Archivist note: This article is from an older recovered archive and might be obsolete or in need of updating.
Most recent revision is shown below, by Galactic Baroque.
Mr. Underby was a small time fortuneteller, working out of a cramped flat in Sweetwater Square. Hear now the tale of his death by rat, Nightshade Sixpence, and the curious events that followed.
==A Feud Escalates==
Mr. Underby kept meticulous notes on his Work, as we see him writing in his notebook late at night….
”’Underby Private Work Journal: 18 September”’
The “Work” will need to wait for now, I must put a stop to the Rat, once and for all. He has meddled one time too many, and as a result the urchin no longer wishes to continue her training. Most disheartening, since she seemed so much like I was as a youth, so very long long ago.
I believe I was too gentle with her, ZauZajer was never as kind to me, and look at the good it did. Spare the rod: spoil the child. Truer words were never writ.
First, I shall deal with that gargoyle, and then I will dismantle Sixpence, piece by piece. I have half a mind to leave pieces about, as warnings to others, but I can’t risk bring attention to my Work before it is finished. I shall have to be subtle.
==Terrible Terrible News!==
But things did not go as planned. Sixpence was waiting for Underby, having observed his habits for week. He knew the route Underby would take on his way to his regular worship at the Dagon Temple (then located on Jefferson Way).
Underby’s death was witnessed by his apprentice, Lo…
the worst possible thing has happened. king rat has done for mr underby.
here is a rather poor sketch i have drawn with my colouring pencils.
it is a horrible scene. if i think on it longer, i shall only cry again.
Not only did Sixpence suffer sympathetic injuries from the backwash of his work, but the Clockwinder was working nearby on the rooftops behind the Imperial Theatre. He lost his footing at the moment of Sixpence’s attack, and fell from the roof, landing within the circle of consequence as Underby dissipated.
Sixpence took Lo in to continue her training. He took her to an island to hone her skills, then brought her back to Babbage, where she learned from Pip that we may not have seen the last of Underby…
mister six has abandoned me on an island, surrounded by bats! he says it is for my magickal training… tho’ i rather think he has put me out of harm’s way, as i am quite sure he disapproves of me, gil’ and skyler invoking spirits in mr yo’s flat. i shall have to transform myself into an owl, and eat moths.
mr nightshade has brought me back to babbage from the island. luckily kane taught me to cook fish over a fire, or i might have starved there! now i must ponder a riddle, that i might complete this part of my training. i feel bolder of heart now, and a little wiser.
i will need to be so, i suspect. pip visited the island while i was there. he appears very different now, almost… ghoulish!… and he told me disturbing news of yo… said he followed mr six while the rat scattered mr yo’s parts all over babbage. he tells there’s a way yo may return… that he seeks vengeance… i’m frightened.
==Underbi Private Worke Jornal: 30 Sept.==
Pip Steamer, the hideous deformed dwarf that served Mr. Underby in life, continued on as if Underby was still alive. He wrote in the journal so that there would be no gap in the record of the Work
Pippin Jollygoodfellow Steamer ritin in plase of Master Underbi in this kase. Underbi stil non-korporeal in tis here worlde.
Suksesfuly kontakted the Master in te nether relms tis here mornin, and konfirmed wot he had sispekted before everytin hapened: his retorn wil be posibal wen sno first fals, tho not bfore. I askd good Mr Tenk wen te sno ushooaly falls in Babbage, he says after Al Holo’s Eve. This shood be enuf tyme to prepar al thit needs preparin.
Master U has askede me to keep trak of al those hoo he would be revenged againste wen he returns, inkludin and speshaly his former apprentis, little Lo. I shal see if I kan manag to get her to leef befor he returns. I loves her. Sixpence, Skute, and Pool I kare fore not at al, and kood nay kare les if tey perish horibly.
If need be, I shal update, but if not, plan gos a head.
==The Other Side==
Tenk had felt a growing unease as the days passed. Earlier, that Summer, a messenger had arrived from Steeltopia with posters implicating Underby in a murder and offering a reward for his arrest and return. Underby had complained that he was innocent and being framed by one Phaedra Wickentower. Tenk often found himself staring at the picture of Underby’s face on the wanted posters that had been sent from Steeltopia, as if Underby was actually watching him. Maybe he was, as Mr. Underby takes up the tale from the other side…
I awoke from the abhorrent and unspeakable todash darkness, floating, in a realm of unbelievable strangeness… I was free from Babbage finally, and the holding ritual that witch Phaedra Wickentower had placed on it, and on me.
