* * * * STORY * * * *

PT 1-2 3-4 5 6-7 8 9-10

 * * STEAMPUNK DAY: 2018 * *

Without Rhyme or Reason

 

Part 6: November 1927 * * * * * * * * *

Sunday the 6th 

The Baron had joined our celebration in honor of the founding of S.P.A.R.K. It was a surprise to see him especially as he was accompanied by a woman of unnatural characteristics. There he had delivered the book, speaking in English to me.

"It is a shame you could not have attended my Carnevale in 1903 Wesley. The festivities were as equally grand. I intend to host another in the coming years however, perhaps you will enjoy it then.

1903 was a very good vintage, something I know that your wife could appreciate at least."

I laughed and nodded as I shook his hand.

"Oh, you may have forgotten something on your last visit to me."

I was puzzled at first but as he produced this journal from his bag I remembered with shame that I had indeed forgotten the book. Thanking him I took it and shook his hand again. He waived it off as if it were nothing.

 

It had only been a few months for me, since that first Carnevale, yet I could only question as to how long it must have really been for the Baron. His appearance had changed little and the book was well preserved. The Baron had certainly come from a distant time and while time-travel was a possibility behind his youthfulness, I had suspicions that it had not been his method of travel.

 

Hours passed with everything going as planned. Charles Thatcher and Jack Grayson led a group on an adventure around the Springs while Elizabeth and I taught those who were interested in dance etiquette.

 

Everything was going well for us until news traveled of someone having been murdered near one of the springwells.

"Damn it Wesley, every time!" My wife had exclaimed in frustration. She was right, every time that we had gathered in one place for a celebration something terrible was sure to follow.

On arriving at the scene I found a group of people circling the victim and at the center stood Baron Meinster and his even more mysterious guest.

 

"It is good that you have arrived!" The Baron called out, his arms open showing friendliness.

"We discovered the body of this poor man in the pool here, this amulet was clutched tightly in his hands. Do you know him?"

I rolled the body of the man onto his back and examined, having to brush the soiled hair out of his face before I could get a clear picture. I didn't like what I had seen.

"This man is a hero in the community, he manages the bottling plant nearby. Without his factory this town may not have been nearly as successful."

It was a half truth. Commerce drove much of the community's wealth but the overall success was on the heads of the Land-boss's who were still in charge of keeping the path clear. I knew that they would not like this and Elizabeth would be called into the council that would follow. In the meantime I could also determine that the man had indeed been murdered. The wounds were clearly visible of his fight.

 

It would be likely that the killer would remain nearby. The Baron's guest volunteered her services in tracking the suspect. "I have a certain set of particular skills for this kind of thing." She proclaimed in an odd accent which I could not place the origins of.

I had a celebration to continue and while uncovering this murder was of the utmost importance, the dangers of leaving Jack Grayson and Charles Thatcher unattended with the press were equally as dangerous.

 

To prove a point, as I walked up to the current location of the festivities I found Charles proudly displaying a recent artifact that he had acquired on one of the Institute's voyages, an artifact which we had not had time to study. For reasons unknown to me, Jack was also hanging off the side of a boat that was hitched aloft of the water.

Note: I'm going to have to follow up on how Charles managed to keep his hands on that artifact after our last trip.

It belongs in the museum...

I was able to gain control of the situation and monitor the gathered party while I sent someone out for word on the murder.

It didn't take long for a culprit to be found however of some concern was the location of the amulet that had been in the man's possession. The Baron claimed no knowledge of its whereabout and I cursed myself for not staying behind to make certain it fell into the right hands.

 

The festivities were coming to an end as we gathered for a little contest of fashion and ingenuity. Several walked away with prizes for their work and the closing announcements were made.

 

Though everything had gone well through the whole of the day Mr. Thatcher noticed that Jack was missing. It was at that moment that a strange woman had approached us shouting, "Excuse me! Excuse me! Your idiot friend stole my time-piece!"

 

Charles tried to brush her off but when she insisted that the "time-piece" in question was important in another manner it was realized that Jack Grayson had accidentally made off with the woman's time travel device.

 

On questioning the woman on the potential destinations that the device might have taken him to, she responded that the only dates available at the present were either 1901, or 1903.

 

I had a hunch that Baron Meinster's earlier presence and mentioning of attending the 1903 Carnevale had something to do with the location of our friend so we decided that it would be the first destination that we would check.

* * * * * * Part 7: November 7th 1927

"I know that it's not your first time traveling through time, I don't know if you aware that there are other gateways through it. At the Institute of the Scientific Arts we keep one such path a secret from the public, for fear of misuse, as we study it and hope to better understand its impact." I had stated to the woman accompanying us as we walked inside the Institute. She had given us her name however I had the usual knack of forgetting it. It seems that she wasn't listening to me however as she was finding an enjoyable conversation with Charles about what an idiot Jack must be. He was ever so happy to confirm for her that he was indeed an idiot however one that meant well and had a good heart.

"Where is your old time box? We have to find this imbecile before he ruins busi-my device!" She said, curiously changing her tone and wording.

I led her to the machine and asked her to show us where we should look. 1903 was the decided year and she seemed to have an understanding of how our system worked. After she scanned the panel she noted to us the box number we should travel to.

 

Internally the ISA has a project to mark all destinations and times available to us, however the lack of a sizeable trustworthy staff has made it a generally boring grind. The particular combination shown was untested and therefore I had no clue as to where we would be off to.

