Can You Show Me The Way To Alagadda?

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Can you show me the way to Alagadda?

No one on Earth seems to know.

Blood. It is always blood. I stopped trying to understand why long ago. Even now, I hear it, hungry for more. I want nothing more than to satisfy that urge as if it were my own, but I must remain practical. I must put on some music and figure out a plan. I must ensure the blood is never my own.

I've always liked Paul Hindemith's Symphony in B Flat. There's something enchanting about it. The lyrical solos in the first movement. The surprisingly melodic atonality. The way the theme of movement one comes back at the end of the piece. Something comforting in the way that familiarity comes back right when you least expect it. I listen to it in moments when I need to keep a cool head. Like right now.

There are impossible tasks, and then there's finding a Way to Alagadda. It's been done before, so we know it's possible. But we're not sure how exactly it was done. I know just enough about how to open our Way— rather, the Foundation's Way— to know that the creation of it was a much more complex process.

But my Patron has demanded it, so I must find a way to get there.

For the King, he is hosting a royal gala

And I have been invited to go

As the third movement begins, I consider my options. I could try to sneak in through the Foundation's Way. I already know how to open it. I know what to expect on the other side. If I can figure out a way to get past the Foundation, they'd be unlikely to be able to apprehend me in Alagadda. The simplest solution could be the best one.

The first subject begins, and I realize that that is a huge "if." The simplest solution is the one that's going to get me caught. Even with my knowledge of the inner workings of Foundation security, I can't exactly sneak past security and get into the Tower of London, one of the most well-guarded places in the world. Even if I came up with a plan, word of my treachery has spread by now; I'd be lucky to get within a hundred miles of a Foundation protected anomaly without being taken in. So the direct path is out.

If I can't find my way I would have to decline

And that would be considerably rude

The first scherzando. Tension, like walking on a bed of needles. The oboe and the piccolo panic as the subject in the saxophone fails to calm them down. I need to not follow their lead.

Can I brute force a new Way? This is perhaps the safest maneuver, simply follow in Percy's footsteps. Perhaps what I learned from my alchemical will allow me to access Alagadda. I didn't get too far in my thaumaturgical studies, but in theory, I know enough to create a Way, though the exact substances and steps would take some trial and error.

Except I don't have time for trial, and I certainly don't have time for error. I can no longer stall the Foundation's progress, Emma has certainly figured out what I hid from her by now.

And saying "I know enough" about alchemy is much like saying "I know enough" about brain surgery to pull it off; it's better to have full knowledge before attempting it. If I'm not careful, I could cause lasting damage on this reality, or worse, bypass Alagadda entirely and end up deep in the Nevermeant.

Plus it’s not every day that you’re invited by a king

So showing up is logically shrewd

The second subject begins, a beautiful venture that only leads back where it started, a Penrose staircase of a melody. The first subject tries to reassert itself periodically, but nothing comes of it.

Perhaps the answer is to seek help from my fellow thieves. "All together at Golgotha," that was what the baton said. That is what will bring us all together. Supposedly.

Only I've never met any of the other thieves. How would I identify them? Would anybody know how to find another Way? More importantly, would they be willing to help me? Our goals align in the long term, but right now? It's hard to say.

The musicians are playing their grand toccata

I should depart without delay

The second Scherzando, the second subject plays underneath, but even through the panic, it seems the upper woodwinds have things more under control. The sound is more subdued, sinister, whispering, as the second subject fails to engage. As though the subject is about to be betrayed.

I could turn myself in. The Foundation certainly wouldn't expect that. I might be able to convince them I have valuable information. Make them take me to Alagadda, then perform my duties there.

The scherzando fades out of existence, not with a bang but a whimper.

That idea is easily the dumbest I've had so far. Supposing they believed me, they wouldn't let me go to Alagadda. Supposing they did, there would be no chance to escape their watch.

Do you know how to get to Alagadda?

For no one else on Earth knows the way

The two subjects combine, somewhat messily. I'm unconvinced they're trying to combine cleanly. I wish I could write something this good.

I've always loved music, I've just never been good at it. That is to say I've always been perfectly fine at it, just never exceptional. But I watched people for whom music meant less easily surpass me, when it seemed like my life. So I changed tactics.

At the Foundation, I learned more about the world that had fascinated me. But my love for music never wavered. It was only after years at the Foundation that I discovered Sul Golgota and understood that my entire life had been leading up to this, that I had a part to play, and that I would be united with the music that had meant so much to me someday.

I have combed every book, I have searched every map

But no one has a path that can be found

The first movement theme awakens me from my reminiscing, and I realize something for the first time. The thieves got to be front and center at the event that changed world history, true. But they were crucified along with Jesus of Nazareth. And they weren't so lucky as to be resurrected. The Penitent Thief was never even mentioned until the Gospel of Luke; the earlier Gospel of Mark state both thieves mocked Jesus.

They were merely thieves. What could they have possibly stolen that was equivalent to their lives? They were thieves, not arsonists, not abusers, not murderers. Simple thieves. And they died for their crimes. They publicly suffered and then died.

Simple sins have intense consequences.

If the saint knows I’m late then that would only end in flames

As Alagadda burns to the ground

It's over. The symphony is over and I'm still no closer to an answer. Only one thing makes sense.

I am in way over my head.

If we play what was heard on Mount Golgotha

Maybe they’d finally find some peace

I'm on the verge of an idea, I can feel it poking from the back of my mind, but I don't understand it. Something about the third movement of Symphony in B-Flat. But what? The subjects? The scherzandos? The Fugual nature of the piece? Or the recombination?

No, it's something about the theme, the one from the first movement.

The way something familiar comes back right when you least expect it.

And with that, I'm hit with a sudden wave of clarity. I can't turn myself in, but perhaps there is somebody left there that I can trust.

Perhaps there is one Savage Beast I could soothe yet.

Until then, how to get to Alagadda?

It never seemed so far out of reach

The words come flying from my fingers, quick and precise like the first subject, but the thoughts themselves are like the second subject: circular, wishy-washy, vague. Nonsensical.

In the end, there is only one thing, one thought that matters.

The point is, I'm in over my head, and I need your help, old friend.
H, can you show me the way to Alagadda?

I anxiously await the response, counting the minutes. One. Two. Five. Ten. Twenty. Too many. I can scarcely breathe.

Until I see the response.

I have a Way in.

And in Alagadda, I shall find the scores.

Whatever happens now is all up to me. An impenitent thief. One way or another, this music will be heard.

And one way or another, I will play a part.

‘Til the music that was lost is released

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