A mysterious package left on my doorstep turns out to be the handwritten Journals of Drew Wilde. For some reason, Wilde has chosen me to transcribe them and put them on the Web as A Season in Methven. That's not going to happen overnight. I have to make a living, after all..
June 6, 1992
Drew Wilde is notified that he's been fired as a rock-climbing instructor, discovers his home brew is ruined, has a relationship-ending fight with his lover, Alison, and breaks a prized glass relic of his hippy days.
Nonetheless, with the help of his friend, Leslie Pith, he hosts a graduation party for his climbing students, including Bill Wilson, "Blandy" Carstairs, Blandy's friend "Tong" Lowe and the mysterious Mantami Khasim.
At the party, Mantami reveals that he is a Vomisa--an inhabitant of another planet--and that he was accidentally transported to Earth while following Læ, a sorceress. Now, some two-and-a-half years later, Læ has offered to return Mantami to his home. In return, Mantami has agreed to recruit five Earthlings as mercenary adventurers to perform an as-yet undefined mission for Læ. Each will be paid $10,000 up front for expenses..with the possibility of millions more to come.
The general consensus is that they would be crazy to accept Mantami's offer. Nonetheless, they all do so, each for his own reasons.
The party spends the next month arming, equipping and training.
July 4, 1992
Tong and Blandy arrive at Drew's apartment in what later turns out to be a stolen luxury van conversion. Drew goes ballistic when he learns the van is stolen and only calms down after Pith plies him with strong marijuana. Drew is extremely stoned when the party reaches the end of a logging path in the Sierra Nevada and must continue its journey on foot.
After four hours of hiking, the party is hailed by the long-anticipated Læ. Reluctantly, Drew agrees to forstall his questions until they reach their destination, a well-hidden cave, within which lies a hexagonal array of blue, crystalline pillars.
Drew asks and Læ answers a number of questions about their final destination, the object of their quest and the remuneration they can expect. Then Læ forces Drew to choose between coming with the party to Methven and staying behind--with his memory of the past six months totally erased. Drew chooses to continue as a member of the party.
The other party members join Læ within the hexagon and Drew finds himself subjected to a harrowing ordeal as the energies mount around him.
Methven - Day One
It is nighttime as the party arrives on Methven. Læ is unconscious, perhaps comatose. Drew and his companions, with the singular exception of Bruno are not much better off than she.
By the following morning, all but Læ have begun to recover. Bruno reveals he is a cyborg--a man/machine hybrid.
Pith recognizes Carleton as a one-time Cleveland Browns football player--whose ire Drew draws for endangering the party by his dilatory tactics back on Earth. Fortunately, Drew convinces Carleton that Læ's failure to properly inform the party of the risks of delay was at the root of his behavior.
Methven - Day Two
The next morning, Læ decrees that the day will be spent equipping and training the members of the party in the use of various weapons. Drew is given a crossbow, a sword and a Vomisa spring pistol--which shoots poisoned darts.
After dinner, Læ tells the party that they must learn the Trader's Tongue--the simple patois spoken by virtually every inhabitant of Methven--via Centran technology that will teach it to them in a matter of hours. When Drew awakes in the night, he swiftly finds himself conversing with Mantami--in the Trader's Tongue, as promised.
Methven - Day Three
The party begins its journey. During their evening watch, Mantami explains to Drew that "Seeing"--wherein he is able to sense the "flames" within all living creatures around him--and his abilities to "find a path" and climb rock faces at superhuman speeds are all manifestations of the "Way of the Scout". Drew asks to be taught the "Way", but Mantami informs him that the discipline requires a dose of the Elixir of Awakening--an Elixir that is only available at Vomisa Clanhomes.
Methven - Day Five
A violent thunderstorm catches the party on an exposed slope. With considerable difficulty, they make it to shelter and set up camp. That night, during Drew's watch, a pack of German shepard-sized rats attack.
Methven - Day Eight
At nightfall, a party of Vomisa rangers hails their camp. The Vomisa party is from Khasim Clanhome--Mantami's Clanhome.
Methven - Day Nine
The combined parties leave for Khasim Clanhome at dawn. They travel swiftly and hard.
Methven - Day Eleven
Late in the afternoon, the adventurers reach Khasim Clanhome, where they are grudgingly welcomed by Atanami, and Læ asserts her right to speak for Mantami when he is judged by the Mothers.
Methven - Day Twelve
Awakening from his slumbers, Drew meets a young Vomisa woman who guides him to the Pools of Pleasure, the scene of a mass orgy--which Drew joins.
