TotalLunar Eclipse

Come see Nevermoor…

Steelhead is expanding again and the seventh sim (the third since I arrived 18 months ago) has just opened! Nevermoor is a dark gothic forest full of forgotten ruins, over-grown grottos and majestic elven statues – and it’s renting now! Pop in-world here to explore and drop TotalLunar Eclipse an IM to find out more about renting (or read about it here on the Ning).

Now follow me and Frank as we braved the dark, creepy ruins of Nevermoor…
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And here’s the man behind it all – Lunar 🙂
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Snatched From Steelhead: Chapter 4 – Owls, bunnies, kids & cake…

I’d been in Babbage for a week when the cake was delivered. I had been billeted in a high attic room in the hospital, the type usually reserved for trainee nurses, servants and the like. I assumed this was a small way of trying to make me feel unwelcome but in truth the room was warm and dry and therefore several degrees more desirable than my own back in the Shanghai slums.

A week. It was hard to believe I’d been away a week. Seven days had passed since the Clockhaven Queen paddled into harbour and, still sporting my black eyes and swollen face from the tong attack but three nights earlier, I had walked nervously down the gangplank to the quay below.

Arriving in Clockhaven_001

Arriving in Clockhaven_002

If it hadn’t been for Madam Luck smiling upon me by arranging a serendipitous meeting with young Tatsuya Skytower I fear my journey through the ever-sooty streets of Babbage would have been considerably less friendly. I knew of Tatsuya’s cousin, Sheryl, from Steelhead and although I had never met the young woman tales of a small, clockwork dragon tend to make an impression and do not go unremembered. Tatsuya (once I had apologised for assuming the small clockwork dragon in front of me was in fact Sheryl) offered to act as my guide and led me through the streets right to the front door of the William Wilde hospital.

Ryne at the William Wilde Hospital_001

The hospital itself (built at great personal expense by one Blackberry Harvey, my generous & genial host) was a marvel to behold. Clean and modern with attentive and polite staff. I made a mental note there and then that once home I would write a letter to Steelhead’s Town Council to beg them to build such a place in our fair city, but for now I was only too pleased to see that both myself and my patient would clearly be in good hands.

Indeed, the accused Captain Kuroe couldn’t have hoped for better medical care as I was not the only doctor charged with his well-being during his pre-trial recuperation. Dr Darien Mason was a name many knew, some feared and all respected. Long before my time he had been a resident of Steelhead and like me had been the sole medical provider for the whole city, but his family’s knack of courting trouble had seen him (and most of his relatives) lost, presumed dead. For months all trace of the Masons were lost, indeed the very fire that burnt Antfarm had taken place in Dr Mason’s abandoned Steelhead laboratory and nearly a year later whatever chemicals and compounds Mason had been experimenting with still prevented anything beyond the hardiest of grasses from growing on the ever-vacant lot. Then only a few weeks back I heard that a certain Dr Mason had been spotted in New Babbage, but I never for one moment thought we would meet like this! He was Babbage’s representative and I Steelhead’s and we had both been charged with ensuring Ashiko Kuroe recovered from his treatment at the hands of the Mayor and the Militia so he could stand trial for his alleged crimes.

As for the patient himself, after a few days his cuts and bruises began to heal (as did mine although my jaw ached all week and I still have a terrible headache all down one side of my skull) and a new leg was crafted for him. I won’t detail the matters surrounding the loss of his original leg as even though I feel physically sickened at what appears to have happened, it has been agreed by Mayors Tenk & Eclipse that the matter is a private one between Mayor Tenk and the prisoner. Even Ashiko seems content with that arrangement, but I know there are others in the city who are less happy to let such an act lie.

