I didn't mind the distraction when Rocinante came by, scratching at my door in lieu of knocking. I've been up most of the night, staring at E-Bear's teddy bear and trying to think how I could use it to track her down. But there's just no way... I even dug out Executor's tie... Even if I use it though, there's no telling how many of his alts would show up on a map and who knows which one might be keeping her
"Hey. Can you help us? We need our memories back," Rocinante said when I opened the door. Hard to get used to a talking dog, especially when she doesn't feel like any dog I ever met. She feels like Thighpiece, like she's not even there, just an extension of him.
"Well, I guess I can try."
I followed her out to the remains of the garden where Thighpiece was staring up at the birds through the branches of Trina's oak from his perch on the wall. There's not much left of the garden, thanks to Thuggee and MASC. Most of the wall is gone from the construction vehicles going in and out and only the corners where the wards were buried are still noticeable. Even the electric fence is gone. MASC is building a more extensive fence around the entirety of the property they purchased. Brood has only mentioned in passing that they'd like me to add "spooky" defenses when they're done. I get the feeling magic isn't really a thing MASC has much use for... not that I haven't dealt with the same bias my entire life. I made sure they didn't touch the tree though.
"How did you lose your memories?" I asked.
He shrugged and Rocinante said, "We don't remember."
"Well, what's the first thing you do remember?"
"Waking up... in a field," Rocinante replied.
I sat on a pile of fallen stone. "Have you ever been hypnotized?" He shrugged. "OK, well, we can try that, I guess."
I know the principles of hypnotism though I've never actually... uh done it to anyone. So I hope what happened afterwards isn't my fault.
I told him to lie down and stare up at the tree, to focus on the sunlight playing through the branches and listen to the sound of my voice. As Rocinante's voice changed, becoming soft and thoughtful in response to my questions, I led Sir Thighpiece back through his memories until we hit a blank wall. Nothing I said could get him to go beyond it until I told him to imagine it actually WAS a wall and visualize a door in it.
"What's on the other side of the door?" I asked, worried he might claim it was locked and not sure I could get him to trust me enough to believe there was a key in his pocket.
Rocinante's words came like a tidal wave. "Sailing, sailing. Africa. Weird dimensions. The Other Side, but only a week. A junkyard... A girl's face with rainbow hair... A fat cop with a mustache..."
"Stop, stop... okay... do you see a path? Follow it and tell me what you see along it."
"Utah, DC, Africa, Maine... back to D.C... five people in business suits. They come and go."
"Who are they? What do they look like?"
"Three men and two women..."
"Can you talk to them? Are they your friends?"
Sir Thighpiece shuddered, and Rocinante gave a howl that sounded like "Noooooooooooooooooooooooo!"
"Wake up," I said, jumping up from my seat. "It's alright. It's just a memory."
He continued to convulse while Rocinante whined. Suddenly he woke and her crying cut off like a switch had been thrown. Sir Thighpiece looked at me and then around at the tree and the woods nearby before jumping and running to the house.
His stuff is gone. I climbed up to the third floor where he'd been sleeping and he's taken his duffel bag and gone. I wish I'd at least had time to send Trina up there to stuff it full of food, but I hardly thought he'd run off like that.