Skyport sub-basement, Rosser’s Landing
Mr. Tyvus counted his blessings. Not once in the past ten days had he been permitted to wet or soil himself — his kidnappers had made a point of allowing him to visit the facilities and relieve himself at least three times each day. The food they gave him was foul, but at least he was being given food and water. No one had felt the need to carve away any of his body parts and send them to his family as proof that kidnappers were indeed holding him. And the random, unprovoked kickings had stopped. Mostly.
Still, he had a strong feeling he wasn’t long for this world. As the owner of a railroad, Tyvus had an unusually keen sense of time and its passing. Even without a clock or the usual visual time-of-day cues, he knew it had been many hours since the ransom was to have been delivered, and no movements had been made toward releasing him. His hands and feet were still bound by leather straps that were chained to water pipes coming out of the wall of the small, grey room. He was still gagged and unable to speak.
Tyvus began to consider likely spots where the kidnappers might dispose of his body. Hiding it wouldn’t be much of a concern, but the location of the deposit would determine how quickly his fate would become known. He was nowhere near his home in Caledon, Mayfair and he had no forms of identification in his pockets. There was also the matter of his wardrobe. He was still attired in the formalwear he had on when he was taken (although the jacket and cravat had been removed for his comfort). At the time, he had only just emerged from a gala theatre opening and was still somewhat well-pressed. However, after so many days of rough living, his clothes had become thoroughly wrinkled and quite ripe. His mind continued to wander… he realised his wife wouldn’t invite his mistress to the funeral, but he wondered if Courtney would be brazen enough to crash the event.
Mr. Tyvus was distracted from his musings by crashing of a different sort. A riot seemed to have erupted beyond the confines of his basement prison. There was shouting and the sound of furniture being overturned, gunshots and — most startling of all — the sonorous, unearthly roars of some creature… though what kind of creature, Tyvus couldn’t imagine. And, there were voices…
“Caythun, block him… HIIIIIM!!! THE ONE I’M POINTING AT!!!”
Tyvus tried to stay low to the ground as he heard at least one bullet strike the door to his room of detention. But the gunfire wasn’t nearly as disturbing as the screams and the strange crunching sounds he was hearing.
“HIS HEAD?!?” shouted one of the combatants, “YOU BITE OFF HEADS?!? SERIOUSLY?!?”
The scuffle didn’t last long after that. If not for the strangeness of the battle sounds, Tyvus would have permitted himself to hope that he was being rescued. But he was truly unsure of what to expect when the pounding on his door began. Even when the door burst open and a familiar face was to be seen, all he could be certain of was his own confusion.
“Ha! The only locked room in the basement! Figured you had to be in here.”
It was the waiter who had helped him months earlier at his niece’s wedding in New Babbage. Behind him was a pale, bearded gentleman with a large belly who happened to be completely nude.
“It’s him,” said the helpful waiter (whose name Tyvus couldn’t recall). “I’ll get him free, you can go get dressed.”
“Better not. There might be more of those villains around. I should stay ready to switch back to my Prylothian form. This is so exciting! What a fight! Do you do this sort of thing often, Arkright?”
“Happily, no.” Arkright turned to the captive. “And how have you been, Mr. Tyvus? You’re looking… well you look like crap at the moment, but I suppose nearly two weeks of abuse at the hands of kidnappers doesn’t agree with many people.” Arkright inspected the railroad baron’s restraints. “Why don’t we get you out of these, eh? Mr. Caythun, did you notice any keys lying around?”
“Ummmm… I think one of them had some keys on a chain around his neck.”
“Then go get… Wait, it wasn’t the fellow whose head you…”
“I thought something tasted funny going down.”
“A set of keys tasted ‘funny,’ but the human head tasted normal? Well, that is good to know! We certainly don’t want you getting sick, do we?”
The heavyset gentleman was indignant. “I won’t get sick. I can digest heavy metals. My people are highly evolved that way.”
Arkright shook his head as he adjusted the pneumatic multitool on his wrist. Soon, a diamond tipped drill was working to free Gerard Tyvus from his leather & metal encumbrances.
“So,” said Mr. Arkright, “you can imagine how surprised I was when we got to your estate in Mayfair and found out you’d been kidnapped! I’d stopped by to collect that reward money you promised me. Remember? New Babbage? Reward money? Steam eaters? Trains blowing up? Money? Promised?
“Anyway, your family followed the kidnappers instructions and didn’t notify the authorities. We thought your girlfriend might do it — yes, everyone knows… honestly, whom did you think you were fooling? — but she didn’t. But then, when the kidnappers demanded that your oldest daughter deliver the ransom, everyone panicked and wanted to call out the militia! Then, your head butler offered to dress up as your daughter in case the scoundrels were planning on snatching her as well. But my friend here — who is absolutely wizard at reading body language, it’s really quite remarkable — thought something was amiss. So he and I followed your butler to the site of the exchange and — would you believe it? — the butler was the mastermind behind the whole operation. He set you up for the snatch-n-grab and everything. He’s unconscious and tied up in the other room in one of your daughter’s dresses.
“Don’ ‘alf git inter an ‘eap o’ trouble, do ya? I believe this makes two risky exploits I’ve participated in on your behalf, Mr. T. It’s almost becoming a habit! Not that it matters or anything — just glad you’re safe, really I am — but, with regard to compensation, promises were made, and hard figures were never really discussed at length…”
“If you’re going to negotiate now,” said Mr. Caythun, vigilantly standing by the door with an eye toward the room outside, “you might want to take his gag off.”
“Negotiate? Now?” said Mr. Arkright. “That would be crass! I’m sure Mr. Tyvus would appreciate a little time to recover and assess and truly appreciate the value of… are you really going to just stand there with no clothes on? You don’t want to maybe put on some underwear at least?”
“What if there are more kidnappers? What if I need to revert quickly? You saw my true form. Did it look as if Prylothian sex organs would fit into human under garments?”
Arkright turned back to Mr. Tyvus. “If it were anyone else, I’d swear he was bragging. Oh, where are my manners… have you met my naked, man-eating lawyer?”