Though Dorothy started with the same divination she’d most recently attempted — “Where is La Confrérie de la Lune Révéré?” — it was significantly different now than before.
At her unnecessary bidding, all of them (except the somewhat familiar-looking niece whose name Heero did not yet know and whose brain was as self-contained as Dorothy’s) were concentrating on Quatre, their concern for him, and their desire to have him back among them. Dorothy had taken up the records Trowa had brought and, after removing a messy set of papers of various sizes from the envelope, clasped them to her chest. And the room was full of the scent of burning wax, and the hush of intense concentration.
All of this somehow — Heero didn’t really know how divination worked, but he could clearly feel this — greatly increased the power of Dorothy’s question. Her words in the magical language seemed to echo with the strength of her intention, a strength it felt as if no one and nothing could withstand. Here, then, was the answer to his wondering about just how ‘accomplished’ a diviner she was.
Something snapped. It reminded Heero of when Trowa had put out the fire in his house: some other magic was overridden so abruptly that it was like the shattering of old, brittle glass. The same muffled sense of hidden information that had arisen in response to this question before had come again as soon as Dorothy’s words were out, but had lasted for only an instant before it seemed as if a curtain was torn away from a clear, detailed scene.
The vision showed the interior of a large building like a warehouse, wide and open but for pillars here and there and free-standing walls that bore, like the perimeter, hanging paintings in a huge range of sizes. Completely undecorated besides these last, brilliantly lit by a multitude of electric lights as well as the sun through glass in the roof, uncarpeted, furnished with chairs and benches in an eclectic mix of styles, the place was a strange and probably would-be-artistic blend of utilitarianism and visual splendor.
“The art mostly has to do with the moon and magic,” Dorothy narrated. “They rotate it through the gallery in front, for viewing and for sale, and store it in the warehouse in back. Five dollars to get in, but two-fifty of that and a third of every art sale goes to a non-profit organization. The Confrérie owns this place, but they’re mostly volunteers with other jobs. This is more like a religion than a profession to them.”
“You are good,” Duo said, evidently inadvertently. In this he was voicing Heero’s thought aloud: how Dorothy had managed to read so much from what, though it had been a fairly detailed vision, hadn’t provided any such information to Heero’s understanding was utterly beyond him.
Dorothy ignored the praise and asked next, “What is the name of the art gallery owned by La Confrérie de la Lune Révéré?”
Predictably enough, it was Galerie de la Lune.
“Where is the Confrérie’s Galerie de la Lune located?” Dorothy asked.
The next vision provided a wide view of what was evidently the front of the place. It stood in flat, balconied multiple stories right against the street, which was full of other tall, old, stone buildings of similar design for a rather claustrophobic feel.
“Is that the French flag?” Duo demanded, voice and thoughts full of worry at the prospect. “Oh, but there’s the U.S. too, and the Confederate.”
“New Orleans,” Dorothy said with conviction. “French Quarter. Burgundy Street.”
Trowa sighed. “There are a few places in France I could have jumped to, but I don’t know New Orleans at all.”
“We don’t know for sure you’ll have to go there,” Heero tried to reassure him.
Getting right to the heart of that matter, Dorothy asked, “Is Quatre in New Orleans with La Confrérie de la Lune Révéré?”
Yes, he was.
“Damn,” Duo muttered.
“Is Quatre at the Confrérie’s Galerie de la Lune?”
This time, all three of Quatre’s close friends caught their breaths as the vision appeared: a small room of painted brick, at basement level to judge by the tiny closed horizontal windows against the low ceiling, furnished with a couple of filing cabinets, an old desk, and a camp bed — and on the latter, Quatre himself, barefoot in shorts and a t-shirt. The large fan pointed straight at him from the desktop seemed to be doing little for his mood; despite his casual pose, hands behind head and legs crossed as he stared upward from where he lay, he was scowling, and a sense of deep anger and unhappiness overwhelmed, at least for Heero, any other feeling that might have come along with the visual.
“There’s a suite of rooms in back connected to the warehouse,” said Dorothy. “They use them for offices and small storage, and right now for keeping Quatre in.”
“Have they hurt him?” Trowa demanded.
“Is he there willingly?” Heero asked.
“Is there even a bathroom?” Duo wondered.
Dorothy cocked her head as she decided which of these simultaneous questions to pursue first. After a moment she queried in the magical language, “What does La Confrérie de la Lune Révéré want with Quatre?”
The feeling of Quatre’s anger heightened, though the vision they’d been seeing faded, and no other answer came.
With a frustrated sound Dorothy reworded. “Does La Confrérie de la Lune Révéré want revenge on Quatre?”
It wasn’t a definite negative; it was more of a ‘no, not really.’ Still, even that much was reassuring.
“Then why does La Confrérie de la Lune Révéré want Quatre with them at Galerie de la Lune?”
