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What Happened In The Attic

Archivist note: This post is from an older recovered archive.



Do the questions of life plague you? Does the need to constantly make decisions vex you? Do you wish there was somewhere to turn that might be able to offer help in these increasingly difficult times?

You are in luck, my friend, because now there is such help: Mr Y. Underby. You too can know what the future holds for you!

Mr Underby is twenty-third in a family of mystical practitioners and fortune tellers, having ancestors who assisted both Nostradamus and John Dee, some even claim it was his family that had a large roll in the development of the deck of fortune-telling cards known as the Tarot.

No problem is too small, no question is too trivial. Reasonably priced!

Mr Underby can be found in quarters at #23 Doagrun Row, in the far east of Clockhaven; if nobody answers the door, Mr Underby is most likely meditating deeply and cannot hear the knock.


I have moved quarters back to Clockhaven, near the wall to the Old Quarter; my researches into the binding on magic will be much easier to conduct from here than my old quarters in Sweetwater Square, and my red herring profession as something of a seer will be easier to conduct in this area, being considerably less heavily trafficked.

Sixpence dropped by recently to try to mend fences with me, expressing the desire to learn the arts of divination from me. I was, of course, hideously suspicious of his motives, yet kept it to myself and pretended to be cautiously optimistic about the entire idea. His manner was agitated greatly in my presence: he was sweating profusely, his fur was matted down, and his eyes (blind? hard to say) darted around nervously. He gives off quite a foul pong when in this state. I performed a short divination after he left which was marred somewhat by the magic binding from the Old Quarter (bad day for it, that) so the results were hazy, though a general bad feeling was evident.

My divination was not necessary, however, as news of a much more conventional nature reached me shortly thereafter. I had been touring the wall of the Old Quarter, seeing where its weak and strong areas were, and had just returned home when I noticed a small scrap of paper under my front door.

It was a note, written in a small and cramped, though somewhat elegant, hand. The letter proceeded to warn me that Sixpence had ulterior motives for his apology and wish to learn divination… It would seem that there is a gentleman by the name of Gloom who has come to New Babbage, with the mission of hunting down all the vile little urchins which cover these streets like a rancid cancer, much to the chagrin of the bleeding hearts like Miss Razor, who only encourages their disgusting behaviour. Seemingly Sixpence wishes to lure me into some form of confrontation with this Gloom fellow, which is something of a laugh; I believe he deserves a medal of honour for his good work.

This should be amusing! and I look forward to seeing how Sixpence will play this charade out – rest assured that I will continue to play along with him, it would be criminal to let this fountain of humour run dry.


further – This Reed Darkfellow, if that is his name, recently asked me if there was anyone bothering me who i wished to get rid of… I shall consider erasing the rat, when he ceases to amuse me.

Stargirl MacBain, Journal Entry – The Eleventh of November, the Year….


A shock today. I was at the Cocojava having a cup of tea and reading a book (not normally a hazardous thing to do..) when the trolly stopped and Mr Underby got off.

You can imagine that I felt my heart leap into my throat. Disaster! Absolute disaster! He approached me and asked if Miss Writer had been around, I replied that I hadn’t seen her and then, oh wouldn’t my mother be proud of me, asked him to sit, certain she would be around soon.

I was so relieved I could have fainted on the spot when he said he wouldn’t and started to walk away. But then, at the last moment, he turned and looked at me in the most peculiar way, as if trying to remember my name. He didn’t say anything.

More unusual was that this evening, braving the chance that I was indeed discovered (but hoping I wasn’t!), Mr Underby didn’t seem preterbed at all. But he has changed my name, oddly, from Bastet to Sekhmet. What does that mean? I’m sure it’s still Egyptian…I shall have to consult the books. Surely one of James’s tomes will have the answer, assuming it’s in English.

Then of course, much to my surprise (and guilt) Tenk showed up. There is something sad about him, he strikes me as one who is alone, I can understand that feeling. I think, under different circumstances, we might have been friends…no, I must push such thoughts to the back of my mind.

Still…what I heard pass between Tenk and Underby was very curious…perhaps I shall need to spend a day following Tenk What is his part in all this? What is Underby’s plan? I must know.

It is peculiar that suddenly Tenk trusts Underby so much, wasn’t it just a few days ago that he was considering how best to get rid of him? Why hasn’t anyone noticed the change?

Then, of course, as usual, I could hear someone prowling on the roof and went up to investigate. It was that boy, Gill. I only meant to frighten him away, instead he slipped on the shingles and fell to the ground and broke his leg. What if he had been killed?

Then, of course, where Gill is Skyler is sure to follow…I heard him slip from the roof and followed a tall man (was that Augustus?) out the door…Skyler was laying there absolutely still, I felt sure for a moment he was dead. It was terrible…it was like that night all over again. I felt my heart stop in my chest…

Then of course the man prodded him and he screamed (literally) to life. I was so relieved…so relieved…

I suspect that being so close to the old district is wearing me thin. Suddenly I couldn’t handle the noise anymore, I hid upstairs in the attic, where Underby was chanting softly.

The worst of course was as Mr Underby left the attic, done with whatever chant he was doing, he leaned down and scratched my ear and told me I had done a good job.

What am I becoming?

I must stay away…I shall go back this evening merely to watch over Skyler, after that I shall be done. I am going to hog-tie Skye and we are going to leave New Babbage.

I don’t want to know anymore…

I am tired and sick at heart…

Oh God…what if he had died….

