It’s mid-afternoon, the height of the summer doldrums. That means it’s hot, and humid, and sunny, and lazy. But not for everyone. The main walkway through Market Town that passes in front of Gran’s is the site of an unusual new project: the line of ley-lamps along the lane has new bridge-like structures built of wood linking them together. The suspension cables supporting the new structures match the ley-lamps, so they’re clearly not meant to be temporary, and they appear to also be tied into the ley-lamps’ power sources.
In front of Gran’s proper, the structure has an additional section that resembles a small, open lift system big enough to hold an object no larger than a grapefruit. Standing on the new bridge at the top of the ley-lap, Miss Frizz is looking down at the tiny lift sitting at ground level and waiting patiently.
Leo is not one to hang out in front of Grans. It’s unclear as to whyyyyy persay, but the pair of Vesper well-knowns seem to have a sort of standing truce of some sort, keeping each more or less away from the other. No one wants to ask because Gran is so nice and Leo is clearly crazy. Some mysteries are just left well the enough alone. But. Sometimes you gotta go where the business is and today he’s selling a paired rapier/gauche to a gentlelady only a few buildings down from Grans. As the transaction starts to wrap up, mostly in the form of Leo showing the bundle into the lady’s gut while taking her bag of what is presumably paymen, he shoots a suspicious glance the direction of the old woman’s place.
He waves away the lady’s words of awe at the weapon, “Yeah yeah, it’s awesome. Got the basic enchantment set up, won’t need sharpening, won’t rust, tougher then most blades, the gauche has your ice in it though. Gonna need to see that crystal gets recharged after every fifteen or so uses. Make friends with a magi.” he suggests, “Or stop by the shop. My prices are reasonable.” they are not, but he is the best so….
The mouse up on the new bridge-like structure paces along the length of the wooden frame for a foot or so then back to peer down at the lift again. She could pull the thing up for herself easily enough, but she has no idea how many other Tiny Vesperites have telekinetic ability. She’s guessing not many at all.
Oh, look, a passerby.
<~ Hello, ~> Suss calls out toward Leo. <~ Could you perhaps assist me with something? ~>
Leo stops and looks around, his brow knitting for a moment. Then he looks to his left, where no one is standing, and frowns, “I thought we agreed you’d be quiet for the rest of the day. The last thing we need is another Tuesday Night Acid Incident.” he says. Then he tilts his head to the side, considering, as if he’d heard something, then turns to his right, “You practicing voices then? Cause he said he didn’t do it, only leaves you.” there’s foot tapping as if the little man doesn’t like what he’s hearing.
Suss watches the man curiously. Who is he talking to? She doesn’t hear or smell anyone else close to him. Maybe he’s confused her for someone else, so she tries again.
<~ Hello, sir? I’m up here, on top of the ley-lamp. ~> She pulls the bit of red fabric on her back around her neck a bit so it falls down her side where it might be easier to spot, then stands up on her hind legs and waves the way she’s seen Kaji wave.
She’s not so sure about hopping up and down, worried about falling off. She’s not so much worried about the fall itself, but getting back up here again.
Leo frowns at the nothing on his right, “Okay okay, but I find out this is some sorta trick of yours and I’m taking a bath. In the /cold/ river.” his tone is one of warning, “Oh don’t you start with m-” and he stops, turning to look about once more before putting a hand atop his hat to keep it from falling off and craning his neck to look up. “Oh.” he says blinking. “It’s a talking mouse.” his expression is flat and plain as if this sort of thing happened to him all of the time.
He blinks large eyes twice then shrugs, “Hello little mouse person.” he snags a passer by by the elbow and points a gloved finger up at the mouse emphatically, “You see that right? On the lamp?” he sounds worried. The passer by glances up, then down, then up, then down again and nods, “Yeah. It’s waving.” she says before shrugging her arm back and waddling on her way. He turns around and looks up once more, now certain that at least he’s not hallucinating, “Um. Hello.” he says again.
Miss Frizz drops back to all fours in relief as the round-hatted man finally seems to notice her.
