The Spider Cliff Mysteries

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A hastily made shelter in the wreckage of many zeppelins

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Posted by Radek, 6:10am, 12 Mar, 2010

*Radek's eyes pupils have dilated to round disks, his expression criss-crossed with determination and exasperation- but although he is clenching the wheel so hard the palm of his hand has gone, the ship gives of a groan of wood straining against iron, and continues to lose altitude. Radek slowly let's go of the wheel, a forlorn smile flitting briefly across his lips. He murmurs 'yet another failure to make amends for, Radek. Remember-' his voice unaudible against the wind, and runs his fingers against the hard teak of the wheel before whirling around, fragments of torn suit flailing behind him... To find himself entranced.

Drops of rain shake from his hair as he watches Alice deftly dodge, weave and jump from section to section of the wounded craft. He greets her with a feverish grin as she yells in his general direction, and cuts a quick salute. Chuckling under his breath as he shakes rain and wooden dust off of his clothes, he tries to meet her eyes.* Alice! Or perhaps i should say, Skipper! We've lost all power - the ship won't listen to anything i try to tell her. she only recognizes the touch of the Captain. And on a completely different note, may i state that you have never looked more beautiful?
*Whistling cheerfully, he unstraps the blunderbuss from his back and reflexively fires into the night; there is the sound of iron tearing into iron in the distance. He stops whistling suddenly, face set and teeth grit.* ... We'll have to think of a plan. Alice? ALICE-

*Caught off guard for the second time that evening as Alice dashes towards him followed by a blur of feathers and magick that is just recognizable as an owl, he is quickly dragged along the cracked and shattered railing and thrown onto Leticia's craft. Alice's laughter seems to strengthen his resolve and he lands on the deck face-first, quickly rolling to his feet. Scanning his surroundings - many unknown faces and some old friends - he looks for Alice, rushing over to help her up - without need as she hoists herself on deck. As soon as Radek knows that Alice is on deck, he walks to the railing and turns a solemn glance to the ravaged but still elegant form of Eckstein's vessel, struggling against the sky before finally crashing towards the ground. The silence after the final blast is thick enough that it can almost be cut; the only sound other than the now quiet rain is the almost inaudible hum of the engine as it keeps them aloft. Radek waits several moments before talking, although when he does speak, his tone is still driven.*

You were excellent, Alice. Sorry if i was out of line, Skipper. Communications were bad and my ability to control the ship was weak. It won't happen again. *Radek's fingers stretch and clasp the air tensely as he paces back and forth, eying up Leticia's motley yet stalwart crew.* Thank you, everyone. Your timing was excellent, although i- can't figure' out for the life of me who'd set up automated turrets in a place like this. Naturally, Eckstein'll be allright. He has to be. Probably just crash-landed, there were enough supplies down there for sometimes. Where's Leticia? i'd like to thank her for her excellent timing, and catch up on all of the- the events that led to this.

*He wheels on the balls of his feet, turning to Alice and presenting her the blunderbuss in a ceremonial manner.* ... Although i think you should hold on to that shotgun for when we find the Captain, it was my honor to grasp your blunderbuss, Skipper. If you want me to hold on to it for a bit longer, i will, but otherwise i return it to you. What's our plan? *He locks irises with her and smiles an unreadable smile; one loyal, melancholy, determined, and filled with the brittle brass note of understanding. The thick scent of fog is slowly fading away in the rain and the distance.*
This message was last edited on 12 Mar 2010.

Posted by Lettuce-Chan, 6:55am, 12 Mar, 2010

*Cutting a rather dashing and captainly figure through the rain, Leticia strides towards her two old friends, rapping Mr Radek smartly upon the back with a leather gloved palm, and gives Alice the same.*

Good to see you two again, alive that is! ah ha ha! You'd both better come with me, and get yourselves cleaned up! It's been a long and tiring journey across continents, but I'm finally here, and just in the nick of time, by the looks of things. Quite a hairy situation, eh? I hardly think we would have lived to tell the tale if it hadn't been for my able-bodied crew. Come along. A long and exiting tale awaits you in my quarters!

*She leads them away, giving Alice a silken handkerchief on which to mop her blood stained brow.
She briefly introduces them to the crew, a motley bunch, hard and weathered, and with more than a bit of sky-pirate about them. But still good and dependable folk with much talent for fighting, shooting, and having loud brawls in public.
Taking them down a long, dark passage, she leads them into her quarters, rain spattering against the windows, a small magickal fire burning in the grate, courtesy of Spektor, and a large round table, covered in maps and diagrams of every description. She sits them down, and puts her feet up on the table with a roughish grin.*

So, you may both be wondering how i came to be here, in this dreadful wasteland. Especially since i told Alice here not so long ago that i was stranded in a mountain pass, my ship almost completely destroyed and not a penny to my name. Aye, it's a long story. But a very fine one, if i do say so myself.
You see, after being stranded, for about two weeks, i had begun to give up hope of leaving with my ship intact. I certainly didn't want to leave her, her engine in bits, strewn across the mountainside.
But then, when it seemed all hope was lost, i came across a group of traveling merchants, who after much talk, and large quantities of ale revealed themselves to be not merchants, but pirates!
Well, i thought to myself that i'd have to handle the situation very carefully.
So i gave them the promise of gold and all the rum they could drink, if they helped me out of my little situation.
They went with instructions to bring back food, drink, tools, and any spare machinery they could find.

