“That will be adequate,” the aged master told the man, who nodded and went to write out the order for the lead and marble he’d just placed. The man went to that room that had apparently been painted like the sky to fill out the forms, which Canergak felt was a waste of material and dimension. Then again perhaps it would yield results; Beauchamp and Bargnam had proven stranger facts to be true to him.
As he concluded the submersible arrived carrying Dr. Maddox’s husband. Canergak shifted his eyes to a few settings to see exactly what he was dealing with, something he did when he first encountered anything for the first time. There was no setting that allowed him to perceive the world as he had when he still had his natural eyes, but that had been only one of the many things he’d either chosen to or been forced to give up on in his lifetime.
“You must be Canergak.” Heliotrope said in place of a greeting, and then peered into Canergak’s mechanical eyes. “Hrm, I see…”
Canergak considered it beneath him to speak with such creatures, but he did have a message for Dr. Maddox and speaking to something was not the same as speaking with something. “You may tell her that I’ve just ordered the lead.”
“Lead? What for?” Heliotrope asked, apparently only learning this fact now.
Canergak choose his next words for him to convey to the doctor carefully, “Tell her that her plea did not fall on completely deaf ears, though she was being more alarmed than she had to be.”
The horse looked around himself, obviously feeling the effects of the gem he kept on his person, “No she wasn’t. You wilfully endangered her. You wilfully endangered Arnold. You hurt him, you hurt her. You hurt her, you hurt me. Do you understand?”
The scientist decided to correct this egregious misunderstanding that the entire lot of them seemed to possess, and hopefully this time the message would get through to the doctor, “If that is what you have been told then tell them no I did not. I willfully created a protection for myself.”
“I have a certain degree of admiration for your apathetic nature toward anyone else’s well-being, or even life.” Helio commented, interupting Canergak.
The old man continued as if the halfbreed, his scrutiny had shown him this, hadn’t spoken, “Their lives were never in danger from this room. Is that what they believe?” If they did then that would explain why they had become so alarmed without cause.
“That’s where our investigation has led us,” Helio informed him, and now that the elderly dwarf knew that he finally understood why they were upset, and set about refuting this misconception.
“I was quite thorough with my calculations, how the materials were mixed in and broken down. Due to how the gems were processed and fragmented into the mold the effect they have now is quite diluted. This room could take months to permanently harm and years to completely absorb your kind or a persons soul at it’s current rate of absorption.” In fact he had even told that crew that they needn’t wear the protective gear he’d provided after the mix was finished, gear he wouldn’t have provided if it hadn’t been proven to him in the past that they would become quite ill for a time if he didn’t, but no one ever took him up on that suggestion as they had still suffered from minor affects temporarily. “This rooms true function is merely meant to keep the unnatural drained for my safety.”
Heliotrope Lionheart narrowed his eyes, “Then what caused the damage? And what did you mean your safety? Explain.”
The elderly man had been going to ignore both questions, especially since no one had bothered to tell him that anything had been damaged until now, but apparently his lack of communication with Dr. Maddox had caused this entire debacle in the first place. A little explanation may do much in ridding him of her needless worries and concerns, “The same reason I carry this.”
Canergak reached into his pocket and took out the gem and held it before him. The creature put a hand to his temple and seemed to realize that it was the real cause of his discomfort currently. The diluted effect of the walls caused a drain that was unnoticeable since it was so gradual. After all the scientist didn’t want his specimens to realize what was happening too soon, nor to disappear on him before he was done experimenting on them.
“This provides me with protection from creatures such as yourself. The loss of my soul was just an added bonus.” An added bonus that had kept him alive, considering the things that wanted him dead, but there was no need to tell Dr. Maddox that nor this creature since it appeared he didn’t already know of him.
“Put that away.” Heliotrope requested, his hand still on his temple. “I am being civil with you, and I would ask you do me the same courtesy.”
Canergak did not see this as a conversation with an equal, and saw no reason to do so at first, but after a moment memories from his past resurfaced and put the gem into it’s holder. He still remembered very clearly all his conversations with his old friends, and how upset Beauchamp had been when Canergak had dissected and then eliminated his familiar. Harming the cat or this horse in his mind was akin to doing the same to a pet dog that belonged to Maddox, something you only did with permission.
After he put it away, Heliotrope tried a different approach, “Look, far be it for me to argue for mental health, but this place is physically and psychically destructive, and you know it. This building is a weapon. And you aimed it at my wife and her beloved friend.”
Canergak scoffed at this newest accusation, “Hardly. I would have employed someone else and even offered to let her resign.”
“Then what are your motives?” After a moment the horse added, “Why did you have an asylum constructed?”
“I will tell you as I told the cat, though it appears he is the worst messenger I have ever had the misfortune to work with.” He paused to make sure that the horse was listening, he didn’t want to have to say this again. When he was convinced he had a captive audience he continued, “I insist that everything I build go towards the goal of enlightenment and the furthering of scientific knowledge. This city already had a library, a hospital, and many of the other buildings I have constructed elsewhere, but it did not have an asylum. The job I hired her to do was not to coddle or harm the patients, but to learn from them and report her findings to the scientific community. How she accomplishes this task is completely up to her. I have no interest in the patients themselves or how she handles them. She can treat them with care or lobotomize the lot. As for myself, you can inform her that no matter what I had constructed it would have still acted as my base of influence whenever I happen to come to Babbage, as I search for what I want.”
“I assume the ends justify the means?” Heliotrope asked, but Canergak didn’t bother to respond. “Are you going to tell me what you are searching for?”
“My business is no concern of Dr. Maddox. I had the facility built and I wish it used to further find out the secrets of the mind. That is all that she needs to understand of me.”
“Very well. Am I to understand from your earlier comment that you intend to line the walls with lead to decrease the harmfulness?”
Apparently she had not not spoken with her husband, which he didn’t blame her for, or was so attached to her soul she was not thinking rationally, so he repeated himself, “I already informed her that I would be accommodating. Only my inner chamber shall remain as it is.” At this point if she continued to have a problem with this arrangement he would not wait for her resignation, he would simply release her.
“She has hired me to work here with her, you know.” Heliotrope informed him.
This was news to the old man, and he did not like it, but he had prepared himself for this already. He’d signed the contract knowing that she would probably give her pet part of the budget that had been presented to him and had agreed to fund each month. While he was self conscious enough to know he could be quite petty, he also knew it beneath him now to lower that budget simply so she could not hire whomever she desired to work with her.
“She, like this city, is free to do what it wants unless it gets in the way of my goal.”
“I would say the same to you. I have quite a bit more at my disposal than merely my super-nature. I shan’t wish to be at opposition with you. As long as I get my minds and you get your minds, and my wife and Arnold are safe, we need not cross paths.”
“We should not. I have bigger concerns and worse enemies to mind than you,” Canergak went upstairs to check on the man’s progress. Judging by the way the creature snorted it was likely he had taken the comment personally by mistake. Perhaps the horse hadn’t realized that he had not once in the conversation been talking to him as an individual. His comment had been referring to all his kindred.
Still, he thought as he signed the prepared order, perhaps he should have taken the threat more seriously. After all it was possible the horse was connected to a group of ruffians. He’d heard of a gang called the Pennyfarthing boys attacking a local doctor, and there was apparently some form of a mob, and there were always assassins and thieves in a town this size. As protected as he was from the supernatural he was still only a man, who was hardly immune to clubs or bullets, not to mention his already failing health. The clockwork wasp on his shoulder would only be able to incapacitate one, maybe two such threats…he would have to bring his own protectors from home the next time he came here.