(As an aside to my recounting of events that led up to the gift of cake left for me, I would say a word or two about the state of fear that hangs over this city like a shroud. There is a palpable air of dissent in New Babbage, the city seems divided into several camps, all of them arranged around the Mayor and his “ advisers”. These, for want of a better word, rulers appear so high-handed and dictatorial in style that they polarise the people; some can see in them no wrong, only the inevitable and unstoppable march of progress as the city expands and grows and damn the eyes of any who stand in its way, whilst others see an authoritarian and uncaring (and possibly corrupt and evil!) regime that oppresses its people and the wider environment in the most heinous ways. Let no one tell you this is a happy city, revolt & espionage seem to lurk around every corner, or at least the ones not already taken by the threats of cut-purses and the hollow promises of fallen women. Of all people the chief plotters at the moment would appear to be the street urchins. They feel marginalised, misunderstood and disliked at the best of times but the events surrounding the removal of Ashiko’s leg has really put fire in their bellies and now they speak openly of revolution! I’m sure the only reason Mayor Tenk and his attack dog Undertone haven’t fallen upon them like a ton of bricks is because they perceive them to be of little threat. They may be right, but it is the Devil’s own gamble because I’ll wager these urchins know this city like no others and have connections beyond its limits that would be the envy of any military tactician. Small these street children might be, but powerless? I think not.)

And so the week passed, I tended to my ward; helped with the fitting of his new leg; lent my services to the wider hospital (which seemed to be in the middle of treating a minor epidemic of tram crash injuries and deaths – obviously the New Babbage trolley system is not to be trifled with!); sent reports back to Mayor Eclipse via the owls which arrived at my window; toured the city with various urchin guides; and sent urgent telegrams back to Steelhead regarding evidence I came across of Babbage arming itself with fearsome machines of invasion. In short it had been a busy week and I was exhausted. The knock on the door woke me from my half slumber and I opened the door half expecting a call to yet another tram mishap, yet there was no one there! Instead, on the floor and in a plain paper wrapper was a rather tasty looking cake. A small note sat atop it, scrawled in what looked like a child’s hand it said simply “Fank yoo Dr. Bek”. How lovely! And I was ever so hungry. What a pity Mason was out of the hospital right now… I’d save him some of course, but in the meantime I fancied a good quarter of this to myself with a nice cup of tea.

**{}**

Ten minutes later, three small figures hiding in the shadows outside Beck’s room heard a thump followed by a series of noisy snores. One of the figures turned to the others and nodded, whispering “Roight chums, ee’s ander. Let’s go!” As one they turned and scampered of into the hospital to keep their pre-arranged assignation…

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To be continued…

All my “Snatched From Steelhead” posts can be read on my blog here.

Links to other blogs and stories:
1) My background in the Ashiko Kuroe case can be found here here.
2) Some posts from the New Babbage Ning outlining the actions (or not, he is awaiting trial as I type this remember) of Captain Kuroe can be read here and here and here.
3) Captain Kuroe’s letter to Steelhead can be read here.
4) The appointment of Mr Byron Wexhome by Mayor Tenk can be found here.
5) Mr Wexhome’s initial investigations can be read here and here.
6) Mr Wexhome’s proposed Plan can be read here.
7) The details of Ashiko’s new leg can be read here.
8 ) The Urchins’ call to arms (and cake) can be read here and here.
9) My telegrams to Steelhead regarding New Babbage’s Engines of War can be read here.
10) Dr Beck’s near-fatal last trip to Clockhaven is journaled here.

Cross-posted to the Steelhead Ning and the New Babbage Ning.

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Snatched From Steelhead: Chapter 3 – Back to New Babbage

The owl gazed at Dr Beck with eyes as inscrutable as time itself. For his part, Beck stared back with his one open eye full of confusion and sleep. He propped himself up on his elbows and blinked a few times. The owl sitting on the back of his chair failed to vanish and instead stared coolly back him.

“Erm, hello?” Beck mumbled. The owl blinked once very, very slowly. “You’re one of the Mayor’s owls, aren’t you? One of his messengers?”. Blink. Beck stood up and gingerly walked towards the owl as if it were a fiver pound note on a windowsill in danger of blowing away. The owl just sat and watched him. “Do, er, do you have a message for me then?”. Blink. Beck waited. The owl watched him. Beck shuffled his feet a little. The owl tipped his head almost imperceptibly in such a way as to make Beck feel decidedly nervous. “If you do, may I have the message, please?” he asked. The owl did nothing for a very, very log second before tucking its beak under its wing and pulling something small out from its feathers and flicking it towards Beck. The still sluggish doctor missed it and it fell to the floor at his feet. He bent to examine it and saw it was a small, folded piece of paper roughly half an inch square and one eighth of an inch think. “Thank you. Does the Mayor expect a rep…?” he stopped as his hair was ruffled a sudden breeze and he looked up to see a small cloud of soot fall from his chimney as the owl left. “…ly. I’ll take that a no, then” he completed to himself. He looked at the paper in his hand for several seconds before unfolding it. It was a letter from the Mayor himself, handwritten in his swirling spidery script…

To: Dr. R. Beck.
No. 13 Shamian Alley, Shanghai, Stlhd.

