Jake followed Orph willingly. Except the moments when he didn’t follow willingly, then he was dragged. Each time he walked past a painting or other work of art his apprehension grew. Or rather, every time a work of art walked past him his apprehension grew. At one point he almost stepped on a tube of acrylic, which would have made an embarrassing mess, not to mention awkward interviews with a painticide detective.
Jake turned right into the hallway, then left and followed a curved hall. Soon, on the right, they came to a pair of huge doors, which Jake presumed to be the Journey Hall. Orph knocked in a very formal manner and the doors proudly swung open.
Inside Jake could see many people in a large circular room, all looking at him, expectantly and among them stood the Guildmistress. Her friendly gaze fell on Jake, which gave Jake a dual feeling of comfort and suspicion.
(What follows next is Jake’s nightmare. Seen through most people’s eyes the Departure Ceremony is a beautiful and reverent ceremony giving comfort and strength, but for Jake it all seemed sinister in the extreme, like a Sabbat of medieval witches as per a witch hunter’s view.)
Jake was led into the centre of the room by the Hairy Thing with strange top hat (Orph) and stood under the penetrating gazes of the Gathered, all looking like any second they might eat him. He stood on what looked like a compass (yes, really it is a compass), but its spiky points suggested something far more sadistic to Jake. His Adam’s apple bobbed like a Test Your Strength fair game hit at full strength.
The Guildmistress spread her cloak, making her look like a soaring raven looking over the landscape for a carcass to pick apart and she began to speak in strong ritualistic tones. (What she said Jake didn’t hear, too busy feeling scared. But for your benefit I share it here in its proper form).
“Fellow Travelling Artists, once again we have gathered to see one of our own take on the Journey. Jake Fish is on a special Journey to reclaim that which has been lost to him. He is on a life changing Journey to find the best of the human spirit and express that in many different ways.
“The Guild Star chooses those that will best carry its energies into the world, and though Jake does not seem a likely candidate, he has within him what it takes to become One with the Star, like all human beings.
“And now comes the time for us to celebrate the Going Forth of this Traveller, sharing our support and blessings.” In Jakes fear warped mind these words became “And now comes the time for us to start the Sacrificial Ceremony that causes much pain and agony.”
The lights faded a bit, leaving a room of shadows moving around Jake, and then drums, rattles and wind instruments began to describe a bone chilling dirge (it was actually a light, heartening and jaunty sort of song) that drained the blood from Jake’s face.
There were hissings and growlings that came from the shadows (a simple chant with words like “love” and “peace” in it. Methinks Jake has more of an imagination than it appears, it’s just a bit upside-down, inside-out and back to front is all).
Most of the Shadows then started to filter away, disappearing up the walls and hanging off of them like bats (read walking up the stairs to view the proceedings from the galleries) and continued their dirge.
Only the Hairy Thing and the Black Raven stayed with Jake near the compass. Next to Jake appeared a glowing torture device (Jake’s travelling trunk, hovering next to him) and its lid opened and Jake saw the miniature doll of himself inside.
The Guildmistress took the doll and said (and these are her real words too) “This we keep here to keep you connected to us, so that no matter how lost or how lonely, confused or endangered you will always be with us and we will always be with you.” (what Jake heard is something so graphically painful it’s best not to share them here, suffice to say that voodoo dolls were involved except ten times worse).
The Black Raven bowed her head and took steps away, leaving Jake and the Hairy Thing in the centre of the compass. The torture device began to glow intensely until the light seemed to envelope them, there was a flash and Jake found himself somewhere (though it isn’t really a “where”) that has no words yet invented to describe it.
That was it, Jake and Orph were on their way to their first destination.