The stone floor sent its chill into her knees. Even through petticoats and a heavy broadcloth dress, the chill brought Sandra Ellen Wainscot to distraction. Why were the all abodes of the Owl Faced Serpent so unerringly chilly, she wondered? Why even when she’d been in that windowless tin shack in the middle of a July desert, it had been uncomfortably cool. Why was that? She’d have to ask Sister Priestess Olivia when the opportunity arose.
It took many minutes before Sandra could push distraction from her mind. She recited the ancient formulae aloud, while marking the sliding equations in her mind’s eye and tracing the counter-fractals with her fingers. Eventually the room expanded into infinite space and perfect darkness. Her continued existence punctuated only by the reverberating cumulative echo of her heartbeat.
Then did the libram open wide for her. Drank she deep of its infinite secrets.
By the time it was finished, Sandra was feeling rather peckish. She rose slowly on stiff joints and brushed the dust from her clothes.
The small idol sat on a roughhewn stone before her. Shorn from a single block of bone white wood, a swirling and twisted mass formed the body of the serpent topped with an intricately carven owl’s head. It seemed both separate and whole, ethereal yet firmly present, ungainly but beautiful. She gave it one last long glance before heading up the basement stairs and into the shaded alleyway.
Absently she tucked her twisted silver talisman, a flattened reimagining of the idol itself, behind her dress. No symbols of the Owl Faced Serpent were ever to be touched by daylight.
A filthy, hatless fellow stood staring at her in the street. She quickly sized him up. He was heavily armed and walked with a certain sort of wary confidence. Sandra knew the type. She would have to check at the jewelers later. He may have wrenched something useful out of the wilderness.
It was then directly behind the weathered vagrant that Sandra saw the mayor. She scowled.
The mayor had changed in the past few days. He kept smiling viciously in mirrors when he thought no one was looking. He had begun to smell of the ocean.
Mayor Wilkins suddenly knelt. He covered his face with an audacious new stovepipe hat and tensed.
Moments later a violent white light exploded into existence. Sandra Ellen Wainscot, Journeying Priestess of the Unforgotten Lost One, knew nothing for some time.