<~ Hello, sir. My name is Suss Frizz-Bee. I’m helping the city planners with setting up a, well, I guess it’s a road up here for small people like myself to get from place to place without risking getting kicked or stepped on. But, I can’t seem to get the lift to work with the power in the ley-lamp, and it fell to the ground. Could you perhaps lift it back up here for me? I’m worried it got broken. ~> And, as much as she can move things with her mind, actual woodworking is beyond her tiny hands.
Leo looks at her, listens, then looks down at the base of the lamp, then back up at her, “I could.” he says before nodding his head in a jerking motion once and droppign down a pair of optics from inside his hat so that they rest over his eyes. Multiple lenses flip and twist until a pair of purple ones sit over his eyes and he stares at the entire get up, “Crude.” he says with a huff, “But not without it’s merits. Simple. Easily repaired, easily broken…” leans over the lift and picks it up in his hands, which is only about a third of the way up to where she wants it, and begins to inspect it closer, muttering to himself.
Miss Frizz peers over the edge of the platform she’s on to watch the man inspecting the lift. That… eye thing is strange, but it seems like he knows what he’s doing, so she doesn’t immediately protest. Of course, she’s also used up just about all of her patience for the day. So, after only a minute or so…
<~ Sir? It’s not broken, is it? ~> She’s kind of dreading having to tell the rest of the team assembled by the university that the lift is already broken.
The lift itself is indeed a crude little device, but appears to have been designed to tap into the ley-lamp’s power source. It’s just … not doing so. Whether that mechanism was broken by the fall or not would likely be instantly apparent to anyone well-versed in harnessing and utilizing ley line energy.
Or… the lynch pin holding the lifting gear to the sprocket is broken so the gear mearly spins in place. “It is.” he says flatly before reaching into a pouch on his belt and withdrawing a slender bit of wire. He uses gloved fingers to deftly twist it this way and that before sliding it along the bottom of the lift, and then using a large knife that seems to appear from nowhere, clips the wire short and shoves everything back into the pouches. Instantly the lift begins to slowly trundle back upwards adn Leo lets it go, releasing it like one might a bird to the wind, “Lynch pin bent and fell out.” he looks around before bending over to pluck up a bit of something from the dust in the street. “Tsk.” he says, sucking a breath through his teeth, “Copper. To soft. Make sure they use good iron or steel. Brass would work too. Aluminium maybe, if the whole assembly was made of it instead of that hodge podge of materials.”
Copper? Brass? Suss tries to mentally note what the man says, having never really had exposure to metal anything before being flung here and finding herself to be a Lilliputian in Gulliver’s world. <~ I’ll let them know. Thank you, Mr. … ~> She hesitates, realizing the man never told her his name.
<~ You seem good with moving things. Would you maybe be willing to help us get this road system working? It’s supposed to link all the streets in Vesper so little citizens like me can get to and from the university without having to bother others to give us rides. ~>
“Euclid.” he says, “Everyone just calls me Leo.” he looks about eyeing the system as a whole, “What you need is mass production and modular building bits.” he says as his purple lensed eyes scan the lamped walkways. “Not for the lifts and what not, but to create your pathways more quickly, make them easier to build, to repair, sturdier, an elegant system would likely be something like… brass jointed sections a foot long, each with a sanded walkway to keep the footing firm in poor weather without turning it muddy or filthy.” he nods his head and the optics snap back up into his hat as he starts to rub his chin with a gloved hand, walking about, “Mass production could be done by any craftsman, freeing up your skilled workers to focus on your lifts, and whatever tricky bits crop up along the way.”
Miss Frizz stares at Leo, standing on a wooden platform built like a small suspension bridge atop the line of ley-lamps that offer illumination to the street in front of Gran’s. There’s a tiny lift also attached to the lamp post, presumably for getting onto and off of the bridge system.
<~ Modular? ~> Okay, now he’s using terminology that is completely beyond her.
<~ What about the carts that are being made to travel along these roads so we can go faster? ~> Running across Gran’s dining room is a major sprint for Suss, she doesn’t even want to imagine having to run from here all the way to the University. It would take her FOREVER.
