Clockwork 1888 Date: Saturday, January 27, through Sunday, January 28, 1889
Archibald had ordered lunch delivered to his room. But, Evgenia and Dracona intercepted the waiter and insisted on taking the meal to their friend and associate. Tipping the waiter generously for his cooperation, they set off with the meal to Archibald’s cabin. “Room service,” Evgenia called out as she knocked on Archibald’s door. Script still in his hand, he opened the cabin door to admit them. “Put it on the table,” he instructed.
“Archibald, we’re glad to see you’re work going so well. We just wanted to bring your lunch to make sure you’re comfortable in your work,” Dracona assured. “I’m fine,” he answered distracted. “Did Fredryck tell you about what he would do when he and Adoline take their first cruise together?” Evgenia asked Dracona aloud. “No, he didn’t,” Dracona said, “What’s he planning? I’m sure it’s romantic.”
“He’s going take her for a stroll, alone with her, on the forecastle,” Evgenia informed. “Oh, an evening stroll on the front of the ship. But passengers aren’t allowed there,” Dracona noted. “He’ll talk to the ship’s captain, get him to allow it for him. His station in life allows him certain benefits,” Evgenia giggled.
“If you two would allow me to get back to work,” Archibald insisted as he showed them out of his cabin and closed the door. “Still,” he thought to himself, “a moonlight walk on the forecastle with a beloved lady would be quite romantic, alone, just the two of us. Leanne would like that. She’s a lady that likes her privacy and prefers to keep our dalliances out of the public eye. One can’t blame her after that lunatic artist Ealadha.” After mulling it over, he decided to try for it.
After supper, Archibald paid a visit to the captain. Of course, the captain’s initial response was that the fore castle is off limits to passengers. It took some negotiation but Archibald was able to convince the captain to allow him and his unnamed guest some private time on the forecastle.
But, the bow couldn’t go unguarded so Archibald convinced the captain to let one of his acquaintances, Bartley, who was an experienced sailor, to provide the needed visual alertness while Archibald spent his time on the bow. The captain insisted that Bartley be in a proper uniform and not be recognizable as a passenger by the crew or other passengers. Archibald convinced the captain that his skill in disguise would make Bartley unrecognizable. Satisfied, the captain approved as long as he had enough notice of when it would occur. Archibald set the romantic liaison for the following evening.
Slipping a note under the cabin 24 door, he somehow knew he would see her at the bow. It was as if he felt it in his mind. His note said for Leanne to meet him at the fore mast at half past 10 that evening and that he’d gotten some secluded time for them in the area that’s normally off limits to regular passengers. With the sails up to help speed their journey to the states, there would be plenty of privacy once the bribed lookout sailor left them alone.
He hurriedly finished his supper and put his writing aside long enough to help Bartley get disguised. Bartley sensed the romantic nature of the Archibald’s plan and gently inquired about whom had caught Archibald’s interest. Archibald diplomatically told him that was private and Bartley pressed no more. Pleased that his dalliance with Leanne was still secret, he sent Bartley off in his disguise and sailor uniform.
Of course, Bartley and the captain had already informed the others of what Archibald was planning. An hour before Archibald’s planned dalliance, they took positions for their confrontation with the predatory fey. Dracona had taken the time to snatch a sailor’s outfit from the laundry room. It wasn’t a good fit but would pass a cursory look if needed.
Dracona and Fredryck decided to wait in fore mast lookout. There was room for two and it provided some shelter from the winter Atlantic winds. As they waited, Fredryck quietly espoused the benefits of collegiate learning to Dracona. Disguised, Bartley replaced the bow lookout on the captain’s orders. The captain had cleared the ship’s bridge of all but himself, claiming to want some one-on-one time with his ship. Evgenia took a seat on a far side deck chair with a magazine and her pipe.
It was a favorable wind and the sails were billowed with the current. Archibald arrived a full five minutes early and went to the fore mast where he was to meet his muse. There he waited. Fashionably late and obviously not wanting to seem anxious to meet him, Leanne walked onto the deck at twenty to eleven. As Leanne crossed the deck, a young man came out behind her.
“You miss,” the young man called. Leanne stopped about middeck and turned to him. Lowering her hood she looked to him. “Do I know you sir?” she questioned as he approached. The lad could see her face in the pale lights near the lifeboats. “Lhiannan-shee,” he called loudly as he approached. “I’m afraid you have me confused with somebody else,” she informed, boldly standing her ground.
From her chair on the deck, Evgenia recognized the young man. He was the friend of the artist, Ealadha, which had mentioned lhiannan-shee. Still, she kept her place and let things play out, as did others. “Aos si, you killed Ealadha, you bloody faery witch,” he hissed as he grabbed her arm. “Arch,” she called, struggling to escape the man’s grasp, “help me!” Archibald wasn’t sure but he’d have sworn he heard her call in his mind and not with his ears.
Archibald had seen her coming from his place by the mast. With her calling for help, however he heard it, he hastened down the stairs from the forecastle to the deck below. Moving over to Leanne’s side, he threatened the chap. “You need to let the lady go,” he demanded, noting that the young man had apparently found the courage for this in a bottle of whiskey.