~S.McB (final parts of entry smudged)

Dear Lo,

Cor… still ‘hurts like nothin’ else… me ‘ead’s fuzzy from wot the a-pot-hole-carry ‘ad me drink. Lessee wot I can write tho.

Saw mister Tenk visitin’ mister Underby again… was recallin’ tha time Underby got croaked an’ Tenk fell offa the roof at the same time… overby the… heh, overby, underby… wot was… right, over by the Dagonese temple… temple’s still got somethin’ to do with it

Tenk’s been visitin’ a lot… I tried snoopin’ a few days ago an’ Underby ‘eard me sneak up… then the neighbors started makin’ a racket… seems they was snoopin’ as well…

this time tho… I clumb the curtain wall ta ‘op onto Underby’s roof an’ go over to the dormer to lissen, but there was this kitty… not yer kitty but another… is it Underby’s kitty? guess it smelt mouse an’ wanted a nibble…

stupid kitty attacked me! I tried ta back up an fell offa the roof… snapped me leg in ‘alf

Doc Day says it ain’t so bad… ‘e should try it sometime. but worst is I got no place to go now wif Mara’s closed… me uncle’s not one fer company… an’ I canna go nowhere till I got crutches…

so I gotta stay wif Underby. Creepy, but ‘e’s all nice-nice now so… wot’s the worst that could ‘appen?

Ta ra,
– Gil

P.S.: Ow.


Tinus Koskinen, Journal Entry – The Eleventh of November, the Year….

It is worse than I thought, Mr. Tenk seems to be completely unwilling to talk to me of this strange link between him and Mr. Underby.

I was wondering about the town tonight, letting the air clear my head after too many visits to the grog at the ball I attended for our fallen. I thought I would look in on Tenk after the events of last night. He was absent from his home and Miss Ceejay’s so with dread, I headed back to Clockhaven, to see if he had taken to Mr. Underby’s. Sure enough, through the window I saw him, by the hearth again, sound asleep. I tapped on the window softly to get his attention, then resorted to banging on the door. Nothing. It was then when Mr. Underby returned, lurking up the alley way to his home. He eyed me suspiciously. I cannot remember the conversation that occurred verbatim but I have included a fair representation.

"Good evening" I told the pale man as he approached, to wit he merely nodded. He steps continued in their slow cadence, punctuating the silence in between his footfalls. Reaching his door, he stepped aside and echoed his gesture "Please, come in.

Tenk was snoring louder than that steam engine shop in Clockhaven. The ghastly man’s eyes burned with knowledge; his translucent skin almost glowed in the night. I looked down at Tenk.

"How long has he been here" I asked.
"Was here when I returned" He responded, "He is welcomed."
"Please tell him that I would like to speak with him when he awakes, " I requested to which the man agreed.

My hand on the door knob, I turned back to him, and pushed "Do you think the Clockwinder has been acting odd since your return?" Mr. Underby responded,that he had no idea of Clockwinder’s behavior since he was not in Babbage during that time period.

"Fair enough, " I responded, keeping my tone as neutral as I could manage, I pressed again "but what happened that night Sir? When I had left the Clockwinder, he was in a great mood." I left out details of Clockwinder’s admission of admiration for the bearded lady. Mr. Underby responded, that he had just wished the Mayor safe travels.

"And his wrench? Did he mentioned that to you?" I finally thought I hit a nerve, but Mr. Underby quickly recovered, "What about his wrench?"

"I had on two occasions noticed it glowing, taking on heat and weight. An odd event. You should have seen the father get spooked and run right out of there. In both cases, you were the subject of our conversation."

Mr. Underby looked pensive, then responded in measured words "I know of no phenomenon that would cause that, perhaps you can ask the Rat," clearly referring to Mr. Sixpence. I decided it was time to move on. I bid the man fairwell and exited. I stopped on the edge of the alley, looking back into dwelling. Mr. Underby had folded himself into a meditation pose on the couch over watching Mr. Tenk. His lips moved slowly, quietly speaking something I could not make out.

Later I returned, just in time to catch Mr. Clockwinder exiting the residence. He seemed disoriented, I quickly implored him to join me for some coffee, away from Clockhaven. We agreed to meet at Ceejaytopia. Coffees in hand, we sat on the low wall, joining a group of citizens in a not unpleasantly cool night. Tenk seemed his old self, sipping at the coffee, rolling a coin along his knuckles with dexterity. The conversations and welcome surrounded us as I finally thought I could confront him about my concerns.

I quickly laid out my thoughts about the connection between Mr. Underby and my friend since that night. How he has increasingly been drawn to his company since Mr. Underby opened his shop so close to the Old Quarter, in Clockhaven. I reminded him of the odd events surrounding his wrench and implored him to fill in the gaps between my departure from the train station and Mr. Underby’s unnatural return from the dead. He could not. I pressed him on his drinking, Vodka if you can imagine. He responded that he was troubled by the closure of the orphange and the departure of Mara. Mr. Tenk waved off my concerns with some effort, clearly disturbed by the picture I was painting.

By now the crowd joined in, expressing their concern by Mr. Tenk’s behavior. Desperate and noticing his fascination with the coin dancing on his knuckles, I pushed him on its origin. Several of the ladies present, quickly sensing that something was odd about it, joined in my line of questioning. "It is a Five", he responded. Just a normal Babbage fiver, he insisted. He must have felt a bit under attack for just after the start of this line of questioning, he pocked the fiver from sight and bid us a good evening.