They did well, and several weeks i spent fixing as best i could my broken vessel. I eventually got it in working order, after a fashion, although there was no way of knowing whether it would just give up the ghost after a few miles. Thankfully, it didn't, and i made my way to a small village, where i could purchase supplies, and the largest tool kit i could find.
I spent most of the journey to Vildeheim holding my breath that her engine wouldn't fail me.
She was almost on er' last legs by the time i got her docked at the sky-port.
I then spent several more weeks finding engineers willing to help me sort her out, and then supervising them through it, and then embarking on a lengthy mission to the great crystal mines in the south to "purchase" a large supply of sky-crystals, then almost getting devoured by a vicious wolverine, and finally arriving to find my ship gone and my recently aquired crew lying drunkenly about the dock, with no memory of anything untoward happening while i was gone, the scoundrels.

I then had to spend another week tracking the sky-ship thieves through the great white mountains. I eventually found them docked at an isolated village, enjoying the pleasures of whisky and gristly pies served by a large barmaid at the local tavern.

Well, i gave them what for. We raided the tavern, took all their whisky, and captured the barmaid. She turned out to be a very useful ally in our travels.
Simply magnificent with a spatula.

I then received news from the good captain that he had returned from his mission in the north, and that he was on the lookout for two old friends he hadn't seen for quite some time. I knew he might need my help, and when Spektor came and told me you were all being attacked and were in desperate need of assistance, i was over here quicker than a mouse up a lady's skirt.

And, well, i hardly think we need our little battle recounting to us, do we?

*She leans back, satisfied with her tale, and offers the two bedraggled adventurers a tin of chocolate bourbons with wide smile...**


This message was last edited on 12 Mar 2010.

Posted by Radek, 9:18pm, 12 Mar, 2010

*Radek offers a sunshine-warm smile to Leticia as she greets them, although he is otherwise silent as Alice and himself are given the grand tour; more than a little wet and bedraggled, stuck in his usual slouch and his hair hung uncharacteristically over his eyes with the weight of cloud-dew and fog, only interrupting briefly to mouth a 'thank you' to Leticia as she passes on a rather nice silk handkerchief to Alice. When they arrive in the spacey and comfortable quarters, he lets out a long-withheld sigh and sinks near Spektor's fire, letting it warm the exhaustion and worry off of him with a dream-like smile, his eyes half-shut. He listens to Leticia intently, nodding occasionally and chuckling at some parts of her story, cheering enthusiastically upon the creation of the new ship, liberation of a good barmaid who probably wasn't paid enough in her previous job anyhow, and of course the inevitable rescue. With a wistful sigh of undeniable happiness, he reaches over and retrieves a single chocolate bourbon, taking the tiniest bite and savoring it as if it were a precious treasure.*

Leticia... Thank you for everything. Your crew seems reliable, intrepid, and a tough pirate-ly type bunch, and far more trustworthy than some I've sailed with before. If you hadn't arrived when you had... Well, that's not worth thinking about. Safe to say the sky is more comforting than the land any day. *He chuckles darkly, then casts a glance at Alice, trying to determine how well she's holding up, and if she's still riding the fervid energy from earlier.* These bourbons are delicious. i do not that think that we've had real food for some time. you wouldn't happen to have a kettle somewhere, would you? *placing his hands on his knees, he leans forward with a grin from ear to ear* Even if you don't, this is wonderful. i'm glad you managed to recruit such an outstanding crew and make such a magnificent craft- these maps and charts are incredible!

Although i don't want to burden a good friend with more responsibility, there's a lot i'd like to look up. This could be the work of a certain baron who has come up multiple times, an old enemy of ours, or just bad luck, and i'd like to found out whom and how it happened.

