Something big is going on. At least it seems that way to me. But I haven’t the foggiest what it is, or where or when.
Quinquifid Oddenfen was staying at my guesthouse in Laudanum. Our paths crossed briefly one morning. He was on his way to Caledon and New Babbage to use their libraries. I told him I would be visiting near some other worlds he works in and would like to go to some of the places he and Dot Macchi have told me about. I have visited some of these places already but not for some time and the others would be new to me. They have given me an open invitation to visit but I needed to discuss the logistics of moving about in these worlds.
He was in a hurry, as he usually is, so we agreed to discuss it over supper at my pub that evening or the next. That was the last I saw of him.
That evening I walked home briskly, hoping to meet up with my guest, after returning to Laudanum from a day of field work for the Steampunk Explorer group. When I arrived at the house and stepped inside I found, on my floor, a note. It was from Mr. Oddenfen…
“Good day, Mr Whitfield. My apologies for my sudden departure from your most comfortable guest rooms, but I have stumbled across something in my library research that I am eager to investigate practically. Could you let Miss Dot know? She is liable to fuss otherwise. Thank you, my friend. – Quin”
It seemed quite odd that Quin would find what he was looking for on his first day in the libraries. But who am I to say what is odd, especially with Quin? As I told someone recently he is a genius and they have their own way of thinking that is beyond what most of us, even the intelligent among us, will ever experience. Obviously whatever he found on just one day in the libraries was important enough to cause this abrupt departure. I had expected him for several days at least, maybe a few weeks.
I was going up to Ebonshire the next day so on the way I stopped at Ms. Macchi’s place in Sanctuary to give her the news. It was early so I walked about her grounds a bit to make myself obvious and give her a chance to prepare for company. She has a glorious view to the south of Winterfell Castle. I lingered by the water for a while and stared. I then headed up to the house but before I reached the door, Ms. Macchi opened it. She was smiling and seemed in a good mood on this fine day. “Good Morning, Mr. Whitfield. Do come in and sit by the fire a bit. Join me for coffee.” She led me to her upstairs sitting room as she had just moved in and the ground floor was not yet furnished. The fire was nice on a morning which was a tad chillier than normal. She poured and handed me the cup. I told her about Quin’s note. Her mood changed.
It was obvious she was worried about Quin. Ms. Macchi told me she knew Quin had departed as she had tried to call on him in Laudanum but she had not known why he had left. Ms. Macchi’s reaction to Quin’s note he had found something in his brief study, made clear to me that this finding was something of significance. But Ms. Macchi just sat quietly, thinking, sipping her coffee and looking at the fire.
Though the moment didn’t seem right I felt I must tell her about my recent visit from Elspeth Sorrelwood and about Ms. Sorrelwood’s request that I watch over Quin during his stay. Ms. Macchi began sipping her coffee a bit faster but still, said nothing. “Dot, are you all right, my friend?” I had never called her by her first name before but I sought to snap her from this trance-like stare. She did not flinch. After a long moment she finally said, “Yes, Mr. Whitfield, I am fine.” It was clear she was not.
Feeling I had done enough damage for one day with two pieces of what seemed to be important news but which had surely distracted Ms. Macchi, I finished my coffee quickly and excused myself. I stood but Ms. Macchi did not move. “I shall let myself out Ms. Macchi. Thank you for the coffee.” I moved toward the door. Then out the door. When I reached the stairs I heard her call, “Thank you, Mr. Whitfield.” I left for Ebonshire with the feeling I had ruined her day.