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Orpheus and the Dark Aether – Chapter 15

Orpheus paced back and forth in his library. He had been spending far too much time isolating himself from the city, especially as the Writer continued to fill in details about the cities impending doom. What had once seemed to be many years in the future now seemed to draw closer and closer. And Orpheus was no closer to understanding why the cracks were

appearing where and when they were. The crack on Ms. Hienrich’s abode still lingered, and he had detected one in the vicinity of Ms. Ginsberg’s residence as well, although no one had reported that one to anyone. This was too frustrating. He grabbed the folder of Van Creed documents he hoisted from the archives on the Zenobia station and began flipping through them again.

“How odd,” he muttered as he noticed for the first time a handwritten note in amongst the documents. Although the year was smudged, he could clearly read the words, “Dec. 1, Imperial Theater. Red Dragon.” It was December 5. He took the folder with him and went for a walk in the cold winter’s air.

Orpheus entered the theater and took a seat, reading through the papers again. He looked over the pages again and again as the words blurred before him. He had read these documents a hundred times trying to find some new clue. Alas, he was finding nothing. Orpheus looked up to see that two boys had entered the theater. He could tell by the one boy’s peg leg that he was the urchin called Nat. The other one he could tell was Gadget, albeit a dirty Gadget. He put the documents back into the folder and said hello.

“Good evening boys. Glad to see you are feelin’ more yourself Gadget.”

Gadget pouted and said, “’Ow did you recognize me?”

“We met sometime last year. I am good with faces.”

Gadget went on to say that he was trying to disguise himself. Orpheus suggested he might try adding a false moustache to his wardrobe. “A good stodgy moustache always helps,” he proudly stated.

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The boys went about their business for a while, and were eventually joined by Dr. Sonnerstein and Mr. Stillwater. Orpheus didn’t pay their discussion much attention; he was too busy pondering the strange handwritten note that hadn’t existed a few days before. Imperial Theater. Red Dragon. Imperial Theater. Red Dragon. Those words floated through his brain. He couldn’t see anything here, and then he remembered there was a hidden opium den behind the theater. “Maybe that’s what the note referred to,” he thought. He excused himself and left the theater, unaware that he had dropped a piece of paper from his folder as he departed. Gadget saw the paper fall and tried to shout for Orpheus’s attention. But Orpheus did not hear. It was a good thing he didn’t, or he would never have put two and two together.

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While the group in the theater examined the paper that Orpheus had dropped, he was entering the dark, cold, room that was the opium den. A gentle fog rose through the cracks of the floor. It gave Orpheus a bad feeling. As his eyes adjusted to the dark he became aware that a man’s body was hanging by a rope from the rafters above. Orpheus screamed, then collected himself as his heartbeats slowed to normal. Below the man was a book. Inside the cover was written a name, Darren Mawatt. Most of the pages had been removed.

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As Orpheus examined the journal, the group from the theater entered the opium den behind him. Dr. Sonnerstein approached Mr. Angkarn, astern look on his face.

“I swear, I didn’t do this,” stammered Mr. Angkarn.

“Mr. Angkarn,” Sonnerstein said, ignoring Orpheus’s previous statement, “how did you wind up with a page of my notes?”

Orpheus took the page of elaborately drawn sketches scattered over the page. He had never seen it before. He told them the best answer he could come up with.

“It must have just appeared in my folder…”

“Appeared?” interrupted the doctor as Stormy looked the timelord, his eyes narrowed in suspicion.

Orpheus began to explain that before the temporal quarantine, he had “borrowed” a few items from an archive in the future, intending on returning them eventually. “I bet the people on the Zenobia station are none to happy with me right now, but not a whole lot I can do about that, eh?” he joked. He continued to explain that previously it had only been a stack of documents pertaining to the Van Creed, but they must have changed the timeline enough to where other documents were filed as well, effectively altering his artifact now.

As Orpheus tried to ease Sonnerstein’s worry, a large black cat slinked into the room. Gadget was the first to notice. “Wotcha Arnold!” he exclaimed. He then made a circling motion around his head and pointed at Orpheus, whispering to Arnold, “He thinks he’s from the future…”

The rest of the group now noticed Arnold’s return and talk turned from the page of notes to inquiring where he had been and how he got back. Arnold explained that Maddox and Tepic helped figure out a way around things, but he had no idea what they did.

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As everyone welcomed him back, he reminded them there was a dead body hanging behind them. They confirmed that it was the body of Darren Mowatt, another Van Creed associate of Hopkins’s. Gadget told them that he had heard Hopkins talking to Moriarty about him; that he had been sent to interview Moriarty. Orpheus recalled the name from the papers he had taken from the archive… the papers originally retrieved from the old Van Creed factory.

The group discussed a number of things; namely the horrible things Moriarty had done to the urchins and the things they would like to see done to him when he is caught. Orpheus took out a blank journal and copied down the contents of the journal. After a few more minutes, the group dispersed. Orpheus left to head into the Fells to find the “Woe Tree,” a place mentioned

in the journal that would supposedly explain Moriarty’s motives.

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  1. Orpheus Angkarn Orpheus Angkarn December 10, 2011

    As Orpheus made his way through the streets towards the city wall, he encountered his old friend, John Smythe and his companion, June Forsythe. They had recently been stranded in New Babbage; Mr. Smythe explained that they had been traveling and only intended a short stop off in New Babbage, but their airship had apparently departed without them. They were now without a way to their intended destination, so they were making the best of the situation.

    “Do you know a good place for a drink?” asked Mr. Smythe. “My friend here is very thirsty!”

    “Loki’s Absinthe is by far the best absinthe in town, but the Bucket of Blood in the Gut is my best choice… never a dull night there.”

    “Hmmm… think we’ll pass on the ‘Blood’. Is Loki’s the place across the street?”

    Orpheus confirmed it was. The three of them; Angkarn, Smythe, and Forsythe; then got into a discussion about the crabs. Smythe and Forsythe, being new, had not been aware of the  danger and had only just barely escaped from the crabs alive. Orpheus tried to give a “brief”
    account of what had been happening the past few months. Orpheus realized they were describing a location he had yet documented, so the other two people led him through the streets of New Babbage into the square just south of Brunel Hall where they had been chased. Orpheus explained that the crabs seemed to be some sort of guardian, and that if they kept their distance from the devices and/or monsters, the crabs would not come. After a little while, Orpheus left his companions and resumed his search for the Woe Tree.

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