~Not to mention, Alice's feverish words upon waking. Perhaps you don't want to bring it up now, Skinner, but you'll have to sometime. You need to talk to her. Not now though, it's too relaxing... and you never know who's listening. even in a place as safe as this...~

*Radek has been staring off into the fire for several minutes, obviously lost in thought. With a surprised and somewhat embarassed 'ech!' he rubs the back of his neck and continues.* Ehmn, sorry. As you can see though, we're quite tough creatures ourselves, if not a little tired and worse for wear! And although that might not sound like a statement of confidence, when i say it, i mean that i've never had a traveling companion i trust more. *He nods his head seriously, although it's nullified somewhat by a few flecks of bourbon crust on his stubble.* Naturally, i'll be more than glad to help out on board as much as i can in way of thanks! Although i have neglible skills when it comes to airship maintanence... *He winces a bit as he says this, but it comes and goes so quickly that it could almost be a trick of the light. Or perhaps it's in response to Spektor, who has now settled on his shoulders and is content to peck away at loose threads from his suit inbetween keeping the fire warm; a very owlish way of showing affection. He pauses, then laughs a little before sinking cheerfully into the very comfy chair.*

So that's us, just two beyond the pale adventurers, stuck in the coal wastes for sometime. Said it before, but it bears repeating - thanks. it almost feels like i could fall asleep for awhile, just a few hours... *Radek returns the very wide smile, yawning slightly although still vaguely alert and awake, feeling uncharacteristically safe in the warm cabin chamber...*

Posted by Alice belladora, 5:57am, 13 Mar, 2010

*Lost in her own thoughts once again, she dabs her forehead with the recently acquired handkerchief. She pays almost no attention as she's sat down in one of Leticia's comfy armchairs. Indeed, the armchair she has been given seems to have been in the possession of a rather hefty gentleman. Or perhaps an elephant, she muses, as she sinks in up to her armpits in well-worn velvet. She listens silently to Leticia's tale, marveling how the Captain's boots are polished to a mirror shine.
She watches with mild interest as Spektor sets about destroying Radek's suit in a well-meaning sort of way.
She suddenly gets the urge to have a quiet talk with Leticia about her current plans, and of marcus, headhunter for the cruel baron. And perhaps of a certain lady of ill renown that may be traveling with him... but, first, perhaps she should just rest her eyes for a moment...

She springs up. The room has gone quiet, and Radek seems to have uncharacteristically dozed off. Leticia is standing by the window, back to them. Spektor is nowhere to be seen. The rain seems to have stopped, but the sky is still a cold, dark, unpleasant grey. She removes a large spring from the back of her trousers, and approaches the brooding Captain.*

I think i may have fallen asleep there, Captain. ah ha. Not like me at all, wouldn't you say? *She walks forward slowly, rubbing her aching back, and leans on the large table. She pauses, looking down at some of the fantastical maps spread across the polished mahogany wood.*

It's been a strange few hours, hasn't it? First we get attacked, and then poor old Eckstein gets wiped off the face of the earth. And *he* doesn't even seem worried. (She glances at Radek.) Still, if he had fallen to the ground along with his ship, we would sure to have heard the force of the impact.

*She pauses, looking up with a small smile at the brooding Captain, before walking around the desk to stand beside her, gazing out into the troubling landscape.*

I'm going to need a quiet word with you, Captain. Or possibly a very loud one. It's about Marcus, and possibly Beatrice too. I have no doubt they were indeed behind this unfortunate attack, and if we don't do something about them soon, we'll all be very sorry indeed. It doesn't do to keep running from people like them. We'll have to face them sooner rather than later, and I'd rather it be sooner.
Or course... *She glances at Leticia.* We're going to need some very sharp weapons, not to mention everything else. Armor, a large and preferably imperishable stock of food supplies, and i really do need a new gun. I can't keep borrowing other people's. Speaking of which, and speaking very seriously now, what do you think has become of the good Captain?
I instructed Spektor very precisely to lift him out of danger at the last moment, thus making our enemies think he had died in a very unpleasant manner.
It would have been perfect. He could then have taken up another identity, possibly that of a heavily armed barmaid. But, of course, we already have an old barmaid, don't we?
*She smiles to herself, thinking of her last meeting with Hildebrand, barmaid/weapons extraordinaire, before continuing, this time very quietly.*

I know of a place we can find weapons, and everything else we need, at a very reasonable price. I also know of someone who may be able to help us.
We need to set our sights towards Darcancia once again, I'm afraid. That is why i believe disguises to be of extreme importance. I'm sure i can take up another identity, yet again.
And of course poor Mr Radek over there will have to don a very silly costume. And i believe you, Leticia, have a bounty placed on your head, remembering last time. I have no idea what we're going to do about you, but it will take some careful planning. Do we even have enough funds for a fake beard?

*She begins to brood quietly, she and leticia standing side by side, looking very much alike, apart from superficialities like hair, nose, skin, and height.
It begins to rain, this time more heavily, more decided that it was going to keep doing what it was doing for a long time. Far away, a lonely professor watches them, his beard trailing for some considerable distance behind him.*




This message was last edited on 13 Mar 2010.

