Eula and Edwin exited the basement of New Cape Bank carrying as many stolen relics and antiquities as they could manage.
“The horse has saddle bags, right? I’m really hoping the horse has saddle bags,” Edwin mumbled from behind the chest he was carrying.
“Cerdo Fuego usually has whatever we need,” Eula said. She was carrying heavy bags in each hand overflowing with confiscated artifacts.
There was no sign of the fleeing robed men. No sign of The Duke. Eula would have certainly preferred to take the Duke, but a load of artifacts and a bleating goat were a nice consolation prize. The goat was still stumbling up the stairs in an attempt to follow its rescuers.
Eula whistled and almost instantly the sound of horse hooves clopping against the pavement came from down the street.
“That horse is amazing,” Edwin said.
Rescued artifacts were loaded into bags atop the horse and Eula and Edwin made their way back to Edwin’s apartment. Eula rode Cerdo Fuego and Edwin walked along side. He was quite happy to have to his gyro copter back, but walked alongside Eula. Someone had to guide the goat.
“I say we just let the goat loose in the park. The patrolmen are so focused on stopping me, they’d never see the goat. He’d be good for the grass. Not so good for the flowers probably,” Edwin was focused.
The night had drained him. He was no stranger to spending entire nights protecting his neighborhood or fixing the park, but a night spent breaking up a ritual sacrifice using fireballs launched from a mechanized mallet was a new, exhausting, experience.
“You did well tonight, Edwin,” Eula said looking down on The Gear.
“Thanks, Eula. I thought there was a…” Edwin started.
“You could have done better,” Eula cut in. “You ran into the room to save the goat, noble, but you did so while standing up and I was about to throw fireballs all around the room. Entering the bank was sloppy. If there were any trip wires we would have been found out well before we were ready.”
Edwin was unsure of how to respond.
“You need training. Real training. I know you have been doling out vigilante justice for some time now, but your technique is flawed. If you are going to be at my side when we finally stop The Duke, I need you to be unstoppable,” Eula said.
“How did you train?” Edwin asked. The goat tried to bite his hand.
“That’s where we go tomorrow. We are going to take the ritual book to my contacts first and then you and I will be meeting with my people,” Eula said smiling.
“That sounds exciting,” Edwin said.
“Not nearly as exciting as taking down the Duke,” Eula said. Her smile turned from happy to devilish in a flash.
Edwin desperately wanted a new topic. “What do you think the Duke is up to? That ritual book looked pretty menacing.”
“Knowing how he operates, he’s just trying whatever he can to gain more power. The guy thrives on bossing people around. He once kidnapped an engineer for the sole purpose of building a ship that would expel steam in the same shape as the very ship the steam was powering. It made no sense, but other boats saw a very tall ship come up over the horizon. Why? Why would he do that? The engineer was even paid for the work. Why kidnap him?” Eula’s voice went up and up, louder and louder as she recounted the tale.
“So the Duke is crazy?” Edwin asked.
“Not even a fun crazy. Some of the crazy people I have met in my travels at least bring joy to those around them. The Duke is worst crazy. He’s rich and likeable, which makes his voice a very powerful tool. We live in a world where a man can walk down the street with a gyro-copter tucked away inside a backpack. A mallet can shoot fireballs with the push of a button. Pocket watches have impractical thermometers attached to them. The technology around us is immense, wondrous and omnipresent. None of it matters when we are combatting the power of a single human voice,” Eula explained.
Edwin realized only then that he was truly fighting something evil. He had been playing hero for months, dressing the part and carrying the tools. He had stopped a few vandals and thieves, but those were just bad decisions and indiscretion. The Duke was genuinely making choices that had the most harmful impact on those around him.
As they walked back to the apartment, back to the familiar park, and back to roommates, Edwin knew he had to be better. He had to train, he had to learn and he had to stop the Duke.
In the morning, he was becoming a real hero.
Thanks for reading!
For more of The Gear follow these links:
You may also like Davis and May a steampunk treasure hunt story.