(OOC: Writing up the result of boasting in the Salon and finally finding a chance to use all those companions I’ve gathered.)
It was times like this that Fanny reflected on what went wrong with her life. It always went back to the same moment – the moment when Ronald proposed a scheme. A scheme to pull a quick scam on a rich eccentric – an eccentric known to talk about a lost daughter and wife whenever they were too deep into their cups. A figure that that was known to be too deep into their cups often enough. They wouldn’t miss the money enough to chase them when they made their escape.
They underestimated their mark’s stubbornness, their skill at hunting. Fanny had overestimated Ronald’s loyalty, left along in a cheap flop house room, as a hulking figure ascended the stairs and broke down the door. Lucky for Fanny, she had overestimated her mark’s anger. Instead of a brutal beating, a gentle hand stroked her hair and simply asked, “Daughter, why won’t you return home?”
What was she supposed to say?
And that’s how she ended up here, among the towers of the bazaar with a Polish flag strapped to her back. Mkara, one of the white ravens landed on her shoulder.
“All’s clear. You have two minutes to get your appointed station.” Fanny could at least take some grim satisfaction that she wasn’t the only one suffering from one her parental unit’s bout of mania. She wasn’t sure how many teams were out there right now; seven maybe. The only ones who knew for certain were the ravens, who formed the whole of the communications for this operation. Without looking, she raced across the path outlined on the map shown to her earlier. Fanny did not let her fear slow her run. Any hint of hesitation could send Solanaceae – a delicate assassin - into hysterics. Which would be bad, since he was Beatrix’s handler. He was one of the few people that could coax that hyena into a muzzle and let them drag her all around London at top speed. Fanny was not one of those few.
She reached her spire - marked by a graffiti of man having his hat stolen by a fisher-king – with ten seconds to spare. Surveying the tower, she was thankful for the heavy googles that helped obscure the worst of the burning glyphs. Irrigo was useful for at least one thing. With a nod towards Solanaceae, she put in her clay earplugs. He followed the same motion, before unmuzzling Beatrix. After surveying their surroundings, he stepped into the cover left by an abandoned cart of fading flowers. His sensitivity was good here – if any of the Master’s henchmen managed to get close without falling to Beatrix’s lullaby, Solanaceae would sense them – earplugs or no.
Fanny donned her heavy lead gloves and started climbing the tower. You had to start at the right speed – too fast and you risk tearing the paper underneath you. Too slow and you crush the bat bones with your weight. A youth spent in the Flit helped her steady her uneven tempo as she scaled up the smooth tower.
To distract herself from the dizzying heights, she thought of the aftermath. If she dodged the guards on the way out. If she wasn’t picked up by a special constable afterwards.
Fanny dodged around a particular large glyph.
She could try to run again. Maybe leave a note with an explanation. Maybe a plea for a new life would be enough. They did claim to love her. Aren’t you suppose to free what you love?
A slippery patch from the dripping roof. Fanny didn’t panic as she started to slide and instead reached up, thankfully finding a dry spot to cling to.
And where do from there? Certain not back to the Flit or the Spite – she had been through too much to end up a ground zero. Maybe to the hall – she could behind the scenes at first. And then what? Stage manager, an actress despite her plain face? A magician with the few tricks she had learned?
A surprise bat swarm blocks Fanny’s vision. The only option is to continue forward, letting her gloved hands direct her, hoping the rote muscle memory is enough for these walls.
She had enough to leave London proper and risk the zee – she could go the Iron Republic, a land with no rules. Perhaps Port Carnelian would be a safer option.
She could taste the zee breeze and the jungle air as she pulled herself on top of the spire. Quickly, she unfurled the flag – complete with its own pole – stuck it triumphantly into the top. A nervous laugh bubbled out of her as she started the climb down. Fanny’s reverie of lounging tigers was interrupted by Mkara flitting by her head.
“Behind schedule – you need to be down this spire in less than fifty seconds.” Fanny cursed – that would not be enough time for her to simply climb down. Looking down, among the stalls and carts she picked the softest. Twenty seconds later, she let go.
