ODDBALLS, MOLES AND BATS
Albion’s leading newspaper presents the second part in a new series delving into the most enduring mystery of all: Theresa! Is this mythical soothsayer real? What has she been up to all these years? And how come she just won’t die? Investigative reporter Penelope Chumley finds out.
I’d come to the Theresa Fan Club’s bi-monthly gathering to witness a series of re-enactments of her life, and expecting to find a collection of weirdos and fringe cases. Instead, I found a respectable cross-section of Albion’s society: shopkeepers, farmers, government officials and nobles among them. Let me tell you, nothing quite compares to stepping into a hired festival hall and seeing fourteen such people dressed in robes, blindfolds and wigs.
Bertie Knippet, the club’s co-founder, was busy overseeing the re-enactments, so I was guided round the room by Wendy, a bright young woman carrying a large, fake hammer. At least half of those present were wearing non-Seer costumes, the most striking being a man in a harlequin suit and a mask. He could be no other than Jack of Blades, and he took centre stage during the first historical recreation.
It was a scene some of you may be familiar with, for it has passed into legend, though many of the details remain unclear: the moment the Hero of Oakvale slew the human form of Jack of Blades. From what I’d read, the Hero killed Jack and saved his sister Theresa by giving up the immensely powerful Sword of Aeons. That, according to the Club, may not be entirely so. In this version at least, it was Theresa who saved the day. Just when Jack was about to extinguish the life of the exhausted Hero, Theresa rose to the occasion and lobbed off his head with a roundhouse kick. The accuracy of this depiction might be suspect, but here it raised an almighty cheer.
We then moved on to the second big re-enactment, of a moment I’m told occurred some five-hundred years later. Wendy joined the stage, as Hammer, one of the Heroes gathered by Theresa to defeat Lucien, the man who constructed the colossal Spire. On a clear day, one can still see this tower in the distance, so I was eager to see what happened there. According to the Club, it was this:
The Heroes Reaver, Garth and Hammer were trapped in the Spire by Lucien, who was using them to power the magical structure and destroy our world. When all looked lost, the Hero of Bowerstone (known to some as Sparrow) walked in, ready to save the day, but instead tripped on a small shard of rock and fell flat on his face. It was then that Theresa appeared and knocked off Lucien’s head with a roundhouse kick. As a prize, the Heroes told her she could keep the Spire, which she then used to grant them all wishes and make the world a better place.
As Wendy walked over to me, beaming after her role in the night’s proceedings, I couldn’t help but query her. “Wait a minute,” I said. “If that happened five hundred years after the other thing, what happened in between? How did Theresa become immortal?” It turned out pretty much everyone in the room had a different theory. Some claimed she found a philosopher’s gallstone, whose magical properties endowed her with long life. Some believed it was a divine gift that demonstrated her sainthood. By far the most prevalent theory, though, was the one saying she’d travelled to another planet, where a mighty alien race of intelligent moss, realising how much good she could do with her predictive powers, ensured that she would never die before returning her back to Albion.
It wasn’t until the evening was coming to a close, over tea, scones and divination games, that I was approached by one of the few men wearing a Theresa costume who hadn’t yet revealed his full face. “Come with me if you want to know the truth about Theresa,” he whispered. Once outside, he told me he was a mole within the Theresa Fan Club, and was actually a member of B.A.T.S. – Bowerstone’s Anti-Theresa Society, an organization who believed the blind seeress was Albion’s hidden dictator, manipulating individuals and events to suit her own nefarious plans.
The mole, still wearing his costume, and attracting not a few odd looks, led me to the B.A.T.S. secret headquarters. Though its exterior appearance indicated an abandoned slum (possibly a factory in another time), inside it was as resplendent as a royal palace. Black velvet lined the walls and golden chandeliers hung above. “I’ll take you to Albion’s secret library,” he said, “where we keep all the documents telling the truth about Theresa.” We walked down a corridor lined with paintings of the soothsayer in rather compromising and, in some cases, illegal positions.
“And if you still need convincing”, he added, “I’ll take you to meet our founder and benefactor.”
“And who’s that?”
“I like to call him His Flawless, Exalted Magnificence, but most people know him as Reaver.”
In the next issue: Finally we reveal the truth! For realsies. Only in The Bowerstone Times!