If there’s one thingwsnakes like, its heat. That’s why Elpida’s hair is all stretched out and up, trying to get as much of the day’s sun as they can. She’s a regular sort around Vesper, and at this point, fairly recxognizable. That’s why she’s getting the occasional hello from passerbys and returning the favor as she strolls along. She seems to be in a good enough mood for the day, though she’s gotten an early start on drinking if the flask she’s holding is any indication.
Leo shakes his head at the little mouse person, “Carts? No no no. You’ll want a rail line.” he says firmly, “Using the ley lines as a power source, they’ll always be on time and run a sort of free public transportation network for all your little people so long as the regular maintenance is upheld. Without need for engines or fuel, the wear and tear will be strictly limited to things like axles, wheels, and rails, all of which will see little to no real wear due to the lightness of their burdens.” he begins to pace back and forth under the lamp, muttering and working up a head a steam.
“With a modular rail system in place, lifts at every major intersections and simple stair ways for the less popular ones, you could be more mobile then most people, or at least as mobile as.” Leo’s bowler hat bobs as he paces, himself rather on the small side, and unlike everyone else there abouts he seems not to notice the heat of the day at all. Then again, he’s the infamous maker of all things that kill anything ever so… forgework likely makes him somewhat immune to the heat.
Suss watches Leo pace and tries to make sense of what he’s saying. It /sounds/ impressive, anyway. <~ Could you build that for us? …would you? ~>
She, of course, has no way to pay for this herself, but she’d be willing to barter labor time for labor time, and she can move some fairly heavy things easily enough. Or, she’s small. She can fit into small spaces and work on small things if given direction.
Just… she’s fully there on the whole opposable thumb thing.
The crunch of gravel underfoot from somewhere oddly high up, the flapping snap of fabric caught in a breeze, and then a very disappointed “Oh. Damn–” Those are the sounds, in exactly that order, that herald the sudden arrival/appearance of one Aloysius Abernathy Haberdeen the Second.
As it turns out, he’s leaped off of a roof just a few buildings down from Gran’s, his peacock-blue coat whipping after him like a flag as he reaches the apex of his jump and then begins to descend. It’s about then that it hits him that this could be a rather bad fall, which one would think obvious for anyone that took an intentional leap off of a roof, especially one above two storeys tall. His expression melts into slight panic, and as he careens towards the ground he stops bicycling his legs in time to bring both boots together in preparation of contact with the ground, knees bent, arms thrown outwards.
…and about two feet from the ground he just stops, altogether, hovering as though landing on an invisible pillow, which apparently surprises him as much as it may anyone else watching. He blinks and laughs, and then as he tries to straighten up he promptly loses his balance and falls backwards and onto the ground.
…Elpida /had/ noticed the ‘sound’ of Frizz’s voice/broadcasts. But then there’s an Aloysius appearing rather… dramatically and that makes her doubletake in his direction.
“Hell,” she says, “You all right?”
The snakes are now pointed in his direction, paying attention. Perhaps the sudden movement made them consider him a meal of some kind.
Leo doesn’t even notice the not-falling man, his mind wrapped up into the heart of a new problem… until Frizz’s words reach him and his head pops up, “Hrm? Me? Pfft. Oh no. No no no. This is the work for… apprentice craftsmen. It’s simple, just grand in scale. Besides, you couldn’t afford me in the long run. It would cost you-” he seems to do the sums in his head, “um, a whole fucking lot? Maybe two whole fucking lots.”
Miss Frizz startles and turns to look at the man who just threw himself off of a perfectly good building, and is about to ‘catch’ him when he stops all by himself. And then falls over on his backside. And Elpida’s there too.
<~ Hello, Miss Elpida. Mister, are you okay? ~> But, pleasantries aside, she promptly turns back to Leo.
<~ Are you sure? You sound like you can make this exactly right so it’ll work really well for a long time and not break. Maybe I could help? ~>
Almost absently, she uses her telekinetic ability to help Aloysius back to his feet. Like a giant invisible hand picked him up under the armpits like a kitten.