Dear Sir,

Following your rather vocal appeals to the citizens and civic leaders of New Babbage over the recent incident involving one Captain Kuroe I have been visited by a representative of Mayor Tenk who wished to discuss the matter as well as possible solutions.

To cut a long tale short the accused will receive a fair trial in a location still to be decided (although I favour Steeltopia, it is possible that Caledon may be chosen). In the meantime, and following rumours not only of limb amputation but also of beatings meted out to the prisoner, I have agreed you will travel to the William Wilde Hospital in New Babbage and act as his personal physician and, after a fashion, his guard until the trial is completed and justice seen to be done.

I realise you are a busy man and therefore I have booked you on the noon steamer from Steelhead Harbour to Clockhaven.

Travel well and I know I need not remind you to uphold the proud reputation of our city at all times and be the best ambassador we can expect, so I won’t.

Respectfully yours,
TotalLunar Eclipse.
Mayor of Steelhead & Environs.

Beck read and re-read the letter several times as the full weight of its message sunk in. He had to go back to Clockhaven. Today. Now. He had to pack. He had to be ready and on that steamer in time, Steelhead was counting on him. “Oh God, I need a cup of tea,” was all he could say.

**{}**

Half an hour after the Clockhaven Queen had paddled away from Steelhead and out to sea with a nervous Beck onboard a tall, worried Chinese man was knocking on the locked surgery door. He was scared and upset. Back at home his wife had sunk further in to the darkest places of her mind and had become all but lost to him. He was sure she was in danger from herself and he needed the English doctor to come and help. The doctor had been so good to his wife since their child had been snatched and killed. The doctor would be able to help. The man knocked louder, “Dr Beck! Dr Beck! Li Fe father! You come help Dr Beck! Please come help!”

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To be continued…
All the “Snatched From Steelhead” posts can be read here.

Links to other blogs and stories:
1) The background to the Ashiko Kuroe case can be found here.
2) Captain Kuroe’s letter to Steelhead can be read here.
3) The appointment of Mr Byron Wexhome by Mayor Tenk can be found here.
4) Mr Wexhome’s initial investigations can be read here and here.
5) Mr Wexhome’s proposed Plan can be read here.
6) The terrible tale of poor Li Fe can be read here.
7) Dr Beck’s near-fatal last trip to Clockhaven is journaled here.

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Snatched From Steelhead: Chapter 2 – When Justice Is Blinded!

Say No to New Babbage_001

A few days ago a man was taken by force from the streets of Shanghai in Steelhead. Now as this was Shanghai rather than Boomtown or Capital City and given that the man in question could at best be described as a pirate accused of arson & murder many may not raise an eyebrow too high, but raise them high I say, high and arched with concern for what happened to that man was an affront to our fair city and a threat to every citizen who calls it home.

Mr Undertone, the head of the New Babbage Militia, under the auspices of that sooty city’s Clockwinder Mayor Tenk sent armed goons to snatch one Ashiko Kuroe (accused pirate, accused firestarter, accused bunny murderer & odd-choice for an Ambassador for the floating state of Armada) at knife-point from a tea-house in Shanghai. He was spirited away to a New Babbage jail where, it is rumoured, his leg was amputated as part of a payment for a previous contract with Mayor Tenk who then ate it. Yes. Ate it. In discussions with the good bergers of New Babbage I have detected as much shock & horror at this outcome as would be expected among such civilised peoples, but I’m sorry to say that not every New Babbage voice is rational or reasonable – Mr Underby (whom I mistakenly took for the head of the militia) is one such unreasonable soul who has even begun to speak of, and I quote, “open war” with Steelhead!

