The Spider Cliff Mysteries

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A hastily made shelter in the wreckage of many zeppelins

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Posted by Alice belladora, 11:20am, 30 Mar, 2010

*Doctor Edgar whimpers quietly as he is flown away by the giant eagle, wondering, in his own terrified way, what was going to become of him. Not that he was wondering particularly fiercely about this, most of his mind directed towards one thing: Panicking. Not the thrashing around kind of panicking reserved for people even more cowardly than he, but quiet, out of body panicking, if there is such a thing.
He could scarce believe his eyes when he was taken, just plucked from the deck, by the winged fiend.
He had thought that perhaps he had been knocked silly by that devilish orange crate, the effects delayed.
But no, he had been scooped up, without even a glance from that no-good Captain or even Alice herself. But, to be fair, she was terribly busy not hitting that enemy ship. But still.

His eyes still shut tightly against his current situation, he suddenly realizes he has lost his spectacles. The unfamiliar feeling of being without them perched comfortingly on his nose fills him with yet more panic, causing him to wriggle ineffectually against the talons on the eagle, digging into his lovely waistcoat. Reusing to open his eyes, he misses the sight, however far away, of the merchant ship being spectacularly destroyed, and of a much smaller and quicker ship soaring off into the clouds.
No doubt he would have been deeply relieved, or even perhaps let out a cheer, if only he wasn't so frightened.
The feathery kidnapper begins to carry him off into the mountains, where the sorceress's hideout lies.
The only indication he has of his fate is the sudden cold, which causes him to shudder violently, and wonders what on earth has happened to Alice, Captain Eckstein, and the others...*

*Alice keeps an eye on the situation, from a high vantage point on Leticia's stolen vessel. All she can see is clouds, above and below, but she stays alert for any sign of the black ship giving chase. Leticia steers at the helm, while Eckstein recovers from the day's events in one of the six small rooms at the bottom of the ship.
Hildebrand keeps a eye out at the other end of the ship, or rather both eyes, hers not being as keen as they once were.
Alice reflects on the past few hours, gun propped up against the metal railing.

She had realized what was going to happen, known it even before they stole the doomed merchant schooner. So why did she let it happen? Because there was no other way out. She knew Marcus would be able to track them down quickly, and a fake death would have been just the thing.
She knew he was in the city, watching them. She wonders where Edgar could have possibly gone to. A nasty thought slithers into the back of her mind, but she ignores it for now.
Remembering her surprise at the sudden, but very welcome appearance of Leticia, she lets out a loud laugh, causing a very grumpy old brown owl to glare at her reproachfully.

She remembers how she had, with Spektor's help, flung Radek from the slowly sinking vessel, followed by the Captain and the barmaid, who were arguing about whose fault it was that the ship had been struck by half a dozen cannons.

Then, quick as a ferret, Leticia had flown them to safety, or at least relative safety. Then Eckstein had given poor Radek a lecture about the importance of eating regular meals, before promptly collapsing and having to be dragged away by Hildebrand, babbling nonsense at the top of his voice.
She smiles to herself, tired but feeling rather proud of the fact that none of them had been killed.
Well, not that we know of, she thinks, avoiding the subject of Edgar's disappearance to herself once again.*

~Meanwhile, in her mountain home, a cruel sorceress awaits the return of her hostage...~

This message was last edited on 30 Mar 2010.

Posted by Lettuce-Chan, 11:57am, 30 Mar, 2010

*Having installed Radek with a mop and a bucket of warm, soapy water, and Alice with an instruction to keep her eyes peeled, Leticia slowly steers the ship through the clouds, ever alert for an appearance by their enemy. Their destination is to a certain small city, a little way out from a small island off the coast of Atlas. She narrows her eyes at the mopping gunman, making sure he cleans every last inch of the deck before even thinking of talking to either Alice, Eckstein, or Hildebrand.
The ship is ridiculously fast, even for such a light vessel, and she has to bring forth the use of a pair of battered welding goggles, to shield her eyes against the wind.
Perhaps she did feed the ship too many crystals, but then again, it had been an emergency. She feels doubtful that the black ship would be able to catch up with them, even if it was following, but she still feels tense.

