"A mole?" Raven's head swung sharply in Seth's direction. "How?"
"I don't know, we are all vetted and all have sworn the Oath to the Tower Commander, but the pirates always seem to be one step ahead of us." He sighed deeply, looking at his feet. "I'm not sure what I or any of the others can do any more."
"One man can always make a difference my friend."
"Quoth the Raven..." said Seth, his tone sardonic, bitterness shadowing his features as he switched his gaze back to the Tower.
"Ah, sarcasm, the lowest form of wit, or possibly twit in your case. Now, when you've finished making sarcastic jokes I've only heard a score of times before, perhaps I can cheer you up and give you some reason to hope." Raven opened his beaklike mouth in his version of a grin and motioned Seth to follow him.
They made their way down the ladders into the main part of the water tower and then further down into the massive old room of the pumping station. Workbenches crowded the walls, strange half-built weapons, machines and gadgets strewn across their surfaces. Interspersed here and there were tools, bits of paper and other odd seemingly random detritus. Seth picked up a piece of paper, momentarily trying to puzzle through some of the equations and sketches before dropping it back onto the bench with a shake of his head.
"I think perhaps we should rename you Magpie. It seems that anything interesting or bright and shiny manages to make its way in here. How much do you have going on in your head old son?" asked Seth, looking at the clutter that surrounded him.
"There's always something to do old friend, there's so much to learn, so much to explore. Everything is interesting, even you on rare occasions. Now, here we are, I might need to adjust it slightly to your frame but I think it should do the job."
Raven drew back a curtain with a dramatic flourish and exposed a wooden frame on which hung various bits of armour and clothing. Metallic greaves and arm guards polished to a high sheen, with a breastplate and shoulder guards of the same material mirrored the dingy light of the workshop. Sturdy leather trews and the tailed uniform jacket of the Tower Guard lay ready for use; a pair of flying goggles and a matching metallic helm with chain mail hood hung on a hook to one side. Cast casually on a peg was a matching cloak and a pair of gloves. What drew Seth's gaze however was the cylindrical contraption that rested in a cradle by the metallically biased uniform. Wires and tubes were coiled and ready, the new equipment all polished and oiled for use.
"What in the name of the Tower is that?" his eyes were suddenly alight with excitement, his earlier gloom dissipating rapidly as he drank in the view of the new weapon.
Raven raised his eyes heavenwards for a moment and shook his head wryly. "Typical, give you something shiny with wires and the possibility of some wanton destruction and you turn into a four year old boy again."
"It destroys things too?" he said with a grin, knowing that it would annoy the other man.
"Child," muttered Raven irritably and then laughed suddenly, a whispering giggle that made Seth grin all the more broadly. "Come on, let's see if I've managed to get this right."
"You haven't tested it?"
"Not on a live subject," noted Raven, laughing again at Seth's sudden look of horror. "Come on my little guinea pig, let's get you strapped in. Shall I show you to the fitting rooms sir?"
Several minutes later Seth stood in front of a polished steel mirror and looked himself over. He was lucky, his mutation had taken the form of bulk and size rather than any physical deformity and it lent itself to the new armour that Raven had supplied. Reaching up, he twirled his moustache rakishly, grinning at his reflection before shouldering the straps of the cylinder. Raven fussed around for a few more minutes plugging in tubes and attaching wires then tightened the final few straps before standing back to cast a critical eye over Seth.
YOU ARE READING
Quoth the RavenShort Story
A steampunk short set in an alternative London. The Tower: a rock around which swirls a broken Empire, where Cloud Pirates rules the skies in their cloudships and power is all. Led by Tower Commander Denalta, can Trooper Seth and his fellow Guards s...