Posted by Lettuce-Chan, 6:49am, 13 Mar, 2010

*She listens quietly to nothing but the crackle of the fire, and Radek's snores. Her mind is full of dark and unpleasant things, contrary to her cheerful outer appearance. She looks down at her boots, and hears Alice remove herself from the chair, seemingly awake at last. She stares ahead of her, listening to Alice speak for a time, not speaking herself until an uneasy silence has descended between them.*

...Darcancia, you say. I haven't even thought of returning since the last, ahem, incident. I suppose i could take the risk, if i must. If you really need to see this person. I don't see why we can't just visit any weapons shop, goodness knows there's too many of the damn things. But, of course, i know better than to argue with you in these matters. *She sighs.* I just don't know if i could stand to see my ship destroyed again, what with everything i went through to see her flying again. You'd have to promise me It's for a very, very good reason. I'm sure you'll come up with something that'd put even me to shame, but first, i think, before doing anything, we should find a place to stop for the night. My men are tired, injured, and very sober. Not a winning combination for a pirate, wouldn't you say?

*She sighs again, and turns around, heading for the door. She motions for Alice to follow, glancing with a raised eyebrow at the prone gunman. She makes a soft whistling sound, her eyes still on Radek. A few moments later, Spektor comes gliding into the room, although there are no entrances, and the door is locked and barred. He lands gracefully on Alice's armchair.*

Spektor, wake him up for us. Peck the idle so-and-so until he looks like a person with a severe case of dragon lurgy if need be. We need him awake and ready for a long discussion. Come with me, Alice.

*She fiddles with an enormous set of keys for a moment, before selecting the right one, and, unlocking the six heavy-duty locks barring them from intruders, sweeps out into the corridor, high-heeled boots clicking briskly against the floorboards. Alice follows with some reluctance.*


Posted by Radek, 7:31pm, 13 Mar, 2010

*The warm is humid, muggy. The scent of fresh oranges hanging heavy off of the trees and the constant chirping of cicadas seems to come from all around, quiet yet unavoidable. A very tall man, painfully thin and wearing a battered brown coat with too many pockets is picking the oranges with a young boy perched precariously on his back; the child's hair seems to disappear and melt into the citrus trees at times, and despite the fact that both seem to be in terrible physical condition, they're joking and smiling as they pick oranges from the trees. There is another sound, besides from the cicadas. Marching feet. The clatter of musical instruments, wheels against the pavement. Screaming, letters of draft. The anthem of the twelfth regiment of the Almerian guards. A fight, red and orange and the smell of citrus in the stormy air. You couldn't protect your family, and you abandoned me. You left me to die!

Radek wakes up slowly, rubbing his temple and feeling completely drained. Hearing the faint whispers of conversation, he immediately sinks back into the seat, closing his eyes tightly and snoring in the most convincing manner he can. He only catches snippets of conversation, whispers and shouts and familiar names tinged by the tone of Alice's voice, of Leticia's worry, of the destruction of ship and home and disguises to sneak back into a city they had barely escaped intact the first time... And no news of Captain Eckstein. Cursing under his breath, he pulls himself to his feet as soon as he hears the immaculate tapping of high-heeled feet against floorboards and the painful rapping of a beak upon the back of his neck. With a baleful smile towards Spektor, he rises up from the chair and cracks his neck from side to side, then curses under his breath as he realizes Alice and Leticia have already left.*

That'll be enough, Spektor. Not that i don't appreciate it- *He offers the owl a wry grin as he reaches around in his pockets for something - a clock, a compass, a box of matches perhaps - and fails to find it with a little sigh.* - but i should have just hopped to my feet and said what's on my mind, shouldn't i?... Heh. Maybe i'm just the stupidest person alive. No use worrying. Let's go, old friend. *Racing down the corridor as quickly as he can, he quickly finds himself lost in a maze of passages; Spektor tugs at his shoulders, and Radek walks to the left, the faint sound of feet reassuring him that he's heading in the right direction. Slipping on his most reassuring smile, he begins to talk quickly, as if to make up for lost time.* Well, that was a good nap! If Spektor here hadn't woken me up, i might have been asleep a few years, ahaha! That'd be crazy, now wouldn't it? Me sleepin' like a log for that long, ya know...

*One look at their solemn, reflective expressions and Radek's smile melts away. He sighs, rubbing the back of his neck and refusing to look at Alice, instead glancing at the floor as if it was the most interesting thing in the room.* ... Sorry. Looks like I'll put the cards on the table, as it were. Although, i did fall asleep, i, ah, heard some of what you two were talkin' about. *He pauses, biting his lip as if wanting to elaborate, but deciding not to. Although the passageway is empty of crew at the moment, he has no desire to let slip plans before they are decided upon... Especially since he doesn't know the whole story yet.*

Should've said something, I know. But... i wasn't fully awake either. Ah, doesn't matter. Look, i'm ready to talk about whatever needs doin'. And although I've got a million questions - like who exactly wants us dead so badly that they'd target Eckstein too.. *his fingers clench and release again, as if grabbing some invisible object.* - I know neither of you probably have the time and inclination to answer all of them. We have a mission to attend to. So with that out of the way- *he finally lifts his gaze from the ground, sets his back straight and stares straight at them* - let's talk. Regardless of the plan, it's high likelihood of failure or the dangers involved, you know I'll support y'all a hundred and ten percent. *With that, he grins toothily and runs a hand through his rather frizzy orange hair.* What can I say? i know we're all on edge, but... we'll carry on. We always do. Where to, Captain? *He addresses Leticia with a certainty not present earlier, looking as prepared as a weatherworn gunslinger with scraggly stubble and confused thoughts can.*
This message was last edited on 13 Mar 2010.