Laughter is a good sign that one is fine, yes? Or that someone may have a few screws loose. Those who are familiar with the Haberdeen heir still haven’t quite figured it out, although most believe it’s just a part of his renowned eccentricity.
Aloysius sits up, dusting himself off as he starts to pull himself to his feet. “What? Oh yes, I’m fine, fine!” he assures, startling only slightly when he finds himself being given a hand up by an invisible force. Slowly he looks around as he resumes the task of straightening out his slightly disheveled appearance. “Er, thank…you? Ghost-helper?” His lips tug in a sort of uncertain smile, but it never hurts to be polite, even to potential ghosts.
Leo looks around the area, snake hair lady is back and for the life of him Leo can’t help but feel that’s not a good sign for the little mouse person he’s been chatting up. Plus, as is always the case when he sees her, he wants to toss bits of cookie at her hair, see if they’ll eat it. Maybe small would be better. Pelt the lady about the head and shoulders with wee toads. Hrm. He’ll have to keep that in mind. For later. And of course there’s a young idiot doing young idiot things, a shockingly familiar sight that requires Leo to look away before he has a flashback of his own… which is when he realizes he hasn’t answered the last question put to him.
“Hrm? Oh! Oh no. Most certainly not. You can’t afford me and I’ve always lived by a simple rule, if you do something well, then never do it for free.” he flashes a smile up at the mouse, “And no one makes things better then I make things.” ‘things’ being a very broad term of course. “That said… it’s a fun puzzle. I like puzzles. Too few, too few, in my days.” he taps his chin with a gloved finger, “Fine. I /could/ be convinced to draw up plans simple and elegant enough even some idiot blacksmith’s boy ought to be able to follow them closely enough.”
“Eh, glad to hear you’re okay,” she tells Aloysius. Elpida does spot Leo staring at her hair and then she just lets out a sigh.
“Yes, they’re snakes. Yes, they’re alive. Yes, they probably want to eat Frizz. Hi, Frizz. Good to see you,” she tells her, tucking her hands into the side pockets of her jumpsuit.
<~ You’re welcome, Mr. Aloysius, ~> Miss Frizz replies to the ebullient young man, even as she’s still watching Leo intently.
She visibly perks up at Leo’s admission that he could be convinced to draw up plans for the rail system he started describing. <~ That would be wonderful! Shall I find you again, then, we we can talk about it more? Hello, Miss Elpida. Hello, Miss Elpida’s snakes. ~>
Leo nods his head and makes a mental note to start carrying around toads to throw at Elpida’s head when next he sees her. Seems only polite. He then nods at the mouse, waving her words away lightly with a hand, “Buy the Bye is my shop, I’m there pretty much all the time. Swing by anytime you need something to murder a god with, or if you want plans for wee tiny magical rail cars. You know. Whatever.” mostly it’s the god murdering thing that he does businesswise. He has a real gift for making weapons.
With that, and assuming the conversation is over, the odd small bowler be-hatted man spins on a heel and begins walking away quickly, muttering to himself about murdering rail car gods with plans. Or… something like that. It’s very confusing to any eavesdroppers.
Ah, the ghost knows his name! Which isn’t particularly unusual. No wait, this one sounds familiar. Being no stranger to stopping by for a bite to eat at Gran’s, he’s seen and heard the little psychic mouse who helped keep the common room tidy. Now just to figure out where she… “Ah-hah!”
It’s thanks to Leo that Aloysius can home in on where Miss Suss is. He smiles, and then lifts his hands to his head, pausing with a flicker of confusion as his fingers brush air, and looking around he ducks back towards the ground to pick up the hat that had fallen from his head, dusting off the broad-brimmed thing. His eyes drift towards Elpida, finally getting a good look at her as he sets the hat back into place.
