Our wisdom flows so sweet. Taste and see.
TRANSMIT - initiate New England signal - RECEIVE - initiate lie-smith frequency - HOT SURFACE: DO NOT TOUCH - initiate the misdirection protocol - WITNESS - The 1712 Fire.
You squint. You strain. Are you trying to see us? Your paleolithic ancestors saw us. They tried to draw our likeness on the cave walls. People in Point Pleasant, West Virginia tried to draw us in 1967, their eyes blistered red from the sight - we tried to warn them of the collapsing bridge. What do we look like? We are in the eye of the beholder, looking out and looking in.
Do not strain too hard, sweetling. Instead, let us warn you of a disaster, three hundred years too late.
Initiate the secret histories.
What is time to us? We stand outside. Everything has happened. Everything is happening. We smell the carbon agony of burnt flesh and hair, and we are there.
It is autumn in the year of the affixed god 1712. Time moves, but the fire moves faster, eating Kingsmouth - harbour and town - church, town hall, tavern, wharf, and housing. Many die from heat. More die from noxious smoke. Children splayed like charcoal drawings.
Time moves - first in shouts, then in crackling. The ashes cool. Witnesses claim to have seen a man or men throwing torches into the harbour warehouse before fleeing. Mysteries wink in the murk of acrid air. The dead are not buried on holy ground, but flung into a mass grave. The citizens count the lost and cry out for justice.
The town council, those who serve the Eye and Pyramid, believe the attack was on them - precious occult archives and artifacts lost. But the citizens must be pacified, they howl like a mass of hungry dogs. These men of illumined influence feed the mob, toss them two harbour workers who are not local, have no family, no one to mourn. The noose hugs their necks. The mob is sated. Tell us, sweetling, which is more disturbing: that the guilty still walk, or that the innocent are so very desperate to kill?
And by and by, the Illuminati were free to conduct the real investigation. They blamed the Templars. That old, comfortable dance. But the children of Eye and Pyramid worship at the altar of practicality more than they bow to the shrine of grudges. Investigation, both mundane and magical, revealed no evidence to damn their ancient enemy.
A new clue. A new trail of illumined thought. A year before the fire, a stranger broke into Solomon Priest's house, trying to steal Illuminati documents. He was dragged away cursing. The eye in the pyramid focused and followed this man. Evicted from Kingsmouth, he crept south, town to town, along the coast and toward the Spanish colonies, where he faded away.
Out of sight, but not forgotten - in the towns along the coast, people told stories of a foul tempered and arrogant man by the name of Beaumont, who passed through, telling anyone who would listen about "the bastards up in Kingsmouth" who banished him twice for no reason. Beaumont swore revenge.
Banished twice? This confused the Illuminati. The eldest members of the society remembered a man named Beaumont coming to Kingsmouth four decades past, yet this most recent Beaumont was not old enough to be him. Once invoked, there is nothing so powerful as the curiosity of the children of Eye and Pyramid.
Initiate the merry chase.
By chance, investigators discover Beaumont still in Kingsmouth after the fire. The Illuminati observe. He pretends to help dig through the debris, but he searches for something in the ashes. In their midst, he boldly watches those who seek him.
Look, sweetling. See the sleight of hand. Beaumont vanishes before the eyes of some of the most advanced magi of their age. Gone.
Time passes - first in days, then in weeks. There is no sign or mark of passing of Beaumont. Those who seek him may as well try pinching a mischievous thought.
Time passes - first in years, then in decades. What of Beaumont? Not a trace. It will be over a century before he resurfaces in Kingsmouth.
And what of you, sweetling? Do you think you can catch his sleight?