“She went off on her own?” the youngster almost screeched, “ter check out the place them spiders came from? Bloomin heck, fer a clockwork as her head screwed on tight she can be a bit of a numpty!”
Beryl the Cat thought the telling was actually going quite well, Tepic had not yet turned as red as his tail, and there was no sign of steam coming out of his ears. There was another odd thing, for the first time Beryl noticed that Tepic actually had four ears, his obvious fox ones, but also hidden in his hair, a pair of very human like ones.
“An yer all goin off ter try an rescue her, i’m bettin?”
At Beryl’s nod Tepic gave a sound very much like hmmpppffff.
“Right, i just has ter get Charlie an Billy organised, pick up a few things, an i’ll be comin with yer, yer need someone sensible along an them daft scientists muckin about up there needs a good talkin to…”
After setting his friends to look after his business interests, Tepic got started on packing for the journey. They were going up North, so it was going to colder than the City. Lots of layers was the thing and he nipped along to the pawn brokers to get his warmest stuff out of hock. Woollen longjohns were topped by trousers lined with the finest vole skins, heavy linen shirt with tails long enough to reach his knees, a felted waistcoat and the tweed poacher’s jacket that had been his gift from Steam Santa, with the fur lining he had sewn up himself. A hooded cloak made of the tanned skin from a certain part of a whale topped off his ensemble, and meant that he would be dry even in the worst storms. He fitted the fur lining to his hat, folding in the ear flaps for the time being, and wrapped his loose woven Mondrago scarf around his neck. The large but light rectangle of cloth had proved it’s worth in the past, and it would do sterling service on this trip. Voleskin gloves, fur on the inside, would do to keep his hands warm.
Once outfitted, Tepic considered what equipment he should bring. He would need a backpack, of course, but what else to bring? His lockpicks, knife, razor, soap, 20ft length of strong cord, flint and steel, sling and flute were all in their usual pockets, and his hat was fitted with the cutting wire, two snares and the sharpened pennies in the brim, but this mission might need some other items.
He added to his pockets several small bottles of oily liquids, carefully packed in padded cloth bags, two oilskin packets, one full of soot and the other of a fine grey powder and a small flask of strong spirits, just in case.
Into his pack he placed a weeks supply of vole jerky and a small jar of honey wrapped carefully in a spare pair of socks. His mess kit was next, then a small bullet press, melting pan and packet of primers. A Brunel Hotel notebook and a small bundle of pencils was next, along with a sewing kit embroidered with a blue sparrow. Several more packages and bundles were added, then the whole thing topped off with an autographed copy of Sir Sir Emmerson’s memoirs. The last was an essential, to the boy, not only did it make for an amusing read of an evening, but also the printers had used a cheap paper, thick an coarse, ideal for lighting fires and ….. other purposes.
To the outside of the pack he attached a candle powered bull’s-eye lantern, although oil gave a better light, it was much easier to carry extra candles, and underneath a rolled up voleskin blanket. On one side he strapped his bill hook, an excellent tool designed for several uses, and on the other his waterskin.
Finally, he retrieved his prized Kiergarten pistol from it’s hiding place, re-oiled it’s mechanism and strapped it to his belt, hidden inside it’s hollow wooden stock.
He was ready for anything the world might throw at him!