We still know so little about the wilderness beyond the city's reach. It does not take a long hike to lose the view of the town, just over the next ridge, and at night, there are not many sources of light that penetrate the forest. One can spot the lighthousen from a high point, but the forest is mostly untouched. I am still nervous about the woods here. Anyone raised with the dire lectures of the dangers of the Wastelands would be, I think. The glimpses I have had of something moving in the woods beyond the house in Harborside, generally when we have had excitement in town, have compounded my nervousness.
Most of the children from home are loathe to leave the pavements, with some exceptions. Anya is curious, but is still not quite comfortable here, even though she seems to happy to be living with her father. Some of the bolder ones have struck up friendships with the more daring Steelhead children, and luckily their exploits have been viewed as normal childish pranks, save for the incident that created the new sub-basement. Even that turned out to be beneficial, once the new artesian well was properly capped and the water pressure was under control.
Then there are the extreme examples. Rengerin has been had to be reigned in in defending the Baron, and - well, anyone who was exposed to the Jägerbrau at such a young age is likely to be fearless, and her combat skills have been well trained. But she has not shared all of her story with me, citing "paradox", and rapidly changing the subject. The Pensevey sisters would prefer to use telescopes to study anything outside the city, and considering the field their parents study, it is an understandable stance. Wolfgang used to be more cautious, like the Penseveys.
Now... he has been running patrol with Sgt Hellershanks, and when the sergeant is on long patrol, Wolfie has been following any of the patrols who would allow it. Captain Veles has been... cautious when discussing Wolfgang. It is as if he wishes to ask questions but is afraid of my reaction. I may need to get a large stick to discuss it with him.
My only regret was that the emergency that occupied the Baron's motivating spirit made a meeting this trip logistically impossible.I am glad everything worked out so far for his local staff, and hope that the assignments are amenable to all soon.
Through the grace of my hosts along the way, I was able to check in at irregular intervals. It was good to hear Dr Mason again, if only through a relay.
Now to finish preparations for the Midsummer Grand Tour, and help Birdie set up her auctions. As well as remembering Miss Em's birthday.
Perhaps next week, I may indulge in the "Inspirations" meme that has been going about - after sleeping.
I had transferred him from the Muircastle Maximum Security Preparatory School for Young Sparks last fall when they found him prowling the halls after hours. They had been reluctant to let him return after the summer holidays, considering his history of new and interesting explosions. They said the crater in the north pasture would make a lovely lake, but it might be better if he stayed with family. It was all in a rush, and in so doing, Immigration gave him the wrong last name. The environment in Steelhead with the other Consulate dependents and the local children has been good for him, and I had hoped he was settled.
Things have been changing since the turn of the new year.
The botany class trip into the mountains last fall was well guarded. Just because this is not a town in the Wastelands does not mean that the untamed wilderness is safe. Builder bless the Captain for volunteering his patrol to escort us. The Consulate children have had years of training in what to do to survive if you are separated from the Castle or patrol, and we have been including the local children in the patrol exercises. So luckily, the children were not overly panicked when the wolf attacked us.
For a single wolf to attack a large group, even as spread out as we were, I originally suspected it was rabid. That was my worst fear as I bandaged my boy up and the Jägers got us back to the city. Captain Veles and his patrol tracked the beast, but to no avail. The samples we brought back ruled out rabies, to my great relief. However, there were other considerations.
I had given my report to Sheriff Ortega at the time of the incident, and managed to squelch my rising panic with the example of his calm. After all, he is a good example rather than a horrible warning; a city leader and upholder of the law. If this had happened at home, I am not sure where I would have been able to turn, as my information on lycanthropy in Europa is sketchy. The Baron has been supportive of my research, as I have endeavored to keep it from interfering with my duties, but he has deferred to the Sheriff as the local expert.
The information in the parenting references does not quite fit with what is happening here. Wolfgang is exceedingly restless, especially at night. I have found him in odd corners of the office and home, curled up in the oddest places to nap. I have hope, in that though he is watchful and wary of the approach of others, he still is sociable with family and a few of his friends. He seems fond of Anya, and has been helpful in helping her settle in to the routine of the school. Though he and Rengerin quarrel a bit, he is quick to defend her against perceived threats.
Hindsight being what it is, I now understand why he may have stayed away from the Mason Laboratory these past few months - he sensed what the rest of us overlooked. Since Dr Mason has been installed in a new body, Wolfgang has has been cautiously curious about the work there again. He has also been wary of venturing onto the pier at Port Harbor, and I do not think it is because of that horrendous carnival of the Emperor's.
Now to watch, and wait.
