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A Trip with the Builders

Sister Loxely was beginning to contemplate how Brother Lapis was perhaps correct, she did need to get out and socialize more. She took a sip of her hot espresso which their gracious hostess of The Gangplank, Miss Junie Ginsburg, had provided for her. Out of the corner of her eye she saw a figure move closer, Lox turned to see that Brother Lapis was openly staring at the pie-eating Brother Scorpio who was seated beside her. Puzzled, she began to pay closer attention to Brother Scropio as well.

“Are you feeling alright, Scorp?” Brother Lapis questioned Brother Scorpio.

Brother Scorpio nodded in response. However the nod changed into a strange circling, “Oh yes. Very alright.”

Sister Loxely widened her eyes. That was not a typical response.

“Did you sleep last night?” Brother Lapis asked. It was a common question among them.

Brother Scorpio then suddenly moved his head left, then right, staring at Brother Lapis. “Your moustache thing follows me. Why is it doing that? Please tell it to stop.”

Brother Lapis said, “Riiiight.”

It was plain to Lox that Scorp was in some strange state of mind. And she could not help but find it a little funny. She coughed to try to cover up a laugh and grabbed Scorp’s arm, “Are you tired, Uriah? Needing to get some rest?”

Brother Scorpio kept moving his head, trying to shake the moustache, “Uh, tired? Ask the ‘stache….” He whispered back loudly at Lox, “It KNOWS!”

Sitting on a barstool behind the counter, Miss Ginsburg raised her eyebrows, “What’s up with him?”

Lox looked at her, then at young Brother St. Germaine down the bar. Scorp was making a scene and there were a fair number of witnesses. Things needed to be remedied as soon as possible. “Ooookay, Uriah. I believe it is time to get you back to your bunk.”

“Good idea. No moustache there. You are pretty smart, Loxikins,” Brother Scorpio nodded solemnly. There was a snicker from behind the bar.

Lox coughed again and pulled Brother Scorpio up, supporting him while she placed coins on the counter and grabbed her small package which contained a slice of pie to go. “Thank you for the hospitality, Miss.”

As he stood up Scorp said loudly, “Whoa! I was flying! So were you, Lox! Didja see that?!”

Lox gently bopped him on the head and ushered him out of the door. She called behind her towards Brother St. Germaine, “Do not stay out too late, Claude.”

As other farewell greetings were exchanged Scorp yelled back from outside, “See ya! Watch out for the moustaches!”

Doing her best to quickly pull Scorp along, poor Lox was nearly exhausted once they reached City Hall. She sat Scorp down on a bench and took a seat beside him, trying to catch her breath.

Scorp’s head was still unnaturally bobbing back and forth, his eyes wide and fogged over, “The moustaches…they are following us, you know…”

Lox knew better than to grace his nonsense with an answer. He was past help, at least for now. She leaned back on the bench and tried to mentally list the medications that she had been giving him. Perhaps she gave him an incorrect combination today? Lox sighed and looked down at the small package on her lap. “Might as well,” she said to herself more than Scorp. She opened the package and carefully broke off some cinderberry pie with her fingers. Tasting it she said, “Delicious is right. I should have perhaps bought a whole one for everyone to enjoy tomorrow.”

Scorp leaned on her shoulder, leering at her with a maniacal grin spread across his face as she ate her pie. “That’s some good pie, isn’t it, Loxikins?” Lox ignored him and thought about how she needed to get him back and how surprisingly scrumptious the pie was.

Then she saw them. An entire swarm, black and flapping as if they were bird’s wings. They were headed straight for them. “Ahhhh!” Lox screamed and jumped up, hitting Scorp’s jaw hard with her shoulder.

Scorp fell back on the bench, wincing in pain, his arms, legs and cassock flailing helplessly. Lox stared at him, her eyes now wide and crazed like his, “Get up, you lummox! The moustaches are going to attack!” She helped him up and took his hand, forcibly dragging him towards the Mnemonics Institute. As they ran Lox began to recite prayers and calculations, hoping they would somehow assist in their fleeing.

Once the stars had cleared from Scorp’s eyes he looked back over his shoulder and gave a loud, high pitched squeal, “Eeeeee!” He lifted Lox up by the hand and put her on his back, charging forward with the power of a bull. It took Lox a moment to understand where she had been placed but once she figured it out she began laughing uncontrollably. “Hahahaha! I knew getting you to exercise would pay off! Hahahaha!”

A small group of urchins and a few messengers saw them as they rounded a corner, quickly scattering to get out of the way. “Brother Scorp! Sister Lox! What are ye doin’?” “Blimey! Those Churchies really are mental!” “Look at ‘em go!” “Oooh, that musta hurt!”

Instead of opening the door and running inside of the dormitory they both had run headlong into the solid oak door. Scorp helped Lox up and they darted inside, bolting the door behind them. They both collapsed on the stairs and everything went black.

The following afternoon Lox opened her eyes to the sight of Brother Lapis hovering over her, a strange, smug look on his face. She moved and her head pounded. She tried to say something to him but only winced, then heard a groan beside her. No, not just beside her. In her arms. Lox sat bolt upright despite her pounding head and saw that she was wedged into her small bed with Scorp. Looking around quickly, Scorp saw the same thing and fell down on the ground in panic.

Lapis laughed and said calmly, “Let me guess. You both ate the pie?”

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  1. Brother Lapis Brother Lapis July 16, 2012

    Emerson’s pies are not for amatuers. 

  2. Junie Ginsburg Junie Ginsburg July 16, 2012

    Junie watched carefully as Sister Loxley escorted Brother Scorpio from the Gangplank.


