Steampunk fiction, reviews and interviews

Silk and Steel

And now back to the good Doctor at The Cross Keys and his obsession with ‘The Mendicci Question’ XD Hopefully this is going to tie up and make sense time-wise as he will be walking through the park at the same time as Edmund and Vraxi are there so I’m hoping that’s apparent but feel free to shout at me if it doesn’t come across that way or make sense – this is all totally first-draft stuff lol so I’m going to have to work back through it and fix any problems once it’s complete πŸ™‚

Hope you all have a fabulous bank holiday weekend and don’t get blown away by the oncoming storms! We just finished our Irish-style wayside shrine this week and have had to hide it in the shed so it doesn’t get blown away! XD

 

The doctor watched the dancing for as long as he could stand the senseless frivolity of it all, then he knocked back his drink and quietly left the tavern.

 

Outside the sun had set long ago and the bite of the night air permeated even his heavy Great Coat as he hurried his steps towards The Spires and his cosy quarters at the university.

 

He nodded to a seamstress he knew as she hugged her shawl about her shoulders, hurrying home, then dodged to avoid a group of street urchins singing a skipping rhyme. Something about the words seemed discordant he thought, as he turned past the Mul’ai Sap Distillery, but the notion dissipated as he batted away a little coven of crows who came dancing up to him hungrily and tried pecking at his boots.

 

β€œGet out of it!” he growled, and the only living creatures in hell took flight and eyed him venomously from the rooftops. Not for the first time, he wondered what it was that kept them alive. Afterall, there was no birth and no death here – only the crows and various forms of mould and fungi. But all the research his colleagues at the university had done into the matter had been inconclusive, things just were the way they were and although his scientific mind refused to let the matter rest it also allowed him to accept the facts, for now, certain that an answer would be found eventually.

 

He had just entered the park and was passing under the leafless shade of the rows of mu’lai trees when a figure caught his attention.

 

At first he thought the crows were attacking it – not that rare an occurrence- and his instinct was to run forward and chase the cursed creatures away with his cane. But something made him hesitate, and in that split second he saw that it was the fluctuating fluttering of the feathered creatures that was maintaining this person’s form… or the idea of form… he shook his head, unsure if all the recent strain was causing his mind to play tricks on him… but no, the more he looked, the more substantial this creature became until he appeared no longer engulfed in birds but trod the moonlit path with a tangible weight of his own – a man, dressed in ragged clothes, a hood covering his head and a staff in his hand, crowned with a crescent-moon.

 

The doctor eyed him carefully, drawing himself up to his full height and letting the twighlight entwined around his soul roll like storm clouds until it utterly filled his form. He was not afraid of the supernatural.

 

They both continued their path, each aware of the other, neither slowing nor speeding towards their inevitable point of meeting.

 

The crow man inclined his head cordially as he drew near and the doctor returned the gesture. Then the crow man stopped and leaned lightly upon his staff. β€œI wonder if you could offer me some assistance?” he asked, his voice a lispy whisper from within the depths of his hood.

 

The doctor paused and raised his eyebrows but said nothing.

 

β€œI am looking for…a friend…a man of flesh and blood…a magician if the word holds any meaning here?”

 

β€œA magic user?” the doctor asked doubtfully, recalling things he had read and quickly dismissed in ancient texts.

 

β€œOne who spoke with angels and demons, devils and gods long before most realised such things could be done. When I knew him he could change his form, to that of a spider, and although he is now a man of flesh and blood – someone who I believe would stand out in Ryzym these days – still I fancy his nature, which tends towards that creature’s wily ways, would betray him as something of an…oddity in any event.”

 

 

If the doctor was taken aback by any of this he did not show it. Instead, he leant on his cane a moment and pondered what the stranger had said. β€œTo clarify,” he said slowly, β€œyou are looking for a friend of yours, a magician like yourself, a man of flesh and blood who could once change his skin to that of a spider and even now has a personality which reflects that fact?”

 

β€œJust so. His name is Tadejs Blinda but I doubt he goes by that now. Do you know of such a person?”

 

The doctor shook his head, β€œI do not. But the city of Ryzym is not infinite. It is possible I may run into him, or that someone I know already has… is there a way I can contact you… or is there a message you would like me to convey should I meet him?”

 

The crow man was silent for a while, regarding the doctor with his head a little on one side. β€œ’There liveth none under the sun, that knows what to make of the man in the moon, save one’” he said. And then he reached a clawlike hand inside his robes and pulled out a slim glass vial. β€œIf you were to happen upon him, by some strange stroke of luck or fate, perhaps you could…persuade… him to drink this.”

 

β€œA fan of riddles is he?” the doctor asked dryly, but the crow man was already walking away, his ragged cloak fluttering around him in the moonlight.

 

The Ghani watched him go until his form melted into the pools of shadow cast by the dead trees. Tadejs Blinda… he thought to himself … so that is your secret, Mendicci; afterall, there cannot be two men in Ryzym who fit such an esoteric description.
Tomorrow, he decided,he would go back to the hall of records, and also to the library, and research all he could about this Tadejs Blinda or whoever he was.

 

He looked at the vial the crow man had given him, what was it? Poison? Some sort of…magic? No. His rational mind dismissed that thought at once. Speculation was futile, he would take it back to his laboratory tonight and discover what he could about it before deciding whether or when to slip it into Mendicci’s drink… tempting though it was to race back to the Cross Keys and attempt the matter now, the scientific method must prevail – even in the case of amicicide, he told himself sternly.

 

He twirled his cane and whistled a little tune as he set his steps once more towards home, merrily turning over in his mind exactly what he ought best to do with all this new and very interesting information.

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