When I woke, I sent a message to the construction brigade to see about repairing the damage to Miss Burton's house, and headed for the lab. The samples from the bloodstain Miss Burton's house confirmed scientifically what Kitla had indicated thaumaturgically - the one who was injured was indeed the attacker. The samples matched the ones from the night before, indicating it was the same attacker, but there was that odd blurring to the samples, very similar to the differences between Herr Baron and Niklaus. So this could be another issue of copies, or "clones", as Dr Mason called them. Miss marion might be most formidable, if we could find a fighting style that would help to keep her from being injured again. Mr Sawyer indicated he could make the repairs with what he had on hand in his shop. Curiouser and curiouser, I set that chain of thoughts aside for later consideration.
I then turned to the shuriken, finding fingerprints on it - how sloppy. From what I understood of the watchers in the garden, this attacker's sensei would be appalled that the student would leave such traces. I would have to cross-check this with the prints on file in the Sheriff's office from the booking, but there seemed to be more than one type. I would have to eliminate the known ones to find out if there were others.
The pellet was a surprise. I found it on the floor, and from its location, would have expected it to show a slight grazing wound. Instead, in the clear light of the lab, it showed that it was covered in blood, as if it had embedded itself in Mr Sawyer's shoulder. It had been loose, on the floor, with no evidence of how it was removed from him. I had inspected the wound, it was just a graze by the time I got to him. the blood sample was... surprising, yet not as much as it might have been a bare week ago. I completed my analysis and finished the related reports, making the relevant copies for Herr Baron and the Sheriff.
I sent a note through the pneumatic system to my assistant to check on Niklaus, reminded that he had not been back to visit Miss Burton since the attack, which was very odd. He had been given protective status in the Consulate, and released on his own recognizance months ago. This behaviour of staying away, even in cases of attacks on his creator, was not in character. Dr Mason had also been rather odd of late, working all hours in the lab, rebuffing the usual social contacts. Was the underlying issue there the reason why Amarantis had brought the journal to me, and not her father? Of her five parents, he normally would be the logical recipient of such material. More to consider, and evaluate.
As I filed the evidence and copies of the reports in the Sheriff's office, I was shocked to feel a return. Ash had convinced his captors to return him to defend Steeltopia! Knowing there would be fire as well as gunfire, I quickly returned home and changed into an old uniform. Builder bless Herr Baron for insisting the senior staff train with the Jägermeister for emergency procedures here.
I chanced a slip between planes to the office, and found him outside, trying to convince a citizen to return to his home. The plaintive answer of "What home?" was evidence of the destruction. The Emperor's people were divided in fending off the usurper's troops, and protecting the people from the damage wrought. It was not going well, even with Gematria and her cohorts fighting the fires and helping with the rescues. The usurper's soldiers had no scruples, firing on the rescue patrols as they worked!
The Emperor himself found us in the Acclaim District, and reported the fires were nearing the Guard Compound. He was intent on retrieving the guards and the usurper, and making sure the fires were contained. Ash had retrieved the experimental exoskeleton, as he was one of the few people who could use it - normal humans usually ended up with broken limbs trying to control it. It was helpful, as one of the zeppelins from the air guard had crashed in the parade grounds. Luckily, the gas mixture was a stable one, and had not ignited when the gasbags had been breached.
Emperor SteelCobra attempted to contact the loyalists in the main base, but the traitors had tried to sabotage the equipment before running. The repairs were quickly done, so we had minor warning when the naval attack came. We took cover in the detainment unit below the guardhouse, to find StormFront Aristocrat had escaped. On closer inspection, his cell retained a puddle of material the Emperor unscientifically categorized as "goo". I collected a sample, as best I could in the test-tubes from my pack, one for the Baron and one for Mr Glineaux.
We emerged from the guardhouse, and found most of the parade ground, including the communications shack, in rubble. We were preparing to fight through the streets to get to the Government House, when a silence descended. The gunfire had ceased, but it did not mean we were out of trouble just yet. Reaching the offices without incident, the Emperor found more sabotage, vandalism and outright theft. He and Ash managed to get one radio unit working, while I watched an empty and silent street. Reports form the outlying units were fantastic, there were large numbers of the enemy soldiers that were melting before competent witnesses. I suggested to the Emperor that Herr Baron's manner of dealing with the troops might help, with amnesty for the ones who surrendered quietly. He agreed, commenting, "The ones that take that offer are likely not the clones. Which reminds me, we need to check the mines."
Ach, mines - I am to the point that I detest mines. However, I did agree to accompany him, as this was not a Cavorite mine. We found a false wall that was not evident before; after all, those of us down there last night were not familiar with the layout of the mines. A few more twists and turns, and we found where the opposition had stored their prize. The shell radiated gas, which caused us to retreat to the surface. I am not sure what we encountered above, strange carriages, odd peacekeepers and loss of contact with those we knew. It was the last of these that prompted me to follow the Emperor back down, and concentrating on the bond-links, we touched the shell again.
