The wizards stared in horror at the scrying glass.
“What the bloody hell was that?” one of them cried out, after a long pause.
Teus, sitting in his reserved seat overlooking the Great Hall of the Wizards, pinched the bridge of his nose. He hadn’t expected this. This was… he couldn’t relate to it. Between the extended bouts of screaming and the exhibition of the other strange beings, there had been… mental assaults, for lack of a better term. Some of the wizards hadn’t coped well. It had been like his brief journey to the Plane of Life. Watching the uncontrolled, psychedelic evolution there had not been pleasant at all. But this made it look puny in comparison.
At least they had found the golem. Not that it had been easy. The scrying glass was simple enough to set up despite its immense size, but it had taken too long to pinpoint the energy the angel gave off. And obviously they had been far too late to recall the two before they were whisked away. But they had found it.
And lost it again. Now the screen was just static.
Teus raised his voice above the babble of the congregated magicians.
“Could someone retune this contraption?” he asked, using his iciest voice. “We need to find where the machine has gone now. It won’t be far off, now, will it?”
Upon hearing his command, a group of junior wizards, skinny adolescents in red robes, moved to the sides of the huge pane of glass. Hands grasped sets of brass instruments that jutted from the frame. As they fiddled and twisted and muttered, a new picture began to resolve…
“He didn’t get your name right.”
Alaster knew, somewhere in its memory crystal, that the boy wasn’t coping well. The boy had screamed in terror at the mass of people – more people than he had ever seen in his life in one place, and screaming at him almost endlessly. The sheer agoraphobia had been so acute that he’d missed the “fight to the death” aspect of… whatever this was. And now the boy was sat in this alleyway, in this strange city at night.
With the fog rolling in.
“’s Alaster, not Alabaster. Alaster. Means protector.”
Timothy stared at the grimy brick wall, his robe wrapped tight around him. His pointy shoes peeked out from underneath.
He missed the castle. He knew it, even if it was just as cold and dark as this place. This place was full of big buildings, too big. He had to crane his neck and he still couldn’t see the top of them. Not even the Archmage’s Tower was that high. It scared him.
“If he’s so smart, why didn’t he get your name right?”
He missed the other boys. They teased him a lot, but at least he could talk to them. Here there was cold and fog and the lights weren’t very bright, but there was no-one here. Sometimes he heard a wailing noise, like a siren, from far off. He didn’t know what it was, or what made that noise. He didn’t care.
“He’s just a dummy.”
He was scared and cold and tired and he wanted to go home.
Alaster looked down at Tim, and then, with creaking movements, knelt down, wrapped an arm around the boy and lifted the child up like a doll, placing him on its shoulder. The other gauntlet remained wrapped around the hilt of the broadsword.
“We Must Go,” it ground out from its voice box. “It Is Not Safe Here.”
Timothy nodded wordlessly, hands clutching onto the armour plating. Taking this as its cue, Alaster turned and headed into the fog, each step like a swing on a pendulum.
Whereupon they were promptly arrested by the police of Los Angeles.
The wizards winced at the resulting scene. Teus merely nodded.
“Vorpal weapons, gentlemen. And, with credit to old Yessic, that armour is exceptionally well-forged. I’m surprised those projectile weapons didn’t leave a mark.”
He took a sip from his wine glass and considered the liquid for a while.
“The… being earlier,” he continued, clearly thinking on his feet. “It mentioned a device called a… television. They are being used as teleportation devices. We must retrieve the two before they find one, or we might lose them again. And we are not expending any more effort to look for them.”
“Does that plane even have one of those?” This was one of the junior wizards. “Their technology appears advanced, but there isn't a drop of magic there apart from those two. I’m not sure that they can find a way out…”
Teus raised an eyebrow.
Teus leaned back in his seat, mulling over this new fact. Then he shook his head.
“Impossible. There must be some kind of image projection or broadcasting receiver there. What if the transporting rule applied to those as well? No, we must act quickly. Prepare a retrieval team. We need to recover the suit now, before it is too late.”
“And the boy?”
“Oh, yes, I quite forgot. And the boy.”