Malcolm Gate stood next to his father sucking his thumb, his other hand nervously rubbing the thick dark gold upholstery of the chair his father sat in. He squinted his eyes as he looked about the room; heavy curtains covered the thick bubbled glass windows, a candle chandelier conducted a dance of shadows around the heavy oaken furniture. Beneath all that, something shimmered, but it fled from his vision every time he tried to focus on it. He paid little attention to the discussion going on around him.
"Trouble with the locals, Friend Gate?" asked the hooded figure sitting across the low table from his father.
"Aye Dereleth, a foolish error on my own part," answered his father, his own eyes darting about the top of the table.
The hooded figure cocked his head to one side. "Your kin have never been foolish with their talents, Howard. And in my experience, you are no fool yourself."
"It was a wedding celebration. Bit too much to drink, you know..." Mr. Gate's eyes darted up to look at the hooded figure, "... or maybe not. I made the mistake of going into the back room and coming back to the party through the front door. Just a small thing really, but the whole village was there, and there were some who had not yet had much to drink. People started talking, gossiping." He paused.
"Go on Friend Gate, go on. I would like to hear it all. It is a small thing for the Guild to do the favor you ask, yes, but it is no small thing for you. Your family have been good Friends for generations, and you are no exception. I do not mean to pry, merely to make sure you have given yourself all due consideration."
Malcolm's father smiled. "You and the Guild have been good Friends yourself. But yes, people started to gossip, and compare notes, and the next thing I knew there was talk of witches and trials."
Dereleth nodded. "The smallest error can lead to ruin. The Magician's Curse, I believe they call it."
Malcolm's father nodded. "And I trust that you know why I would prefer to come here, rather than simply start a new life in another place. It would be easy enough done."
The Shallow Guild Brother inclined his head towards Malcolm. "The boy."
"Yes, the boy. Portalmancy is a dying art among men. Ours is the only natural bloodline; it is a thing from the time of myth, and Malcolm is its only heir."
The hooded figure reached across the table, long sleeves obscuring the hand Malcolm's father gripped tightly.
"Your kin have always spent as little time as possible in the Guildhall, Friend Gate. It can be disturbing for a people of your talents. You would raise the boy here?"
"I hope that time and familiarity will lessen the effect. I hope that it will indeed pass for myself with extended exposure."
"And if it doesn't?"
"You've promised that you will give the boy a proper home, where he can embrace his heritage. That is enough for me."
Malcolm gripped his heavy writing desk as the room shook. He swung about and looked over his room. Books cascaded across the thick carpeting, tables and chairs leapt about. A small potted jade tree crashed against the wall. Malcolm rushed over to it. Over one hundred years and he was still learning to keep a natural thing , well, natural in the Guildhall. As the shaking subsided, he glanced around widely for something to put the plant in. He scrunched his nose as he grimaced, looking closer at the tree. Cracked right down the center. Gate extended his Voice and told the tree to *MEND.* Granted, the whole purpose of keeping potted plants in the Guildhall was to 'not' use magic on them, but luckily, Tchuuu had seemed incapable of anything more than a lighthearted scolding in the past. Thankful for small favors as the cracked jade tree began to knit back together, he did not notice the knocks at the door until he heard a Voice.
Gate's youthful spry frame leapt up in an instant and spun towards the door, amazed. No member of the Guild entered another's quarters without permission. It simply wasn't done.
The door had barely begun to open as Haver swung it out the rest of the way and stormed into the room.
"Gate, we need to go."
"Haver, what where? What's happened?"
"We are attacked, betrayed I fear. We have to get out of here, now."
Gate shook his head and tried to concentrate. There would be time for questions later. He adjusted his Sight as he tried to prepare a portal. He had to look past the room around him and see the underlying currents of space, picturing a path from his current location to his intended destination.
"Just us? What about the others?" Gate had learned early during his life in the Guild that Haver was clever and careful to the point of seeming serendipity, but he was also manipulative, secretive, and not a fan of the complete truth. Gate never heard Haver's reply. He was overcome by Sight. The underlying currents of space are normally strong and steady, like deep ocean currents. With proper knowledge and concentration, a portalmancer can plan a route along those currents and open a gate at each end making instantaneous travel between two distant points as simple as walking through a doorway. In the Guildhall, those currents were often convoluted, or overlaid with swirling local currents, like the movement of water around the pylons of a large pier. Sometimes they even spilled over into visual sight. Today however, the currents swirled like a storm, crashing, melding, splitting, roaring.
