The Secret Garden

Chapter Twenty Two: "Upon A Path Of Thorns"

The Prince of 100,000 Leaves Comes

Terrence Pollard is giving a demonstration of his radical scientific techniques at UMIST, a demonstration that purports to bridge the gap between observer and quantum phenomena. Thomas O’Byrne, directed here by Timmy, is in attendance, having been told that Terence is the key to being reunited with his dead wife and daughter. So is David Evans, who has been following Thomas in the belief that Thomas can shed some light on his own experiences.

Terence’s demonstration produces unexpected results when a strange, energetic entity bursts into our reality, kills some of the audience, and vanishes out into the city. Terence, Thomas and David appear to be the only ones present able to affect or interact with the entity, and are thrown together by circumstance and the realisation that they share a certain depth of understanding not open to others. Over dinner, they resolve to try and put right the problem.

Emaline d’Anjou, believed dead by David, puts in an appearance and suggests that she can help with the problem. She tries to convince the characters that her help – however demonic it might be – would be preferrable to the attention of the Authorities. She does not elaborate on who these Authorities are.

Eschewing Emaline’s offers, the group pay a visit to Delilah, the “Moss Side Witch”. She casts the tarot for our heroes, elaborating on the futures that lie in store. She also makes it clear that their wisdom will soon outstrip her own.

As the energetic entity rampages across Manchester (deaths ensue), the trio try to track its progress and guess at its destination. Terence is contacted by Didi Fontanello from the Nu Mu News, David is contacted by a would-be occultist calling himself Argon, and Thomas is contacted by a trio of burned ghosts – victims of the entity’s rampages, who demand that Thomas give them peace.

The group decide to ignore the dubious offers of Argon and concentrate on tracking the entity themselves. Didi and Terence have a tense (and deeply strange) interview. David and Thomas, meanwhile witness first-hand the interest of the Authorities, when a trio of avenging archons descend upon Manchester to cleanse the infection that the entity has brought with it. It would seem that this entity hails from a parallel timeline, and its presence in our own is damaging to reality on a fundamental level.

Thomas flees the archon that enters his home and arranges a rendezvous with Terence and David. With Manchester now suffering as much from the attention of the Authorities as it did from the rampages of the elemental entity, our trio realise that they must act swiftly.

They track the entity to a subterranean area of the city, buried since Edwardian times and now lying beneath Salford Docks. There they discover a shallowing – an apparently natural breach into the peripheries of the spirit world. Passing through the shallowing, our heroes discover an ancient tunnel leading to a buried plaza where they locate the entity feeding on long-forgotten spiritual energies. Thomas briefly flirts with the possibility of surrendering the entity to Emaline. She has told him that if the entity is given to her, she will help him to contact the spirits of his dead wife and daughter. (What Emaline will gain from the bargain is not entirely clear). In the end, however, it is the combined power of our three mages (for such they are) that is able to strip the entity of its powers and feed it to a cabal of hungry Edwardian ghosts.

Having tangled with demons, angels, and standing waveforms from another dimension, the mages call it a day. They have set their first footsteps on a path of thorns, and can only begin to guess where it will lead them…

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