“Are you two senile?” Malus sneered at both Emerson and Count Bologna as he stood up and started buttoning his coat. “It’s only a couple of hours past midnight and already we have a contender for the dumbest idea of the year. I’m going, I have things to do. Happy New Year.”
“Don’t mind him,” said Emerson after the Squire had left; he rested his head against the back of his chair and pressed the bottom of his rocks glass against his forehead, enjoying the coolness of the glass against his skin. Try as he might he couldn’t quite tune out Petra’s snoring from the couch across the room. “One of his squirely duties is to be my reality check.”
“No wonder he is so dour,” said the Count who, for the last two minutes had been using his hand to casually brush the copious remnants of leaf from the table around Emerson’s hookah into his coat pocket. “I’d watch him if I were you.”
“I’m still sort of fuzzy on the specifics of this lucrative opportunity,” said Emerson. “Explain to me again—what’s so special about the Brazen Head?”
“It can answer questions about the future,” the Count began. “Consider gambling,
“I never gamble,” said Emerson curtly and with a very straight face. “I am a gentleman.”
This silenced the Count but only for a second before he chuckled and pointed his finger. “You almost had me there.”
“I think I can see where you’re going with the gambling angle,” said Emerson. “Are you suggesting we split the profits on gambling ventures?”
“Not exactly,” the Count shook his head. “That type of accounting is messy. I propose we share joint custody. You get the Head Sunday through Tuesday and I get the Head Wednesday through Saturday. We do whatever we want on the days we have the Head and our affairs remain private.”
“Sounds reasonable,” Emerson nodded. “And you believe this needs to be a two man job because the Brazen Head is located…” Emerson trailed off.
“City Hall,” Count Bologna nodded with a smile. “In Underby’s office. That level of security is best breached through a coordinated effort.”
“This is perfect,” said Emerson. “I’ve been wanting to get in there myself for awhile now, I need some more of his official letterhead.”
“Splendid,” said the Count, standing and making his way to the bar. “You don’t mind if I help myself to another Ironess?”
“Are you keeping track?” asked Emerson.
“I believe this could be my third,” the Count shrugged as he pulled another draught. “I’ve been using the same tankard so as to minimize your clean-up.”
“I’ll have the Squire add it to your tab,” said Emerson, sounding distracted as he was busy imagining himself looking quite dashing dressed as a cat-burglar. “When do you want to go after this quaint little relic?”
“How about right now?” the Count replied, carrying a bottle of whiskey in one hand and his Ironess in the other. “You know anyone with an airship?”
Emerson grinned. “I like the way you think.” He took off his scarf, balled it up and threw it at the girl sleeping on the couch. “Petra! Wake up!”
“What?” Petra sat up remarkably quickly for one having been so deeply asleep. She looked about and straightened her hat.
“I need you to run and get Kaylee,” said Emerson. “Tell her it is an emergency.”