Evening begins to grow closer, and she shivers against the biting cold...*

Posted by Radek, 6:33pm, 31 Mar, 2010

*For his part, Radek is cleaning admirably - an optimistic tune whistling soundlessly across his lips and his eyes staring pleasantly off into the distance. If they're slightly glazed, it's probably because of all the chaos they've just been through, and nothing else. His breath turns to icy streams of air as he exhales, and after awhile he stops whistling to focus on the task at hand. Silence passes over the cool, crisp air for awhile before Radek coughs and begins to strike up a conversation, looking a bit chilled himself.*

"Thanks for the rescue, Leticia. We would've been done in but good if you hadn't busted in. I'd offer you my coat, but it's a bit worn out from everything, and, ah, i've worn it for a couple days." *He laughs, resting the mop against one side of the deck to survey his work. Noticing a few patches of mysterious green substance coating the - hardwood? Possibly metal? - surface of the deck, he continues to scrub and talk, face turned away from Leticia.* "... To be honest, I kinda misjudged ya. You've been helpful in the past, but for some reason, my paranoia got the better of me. Been having these crazy experiences lately - look, I know I'm not getting out of this until I'm done, so I was wondering if I could ask you a question? There was this guy - short, probably bald and definitely wearing the worst hairpiece I've seen in my life - did you pick him up, too?... Nevermind, scratch that. Well I'm at it, how's Eckstein doin'?" *Chuckling, Radek fences with the mop, clearly content with the job he's done- but a baleful look from Leticia sends him scurrying back to work with a sigh.*

"Alice did great. It's honestly not her fault that we ended up in such hot water - everything went as planned, honest as that. Luck wasn't with us, but I'm sure that she'll have information she wants to go over with you... Although to be honest, I haven't heard a peep of it yet." *Briefly looking worried, Radek finally steps to the side with a professional glint creeping into his eye- the deck is no shiny that it could possibly serve of some sort of heat reflective shield. He folds his arms across his chest and leans against the railing, staring into the sky.*

"... So, anyway. If there's anyone to blame for this whole fiasco, I'll take it. Hildebrand was incredible under fire. We wouldn't have made it out of the city if it hadn't been for her knowledge of Darcancia, and she's great in a fight. Eckstein kept a fine eye on us, of course, and I've already told you about Alice. And it's cold as a Sarmatian winter out here. This deck isn't getting any more polished - let's grab something to drink, eh? You can tell me all about how much trouble I'm in afterwords!" *Radek smiles cheerfully, although it doesn't quite match up to his eyes; they continue to gaze towards the sky, as if constantly worried that a huge black shilouette will pierce the sky with a wail of metal and the solemn hum of steam.*

~And far away, events continue to be set into motion. A small procession marches slowly towards the home of a certain sorceress, carrying a single palancar upon whom rests a very old man with a flowing beard and glassy eyes...~
This message was last edited on 31 Mar 2010.

A disappearance of some importance...~

Posted by Alice belladora, 3:04pm, 1 Apr, 2010

*The disappearance of the professor did not go unnoticed for long. Indeed, peace shouldn't have even lasted ten minutes, thinks the middle-aged english teacher, as he hurries down one of the many corridors in the academy. Chaos is everywhere. Two slightly younger professors are having an argument in one corner, the angrier looking one of the two hitting the meeker one with a large dictionary.
People are rushing up and down the halls, magick sometimes being cast inadvertently by inexperienced students. An ancient looking teacher is scolding a frightened-looking group of dinner ladies. Shouting, swearing, small explosions.
The usual.

As a small fire demon ounces off the ceiling and sets fire to a large bookshelf, followed by much panicked dousing, the middle-aged professor shakes his head, and increases the speed of his hurrying.
He hurtles down another corridor, and leaps up a long flight of stairs, followed by another flight of stairs.
By the time he reaches entrance to the library, he is running so fast that he fails to notice a statue of a dragon standing proudly where there was once a door...

By the time he wakes up, a great deal of time has passed. The sky has grown dark, and as he picks himself up, with much feeble muttering about "Bloody statues" he seems to realize this. A panicked expression forms on his face, and he flies off back down the corridor, dropping a small leather-bound book as he goes. It bounces across the floor, and lands at the feet of the very convincing statue...*

This message was last edited on 1 Apr 2010.

Posted by Lettuce-Chan, 3:31pm, 1 Apr, 2010

*Leticia stares in silence at the mountains in the distance, before speaking quietly to the gunman, as though worried there might be an enemy spy hiding behind a barrel.*

You're relieved of your duties for now. I suggest you'd better go tell Alice she can stop watching now, since she seems to have frozen into a block of ice. Ordinarily I'd accept your offer of a glass of port, but I'd better keep an eye on things here. And, unfortunately, i happen to be the only one who can pilot this vessel, an' it took me about an hour to work it all out an' all. Some very strange technology, this. Why, there's so many buttons, switches and levers, It's making me quite unwell.
Anyway. As i say, tell Alice she's free to go, and take her down into my quarters. They're first on the left. As you say, we need to speak about some things in private. I have rather a good idea as to what's happened to our badly-wigged friend. Oh, and while you're at it, you can take this to Captain Eckstein.

