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An Audience In An Alleyway

Alowishus Bligh concentrated his attention onto the rhythm
of the advancing footsteps, picking them out from among the cacophony of
resonant clutter ubiquitous in the industrial backbone of this enchanting
metropolis. By the time the cause of the sounds had rounded the entrance to the
alley, Bligh had formulated his supposition of just who that cause might be.
And so it was.

“Oy! Iss you again,” spewed the expected greeting. “Oy’ve
got a message fer you from the bossman.”

“Of course you have, my good man,” Bligh offered regarding
Klaus indirectly, making some attempt to feign interest. “And pray tell, what might
this message of your bossman’s entail?” he professed to inquire, quite aware of
the gist of the communication.

“I’m to tell you that ‘e offers a trade. If you see
Abblesauce yer supposeta tell ‘im that if ‘e wants ‘is ship, ‘e can trade the
Gold Sheep fer it,” barked the ruffian, folding his arms and grinning.

Bligh considered Klaus for a moment, wondering if the smirk
arose out of pride at having remembered such a complex communiqué long enough
to reach its recipient and regurgitate it. Having paused long enough to
simulate perplexing over the matter, Bligh stared directly into Klaus’ eyes and
challenged him to memorize the reply: “Such an arrangement is found to be quite
agreeable, with a single revision—I am to personally deliver the Fleece.
Dollianna is to be exempted from any further attachment to this affair.”

“Oy, suit yerself, mister. Dunno what that clockwork
matters, but iss up to you. Just you bring the sheep, fer Applesass’ boat,

“Agreed,” mumbled Bligh, ignoring the hooligan’s odd gaze.
“I shall reasonably expect confirmation of reciprocated acceptance of the
proposed amendment in due course. I need not admonish that the ship will be presented
pristine, lest our arrangement expire at once.”

“Roight. Oy’ll tell ‘im then,” Klaus babbled, departing with

Relieved that the anticipated contact had finally arisen,
Bligh felt secure that Mr Addlebrass’ ship would be restored to him intact. He
now began to make his way to call on an old acquaintance. He had need of a
peculiar article, and knowledge of only one likely source for such an object.

As he moved unseen through the backstreets and alleyways
across the expanse of the city, he sensed more than the progression of the
seasons. As autumn crept closer to winter, other things crept through the shadows
as well. Sensing that he may not have sole occupancy of his clandestine thoroughfare,
Bligh busied both his form and his awareness with his crucial undertaking. If
the presence he perceived was what it seemed, it would be best that he remain
aware of as little as possible, at least until the conclusion of the ensuing business.

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