Posted by Lettuce-Chan, 6:05am, 14 Mar, 2010

*She appraises him with a strange look in her eye as he finishes speaking, as if deciding whether or not to trust him. A few moments later, apparently decided in the matter, she turns her back to both of them, and begins to pace up and down, her hands clasped behind her back. She begins to speak quietly.*

You both may remember a certain cruel woman by the name of Madame Beatrice. The one Alice supposedly blew to smithereens. Well, as i said to her that dark and stormy night as we were passing over the phoenix plains, she's going to turn up one day, sooner or later, and she'll have an accomplice with her. This accomplice...
Turned out to be Marcus, one of the most notorious headhunters working today. You may have seen his face plastered all over taverns and ale-houses. He's more wanted than seven tonnes of gold in the middle of a slum, if you'll pardon the expression.

*She begins to rummage around in one of her many pockets, drawing out keys, many pieces of lint, and a very small atlas before pulling out a rolled up scrap of very dirty paper. She passes it wordlessly to Radek, her expression deeply troubled. It turns out to be a wanted poster, bearing the picture of a very scoundrelly looking fellow with an exceedingly vicious grin, and several gold teeth.*

That would be him, Marcus the unbeatable, as i believe they call him nowadays. I don't believe him to be behind the attack we just suffered, at least not directly. Not subtle enough for him, i think. This would be the work of Beatrice, if anybody. It would be easy for her to obtain her own mechanical army, through extremely powerful magick.

Anyway. Enough of that. *She pulls the wanted poster from his grip and tucks it back in her pocket.*
Alice is of the opinion that we should go back to Darcancia. Apparently there's someone there who can help us. Goes by the name of Maurice ratcatcher. He lives somewhere in the vicinity of the East Darcancian docks.
Is that correct, Alice?

*She addresses what turns out to be an empty space beside her. Alice has disappeared. There is a sudden loud crash. The ship shudders violently. Leticia is thrown to the floor. Books fall off shelves. Many other small objects bounce and clatter across the wooden surface that suddenly becomes a wall. When things have righted themselves again, Leticia scrambles up and storms out the room, with a look on her face that would atrophy an elephant at five paces.*
This message was last edited on 14 Mar 2010.

Posted by Radek, 6:48am, 14 Mar, 2010

*Radek listens attently to Leticia, and appraises the wanted poster presented him with the look of someone assessing odds. Raising an eyebrow at the term unbeatable with a look that suggests he places it along the likes of immortal as titles you don't generally want to be called, he crosses his arms together and gives a curt nod to Leticia as she finishes describing the plan.* Sounds simple enough; determine if it was indeed Beatrice who is out for revenge, find a way to neutralize the threat posited by her guards or anyone she's working with, and meet with one Maurice ratcatcher. Seems to me to be a more than useful plan-

*Twenty different expressions drift across Radek's face. The very first is some kind of shock followed by what can only be described as some sort of nostalgia. Landing on his hands with a skill learned from many failures to do so earlier, he rolls to his feet just to see Leticia dashing off to properly flay -someone- alive. He shakes his head with a ridiculous roll of the eyes and a grin.* Well, Spektor, just you and me. I reckon i've got half a hunch who might be responsible for this turn of events, and you know where she goes, i follow. Any chance you'd have an idea where she is?

*His disappointment to notice that the owl has left with the apt timing peculiar to him turns quickly into a sense of determination as he runs the opposite direction of Leticia, drawing some stairs from bemused crewmen as tufts of thread fly from his now very-worn suit. He stops one rather gruff-looking pirate who sports half a head of hair dyed a brilliant yellow, a thin wax moustache, and a tattoo proclaiming his love of skydiving.* Excuse me! Normally i'd just wander around poking my head into random rooms until i find what I'm looking for, terrible habit i know, wanderlust... Ah, nevermind. Looking for my friend, new here, you helped us board- strawberry blonde hair, sort of brownish blond I should say, excellent taste in coats, hats, and accessories, probably headed towards engineering, looked a bit like your Captain, but not at all really... I'm rambling, aren't i?

