“If he goes over the wall and comes back he would be considered a criminal,” Lottie stated.
“Not necessarily, the law is kind of fuzzy in that area Lottie,” Emerson replied with a smirk, and proceeded despite Lottie’s assurances that it was not. ”Besides, I own how much of Clockhaven now? Have I officially declared us as the free state of Emersonland yet?” As everyone shook their heads he slapped his own forehead. “See, this is why I need the leaf! Look how forgetful I am without it! Anyway, I own that wall now so I could probably offer tours!”
Despite Emerson’s assurances that Arnold would be back, and with their supplies no less, there were many who felt that this was the last time they would ever see the cat again.
“At least let me provide you with a proper sword,” Dr. Cyberfaustus requested, but he refused, stating that he didn’t know how to use one. “Of course you do, you were a natural on the piste!”
“Was,” Arnold stressed, having no recollection of that. He had picked up the violin and remembered a few songs again simply by holding it, but not all of them and that was not something he wanted to try with a sword. “I’d probably hurt myself. A wooden sword and claws will have to do…I mean Mr. Lightninghouse works for Petra.”
Petra nodded as she hefted her favored weapon from the barrel she liked to sit on, “Wish I could go with ya, hear there’s a lotta stuff people would pay out the togs for down there, but gotta watch the Plank.”
“At least take your cane!” Momoe shouted as she dug behind the counter and produced the weapon she had bought him. He didn’t see how he could shoot himself with a barrel that long, so he did accept that. Momoe looked around the room twice and then went ahead and scratched the top of his ears in a friendly way, “Be safe…and come back with those supplies!”
Petra eventually lead a group of them to the roof to see him off. From this height he could see that the Powerstation was still separate from the Plank, but only because it was farther along the wall. He waited while they began to set up a steam winch and cable.
Arnold stared apprehensively from the roof of the Plankhaven and saw an unnatural black fog hiding the area beneath. There was something beneath that dark cloud which made his fur stand on end. Like a creature waited beneath to devour him and his soul.
Instinct told him to run, that he could be utterly destroyed if he went down there, but he stayed looking at the fog with dread, unable to turn away until Malus commented, “It’s ready, unless you’ve changed your mind?”
Arnold turned back to them, and then back down at the black miasma. He gripped his cane and bag tightly, “I have to go.”
Petra brought him the harness, which was too big for him, and he was soon connected to the cable. He put the bag in his mouth so he’d have a better grip and was then lowered towards the ground below that was impossible to see. The well wishes were soon silenced as he fell out of sight.
He had barely gone one hundred feet when someone up there had bumped or kicked the machine, and the cat jostled for one terrifying moment. The bag almost fell out of his mouth, but Arnold clenched his jaw, gripped the rope in his arms with terror, and didn’t let go.
He was lowered at a steady pace after that, and he was getting closer to the unnatural black fog when he saw them, ravens. The reason that he hadn’t dared climb the wall at the Canals were now swarming out of the clouds towards him.
He didn’t think he had much choice as he aimed the shotgun. It wouldn’t do much good, but he had to be able to shoot them. He waited for the birds to get closer, aiming the long weapon at the center and keeping his claw on the trigger.
He opened fire moments before they were on him. Ravens fell from the sky dead, while others were halted by the loud noise which sent them into a frenzy as they moved about. Arnold didn’t have time to reload however, and the birds regrouped and started to fly around him.
Arnold took his bag in paw and began to swing it and the cane around wildly, hitting the birds away while they tried to peck at his clothes and flesh. Their flight and his constant movement was the only reason that they managed to puncture him only a few times, while the birds fell from the sky.
The ravens flew up at that point, leaving him there, and Arnold knew that they were going to attack the group at the winch and try to break it. Considering the shotgun blast and his flailing about they had to know that something had happened, and they would be ready…he hoped.
He was in the black fog before he felt the first shock, as if the steam winch had been kicked roughly again. But this time it was followed by another, and another. There were several of these and then the winch stopped working altogether.
Arnold looked down below, he could finally see the ground through the fog, though only barely it was such a dark place. There were buildings, but they were very old and outdated compared to the rest of Babbage, and they reminded him of the twisted buildings he had seen when he first entered the Palisades and New Babbage areas of town, only rotten.
One of the roofs was taller than the others and it was only a short drop away. If he could run along the wall and kick against it then he could land safely he was sure. He would lose his way out, but he could not stay here either. He stood against the wall and began to move against it as best as he could manage on the smoothed out stone which allowed no claws to gain a foothold. Once he was there he cut his own harness with the claws one piece at a time and then fell to the roof as his body twisted to allow him to land on his feet.
He grimaced as the rotten roof gave away with a loud and sickening crunch and he fell to the next floor below in a cloud of dust. He started coughing roughly, and grimaced as his limbs and body protested painfully what he had just done. He had survived worse falls without a scratch, but something about this place made it worse. He stood up after a few minutes of coughing and made his way out of the building, taking his bag and other possessions with him before he left any there by accident.
He emerged covered in dirt, and found that his entrance had not gone unnoticed. Figures in black hooded robes had begun to approach him. He stepped back apprehensively, especially when he saw that under the hoods were people with flesh rotting off of their faces. They looked at him hungrily, and he saw familiar faces within their numbers such as Little M and Marcus Flint.
He gripped his bag and was about to put the cane aside to draw the sword when there was the sound of a loud roar, and the group and cat turned. Doctor Dinosaur was standing there, though he looked more like Grendel Footman now, aiming a Tesla Rifle at Arnold. He was surrounded not by his mechanical creations, but several undead raptors that moved between Arnold and the others. “You have something of mine.”