I worry, perhaps unnecessarily, that forces I do not understand have begun to wind the clockwork of our city. Clockwinder seems to be blind to any of thse changes or unwilling to discuss them with me. Perhaps older friends of this man can reach him or just understand him better. I continue to assert that something is amiss.

Humbly, Tinus


The slate grey sky and steady drizzle invigorated me this morning, though I am not a morning person as a general rule. It seemed a fine day to tour the borders of the Old Quarter with Dizelle, to show her the uneven boundaries of the so-called "dead zone".

After gathering her and my bodyguard Boris, we stepped out into the heavy falling mist. Dizelle sported a black umbrella, Boris pulled his hat down farther and turned up his collar, I however did nothing special, I adore the grey rain. Nothing makes one feel quite so alive.

As we walked across the wall I was explaining to the two of them the importance of being able to accept contradictions as simultaneously true if one is to truly understand the arcane, a concept which Boris had much trouble wrapping his mind around. He kept asking "How can I be dead and alive at the same time?"

As we walked I noticed ahead what appeared to be an abandoned set of rags, but as we approached I recognized it as the tiny body of the clockwinder, laying strewn across the cobblestones, exposed to the elements. My first thought was that he was deceased, he seemed quite lifeless. Upon close inspection, however, I did detect a faint breathing.

I got Boris to gather him up, wrapping Dizelle’s shawl around his frame, and we carried him back to my quarters… he mumbled the entire way, though I could only recognize a single intelligible phrase, which seemed to be: "fed to the machines"

I know not what that may mean.

As we reentered my quarters I got Boris to lay him on my couch, and took a pan of gruel and placed it near the fire, which I got Boris to stoke up. I climbed swiftly upstairs to get a blanket for him, lest he should catch his death of chill. I had plans for the little man yet, and it wouldn’t do to have to start all over again with another mayor after making so much headway. What should I discover when I came back down, though? Dizelle trying to feed the gruel to him. I cried out in shock and flung the spoon from her hand.

It is important that the feeding come from me.

I apologized briefly for my fury, but still took up the spoon and brought it to the clockwinder’s mouth. He seemed unconscious still, but his tiny hand raised to push the spoon away, every time I came near. Eventually I had to get Boris to hold both his arms, and I was able to force a few spoonfuls down his throat. The little man is deceptively strong, much like my old assistant, Pip.

I was pleased I was able to get him to take my food, it will make future plans exceedingly easier. He ceased his mutterings after he had eaten some, but still laid unconscious. I know not how long this fever might last. I have had Boris hide him away on my third floor, and will look after him closely until he is… well.


I was paid a visit by a Mr Footman the other night, someone I had been told was a member of the city militia. He was already in my quarters when I returned, though I am certain I had both locks fastened when I left. I feigned casualness as I studied his stiff and rather official demeanor. There was no form of official documentation shewn, but I rather suspected that he was visiting on business as opposed to pleasure.

Mr Footman asked if it was true that I was a fortune teller; I thought it was wise to dodge an answer by saying "There are those who might describe me as such." He nodded, and asked for a demonstration of my powers, which I took to be a challenge. Something in the way he said it.

I acquiesced, and we went upstairs where he proceeded to ask me a volley of questions about the technical nature of divination, too long and tedious and esoteric to go into here, but it was evident that he had knowledge of the matters at hand, it would not be wise to acknowledge too much. I decided the safest game to play in this situation was that of the harmless charlatan.

He picked, for his fortune telling, the manner of scrying. I looked into my black mirror and asked what he would like information about. He mentioned the whereabouts of a Pengi 42, so I gazed into the mirror…

There was an awkward moment when the first vision seemed to shew him already having died and being sustained in life through some form of false heart, and foolishly I let it slip. It was horrifying, though I think I covered it up alright by hamming it up immediately thereafter.

I stared deeper into the mirror, which almost immediately shewed me that there was no such thing as a Pengi 42. It was a ruse question. I almost wept with joy, but kept my face stony. This would make it so much more easy. I began to moan a bit, in a rather maudlin and dramatic manner, which seemed to make Mr Footman uneasy, then I went into a tirade about a little man dragging the clockwork (an extra dose of humbug, since it was obvious from the vision that they are steam powered, I saw him wince as I said it) into the canal. I made up details which would seem to frame Master Gant, thinking that since I had actually overheard that gossip, as a charlatan would probably try to use it. It was rather fun, actually.

He arose, rather uncomfortably, and made to leave after that. I played it rather pompously, as the fakes are wont to do, and shewed him to the door. He muttered quickly his salutations, and I think I am safe in believing that he will not be suspicious of my abilities any longer.


"Out of your box, I see," observed Underby smoothly, upon seeing the clockwinder standing in his attic. Tenk’s fever had broken and he had finally raised himself from the makeshift bed Underby had made out of his linen chest. "You must be hungry."

Tenk nodded weakly and followed the skeletal man down the stairs to his table. He started unknotting his scarf as he went.

" I will give you my scarf," said Tenk. The man sneered disdainfully and took a bowl down from the cupboard and turned to the pan on the small stove.

"My coat! I will give you my coat then."

Underby turned, smiling, holding a steaming bowl of porridge. "Oh, no need for that."

Tenk sank into the comfortable chair at the table that served for Underby’s work in the occult. It was the only table in the house. He stared numbly as Underby set the bowl in front of him. "My hammer," the little man blurted out in a panic. "Take my hammer!"