Falling properly is hard work. Luckily, her target – a silk tent of ties, scarfs, and other adornments – helped. Still when Fanny got up, her abused muscles were unhappy and her left arm was hanging at a distinctly wrong angle. Beatrix was already muzzled when Solanaceae helped pull her up. He didn’t question her limp left arm or burned clothes and she didn’t question his bloody knife.
The run out was desperate, racing among the towers as an alarm was raised. Fanny sword she could hear the boots of the constables as she left the towers behind and jumped into a carriage. The carriage took off at top speed, nearly taking out a velocipede parade and a firebrand preacher.
The carriage only slowed as it moved into the twisting alleys of the Spite. Here, clothes and other tools were left at a safe house – the Dancing Nymph Inn. They would disappear somewhere, only found when needed for another raid on the Bazaar. The Dancing Nymph provided disguises and the carriage left at a more leisurely pace around the city.
The jostling on the cobblestones was excoriating with her shoulder, but Fanny did not complain as it drove into the hill. There, Beatrix and Solanaceae left her. He loved the quiet swamps, which were only quiet after Beatrix had laid all the wolves, mushrooms, and hunters to sleep. From there it was a trip to one of the sidestreets. A stop at a smart lady’s shop to collect an order. She faked sufficient excitement to use the changing rooms there, rather than waiting until she got home to wear her new clothes.
A green dress and dark blue cape – nice material but not as fragile or constricting as what was favored in her new neighborhood. However, being the eccentric’s daughter allowed a certain amount of fashion ignorance. The cape thankfully hide her hurting shoulder and arm.
Finally, the carriage took her back towards home. She hid her nervousness as she approached the Bazaar again. The carriage stopped in front of a spire wearing the blue and white flag of Scotland. The claymen guards gave her a friendly wave as she tried to avoid either stumbling or running as she opened the door to the store front. There wasn’t much business in the office here – services were rendered by appointment only these days. She passed by a pair of spies sorting through documents and letters as she made her way to the back.
She had barely opened the door before Evensong rushed to her. Evensong was dismayed of course – by the disjointed shoulder, by the burns, even by the bruises. Fanny had to take a deep breath and remind herself that it was only natural. Her adopted mother’s people were very fragile.
Fanny almost didn’t notice Dirae Erinyes with the storm of tincture, bandages, and tea that Evensong had become. She looked up in time to see the green glass eyes and large hands fall upon her shoulder before a sharp pain left her gasping.
“There, does that feel better?” Fanny experimentally moved her left arm now, pleased to discover the pain had decreased. Instead of answering, she asked her own questions.
“Why is the flag of Scotland over our own house?”
“A bit of hometown pride” Dirae Erinyes answered confidently as they started to stroke Fanny’s hair.
“Are you trying to get us all arrested?”
“Why would they arrest me? I’m just an innocent citizen whose house was just been mired by vicious vandals. Such a loyal citizen that I don’t dare to touch the surface flag outside my own door just in case it carries the taint of the surface.” Dirae Erinyes spoke with such wide-eyed innocence that Fanny could almost believe it. Almost. “Don’t worry, daughter. They won’t be by until after dinner sherry – I swear they time it just so they can get the lion share of it. You can retire to bed before them – they will not disturb you.”
“Are you sure it’s going to be that easy?”
“Of course, They know this is just a little cannon fire over the prow before the real fight. They aren’t going to go in with their full teeth and claws.” Fanny was unsure if They referred only to the Special Constables, or to the Masters, or the Bazaar, or to even everybody else in London.
Dirae Erinyes gave her a gentle kiss on the forehead, leaving behind the small spark of static. “You did well daughter. I am so proud of you.”
Fanny knew she wouldn’t be running. Not yet. Maybe someday soon but not tonight.
Edited for minor errors. I’m sure there are still plenty left if you want to hunt for them.
edited by Shadowcthuhlu on 8/12/2016