Now if Mr Kuroe is guilty then I will be the first to say he must pay for his crimes, but to send hob-nailed booted thugs to our city rather than go through the offices of Mayor Eclipse and Sheriff Ortega is disgusting! Steelhead is a fair city, a just city, a law-abiding city. We have rules, regulations, protocols, laws! If New Babbage feel they can simply walk in and snatch people from under our noses, then what’s to say that you or I won’t be next?

Some less than rtional voices in New Babbage have accused Steelhead of wilfully harbouring a dangerous criminal, but I tell you here and now this is not true! Such talk, such mud flung in anger and, dare I say, shame by those guilty of strampling our city’s laws is a mere distraction to the actual matter in hand, to wit the illegal incursion by another city’s armed militia. Do let us not be continually distracted by the erroneous argument that Steelhead somehow condones vile crimes such as arson and murder and is happy to harbour the criminals who perpetrate them. It does not and is not. But at the same time Steelhead believes in higher ideals – the ideals of Justice for all not just those in power; Liberty for all not just those in privilege, and The Rule of Law for all not just those in High Office (or, indeed, clock tower).

Join me, good people of Steelhead, New Babbage and every Steamlands state, in a protest to hold New Babbage’s leaders to account! Take one of the posters below or go to Steelhead’s City Hall for a selection of placards and make your feelings known – if we don’t stand up now, who knows what evil will be perpetrated next?

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To be continued…
All the “Snatched From Steelhead” posts can be read here.

Links to other blogs and stories:
1) Mara Razor’s initial posts on the Steelhead Ning and the New Babbage Ning.
2) My posts on the Steelhead Ning and the New Babbage Ning.
3) Ashiko Kuroe’s post on the Steelhead Ning.
4) Reference to the affair was made in the June 1st Steelhead Town Hall Meeting, the minutes of which were reprinted in the Steelhead Sentinel.
5) Mr Underby meets the accused to measure his neck!

Steelhead vs NB 002 Steelhead vs NB 001

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Shanghaied by the Aether Salon

You heard of the Aether Salon? I hadn’t until recently, but I’m really glad I did. The Ather Salon is a traveling symposium of Stempunkers, Victorianas and other assorted thoughtful SLer-types that recently came to Steelhead Shanghai for its December 2009 meeting. I happened along and found it incredibly informative and entertaining.

First off Riven Homewood (who runs the Steelhead Public Library) gave a great slideshow and talk about the history of Chinese people in the NW US (Steelhead being in Oregon, you see). Now as it happens in August last year I was in Vancouver, BC and found myself in a small museum in Steveson’s post office. The museum contained much about the history of the Japanese and Chinese immigrant workers who came to and settled in the area and as Vancouver is very close to Oregon I found Riven’s talk highly illuminating indeed. I’m trying very hard with my ‘Dr Beck in the slums’ tales to relfect as faithfully as I can what life was like for the poor sods who worked in the canneries and lived in the ghettos and slums of the time so I drank in all the wonderful details Riven presented to the Salon.
Aether Salon in Shanghai

Next up was Elegia Underwood (who created and owns the Dragon Lands in Shanghai, more about which I posted here) who talked about roleplaying in Shanghai, as well as in SL at large, and launched a wonderful contest in which she is searching for people to pen a mystery that can be played out in Steelhead.
Aether Salon in Steelhead Shanghai

Lastly was Lunar who talked about his (and Tensai’s) hard work and vision for Steelhead. Anyone who is thinking of visiting or looking at moving in should read what he says to whet your appetite – they put so much thought and love into their building and management of the sims and it really shines through.
The Aether Salon

The full unedited and edited transcripts of the Shanghai Aether Salon are on the blog. Riven & Elegia have some pics here.

Check out Elegia’s great buildings for rent here and read more about her wonderful contest here (the closing date is the 15th January 2010 so why not enter?)

For all my Steelhead related posts click here.

For all my Shanghai related posts click here.

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The Mysterious Note: 9 – A Fishy Tale Indeed!