"No," said Underby, smooth as new oil. He nudged the bowl towards Tenk. "It is not like you have not eaten already." He gestured to his chin. Tenk’s hand went up to his face and felt the remains of Underby’s gruel dried to his beard.

"Why?" Asked Tenk.

"Because," started Underby, slithering into the chair across the table from him. "You amuse me. Your little hands and legs. Your funny little face. You remind me of my old assistant, Pip." Underby paused to let it sink in, enjoying Tenk’s discomfort. Underby leaned closer and leered. "I used to have him dance for me."

Tenk stared at the pale man across the table, felt his saliva glands working in anticipation. One last time he countered, desperate: "I will give you my wrench."

"Oh no. It is free. You eat, and get well. It is time for my meditations. And do not hope for any rescues either. Boris has put new locks on the doors."

Underby rose and strode smoothly up the stairs to the attic, smiling victoriously, leaving Tenk alone at the table with the one thing in the world he had wanted more than anything else. The thing no one, save one, had ever thought to give him since the night he left home with his cousins, wearing the little blue sweaters the fisherwives had made for them.

==HUNGER 2==

Tenk waited until he heard Underby’s breathing settle into a deep meditative state. He stole downstairs to where Skute, the mouse boy, was laid up by the fire with a broken leg.

"Skute! Wake up! You gotta eat this for me!"

"Wha? It not poison or nothin?"

Skute did not need much persuassion. He quickly picked up the spoon and began shoveling it into his mouth.

"Hurry boy. Eat it all."

Tenk watched the boy eat, eyes following the spoon longingly. "Lick the bowl clean. Don’t leave anything! And its our secret, you understand? We say that I ate it." The dwarf watched attentively as the boy did as he was ordered.

"Was it good?" He asked, voice cracking a bit.

"Its alright, but i thinkin’ he gettin’ it from a can."

"I’ll get more money from that Boris fellow. He looks like the gambling sort. And then you can sneak out and buy more bread for me."

"Wha’s th’ matter, Mr. Tenk? Ain’t he feeding ya?"

Tenk looked to the ceiling and motioned for Skute to be quiet. He left the boy by the fire and took the bowl back upstairs and passed the morning playing Patience with Underby’s favorite tarot deck. Around midday Underby roused himself from his trance and came downstairs. Tenk rose solemnly put the empty bowl in the man’s hand. Underby smiled down at the little man.

"There now. That was not so hard, was it? You’ll understand if I keep you in for a while longer, of course. We do not want you to get sick again."

Tenk shook his head and looked around the room, looking for a hook. "Your floors are cracking. They need washing."

"I have Dizelle for that," said the tall man suspiciously.

"She’s not doing it right. It has to be done with saltwater. From the harbor. You salt your house, don’t you?" Tenk looked up as guilessly as he could. "I need to work. What harm can it do?"

"Yes, I suppose you should have work or you will be trouble. Like Pip was. I’ll have Boris bring water for you. Now I must be off."

Tenk watched as the guant man put on his flamboyent furlined greatcoat and strode out into the cold. Tenk waited a bit and tried the door, just to be sure. It was locked from the outside. He knew his ruse would only buy him a few days before Underby caught onto the deception, but that was enough time to set a plan in motion.


Dear Lo,

Things are a bit strange in New Babbage lately… so there was ta be this exam, right, that all urchins hadda take or be thrown offa the wall! So, we all hadda show up ta a pre-test lecture sort of…

Only I broke me leg! I was snoopin’ on Underby… I thought p’raps ‘e was still up to no good, but ‘e seems right fine. ‘E’s takin’ care o’ me and mister Tenk. More on that…

So, the pre-test. I got me crutches from Vivi an’ we went off to school. The teacher shows up wif a big moustache, big hat, skin like Underby’s, but wif a green glow to it. ‘e asks us each our names an’ what makes us ‘appy like. Jimmy Branagh takes a snooze, an’ teacher puts ‘im in some kinda magic bubble! Then Triky the firebug lobs a molotov cocktail, an’ ‘e gets put in a bubble as well! Loki sits in the dunce corner. It’s all a mess really, but teach takes lots o’ notes in a big book.

While stayin’ at Underby’s, I notice that diagram ‘e’s got o’ the ten circles, where one’s our world ‘e says? ‘s got notes written all over, wif names o’ folk in Babbage, includin’ Tenk, Dizelle, Phaedra, an’ the fathers. ‘E says it’s so’s ‘e can remember names better. Wot ye think? I included a sketch…

Anyways, so Tenk’s got fever an’ mister U’s takin’ care of ‘im. ‘E sleeps upstairs in a box! Tenk won’t eat U’s porridge, says ‘e canna accept gifts… guess ‘e’s prideful, aye? so ‘e gives me some coin an’ I go buy some bread fer ‘im.

Jus’ today, ‘e comes downstairs wif a fresh bowl o’ porridge an’ tells me to eat it, lick it clean, an’ pretend like Tenk ate it all.

Is Tenk… ye know… missin’ a few cobbles? ‘E’s ‘ad a ‘ard time lately.

Ta ra,
– Gil


I wish to pass on some information to the citizens of New Babbage should they be concerned about the condition of our Mayor. The Clockwinder is presently ill, but improving thanks to the expert care of a member of our community.

