The object was dark and metallic. It looked like nothing so much as a toy robot, or perhaps the shadow of such a robot, but with distinctly golden eyes. It laughed as it flew, the imperious laugh of a tiny lunatic king, and neither Base nor One was its target.
Fast enough to tear the air, the robot struck the hovering mote. The memories in the mote’s radius made a sound like a choir screaming underwater as mote and robot, unified through violence, sailed directly into the archway through which they’d entered. They detonated immediately, as though the curtain of light falling from the illuminated archstones were a solid wall. The curtain of light erupted into fragments and an inexplicable shower of blood, as though there had been tiny capillaries running through the lucent air and every single one of them had ruptured.
And now the cavern trembled, and trembled, and could not stop.
“No!” exclaimed One. There was no trace of the gift that Freeman had handed him, nothing left but smoke and cinders and an echo of sociopathic joy lying under the sound of the garden’s weeping.
“The seal!” exclaimed Base simultaneously.
The seal was broken.
From just beyond the light, any moment now, would come the rustling march of the Sunless Villagers, pregnant with self-loathing little fears on legs, ready to storm the Garden of Memory.
“Avernus!” cried One. “You strike from the shadows like a thief! Stand and face me!”
But there was no reply from anyone save Base, and that reply was not addressed to One. The skinheaded monk was making his way desperately from memory to memory, cool balance scattered to the winds, murmuring to himself. “Must be here - somewhere, it must be here. And this, they cannot have this. Nor this. I am distracted. They are coming. Where is it?”
By the light of memory, Base had many tattoos. They were the words of mantras, the names of bands, the faces of demons, swastikas, chinese characters, lore and legends. In some, One recognized the printed face of the Command Language, which has been known to drive men mad. But none of them held the answer to the riddle of what to do next.
“Must be here. Must be here. Somewhere. Where?”