of the more unpleasant options that were explored easier. Euthanasia was among the options discussed, as was returning her to her family, committing her to a mental hospital, and taking care of her here in the house. Each one had its advantages and disadvantages. Putting her in the hands of her family was considered to be good for the family, since they probably missed her, but it was also worried that they wouldn’t know how to take care of her. Keeping her in the house was considered to be the just thing to do, since it was the responsibility of those who’d put her in such a state to take care of her, but their lack of skills and resources to take care of her was something against this. The advantage of a mental hospital was the dedicated medical staff that could attend to her, but many of them were worried about the unpleasant conditions in such a place. Euthanasia was considered to be merciful, since according to the accounts that Dee was able to cite, there was no possibility that she would become anything more than a brain dead automaton. Dee, however, was also able to cite the record against this option, since euthanasia had never before been attempted in any of the previous cases, and, in truth, despite that they spoke of her as “Lola’s body,” the group had a difficult time overcoming the sense that this was still murder.

Wynn, as well as other junior members of the household who were not given a say in these proceedings, sat at the other end of the table and listened to these deliberations. As Wynn listened to these words, a sense of agitation spread throughout his body, and, for the first time in his life, an overwhelming desire to not be silent overtook him. It slowly increased in pressure, until it burst out, and he shouted at the group with heated emotion, “You’re all forgetting the possibility that we can restore her! I know it hasn’t been done before, but we can. We’ll try! I’ll try, even if none of you will. You won’t kill her; you won’t give her to a nuthouse (I don’t want her locked up). Whichever you want of the other two options, it doesn’t matter. Just keep her alive and ready.”

The senior members of the table stopped what they were saying and turned towards Wynn to hear him, and they listened politely. The whole house recognized that Wynn had been closer to Lola than anyone else, and they were willing to give him a bit more latitude and to treat him with a gentler hand than they would’ve for anyone else. Whatever he did, even if it was inappropriate, was simply regarded as some new facet of his grieving process, and they believed they had to let that process unfold if Wynn was to get better. Thus, they listened, and they nodded their heads, but after Wynn was finished, they returned to their conversation, still not entirely convinced euthanasia or the mental asylum were beyond the scope of consideration.

Wynn soon left the room in frustration, muttering to himself as he left. He went back to his room, and he again sat on his bed and thought, feelings of anger and bitterness swimming through his head, but that feeling of excitement at the possibilities opened up to him still rising the most frequently to the surface.

D’s Table Part 64

Wynn ran to Lola’s lifeless body and grabbed her in his arms.

“Lola, Lola!” he shouted at her, “Are you okay? Speak to me! What happened? Wake up!”

He touched her body. It was still warm. aHer lungs still breathed; her heart still beat in her chest, but she was unresponsive.

“Lola, Lola,” he repeated her name again and again, as he pulled her close against him in a tight embrace. The tears were now streaming out of his eyes, and his words were filled with sobs.

Soon several people came running. Em was the first to arrive, and she asked Wynn, “What happened?”

“I didn’t mean it,” he said between the sobs, “It was the seraph, and I lost control of it.”

“The seraph?” Em asked, kneeling beside Wynn and putting a hand on his shoulder to comfort him, “Did you let the seraph out?”

“I had it under control,” Wynn said, “Just like Thorn. I had it. I didn’t mean it. But she opened the door and I was distracted. I didn’t mean to do it.”

Em closed her eyes for a few seconds, and when she opened them, a look of horror spread across her face. “She’s gone,” she said, turning up to look around at the now gathered crowd, “I speak, and no one’s there.” Many of the crowd started closing their eyes to try to speak to Lola in Enochian. Em touched Lola’s face and felt the warmth and breath. She said, “It’s like she’s dead. There’s nothing in there. But she’s not.”

When Wynn called out to her nous in Enochian he too saw only blackness and heard only silence. Where her nous was supposed to be there was nothing. Wynn buried his face in her chest and he cried some more. Em pushed Wynn away, and she took hold of Lola, lifting her up and carrying her to the bed in Lola’s room. Em laid her down, gently pushed her eyelids closed, and pulled the sheets over her to let her rest.

“Do we take her to a doctor?” Wynn asked. Em shook her head.

“What would a doctor do?” Dee said, “How is a doctor going to understand this. I don’t even understand this. You have to explain it to me, Wynn: everything, from the beginning.”

“Okay,” Wynn said, “So, I’d gone into the closet to get some privacy, somewhere I could think without anybody overhearing me. And when I was in there, I wanted to try my hand at wrangling with the seraph. I knew how to do it. And when I let the seraph out, I had it. It was spinning around me and everything. I was about to put it back, but then Lola opened the door, and I lost my focus and lost control. The seraph ran away towards the door, right at Lola. Right after it passed her, she collapsed. And then everyone came.”

