On the top deck of November’s March, under a moonlit sky and flying just above the prairie grass, sat a stranger in a dark cloak and a thick mask. The venerable lawman Winston Sapp stood above the stranger and made his trigger happy ways well known. May shuffled her blade pistol from hand to hand and stared her most menacing stare at the masked man.
Davis struggled to catch his breath still, but let his annoyance be known. “What did you throw at the bird’s engine?” He asked of his shipmates. The two exchanged a glance and Davis knew he was going to be displeased with the answer.
“Seriously? I don’t even get to know which of my limited possessions is responsible for destroying an, and I mean this,” he addressed the masked captive, “exceptionally well crafted metal airship?”
“It was your clock, darling,” May said. She tried to soften the blow.
“Really?” Davis tried not to sound whiny.
“It was the first heavy thing below deck. I did not know its history,” Winston said.
“No, no, it’s fine. At least it worked. Good shot,” Davis said.
“Are we going to talk about you taking me hostage at any point?” The masked man said.
“Oh golly, I had nearly forgot,” Davis turned.
“You are responsible for the explosive pots turning up all around this ocean, yes?” May asked.
The man in the cloak removed his mask. A scruffy beard covered his face, his nose was slightly bent to the right, his left eye was a brilliant blue and his right eye a copper brown. May was puzzled about his missing eyebrows, but was not about to question the appearance.
“I created the concoction, yes. Quite proud of it too. May it bring destruction to Villa Clonna and all that have destroyed the cliffs in pursuit of that deplorable ore from our cliffs,” he said with a wave of his hand.
“Ore?” Davis asked.
“The magnesite, I surmise,” Winston said. He looked to the captive, “what do you have against the magnesite extraction? That rock kills top soil. Once it is out we’ll have more grassland closer to the cliffs.”
“You do so by creating wells and pits along the cliffs and up the river. My own home was taken from me in pursuit of that blasted rock. And for what? Coin in the pocket?”
“I have been in Clonna since before the mining started, never saw you ’round here.” Winston spat overboard as he spoke.
“This rock lives in places beyond the Villa, lawman,” the man said.
“Where are you from?” May asked.
“A place that no longer exists,” the man replied.
“Enigmatic. Well done. Do you have a name?” Davis asked.
“I am called many things. The mad man. The tinkerer. The chemist. Your hunters of Clonna call me the Vial Man. It works on multiple levels when you think about it.”
“That’s fairly creative for that lot,” Winston said. His surprise was not lost in translation.
“So you intend to arm mercenaries in hope they will destroy the mining operations in Clonna? Davis asked. He did not see the merit to such a plan.
The Vial Man laughed at the question. “Do you believe me a fool?” He asked.
May put a hand on Winston’s arm to stop him from answering the question.
“I would prefer to turn those machines to rubble myself. Take to the sky and drop my pots and vials until the gears stop churning. But I am not allowed such pleasantries.”
The three crew mates were paying close attention now.
“If you let me go I will give you the name of the one directing this entire production,” The Vial Man said.
His smirk boiled the blood of the crew of November’s March.
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