Gibbering laughter and whispering voices surrounded me, though I seemed to be completely alone. The view showed a sun, but of which star was it? The constellations did not match up with any that were familiar to me… this was truly a new world…
Pulling together my Will and Concentration I sat my form down to focus my attentions and meditate on where I was.
After what seemed to be a lifetime I came into contact with the mind of that hideous imp familiar I had wasted my time with, Pippin, and pulled him to me to see how long it would take to have him assemble my form back on the First Side…
He informed me that a month had already gone by since I was disintegrated on the physical plane, though it seemed like both eternity, and yet also like mere moments since I had left. He also announced that my ex-pupil Lo had released him from his contract with me, and that he was now free and living at a well in the Vernian Sea. I calmly informed him that we would deal with THAT, when I returned, including little Lo, but before I would release him I demanded he tell me where I had found myself. It would be pointless to journey ANYwhere, until I knew for certain where I was.
After some hesitation he informed that I was on the place of Hod, having somehow jumped straight over Yesod, or perhaps todash space cuts around Yesod? I do not still know. But, I was farther on my way than I had dared to imagine.
I released him back to his pit, and began to find a gate which would take me farther up the Tree.
It did not take long…
I could hear a cacophony on the other side of the gate, screaming, growling, the sounds of guns and swords in combat… it did not fill me with good tidings, but I ventured through anyway…
Immediately upon entering the gate, I knew where I was… Gevurah. A most vile sphere on the Tree, and one I did not intend to stay in long. Again, I saw nobody, but could feel cold clammy fingers on my face, and tongues of that which I refuse to imagine licking at my neck. I rose upward, and seemed to find a surface, as if of a liquid.
I pushed through…
There were three potential places I might enter into, as far as I knew… one would be Hesed, and a waste of time as it was a lateral move along the Tree, the other was Binah, which was my hope as I would be able to communicate with the Other World if I arrived there, and the third, and least pleasant option, was that I might end up in Da’ath… and the least said about Da’ath the better.
Fortunately, it turned out to be Binah, though it did not appear as I had expected…
It was immensely cold and desolate, much like the plains of Leng when I ventured there in 1542… I searched around and was eventually able to find a body of liquid with which I might be able to scry to the other side… I caught hold of Babbage, and held on, the view was erratic and odd…
Eventually I discovered the cause… I was peering through the eyes of a raven.
I found the Rat and watched him for a time, but I felt that he began to sense my presence. I did not want to show any cards so soon, so I left him to his minor amusements…
I discovered that news of the death of Garnet Wickentower had finally reached Babbage, and that they thought the person to blame was me. That witch Phaedra is crafty indeed.
I often keep close watch on the Clockwinder, since he makes rounds all over the city. I found that I am able to control the parts which the Rat scattered around if I concentrate hard enough… I have been able to make most of the bits and pieces leap into the wrench the Clockwinder keeps with him at all times, though it must be growing very heavy. I see him feeling out the weight now and then, perhaps he suspects?
==The First and Second Pieces are collected==
Sixpence, through the use of his alchemical knowledge, had shattered Underby’s spirit into 7 pieces, which he named for the seven deadly sins and hid throughout the city: The foundry under Mr. Zanzibar’s industrial park, Obolensky’s Observatory, Tenk’s Clock, the Red Rum Bar, the safe at the bank, and two others. All but the piece at Observatory island Tenk would inadvertantly touch with his wrench over the course of the next months.
Galactic Baroque recounts returning to Babbage during the zombie outbreak in mid October. He met Tenk in the pub where Sixpence had hidden the part of Hunger in a barstool…
I’ve been looking forward to my weekly run to New Babbage and settling into a comfortable pub in Clockhaven while waiting for new cargo, so I was a bit concerned when I got into the city and noticed everyone was carrying arms. I dropped to the street as someone yelled “down!” just in time to hear the blast of a shotgun from a doorway. When I looked up, a woman was down to the right of me, a red splatter on the cobblestones where her head used to be. The man with the shotgun quickly ushered me inside and explained the situation. A zombie plague was loose in the city.