Dee let out an audible sigh when he heard this. “I think I know what happened,” he announced, “I’ve never seen such a thing. I don’t think even Thorn was around the last time such a thing happened. But I’ve read of it. Lola’s nous was dislodged. She hasn’t been killed. She’s lucky for that, I suppose. That seraph, if it had hit her slightly differently probably would’ve killed her. Her nous was knocked free of her body. Her body is still alive, but she isn’t there inside of it. She’ll never recover. She’ll never be like she was before.”

Wynn found himself more horrified than comforted by this news. “Then what happened to her nous?” he asked.

Dee shrugged his shoulders apologetically, saying, “I don’t know. Nobody’s ever figured that out. These events are rare.”

“Well, we’ve got to find it,” Wynn declared, with great determination in his voice, “We’ve got to find out what happens, and we’ve got to restore her nous to her body.”

“How?” Dee asked, his voice and expression still sobered by the same apologetic tone.

It was now Wynn’s turn to declare, “I don’t know,” but he added, “We’ll figure it out, though.” His uncharacteristically forceful and determined manner was the only thing staving off the profound guilt that was welling up below the surface. However, the crowd of people that filled Lola’s room with him appeared downcast and disheartened as they looked back at Wynn.

D’s Table Part 63

As Wynn sat in the closet, he thought about the world he’d left behind and that which he’d traded it for. Wynn had been a part of Dee’s House for nearly a year now, yet the promises that Dee had made hadn’t materialized. Most notably, Wynn did not feel as if he belonged to his new social circle.

The thought that perhaps it was not just here, that there was no place where he’d belong tempted Wynn to despair. However, he was not the type of person to despair, even in these hours of sadness. His life had never been dominated by unendurable pain so much as it had been by loneliness, and he could take the loneliness. In fact, it was really only when he tried to bring someone into that loneliness, to try to introduce someone into the stillness and contentment of his world of one, that he felt the pain the sting of rejection. True, he’d had one friend, but only one—one success, weighed against a long string of failures and disappointments. All those people who, though restrained enough by their goodness and sympathy to avoid cruelty, were nonetheless harsh in the judgment they implicitly voiced in rejecting mutual intimacy with him, they saw what part of him they saw, and judged it not worth the effort to delve deeper. This meant, though, that if he never tried to bring another friend or romantic partner into his life, it would be mostly free of that emotional suffering. So, he concluded, if the world of society rejected him, he would reject it. He didn’t need their acceptance, their rules, or their approval.

With this thought in his head, Wynn stood up and looked towards the metal drum in which the seraph was stowed. The container still vibrated from the seraph’s frantic movements. Wynn believed earnestly that he could control it. He knew he could. He had seen Thorn do it. He could do that. It was simply a matter of confidence and daring.

He practiced the words in his mind. This time he was not overheard by the other members of the house—in this room he had genuine privacy. He imagined in his mind several times how it would play out, envisioned every step of the process.

When he was ready, he walked over to the drum. He opened the first gate, admitting the seraph into the tube. He would have to react immediately; the seraph would bolt out of the exit in a streak. Then he opened the second gate, admitting the seraph into the room.

Just as before, the seraph zipped out of the exit so fast it could barely be seen. The secret was not to track it with his eyes, but to feel where it was, and Wynn felt the movement of the seraph and commanded it to twist around him. He used a flurry of commands, just as Thorn had, to confuse the seraph and keep it under his control, and it worked.

At the beginning, when the seraph first exited he was in a panicked rush to gain control—his heart was beating fast and his body was tensed for instantaneous reflexes—but now that he had control, he was able to relax somewhat, to settle into the pattern that he had established. The seraph blazed around him, shaping a circle of light in its rapid orbit.

Wynn was ready to send it back into the container from which it had come. He had had held onto the door with one hand while he concentrated on the seraph. But something disrupted his concentration, and he lost control. It was the sound of the door to the room creaking as it was pushed open from the outside. His focus turned as his eyes turned to the person standing in the doorway. He lost hold of the seraph, and it shot towards this person like a bullet.

When he turned, he saw that it was Lola standing in the door, apparently having come looking for him. The seraph saw her too and viciously thrust itself against her nous before it passed out through this exit and completely beyond his ability to retrieve it.

Wynn watched with his eyes as consciousness left her, her legs buckled beneath her and she collapsed to the floor, her open eyes staring blankly upwards.

D’s Table Part 62

Over the subsequent days Wynn discovered that the other members of the house became much more wary around him. They were constantly watching him, waiting for him to do something dangerous and unwise and prepared to step in immediately should such a thing occur. He was no longer treated as an equal, but as he was, a young and inexperienced newcomer—potentially foolish, potentially reckless, potentially a danger to himself.