Later, a Vomisa woman named Akavasi leads Drew and Pith to the hut where Mahatna, the Master of Scouts, lives. Mahatna tests the Earthmen and criticizes their character flaws, then sends them away.
That night, the party sits in on what Læ refers to as the Mothers' "assizes"--hearings on civil and criminal matters. Drew is surprised to discover that Akavasi is the Clanhome's Grandmother.
Methven - Day Thirteen
Drew and Pith visit Mahatna, who again tests them. This time, Mahatna leaves Drew to solve a puzzle involving the arrangement of stones, while he takes Pith to experience the Elixir of Awakening.
Late that night, Pith knocks on Drew's door in bad shape, suffering the aftereffects of having taken the Elixir of Awakening--nightmarish hallucinations, nausea and migraine-strength headaches. He tells Drew "Somethin's growin' inside m'head."
Methven - Day Fourteen
Drew passes a test of his powers of concentration, and Mahatna offers him the Elixir of Awakening--a foul concoction Drew chokes down.
Once the Elixir takes effect, Drew hallucinates conversations with Alison, his ex-girlfriend, James Rector, killed more than 20 years earlier in the People's Park riot, and his mother, who reveals the reason for his father's coldness toward him.
Finally, Drew confronts the apparation of his father, who reveals that he and Drew's mother were assassinated by "enemies of his employer"--Læ, whose agent he was.
Exhausted and ill, Drew finally emerges from his Elixir-induced hallucinations to the realization that, like Pith, something is growing inside his head.
Methven - Day Sixteen
Mahatna teaches both Drew and Pith how to open their "inner eyes"--and See.
Methven - Day Twenty-one
Under Mahatna's tutelage, Drew experiences a breakthrough in his study of the Vomisa Scout discipline.
After Læ confronts Grrawth-h, the S'lynth ambassador the the Vomisa, and Akavasi, Mantami's trial begins.
Læ defends Mantami, ending by pleading with the Mothers not to punish Mantami for her mistakes.
Grrawth-h then rises to display the skin of his litter-mate, who he claims was murdered by Centran poachers. Grrawth-h blames Læ for his death and those of other S'lynth and Vomisa. He insists that the Mothers order Læ to close down the Portal through which Drew and his companions entered Methven three weeks earlier.
Læ promises to bring the poachers to the Mothers for Judgement. Fruitlessly, she pleads with them not to order the Portal shut down, because of an imminent invasion by a space-faring race that will turn the Vomisa into mindless slaves.
The Mothers exile Mantami for his sin--but only until mid-Winter, when he will be permitted to return and undergo his Ordeal.
The Mothers also order the Portal shut down, but promise to reconsider their decision, if she delivers both the Centran poachers and evidence to back up her claim of an impending alien invasion.
Methven - Day Thirty
Drew goes from denial to hopelessness as he reviews the party's plight: two of its members are dead and three are too gravely wounded to travel--all as a consequence of an attack by unidentified assailants wielding energy weapons and powerful sorcery. After burying their dead, Drew discusses their situation with Bill, who reveals that he is gay and HIV-positive.
Methven - Day Thirty-five
Drew recalls how he, Bill, Pith and Mantami looted the bodies of their attackers--scavenging their energy weapons and communication devices of some sort.
An hour's travel North of their camp, while Drew and Bill listen in, Mantami accidentally contacts their enemies. Mantami pretends to have found the communications device while training for his Ordeal and swiftly breaks contact.
Then, still experimenting with the device, they contact Tacid Control--the main Centran base of operations on Methven--then Tarnhold, where the duty officer assures them that help is on the way.
Shortly after dawn, a party of riders approachs.
A brief parlay with a rider whose name is so unpronouncable that Pith promptly nicknames him Frank establishes that the approaching party--led by Tarn ka-Tarn, the heir to Tarnhold--has come to rescue them. Tarn briefly examines Læ and Bruno, then, while his men begin preparing them and Tong for the journey to Tarnhold, he asks Mantami to account for his presence.
Mantami describes his trial before the Mothers of Khasim Clanhome. Then Bill picks up the tale, summarizing the party's trek from Mantami's Clanhome to the site where they were attacked. Since he was on watch when the attack occurred, all eyes turn to Drew.
Unwillingly, Drew relives the party's nightmarish battle with the being Frank calls "the Outcast"--and concludes that he is responsible for the deaths of Blandy and Carleton and the grave injuries to Tong, Bruno and Læ.
(Copyright© 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Thom Stark--all rights reserved)