Gate shook his head furiously, and interrupted whatever Haver was saying "I, I can't. There's something wrong. I can't navigate that."
Haver rushed over and caught the young portalmancer as he crumpled towards the ground.
"Malcolm, Malcolm! *Stay Conscious.* We need to move the entire Guildhall and everyone in it."
Gate stayed conscious, as commanded by the Voice, but Haver hadn't said anything about not laughing hysterically.
"You're joking, right?"
Haver grimaced. "I do not joke at times like this." *Tchuuu.*
Tchuuu. The finder of the way, the great diviner; no door is locked to him, no path hidden. Malcolm turned to see his mentor tumbling out of his closet, tangled in Malcolm's robes.
"Ah! The understudy has been waiting for the cocktail call! Tire swings can't order champagne. Spinning spinning on a rope..."
"Are you sure this is going to work?" Samas asked, pushing his thin glasses back up the bridge of his nose.
"It should. I just need to adjust my monocle a little."
As librarians are apt to do, Samas looked at him with aristocratic disdain. "Umm, Gate. They. Are. Welded. To. Your. Eye. Sockets."
Gate harrumphed, "Yeah, I know. I'm trying to get the HUD in focus. I'm still working out the bugs."
Samas sighed. Bugs indeed. After spending two hundred years not existing, thanks in no small part to the emergency planar shift initiated by Gate and Tchuuu, all the Brothers and Half-Brothers had been anxious to acquaint themselves with all the changes since the Guildhall 'vanished,' but Gate went further than anyone else. They had found themselves on the island of Khazan in the midst of World War I. Most of the Guild spent the next few years trying to repair the Guildhall, reconnect with the other Guildhalls and old Friends, and figure out what the hell had happened. Gate, on the other hand, had immediately become enamored with the emerging technology of the industrial age. Samas knew, of course, that Gate's isolated youth in the Guild created a deep need to explore the outside world, accentuated by the obvious mental damage he took initiating the shift with Tchuuu. As usual, however, few wanted to listen to the right answer from the Guild librarian. Everyone else just figured that he was curious.
Samas gave the elderly figure beside him a small grin. Malcolm Gate's interest in technology had uncovered some new information, and that was certainly of great intrest to the Guild's librarian, head scribe, and chronicler. (Samas, of course, held all three titles). Granted, he didn't have much to write down. Technology and Magic do not mix. The more advanced the technology, or the magic, the more spectacular the failure of the whole thing. Period. Gate spent many frustrating years using his little free time to find out absolutely nothing else. But, as the Guild managed to reassert both power and influence in the world, technology finally advanced to the point where Gate thought progress could be made. Cybernetic implants had been pioneered by the people of Khazan, always ahead of the world's technological curve. Gate took an oblique strategy to mixing magic and technology: with both his magical powers, and now technology, rooted in his flesh and blood, Malcolm Gate was in the unique position to directly control the interface. Or, at the very least, blow up spectacularly. The implants had already interfered with the Guild's standard wards against aging. At almost three hundred years old, Gate should still appear as a man of middle age. Although he retained the correct vitality, the implants had caused him to appear in his sixties. One never knew what might happen when technology and magic interacted, which was why Samas was in attendance to witness this first test.
"Ok, for the record, give me a description of yourself, what you're doing, and what the intended result. I would like to get it all recorded for posterity." Eidetic memory was, after all, the reason Samas got this job.
"I'm ready if you are."
"Please go ahead."
"Ok, my name is Malcolm Gate. I was born in 1598. I am a Portalmancer by heritage, training, and blood, also trained in Doormancy and standard Guild practice by Brother Tchuuu. Two years ago I had numerous cybernetic implants installed in my body. I have a standard all channel wireless interface and fiber jack-in unit, hardwired into my brain with a basic non-sentient concierge AI translator. I have opted to get my eyes overlaid with a Heads Up Display, presenting real time probability computations from a neural loop that interprets my Sight as mathematical information. I am going to attempt to use that information to teleport instantaneously from this hill to that one without creating an intervening portal."
"What do you see?"
And with that, Gate reappeared on a hilltop one mile away.