*The pirate sighs and with a surprisingly refined accent responds, pointing down the hallway.* Possibly three doors down, to the left, up the hall and around the bend. Take the spiral stair down, and don't step on the wet floor, i just mopped. *Radek beams at the very exhausted looking sailor.* As a fellow mopper par excellence, i wouldn't dream of it! Thanks for the help, be certain to pay ya back when all this chaos is over! *With that, he darts off, leaving the crewman scratching his head and shrugging. The occasional klaxon screeches in his ear as he slides into the engineering room, barely avoiding a very nicely polished section of flooring.*

This message was last edited on 14 Mar 2010.

Posted by Alice belladora, 7:30am, 14 Mar, 2010

*Stood with a very large hammer tucked into his belt and looking vaguely confounded, Eckstein hears the unmistakable sound of an ungainly gunman catapulting himself into a small, incredibly cramped engine room. He sighs, and, lumbering over, he stands, looking with barely concealed mirth at Radek, polishing a large gear with a filthy cloth that might have once been white.

He addresses him with a wide, crooked grin, responding to the inevitable amazement and surprise with a wave of his meaty fist. He wipes his brow with the cloth, smearing oil and dirt across his temples.*

"Ya didn't think she'd leave me to die, did ya, skinner? Lifted to safety at the last moment by that darn owl, wasn't i? Got dumped on the other side of the ship, took them a while to find me. I was just lyin' there, like a sack o' potatoes, mumblin' some codswallop about a barmaid called Hildebrand, i was.
Brought me down ere', said i could make myself useful, an' that i could fix a few little nigglin' problems an' all. Alice knew i was alright, near enough. But ya shoulda' seen er face when she found me. We been talkin' about a few things. Said she ad' to go and find me, couldn't stand all the waitin' around. This was the first place she thought o' lookin.'

*He leans forward conspiratorially, speaking in a quiet voice.*

"Ya won't tell Leticia i been down ere', will ya? See, we had a little bet last time we spoke, and i ain't got a single groat to me name at the moment. Not to mention the fact that i avent' told er I'm alright. Be makin' erself ill with worry, no doubt. She'll skin me alive. Best to lie low, make it look like i just woke up ere'. If she asks about what i owe er', I'll just claim i hit me head so hard i can't remember a thing.

What, Alice? ah, she's up top. Told me not ta tell nobody, but i reckon she'll want to talk to you. Quite the spirited driver, eh? Ya just go out the door behind me, up the stairs, down the corridor, to your left and out. Ya can't miss it.

*He chuckles to himself, and shakes his head, lumbering off to the other side of the room, drawing his hammer out of his belt with intent to bash something into submission.*




*Far above, Alice spins the rudder with almost innocent abandon. The sun seems to have come out from behind the clouds, warming the newly polished deck, and bouncing off the newly polished head of one of the pirates, as he bends over to apply wax to a stubborn section of wood. The ship sways from side to side. Spektor perches upon her shoulder, grooming himself thoroughly. She ignores the furious Leticia, smiling sweetly at her. *

Oh, do stop going on. It's been so long since i flew one of these. Too long. Uncle fredregar would be proud, wouldn't you say? I always told him i'd have my own ship one day. Yes, i know it's not my ship. I didn't think you'd mind.
Look, i've only crashed once. And that flying crystal-vendor really was asking for it, hogging all the sky like that. All this depressing talk about headhunters and evil sorceresses returning from the dead to exact revenge on me. We'll deal with all that when the time comes. Maurice will know what to do. And i haven't seen old bertram for a while. Not to mention Mr Codworthy, he owes me almost ten gold coins. I'll see to it i get every last one off him, the devious cad!

*She continues in this fashion, until leticia leaves, shaking her head in disbelief, and muttering dark things under her breath. She almost crashes into Radek, as he bursts out into the sunshine. She pushes past him, with an unpleasant look upon her face. Alice smiles to herself, and feeds spektor an owl-nut, the ship creaking gently.*
This message was last edited on 14 Mar 2010.

Posted by Radek, 8:09am, 14 Mar, 2010

*Perhaps the crash into the engine room lacked the grace of a gazelle, and Radek certainly hadn't meant to slam into a messy toolkit filled with an assortment of precision spanners and hammers, but the expression on his face was priceless as he picked himself up from the floor, dusting layers of grease off his sleeves with a sheepish grin that flickers quickly between awe and a quiet smile as the good captain approaches. He offers his outstretched hand and shakes Eckstein's warmly.*

What can i say, captain? Good to see you alive and well, although I never shoulda doubted that Alice'd have some method of secreting you away in the nick of time. You should really look into nominating that girl for honorary Skipper some time, she was incredible out there... Er, and sorry 'bout your ship. I might be a crack shot, but i'm not exactly the best pilot. *With an embarrassed shrug of his shoulders, Radek listens to Eckstein with furrowed brows, nodding slowly.*

... It'd be my pleasure. Between us, you've just woken up and are fervently in need of a good pint of something or other- can't remember anything unless it needs to be remembered.