Dr Ryne Beck Gravatar Though the tunnels were dark, there seemed to be a glow emanating from the rocks, albeit weak, that provided just enough illumination for my explorations. The tunnels themselves were impressive in both size and construction – vaulted brick tubes strengthen by great metal ribs, they had obviously taken some considerable effort and resources to build. But by whom? And for what purpose?
Steelhead: The Mysterious Note

What made them all the more puzzling was the inclusion of glass sections in the roof – surely these tunnels couldn’t have been open to the sky, could they? If they had, who had covered them over and why? Judging by the areas where Mother Nature had begun to reclaim the subterranean realm with rock fall and mildewed entropy, I guessed the last custodian’s of the tunnels were long gone leaving their labyrinthine secrets to the new masters of Steelhead to use as they saw fit.
Steelhead: The Mysterious Note

A ladder hung down from a manhole cover high above, and I calculated that this section ran under and along Boomtown Parkway, the street Slade Outfitters was on. I turned an looked further down the tunnel – what if other shops also had hidden cellars, I thought. Maybe some evidence of the Bing Kong could be found further ahead. Nervously I pushed on until I came to a large brick archway leading into a cellar. I peeked around and saw more crates!
Steelhead: The Mysterious Note

Could these be more of the same boxes I saw under Slades? More of the mysterious “KEEP DRY! DO NOT DROP!” boxes? There was only one way to find out. I gingerly crept in to the cellar, my senses on full alarm in case of sudden attack. I inched my way nearer and near the boxes until, at last, in the weak light I could make out some lettering on them: “STEELHEAD BRAND SLAMON”. I was surprised, to say the least, but a can left out and a rummage through an open box proved their contents to be no more fishy than, well, fish.
Steelhead: The Mysterious Note

I had drawn a blank. Night was falling and I certainly did not relish a night lost in pitch black tunnels so I decided that discretion was far and away the better part of valour and resolved to take my concerns up with the sheriff the very next day. For now, I could do no more than climb the ladder into the street and head home on my trusty bicycle.

It was as I emerged into fresh air that a thought struck me. Who on earth would be stockpiling so much salmon? I looked down the street and mentally calculated how far I had travelled back and forth in the tunnel beneath my feet. If my calculations were correct that the shop on the corner would be directly above the cellar and the salmon horde… but whose was it?
Steelhead: The Mysterious Note

I walked over, my shoes echoing on the cobbles as I went, until I stood outside… ECLIPSE DESIGNS! It would seem the town’s boss elf had quite the taste for salmon! Given all that had happened in the last few hours, I burst into a fit of riotous laughter that sped my weary legs home and to bed. Whatever the Bing Kong tong were up to, it would wait until tomorrow…
Steelhead: The Mysterious Note

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The End… For Now!
All the “The Mysterious Note” posts can be read here.

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Lost & Found: Chapter 12 – Epilogue

The sun rose over a city much changed to the one it has set on only a few hours earlier. Its light danced off waters now clam again after the night’s tempest. It sparkled off golden pagodas and from windows in buildings that had seemingly risen from the sea’s stygian depths in the wild ferocity of the storm, its arrival marked with a swath of destruction across the city. Yet the felled trees and damaged houses were not the reason a very tired looking Lunar, once more a tall elf now that his wife had made whole the moon she had fractured, found himself stood in the morning chill and cursing softly in his native tongue.

“You are sure she is unharmed, Elle?” he asked, turning to his equally tired looking friend.

Eladrienne sighed as she looked up at the elf, soot and grime smeared her face and clothes and she was soul-tired, “Yes, Tensai has checked her over. Annechen has checked her over. I’ve seen her and she is fine, I promise.”

Lunar nodded and glanced over at Shanghai, the dream made real that should have heralded a joyous day, but even though Ama was unhurt how could he celebrate the birth of new life when this had happened? He looked down at the scorched ground, smoke curling up in patches here and there and sharp blades of twisted metal jutting up like broken teeth, and shook his head.
Destroying Mason Lab

Destroying Mason Lab

Destroying Mason Lab

JB Hancroft’s house had borne the brunt of it when a giant bolt the size of a horse had torn through the wall and now offered itself to the sky in a mocking gesture of defiance. Past that his eye could clearly see the damage done to Polymath by the cog Darien had installed as a door and his ears could quite clearly hear what Hotspur had to say on the matter in a series of curses that would make the sailors of Shanghai blush for shame.