Wynn had begun the next phase of his lessons: he was learning the fabrication and creation of the objects they used to capture, control and exploit the spirits. Under Dee’s instruction, he began learning some of the basics of metallurgy. It was the first time since he’d arrived that he’d had something genuinely like a real class in school. It began with lessons in chemistry and physics and involved lecturing, note-taking and textbooks.

During this week, he visited Lola in her room one afternoon. She sat on her bed reading The Sea Around Us by Rachel Carson with avid enthusiasm. She noticed Wynn enter the room and looked up from her book. He asked her if he could sit down on her bed, and she sat up and moved aside to give him room.

Wynn sat down and looked towards her. He was uncomfortable and nervous, looking at her with wayward glances as she waited for him to initiate the conversation. “Lola, I want to tell you something,” he finally spoke, “I have a confession.”

“Before you begin,” she cut him off, “There’s something I should tell you—warn you of, perhaps. You should know that you’re too young for me. I should’ve made that clearer from the beginning. I fear that I may have been leading you on, leading to think there was some chance of you and I as boyfriend and girlfriend, when there isn’t. Maybe if I was forty and you were thirty-six it wouldn’t matter, but the truth is that you’re only fourteen. You’re four years, at least, from being where I am now, and those four years represent a mountain of experience. It makes me uncomfortable when I think about dating a boy so young, like I’m abrogating some taboo. And I do think that I am. Now, you can blame me all you want. It’s my fault. It is. I made you think that I was interested in you in a way that I wasn’t. I like you—I truly do. You’re a good friend, and no matter what happens, you always will be. But that’s it. So, if you were planning on making some confessions of love to me or anything like that, then I’ll save you the trouble.”

Wynn listened and waited through the entire monologue with restraint and decorum, despite the suffering and pain that he was experiencing. He tried to cover up how devastated he was with some plausible lie, but his mind was unable to think clearly. He sputtered out, “I was going to tell you what a good friend you are too.” However, his tone and faltering voice betrayed his emotion.

He didn’t wait any longer after these words, he hustled out of the room, muttering to her as he walked away, “Gotta go.”

He was going to return to his room and hide inside, but he realized that it had never really been that private in this household. He turned to the storage closet where golem and seraph were kept. He pulled open the door, with tears already running down his cheeks. A great pressure weighed on his chest—the pressure of the bawling and sobbing that he wanted to let out but was holding back. When he was finally inside the room and had closed the door, he let out his sobs. The storage closet was so quiet—no mental voice but his could be heard or seen and no one would be able to hear him either.

The crying, as usual, made him feel better—it helped bring the pain to the surface and let it out. After it was finished, he was able to sit back and relax, and feel a calm that, though not tranquil or pleasant, was at numb and free of pain. In an attempt to quiet his soul, he took many deep breaths, which was effective, and he thought about his life within his new home.

D’s Table Part 61

The golem stood at attention in front of Wynn and Thorn, waiting to receive its orders.

“Here is where knowledge of the language of the seraphim is particularly useful,” Thorn said, “You can control these things with it. Watch this.”

Thorn thought a command. Once the seraphim saw it, the golem started to walk towards them. Its steps were lumbering and slow, with the feet kicking up high and the feet landing hard upon the ground. Thorn thought another command, and the golem stopped. “Now you try,” Thorn told Wynn.

Wynn gave it another command, and the golem bent over and picked up a box that was at its feet. He submitted another command, and the golem set down the box.

“It’s precisely why we wished we knew more of their language,” Thorn said, “There’s so much we wish we could do if we only how to communicate with it.”

“Then what do you do with it?” Wynn asked.

“In the old days, one would use such a thing as a soldier or defender of one’s village or castle,” Thorn said, “Nowadays, we don’t have much use for it. I suppose we could use it for security if needs be, but for now it’s sort of like a hammer in search of a nail.”

Thorn attached a large box to the head of the golem. He opened a door to admit the seraphim into the box and then closed it inside. “This is of course how you’re supposed to transfer a seraphim from its storage container,” Thorn said. He took the box and attached it to the large storage drum, which was no longer vibrating and had cooled down. When the seraphim was released into the drum, it resumed its vibration and started to heat up again.

“I want to be able to do what you just did,” Wynn said, “I want to be able to tame and control the seraphim. You have to give me the opportunity to learn and practice.”

“I don’t have to do anything of the kind,” Thorn objected, “As I’ve told you repeatedly, it’s dangerous and you’re young. You’re not an old man like me who won’t be missing out on much if life is abruptly ended in some mishap. You have a lot to lose. So, enough of that.”

Thorn led Wynn out of the room and returned to his office. Wynn had nothing more to teach him; so he used the time to test Wynn on all the knowledge that Wynn had accumulated over the course of the lessons. Wynn was, as he had perceived, a solid student, and the lessons were terminated with Thorn’s hearty congratulations.