*He smiles warmly, staring at a nearby spiral staircase where light is filtering down from up above- they must have hit a breach in the clouds.* Alice's up top then... I'm gonna go talk to her. Take care, Cap'n. *Noticing that Eckstein has already left to fix up some of the ships internal workings, Radek stares at his feet and shuffles them from left to right awkwardly, taking a deep breath and heads up the stairwell.

The sun is streaming out of the clouds, bathing the deck in a stream of phosphorescent light amid skies of unfathomable blue. Radek strolls onto the deck as casually as he can, bootlaces having once again come loose and in dire need of a shave... But otherwise in decent shape. He edges past Leticia - ignoring her exasperated expression - and walks over to the bow, hands in his pockets.*

Nice piloting, Belladora. You really look the part now, what with Spektor on your shoulder and your hand at the helm. *The ship lurches slightly, and one of the pirates shakes his head. Radek ignores him, and leans back on a section of the railing, staring at Alice with a wide grin.* To be honest, i was a little worried at first... Maybe that something had happened, or you'd decided to embark on a little mischief for your own inscrutable reasons. Not that you'd any do anything like that, of course! Or that it'd bother me if you did. *These last words are quiet, and for a minute, Radek looks pensive before continuing.*

A-anyway. A friend who i'd figured taken one last trip beyond the stars told me that you'd be up here, and that... Maybe you'd want to talk? The sun is beautiful out today - I actually feel like it'd be all right to have a picnic on deck. A real one, with good tea, cakes, coffee, some sort of main course. Hah, but listen to me here... What'd you want to talk about, Alice? Or perhaps i should ask - where to?
*Radek leans off of the rail and walks over, watching Alice and the motion of her hands as she steers, just treasuring the moment as she guides the ship through the skies.*
This message was last edited on 14 Mar 2010.

Posted by Alice belladora, 2:15pm, 14 Mar, 2010

*For a long while, Alice says nothing. She gently steers the ship to the left a little, seemingly entranced.
Spektor shuffles about upon her shoulder, and gives her a sharp peck on the side of her head.
Snapping out of her daydream, she looks over to Radek, as though only just noticing his presence.
She smiles in a content sort of way at him, and begins to rummage around in a particularly deep pocket,
drawing out several rolled up pieces of paper. She walks over to sit next to him on the polished wooden railing, Spektor left in command of the vessel.*

So, Here we are again. *She grins cheerfully.* You know, i didn't think we'd make it out of that dreadful situation. To be honest with you, i'd never handled a shotgun before. I usually prefer something a little lighter, such as a rocket launcher. Ah ha. But, in all seriousness, i don't think i could be trusted with something like that. Far too much temptation to wreak all sorts of damage. I do have something of, um, a wicked streak. Occasionally. Though you can't say firing several dozen rockets at an especially ugly building wouldn't be a little fun. *She allows herself a few moments to look wistful, and then continues.*

Anyhow. That aside, i think you should hear of my plans. It's very important you should know about the finer details, especially the bit where i blow up the astrology institute! Ah ha ha. Only joking. Still, if the worst comes to the worst, and i happen to be carrying a large amount of dynamite and a box of matches... *She gives Radek a mildly frightening grin.* No, no. I don't have anything particular against them, apart from the fact that they banned me from ever stepping foot inside their doors, all because of that little incident with the dragon. Honestly, it wasn't even under my charge! but you know these official types. A few burnt books and a smashed door and they get all upset.

*Shaking her head, she begins to untie one of the bits of dirty string holding the paper into a roll. She passes the particularly difficult one to Radek. When they are both undone and spread out onto Alice's lap, she points to an especially complicated map of what looks to be the city of Darcancia, albeit a very badly tea-stained Darcancia.*

This is where we need to go. *She taps a small oil stain in the corner, and removes a strange brass ocular device from her pocket, holding it up to one eye.*

At the Darcancian sky-docks, lies a small district, fit to bursting with pirates, engineers, watch makers, and the like. There we will find Maurice ratcatcher, a very old friend of mine. I haven't seen him for many a year. He lives deep in the bowels of the Darcancian waterway, in the dark, with only his rodent companions, working long and hard on his craft.
There is another old friend we must see, the quartermaster, who will supply us with weapons, and other such things. I don't suppose he's forgotten me. He certainly won't ask me for payment, though you may have to slip him a few gold coins. He will allow us passage through one of the secret entrances to the waterway.

He knows Maurice well, and the two have an agreement that they will supply each other with certain rare materials. The weapons you may buy from the quartermaster are unlike anything you could ever buy from anyone else.
They are all infused with powerful magick, and many of them are well beyond anything any common adventurer could afford.


These things are the easy part of our journey. First, we must fly into Darcancia without being captured and imprisoned, and i fear this may be the hardest part. They'll recognize Leticia right away, and my face is well known to many of the Darcancian guards. We both must assume a different identity, if we're to pass through without trouble.

