(Wed Oct 19)
Arnold had woken from his ‘pie adventure’ to a sunken theater across the street, which he really hoped he hadn’t anything to do with as he had not been to give Maddox her ‘energy’ in weeks, and he did remember walking past it the other day…or maybe through it’s walls a few times…unless he was completely mistaken and had just run into the walls repeatedly which was just as likely since he probably wouldn’t have noticed at the time. It was impossible to know for sure…surprisingly one of the things he did remember was the sounds of boots with a clicking heel to them just as he was falling asleep the other night, but he was also sure he’d heard the Tesla cannon blow up last night and it was still there….then again maybe that explosion had been in the direction of the theater…no….he couldn’t be sure of anything really after all.
He hid away for most of the day wishing he could take back his previous decision and stop existing for awhile, but he did eventually walk out and tried to make his runs. People were a lot kinder about yesterday than he’d expected, but he still expected the mockery to come eventually. It was inevitable.
Still he did have one place to be today. It was at least partially his own curiosity that had led him to the temple of Dagon that night, it was much more important to him to see what this religion (a concept which still sometimes eluded the cat) that Stormy presided over was like, since Stormy was now spending time helping Maddox cope with her own changes.
The attendees had seemed to vary greatly as to their purpose for being there, though most people had just come to see what it was like as Arnold had, and others were there to join their ranks, Arnold couldn’t know what reason a clockwork rat had to be there. Perhaps it had simply been there with the urchin sitting next to it, Zaida, if he recalled her name correctly.
Arnold had already overheard that they would be eating leeches and he had also expected to have to watch all sorts of other strange rituals like slaughtering goats or chickens, but he had not been prepared to hear Stormy’s sermon…he had not been prepared to hear what they wanted and anticipated…
He had not been prepared to feel pity for them.
(Thurs Oct 20th)
Late at night on Thursday evening he finally went to Dr. Sonnerstein’s and spoke with him, as well as Mr. and Mrs. Lionheart.
The professor was the first to ask, “How are you feeling today, Arnold?”
“Like an idiot for the events on Tuesday,” He said honestly, “But yesterday was worse in some ways.”
“We all have our first time being drunk. Intoxicated, I should say though.”
Arnold frowns, “I don’t remember most of it very well…and I’d rather not. But I remember last night too clearly. That’s what I wanted to talk with you about.”
“Well, in any case, I’m glad you’ve recovered. You’re unsettling when intoxicated.” The professor claimed.
Arnold raised an eyebrow, wondering what exactly he’d done that was unsettling except act like a child had more sense than he. Then he told them about how he’d gone to the Dagonite meeting and wanted to talk for a moment about it.
Heliotrope nodded, “Well I wasn’t at the Dagonite meeting, so I was interesting in catching up.”
“Mm, I keep missing them through various reasons.” Dr. Sonnerstein agreed.
“There were quite a few people there, some people who joined, a few who just watched, Zaida, and that mechanical rat that’s been running about.”
Dr. Sonnerstein seemed quite surprised, “Zaida! Really?!”
“She was only there to watch, like me apparently,” Arnold explained. He left out who had joined, that was information of a far more personal nature.
Heliotrope chuckled in delight though at the news anyways, “More new recruits. Interesting.”
“Hm, so what was your troubles, Arnold?” Sonnerstein inquired.
Arnold paused, and steadied himself. He supposed he had to tell them everything from the start if they were to really understand, “I should start by again saying that I lived through the experiences and lives of several of my ancestors while I was, incapacitated. Seeing through their eyes and experiencing what they experienced….I saw someone that I was for a brief moment of time choose to cease to exist.
Professor Lionheart mused about this for a moment, while his wife looked down and fiddled with her hands.
“I saw several of them die in some way in fact, but so did they and they were the ones who knew it could easily happen to them next. Several of them were young, and rash, and they didn’t want to die, to chance not existing because they couldn’t find someone who would accept them. They also didn’t want to serve. So they decided to find a way so they wouldn’t have to.”
“Self destruction?” The professor asked.
“Arguably they did, because the way they discovered caused them to change what they were on every level of existence and forge a new life, a new purpose of their own choosing.” Arnold shook his head. “It’s the night they ‘broke’ themselves.”