Here was another vague answer with jumbled parts: aspects of a ritualistic spell like random pages of the schematic of an unknown mechanism; the continued, even stronger sense of Quatre’s anger; and an inconclusive visual of something on a chain, filigreed in silver, that vaguely resembled the moon.
This time, rather than Dorothy, it was Trowa, with another catch of breath, that understood. “They’re trying to extract the energy from him and create a new artifact with it.”
“That’s ambitious,” Dorothy remarked.
“Is that even possible?” Duo said.
“I don’t know.” Trowa looked grim. “What I’m more worried about is the effect on Quatre of whatever spells they try.”
“What method,” Dorothy asked in the magical language, “is La Confrérie de la Lune Révéré using to try to get artifact energy out of Quatre?”
The aspects of the spell presented more coherently this time, but it was still, to Heero, very much like seeing the entire mechanical schematic would be: he couldn’t make heads or tails of it, even in a state closer to complete, without a better idea of the whole. More interesting to him in any case was the new vision: a different basement room, bare except for the chair in its center and the symbols chalked across the walls and uncarpeted floor. Currently the only light came from the windows and an open door invisible at this angle, and the chamber was unoccupied, but the place was clearly set up and used for serious magical rituals.
Slowly Trowa observed, “They’ve altered the spell a couple of times and tried it again because it hasn’t worked so far.”
“Will it ever?” asked Duo. “I’ve never heard of anyone being able to directly move energy around like that.”
“Remember that they — their predecessors — deliberately put power into the first artifact.” Trowa could gradually be seen shaking his head as the latest vision faded. “It’s the extracting of energy from Quatre that seems likely to be the difficult part.”
Dorothy’s next divination was, “Will the spell La Confrérie de la Lune Révéré is using to try to extract energy from Quatre ever work?”
No, it would not.
She shrugged as she glanced over at Trowa. “So depending on how much you trust answers about the future, there you have it.”
Heero might have inquired whether answers about the future were typically unreliable, but heard confirmation of this guess in Duo’s thoughts and therefore said nothing. In fact, everyone was silent for several moments. Trowa looked unhappily pensive, Duo was pityingly picturing Quatre in that small and not very comfortable basement room two thousand miles from home, and Heero was trying to determine what else they needed to know while they had Dorothy here. Dorothy herself merely waited patiently, and the little red-haired girl in the chair, though she seemed to be listening with an intensity to match the interest Dorothy had suggested earlier, hadn’t said a word.
Finally Heero reiterated his earlier question. “Does Quatre want to be there? Was he actually kidnapped, or did he go with them willingly?”
Obligingly Dorothy made the same inquiry in slightly more concise words in the magical language, and thereby called up a poignant combined sense of duress, desire to get away from everyone that might be hurt by angry behavior, and a sort of indifference or recklessness arising from a hopeless lack of control of the situation.
“He didn’t really want to go…” Trowa began slowly.
“…but he saw it as a way to escape,” Heero finished for him at a murmur.
“So it was half a kidnapping,” was Duo’s assessment. “I wonder if he’s regretting it now.”
Now Dorothy asked whether Quatre was complying with the current wishes of La Confrérie. And it seemed he was — there were no weapons or restraints to be seen in the answering vision of Quatre being walked by strangers along a hall from the room in which he was staying to the one where the rituals took place — but Heero felt a definite sense of ‘for now,’ along with anger and the swift disintegration of already compromised patience, about the entire thing.
“What happens if he stops going along with them?” Duo wondered. “If he snaps? There’s no reason for him not to be just as mad as he was before…”
Uncertainly Heero suggested, “He might eventually use up the energy, like we were hoping at first…”
“Or they might actually get the spell right and pull the stuff out of him.” Duo sounded every bit as uncertain. “That answer could have been wrong.”
“Even if I thought they could get it right,” Trowa put in, folding his arms, “I don’t know that I’d want to leave them to it. I tried to use that energy for spellcasting once, as if Quatre were an artifact, and it actively hurt him.”
“If he’s still putting up with them trying whatever ritual over and over again, they’re probably not hurting him yet… but who knows when they might start? And…” Obviously Duo would rather not make the next part of this speculation out loud, but felt he had to. “And if they hurt him enough, it won’t matter if he doesn’t want to go along with them anymore. I mean, what if he’s too… damaged… by whatever they do to insist they let him go or try to leave on his own?”
Trowa took a deep breath, frowning with pursed lips.
“Dorothy,” Heero said, “can you find out–”
But he was interrupted, and every head turned, at just this moment. Because the little girl hadn’t spoken at all yet, and perhaps because she was a child among adults, the first sound of her high-pitched voice — bored, skeptical, yet somehow pert at the same time — from where she remained still in the chair with her hands in her lap induced instant silence, seized the room’s full attention:
“Um, do you really need to ask anything else? Obviously you need to just get on an airplane and go to New Orleans and rescue your friend.”