theodor_gylden: (blind without 'em)
Theodor has already punched a man today for wishing him luck. Zailors, like actors, believe that the words good luck mean ill luck; only blood can protect against the misfortune to come, and it must be the blood of whatever fool invited it. While Theodor could not tell you what he believes, he will not allow misfortune on to his zubmarine. No blood-curses, no accidents, no zee-serpents from the depths. Misfortune alone can destroy a voyage -- not, Theodor convinced himself, the failure to prepare, but that which renders preparation useless.

Nevertheless: all is prepared. The ship is ready. The wide black waves await.

[time-wimey post for events from the maiden voyage of h & t's zubmarine, whenever that is.]
theodor_gylden: (not an adventurer a scholar dammit)
The trouble of relying upon fungal tisanes is that they do nothing to make Theodor feel human in the morning; little makes Theodor feel human then, except for a pot of black tea strong enough to do violence. Henrik, of course, has been suitably trained to reach for the Assam when his husband wakes, and now Theodor drinks from the cup poured for him while hunched in a favoured armchair.

From a book of Icelandic legends, he reads of the education of Saemunder the Wise -- said to have studied sorcery in an underground school where everything the students learned, they got from books written in fiery red letters which could be read in the dark. He wonders, idly, whether Saemunder knew the Correspondence.

Even more idly, he wonders whether Louis Plumb would be more likely to attend lessons if he were learning under the Devil. The thought only makes his fingers twitch on the pages; he raises the cup to his lips, and breathes in the scent of Assam.
theodor_gylden: (blind without 'em)
Throw a stone ring in the zee, the book told him, to undo one of the world's mistakes and be blessed with clarity of purpose. The ring is heavy, too heavy for any human hand to wear, but it arcs through the air like a Greek discus; it flies and falls to be swallowed up by black water. Lately the Neath looks vague and dark, like shapes seen through a clouded window, and Theodor walks through it the way he walks through his dreams, pulled by his reflection. But the arc of the ring is clear -- as clear, he hopes, as his blessing. He holds his breath, holds the collar of his coat, and stands on the shore longer than it takes stone to sink.

Theodor has always been a man more superstitious than faithful -- guarding himself against bad fortune and ill spirits through rituals he half-doubts, but knows, and can perform himself. Better that, he thinks, than to wait on the intercession of a deity.

Once he gave to the zee, the zee might return what it took, and confess it a mistake. But how would the confession come? What should he wait for, if not intercession? Bubbles rise where the ring touched the water, foaming the stillness of the zee. A sign?

A sign that he can't read. Ritual done, he lets his reflection pull him home.
theodor_gylden: (not an adventurer a scholar dammit)
The university library could do with a proper catalogue. Yes, Theodor realizes that the books he most often needs a catalogue for are books that the library does not, on record, have. But he also realizes that signifies little as to whether the library actually has them, and wishes there were a reliable way to know the difference between not-there-on-record and not-there-in-fact. A second, encrypted catalogue, perhaps, in a secret room ... Is there such a room? He is half-tempted to search for it -- or create it.

Truthfully, Theodor can never regret time spent in the library; hemmed in by books, he feels most at home, and here the shelves loom like pillars to the ceiling of an ancient ruin, or the very walls of Alexandria where papyrus scrolls were kept. The place of the cure of the soul might be written at the heights, and Theodor feels most at home at heights. He could take any book and a perch to read it on, and lose an afternoon.

There is a particular book, however, and he stalks through shelved-off halls as though in silent pursuit of some beast.

[open post.]
theodor_gylden: (Default)
It is a matter, Theodor finds himself thinking, of perspective. Down there, in the cramped brick alleys of the city, under a limited sky choked by falsummer fog, he finds and feels no peace. Challenges are insurmountable, mysteries insoluble, nightmares bear down on him with inexorable force and he can do little but lash out with questions and suppositions until they've cleared. He understands why philosophers need poles to think. Once he had a dream of a clouded place -- a tank of quicksilver -- where he could see but saw nothing, could hear voices but murmuring. Since arriving in the Neath, he has lived in that tank of quicksilver.

Now in the heights of the Flit -- no, he cannot deceive himself, for the Flit goes higher and higher -- now in the lower quarters of the Flit, he sits beside a spouting gargoyle, looks down on Fallen London warped by the Bazaar and streets no map can lead him through. He would not say it looks peaceful. Manageable. It looks manageable. Even hunger seems distant, an ache that might be of melancholy.

Beneath his breath he recites in Greek, but the translation is thus: we who live in these hollows are deceived into the notion that we are dwelling above on the surface of the earth ...

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Theodor

September 2015

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