 

Our present team consisted of Charles Thatcher, the woman whose name I had forgotten, myself, Elizabeth, and one of Elizabeth's men who was brought along as extra muscle. His name was John Christophson.

We gathered in pairs and set off through time and space in search of our friend Jack.

 

When I stepped outside of the box to see where we were at I was surprised. It was a dock in Italy. This was clearly visible by the recognizable language, obvious architecture, and the smells of food. Something out of the ordinary was the loud sound of an argument nearby. Two English sailors were into fisticuffs over something and both had lost their ability to communicate clearly in their anger. Our group joined the fold of onlookers to find out more out of simple curiosity.

We also expected to find that Jack might be at the center of any disruptions.

"You bloody mongrel!" A large older man shouted.

"Who you calling a mongrel, eh?" A skinny rat of a man called back.

"You heard me, you know what you are, admit it get back on yer boat you coward!"

"I ain't goin, I got no reason to be a part o' this now and you know it."

"Yer a part of it as much as any other man. You spit on the honor o our king. God save the king!"

The older man responded, raising his hands on the last statement as a few nearby Englishmen shouted the return response "God save the king!", including Charles. "It's 1903, King Edward VII is still ruling." He said quietly while leaning over to me.  "I had gathered as much." I remarked snarkily back, getting the cheeky glare I was looking for.

"Any idea what they could be fighting about?" I asked him. "You can probably figure it out yourself, bloody know-it-all." He retorted, getting quiet so that I could barely hear him calling me a name. I chuckled to myself as we turned to watch the fight.

The two men brawled a little before getting back into a heated conversation.

"It's unholy it is!"

"What's unholy is that you'd betray yer crew like this. Come on boy, get yet senses back and do yet job."

"I ain't gonna! The country might skin me hide but at least I'll be alright with the Lord above!"

"The Lord don't take kindly to a man wot won't do his work!"

"That damned Baron's machine is going to get us all killed, I swear it to ye!"

"It ain't up to you to question it! Now quit talkin about the Baron's business before he takes our head for squeelin."

The young man took a swing and missed while the older gentleman decked him hard.

"I need to know what the young man has to say. I've got to stop them." I said as I went out to face the two men. I only got one sentence out, the contents of which I cannot remember as the older gentleman swung and missed hitting me in the process, knocking me unconscious.

 

It seems this too is becoming something, that every time we travel to Italy I get knocked unconscious.

Elizabeth recorded what followed best and I have decided to transcribe her telling from the original parchment into this journal. Her account follows.

 

Dear Wesley,

After your vain attempt to defend the man, Charles stepped in to defend your honor. The two men were unwilling to talk so Charles removed his upper garments and challenged the older gentleman who was after the younger one you wished to question.

It took little time, three strikes as the martial training that Mr. Thatcher had seems to have paid off against the sailor's careless throws.

 

I took the younger man into our custody with Christophson's help while Charles hauled you over his back. You may have an extra bruise as he carelessly laid you on the hard stone floor of the nearby street that we stopped to speak at. My apologies dearest.

I was wondering where that nasty lump came from...

We tried to question him and at first he wasn't willing to say much but as we began to reveal information about a Baron that we knew, he too began to reveal information of the Baron that he had referenced in his fight earlier. When it was determined that we were both speaking of Baron Meinster it was announced and he revealed his secret.

 

"There's a machine on the boat, one of the Baron's invention. All night it makes devilish noises. One of my mates went to investigate it one day and hasn't since returned. The captain went to visit it with some of his men after that and came back pale as a ghost, wouldn't speak a word about what he found to anyone.

I don't trust it."

 

"Perhaps when our dear friend Wesley wakes we will have to go and take a look. He can take it apart and find out what its purpose is." Charles stated.

"There's no chance! The ship sails in an hour. I'll be marooned here but I can make my way aboard another crew. Wherever the ship is headed next, I couldn't care much, long as it's far away from me." The skinny man responded.

We all agreed that it would be one mystery that we may never solve.

"Charles, I know that this trip was about Jack, let's ask around town and see if we can get any information. If nothing comes up then we have another job." I stated matter-of-factly

"Does it have to do with adventure, as I believe it does?"

"Most definitely."

"Excellent, I'll search for Jack at once. Well are you going to help me madame?" Charles inquired of Aislinn Shelby, the woman who accompanied us.

"Lead the way, you know him best."

At that, the two of them were off to find Jack and I stayed with you to ensure your recovery.

I spoke with the man a little more to get as much information about the machine as I could for you but he was fearful to speak more of that which he perceived to be demonic.

There is nothing else to recount now. You seem to be stirring.

I love you dear husband,

Elizabeth Steam

 

With that I did wake up. The ship had already left and the younger man had long since disappeared. Nothing of Jack Grayson was heard or seen by Charles though he was not quick to give up.

When night came we found our way to an inn and boarded there for the night. Discussing our plans for the morning.

 

"The Baron invited me to his Carnevale while he was at our party. If we can find out the date, I suspect that we have arrived just in time for a visit to the festivities." I said, looking around the room and noting the lack of guests. It certainly was not a very popular place.

 

Certain enough, Charles found a recent periodical which held the date, the same date that the Baron had mentioned to me.

“I believe we know our destination?” Elizabeth stated.

 

The group went to bed after the decision was made to attend the Baron's party.

 

I will write more tomorrow when there is something to note. Goodnight.

 

- Wesley