*She passes him a small leather bag from her pocket without looking over, still frowning at the horizon...*

~Meanwhile, the dragons begin their journey across the sea...~

Posted by Radek, 5:29am, 2 Apr, 2010

*The lanky gunman is still staring at the melting gold glint of the sun as it fades into the blue and burgundy sky, hands stuffed into his pockets both out of habit and from a desire to keep warm. He gratefully accepts the small leather bag and delicately places it into his jacket pocket, now emptied of everything save a few strands of cotton thread, a moldering packet of emergency strawberry tea, and a quietly ticking copper beetle. He turns to face Leticia with his stormy grey eyes, but does not quite stare at her as he speaks.*

"Thanks. I appreciate the leave of duty; there were some things i needed to talk to Miss Belladora about. Then again, this deck wasn't gonna clean itself!..." *The joke falls flat and the tension is like a thick fog. Neither the master pilot nor the gunman speak for awhile before Radek nods his head and pulls off an awkward salute, wandering off with his arms around his waist to conserve heat. Both continue to stare at the sky as if even the languidly appearing stars conceal some sort of hidden enemy. Intent on talking to Alice, Radek sets off for where he remembers seeing a familiar tawny glint of hair and entrancing - if somewhat cold-seeming - eyes peeking out from under a familiar top hat moments earlier. As he walks, he loses himself in thought about things he'd rather not consider... His walk is interrupted by the shadow of a certain giant of a man blocking his path, something that snaps the grateful Radek out of his introspection in a second. Eckstein stands in front of him, nursing a noticeable bruise on one massive arm comparable to the slight limp in Radek's left leg. The two stare at each other for a minute, before Eckstein breaks the silence.* "Skinner." "Captain." *Eckstein pauses briefly, then sighs and continues.*

"... Look. I'm not good at sayin' this sorta thing, but. Y'know, I didn't mean to be putting any of ya at risk with my - it's just that i knew what we needed to be doin', and Alice and yerself's safety was my top priority-" *Radek cuts him off with an understanding smile.* "Look. No apologies needed, captain. And if anyone should be, it's me. Some bodyguard I am - we're just lucky Leticia showed up when she did... But we're safe for now, and that's good enough for me. You did well- ah, and she told me to hand this over to you. Could be important." *Radek takes the small leather pouch from his pocket and hands it to Eckstein, whose eyes widen briefly before he shoves it into one of many pockets lining his grease-stained coveralls.* "Yer all right, Skinner. Now, ah, iffn' you'll excuse me, there are some other people that I, ah, need to go have some words with-" *His flustering and slight red hue leaving very little doubt about who this certain person might be, the captain and the gunman go their separate ways.

Radek's boots crunch against the slight layer of skyfrost covering the deck floor as he walks into a small alcove obscured by an exhaust pipe and several mechanical outlets of engimatic purpose, some spitting clouds of crystalline smoke into the night sky. He smiles softly, raising a hand to his now rather scruffy orange beard as he observes Alice's hiding place.* "Well... You probably heard everything that just happened. You are hereby officially ordered to stop freezing half to death!... Although it really meant a lot to me. I thought Leticia's eyes were going to bore into my skull. Something about the way she stood reminded me of you, and that lead me to figure you were probably hiding out around here, and why I thought that... Well, even cleaning the whole deck twice over didn't bother me."

*Laughing, the tall man in the battered blue and white pirate jacket sits down on the cold wooden deck, shivering against the cold. Smiling at Alice, he rests his hands and on his knees.* "Guess this is another time I've kinda failed you as a bodyguard - you ever gonna get 'round to firing me? Although I'd probably follow you around like a lost puppy if I'm honest, hahaha!... Thanks, Alice. We've certainly got a lot to discuss. That black ship... That was definitely him, wasn't it? Marcus." He pauses for a minute, unsure of how to continue, his eyes reflecting her in the midnight air for a minute as he tries to think of what to say, of whether to ask about Beatrice or Marcus or the dangers they face or how she looks in the cool night air... Smiling, he snaps his fingers. "Don't know about you, but I'm freezing out here. My Almerian blood isn't used to this sorta cold, ha! Leticia said we could use her quarters, and as usual it seems there's a lot we need to discuss. Might I escort you there, Madame?" Smiling, Radek offers his arm to Alice, cutting a somewhat haggard profile as the stars hesitantly cast their radiance over the ship sailing so quietly into the evening...*

~The palancar stops, it's sole passenger picking up his aging and decrepit body with much effort; his beard flows down to his waist, his clothes well-suited to the mountains both he and the sorceress he visits call home. Tapping his cane against the ground, his palancar bearers cry out, bodies bubbling as if made of ink; they fizzle to the ground and disappear from the light; he is alone. He knocks at the door, and is shown in by a well-dressed servant- after that, there is nothing besides the anguished howling of the wind at the events unfolding.~
This message was last edited on 2 Apr 2010.