“Beautiful! Do they have names?” he asks as he sidles over closer towards the Gorgon and in the direction of Miss Suss’s post perch. He’s momentarily distracted as Leo goes off, tapping a finger on his chin as he eyes the other. “Buy the… Ah! From the…” -snapping fingers as though it’ll ignite that thought– “…shop thingy! Aah, I thought that hat was familiar.” He shrugs and turns back to the two, clearing his throat.
“…no. I’m not even sure they’re individuals, really, as opposed to extensions of me. Hair extensions,” she adds, with a snort.
“No, really. I don’t know. They’re nippy, though, so don’t get too close.” She takes a step back, glancing towards Suss’ position with a smile.
“Yeah, they’re a bit too happy to see you.” She combs her fingers through them. There is nipping. See?
<~ Their names are Nippy, Snappy, Hungry, Bitey, Hissy… ~> Suss tries to think of a few more silly names for Elpida’s snakes, and is failing. She moves to another portion of the ‘bridge’ where she can see both Aloysius and Elpida more easily, but is still above both their heads.
<~ How have you both been lately? And Mr. Aloysius, why did you fall off that building? ~>
Aloysius nevertheless still looks fascinated by Elpida’s…hair. He looks highly tempted to try touching the snakes despite their nippiness, but as Suss speaks up again, he turns his head towards the little mouse and her bridge.
“Hallo Miss Suss! I’ve been quite well! And I wasn’t falling- well, I hadn’t -meant- to, anyway. I was testing out my new boots! Theoretically they were supposed to hover. I suppose I don’t have them worked out right after all, haha!”
He’s in such good spirits for all that he could have broken something earlier.
“And what’s all this? A tiny bridge! It’s adorable!”
“Very funny, Suss,” says Elpida to Miss Frizz, grinning up at her with fangs that’d probably be less than pleasant to be snacked upon. She closes one eye and squiiiiiints at Alosyius with the other.
“Been okay. Thta was quite an entrance for you, though,” a gesture at Aloysious. “Your…boots?”
Suss grooms her tail for a moment, clearly using it as a cheeky gesture back at Elpida. Then she freezes, her ears swivelling a little before she turns to look at Grans. <~ I just heard something break. I’d better go see if I can help. ~> She steps onto the small lift set against the side of the ley-lamp and it lowers her smoothly to the sidewalk where she pauses and looks for passersby before dashing across and into Grans.
Aloysius nods at Elpida. “Yes! Initially I meant to have a flying ship built, but I thought about experimenting on a smaller scale first. I think I might have to go back to the drawing board with these. Or find a new cobbler. Eh.” He shrugs, and then blinks as Miss Suss abruptly announces that she must take her leave.
“Ah, good bye, Miss Suss! I’ll probably see you later anyway,” he promises, casting a meaningful look towards the bed and breakfast. They do make good food!
“…yeah that’s probably wise,” agrees Elpida, nodding to Aloysius with a cough thereafter.
“They ever blow up on you?” she asks, aft er a moment. Her snakes are still staring at him. They’re snakes. Staring is what they do.
“What now?” Aloysius asks, looking at Elpida with a confused smile. His eyes shift between her and the snakes, but then one can’t possibly blame him when they’re all staring back at him.
“Things you make. They ever blow up?” she asks, more directly.
“Airships, boots. Whatever. ‘Coz let me tell you, your first apperance isn’t filling me with confidence that they won’t.” She flashes him a grin, more playful than anything else. She then raises her flask to her lips, has a drink, and offers it to Aloysius.
“Oh!” Aloysius blinks, and then laughs. “No, I suppose that wasn’t very inspirational, was it? But nothing’s blown up so far. Then again, I haven’t yet tried to have a ship constructed. Things have gotten a little more complicated since I’d considered the idea, but I don’t think in a bad way? It’ll probably just take a little longer by way of preparation.”
He shrugs, not seeming at all bothered by any setbacks that have come up. There’s another smile as Elpida offers him her flask, which he accepts with a nod and a ‘thank you’ before having a sip.
It tastes strongly of alcohol, of course.
Elpida awaits the flask being returned to her, adding, “Yeah, well… hope it doesn’t blow up on you.” She wrinkles her nose up, having a sip from her flask when it’s returned.