Something had gone very wrong. I had to find Tenk.
He wasn’t far. The Red Rum Cave was a favorite haunt of his, some even called it the real mayor’s office. An old place with a low ceiling from a less nourished time. He often drank there with the stout mining folk when they were in town. I never liked the place, I always felt I couldn’t stand up straight in there without knocking my head on the rafters.
Tenk was standing inside waiting for his evening breakfast, worrying bits of flash off the jaws of his favorite spanner with the thick nail of his thumb. He leaned the spanner against the post of the high stool and did a neat vault into a sitting position at the bar as the barman brought up a cold board meal. He nodded to me as he began eating and I settled awkwardly onto the stool next to him and ordered a sherry.
“Baroque! In town long this time? Here, have some food, I’m famished from all the roadwork.”
I studied his face. Tenk had changed. He did not look well. Not at all like the cantankerous little man I was used to. He went on, waving his free hand.
“I’d like you to check some numbers for me, I can’t seem to make them come out right.”
Now I knew something was wrong. His numbers were never off. Then I noticed the fresh bandage on his hand. “Tenk! Your hand!”
The barman stopped his work and looked wide-eyed at the bandage and reached under the counter for his rifle. Tenk stopped eating in mid bite and looked about.
“What?” asked Tenk.
We both looked pointedly the bandaged hand.
Tenk looked quizzical as his raised his hand.
“It’s a burn. I was over at the foundry with Henry last night and got splashed with some flash. Figure those odds. Hurt like hell. ”
The barman leveled the barrel of his rifle at Tenk’s forehead. “Let’s see it.”
Tenk scowled and unwound the linen strip, showing a cluster of clean red blisters on the back of his hand. Satisfied it was not a sign of infection, the barman lowered his rifle and poured us all a round.
Tenk hopped down and angrily rewrapped his hand. He picked up his wrench and clipped it onto his belt, and headed for the door. “Fine,” he stormed. “You two can barricade yourself in here for the night. I have clocks to wind. Good night. I hope you have enough ammunition.”
We watched him disappear into the fog behind the hostel. There really is no reasoning with him once his ire is up, but he would be over it by morning. I was more concerned with his request. As long as I have known him, his numbers were never off.
==The Part of Pride==
Later that month, Mr. Baroque met Tenk up in the city hall clocktower, where Tenk’s shack was affixed to the side so that he could keep tinkering with the insides of the old timepiece, which kept notoriously bad time. He seemed to have finally fixed it, or what it some other influence? Mr. Baroque continues his tale…
Now that the zombies were put in their graves again, I decided to have my ship hauled out for an overdue bottom scraping and repairs. My former rooms at Bolyai had been rented out a pair of priests, so Tenk invited me to stay in the the city hall clocktower with him until the job was done. I had my reservations about this, seeing the flimsy shack clinging precariously to the side of the tower, but form required me to go up and make a show of it. I took my bedroll and a few essentials from the ship after I saw her securely into the cradles and made my way to City Hall.
Tenk was up in the clock, literally, wiping the soot from each gear with a freshly oiled rag. He was beside himself with pleasure over his beloved machine.
That is to say, he was insufferable.
“I’ve finally fixed her,” he said, beaming proudly. “I knew she just needed a little care. She hasn’t missed a second for weeks.”
I stood closer to the small stove and rummaged about for tea, something to take the chill off the morning, then settled in to watch Tenk work. He sat and wiped the groove of a bevel gear as each tooth became exposed from its brother gear, chattering aimlessly about his long battle with the clock.
“hrm,” he muttered. “This shaft always walks itself out. Just tap it back into place…”
He gently put the head of his wrench on the shoulder of the bevel gear, and gave the back of the handle a bump with the blade of his hand. The gear and shaft assembly nudged back into place with an audible click…
And then the clock stopped.
Tenk blinked. His face went pale for an instant, then livid red.
“IT WAS PERFECT!” he yelled.
Quickly he stomped over to the bench and took a oiled bundle down from the shelf. He unrolled his tools to the table and began working on the tempermental old clock. It was time to find better lodging.