Posted by Alice belladora, 4:56pm, 2 Apr, 2010

*Standing up with a crack of what was hopefully ice and not bones, Alice looks so tired she might fall asleep while standing, which wouldn't do at all. She sticks out her arm, and allows him to escort her, or rather help her stay conscious long enough to reach the warmth of the Captain's quarters.
Something briefly is silhouetted against the moon, but is gone. Leticia glances up and frowns for a moment, but just continues her brooding at the rudder.

Eckstein and Hildebrand can be heard having a quiet argument in one remote corner of the deck.
The barmaid brings her fist down onto the railing to make a point, snapping it in the process, it only being a delicately ornate structure.
As Alice is pulled down a corridor, and the anguished swearing of Hildebrand fades into the distance, she idly wonders why there are so many stains on the ceiling. She also wonders why the gunman hasn't shaved that dreadful thing off yet, or changed his outfit, which now seems to have become one giant stain, but keeps it to herself.*

*Miles away, Atlas sits quietly on the brink of a momentous event, the event itself flying steadily towards the small pirate city. A large cargo ship passes far overhead with a quiet rumble, while a small griffin perches atop a particularly tall building, surveying the mass of softly glimmering lights.
It scratches its hindquarters idly.
The gathering has begun.*

~Not so many miles away, a certain sorceress awaits the arrival of her old professor, and also of news from Darcancia about Marcus. That ship almost ruined her plans. Yes, indeed. She wonders who might have sent it, and curses herself for not thinking of such a brilliant means of extermination herself.
But now she knows they will be expecting another attack, and will be prepared...~

*As they reach the door to Leticia's quarters a suspiciously short while later, Alice suddenly feels the need to go sleep for at least two days. She mumbles something apologetic to the gunman, including the words "I'm sorry but i really must you know, and please take care of my hat", and weaves off into the darkness, the tails of her coat drooping.

A few minutes later, two loud voices can be heard coming down the corridor, arguing about whose turn it was twenty years ago to peel the potatoes. As Eckstein and Hildebrand arrive, they seem not to notice Radek, until Eckstein himself walks into the unfortunate gunman with a soft whump, and a cackle from Hildebrand.
Picking himself up, the temporarily shipless captain gives Radek a glare, and pulls him into Leticia's quarters, followed by the still laughing Hildebrand, to discuss the matter of their destination, and why.
Spektor is already inside, sitting comfortably atop his favorite resting place, a leather armchair...*

This message was last edited on 2 Apr 2010.

Posted by Radek, 8:22am, 3 Apr, 2010

*Radek bites his lip as he and Alice walk towards Leticia's quarters - although they seem like a home away from home right now, the concern on his face is obvious.He responds as cheerfully as can to her half-muttered words; he remains so focused on assuring Alice that that she can sleep as long as she likes, it's really quite fine and that they don't have to talk until morning that he fails to notice the shadow playing across the face of the moon. As Alice turns to face him with bleary eyes and a yawn, Radek makes sure to offer her blankets, more assurances, and a careworn smile that melts into the night as she disappears from sight. He stares into the hallway long after she's gone, fingers rubbing at his face as if feeling it for the first time. He walks off with the glazed look of one possessed, unable to fall asleep between insomnia and the sound of wood shattering from the force of Hildebrand's arguing, feet taking him towards a small, closed-off room...

Far below the cloud cover, a thin layer of frost coats Atlas. A member of the city watch and simply a pirate with a better name, squints into the sky with a weary eye as commerce flows steadily in and out of the city airspace in the form of the tiny fleet of merchant and buccaneer vessels coming and going as they please - with so many, what's one more? She grins ruefully as several larger griffins drift across the tradewinds and into her field of vision - for as long as Atlas has existed, the griffins have brought it luck; but their presence does little to reassure the sentry this night as one more craft passes into Atlas jurisdiction.*

~In the highest peaks of the nearby mountains, one of the sorceress's personal servants looks at the old man incredulously - his eyes are nearly blind with cataracts and every step he takes is slow and labored. Yet the look on the visitors face causes the servant to shiver uncontrollably as the old man smiles at him with dissonant serenity. The professor ignores the servant and heads directly into the lavish room ahead of him, admiring the gold engraving upon the walls and the fine columns of porcelain. He bows as low as his bones will bend, grin stretching skin against his skull as he greets the lady Beatrice. He spends several minutes praising her elegance, wealth, and power, as well as her choice of investment in the Headhunter, Marcus. He rests his gnarled fingers against his cane as he asks how a mere old man such as himself can possibly be of any assistance to such a favored pupil? After all, they both have stake in this matter...~

*Back aboard the craft now hovering just above Atlas, Radek stands alone in a dark, mildewy room. It appears to be some sort of shower or washroom, but age and disuse has rendered it quite dull, unlike the razor glinting between the gunman's exposed fingertips. There is no mirror - Radek stares at the light reflecting off of the city far below, fingers running over his beard again, expression listless between dreams and reality.