When I came to in the theatre, Ash confirmed we were in the space/time coordinates of home. The Emperor's battalion had initiated the mop-up operations, with his orders to allow surrender. I asked Ash if he were all right, and he nodded, disengaging his sarcasm circuits. he will be about, but not openly, I think.
I returned to Harborside, checking in on Miss Burton, and the work the crew had done. Sleep overcame me, and rather than return home, I slept on the settee in the parlor at my brother's house. My continued lethargy in the morning caused me to wander next door to the Folly Garden, and simply laze in the catnip patch. An unfamiliar cat joined me, but as I skritched behind her ears, she identified herself. Kira reported her strange adventures of the past day to me. No wonder Dr Mason's actions have not been standard. He quite literally has not been himself. I took Kira to the office with me, to see who we could find for additional help.
As per standard battle maneuvers, she came in flying - and promptly dropped as a stone. Landing badly, she broke her ankle, and had difficulty with coherent thought due to the pain - not just from the ankle but severe systematic pain. Her agony clued me into why my headache was progressing rapidly - the bombs were "Reality-Enforcers", and were affecting those who had ties to the supernatural world.
I have not been active as such, save for the family patrols of trouble spots during the wheel of the year. Still, the family heritage is there, whether I use the skills taught or no. It was harder to hear the bond links, but they held fast, and were possibly the only reason I was able to remain upright as long as I did.
My grip on my temper loosened as the migraine got worse. The leader of the band was a smug smarmy elitist - he is lucky I did not shoot him. Cornered as he was, he still made demands, even and Frau Xandra Skytower deactivated the devices as she found them. Her captivity earlier did come of some good - without it, she might not have been as familiar with the devices, produced by "Dr" O.
Really, one who is so blind as to the balance of the powers that be to think he could remove that element without repercussions... no, wait - he really is that thick. I still do not believe there is any legitimate institution that would have awarded him a degree, much less a doctorate. Must have been one of those sub-par fly-by-night school-by-mail organizations.
Well, after my collapse, I do not recall much, only that Genie and I were removed to the Consulate building, which alleviated at least some of the pressure for me. Miss Mara collected us to her home, and applied triage techniques such as feeding us. There were some words exchanged, regarding the exposure of the children to the other worlds. I may not have had proper balance to enter such a discussion, as the anger and pain from the devices was still there, and I may not have been in full control of my temper yet.
I rested, and Frau Skytower completed the deactivation of the devices she could find, and was able to attend the opening of Duke Argylle's new building with only a minor headache.
In the aftermath, Miss Burton has been unable to tap into her abilities, and Frau Skytower has had a startling transformation, though it is unknown if she has any fae in her background. I have not tried to shift since the incident, but there is one thing that has not changed - the bondlines are still there. Thank the Builder for that, considering how unbalanced I was before discovering them. There have been others that have been affected, though they both deny they have any physical link to the unseen.
There are some shielding techniques that do work, though imperfectly. The ones that tie the laws of the physical world together with the wyrd of the worlds seem to work the best. I shall be collecting the components for some experiments, though I cannot test them, and would not ask anyone to volunteer for such dangers.
At the core of this, is the simple question of "WHY?" Is it simple bigotry, or was there a specific target in the midst of the misery that we missed? Yes, there is one obvious target in the mess, but I do not think the attacker thought the consequences through. The balance would have been disturbed, and who knows what would have moved into the void that idiot tried to cause.
Magic is not free, it has a price - too many children do not get those sorts of granny tales. It is not a cure-all, no more than any snake oil sold at the medicine shows. While it has been pointed out to me that doubt can be a potent shield, it does not always work. Hiding under the covers will not make all of the haints in the dark go away, just the ones still in your imagination.
I discovered Wolfgang in the lab yesterday, and seeing how much work he had done since his return from school, I immediately sent him out to see the sun and stars.
Of course he gravitated to the new district, and of course the first people he met in Port Harbor were Jaegerkin. He does nnot fear them,as he grew up with them abord the Castle, but respects their customs.
However, he seems to have met Herr Hellershanks and left a marginally positive impression.
It will be another week before Wolfgang goes back to school, and surely they cannot get into too much trouble?
Hm, might not be a bad idea to light a few candles in chapel, just in case.
Multitudinous stories to tell, and a few rather surprising developments, he can wait to hear it until he is ready to process the information properly. That reminds me, I need to check on Ash’s progress, to see if he is ready for the document processing class.