    She stood behind the bar, contemplating his peculiar behavior.  How unlike a Churchie to jest in that way.  It was almost as if…

    Her eyes darted to the dishes on the bar.  She counted places where people were sitting or had been.  Coffee, coffee, pie, coffee, pie, coffee, coffee, pie… Oh, Great Builder.  There was a mostly-eaten pie at the end of the bar.  Scorpio had eaten almost an entire half by himself.  Who else?  Claudius…Riddler.  Lapis had none, and Loxley had none except a piece Junie wrapped up for herShe suddenly hoped the Sister wouldn’t have a chance to eat it.

    Quickly she removed the remainder of the pie from the bar and rushed it back to the kitchen.  After dropping it into the dry sink, she pulled all of her pie ingredients out onto the counter.  Flour, salt, butter, sugar, lemon and cinammon.  Then, she pulled a lid off of the crock in which she’d been storing the cinderberries.  Upon doing so she recoiled, eyes watering, from the horrid stench coming from within.  Tentatively she moved back for a closer look, hand covering her mouth and nose, and saw the culprit responsible for Brother Scorpio’s mustaches:  spoiled berries.  They must have been just north of bad when she’d baked them into the pies.

    After the final guest left that night, Junie hauled the heavy potful of berries down to the sewers.  She considered idly that if spoiled cinderberries had a quality much like ergot-infected grain, well, that might have its own potential.  Weaponized gas, poison, medicine, or, she thought with a shrug, wine. Accidentally dosing customers definitely wasn’t on the list. 

    The water flowing just outside Smuggler’s Hole in the basement of the Gangplank swallowed the foul purple berries and carried them away for the canals.  Junie watched the purple stain stretch thin downstream as an alarming thought occured to her.

    They’re all going to blame Emerson.

    She cringed, and immediately began to rehearse what she would tell him.  She knew she would have some explaining to do.

    • Tepic Harlequin Tepic Harlequin July 16, 2012

      Tepic cautiously crept along the edge of the sewer, this area under Clockhaven was infested with giant rats, and although he could usually best them, it was always a struggle better avoided. He turned a corner, and there, directly in front of him was the biggest, meanest looking rat he had ever seen! Backing away, he palmed a pebble from his pocket, prepared to hurl and run, but then something caught his attention…

      The rat was swaying, head moving as if trying, unsuccessfully, to focus on him. Then it took a step forward, lost control of it’s legs, and gently rolled over on it’s back, squeeing pathetically. The boy stepped forward, and seeing the rat was in no condition to harm him, he dragged it by it’s tail to a dryer part of the sewer – he might not like them, but he wasn’t about to see one drown in a few inches of water either.

      Carefully looking the animal over, he noticed a purple stain on it’s teeth, and the distinctive smell of fermenting cinderberrys…. some daft person was tipping the stuff into the sewers! Quickly, he retraced his steps, and exited, closing the manhole cover behind him. The rat had been a happy one, but it didn’t take all creatures the same way, best to avoid the sewers for the next few days, just in case…..

  3. Jedburgh30 Dagger Jedburgh30 Dagger July 16, 2012

    NBS Scylla, at anchor in Clockhaven harbor.
    Ensign Scipio walked along the fantail of the squat ironclad, watching the traffic along the docks with a certain sense of envy. They had been on station out in the gulf for quite some time, and it was good to be back home for a while.
    He looked off towards town when he noticed something….curious. A heavy purple stain began to crawl out of the sewer outlets.It roiled and spread, extending its way out into the water of the port. A tendril of the oily slick stretched by the side of the ship, and the young officer made a horrific face. The smell that came to mind was something akin to the privy on a shrimpboat in the tropics…and it was at that point that Mister Scipio decided that there was an advantage to sea duty after all.

  4. Brother Riddler Brother Riddler July 16, 2012

    I looked down in the water where I had just thrown up the pie I had just eaten. The ground still seemed shaky, so I crouched there for a minute more, gripping the side of the seawall like it was going to crumble out from under me. Then I noticed some of it had splashed on my jacket. Oh man, we were in so much trouble now, at least Slapus was back at the school and the others were still at the bar where they could not see us. I looked over at Claude to see how he was doing. We were going to have to figure out a way to sneak in and wash our clothes before anyone noticed in the morning, or they would probably make us to extra chores for a few days before letting me and Claude leave to go stay with my family at the dairy for the summer.

    Why did this have to happen the night before we were going to leave?

    • Claudius StGermaine Claudius StGermaine July 17, 2012

      Claudius was having a few issues of his own, staring hard with dialated eyes at a few twisted strands of hair held carefully between his fingers. He wavered a touch on his feet and didn’t seem to notice Riddler aside from picking his hand up from his side now and then to study it until he finally spoke up. “It’s funny, I never noticed what orderly structures we are until you get to the hair. Then, just… pffoof.. Chaos. What’s up with that?” It took him a moment more of looking up and down the street running alongside the canal. A tight high sound escaped his throat, almost a squeak. “Maybe we should get back to the heart.. Home! We should get back home to the institute. Yes?” What a world it was around him! The city really wasn’t all that different from a body, was it? It’s supports and structures and flow of lifeblood and information. It was making him feel a little claustrophobic, a body in a body with more bodies everywhere in it too.

  5. Brother Lapis Brother Lapis July 18, 2012

    Judging from how the boys were acting, Lox and Scorp probably had nothing worse than a hangover. He left the apperent lovebirds to pick themselves up and decided to get the boys to the train station early to get them out of the way. Claudius had lost that amazed expression he had worn last night, and Riddler, Riddler had the constitution of an ox. He acted as if nothing had happened at all. Fresh air and work would take care of any lingering effects. Lapis called to them to hurry up, then hustled them out to the trolly platform with as much noise as possible. After they disappeared around the bend, safely on to their summer vacation in Dairy, he strode slowly back to the Institute.

    This was going to be fun.  

    next: The Morning After

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