Monday January 16th, 2017

The exercise:

Write about: the next step.

I'm returning to the Wastelands for this one. In order to do that more easily, I needed to label all the related posts because apparently I hadn't already done that.

Had a good day with Nicky and my family. Spent the morning with Miles while Kat and Max were at StrongStart, then the afternoon with Max (featuring a rather spectacular session of soccer class).

She'll be stopping by again tomorrow morning before having to catch a mid-afternoon flight to Calgary from Penticton. We shall see what sort of madness we can cram into the three or four hours we'll have together.


I'd had my doubts about the splint Master Francis had affixed to my left hand - two short pieces of wood tightly wrapped in three leather straps - but I have to admit it has done its job. The ache in my wrist is nearly gone now, and he says we should be able to remove it within a few days.

And then what? That had been the question he posed to me over dinner this evening.

"Sebastien tells me that Scout V42 has returned from your crash site with sufficient evidence - his words, not mine - that you were indeed brought down by the North Ridge Brigands. So I suppose revenge is one possible course of action for you."

"Hmm," I'd said without making eye contact. The food was simple but good, so I focused on that instead.

"Or you could continue on your journey to the west. Try to discover what your Captain Miranda had been seeking." Master Francis had been trying to avoid dipping the end of his long white beard in his soup, with mixed results. "Though, to be entirely honest, I have no idea what that might be and I have lived in this place for a very long time."

"Right," I'd said, stirring my soup with slow circles of my wooden spoon. That had originally been my plan but my time with Master Francis and his inventions had been a pleasant distraction and I wasn't sure that I was ready to leave them behind.

Besides, I still needed to win my money back from Sebastien. I could have sworn he cheated at cards, I just couldn't prove it.

"Alternatively," Master Francis had continued after sipping from his cup of water, "you could, if you'd care to, stay on here for a while longer. Sebastien has enjoyed your company and... I suppose I have as well."

"That is kind of you," I had said.

"Don't go thinking it would be a nice vacation or nothing like that though," he'd said, pointing a heavily wrinkled finger at my face. "I dare say you'd need to put in some work here to repay me for all that I've done for you."

"That's fair," I'd said, trying to hide a smile.

"Anyway, take a few days to make up your mind. Just don't take all year about it, all right?"

"Of course."

Now here I am, lying in bed, mulling over my options. And I think I already know which path I will choose. But I'm also wondering whether or not I could pursue more than one of those choices at the same time.

Because as much as I wish to repay my debt to Master Francis, I am also not the sort of man to simply forget about those who have blasted me out of the sky.


Greg said...

Sounds like you and the family are all having fun together! I hope it continues tomorrow before the plane flight :) And I'm curious too as to what made the soccer class so spectacular.
Ah the wastelands! It's nice to have it back again, and I went back and re-read some of the earlier pieces too -- so I'm disappointed that you didn't tell us more about Master Francis's oversized needle. I think you've picked up nicely where you left off (8 months ago!) and the air of mystery and my curiosity about this world remain. Sebastien seems interesting too, especially his skill with cards. I hope we get more installments of this (with slightly less gap between them. The only story I can think of you've told with longer gaps was 'How the Best was Won'). If nothing else, I suspect Master Francis is up to something and I want to know what!

Greg said...

The next step
The casual chaos in the Opera bar continued for another half-hour, during which Samual slipped quietly away and returned. He sat back down in his chair, carefully checking that it was still equidistant between Lords Derby and MacAnally, and then leaned surreptitiously towards Lord Derby.
"Dr. Suture's room is locked and no-one is answering," he said in a low voice. "Ms. Doul's room is inaccessible to me, but I did see the Lords Magical in conversation and she wasn't with them. It is possible–"
"What?" Ernest raised an eyebrow and Samual blushed a deep red like sunburn. "Oh Samual, you think David and Ms. Doul might be enjoying their privacy? While I am sure they probably would under other circumstances, both of them would have to stop being Magicians first. There are prices to be paid for everything in this world: the Priests and the Magicians give up a desire for carnal relations and, in fact, the ability to sustain such. Magic is, David tells me, not entirely at home in the human body, and there is a... reaction of some kind which has side effects."
Samual's redness was spreading down his neck and affecting the backs of his wrists, and he stuttered a few syllables helplessly at Ernest.
"Relax," said Ernest. "Deep breaths, hold for a count of four; it will help. The Lords Martial have a similar but different problem: they give up the capacity for love and compassion, so though they do occasionally father children they rarely have families. The Diabolists give up the capacity for reason and end their lives screamingly insane: there is an entire wing of Bedlam where they are maintained. Luckily, or not depending on your viewpoint, their lives are also attenuated by their achievements so they are not an undue burden on the Crown. And the Alchymists give up their senses, one by one, until they are trapped alone in silent darkness, unable to perceive the people around them and die for want of human contact."
"Milord," said Samual. The redness faded quickly and was replaced by a blanching that was clearly caused by horror. "Is that all true?"
"Of course," said Ernest. He shrugged lightly. "There is nothing gained without a price to be paid, and if someone is telling you otherwise you may assume that they are a Diabolist and act accordingly. There is always a balance: David can tell you about it, Father Ignatz can, even Steve."
They both looked at Lord MacAnally who was delivering the punchline of a long and complicated joke that had succeeded in making Lady Campion laugh at last.
"Milord," said Samual hesitantly, "I have ambitions to be a Lord Martial myself."
"Then sort out your children first," said Lord Derby without hesitation. "Or choose not to have them. One is easier, I think, that the other, but the ordering may depend on the person."
"Right." Samual clearly didn't understand. After a moment he gave up grappling with it. "But I think I must still report, milord, that Dr. Suture is seemingly missing."
"Indeed," said Ernest, musing. "Indeed. So we must decide what the next step is."

Marc said...

Greg - ah, that class. Well, Max did very well on his own while I stood off to the side, so that was great. And... there may have been a brief yelling match between the coach and one of the parents. Nothing terribly serious, but quite a bit more than I'd have expected at a soccer class for 3 to 5 year olds.

I've got no concrete plans on where my tale is going, but various ideas keep popping into my head. We shall see what comes of them... and when!

Some fascinating extra elements revealed here. I appreciate the idea that nothing is gained without paying the price... and I also think that most of those prices are too steep for me to pay :)

Hmm, I wonder as well where dear David has gone and what he's up to. I do hope you'll tell us soon!