Finding Father

Author: Ama / Labels: , , , , ,

He was quite mad, of course - the strain of the trial, transportation and whatever had happened since the crash was bound to make an impression. Amanda had been hoping for a less traumatic encounter, but the precaution of having Ash out of the doctor’s vision meant he could be restrained without damage. Going straight back to town meant avoiding the carnival, and actually brought them closer to the Royal Bethlehem... Hotel.

Not that this was a normal hotel, in the manner of the guesting houses and inns from before the fall. No, this was only called a hotel to save the sensibilities of society. Still, they did manage to keep those who had lost their grip on reality from serious harm.

Mostly.

But in the grand old tradition of similar facilities, it was quite the norm for “guests” to arrive without fanfare or even great notice. Those that recognized him would likely keep quiet about it, for then the question would be how did the gossip come to see to see him there? The rules of the game were to be observed.

Such traditions would also keep him out of the public eye for some of the time needed to let the rumor mill grind fine. If there should be additional time needed, there was still the swamp clinic to attend.

A few haughty glares (copied from her mentor) backed up with the unnerving calm of a Clay Man behind her ensured that she would be receiving reports of the doctor’s care, and some could even be true. Also traditional, in places such as this, was the belief that friends and family would only distress the guest. While Amanda had met many people whose families were excellent examples in which this was certainly true, it still caused her concern. Would that she could detail Ash to watch over her father, but the staff was adamant. While her father did not stay here often, it was often enough that she knew the rules.

Upon her return to the office, Ash bowed to her and left for wherever he stayed in the embassy. Her mentor was out, and from the notes on her desk, he was likely to be out the rest of the shift. She caught up on the office correspondence, which had the decency to not go up in flames as the Correspondence would. She completed her report of her activities over the past few days and began securing the paperwork in the file cabinets of Mr Bloodwing's making.

All of the files were kept under lock and key in Mr Bloodwing’s office, and because they were also under his personal seal, would stay as such. The key would not work if it was not in his hand, but for some of the files, Amanda had her own key. Pricking her finger with the end of the key was all that was needed to make it work. While securing her report on the trip out to the marshes, she ran across some familiar handwriting. Why would her father’s notes be in Mr Bloodwing’s desk?

The title was similar to the one he had published two years ago. Quickly scanning the document, she noted that it had a receipt number for Mr Pages’s archives, the date was over a year ago. So, this was not part of the papers that had been seized at Dr Mason’s arrest last month. The most obvious additions were in red ink, Mr Bloodwing’s proofreading commentary. Indeed, in places it was almost conversational, with notes such as “Notice how quickly the treatise devolves into ranting” in the margin by the first section of the thesis. Large sections of his were new to her, as the initial focus fit the title of Theory of Unaccountable Peckishness as Parasitic Infection, but it delved into new territory as it danced around the edges of the Correspondence.

Here, her supervisor’s notes became shorter, but written with a quick hand, as though he was sharing in the excitement of discovery with Dr Mason. Indeed, it seemed to be notes on an entirely different project, one involving creating a clay woman? Such had not been tried before, and certainly not with the Correspondence Stones. The heady rush of discovery almost caught her until she saw the note at the bottom: “AMA - After you're done snooping through my desk drawers please lock this in my safe.” It was signed with his initials.

Blushing, Amanda followed orders and closed up the office for the night.

Appearances

Author: Ama / Labels: , , , , , ,

The detour through Ladybones from the Embassy to her lodgings was not strange; it was nearly a daily stop, though her route to and from the district was seldom the same from day to day. There had also been many times when she picked up a newspaper from the little girl with blonde pigtails. Amanda hoped it was often enough that few would notice how the little newspaper girl occasionally gave her a newspaper from the bottom of the stack.
The less the eyes of the Embassy were on little Wren, the better Amanda felt about it. The only reason why she had involved her cousin (for that is how Father had taught her to think of the girl) in the first steps of The Great Game was to make sure Wren was cared for. Too many times her uncle had been “between engagements”, requiring Wren to seek odd jobs to keep them whole. Amanda and her father had been distressed to find out how very odd some of the jobs had been. Uncle Marcus would not take anything from the family, but Amanda could hide the largess behind the small courier jobs she was able to give Wren. Careful accounting made sure she did not overpay for the information, but the frequency was enough to keep Wren from the truly peculiar jobs.
She pretended to not notice Ash’s interest in her cousin and walked briskly to the townhouse that held Father’s surgery at the ground floor and their flats above. At the entrance, she paused, and turned to face Ash fully before speaking. “Please stay here and wait, I shan’t be long.” She suspected he might be deaf, but one does not accuse co-workers of being Unfinished. She merely took precautions. At his nod she dashed up the stairs, quickly changing to her expedition skirt and stout boots.
A brief stop at the back step to set out clean water and a small treat for the neighborhood cats, and she was out the door, locking it behind her. She glanced at the plaque for her father’s surgery, with the small sign indicating “The Doctor Is Away”. It was not a new sign, for he still had kept his old surgery in the swamps, and travelled there every so often. It was the first time the sign had been put up before he had been called to the other clinic.
Ash had been watching the street, and nodded to her as they started off for the carnival. As was his habit in town, he walked a few paces behind her. His easy gait did not indicate how quickly he could move, when needed. He did not betray any annoyance at her wandering track through the carnival, as she flitted to and fro. Though masters of the Great Game (and Masters) could still be following her, she thought she had lost the smaller fish that would likely be interested in her movements.
In the marshes, Ash paced her as they searched for signs of the crash or Dr Mason’s passage. They moved quietly, relying on lantern signals to communicate where they were too far apart for hand signals to be seen. Ash was the first to find tracking – a fluttering paper speared on a branch. The scribble was incomprehensible, even to those who studied the Correspondence, but the hints of a Scholar were there. Amanda signaled for a spiral search around the tree, making sure Ash had his compass with him. She found the second roughly thirty yards northwest of the first, and they continued in the same fashion.
The lodestone habit of the denizens of the Neath to go North at all costs made tracking marginally faster, and they found him sleeping in the cup of an abnormally large cantharellus subalbidus upon which something had recently nibbled. His nightmare moans caused her to motion for Ash to step out of the doctor’s line-of-sight as she touched his shoulder to wake him.

North.

Author: David VC / Labels: , ,

Trying to focus. Writing letters for help and and impaling them on long-dead trees. I've given up guessing how long I've been out here. Only eternal night.

The sky continues to thunder. The Beleagured King, striding past on his sable horse, resplendent in a crimson shell that matches its master. He rides high, alabaster face with scarlet warpaint beneath the helm. Blood-red wings spread behind him like a cloak. Marshalling his troops under the gold banner he clutches for one last stand. Can this be? Yes! The Queen has freed our souls! We will die by your side as equals!

Can't you see him? Can you hear the thunder of hooves and see the burning trail of ironshod on flint? With rage he charges Hell's army! His crimson armor deflects the barbed arrowheads like drops of rain! His sword cleaves their banners like twigs! The footmen swarm around him! Scoundrels cut his horse beneath him! Let not the banner fall! Rush to his side! Protect the Queen!

TO THE NORTH!!!