Dr. Maddox seemed to understand, “That’s what it meant then…”
“Apparently,” Arnold agreed. “I haven’t seen beyond that night, Id said that it was the night they lost all control of…everything.”
Dr. Sonnerstein also looked like he was in deep thought, even though he was still trapped in a child’s body.
“So she still helps you, then? She hasn’t gone away?” Dr. Lionheart asked.
“I spoke to her last night, well, two nights ago, that is.” Heliotrope explained.
Arnold sighed and continued, “I hadn’t wanted to talk about it yet, but the Dagonites….when I heard Stormy preaching last night about throwing off the chains of servitude and becoming more than what they were and transforming themselves…all I could see was their faces. My ancestors saying they wanted to change who they were and to throw off the need to serve….it was almost like they were saying the same thing.”
“It’s the same in every religion, Arnold. This one just uses physical transformation instead of moral or logical or some other.” Heliotrope Lionheart chuckled,
Maddox grabbed her husband’s hand and then looked at her familiar, “Please, Arnold. Continue.”
Arnold shook his head, “There’s not much else to say. I just felt sorry for them, because in them I can only see a path towards their own destruction now…” He paused for a moment and then added, “It also made me think I had to address this with you all finally.” His sabbatical had been ruined completely by this point, he simply couldn’t escape matters in the city right now no matter how much he had wanted to their were reminders for him everywhere. Talk of time travel led him to remember his ancestors could be used to view the future beyond the walls of reality, talk of servitude or that bet led him back to what he was, and being unable to open the bottle had been yet another reminder of this. If he couldn’t escape it now he might as well address it as best he could. Perhaps then he could finally overcome the situation and enjoy the time off he was taking.
“Thank you, Arnold.” Dr. Sonnerstein said.
“I hope you understand that we love you…Shall we ask him now?”
Professor Lionheart glanced at his wife, “Ask him which one? Ah, yes, go ahead.”
Arnold glances at her and waited and even Dr. Sonnerstein tilted his head.
“We want you to live wih us. In our house.”
“In Clockhaven?” Arnold asked, who only yesterday found out that’s where he was meant to go.
“I am sure that Helio can make arrangements elsewhere if we need them.”
“It’s fine.” Arnold said dismissively.
“I think the proximity to the aetheric generator will dampen the effects from the Old Quarter wards…”
Arnold wondered for a moment if that was how Phaedra had managed to stay in that apartment, with Pip in the area as well at a guess, without much fuss. In any occasion it probably hadn’t hurt her situation. “I’ve never really noticed a deafening headache the way that Erehwon seems to experience.”
“I have a very slight one…” Dr. Maddox said.
Heliotrope nodded, “I can tolerate them, especially with good company to distract me.”
Arnold pauses as he weighs what he might accidentally walk into one day or hear vs how much he actually would actually prefer this.
“Will you, Arnold? Will you live with us?” Dr. Lionheart nudged her husband. “Tell him, Helio. Tell him what it means to you. And to us.”
Helio grinned, “We’re a family of three, Arnold. Not in a conventional sense, but in our own way.”
Arnold paused for a moment, and then thought about it realistically. Since the Asylum is mostly out at Maddox’s insistence he actually has only one place that he could currently stay besides the hospital or Gangplank…Emerson’s house.
“When can I move my bed?”
Turns out he could do it immediately, but he did have one more stipulation to add, “Don’t make me any pie. Ever. Again.”
“We’re a cake only house from now on.” Heliotrope agreed.
“I only have one thing to add then,” He then showed Maddox and the others the letter Emerson had sent him about the bet. She took it rather well.
“He will not be anything but a name on a tombstone if they go through with this.” She said.
Heliotrope grinned, “That’s my wife.”
Arnold soon went back to Emerson Lighthouse’s home and collected his ‘bed’, which he’d had sent to him from the asylum. The driver of the submersible had been gotten something of a raise when he’d taken on more responsibilities. Like making sure the patients were fed each day since Maddox was still avoiding the asylum. He’d have to speak to her about that very shortly and confess to his involvement in incarcerating Miss Rouse.
As he collected the bed though, he heard a laugh…a laugh of a man that had been dead for months. He turned about looking for the source of the noise, but he didn’t see anyone in the area. Had the proximity to the canisters caused him to start hearing things? Metier had been dead since July…he couldn’t have actually been here to laugh…at least he couldn’t have physically done it…