Destroying Mason Lab

Behind him, on the other side of the road, two more mammoth cogs (a window? Another door? He didn’t know) was buried deep into the earth of Tanarian’s kennels.
Destroying Mason Lab

Thankfully no pooch had been hurt, although most had been scared half out of their minds judging by the howling and yelping, but Tanarian was livid and would take some serious placating. He looked up at Elle who, as if reading his mind, said “Leave her to me, hm?” and moved to intercept the angry woman.

How had so many casualties been avoided? How could so much damage been wrought and only… his train of thought was interrupted by a sharp prod to his right calf. And another. And a third.

“Ow!” he said hopped round.

“Elf!”

Lunar, rubbing his tender calf, looked down into the iron-clad death stare of a very seriously annoyed knee-high cat. “Dr Alter…”

Her green eyes flashed as she looked up at him, waving her paw dismissively. “Never mind all of the greetings and such,” she said with a hiss. “Look at my warehouse! Just look at it!”

Lunar looked up and across the water to where she pointed. Another of Darien’s massive bolts had smashed into her buildings and jammed itself into the side of her smoking chimney. “Ah… Yes… Well…”
Destroying Mason Labs

She breathed in deep and slow, determined to stay calm, “That is all, is it? Hmph, I see. Well, thank you Elf, thank you very much! This will not be forgotten…oh no, don’t think it will!” She poked him in the calf with her claw again before striding away, shouting orders at her minion Cato Quan.

“Such anger for such a sweet little puss cat,” Lunar sighed. Dr Alter stopped dead, the tips of her whiskers vibrating with fury, and without turning to face him hissed “Elf. I will, for the sake of your good lady wife, pretend I did not hear that and bid you good day, Sir. Good day!” She marched off with war in her heart as Lunar allowed the corner of his mouth to curl upwards in a sly smile.

“Lunar, you shouldn’t tease her so,” Elle was at back his shoulder watching the cat stride back to her damaged warehouse.

“I suppose…” was all Lunar said before turning back to the ruins of the once feared Mason Laboratory. Smoke rose from piles of melted and twisted metal which, even now hours after the explosion had ripped the building apart, were still hot to the touch. “How is he?”

Elle looked at her friend’s face, so much worry for others made him look sad, “Not good. Tensai did what she could and I’ve sent someone out to find Dr Beck, but he’s going to have to go to Caledon. There isn’t an inch of him that isn’t burnt. Even his horns are gone. I don’t know how he’s survived this long.”

“And any idea who the poor devil actually is?” Lunar asked.

“No one knows. Ama has confirmed he is not Jeremiah though, and if anyone should know it’s her.”

“I hate to think of him dying without his name, alone here with no one to mourn him.”

Elle reached out and touched the tall Elf’s arm, “Hey, he’s not dead yet. If anyone can help him it’s Tensai and the Caledon doctors. Don’t give up on him yet,” she said quietly.

Lunar looked down at her and smiled, “You’re right as usual, Elle. Ignore me, I’m just… well, look at this…” he looked at the wreckage strewn about them. “He’s alive and that’s all that matters. Tell me again what happened, will you?”

“Well,” she replied “According to Mother Superior and a host of other witnesses across town, Jeremiah, or rather the man claiming to be Jeremiah, spent the day travelling all over town on Genie’s horse. He’d been to see Annechen over at the Consulate in the afternoon and was seen after that meeting riding about in a seemingly upset state…”

“Upset? Why? What happened?”

“Annechen says he came to ask about his past and she told him he wasn’t Jeremiah. That was about the length of the meeting as she was late getting ready to leave with Fuzz.”

“Mmmm, I wish Fuzz were here now, that’s for sure. So how did our Jeremiah man take it?”

“Not well. He rode through the town talking to himself. Gia saw him on the bridge near Dragon’s Leap that night and he was out in the storm. She says he was heading back into town and he came back here. All of this is confirmed by Mother Superior and Ama.”