“She’s an aes sidhe, a fey that steals men’s hearts and lives, lhiannan-shee,” the young man shouted as his free hand went to her waist. Dracona climbed out of the lookout post and hurriedly descended. Evgenia kept a steady watch, hoping to salvage their confrontation but preparing to intercede if necessary. Leanne struggled against the young man’s grasp to no avail. Bartley made his way across the fore castle. “She killed Ealadha. She needs to be killed before she takes another man,” the lad argued as he pulled her close and put his free hand to her waist again.“I’m going to say this one more time,” Archibald threatened, “Let her go.” The young man swung at Archibald with his free hand and missed. However, it was enough to see that he had a knife in his free hand. Archibald brought his fist down and struck the young man but didn’t break his hold on Leanne. Fredryck got out of the lookout post and made his way down the stairs. Bartley continued down the stairs. Dracona held her ground on the fore castle but was prepared to head down. Noticing the knife, Evgenia sprung out of her chair and drew her gun.
The young man swung wildly at Archibald, again, but kept his grip on Leanne. “That’ll be enough,” Bartley called as he moved up behind Archibald. Leanne looked to the sailor that had arrived. Fredryck didn’t want to be seen by Leanne so he ducked into the stairway that led to the steerage decks. Dracona didn’t want to get too close to Leanne so she stayed by the mast.
Evgenia came up behind the young man, put her gun to the back of his head, cocked her pistol and demanded, “drop the knife.” Leanne still struggled against his grip. “This is over, lad,” Archibald warned. The young man had felt the barrel of Evgenia’s gun at his head and heard the hammer pulled back. Releasing Leanne, he let the knife drop and put his hands up.
Then he looked at Archibald and noticed his knife on the deck. “You’re already under her spell,” he whispered. “She’s lhiannan-shee. I stabbed her twice, I tell you, and she doesn’t bleed,” he said to Archibald as he nodded to his knife. Bartley moved up and put his hands on the young man. “You’ll be taken to the captain to see what to do with you,” he informed. But, Captain Perry stepped out of the wheel house. “Have him taken straight to the brig,” he ordered.
With Evgenia a pace behind and her pistol still trained on him, they led him off the deck. But the young man continued to espouse that Leanne was a lhiannan-shee, how he’d stabbed her and she didn’t bleed, didn’t even flinch. Once inside, Bartley and Evgenia handed their captive over to a few sailors and informed them of the captain’s orders. The sailors gruffly took the young man away.
Archibald turned his attention to Leanne. “Are you hurt? He said he stabbed you. Did he hurt you?” he questioned her with genuine concern. “I’m just shaken up,” she informed. “He was too drunk to hit anything. Thank you for coming to my aid but perhaps we should do this another time.” Archibald looked her over and noticed two cuts in her form fitting coat. They weren’t long slashes and both were the width of the young man’s knife.
Archibald wrapped his arms around her. “It‘ll be all right,” he whispered. After a long moment he suggested, “Let’s take that walk on the fore castle. It might help you to forget this unpleasantness.” It took some time and coaxing but she finally agreed. So, they took the steep stairs up to the fore castle. Dracona, made sure to be up the mast and on her way back to the lookout post when Archibald and Leanne arrived on the fore castle.
Fredryck waited a moment before exiting the stairwell and followed them at a safe distance. By that time, Bartley and Evgenia had returned to the deck. As Archibald and Leanne reached the bow of the ship, she turned to him. “You’ve saved me yet again,” she cooed as she leaned in to kiss him in gratitude.
Archibald turned his face away from her. “What’s wrong,” she seductively whispered. But Bartley, Evgenia, Dracona and Fredryck had approached. Archibald was surprised to see all of them except for Bartley, whom he’d made up to look like a sailor. “What’s going on?”Archibald questioned as they took positions that blocked their egress.
“Archibald,” Fredryck informed, “She’s a lhiannan-shee and you’re under the influence of a fey that drains the life from their victims.” Confused by their accusation of Leanne, Archibald pondered the knife slits in her form fitting coat and what the young man had told him. “You don’t believe the ravings of that drunken fool, do you?” Leanne questioned.
“We believe what we see,” Evgenia informed. “Arch,” Leanne stepped next to him, “do you believe these things? Won’t you protect me?” Archibald didn’t respond. She could tell that he was lost to her. She stepped up to try to find an escape route but there was no path off the fore castle.
Dracona prepared by drawing her flask and flint. Evgenia stepped up and stabbed Leanne with her knife. It landed solid but Leanne was unharmed and didn’t even flinch. “Normal weapons are having a problem,” Evgenia called. Again Leanne called for Archibald, trying to get him to defend her. But he was too confused to act. Bartley retrieved his sword from where he’d stored it by the anchor winches. Fredryck drew his sword as he stepped up and struck the lhiannan-shee. The blow could have slain a mortal. But, although she surely felt the blow, she also resisted some of the damage.
Dracona blasted fire on Leanne. Although she did dodge it, she didn’t even wince at the inferno and not a hair on her head was singed. Evgenia drew her pistol as she stepped back and fired. The fey felt that but, like Fredryck’s sword, again resisted some of it. “Now you’ve angered me,” Leanne warned as four inch claws grew from her fingernails. “And you,” she looked straight at Dracona. “I see the spark of fey in you! How can you betray one of your kind?”
Leanne slashed both claws at Fredryck and, with vengeance, slashed him again. But her fey claws just skittered off his breastplate. Seeing the lessened effect of normal weaponry on the fey creature, Bartley stepped back and cast a spell on his sword, preparing to step up. Fredryck swung and ran the fey through. “Arch,” she called out, a look of surprise on her face. Then, she burst into a spark of light. As the spark faded back to night, her empty clothes fell to the deck. “Because I’m not like you,” Dracona said as she stepped up to the pile of garments.