Unfortunately, I have been dreaming of the void between planes again, which means someone is trying to contact me. I do not remember when I wake up if I have spoken to the proper parties, but Mother assures me everyone at home is fine. Council sessions have been calm enough that she and Uncle Nico are talking of visiting.
As Wolfgang would say, “Oh, yay, an Educational Opportunity! BWAHAHAHAHAAA!”
I do not quite feel like laughing about it, though.
I didn't see any sutures, but then the brain surgeons of my acquaintance are usually very tidy. I've seen the Baron's schedule, and he hasn't the time unless he hasn't been sleeping. Even then that would be pushing the bounds of his standing best time from anesthesia to closure.
I wonder if anyone has seen a particularly large peapod in Steelhead or Caledon, recently.
Augustus has been fretting the entire journey, and he will not discuss what worries him. I found him garroulous and brooding by turns. I caught him studying me with an odd, mournful expression.
I hope that he was not too distressed to find the others here who walk the planes are more distant than he originally thought. I know what it is like to feel alone in a new place. I am family, but he and I were raised in different cultures, with little in common beyond Mother and our shared experiences when I was at university. I am not entirely welcome outside the clan holdings in his plane, and he seems to attract trouble in my homelands, so we only recently have begun to study together again.
I suppose I do not feel entirely stable, as I shift with the seasons again. I fatigue more easily than in years past, but I am not as young as I once was. I have caused meine Herr Baron some consternation as well, and for the first time in decades, I questioned the process. I should ask him to proceed as he sees fit, for the reasons for my pause were... not valid. Selfish, even.
And still no word...
Augustus is such a differnt person on these occasions; brisk, businesslike and entirely on top of the situation. It is only because he does not take the mayfly-existence seriously that he is so... gad-about in his ways. It explains a great deal of the "Why" behind the Incident at London-Under-Glass, and the Unpleasantness in Paris.
Post-script: And now, after perusing the AEthernet journals of fellow Caledonians, I see why the spirit of Grandfather only stayed long enough to call me a failure as a minion. I suppose I shall have to dig my sewing kit out of my trunks, as there are spots that are difficult to suture on one's self.
As I have not received any messages from... family to the contrary, I regret I will be unavailable from the 31st through the second of November.
However, if all goes according to plan, I will be At Home on the 12th, perhaps with a bit of a rustic tea and bonfire.
I regret that I have not been able to solve the riddle yet, either. I return to my studies in my copious spare time.
I hope I may have the opening gala preparations completed before his return, if only to spare him another worry. I try, but unlike Herr Dolokov, I have but two hands.
Wolfgang will not be able to join me at Winterfaire. I am most distressed at the report from the school. He was unhurt, and his classmates fared almost as well. However, this is the third classroom he has blown up this year, and as such, he will be under restrictions until spring, after that wing is repaired. I am in total agreement with the punishment, but I am disappointed. I am still unable to wrap my mind about how in the world one could cause structurally-damaging explosions in a dance and etiquette class.
Still no word from the Sergeant on his arrival date. I hope he has not changed his mind and signed up for a different assignment. There has already been another cancellation in travel arrangements, and I am glad I kept the cat in the bag, so to speak. I would have hated to raise his hopes and then dissapoint him.
Even more trouble has possibly landed on my doorstep. Although I have not seen him, I have had reports that my brother Augustus has been sighted in Caledon. Luckily, so far there have been no angry missives from constables, fathers or farmers. I only pray the Builder keep him from his usual antics until I have sufficient back up to manage damage control.
A rather unsettling thing occurred yestereve as I took a break from my labors and browsed about for some civilian wear for the Sergeant. He has indicated he may be retiring from the patrols as his knees bother him more in the morning of late. I had been examining the wares in Mr. Magellan’s shop across the way from the Consulate. There were several items that are of most excellent manufacture, but I am not sure they would be to Iandad’s tastes.
That is when I discovered my brother Augustus had been looking through my eyes again. It is a trait from our mother’s side, but unfortunately, it only works with blood relatives. “That one,” he whispered in my ear from thousands of miles away. “I will need to get that waistcoat when I arrive.”
I was momentarily annoyed that he had been watching without asking first, but then I realized the implications of the message.
Augustus, in Caledon – oh, Red Fire… I need to meet the Chief Constable or the nearest equivalent soon, and inquire as to the going rates for bail bonds.
I must take the time to say I have quite possibly the best employer in the history of the working world. I do not think Captain DuPree could be happier given the keys to the armory with orders to subdue a rampaging mob by any means she deemed necessary.
Scheduling proceeds apace, but I have housework to consider now as well.
Still watching the skies for the arrival of others from home and further afield.