“Ama?” asked Lunar, surprised.

“She had spent the day following him.”

“Gods! How many people were watching and following this poor man? No wonder he was acting so oddly!”

“To be fair Lunar,” Elle said, “he was claiming to be Jeremiah Mason and came here to find his son. Both you and I know what happened last time they met, not that long ago and on this very spot. Fuzz had to keep an eye on him and no power in the world could have stopped Ama from helping her grandpa if it had have been him.”

“Yes… yes, you’re right of course. Carry on, Elle”, Lunar said softly, rubbing his eyes with his finger and thumb.

“Well,” continued Elle “Once here, well something must have snapped inside him because Ama says he went crazy.”

“Crazy? Crazy how?”

“Smashed the place up, she said. Smashed everything and was ranting about being Jeremiah. Ama tried to calm him down, but she says he was terrified and grabbed a bottle of stored lightning, presumably to defend himself, and then…” she looked at the smouldering crater and sighed.

“And how did he get out? Surely he didn’t manage to walk out in that state?” Lunar asked.

“No, Warren was passing by and ran in to save him…”

“Warren,” he interrupted, “you mean Velvel from Shanghai? What was he doing all the way over here?”

“Just taking a stroll, he says. Maxim was nearby too, JB was in his house and Maev was over at the kennels. They all got here just in time to see Warr… Velvel pull the body from the flames.”

“And Ama?”

“The blast blew her out of the door and into JB’s new shop. She was unhurt but out cold for a while and when she came too went to fetch Tensai, which is where you come in,” Elle finished.

“Hmmm,” was all Lunar said in reply. He wandered over to where the huge cog door of the lab, until a few hours ago, had been. Now it was buried deep in the walls of Hotspur’s tower.

“What’s wrong, Lunar?” Elle said, “I know that ‘Hmmm’ too well. You think there is more to it than a simple accident?”

“The explosion, no. Darien had enough dangerous things in there and Ama saw our poor would-be-Jeremiah smash the lab and grab the lightning bottle. But Velvel… no one saw him go in? And you said they saw him pulling the man out?”

“Yes,” replied Elle, “and Gia said something about him watching Jeremiah-man in the rain.”

“Who was in the rain? Jeremiah?” Lunar asked.

“No, well yes he was, but Gia said that Velvel was stood on the balcony in the rain and she is sure he was watching Jeremiah-man ride off. Lunar, you don’t think…”

“I don’t know what to think right now, Elle. Maybe our Jeremiah can tell us if he pulls through.”

“When he pulls through, you mean,” Elle reminded him.

As the sun rose higher into the sky, Lunar looked around at the rubble and ruins about him and sighed heavily, “I rather fear it’s much more of an ‘if’ Elle. Now, let’s see about this wreckage shall we?”

****

In a nearby house, Ama and Tensai bent over the horribly burnt figure laid out on a spare bed. They had both done what they could, applying aloe extracts, wrapping him in gauze and keeping his blackened flesh damp, but his burns were the most severe either of them had ever seen. Tensai whispered reassurances to him like a mother to a child, telling him it would all be alright and he would be well again, but in her heart she knew it wouldn’t be alright and he would more than likely die very soon. “Try to rest,” she said as she listened to his ruined lungs wetly gurgling for air. “We’ll get you to Caledon soon, Jeremiah,” she added with a glance to Amarantis who gave a small nod of understanding.

The man on the bed, the man who had claimed to be Jeremiah Mason, jerked and went rigid for a second. Here it comes Tensai thought, and began to prepare a prayer. His lips, or where his lips used to be, opened a little and a wheeze of air escaped. She bowed her head at his dying breath and mourned as his soul moved to pass.

Except it didn’t. The wheeze continued. She looked back up and saw he was trying to lift his head from the pillow, his mouth trying to form words. Shocked she quickly moved closer until her ear was directly over his exposed teeth and she listened with all her being.

“nohhht jhere mhh iiia”

Her eyes grew wide! Not Jeremiah he had said!

“iiihhhhmmm hhhhedd hhrrrroo hhaannnt hhhaarrrmmmm” he sighed and fell back to the bed, his wheezing lungs refusing to give up…

The End?
All the “Lost & Found” posts can be read here.