Mr. YoYo Underby was kind enough to meet with me, and explained that he is tending to Mayor Tenk as well as Gilhooy Skute. New Babbage is indeed lucky to have a fine citizen such as Mr. Underby.

As for the missing young man, Mr. Skyler Gant, the search continues. The New Babbage Militia would greatly appreciate any and all information as to Mr. Gant’s whereabouts.

That is all.

(s) Captain Undertone


Tenk spent that day and the next sending Boris out for buckets of seawater and sweeping it into the wooden floors of Underby’s house until the boards were as tight as a ship. Dizelle, eager to relieve herself of housekeeping duties, was only too happy to go outside the city for the straw Tenk needed to make himself a broom, after he complained that Dizelle’s broom was too tall for him to work with. He had just taken a break to eat an apple he had got from a passing peddler, for which he had torn a button off his coat and passed it out the window, when Underby’s cat, Sekmet, squeezed through the cracked window.

"Well hello, cat," said Tenk, drawing her to him. He scratched her ears and smiled while she made herself comfortable. "Come here. I need you to do something for me, and you probably won’t like it." Tenk unwound his neckcloth and took off the medallion that the mayors of New Babbage had worn since reconstruction, then twisted the golden chain inside the dirty red cloth. He continued talking to the cat while he carefully wound the package around her chest and shoulders, tying it securely behind her shoulderblades. Curiously, the cat did not protest.

"I wonder if you can understand what I’m saying, hmm? I don’t know how long I will be able to hold out here, and I don’t want to loose this to him. Do you know Mister Tinus, hmm? You find Tinus, and tell him to keep this safe for me." Tenk laughed softly to himself, knowing it a fools errand, but someone would find it and word would trickle out. No doubt about that. He finished his apple then lifted the cat to the window. "Off with you now. I’ve got work to do."

”Journal of Stargirl MacBain, November 16”


I have done the best I can to prepare for trouble.

It has been hinted at that Underby might have the militia in his pocket, so I have packed a bag and hidden it. I am ready to take to the underground at a moment’s notice.

Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

I saw Tenk yesterday. What is it about him? He reminds me of someone…I cannot remember who.

I must go, I have business to attend to.


((an entry later in the same day))


Completed a mission for the Clockwinder, for what good that did.

Listened in on more conversations.

Am I loosing my mind?

I’m suddenly doubting that Underby isn’t exactly what he says he is.

I am, still, all but prepared to burn his home to the ground. I think he has ill intentions toward Tenk yet…yet…

What have I seen? One small incident, and that was doubtful.

Since then I have heard him fret on the town’s dislike of him, care for Gill and even be very kind to Tenk (although I think having our mayor sleep in a box is suspect). I don’t know what I heard going on with Tenk in the attic…but my experience with magic workers is that they deal in spells they don’t understand and that means they can have unintended consequences.

Perhaps I am feeling disheartened, I must have had this romantic notion that Tinus would sweep in and all would be well.

Which is not what happened.

I think this means it’s time for a change of tactics.

Tomorrow I am going to confront Underby myself.

That man is evil, I am positive.

If the confrontation goes poorly, well…my bag is hidden in Clockhaven, it’ll be easy enough to fetch it and flee.


P.S. Town has not taken kindly to those letters that were sent out. Has he enchanted the entire place in some way?

”Tinus Koskinen, Journal entry”

Clockhaven was quiet while I strolled down the pathway. A small cat awaited me at the end of the alley, wrapped in a red scarf. It purred at me as I passed, and came right up to me when I put out my hand.

The cat was scratching at the scarf furiously, clearly an uncomfortable addition to its attire and reeking of rotten milk and sweat. Then it struck me, the scarf was Clockwinder’s. The cat purred in relief as I withdrew the familiar item converted into a little backpack on the cat. Star, I think that is what I heard the urchins call her, purred triumphantly, clearly pleased with the lightening of her burden. Wrapped within the folds of the scarf was the symbol of leadership in the city, the mayor’s medallion. I have never seen him without the medallion, for that matter without his scarf! Fear gripped me as I ran off to the last place I saw Mr. Tenk. The cat ran strangely aware of my destination ran ahead of me.

Arriving at the home of Mr. Underby in a huff, I spotting little Clara in the alley, likely watching as she does for that strange man. Those two strange cats were there as well, cooing in greeting as if conspirators debriefing each other on the day’s events. I set upon the door but it was locked tight, a shinny new bolt action barring it from opening. Over my banging and calls for Mr. Tenk, the reply of "one moment" reached me. It was Ghilooy, still on crutches moving, toward the door. Anxiety entered his voice after trying the door finding it locked, "Mr. K….I…its locked from the inside."

"Stand back" I warned Ghilooy, as I threw my whole weight at the door. My force was easily countered by the door throwing me back tumbling upon the street. As I shook off the cobwebs of my efforts, little Clara, all 30kgs of her, made a go at the door. She yanked something out of that kit bag she carries everywhere around her. Setting herself, tiny legs apart as if preparing for battle, she faced the door. I caught but a glimpse of the device she had in hand. In a discharge of energy and motion, little Clara sailed over me stopped only by the far wall. Clearly she was repelled by some force, her device unable to break through the protection on the door.

I helped her to her feet, my mind setting on a course of action. First, I must secure the symbol of the city, prepare myself for an encounter with this man, then confront him on the condition of Mr. Tenk. I asked little Clara to put the word out to the urchins’ to be on the look out of this Underby character. Just as I was relaying my plan to Clara, the cats exploded in a racket of hisses. I heard at the end of the alley that pale menace, "what in the world is that Boris…" I sprang into action, running down the alley, spiriting the medallion away from the threat of that pale skeleton.

Shortly word reached me from that effective band of messengers that Miss Ceejay was set to meet with that man. Underby was spotted with some large fellow walking towards Loki’s tavern. I gathered myself, unsure what I was to encounter, the extent of Mr. Underby’s hold on the Clockwinder or my ability to even match this pale devil’s power. Incredulity turned the odd events post Underby’s return in my mind, trying to rearrange this puzzle into something less wicked, less other worldly. I am not sure what I will find, but I must look.


”Ceejay has far too much to write about, her head is near bursting with information, and though she cannot write it herself with her broken arm, she decides to dictate the events of last night in order to preserve them once her memory starts to fade. Due to the nature of these events and not wishing to cause alarm or draw ridicule from local friends, she goes to the trouble of traveling a fair ways from town, via train. A small family-run tavern yields up a young girl who’s learned how to write, and is happy to make a bit of coin taking down the words Ceejay tells her.”

I wandered over to Loki’s Absinthe Cafe at the hour arranged. I settled into a table and ordered two absinthes, then fidgeted till I got my slinged arm into a fairly comfortable position. When I heard footsteps approaching, I looked up and was startled to see a large brickshaped man amble into the cafe. Drat, I was hoping it wouldn’t be a busy night. He looked around, then glanced back at the door, muttering it was all clear. Immediately, Mister Underby stepped in, and I realized what was going on. I couldn’t believe it. Underby had brought a bodyguard? What on earth did he think I would attempt? I’d deliberately chosen Loki’s so as to put us both in a neutral setting where we could both relax and have a pleasant evening of drinks and conversation.

The bodyguard stood at alert as Mister Underby joined me at my table. "Now, what can I do for you?" he asked. I took a sip and discarded my notions of a casual evening. Clearly he was not thinking of this as such. I decided to dive right in and state my concerns. ""I’ve been hearing a lot of gossip around town lately. About you. About Tenk. It’s all very strange. I’ve been the subject of much gossip myself and know it’s 90% hot air, though." And then I tried to gentle the statement. "And I thought maybe I’d just buy you a drink and get to know you better rather than drink alone and believe conjecture."

Underby seemed to relax at that, and sipped his drink. I’d thought perhaps he’d have his man taste it first, but he gave me that much trust. "People are too quick to assume the worst. They think me a Dr Obelensky… I think its the hat."

The bodyguard feigned indifference to our conversation. I’d have to ignore him too, or else this would become very awkward very fast. "I should come here more often, I forget how nice a place it is. Most evenings I sit in my cafe, and write, with the soft snoring sounds of a clockwinder coming from my hearth.", I said, leaving him room to speak about Tenk in his own way – which he did. "Ah, I know the sound well now. I do much the same."

Underby went on to explain to me that he’d found Tenk lying on the ground, in the rain, near his house, and had brought him in out of concern that he might perish. He was just starting to tell me about Doctor Dayafter stopping by to look in on him, when Boris interrupted to let his boss know someone else was coming in. To my surprise, it was Tinus! He was clearly upset and demanded to know what was going on. To my surprise, Underby said, "I have been threatened, Miss Writer." Tinus had taken a seat but was clearly not happy. I gave up on the idea of a casual evening, and looked at Tinus in confusion. He looked at Underby and said, "I tried to see Tenk today, and saw little Gilhooly locked behind your door." This turned into a tense conversation about the merits of doors and locks, with Tinus clearly upset that Gil had been locked in. Tinus frowned and said "I am not a man rash to judgement Mr. Underby, but there are a lot of suspicions about what is happening in your home." Underby countered with "Many suspicions, and precious few facts, sir."

I’d had enough! The Babbage grapevine had clearly been more active than I knew and I encouraged them both to get their concerns out on the table. Tinus demanded to know what was wrong with Tenk. Underby believed him to have pneumonia. Alarmed, I was drawn into the fray and began pestering Underby if his home was warm enough to comfort a sick man. Tinus was becoming more upset by the moment. "I have not been able to see but the first floor, and have not seen Mr. Tenk in days. Today I got a message, a disturbing one, which caused me to go see Mr. Tenk." Both Underby and myself were surprised at that. Tinus insisted that he needed to see the clockwinder now, tonight, and nothing would sway him from that. Underby threw a low blow, asking "Do you wish for Mr Tenk’s health and welfare, or your own notoriety as a town hero?" Tinus laughed the comment off. Underby claimed he has been helping not only Tenk, but Skyler and Gil as well, and in some exasperation, said "What do I need to do to garner some respect in this city?"

Now my own concern was growing by the minute, and I agreed with Tinus on our need to see the clockwinder. Not tomorrow, as was offered to us, but tonight. Now. It took some doing, but we finally convinced him to let us return to his home with him . As we prepared to go, Tinus told him, to my surprise, "let me state my concerns more plainly. I am concern that you have some hold on the mayor. I am not sure what it is sir, but I cannot imagine it to be benign." Underby scoffed at this notion, stating he was a scholar, not a sorcerer, and did not believe nor disbelieve in the magic he studied.

