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The View from the Clocktower

three months ago…

“There,” Said Underby. “This was in your hair.” Tenk swallowed hard as he stared at the long black strand that Underby had disentangled from the back of his head.

“Loosestrife? I guessed that charm might not protect me like the others. Now he’s after me.”

“He must have agents working in the city. We must be careful. Let me make certain I got it all.”

Tenk ducked his head and let Underby run his long fingers through his hair, looking for any more of the strands….

 

two months ago…

Underby and Tenk had left off their card game and started talking more of city business. Though the cards and chips were still on the table, so were several items of city business, a roll of tools, and a fully disassembled clock. Underby often read him enough of the items of city business so he could yay or nay them while not interupting his favored work. Now if only he could get out of those meetings…  

The shack shook as the elevator approached. It was Jed, bringing in that funny old clock that Ceejay Writer had, the one that make the odd sound and never needed winding. Tenk brightened to see Jed and the clock, and quickly turned his attention to it, chatting brightly with the Commodore and loosening the screws on the back of the housing. Tenk stopped suddenly as he lifted the panel on his hinges. Jed looked up, Tenk turned the clock slightly so Jed, but not Underby, could see. Tenk had never seen Jed blanch before, but the blood ran out of her face until she was whiter than Underby himself. The look on her face was all he needed to know that she knew nothing about it.

“There’s something you don’t see every day,” quipped Tenk, as he quickly closed the panel and set the clock on the shelf with the others, arranging it so it it did not stand out from the others. “So. How’s our shipbuilding going?”

 

one month ago…

Things were going pretty good. Like clockwork, you might say. Tenk enjoyed listening to Underby mutter over the books as he worked his way through the more difficult clocks that had been stacking up in his office over the past year or so. He even smiled. Why hadn’t he thought of this sooner? But there was that Wexhome character. He stared at the clock that Jed had brought him up on the shelf with the others, that strange clock that thudded instead of ticked and never needed winding. It kept terrible time, but there was no way he was going to work on it with anyone looking over his shoulder again. Wexhome had confronted him earlier that day, hinting and insinuating that Tenk knew more than he did about the clock, about Wexhome, and about the Old Empire, until Tenk ordered Wexhome out of the office for suggesting he was related to some mythical character from the imperial age. Truth was, Tenk was at a complete loss about that clock, but he’d certainly like to know how it was done. Maybe a trip to the Church libraries would turn up something.

 

three weeks ago…

Tenk rifled through the stacks of paper on his bench in the clocktower office that Underby had been working on. This was too much. Underby was taking liberties with his position and Tenk didn’t like it. He ran his fingers through his hair again, as he had been doing complusively all day since Phaedra taunted him about his hair and waited for the sound of the elevator. No, why wait. He’d go down to the Bucket and wake the bastard up right now and give him a piece of his mind. 

 

two weeks ago…

Tenk felt better than he had since stepping up on that box at the Rusty Cog, spending the entire nights out on the roofs of the city as was his wont. Things seemed to be going better now, and Maggie made that flower flavored beer after midsummer that made everything seem right. Even Underby was making sense. Maybe he did need to rest more. Tenk leafed through the stacks of paperwork and put his signature where it was needed, then pulled out his old ledger book to record the dice tallies. One row in particular was showing a dip. Curious, he out on the ledge and tacked his map up against the window so it could be read from the inside, then went back into the shack and updated his notes in greasepencil on the glass window, studied it a bit, then carefully rolled the map back up and stuck it back in the barrel with the others. He probably should pick a new place to sleep soon. 

 

one week ago…

Tenk barely glanced at the neat stacks of paperwork and notes Underby left out anymore when he came back to his office in the morning, instead rolling straight into his hammock and falling into am exhausted slumber. He rarely saw Mr. Underby anymore. Sometimes he gazed at the greasepencil marks on the window after sorting out the dice tallies the boys would bring, like he was forgetting something, what was it… 

 

yesterday…

There was no doubt in Tenk’s mind. Loosestrife was winning, and Tenk was fading. It was up to Underby to find a way to defeat him, and time was running out. in less than six months, the charm would fail, and Mr. Loosestrife would be up to his mischief again. Tenk opened his eyes blearily, seeing Underby at the bench, though he was not there much anymore, having taken an office down in the hall proper. Underby knew more about Loosestrife than anyone else. He’d find a weakness. Underby straightened suddenly, sensing Tenk’s gaze. Slowly, deliberately, he stood and straightened his jacket before coming near to Tenk. 

“Don’t worry, Mr. Tenk. Save what strength you have left. You must rest….”

 

*********************

((Mr. Underby has no real authority in running the estate, as he well knows. Get with Tesla Tripsa for land and meter issues, and Aeolus Cleanslate for everything else, and above all, have a great summer. See you in August when everyone starts trickling back in.))

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6 Comments

  1. Odnar Halberstadt Odnar Halberstadt July 12, 2011

    Cousin, wake up….TENK WAKE UP!

  2. Mr Underby Mr Underby July 12, 2011

    Underby finished with the last of the paperwork, stretching his back like a cat, bones and tendons popping and cracking within his meagre frame.  He blinked his eyes and yawned, turning down the gas lamp, placing the top on the bottle of ink, stacking the papers, and grabbing his coat and hat.  He yawned again.

    There would be time for thought about… him… tomorrow.  Tonight, he was exhausted, and an exhausted mind would do no good against a mind which never slept.

    Turning to the door, Urchin Bill stood looking at him, holding a leather satchel.

    “Oh lord no.” he said, in a low tone.

    Urchin Bill hesitated, but nodded slightly.

    “From Wexhome?!” Underby shouted, then remembered his new stance on the children of the city.  “I mean… ah, more from charming Mr Wexhome, is it?”

    “It is, sir.  He said to have you work on them…” paused, struggling to remember the exact word.  “…fourth whip?” 

    Underby’s lips pressed into a fine white line, and he snatched the satchel from the urchin’s greasy little paws.  “Thank you Bill.  Go get some rum.” he said, with a bit of a snarl, and placed a two dollar coin in the boy’s shirt pocket.

    The boy ran out, hooting when thinking himself out of ear range, and Underby turned back to his desk.  He removed his coat, and took off his hat.

     

    ((Well written clockwinder!  Have a great trip!))

  3. Maddox Sinclaire Maddox Sinclaire July 12, 2011

    ((Have a good one, Mr T!))

    • Orpheus Angkarn Orpheus Angkarn July 13, 2011

      I pity da foo who gets in da way of da Clockwinder!

      • Yang Moreau Yang Moreau July 13, 2011

        ::groaaan!:: XD Have a good trip, Mr. Tenk!

  4. Byron Wexhome Byron Wexhome July 13, 2011

    ” ‘xcuse, Gov,” there was a tug at his sleeve, ” ‘av ya got mo’ papers fer Mr. Underpants?”

    Byron smiled despite himself and looked down to reply. “Why yes, I do, and there’s a five pound note to the lucky lad who runs it to him staight away. Would you know such a lad?”

    The disheveled little figure practically lept from the bounds of his clothing at the question. The excitement in his soot smudged face would be contagious, if Byron but had the ability to be an able host. Quickly he ushered the boy into the Emporium and directed him to Stephen. The valet stood at the ready, satchel in one hand, a “fiver” in the other.

    “Do let your your mates know!” Byron called after the blur of heels and elbows.

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