“I’ll bring back a sandwich,” I said over my shoulder as the elevator arrived. If I was reading him right, it would be several days before he would be in a mood to talk again.
During that fall, a medium, Dizelle Soup, arrived in town and found herself strangely drawn to the visage that stared out from the “wanted” posters that were still pasted around town. She tells of it in a letter to her brother, Winston.
I have been staying in New Babbage for a week now, O Winston, and can say with all truth that descriptions of the city have not been exaggerated, this city truly is bizarre, odd, weird, and certainly strange. I have seen twisted sites already which would turn mother’s hair black, and would have grown hair on father’s egg-like cranium. Speaking of which, how goes the business of phrenology? Have you tried father’s skull yet, it is a truly singular container, if ever there was one.
A strange occurrence occurred yesterday, as strange occurrences are wont to be. This strange occurrence, my own dear brother, is an occurrence which happened to me. How was my rhyme and meter there? Nevermind.
I was meditating through the witchboard you bought me, when suddenly the planchette was torn away from my fingertips and began to dance around the surface of the board. I was awestruck, and my first impression was the rush to the Vernian Sea and toss the whole thing in, but it began to slow and allowed my fingers to rest once more on top, and regain control.
I asked if someone was there, and swiftly the planchette swung to the word YES. I asked if it was the spirit of a dead individual who was wishing to speak, and just as swiftly the planchette zipped over to NO. Puzzling, yes? I thought so too.
I asked if it was a demon who desired to speak to me, which I was very much interested in ever since that talk with Grandmama so long ago, but to my disappointment, the planchette dipped over to NO again. With a swift but definite sigh I asked the board to spell its name, and was utterly disappointed by the results… the planchette moved around and around in circles, and finally and feebly, stopped on the letter Y, then moved around again slowly, stopping on the letter O. I tried to think of any named starting in Y-O, but could come up with nothing… meanwhile the planchette still slowly moved around the surface, only to stop again on Y, then after some hesitation again landed on O. It seemed to be stuck, and trying again, but would not budge until I at last spoke again.
I asked the being if it needed help, and the planchette jerked from my fingers again to land on YES. I asked how I might be able to help in anyway, and for a long while nothing happened. Eventually the planchette began to tremble and vibrate, then slowly started to move. It landed on F, and then moved on to I…
I won’t bore you, Winston dear Winston, with the monotony of going through each subsequent letter it spelled out, but suffice to say the sentence was altogether anti-climactic. The sentence the board spelled out to me was this:
“FIND THE WRENCH”
Strange and dull at the same time, no?
Dr. Augustus Dayafter invited Dizelle, in the interest of paranormal research, to hold a public seance at the Library. The event was witnessed by several citizens, the Captain of the Militia, and a senior cleric from the Church.
Ladies and gentlemen, I will be conducting a séance this evening sometime in order to try and find out some information about Mr. Underby. Miss Dizelle Soup has been “in contact” with Mr. Underby (or at least we are to believe that) via a witchboard. I am not one to automatically disbelieve a lday that has no reason to spread lies, but as the witchboard is suspect, I intend to put this to a test that several of us within the Physical Society have seen work quite well before. We shall ask (one at a time) a series of questions of Mr. Underby, then dispatch our investigators to see if his answers can actually be proven. I should also like to know more about the details in which he was accused of murder. If there are any with that information, please let me know. One of my main goals in this venture is to try and clear this man’s name of alleged activities of evil. I only met and spoke with him on a handful of occasions, but I found him to be a very respectful, respectable, and knowledgeable man.
”’The seance was a success, and photographic evidence was collected to show that Underby was indeed present in spirit.”’
==The Bearded Lady, The Wrench and The Train==
By long tradition, Tenk was due to leave for Falun to attend Day of the Dead observances with the family of Odnar Halberstadt. He had worried over leaving the city, especially in light of a spree of murders that had occured during late October. Under cover of night he had filled several packing trunks full of dirt and sent them ahead to the train platform to prepare for his journey. But there was the matter of the mysterious bearded dwarf woman from the carnival who had caught his eye. Tenk pleaded with Tinus Koskinen to discover her name as he was on his way to the train station, as Mr. Koskinen wrote in his journal…
Tinus Koskinen, Journal Entry – The Morning of Second November in the Year ….
