(urth) A second dream team: Mucor, Oreb, and Pike

Dave Tallman davetallman at msn.com
Wed Aug 13 10:35:17 PDT 2008

With what we know about the inhumi, Mucor, and astral projection from the
BotSS, we can revisit the sequence leading to the appearance of Pike's ghost
in LotLS.

There are several things to explain.

1) Why is the wrapping on Silk'a arm rather than his ankle?

He was so tired that he didn't want to have to keep recharging the wrapping
through the night, so it made sense to take it off. He could have put it on
his arm to pad the wounds there so he could sleep better, or because he knew
it was valuable and wanted to guard against thieves. (But in the latter case
it would make more sense to lock it up with the azoth, so I favor the first

2) Why did the wrapping get frosty?

The wrapping normally cooled as it lost energy, but to get frosty in a hot
room required energy for refrigeration. It may be another medical function
of the wrap -- if its built-in AI sensed it was wrapped around an infected
site it might get cold to help kill the germs. The cold wrap caused his
dream about Kypris grabbing his arm and giving him cold kisses, and it woke
him up.

3) What did Silk see flapping away in the window?

Many have speculated that it was Quetzal he saw, but I find that
unconvincing. From the later books we know the inhumi cannot change their
size that much. A human-sized Quetzal in flying form could not be mistaken
for Oreb, even by a groggy Silk.

If the sight of Oreb wasn't part of Silk's dream, then it really was Oreb he
saw, whatever the bird said. Oreb couldn't fly yet, but that's not a
problem. Mucor was there, and she is known to be able to make her possession
victims levitate (Crassula's story in NtLS, chapter 11).

I believe that Mucor possessed Oreb and brought him into Silk's room through
the window. She was probably trying to cause Silk some trouble after his
"exorcism" drove her away from her fun at Orchid's. Oreb's repeated denial
of "No steal!" suggests she was trying to get Oreb to steal something --
maybe the wrap. If she had something of value to Silk she might have been
able to get leverage against his blackmail. Oreb's tugging at the wrap on
Silk's arm might have contributed to his dream about trying to pull free
from Kypris/Hyacinth.

Oreb was afraid to admit to Silk what had happened, but his answers were
technically true. "No fly" -- he wasn't flying on his own. "No hop" -- he
didn't hop down. "No steal" -- he didn't successfully steal Silk's wrap.

4) Why did Mucor reveal herself to Silk?

She had an attraction to him, as shown by her "We'll be lovers" when she
possessed Mamelta. She could have just left when she let go of Oreb, but she
chose to tempt him for a moment instead.

Another possibility is that she detected the presence of Quetzal in the
vicinity (see the theory below). She might have been trying to wake Silk up
enough so that he could defend himself. One flaw with this idea is that she
apparently couldn't see Quetzal when she astral-projected. She called him
"the man who isn't there."

5) What caused the creaking of the bed? Why did Patera Pike's ghost appear?

Wolfe said in an question-and-answer session (
http://www.ansible.co.uk/cc/cc77.html) that the apparition was not
machine-made. That eliminates the Hierodule-created-aquastor theory and the
Mainframe-generated-ghost theory, in spite of the shimmering disappearance.
He also said it was not Quetzal. Inhumi don't seem to be able to impersonate
other people (only make themselves look human) so I think any other inhumi
is also out. Silk astral-projecting through time would also not look enough
like Pike to be mistaken for him by Silk, who knew the man well. The most
likely case is a real ghost.

There are two possible explanations for the ghost. The simplest is that the
presence of Mucor stirred up Pike's ghost. He appeared in his bedroom first,
then went to check to see if Silk was all right (moving through the closed
door). He found his calotte there and put it on. With the solid cap on, he
had to open the door to get out. When he saw that Silk was all right, he
smiled, waved, and vanished. There is a real connection between the calotte
and Mucor, since Silk wore it on the raid on Blood's house and therefore in
the presence of Mucor.

The second explanation is more complicated but I like it better. I think
Quetzal was there that night, wanting to attack Silk. Sphigxday night was
the night after Teasel was bitten. Quetzal could have returned for more
blood and found the names of Silk and Pike written outside the window.
Quetzal said that he "went wide" when he saw Silk's name on the fifth floor
of a building. Silk had to climb four flights of stairs to get to Teasel's

I don't believe the superstitious explanation that magic worked or that
Quetzal was afraid of the sign of the cross. He couldn't be the Prolocutor
if he was. The answer might be his fear of exposure as an inhumu. He knew
that Pike was on his case, possibly correlating the descriptions given by
his victims, and now he knew that Pike had told Silk about it.

Pike died a about month after he told Silk about the blood-sucking "demons"
and that he was fighting them. (NtLS, chapter 9). This may not have been a
coincidence. Quetzal or one of his inhumi "doctor" allies might have killed
Pike by draining his blood over a period of time. Pike is shown sacrificing
a rabbit to the Outsider in Silk's first enlightenment, once with a vivid
image of blood. Quetzal's Genesis story likens humans to rabbits. (We know
the sacrifice was to the Outsider because the rabbit was speckled -- animals
that are not pure black or pure white can only be offered to all the gods or
to a specific minor god: LotLS ch. 2. Also, the enlightenment contained
information about the prayers that the Outsider was answering).

It's interesting that Pike's ghost would put on his old calotte. He only
wore it on the coldest days (NtLS ch. 3), and this was a hot night. He died
in the spring, so it couldn't be because of the memory of his last day
alive. In the enlightenment vision of the rabbit his hands were said to be
cold. (NtLS ch. 1). Loss of blood would make him feel cold, so that may be
another clue about his death.

Dr. Crane implied that he tried to become a doctor for Quetzal and was
snubbed. "Haven't you noticed that when he gets sick I'm not the one he
sends for? Well, that's why. Now and then I make a mistake. The sort of
doctors he had in never do. Just ask them." Quetzal would never dare let a
real doctor examine him, so his "doctors" must be fellow inhumi. A job as a
doctor to the Prolocutor would have been nice for a spy. So would working
for someone in the Ayuntamiento, but they used chem substitute bodies. Crane
had to settle for being Blood's doctor.

If Quetzal killed Pike, he knew where his bedroom was and he would have
expected Silk to have moved into it. The creaking of the bed in Pike's old
room might have been caused by Quetzal. Finding Silk absent, he might have
sat on the bed to await his return, causing the creaking.

Pike's ghost must have a strong reason for appearing. Remora once said that
holy augers rarely have ghosts (in RttW). Pike wasn't altogether holy (as
the father of Blood with Rose), but one would think he would be
heavenly-minded enough to avoid ghosthood. But if Pike was murdered by an
inhumi, that would give him unfinished business. He might have appeared to
drive off Quetzal and assure himself that Silk was safe.
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