He slowly brings the razor to his skin, and drags it across his face as if in a trance. One pass - how had his father taught him to do it, again - two passes, and coppery hairs are falling across the floor - three passes, and Radek's eyes jolt awake from his half-sleep as the razor sinks into his cheek. He stares in surprise as he slowly removes the blade from his face, watching in dull surprise at it as red drops splatter against the floor. Pressing a finger to his cheek and determining the wound is only superficial, he shakes the blade dry with a bitter, self-deprecating smile, folding it and placing it in his jacket pocket, and uses the old tea packet as a rather bad replacement for gauze, figuring the reddish color will help obscure his insomnia-riddled mistake. Only a few minutes have passed since he talked to Alice, and as he walks back through the hallways lost in reflection, he is dragged out of it by a rather brusque Eckstein and a victorious-seeming Hildebrand. Eckstein paces back and forth as Hildebrand sinks into a chair with a good legrest, eying the two men with no small amount of amusement before starting the conversation, much to Eckstein's annoyance.*

"Weeeell, Skinner. Turns out Eckstein's been thinkin' loads 'bout our destination and Captain Leticia and what we're supposed to be doing here in Atlas! Course no-one asks me, I'm just the barmaid now. Cor! Figured we should have a nice little fireside chat, just the three of us! Since Letty's busy watching the sky and getting us settled into town- what're we doin' in a pirate haven like this, hmmn?" *Hildebrand raises one bushy eyebrow as Eckstein fumes and Radek offers a halfhearted shrug.* "Unfortunately, o don't know what our current plans our, either. I think... I recall earlier plans we had, before the - before the accident. We were going to come here and regroup, and I think that's why we're here now. Atlas is a border town, and no one'll be able to find us here. We can lay low for awhile, gather our resources."

*Hildebrand nods in agreement, but Eckstein finally speaks, spittle flying from his mouth in anger - although it doesn't seem directed at anyone in particular, only causing Hildebrand to grin more widely.* "That's the problem! I dunno why we'd be hidin' anyhow. That ship was a, a fluke. Th' real danger is gonna find us anyhow, we should be chasin' it! Not waiting on our rears for it to find us! Bloody hell's Leticia think she is anyway... Still think we coulda fought our way out..." *Both Radek and Hildebrand can't help but chuckle a bit at this outburst, Hildebrand offering a mild 'Hush' as the ship sinks into Atlas. The tension melts off of Radek's face as he collapses into a nearby armchair, Spektor pecking the back of his head in an owlishly affectionate manner... But as worry and concern disappear, lack of sleep rears it's head and he struggles to remain awake- if nothing else so he can tell the whole to Alice in the morning. Smiling at that thought, he shakes the sleep out of his eyes as Eckstein speaks again.*

"It's probably fer the best. Hidin' out here, we've all been on edge recently. We've gotta figure that between the information from Alice's old friends, and the supplies from the quartermaster, we're inna better position than we were 'ere a few days ago. Of course, it seems a coincidence we've stopped in Atlas, of alluva places-" Eckstein pauses thoughtfully, Hildebrand still raising an eyebrow and Radek paying full attention.*

This message was last edited on 3 Apr 2010.

Posted by Lettuce-Chan, 4:31pm, 4 Apr, 2010

A coincidence? Of course It's coincidence. Everything that's happened up to now has been one long series of coincidences. And i hardly think that is a coincidence.

*Leticia strides in, looking rather weather-beaten. She is carrying a pointed stick for some reason.
She sits down upon Hildebrand, apparently not noticing her. A few dozen apologies later, and with a huffy barmaid sat in one corner, Leticia begins to explain the situation.*

Atlas is, to most people, known for being a pirate haven. A huge web of tangled streets and alleyways.
A safe place for anyone who wants to hide, and not be found for a very long time. As well as that, the city's defenses are second to none, apart from perhaps Darcancia, and one or two other places of ill renown. For that we should be grateful, and keep our heads low, at least for a couple of days.

I hear Alice knows of a certain pirate who will be only too happy to offer us a place to stay, if of course we don't mind dirty bed linen and massive spiders. And it'll be the perfect opportunity to stock up on food and other such things. Perhaps i can find a decent engineer to help me fix a few little teething problems...