I spent the evening in Clockhaven, pulled up to the bar in the Gangplank, with the hope of lifting the darkness of the city from my mood. The conversation turned quickly to the recent events in Babbage, the ghostly return of Mr. Mr. and the paedophage terrorizing the urchins, Mr. Bloom. An interesting discourse ensued, with Mr. Tenk proclaiming the whole mess a bunch of malarkey, and the rest of the citizens, including Ms. Soup, expressing fear of the supernatural forces apparently behind the recent events. Laughter nervously broke up the conversation, as only the macabre can. That laughter ended, when Mr. Tenk once again complained of this wrench heating up, strangely when Mr. Underby’s name was uttered.
An explanation, for I had not yet recorded this in my notes. This Underby fellow was known to me as the self proclaimed demonologist, in search of that dangerous book. Upon his arrival in Clockhaven, he took a room at the Gangplank and then with Mr. Moses at the Sweetwater. Mr. Sixpence seemed to be fascinated by the man, often seen having heated discussions with Mr. Underby outside his parlor. Clockwinder, with his typical dismissal of the supernatural, had plenty of jokes about the man. That is until the night of Mr. Underby’s death.
The facts remain unclear to me, but I will relay what I know. Mr. Sixpence, in a fit of anger, struck down Mr. Underby. Tenk, near by, ran to the scene of the crime, falling upon the remains of Mr. Underby. Much effort was placed to secure his possessions and spirit them away to prevent his return.
Perhaps some portion of him was left with the Clockwinder, I do not know. What I have witnessed on two occasions, Mr. Tenk’s wrench had suddenly become warm and heavy. In both cases, the conversation had turned to Underby. The last time was at the Gangplank, the night of Underby’s return.
Filled with foreboding, I offered to accompany Mr. Tenk to the train. He readily agreed, seemingly eager to discussed my warnings in private. As I turned to pay respects to the lovely company we were holding, Tenk squared his shoulders and moved swiftly out the door.
As I stumbled out of the Gangplank, the cold wind off the bay not yet clearing the fog of the drink, I found Clockwinder. He was fiddling with his hat in his hand, his deep carmine hair exploding away from his face, he whispered “so I need some advise friend.”
As I launched into a partially though-out explanation of the strange events surround his wrench, he waved his hat at me perturbed, “not that drivel, something more important, something about a girl.”
Trying desperately to hide my shock, I smiled and said “tell me more friend, have you talked to her?”
Tenk, shy as a schoolboy now, shook his head sadly, “no, no, no, I have not, couldn’t think what to say.”
“Well hello would be a good start of introduction to this would be Paramore, ” I prompted.
Glazed eyed, he continued, oblivious of my joke, “Perhaps, well, perhaps, you can help me. She is the loveliest person I ever laid eyes on, about my height, hair flowing around her, that of her beard secured with a pink bow. And her bodice and backside….” his voice trailed off, then he gained his composure.
“And her name?” I prompted.
“I do not know!” the answer exploding from him with frustration. “You see Tinus, I have never courted and I fear I have little time before she leaves. She is with the dark carnival, soon to travel, I am off to visit Odnar. I have little time. I fear I will never see her again.”
“Well, perhaps a note, Good Sir. We can draft a note to her while I walk you to station. I can find her in your absence, inform her of your thoughts. Perhaps you can see her upon your return.”
And with this, the Clockwinder’s mood improved. We spent the rest of the walk, talking of the lady. Tenk’s descriptions of this woman could compete with my distant relative Lord Byron in passion. Soon we were at the station, standing next to the large crates he was to take North. In an uncharacteristically cheerful mood, he begged me to start my investigations into the name of his love. I left, in hope to find someone who attended the carnival..
Little was I to know, while ran off playing cupid, Tenk would be attacked by that monster Underby. Even now, the anger that I felt upon hearing that Tenk was fell upon by that beast Underby, shakes the pen upon the journal. I do hope that Tenk is safely away now, north with his cousin Odar. I will be on guard for this Underby fellow and will talk to my good friends, Dr. Dayafter and Miss Dagger, in the morning. In the meantime, I will accomplish the task my friend has asked me to do, perhaps bringing a bit of happiness to these dark times.