At this point, Underby told us things that may not have eased Tinus’s mind, but went a long way towards helping my own understanding. Holding us to promise to keep this only among ourselves, we learned that yes, Underby does forture telling readings, but that he uses confidence tricks to help him earn a living. Being a scholar of the occult does little to pay the rent, and this I understood. There is no shame in making one’s way in the world by giving the public what they wish to hear, at times. I’ve done it myself, and though my days in the circus are years behind me, my memories are strong. In spite of my concern over this current situation with Tenk, I found my opinion growing more favorable of Underby’s lifestyle.

This journal entry is getting long, and the young girl writing my words looks weary. She’s just smiled at me as I said that, and is writing down that very fact for posterity! I must hurry, and say what I can in more precise words.

Tinus and Underby continued to bicker over the theory of magic and the contents of the note that had Tinus so worked up. But soon enough, we were out on the streets, walking swiftly to Underby’s home in Clockhaven. Once inside, we noted young Gil sleeping soundly on a sofa, seeming to be situated well enough. The rooms were warm, and would have been cozy if not for various disconcerting bits of decor, which included a skull, and an odd chart on the wall, but these again are the sort of items that the public expects a fortune teller to have. I have concluded that they are all merely props of his trade. He’d even gone so far as to scribble Tenk’s name on one chart, no doubt in order to charge his customers more due to his status as ‘Tenk’s advisor’.

Afer looking on Gil for a time, We climbed the stairs, up and up, to the attic. To my alarm, there was no furnishings save a box. Nearby, a bucket of water had spilled on the floor. With shock, we realized Tenk was in the box, looking for all the world like a small discarded rag doll. Tinus and I fell to our knees, checking to see if he lived. I was very touched by Tinus’s gentle words and genuine concern as he spoke softly to the clockwinder. Tenk moaned. He was alive! He was running a high fever though.

More argument ensued as we tried to convince Underby that a box was not a suitable bed, and that the first floor fireplace hearth would be warm and comforting. I held my ground, and Tinus, bless his heart, was his usual stubborn self. In the end, the clockwinder was gently carried by Tinus down the stairs and laid at the hearth. Tinus was certain that his condition had worsened, and still wished to get the clockwinder out of Underby’s care. He was convinced this place was not safe. The bodyguard was ready to throw us out though, and he was quite capable of doing so. I worried that the bit of progress we had made might all come undone soon. It wasn’t easy, but I convinced Tinus that we should leave now – and check on Tenk in the morning.

We left, and stood some time outside Underby’s home. Miss Elleon had been lurking outside, and I surely don’t blame her, after the glimpses she must have caught of us all through the windows. Tinus could not be consoled. He said, "look something is going on that I don’t understand….when I brung him downstairs he got progressively worse." I didn’t want to talk more, as the bodyguard was watching us and who knows if he could read lips? We all returned to my cafe, where we were joined by other townsfolk, and talked of these strange matters far into the night. I am concerned for Tinus, who has taken some strange notions into his head. He seems to think that somehow, the clockwinder needs Underby, and he cannot make any sort of peace due to that.

After sleeping on it, and pondering the events during my train ride, I am convinced of this. Mister Underby has most likely picked up some small skills in a carnival, and has used those to elevate his status in order to make a living as a fortune teller. He’s good at what he does, judging by how riled up the town is over his presence. However, he is not trained to take care of the sick. He must be convinced to let the clockwinder be taken into better care. And Tinus needs to be shown that there is no strange powers involved here. It is simply a matter of a man trying to be something he is not, and another suffering because of it.

Oh, and another thing. Some say the clockwinder is not human. Even in this day and age, New Babbage is still a town given over to superstition and tall tales.

”Ceejay pays the young woman for her transcribing work, accepts the offer of some dinner at the tavern, and then returns home on the last train of the evening.”


I did not expect it to take as long as this. Pip did not. The entire operation should have been swift and simple, these types of creatures are made of more base material than man, and have simple rules. Clearly, some drastic error has been made.

When we discovered the clockwinder in the rain I took it to be an omen that my work was free from interference, and that I had been wrong that someone else had already bound the little fellow, but all my words and incantations have not only not been effective, but seem to incline him deeper in his ways. Perhaps there truly is someone in this town who already holds his binding? A frightening possibility? Who would be so powerful, and yet I can not sense them?

The only saving grace is that he seems to be growing rather fond of me, and is taking his time in my quarters as something of a holiday from his duties as mayor. I have twice caught him sitting on my sofa, humming some queer eldritch tune, only to catch me eyeing him, and resort to snuffles and coughs.

Last night I was nearly assaulted by members of the population, how far-sighted I was to think to hire a body guard, or who knows what might have transpired last night. Miss Writer and Mr Koskinen were extremely suspicious of the entire affair, though to be honest I have no idea how anyone even found out he was staying with me. My divinations have brought up nothing. The Dead Zone has been particularly bad this last week. Perhaps it is affected by the weather? Something to ponder.

The Gruesome Twosome (as I have come to think of Miss Writer and Mr Koskinen after their abysmal manners last night) were quite insistent on entering my dwelling and seeing the little man for themselves, and seemed quite appalled that I was letting him sleep in a box. What would they have, him sleep on the floor? My house is not a hostel, and beds are in precious short supply. He was, quite frankly, lucky to get the box. At least it is free from draughts.

They were adamant that the clockwinder should come with them when they left, but I put my foot down, and Boris’ foul demeanor seemed to help convince them that my will was not to be trifled with. When they left I had Dizelle, who had been hiding in the basement the entire time, follow them back to Miss Writer’s cafe, to listen on their plans. They apparently plan to come back tonight to demand the clockwinder. Some, also, seem to think I am an eastern European ghoul called a vampyr. My flair for theatricality has been taken at face value. This tells me something of the class of people I am up against.