*Declining to elaborate on what the "teething problems" happen to be, she trails off, before continuing a few minutes later under prompts from Hildebrand.
She tells them that when their few days are up, they will go across the sea to a small island, upon which lies a certain small city Alice used to frequent.
Refusing, again, to elaborate any further, she gets up suddenly, and takes her leave, saying that she really must get back to the engine room and that they should all get a good night's rest.*

And, Radek, don't forget to remind me to set off a small explosive outside of Alice's room. She could sleep through a nuclear war, she could.
Eckstein, i expect you to put that thing i gave you to good use. Make sure he does, Hildebrand. If anyone needs me, I'll be downstairs, obviously. This ship's got more problems than a pirate's got lice.*

~As she closes the door quietly behind her, pulling a wrench out of her pocket and sighing as she does so, Doctor Edgar awakes from a terrible dream, and finds himself inside a deeply unpleasant dungeon. Meanwhile,
a stone dragon statue guarding the entrance to a certain library begins to stir, before awakening fully and flying out of a nearby window...~
This message was last edited on 4 Apr 2010.

Posted by Radek, 6:58am, 5 Apr, 2010

*All three listen intently to every word Leticia says; and although Eckstein seems peeved that he was cut-off midsentance, it's clear from the look on Radek's face he has a hard time believing things to be coincidental, either. His eyes dart from her new stick to the exhausted look on her face inquisitively as he leans back into the chair, prompting a rather annoyed cooing from Spektor. The gunman ignores this and stretches his arms above his head.*

Leticia. Thanks for being honest about what we're gonna come up against here. It sounds like a good place to regroup, and if Alice has a friend here - well, her contacts have done us well so far, and spiders or no, a warm bed'd be nice. As for food, i've been meaning to cook you all something special for awhile - show my appreciation. And I imagine that we could all get used to more home-cooked meals from Hildebrand, am I right?

*Hildebrand grins from ear to ear, resting her feet on a pile of books that have seen better days.* Haven't had a chance ta whip up nuffin' edible for ages. It'd be nice to have a good kitchen to return to aftera hard day o' clobbering thugs, hah! And there'r some things no retired sky captain'd be without that I'll be asking for leave to get, Miss Leticia? *The two captains lock eyes, the old and the new communicating through some non-verbal code. After a minute, the barmaid reclines back in her own seat, looking satisfied; it's obvious that she's got what she wanted, although Radek and Eckstein exchange bemused expressions. As the meeting disperses and Leticia walks off, the lanky figure with the terrible shave walks after her, coughing, a rare expression on his face: nervousness.*

Captain, it's one thing you mentioned. If we're going across the southern waters, that'll take us across the Sea of Red Glass. That... Well, what'm trying to say is, has Alive told you if we're gonna be heading towards the Almerian coast? Only, I'm not sure if i should be going back towards home - I mean, my extended family's pretty big, they'd certainly be willing to help us out, but, ah- nevermind. Forget I said anything. I'm certain y'all know what your doing. Uh, and I'll try to remember whatcha said! About Alice, I mean! Happy ship-fine-tuning!... Yeah. *With an apologetic smile as he rubs the back of his neck and tries to balance his tea-stained compress, Radek slinks off, sighing and rubbing the sleep out of his eyes, his inner thoughts spilling out due to a mixture of exhaustion and insomnia as he wanders down the cramped hallway towards the three or four cramped 'chambers' on the ship.*

Really, Skinner. You've got circles around yer eyes that look like as dark as the night around here, you just gave yourself the worst shave of all time, and you're barely awake. It'll do ya some good to catch some rest here, simple as that. *Reaching the door at the end of the hallway where someone - likely Hildebrand - has placed a hastily written sign reading 'Young'n sleeping! Keep your voice down, this means you!', he rolls his eyes and leans against the wall, sliding to his feet as Spektor casts a glance from the now-empty quarters.*

Well, Alice. What now? It's very late, we're docking in Atlas, and Leticia wants to set explosives to wake you. Which I'm gonna conveniently forget to remind her about , haha- it's been awhile since any of us have got some sleep. *Yawning, Radek closes his eyes and continues to talk to himself, curled up on the floor.* You can rest easy, though! I'm gonna... Keep a close watch, till we get to... City name. Atlas. You know me... I never... *The only sound can be heard is the occasional hum of the engine as the ship lowers, as Radek rests on the floor, looking incredibly content.*

This message was last edited on 5 Apr 2010.