==The Ghost Train==
Dizelle tells of finding the final piece, the part of Wrath, and what happened when she brought it to the train station…
After talking with the spirit of Underby more, I was prompted to dig near the so-called Death Ray on Dr O’s island, and there I found a shard which appeared to be obsidian, although what it was truly made of, I do not know. I kept it on my person, and recalled that an earlier session with the witchboard had stated that I should be at the train station on Sunday night at sundown.
Filled with curiosity and anticipation I made my way to the train station. Mr Tenk, the town mayor, was already waiting on the platform with several large trunks. When I questioned where he was going, he gruffly brushed me off.
Soon, the temperature plummeted, and a strange high-pitched buzzing filled the air. A thick fog rolled in, and with it came a spectral locomotive. I was shocked into stupefaction, and almost didn’t notice that the shard of obsidian in my pocket had begun to vibrate like a tuning fork. I had an uncontrollable, and wholly berserk, desire to take out the shard and gaze upon it. The moment I pulled it out, my hand jerked toward the Clockwinder, and my eyes flashed on his wrench, which I fancied was glowing somewhat. It bewitched me in a way I know not, for I was suddenly overcome, and began to howl and chant, and foam at the mouth.
I watched myself, as if in a dream, as I pounced on the Clockwinder, who was already moaning, and thrust the shard at the wrench, while I heard the words “IA! IA! UNDERBI FTHAGN!!” gibbering from somewhere, in a shrill high-pitched whine. Slowly, I began to realize I was hearing my own dreadful voice, chanting eldritch words I knew not.
The pungent reek of ozone filled the air, and a sharp crackling erupted in the air around us, I felt every hair on my body arise. It seemed to emanate from within the ghost train. Slowly I became aware that a figure was forming within the train. A deep basso profundo laugh echoed around us as a figure stepped from the back of the train…
It was Underby, in the flesh. He was repellent, and seemed inhuman, I did not wonder any longer why people seemed filled with such fear and loathing when they spoke of him, yet in my gibbering state I was somehow attracted to him as well, it was a stunning dichotomy of feelings. He slowly strode toward the Clockwinder and myself, I was still in some sort of dreamstate, where I could watch my own actions from a distance. It was disgusting, and yet strangely fascinating.
Underby sat on one of the Clockwinder’s trunks and thanked him for his assistance in his return. “I did not assist you,” the Clockwinder said, obviously still in pain. “Oh, but you did, my little friend, more than you will ever know… I have not has as much assistance in any other familiar in my many years…
Mr Tenk sat up on one elbow and leveled a long gaze up at Underby. “I am no man’s familiar,” he said.
Underby smiled. “If you say so, Mr Tenk. You should come by my quarters sometime soon, for dinner.” His smile stretched tight, into a wide rictus grimace. “Or, perhaps… breakfast.”
Tenk crawled to his feet, and wobbling slightly, climbed aboard the other train. He turned back to Underby, who approached the train, still smiling broadly.
“I am under nobody’s control!” Tenk shouted. “I can come and go as I please! I can leave this place whenever I want to!”
Underby smiled still. “Certainly, Mr Tenk, certainly you can… but make sure you bring your trunks full of dirt.”
Mr Tenk’s train pulled away, Underby began to briskly walk away, and I felt control start to swim into my body again, though I felt cold and numb, and my mind swam as if drunk on absinthe…
==Epilogue: The Weekend, and Good Ol’ Underpants… er, Underby==
November 5, 188x
Well, weren’t that a fine weekend? Starts out snowin’, wif a snap in the air that’d put fresh pole beans t’ shame. Me toesies! Lucky I ‘ad those clock’opper, I mean clod’opper boots from me Tenk costume, so I just kept ’em fer winter.
Lots o’ folk liked me Tenk costume. Some dinna quite get it, some got it ‘fore I even told ’em, so all in all a bit o’ alright. ‘Cept when Tenk saw it… ‘e wasna pleased. Confused more like.
So then I gets in some trick-or-treatin’ while it’s still light. Meanwhile Mara’s buyin’ a new plot an’ movin’ the soup kitchen. Go figger! I jus’ got used to where it was! ‘Salright, I prefer Clock’aven anyways. It’s got ‘idin’ places.
