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Stories from the Verse
Old Verses New
Chapter 52: Kondor 59
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Kondor decided that if this was a public museum, the best way out would be to wait for others to come in, and then mix with the crowds and leave as a patron. From there he would have to determine his best means of converting his valuables into currency. There were probably many things he could buy in this world which he needed, but at the moment the one that occupied his mind was ammunition for his three guns, the rifle, the pistol, and the strange kinetic blaster.
Until he knew that the museum was open, it was better that he not be seen wandering through it. Thus he found a quiet corner in the vorgo exhibit, and waited patiently for others to arrive. As he watched, daylight grew in the room, and he sat on the floor with his backpack against the wall, seeing the macabre slowly bleed out of the scene.
A man in a business suit walked into the room and looked up at the statue. One man, Kondor thought. One man could be a curator, or a museum employee checking things before opening, or a professor with special permission to study the artifacts. He couldn't tell from this one man whether the museum was open yet. He could tell that the clothes were very like earth. He was no expert on business suits, but there was nothing about this one that would seem to him out of place in an office in the city.
He must have made a noise, because the man suddenly turned and looked straight at him. "Good morning," the man said. "That's a strange way to view an exhibit."
"Good morning," Kondor replied as he stood up. "I was just trying to feel what it must have been like for Jo-suede Candor to capture the vorgo all those years ago. He must have felt overwhelmed."
The man had already turned his face back toward the statue. "Not if you believe the stories," he said. "They say he had no fear of the enemy, and faced it bravely while others quailed at the mere sight. Of course they also say that he was conjured out of thin air, and vanished from the world without a trace. Our ancestors had a tendency to exaggerate and embellish."
"Or perhaps to misinterpret what they did not understand," Kondor suggested, walking up beside him.
"Yes," the man said, with a sideways glance which turned into a stare. "That's remarkable!" he exclaimed. "Who are you?"
Oops, Kondor thought. He forgot that people would react to him that way. Well, it was time to improvise, and the closer you are to the truth, the better it works overall. "I'm sorry. My name is Joseph Wade Kondor, and I'm related to your hero. I just arrived last night, and wanted to see this homage to my ancestor as soon as possible. And you are?"
"I'm Kendall Merrick. I'm professor of myth and legend here at Stormbridge College. And I must say, you could not have arrived at a better time."
"Tomorrow night we'll be reenacting some of the ancient rites connected to the vorgo story. A lot of study has gone into the costumes and the rituals, and I think for a brief moment we will be able to relive a piece of that time."
Kondor could think of no time he would be less eager to relive than that. It had been a war against the most putrid disgusting creatures he could imagine; they seemed like animated human corpses, the stuff of nightmares and horror films, and despite his certainty that such things were impossible nonsense he had found it necessary to refer to them in those terms merely to communicate with others about them. Still, he did have some concern, that the vorgo might accidentally become activated. He wasn't sure how it worked or what it did exactly, but it was a potent piece probably of lost ancient science. If they were going to do any rituals around the vorgo, he would want to make sure nothing went wrong.
"I'd like that," he said. "Where do I get tickets?"
"Oh, nonsense. He's your ancestor. Having the distant nephew of the hero present will add something significant to the event. I'll leave your name at the door, Joseph Wade Kondor–I'm not likely to forget it. Were you named for him?"
"You could say so. Probably, though, we were both named for the same ancestor, a man of great significance to our family, although not to the rest of the world." That, Kondor thought, would be his grandfather—but there was no need to say so. "I will make every effort to be here. Which rituals were you planning to perform?"
"The famed summoning ritual, for one. We have it tricked out with the help of a stage magician so that we'll actually have someone appear on the table–we were going to use his assistant, but perhaps I'll persuade him to use you instead, if you're here early enough for him to show you." Kondor sort of nodded; that would be very strange, but it might be fun. "And with the vorgo, we're going to attempt to do the rituals which were alleged to make and unmake undead."
"Those I have to see," Kondor said. He meant it. He didn't believe in undead monsters any more than he believed in God or Odin or leprechauns. However, the vorgo had obliterated a creature who had withstood gunfire and blunt trauma remarkably well, and it might be the sort of thing which if accidentally activated would start killing people who had no idea what was happening or how to stop it. Kondor didn't know how to stop it, either; but he at least was aware of the danger. Professor Merrick thought, as he once had, that it was just a ball of rock.
"I'll look forward to seeing you here."
"Thank you. I look forward to it." And so saying, Kondor walked out of the exhibit, down the steps to the ground floor, and out the front door of the museum. He picked up an events calendar as he passed; the girl at the entrance gave him a strange look, as if she thought she knew him but couldn't place him, but he smiled and continued on his way.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with eight other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #91: Novel Mysteries. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: