I didn’t know anything about how to find someone. Vasil Greyn. I had only the slightest idea how to spell the name, so I tried some Google.  There was a lovely recipe for Pumpkin Spice Crunch Cake, but honestly, unless it was a subtle code for how to make  souls writhe in delicious cinnamon pain, it didn’t lead me anywhere.  Where was a wizard detective when I needed one?

Oh yeah, Chicago.

Nen and Rayya were unusually quiet when I returned.  They gave each other glances, but otherwise let me be. Rayya had fixed something for food, not something either of them did much, and it was rich with flavours. It wasn’t a dish I was familiar with, but they promised no sentient creatures had died for it and that it wasn’t poisonous, and besides, it was delicious.  I think I had two or three bowls of the goulash of foods, mostly orange.  I have realized that I eat a lot of orange foods. As long as I don’t turn that color, it should be okay, but I should add dark green leafy vegetables for my health.  I am not too fond of kale, but I guess spinach is alright.

Yes, I was procrastinating. I was also trying to figure things out.  White pages? So last decade.  I didn’t even know if the guy was still local or if he’d skipped town, or if he had even skipped Realities. That was an unpleasant if ironically amusing thought. I fretted. I tried to beat one of Zach’s ridiculous social media game scores.

“You are obsessed with a puzzle?” Rayya asked, finally.

“Well, I wouldn’t say, obsessed. I mean, I’m trying to figure it out, but it’s hard when you don’t even know where to start.”

“Start at the beginning,” she said, shrugging.

“Well, yes, of course, I mean, I could have quoted that, but the problem is I don’t know the beginning. It’s an equation with only one variable and a set of solutions, and I’m not that great at math.”

“I am. Try me,” she said.

“Uh,” I grasped.  “Um, it was kind of a metaphor.”

“Write it down,” she said.

I opened up a tab to write in, and looked at my options.

Find Vasil Greyn.

Vasil Greyn is, for purposes of explanation, possessed.

The solutions are:

1) open him back up and make sure the right home is inhabited by the right family, or

2) destroy what is inside and hope what was lost comes home.

“That is not math. That’s an ingredients list,” Rayya looked disgusted.

“I’m a portal doctor, not a mathematician, Jim!”  Okay, I didn’t say it aloud, but I considered it in my head.  Instead I sighed. “How would you go find someone if you had no idea how to find people?”

“Hire a private detective,” Nen said, looking up from the table where he was picking up the bowls.

“You don’t have any kind of fey super senses you can use to sniff out the suspect?”

Rayya sniffed. “We’re not dogs.  Not of the white hounds, nor the Hunt.  The Small Court does not have that particular…” she glances at Nen, “protocol.”

“Well, maybe not like follow a trail, but maybe some kind of magical compass?” I was grasping at straws.  What point to having supernatural bodyguard roommates if they couldn’t help you.

“Blood to drive a pendulum, that sort of spell?” Nen asked from the kitchen.

“I know witches who can do it,” I admitted.

“Witcheries,” Rayya said, as if wiping her hands of it.

“Powerful witches have woven their roots into this one, sister,” Nen said, coming back into the room. “You knew that when we took on the contract.”

Rayya glared at Nen. “He slays Dragons, he rubs shoulders with puissant wizards, and he turns down the Seven King.  It is not fitting that he also consorts with witches.  How has he not learned this? Who has not taught him that they are his bane?”

“Well, how do you mean `consort’…” I started to try to defend myself.  Nen gave me a brief shake of his head.

“I will not take the blame, sister, nor the responsibility.  He is a maturing adult, and by our laws able to speak for himself in Court, to provide support for a partner or child, request protection for fealty, and be sworn to his word.”

I notice he didn’t say “mature adult.” I decided not to pursue the point. Which, I felt, was very mature of me.

“Pah!  Ibtaʿada,” she exclaimed. “He is a baby. An infant. A blind crawling worm when it comes to the ways of women and witches.”

“So are all men,” Nen suggested, but he was smiling.  I tried not to chuckle.

She stopped at this, considering it.  She just stopped moving and went quiet.  I watched her and then shrugged.

“I think I need to think about this a different way,” I said, and I went back to my conundrum.  “There’s something here…”

“Narrow your scope,” Nen said, coming up to my elbow.

“As in?” I wasn’t sure what he meant.

“Presume smaller, then add pieces.” He shrugged.

I scratched my head. “I thought we should start without presumptions.”

“Too open a book, too white the page,” he shrugged. “Hard to decide what to write, or what to draw, without some kind of presumption, correct?  So let us start with something useful and then move from there.”

“Huh,” I grunted. “Okay…let’s presume he has to be nearby.”

“Is that much of a presumption?” Nen asked.

“I thought you wanted me to come up with a good starting place,” I complained.

“You have to test the presumption to see if it works, right?” he asked.

“Can’t I do that later?” I frowned.  “Actually, it’s not that bad a presumption.  We have three ‘door workers’ for lack of a better term in the area, although there may be more. If we believe that a corollary of ‘like calls to like’ is ‘talent is called to need,’ then there must be a reason for it, besides our 300 annual days of wonderful Colorado sunshine. ”  I shrugged.  “Also, there may be some kind of sympathetic connection between the afflicted and the person who worked the spell; there was still remnants of some kind of ick down there, so I think that’s possible.”

Nen processed that for a moment, and then shrugged.  “So, if he’s nearby, then how do you find him?”

“That may be jumping a bit,” I said. “On the other hand, let’s push that thought a little.  The Things from Beyond require sustenance. However, that could be anything from boxes of Captain Crunch to the blood of virgins under the age of twenty who like to crochet on Sunday evenings. Maybe not that specific,” I amended. “So that’s not a way to track them. I guess the next presumption should be the state of mind the Thing is in… is it social? I mean, is it scared and trying to get back home? Kind of like a teenager at a party that’s gone on too long, or is it happily adapting to life on this side of things? Can it have a job? Do I really have to search on that link site?”  I was mumbling to myself as I turned back to the computer.  Rayya moved in the corner of my vision, startling me enough that I had to grab the soda I’d almost knocked off.

“No,” she said.  “It is not inherent to be male and to be ignorant of the ways of women and witches.”

“Glad we got that straightened out, although it’s real close to `Not all men.'”  I said, wiping down the table with a cloth I kept near for the purpose.  “Okay, back to what I was thinking.  There’s another easy, but thus suspect conclusion, but I don’t know if you guys are the exception or the rule.”  I turned back towards the Spriggan Sibs.

Nen glanced at Rayya, then shrugged. “Hit me.”

I grinned.  He ducked, wincing. I shook my head. “Too easy.  Let me ask it this way, I guess.  Why are we not overwhelmed with the evidence of the Beyond?  I mean, minotaurs in the streets, fey hucksters at every corner, vampires in high places…” I trailed off meaningfully.

“You aren’t?” Nen asked.  He jumped up to sit on the arm of the couch.

“Are we?” I threw the question right back to him.

He grinned. “No. You want to know why.”

I nodded.  “Especially if it has to do with some kind of secret society.”

“Like witches,” Rayya scoffed.  She had moved to the couch and was re-reading Kay’s “The Summer Tree,” something I did myself like once a year.

“Like witches,” I agreed.

Nen sighed.  He rested his arm against the back of the couch, a very human gesture as he took a breath.  “I think you’re on the right track.  There are realms that are very like to what you know, what you’ve been bred for, what you are used to breathing. The transition between those and your natural one is fairly easy, and thus it becomes woven together, a pastiche of worlds that strengthens itself through the hybrid mechanism.”

“So I was right, my third grade English teacher really was a half-elf,” I said, grinning.

He shrugged. “It means nothing in the tapestry.” He glanced at the book Rayya was reading with a grin.  “Elf or human, mutant or human, it’s nothing unless it’s placed at a threshold.”

“Like some kind of event or initiation that brings out the Other?” I asked.

He shrugs. “You’re making it sound a whole lot more mystical than it is.  For most people it’s nothing more than an occasional run of luck, or a certain charisma, or being able to tell when someone else is thinking about them.  It’s like when the computer crashes for absolutely no reason; you reboot and everything’s back to normal.  Happens all the time, it’s a one-off occurrence, and it means just as little. No training, no development, and the language of it is,” he gestured towards my wall, “all soaked in syrupy presumptions.”

“You’re really bumming me out.  Here I was hoping I was the lost prince who would come back to his kingdom to be celebrated.  I’d make a great fantasy ruler,” I said, still grinning.

“You’d be terrible, and you know it.  Sorry to pop your bubble.  So, those are the things that live next door.  Things who come from a world where there is no sunshine have to cloak themselves against the sun, usually by borrowing bodies.  They continue to draw from the world they left, the legacies and laws… are you familiar with the Gnostics? ”

I blinked. “Um, passing familiarity with the idea. Couldn’t spot one in a line-up, but if they’re in a parade with a big sign, I could point.”

He smiled. “There’s a bad labelling going on when we talk about the supernatural. Your true wizard or god is supernatural, but a vampire would be supranatural.  Those just outside the weave are preternatural.” He shrugs. “There are things that could float between the definitions; if I enter this place through one door I leave much of my source behind, but if I have another entrance I may relate differently to the laws.”

“That,” I stopped thinking about it. “That’s putting a lot of pressure on the people who maintain the doors.”

He just looked at me.

“I’m small fish. Lots of doors open and close all the time.  We’re the Grand Central of realities, right?”

He just shrugged, a faint smile on his face.

“Thanks,” I said, sighing. “So, the answer is, if the thing inside this guy came through the back door he’s probably looking for a source of energy to connect to, but if he came through the front door with fanfare and trumpets he’s walking tall, doing whatever it is his kind does.  Which, all we know, is icky.”

“Can you cast a net for this… ‘icky’?” he asked.

“That’s my next thought.  I can’t…but I might know a witch who can.”