So we’re at the new soup kitchen, right, when this bloke comes in, an’ it’s ol’ skullface himself, Gloomy Gus or summat! Wif a fresh bag o’ weepin’. ‘E says ‘e’s turned a new leaf, no more tricks. So stupid me, I walk up an’ say, “cor, all right mister skullface, gimme a treat!” So wot’s ‘e do? Sacks me in ‘is weepy sack. The blighter!
‘E carts me off to turns out the Palisades park. Goes off ta get me food, which I thought right neighborly considerin’ ‘e just nabbed me. Aroundabout an hour later, the kids, Mara, an’ a few other grownies find me and free me, so no ‘arm done all around. They plan a trap fer skullface, but I’ve ‘ad enough at that point. Off ta bed!
Next day’s Sunday. It’s been first snow, it’s Sunday like the seance lady said Underby’d return, so I’m wary already, right?
But I go out anyway. I also nicked meself a new jacket all o’ fine leather, oiled so’s it’s rainproof as well! I’m in right good shape I fink.
Then, wot ‘appens but there’s this great fire on the wa’erfront! Me an’ me mate Skyler check it out, I b’lieve ‘e made a sketch of it. It was like that when we got there, honest!
Turns out it was fer a party an’ it’s a bit tough to burn brick anyways. City lives another day. Speakin’ o’ which…
I ‘ad it in mind… stupid me, I know… Underby’s comin’ back all cross at us all an’ wantin’ revenge on Babbage. That eats into Doc O’s territory like! So I went to Doc O an’ laid it out. ‘E weren’t too impressed, right, but ‘e gives me this backpack fing wot settles reality where it oughta be instead o’ where magic makes it be. So, I got that fer later.
Later on, there’s this barrel race where ye flip-flop a burnin’ barrel ’round the streets o’ Babbage tryin’ not ta burn yeself or Babbage, an’ the first one to the finish wins. So stupid me, I figger I know nothin’ about this, but the worst wot can ‘appen is I finish last, right? An’ I done plenty o’ that in me time.
Well, we get ta rollin’, and I get stuck right off. I figger that’s it fer little mousie, aye? But along the way, everyone gets stuck as well, so I catches me up. Missus Kaylee wif the arm thing’s in the lead but takin’ turns slow, so I turn on the steam an’ catch up to ‘er along Abney. We’s neck an’ neck most o’ the way down the portside, until that magic sidewalk tries ta trip me up an’ dunk me in the sewer like it likes ta do, givin’ Kaylee a boost.
I recovers an’ almost catch up, we finish wif her about a barrel length ahead. So congrats to ‘er, ’twas a right smashing time.
But then… Underpants shows up. I ran over soon as I ‘eard a commotion, but turns out Tenk was gettin’ on a train fer ‘oliday, when the seance lady beat ‘im like a dirty rug, gone off all rabid like! Then foom! Underby. Comin’ in all slick on the ghost train like the cat wot et the golden canary an’ is gonna poop ‘imself a month’s rent in coin.
I run in wif me anti-magic backpack a-goin’, hopin’ to un-reality-ize ol’ Underpants. Turns out ‘e’s flown off already an’ all it does is give the nicer folk ‘eadaches.
But it also kills Kane! I dinna know iffen it killed ‘im, but it made ‘im stop bein’ able to move or talk, which is all done by magic! Crikey, I done a awful thing…
That Doc O’s gonna ‘ear it from me, one o’ these days.
Anyway, Lo’s all right fer now, Kane’s not all right at all, ‘e’s bein’ helped by the foreign science men. Me uncle’s still blinded. Not a great weekend all in all.
So, jus’ tonight, I spoke to Underby alone. ‘E said ‘e acted like ‘e did before ’cause missus Wickentower ‘ad a bad spell on ‘im, made ‘im be a right bastard. All ‘e wants now is to do fortune tellin’ an’ be left alone.
Sounds all right by me.
Iffen it’s really true.
More later. Ta ra, – Gil
Underby, with Dizelle, moved to a dank old house along the rampart wall in Clockhaven and continued his business as a fortuneteller, albeit with much more success than before. Tenk and the other survivors of the train to Falun returned to New Babbage on hand pumpers after a passing airship reported a train wreck out on the fells to city authorities. But that is another tale.