Perhaps an invocation of the Moon shall help, one of her aspects is of her effect on large crowds. A single man may have definite opinions, but a crowd holds none, and their thoughts and whimsies can be manipulated like a vessel on the waves. An apt metaphor for Fleet Week! Ha, better for them that they had decided each in their own way how to deal with me, as a crowd they shall be much more easy to manage!


Further, on a rather personal note, these constant guests are wearing thin on me… I have not been able to ‘dress up’ for over a week now. The frustration is growing.

””’Tenk never arrived in Falun for the traditional Day of the Dead observances. The train he was on wrecked on the fells, killing several on board. Tenk and the other survivors returned to New Babbage on handpumpers sent out when a passing airship brought news of the disaster. Meanwhile, in Falun, Odnar began to worry…””’

November 3

“Don’t tell me not ta worry! Tenk does not give his word lightly. He said he was coming for our Day of the Dead Feast. He mentioned something was not right. The train derails and not a word from New Babbage.”

“Look Odnar we know he was never on the train. We had the passenger list checked.”

November 6

“A message from New Babbage arrived. It just says Tenk is ill.”

“Let me see that. Da telegraph line has been down since the Day of the Dead Feast. Did ya get a message to New Babbage?”

“No. The operator said the line was dead, then this message came in, then it was dead again.”

November 13

“Da storm knocked out da pump. Shafts 6, 13, 21 are flooded. Miners are trapped in shaft 11. We need everyone ta help. Get Torsten’s team working da hand pump. Da water is rising.”

November 17

“Odnar! The train just arrived from New Babbage. This letter was plastered in every car.”

“New Babbage,

Why are we allowing a murderer to care for our Mayor?

Who is Yoyo Underby and where did he come from?

Concerned citizens, speak up!

You are not alone.”

“I am leaving tonight. I will send word when I arrive…”

November 18

Tinus Koskinen: Hoy Odnar! I am glad your here sir!

Odnar Halberstadt: Greetings I am looking for Underby’s place.

Tinus Koskinen: Here it is Odnar…the door has been bared tightly; I fear that your kin is in grave danger.

Odnar Halberstadt: What can ya tell me about this Underby?

Tinus Koskinen: A wicked man I think…he seems to have some strange hold on your kin.

Odnar Halberstadt: Don’t like de sound of that

Tinus Koskinen: I saw your kin yesterday, tried to get him to leave…but he would not.

Odnar Halberstadt: What? He refused?

Tinus Koskinen: Mr. Underby and his strong man were threatening…but without Tenk speaking up for himself and Miss Ceejay insisting that he was fine I withdrew. I was able to secure the mayors medallion, I have kept it safe away from Babbage

Odnar Halberstadt: Tenk! It’s me Odnar can ya hear me?

Tinus Koskinen: I dont know…I cannot make up my mind if he is a magical demon or a wicked confidence man…either way he is not a good man.

Odnar Halberstadt: Well if I meet him he is going ta get me boot

Tinus Koskinen tries the door…"and the door is locked up tight.

Odnar Halberstadt: I am guessing ya have laws against me breaking down de door

Tinus Koskinen: I have tried that…it is strong…and seems to be well bared by something.
…I threw my weight against it and it did not even budge.

Odnar Halberstadt: I thank ya for your help. Is there a place I can rest?
Tinus Koskinen: You are always welcomed in my home sir. We can plot a way to get your kin out of there.

Odnar Halberstadt: Thank ya Sir.


I was on the city wall, taking in the setting sun, when I heard a familiar voice hailing me.

"Is that you Mr. Koskinen?", a short, barrel chested man approached me with a pack nearly as large as himself. It was Odnar. I quickly filled him in on the events of the previous days, warning him that his kin was in grave danger. We reconnoitered Mr. Underby’s home, deciding to return when the pale menace had returned, prepared for conflict.

We withdrew to my apartment above Lovelace S&T, to give the man a chance to rest and prepare for our assault. I stopped by the Gangplank for a jug of stout to talk over and accompanied the Gentleman to my quarters.

I relieved my thoughts on the dastardly pale man, outlining the series of events that convinced me of the man’s strange hold on our Mayor and Odnar’s kin. The strange warming of Tenk’s wrench at the mention of the ghoul. The erratic behavior of the Clockwinder. Heavy drinking of spoiled milk and vodka. The odd attraction to the practitioner of the dark arts. His sudden sickness and seclusion within the home of our nemesis. I ended with my theory that the dark man had somehow focused the suppression of magic around the ruins of the old quarter to effect our mayor’s nature.

Odnar burst into a bout of laughter, the first sign of a smile I saw on the man’s face since he joined my company. "Tinus, you are a superstitious fool. My kin are no magic people. Bone fever makes us short…some shorter than others. We live underground cause we like it. Come man, don’t tell me you fall for all this magical malarky"

A plan of assault was quickly outlined over the stout. We would wait for the night when the villain was sure to have returned. An attempt would be made on the door, and if failed Odnar would yield a hefty pick toit. Steeled by our resolve and a bit of liquid courage, we marched to our objective.

As we approached, we huddled together in the stables near his shop, preparing to attack when we heard the Clockwinder and Underby in conversation….

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