Posted by Alice belladora, 1:26pm, 5 Apr, 2010

*As dawn breaks, and Atlas begins to stir, so does Alice. She falls out of her makeshift "bed" constructed out of a large piece of cloth draped over a pile of books. Rubbing a dictionary-shaped mark on her forehead, she weaves in between piles of junk that were definitely not there last night, opens the door, and falls flat on her face, having tripped over an inconveniently placed gunman.
Allowing a few moments of heavy silence to pass, she picks herself up, and gives the comatose troublemaker a prod with her boot. She waits for a few minutes, but with no sign of consciousness emerging from him, she leaves for the deck, keen to get some fresh air and a view of Atlas.

As she climbs the spiral staircase up to the surface, she can hear the dulcet tones of Hildebrand shouting at the top of her voice at a very unfortunate person.
The unfortunate person turns out to be a very short young fellow, going very pink in the face and wincing violently every time the barmaid raises her finger, as if she were about to give him a sharp prod.

"Bloody vultures, the lot of ya! I've told ya, we don't need to pay no parkin' fine! We were parked perfectly, until you came along! I ain't payin you ten shillings, i ain't even paying ya five shillings. I'm eighty-five years old, young man, an i aven't payed for a single parkin' violation in all me life, an i don't see why i should start now. Ten shillings, that's daylight robbery, that's what that is. You tell im', Eckstein."

*Eckstein is standing to the right of her, looking rather embarrassed by the barmaid's performance. He mouths an apology to the trembling parking warden, and slips him a small bag full of coins as Hildebrand turns her attentions to a small group of onlookers that have gathered to watch the show. One of them has brought out a camera.
As she hurls a bucket at them and suggests they "bugger off", Alice sidles up to Eckstein.*

She's getting worse by the day. It's only a matter of time before she's arrested. Still, you can't doubt her spirit. Did she just say she was eighty-five?

*Eckstein chuckles at this, shaking his head and having a small coughing fit, before spitting something unpleasant over the side of the ship.
He explains to her that the barmaid has always lied about her age, and is quite famous in certain parts of the world for being a brilliant con-artist.
They watch silently from their high vantage point as the terrified young parking warden runs as past as he can go away from Hildebrand, disappearing down a narrow street and vanishing from view.
Eckstein enquires as to the whereabouts of the gunman.*

Oh, he's asleep outside my door for some reason. Poor bugger must've passed out, what with everything that's been happening. Don't wake him up just yet. I'd like to have a quick look round, see if the city's anything like i remember it. Then I'm going to have to find my old friend, and see about these rooms he promised me. Still, i don't think Hildebrand will be persuaded. Lice infested pillows aren't exactly what she wants to have anything to do with at her time of life.
Having arial dogfights, shootouts in dark and notorious ale-houses, and drunken brawls, fine. But not lice infested pillows. Some things are just too much for a woman of her age.
Anyway. I'd better go, before Leticia gets up here and starts ordering us about. She seems to have changed. But perhaps It's just me.

*Eckstein has long stopped listening to her inane banter, most of it self-directed. He is stomping off to give Radek a good talking-to about sleeping on the job and being a a lazy, idle scrounger.
Alice yawns mightily, then does up her right boot, which seems to have mysteriously come undone during the conversation. That done, she walks over to the railing, and swings herself over, to climb down the side of the ship and onto the street.

She hurries off into the crowd, hoping not to get lost. Not like last time, when she spent almost a fortnight wandering around in circles, before a passing gentleman pointed her in the right direction. Just before he was mugged, that is. Only extremely foolish or brave gentlemen frequent these streets, Alice thinks idly, as she unwittingly makes her way towards the shopping district, which was once just one long street of raucous ale-houses...*

~Meanwhile, in the great floating library, the real Doctor Edgar shuts his book with a snap. He frowns over his spectacles at a mug of tea, thinking about a certain event which happened long ago.
He wonders where on earth Alice is, as she hasn't visited for such a long time. He imagines that she has probably forgotten all about him, and their work, but cheers himself by the thought that soon his research will almost be finished.
The mug of tea thinks of nothing in particular, being just a mug of tea, but had it been a sentient being, it would have felt rather self-conscious, Doctor Edgar's gaze unrelenting.
He reaches forward, seizing the now panicking mug of tea, before gulping it down in one, pulling a face at the realization that his beverage has gone stone cold.
He puts the swooning mug of tea down, and stares out of the window, with an odd expression on his face. This is understandable, due to the indisputable fact that a large griffin has taken the liberty of perching right on the window ledge. It gives him a toothy grin.~

*Back in Atlas, Alice begins her search for her old pirate friend. She takes a random right turn, unknowingly taking herself even further away from her destination. She sighs, cursing her lack of direction, at the same time considering why on earth there is a stone dragon glaring down at her from a chimney-pot. Passing it off as an eccentric sculpture, probably placed there by a drunken art student, she continues down the street, passing many filthy and disorderly brigands as she goes.*

This message was last edited on 5 Apr 2010.