*She begins to bite her lip, looking extremely pensive, the only sound to be heard the quiet squeaking of a wooden board polished to near disintegration. Alice gets up, tired of the scoundrel's eavesdropping, and removes him firmly from the deck, telling him to go polish the rest of the ship, and to be quick about it. Spektor surveys the scene with a mildly bored expression. Far away, a white-bearded professor watches the sun dip slowly into the horizon.*
This message was last edited on 14 Mar 2010.

Posted by Radek, 2:20am, 15 Mar, 2010

*Beaming as Alice joins him on the railing, Radek tilts his head back and closes his eyes enjoying the feeling of the wind and the sunlight. When he speaks, it's languidly and at ease, something he hasn't felt for some time.* Wicked streak, hah. That's what I like about you. Well, one thing, anyway. Perhaps it's because troublemakers are drawn together..? Maybe we'll have to find you one some day, and cause a little carnage together. For all the right reasons a'course. *Chuckling, he tilts his neck up and listens to her plans intently, instantly looking more serious and alert. He focuses on her as she talks, nodding seriously at her mentions of blowing up the astrology institute.*

Sounds like a capital plan! Ehaha, although if you're just joking, i suppose that's all right too... But it'd be a crying shame to let such a happy set of explosives and their matches go to waste; they're a matching set, after all! And if it just so happened that i ended up lighting your fuse, well i couldn't be happier! *Matching her grin with a sly wink and a shrug of his shoulders, he again assumes a serious expression, wrapping his fingers on the rail as they drift through a cloud bank.*

... Honestly, people who focus on the rules and their execution, especially when my friends and fellow adventurers are involved, and especially when one happens to be you - while, that tends to get under my fingernails, as it were. The way i see it, fun and adventure is more practical than some building, and knowledge just wants to be free! You probably brought that dragon in to help teach them something, right? Right! *Filled with a sudden burst of righteous anger, Radek grits his teeth and looks as if he might curse once or twice; this is quickly mollified when he gladly accepts one of her maps, untying it carefully and spreading it out with a careful hand. He admires the beautiful craftsmanship, although the tea-stains are also rather poignant in their own way.*

Rodent companions... This ratcatcher fellow sounds interesting. An engineer or a pirate, a seller of information? *Radek shrugs, but a faint grin is just barely visible on his face, dying to burst out.* Sounds like you already have a plan involved. Knowing you it sounds dangerous, with a high risk of detection, wanton destruction, new and old friends and possible death. I'm rather eager to meet this quartermaster; although i cannot recall how much gold i have at the moment, there might be a few things that i could happen to offer in trade... *Falling silent, Radek pauses to listen to her again, nodding slowly; he seems to hang on her words, as if not just listening to them but the way she articulates them, and when she finishes snaps back to attention as if out of a trance.*

... Alice. i understand this will be dangerous, and that we may be in grave danger. And although wearing disguises is right up there on airship piloting as a skill that i'm doing my best to learn, ahahah... Well, I think we can do this. Naturally, I have a few suggestions, but you call the shots and i'll follow you there. Besides, sounds like we have some places to visit back in Darcancia; and it couldn't hurt to check on the shop, ah? *He falls silent as she eliminates the rather annoying eavesdropper from their conversation, cheeks slightly red as he realized he hadn't even thought to notice the chrome-domed interloper. With a shy shuffling of his feet, he continued to speak, voice much quieter.*

For one, it might be of advantage for us to dock nearby; my knowledge of Darcancia is somewhat vague, but if I remember the port city of Clomin is close enough we could land there, acquire disguises, and hire a smaller merchant vessel to take us in to Darcancia proper?... No, too risky. Gah, plans are too much for me; perhaps i'm doomed to improvise interestingly, ahaha... *He leans forward very abruptly, voice barely above a whisper and eyes stormy.*

Alice... I can't get this uncomfortable feeling off my back. It feels like there's someone watching us. Not just that scallywag... Something. It's nothing, just a nothing that's itching at the back of my spine. Look, you know that i'm right behind you and'll follow you back into that opera house even if it means fighting an entire regiment of hired guards or convincing a dragon to learn proper table manners.

I feel like there's more that we could discuss or talk about, and i just... Don't know how safe we are out here. It felt so secure moments ago, a bit like when we first had that conversation in your shop, but... *He sighs and leans back, staring straight up into the sky.* Maybe we should continue this discussion in private or later. I don't want to be responsible for a breach in security, especially if it means... i was certain we lost Eckstein. If it'd happened, and been my fault... If that'd been you... *He stares away as the sun as it slowly sends shivers of liquid gold down the sky and sighs, silent and downcast before he offers one last smile.* It won't be, though. So... Who we are going to be disguised as, Belladora? *His earlier grin returns to his face as they continue to sail through the dusky sky.*

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