Wynn finished his lessons, and he went up to his room. He sat down on his bed and stared out the window, at his beautiful view of the Hudson. He thought about the seraphim, about its immense potential: it and it alone represented the type of power and possibility that Dee had promised him at the beginning. It couldn’t be so dangerous just to try and summon one.

He sat up in his bed folding his legs beneath him, bowing his head and closing his eyes. He would call for one, and if one should appear, he would relax and conceal himself, just as he had earlier with the seraphim in the storage room.

He articulated the summons, loud and clear, and repeated it a few times.

What he hadn’t anticipated was that his summons was equally as loud and clear to the other members of the house. Within moments, he had several people at his door, shouting at him. Dee was at the head of the group, and he pushed Wynn’s door open without knocking. He shook Wynn until his eyes opened and shouted at him, “What are you doing? Are you crazy? That was the summons for a seraphim.”

Wynn looked up and saw, standing in the doorway of his room, nearly the whole house. Lola was there at the front of the crowd, and Thorn was in the midst of them. There was something of disappointment in their looks, like they were looking at him as some small child who’d picked up a knife and had to have it taken away from him.

“You don’t do that” Dee said, “Didn’t Thorn tell you? We don’t want to ever hear that from you again. Do you understand?”

“Yes,” Wynn said meekly.

D’s Table Part 60

Over the course of the next several weeks, Wynn lessons with Thorn continued. They were arduous, and the pace was exhausting, such that between sleep and practice his days were mostly filled. But the effort paid off, and progress was rapid.

One morning, Thorn told him as he sat down in his office that they would be starting with the seraphim, the last and most advanced lesson. Thorn enclosed the two of them within the metal screen and began to teach Wynn the seraphim language. What Thorn had told him earlier about their language was true—it wasn’t as bizarre as the others. When Wynn began to think the words, he found them surprisingly familiar.

“This word is almost human,” Wynn said to Thorn, “It feels like an epiphany, like that pleasant feeling of a thought springing into my head.”

“Somewhat like that,” Thorn conceded.

They continued the lessons, and after Wynn had mastered the first word, Thorn had more. In fact, the language of the seraphim was considerably more complex than that of any of the other spirits. There was more to the seraphim than just summoning, a number of subtly different orders that could be attempted to summon them, not all of them always effective. However, the words were easier to learn and within several days he’d learned nearly a score of them.

Thorn told him after he was satisfied with Wynn’s progress,”I’ve taught you every word we’ve managed to learn of their language. Now, since you’ll probably never get another chance to see one with your own eyes, I’ll show you a seraph.”

Thorn led him up to the second floor. At the far end of the hall was a heavy door that Thorn pulled open with a loud creak. The room was like a large closet, with unadorned walls and innumerable trinkets and knick-knacks piled within it: statues, odd mechanical devices, boxes, globes and orbs. The room was warm and was almost silent, except for a faint hum that permeated it from every direction. In one corner was a stack of metal storage containers of various sizes, like the one that they’d trapped the imps within.

Thorn reached for the largest of these container, a cylindrical drum, ornate with decorations and bronze in color. Wynn reached out to touch it and felt heat and a subtle vibration on its surface.

“In there is a single seraph,” Thorn said, pointing to the drum, “As you may have noticed, the spirits grow more energetic when confined. Now, I’m going to release that seraph and send it into the head of that thing.” Thorn pointed to the largest object in the room, a full-sized, mechanical human seated on a set of boxes. It was like a robot out of a science fiction movie, but more skeletal in its design, more of its parts and gears showing. “We call it a golem,” Thorn said, “Only seraphim can bring something so large and complicated to life. Now, once the seraph is released, I want you to hold back and quiet your mind. The seraph will try to escape this room, but won’t be able to because the walls are lined, and if it sees you, it will attack. Just watch. And this will go very fast so be ready.”

Wynn took a deep breath, and nodded once he was ready. Thorn opened one of the sliding doors out of the central chamber of the drum, then he opened another door admitting the seraph into the room. Wynn watched the opening of the container. Faster than he could blink, the seraph sprang out in a streak of light. Several sets of wings that fluttered like hummingbirds propelled its massive, elongated body. It spun around the room, banging into walls, while Thorn spoke a rapid set of words that redirected the seraph right at him. Wynn heard the seraph speaking back at Thorn in an equally rapid congeries of words. Thorn dodged and twisted, and with a quick deftness, he sent the seraph into he head of the golem. He closed the door as soon as the seraph entered, and smiled. “Nasty little things,” Thorn said.

At that moment, the golem began to stir to life, body shaking, gears whirring. It gradually sat up from its stooped position and stood.