Posted by Radek, 5:23pm, 6 Apr, 2010

*Stalks of barley shake in the breeze; a wind filled with tiny polyps of red dust floating past from some unknown epicenter. The ground is coated with the red silt, and every step Radek takes feels like it could sink into the ground and melt away; someone is laughing, high-pitched and venomous. He looks around for someone, anyone he knows, and sees nothing- his eyes have gone dark. There is a strange, wet rasping coming from behind him-

Radek jolts awake with a bead of sweat across his brow, wincing as he catches the sunlight drifting through a tiny crack in the ceiling. Pulling himself together, he quickly comes to the conclusion that Alice seems to have disappeared, and a very exasperated Eckstein is standing over him, muttering curses about being a lackluster lump of a hanger-on who can't even stay awake to save his own life- the gunman blinks his eyes a few time to get rid of the sleep, and then nods seriously.* "As a matter of fact, i couldn't agree more- this was a serious breach in security, and it won't happen again. Now, if you could tell me why I've got this boot-print in the small of my back, I'd be much obliged..." *The two try (and fail) to determine what happened as Eckstein, much mollified after a good shouting, leads them to the outer deck, where a sun chair has been hastily set up. Eckstein sidles into it with great gusto as the hubbub of a thousand peddlers and brigands drifts over from the town proper.*

"Well, Skinner. It does look kind of like Alice's big ol' boots. Y'were kind of sleepin' like a log in front of 'er door." *Pausing for thought, Radek slowly nods his head.* "You must be right- and she didn't see me and tromped right over me. Er, in other alleys of thought - what, exactly, are you doing in that ridiculous chair?" *Grinning toothily, the captain lay back and kicked his feet up.* "Watching the ship, a'course. Even a flee-ridden ol' vessel such as this ken be a prime target for Atlas thugs... And since you're going to be stocking up on supplies while Alice is looking for her contact, and Leticia and Hildebrand take care o' their business, that leaves me to stay here. And unlike SOMEONE I won't be fallin' asleep on the job, now!" *Eckstein glowers and Radek rubs the back of his neck in a nervous manner.* "Right then - Ah, guess I'll be off. Keep safe, acting captain-"

*Walking off the boat with a still aching leg, Radek turns back to see Eckstein peering through a pair of scrap-iron binoculars, his gaze trailing all around the area before resting on Radek and giving him a strong-armed wave. Sighing, the gunman utters another inaudible apology, and walks by a large building with flashing lights lit up by electric automaton; the flashing bulbs advertise a scene of brigands playing cards and striking it rich. Not included, Radek thinks, are the scenes of shock and loss as they lose to the house. As he walks past another row of tiny shanty houses, each one more depressing then the last, he wonders what Leticia is up to - she certainly saved them, but the amount of orders on the ship...

-You shouldn't be complaining. If you could just *follow* orders you'd have no problem with authority. And anyway, since Alice is off in the city as it is, you're not going to be asking her anything just yet... Slacker.-

Sighing again, Radek has been gathering up junk metal and scrap as he walks; most of it is left alone by the raiders, who see little practical value to the stuff and throw it off deck en masse. To Radek, every twisted rachet and piece of twisted decking is a blessing in disguise. When he can't carry anymore, he stops looking around and heads to the only building he's seen that looks remotely like a shop; a clay brick building with a thin chestnut wood door slung to the side and held in place with a rock. Ducking his head under the low entrance as he steps inside and nearly dropping his treasures, the gunman gives a startled yelp as a voice calls out 'My brother!' Whirling around, he faces an older man with a hodgepodge of different articles of clothing; sashes of expensive silk covering practical and utilitarian garb.*

"Sorry, but I don't think you look like any brother of mine exactly - but I'm here to buy dry goods for a long journey, so perhaps you can help me? Er, brother?" *The man grins a sharp-toothed grin and sinks into his seat.* "That would be excellent, yes. Please, my brother - take a look at anything you like. You'll find that I'm the only shopkeeper in Atlas who trades good honestly. So please, buy everything you like!" *Moments later, having traded all but the choicest scraps of metal for a staggering away of canned goods, salted meats, exotic spices, and plants to be grown and harvested on-deck (as well as some new clothes), Radek stumbles out of the shop, the shopkeeper thanking 'his brother' several times over. Barely able to see over the massive pile of goods he's carrying, he fails to notice the stone sculpture with the piercing multi-faceted dragon's eyes swivel it's head to face him as he walks along a shadowed alley, completely certain that he's headed back towards the ship...*
This message was last edited on 6 Apr 2010.

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