By I. Inayat


It all started with a webcomic.

Yes, a webcomic.

It's called 'Songlines'. It's a pretty good one, as things go.

The basic premise's simple: one day, a young girl called Xeffy (pronounced 'Zeph-ie') saw the King - the one, true King - walking down her sidewalk.

She chased after him - but by the time she reached the corner, he'd disappeared.

So Xeffy decided to track him down.

In her search, she's come across a truly bizarre cast of characters: a hiker with a kitten only he can see; a dreadlocked man who sings soul like an angel - and who keeps losing his socks; a red-haired young man with mirrored sunglasses, who just happens to be the ultimate TV executive; a large guy with a very big stick...

...Odysseus, still wandering the world after all these centuries, having even managed to escape from the Afterlife; Odin One-Eye, come to Midgard to see what has become of his dominion; Marilyn Monroe, fighting evil undercover in Los Angeles; the Gorgons, now running a run-down diner in Arkansas...

...And with every step she takes, she comes a stage closer to the King... and to putting together the Big Idea - that everything that exists is a part of the ultimate Song - the ultimate Symphony.

Needless to say, Heaven and Hell are going to freak when they find out about this (it's only a matter of time, as things stand), and all the usual suspects are going to be brought up - Eli, Gabriel, Kobal, Litheroy, Nybbas, the Ethereals...

The Truth is that, for once, this is a human thing. Completely and utterly human.

Of course, it couldn't have been done without the celestials themselves...

You see, 'Songlines's author's done his reading - he read the poems, the Eddas, the myth-cycles... and he read the stories of the modern era, the tabloids, TV shows, cartoons...

And he would be, quite frankly, astonished to learn how close to the Truth he's come.

That's not the kicker.

'Songlines' has built up a solid following among Net-surfers. And, as with any character who catches others' interest, an Ethereal Xeffy has come into being. Still new-formed, still getting to grips with things - but she does exist.

The thing is, she's a siren.

A literal siren - a creature whose songs are so enchanting that anyone who listens will be completely entranced, ignoring everything but the song.

(In the comic, she's the daughter of one of the original sirens, who settled down in suburbia after a long career in cabaret.)

That's not the kicker - new supernatural Ethereals come into being on a daily basis.

When the Ethereal Xeffy learned of the Ethereal King...

...naturally enough, she set out to find him.

Currently, she's tracked him down to the American Midwest - and it won't be much longer before he finally shows up...

Meanwhile, 'Songlines's author is currently planning out the next big storyline, in which Xeffy finally meets the King - and it's going to kick the comic off in a whole new direction.

The King will reveal that he's been searching for the long-lost Songmistress, the lady who understood the Song - the Symphony - like no other. Outcast from the councils of the gods, lost in the millennia gone, vanished somewhere in the wider world.

And they must find her. Fast. Before the Song can reach its climax.

This is going to trigger alarm bells across Heaven and Hell.


But, much to celestial astonishment, there's absolutely no ineffability - to all intents and purposes, the author got all his information from mortal sources. How can anyone get this close to the Truth, without being a Prophet - or without someone - a celestial, an ethereal - feeding them information?

(Those engaged in Yves-watching will notice a small smile on his face when he hears this...)

Quietly, privately, the Superiors involved will give a select group of Servitors, (selected for secrecy - or for completely bungling a job), a set of orders, which boil down to the same three objectives:

  • Stop that web-comic. Now. Before some mortal realises this is Truth.

  • Find that Ethereal brat - before she gets it into her head to go off after Song (in all likelihood, with the King - and several of the loas' servants - in tow, not counting all the ethereals who've been quietly following 'Songlines'...).

  • And if that fails...

    Follow her. Follow that child.

    Because if things continue on their present course, she might just succeed...


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