“This entire place is nuts,” she adds.
To his credit at least the young noble manages not to choke. It burns a bit more than what he’d normally intake, and even then it’s not very often that he drinks. “Ooh, I’ll have to be careful with that..!” Aloysius says, his laugh more of a cough. He’ll wave off having another sip if offered, still somehow able to grin.
“Well that makes two of us. It’d be disappointing to go through so much trouble just to blow up, wouldn’t it?” Brows lift at the added comment, seemingly non-sequitur, but entirely applicable. Again he laughs, this time not sounding like a gasp.
“Oh, but it’s true!” he agrees, nodding. “But that’s what makes things interesting, don’t you think?”
She downs more of her alcoholic beverage, of course, and offer another until she’s waved off. More for her, you know? She downs the rest of the flask since, y’know, it’s all hers.
She peers at him.
“Interesting? Yeah, I suppose so.” She combs fingers through hissing snakes again. More nips.
“I mean, I would never say it wasn’t interesting. Drives me batty, but.”
Aloysius chuckles. “Depends on how you look at things. If you know it’s a crazy place, then isn’t it easier to go along with things than to hold back? But then again, perhaps you’re the crazy one.” He doesn’t seem to be saying this in an accusatory or insulting way, however, his smile still genuine as he watches Elpida’s snakes weave about and nip at her fingertips.
“I was born here. True there have been some concerning events, but when there’s no wars or higher powers influencing otherwise daily life, then things to me are very normal. Even seeing someone like you with serpents for hair, despite the fact that I’ve never seen anyone like you with such before, but it’s the expectancy around a city like this, to see unique people and witness unusual things.
“Are you from Vesper or elsewhere?”
When he mentions higher powers, Elpida just bursts out laughing.
“Well, yeah. Yeah, I suppose that does change things, doesn’t it?” Then there’s more snorting laughter that follows. She’s tipsy, surely.
“Elsewhere, VERY elsewhere.” She waves her hands vaguely. “Another place, yeah. Otherworld. OoOoooo.”
Blue eyes go -wide- at Elpida’s response. The response to his question, that is. Her laughter had him looking curiously amused.
“Another world? Truly??” Aloysius asks, expression brightening with awe as he barely stops himself from moving too close.
“I mean, I know it’s not unheard of, probably nearly as commonplace considering who all may walk these streets and pass through the city. Oh, and then those who can use the Rifts themselves to travel to other worlds and places beyond, but still!” He claps his hands. “What’s it like? This other world of yours?”
“Eh. It’s… not like this. Very different. Much saner. Much more boring, in most ways, I’d say. Boring in a good way, really. Boring in a ‘you aren’t fighting demons on a daily basis’. Also, totally full of snake haired people like myself. Honest.” She holds her hands up in a scout’s honor gesture that is probably completely meaningless to Aloysius. A solemn nod follows.
“To be fair, fighting demons isn’t much of a daily activity unless you’re living closer to the mountains,” Aloysius points out, smiling crookedly. “Oh! You were just giving an example.”
No, the gesture she makes doesn’t really make any sense to him, and it’s quite plain on his face that he isn’t sure what she means by it, but he nods along with her. “A world of snake-headed people. Amazing!”
“Oh, totally. WE communicate by waving our snakes back and forth.” She looks up. Her snakes choose now to not wave back and forth. “Wave, numbskulls.”
They don’t wave.
Aloysius laughs. “Ahaha, maybe they don’t like me. Or maybe they’re hungry. Do they eat? Actually that reminds me, I was going to get something at Gran’s. Care to accompany me?” he asks, gesturing towards the nearby establishment. “I know there are more fancy places but I still find myself coming back here.”
“I live there, so sure,” and with that Elpida will accompany Aloysius back to Grans. The snakes are investigating whether or not they want to eat him.
Suss is testing the first attempt at a Tiny Vesperite Transportation System, and asks Leo for advice. Aloysius and Elpida arrive in time to say hello.
August 21, 2411
Vesper, outside Gran's