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Links to other blogs and stories:
1) Tanarian alerted the Steelhead Ning here.
2) Dr Malegato alter reports on the damage to her warehouse here.
3) The cruelly exiled Dr Darien Mason detected the loss of his old lab here.
4) The hero of the hour, Velvel Danielovich explains how he pulled the burnt man out of the fire here.
5) Rhianon Jameson reports on the damage here.

Lost & Found: Chapter 5 – Genealogy Part 1

Jeremiah whirled around to face the owner of the voice. A slight youth, pale skin stark against his black clothing, stood in the middle of the room, a sad half-smile playing across his lips.

“I mean horrible, obviously, but beautiful all the same,” the young man said.

Steelhead - Chatting to Lunar

“Who the hell? How did you get in here?” Jeremiah snapped, struggling to regain composure.

“S’not like it’s locked, you know,” the youth shrugged to the doorway. “Saw you come in, figured I’d see what you looked like now.”

“You know me?” Jeremiah asked quickly.

“Nah, not really. Saw you at Genies once, but y’know you were human an’ all then, not furry and stuff. Nice horns though.”

“Er, thank you,” Jeremiah stammered back, “Do I… I mean did I know… you see, I’ve…well, I’ve got… I mean, I’ve lost…”

“You’ve lost your marbles and want to know if you know me, man just spit it out will ya,” the youth sounded bored, “Don’t think so. Prob heard of me. I sort of run things around here. Name’s Lunar.”

Jeremiah’s face registered the surprise he was feeling and had no chance to hide it.

“Yeah, I know ‘I don’t look old enough’, man I’m sick of hearing that!” Lunar said sounding very annoyed.

“I… er, I’m sorry…” Jeremiah started.

“Look,” Lunar, “it’s my old lady’s fault. She broke the moon and I’m stuck human again. And 17.”

“Er, Oh. I’m sorry,” was all Jeremiah could think to say.

“Yeah,” Lunar said idly tracing a shape in the dust on the floor with the toe of his boot. An uneasy silence descended and settled on the two men and long seconds ticked away between them.

“So you can’t remember anything?” Lunar said at last. Jeremiah let out a big sigh, acutely aware of the beads of sweat tickling him beneath his fur. Teenagers were so bloody hard to talk to. “Um, no. Not a thing.”

“Man, you have a lot coming you way. You aren’t the most popular person in town, you know.”

Jeremiah bit his lower lip in contemplation, “No. Genie didn’t say too much but given I seem to have been hiding there under a false name I guessed that my son didn’t want to see me.”

“Darien?” Lunar snorted, “Oh hell you guys pissed each other off royally! Wham! Fights, explosions, demons, everything!” Lunar seemed quite happy at the thought of this. Jeremiah, on the other hand, felt his eyes widen, “Demons? Is that what that is for?” he stabbed a finger at the arcane symbol in the floor behind him”

“Yeah,” Lunar replied suddenly serious again, “Darien and you were into some heavy stuff. You seriously can’t remember all that? The whole curse thing? Him?”

“Him?” Jeremiah asked.

“Can’t say his name round here, just Him. He was a Demon that possesed Darien, although Darien got rid of him in the end. Not before the Demon Darien caused a lot of trouble mind, but then so did you.”

“What kind of trouble,” Jeremiah asked, dreading the possibilities running wild in his mind.

“Y’know, stuff. Look, why don’t you talk to Frau Lowey over at the Baron’s place. She’ll be able to help.”

“OK, but where is the Baron’s place? And who is the Baron? And Frau Lowey for that matter?”

Lunar sighed heavily, bored with the conversation “Baron Klaus Wulfenbach. Europa Consulate. Go and talk to Annechan Lowey, she lives there. I gotta fly.” He turned and began to walk out but stopped at the steps to the door, “Don’t touch that thing,” he nodded to the pentacle, “in fact don’t touch anything. And say hi to Ama for me.”

“Ama? Who’s that?” Jeremiah asked.

“Your granddaughter,” Lunar said as he slipped through the dark doorway…

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To be continued…
All the “Lost & Found” posts can be read here.