April wakes up, concerned about what happened last night. She needs to speak to Cortez, as he seems to be the only person who knows what's going on. Downstairs, she meets Fiona, who confesses her fears about what is happening in Venice. April asks if she's seen Cortez - Fiona tells her to ask Zack Lee upstairs.
Unfortunately, Zack heard her muttering that he was an asshole, and is less than helpful. April knows she's going to regret this, but offers a date in return for Cortez's location. Zack is a film student at VAVA: he knows of an old-style movie theatre, the Mercury Theatre in Metro Circle, where Cortez likes to go.
April heads down to the Mercury, but there's no sign of Cortez. She guesses he must already be in there. Instead, there's an NPD detective, Frank Minelli, hanging around outside. April wonders if he's after Cortez. After duping him with some tainted candy, April quietly shorts out the Mercury's marquee, forcing the owner's son to go down the alleyway to fix it. She follows him, and, using a bit of trickery - involving a pile of rubbish, Minelli's hat, Constable Guybrush, a matchbook and the fire alarm - slips into the theatre by the side door.
Cortez is sitting alone in the theatre, watching a black-and-white movie called Victory Hotel. He asks April if she likes old movies - he finds them charming. April tells him there was an NPD detective staking out the theatre. She guesses he's in trouble with immigration, and he tells her he's not in trouble with the police. "There are bigger players here than the police."
April is fed up with his vacillating. She wants to know what is happening. Cortez agrees, and leads the way to the alley outside, saying "I'm sending you through the looking glass." He makes a series of mystical gestures...and a swirling blue light appears on the alley wall. Cortez tells April to step through it. She's terrified, but firms her resolve. Before she ventures through, he tells her that when she wants to return, she needs to look for a man called "Westhouse. Brian Westhouse."
She walks through shifting blue light - and falls face first into some kind of dimly lit church. April is terrified and decides she wants to go home right away. Walking through the church, she meets a priest who speaks in a language she doesn't comprehend. As she listens, though, she gradually comes to understand him. He introduces himself as Tobias Grensret, and says he is speaking Na'ven, the common language of Arcadia. As he opens the doors of the church, April sees that she is in another world, in the city of Marcuria.
Using the murals on the walls, Tobias tells April the story of the Balance. Thousands of years ago, the world was split into two halves, into the two worlds of Stark - the scientific world April knows - and the magical world of Arcadia. Both worlds are held in equilibrium by a force called the Balance, with a Guardian to watch over it. The human custodians of the Balance are known as the Sentinel, who are mainly active in Arcadia. Tobias also mentions four beings, the Draic Kin, who were instrumental in the creation of the Balance. However, the Guardian has left the Tower and there is no sign of a new Guardian; the Balance is threatened by Chaos.
April is keen to go home and asks if he knows Brian Westhouse. Tobias says she needs to ask for 'the Rolling Man' - Westhouse apparently rides around the city on a bicycle. April goes down to the marketplace to ask around and meets Karek, the map merchant, who's firing his delivery boy. It turns out Westhouse is a regular customer of his. April volunteers to be Karek's female delivery boy in order to find him, and gets a list of customers. The first is Captain Horatio Nebevay down on the docks, who gives her some trouble as he refuses to sign her delivery list unless she plays some music to distract his god, the 'Mo'Jaal'. Finally, April gets the delivery for Brian Westhouse and heads to his home.
She meets Westhouse out on his porch and introduces herself. He's surprised to meet a person from Stark: he knew Cortez back in the nineteen thirties as 'Manny Chavez', and arrived in Arcadia about fifteen years ago after being trapped in the Divide for three centuries. He can't help April because he's not a Shifter, but he does give her a pocket watch that was a gift from 'Chavez'. When April gets it ticking, another blue light - another Shift - appears and she steps through, emerging in the alleyway behind the Mercury Theatre.
Shaken, she listens to Cortez as he elaborates on what Tobias told her. The Balance is failing; a faction called the Vanguard, a splinter group from the Sentinel known as the Church of Voltec in Stark, is taking advantage of this. Together, April and Cortez must restore a Guardian in the Tower before the Balance collapses. They have four tasks: to locate the missing Guardian, find the entrance to the Guardian's Realm, reassemble the Stone Disk that is the key to the Tower, and defeat the Vanguard.
April is daunted by all this. Cortez tells her to go back to Venice and relax for now, because they have a lot of work to do. They're going to start by investigating the Church of Voltec tomorrow. Cortez tells her to meet his friend Warren Hughes, whose painting he showed her in the Roma Gallery, on Hope Street tomorrow morning.
April goes back to the Fringe Cafe, where Charlie tells her Royn Dale are about to play a gig. She meets up with Emma, who tells her a hilarious story about Zack saying he had a date with April. Again, there is a choice: either April decides to stand Zack up in favour of the concert, or she can honour her promise and leave to meet Zack.
Themes & ReferencesEdit
This chapter title refers to the Lewis Carroll book 'Through the Looking Glass, And What Alice Found There'. Cortez says this himself, telling April: "Why Alice, I'm sending you through the looking glass." The phrase is often used in the vernacular when talking about a situation that has suddenly become utterly bizarre or dreamlike.
In a much later chapter, Jacob McAllen scoffs at April and tells her she's just been a piece in a game, 'and not even an important piece. You're just a pawn'. Carroll's novel is based around a game of chess in which Alice becomes involved. She begins as a White Pawn and eventually works her way to the position of White Queen, eventually putting the Red King into checkmate. If this is related to The Longest Journey, this chapter could be seen as the 'opening gambit'.
The fact that, in Carroll's book, Alice is one of the White pieces playing against the Red side, is also interesting. April is the daughter of the White of the Kin, and Jacob McAllen is known as the White Cardinal - whereas his 'brother' Cortez is the Red of the Kin.
Another interesting observation is that in the TLJ's main menu there are a series of childrens sketches. In each of these sketches the depiction of April is always wearing red.
Part of a storyboard for the sequence in which April meets Vestrum Tobias and has Marcuria revealed to her was included in the Book of Secrets. It looks as though the story of the Balance was originally intended to be explained before she left the Temple.
|Chapters in The Longest Journey|
|Prologue: A Lion is in the Streets | Penumbra | Through the Looking Glass | Friends and Enemies | Monsters | There and Back Again | The Chaos Storm | A Deep Blue Mirror | Reunification | Shadows | Rebirth | Kin | Dreamland | The Longest Journey | Epilogue: Threads|