Monday, June 16, 2008

Birthright, Part 2

As usual, the poor peasant was skeptical about Curio’s genius ideas. That’s how Curio liked to think of it. It would at least explain why he was screaming as they hurtled through the air, swinging on the end of the grappling hook’s rope like a pendulum. Typical yeoman. Distrustful and superstitious of even the simplest laws of physics. He snorted at the thought of any such peasantry fully appreciating his work, as the two of them swung on the end of the rope, the open cab of the storage car of a train showing itself to be right in the path of their swing. Immediately upon noticing this, Curio tucked in his legs, getting ready to tumble into the train. Zander, in contrast, was stiff as a board as he hurtled through the air. Tch. Probably petrified with some such pitiful fear, thought Curio.

The swing brought them to the open cab door, the rope catching on the corner as they made it in, slamming like wrecking balls into the side of the train. Thinking with a speed unnatural for most of his craft (but more natural for those who were still living) Curio immediately cut the rope and latch which bound him to Zander with his pocket knife, letting the two of the train hoppers free to roll around inside the storage car like ball bearings. The car turned out to be surprisingly empty, which was good for Zander, who rolled from the front open cab door to the back of the cab.

Curio recovered quickly and dusted himself off, rolling to his feet and standing up. Zander took a few moments more of spluttering and floundering on the ground, to which only the short frame of the mechanic responded by shaking with mirth. Finally, Curio walked over to lift the heavily-bruised Zander up from the ground. Once up, Zander shook Curio off, brushing himself off and attempting to stand on his own. Despite a few bumps in the railroad tracks, Zander managed to stand up straight and make his way to the car’s door, which he closed.
Zander turned, staring daggers at the stout man who had just sent him hurtling through the air like a wrecking ball.

“What the hell was that? Was that your great fuckin’ plan to jump onto the train?” He said, eyes squinting at Curio as he winced from the bruises.

“Awr, don’t ye get awl bent oot o’ shape o’er one ‘ickle bump!” Curio responded, chuckling as quietly as he could. “An’ quieten daown, y’laoud mouth! We dain’t ex’ctly ‘ave tickets fer this ‘ere train.”

“Oh, tickets? Oh, dear! The Noble Counsel will have to add on larceny to the murder charge they’ll slap on me when they find me standing over your corpse!” Zander said, snarling as he took a step that Curio supposed was meant to seem menacing. The stout mechanic merely gave a soft chuckle and a finger to his lips. Curio brushed past the infuriated Zander, making his way to the train cab’s door. The sudden stillness, possibly caused by the sheer tension of Zander’s death-glare at Curio’s back, was striking. The clacking of the train tracks became the only method to tell that time was passing.

Curio crept to the door, licking his lips as he did so. Once near the door, he tugged off the thick workman’s gloves that he wore, finger by finger, and stuffed them into a pouch on his belt. His fingers twitched slightly as he lowered his hand to the latch on the door, slowly flipping it up so that the door would slide loose. He held up a hand behind him as he moved to the side of the door, three fingers displayed, and began to count off the seconds. When his outstretched hand became a fist, Curio nudged open the door with only a slight cautious hesitation. For its part, the door slid ajar with an almost complete silence, for which Curio was thankful. Peering through the opening, Curio could see another dim-light train cab. The electrical light mounted along the railing of the adjacent cab’s ceiling flickered in time with the one Curio occupied. The only major difference between the cabs was the presence of a large amount of luggage. One particular piece of luggage, a large medieval suit of armor on a stand, stood out. The stout mechanic nodded thoughtfully, closed the door, and turned around to see Zander’s questioning face.

“Thurr dain‘t seem ta be ineh others in tha surr’ndin‘ cabs,” Curio began, his husky voice just above a whisper. “So Hoi think yer ickle outburst’ll be overlooked. ‘Owever…” Curio frowned in such a way that, despite his height, made Zander feel towered over. “Ye’ll refrain froom sooch childish tantrums, or ye’ll be havin’ me tannin’ yer hide.”

For emphasis, Curio pulled a large wrench the size of his own meaty arm from his tool belt and brandished it. The warrior backed away and nodded, seeming cowed.

“Just… no more flying through the air.” Zander admonished, turning and shaking out the aches in his now bruised body. “You know the saying, if man was meant to fly…”

“Aye, aye, iffen man were meant to fly, Hoi’d ‘ave gotten doon wit’ me Gyrocopter design.” Curio blustered, pacing up and down the train cab. “Och, but can ye ken ‘ow ‘orridly expensive et is ta collect tha gyro-blades? It dinnae ‘elp that tha Nobles’re such tight arses aboot independent inven’rs!”

As Curio continued to rant, his words fell on deaf ears as Zander ignored him and began to collect the loose bits and pieces of his luggage from around the cab. Muttering under his breath about lunatic inventors and the reasons why he might just be in accord with the Nobles on a point for once, the warrior picked up one buckle that had popped off one of the straps on his backpack. Zander sighed in anger, fitting the buckle back into place on his backpack, and moving on. His mind began to drift to his surroundings as he hobbled about, wincing from a bruise on his abdomen. The inside of the cab car was rusty and dry, which seemed apropos for an unused train car. Curio’s twanging accent sounded hollow in the train cab, in contrast with the joyful spring of his voice when he was outside in the country.

“You really must mean it when you say you enjoy the country.” Zander said suddenly. Curio jumped in surprise. He paused to consider the towheaded warrior’s words.

“Aye? Wull, er, aye, Hoi do. Et’s quite a break froam tha dreariness o’ city loife, y’knaow.” Curio responded, cocking his head to the side and peering through the dark at Zander. “Er, beggin’ yer pardon, but what maide ye think ta ask thaet?”

“Oh, well…” Zander said, his body creaking as he stood up from bending over to pick up a trinket he’d dropped. “It just seems that way. The country seems to have a palpable effect on you.”

“Ah.” Curio said, stroking his chin with his ungloved hand. “Wull, Hoi suppose we waon’t be seein’ tha country ineh toime saon. Hoi think we’ll need ta ride tha whole way thar, more’s tha pitty. Hoi‘d‘ve been ‘appy ta see tha flower bloomin‘ at thas toime o‘ year.” Zander nodded sagely at this, letting a small smile slip onto his face as he suddenly got a mental image of the old, gruff mechanic frolicking in a field of flowers. The smile crept further across his face, until the tall warrior was almost overcome with mirth from the image. Curio could only watch, perplexed, as he watched his companion fall into a fit of laughter.

“Wull, iffen yer done, Chuckles, Hoi think Hoi gots an oidear o’ a way we ken be getting’ off thas train wit’out any futher broosin’ o’ yer person.”

Zander looked up suddenly at this, his grin wiped completely off his face and replace by a unbelieving straight line.

“What, exactly, do you propose we do?” Zander said hesitatingly.

“Hoi’ve got a gurt oidear, y’see…” Curio began, smiling wide now that he had the yeoman’s attention. “Yer a native, yeh? So’s Hoi be thinkin’ we ken troi ae bet o’ sut’rfuge…”

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