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Feb 27, 2024

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Reinventing the Lightbulb - Part 18


Previous - Reinventing the Lightbulb Part 17


Zorro wakes up after a short while, and rubs his eyes. The fox stands up, and then blinks. He realizes he’s not even tall enough to look over the railing properly. He manages to get up on his tip-toes right as the boat docks. Well! How convenient. The fox heads down the gangway and waits for the others.

Raziel is still up and about…though looking rather frazzled. How much trouble can one jackal girl with rampant curiousity and the capability to beat up grown men get into? As it turns out, LOTS. The tiger does brighten considerably once they dock, however. So close…

Viktor yawns big and wide, forcing himself up and awake, the hustle and bustle of the crowd at dock helping him waken, heading off towards the loading/unloading ramp.

Zorro meets the two at the ramp, and looks to Raziel, “You remember where the lab is, right? I think I do.” He scratches his head, and looks over in the direction he thinks it is.

Raziel nods, and points to the building, at the end of one of the wharves. It’s hard to miss, what with the large covered dock, recent renovations, spikes and spires jutting from the top, and rather conspicuous metal orb right in the center of the roof. The tiger begins padding off towards it, the enthusiasm he had the first time he saw the place suddenly returning.

Viktor trods off with the others heading towards the building, leaning slightly from being half sunken. Zorro raises a paw, and wraps on the door of Sovereign’s laboratory!

Raziel waits patiently for the sounds of the salamander’s suit walking up to open the door, or the salamander himself. Or at least, that’s what he’d like to think he’s doing. The tiger’s tail swishes in anticipation, and he can’t wait to see this all pan out. So help him, if Sovereign is sleeping, or out going to get milk… Or whatever it is salamanders like. Probably not milk, in retrospect.

Sovereign little, unaltered voice rings out after the knocking, apparently he’s not in his suit. “Just come in, the door is unlocked for the moment.”

Zorro opens the door, walking on in with wide, excited eyes. The fennec has a dance in his step, “Good sir! We have returned with the metal you were seeking!” And have come to claim our goddamn reward.

Raziel slips inside excitedly as well, and grins a broad, toothy feline grin. “You would not believe what we went through to get it, though… If the offer is still open, I may be a little more inclined to accept payment now. I’d still much rather have a prototype Illuminator, though, if the two are mutually exclusive.” The tiger literally can’t contain his excitement - odd, given how reserved Raziel usually is. But he digs science.

Viktor nods as he comes up to the other two. “Yez, aai vould aahlzo like your originaahl ovver, aahnd bekome deaahbt vree. Iv thaaht’z no trouble.”

Zorro looks up at the Salamander, quite hopeful. The three of them have come a long way! “Also, we brought with us one of the natives, who decided she wanted to visit the outside world.” The fox points toward the jackal. “As it turns, the area you mentioned was not so abandoned after all.”

Sovereign chuckles a bit, him sitting at a counter just about to fall into the water. “Yes yes, well, I wasn’t expecting that at all. It will take me a few days to get the rest of the funds, and I can’t just make the Illuminator overnight, so I will have to deliver yours, or perhaps you can come back sometime, for safety of the device. Or you can wait a few weeks. I have practiced with many metals, trying to make a filament suitable, but I have no idea how this metal will behave, then there is the fact that I must commission the bulbs to be blown, and that such.” He looks over at the jackal, smiling some. “Really now? Well then, you must tell me your tale. And good evening, madame.”

Raziel nods once. “I understand that it will take some time. But the worst of it is over.” The tiger sighs heavily, and looks for a chair nearby. This may take a while. “Where to begin…? I believe the /first/ hiccup we encountered were the Druj…”

Zorro nods, “And after the Druj, we came upon a great pyramid with the statue on top. At first it seemed unguarded. But then, that turned out to not be the case. We were swarmed by some gruff guard men.” He explains, “I tried to reason with them, but they would have none of it.” He punches air a bit, like a practicing boxer, “So I was about to go toe-to-toe with the lot of them, but Raziel had no faith in my abilities and insisted we ran. Oh, and Viktor got knocked out, and they stole him for a while.”

Viktor says, “Aai vaahz ztuk in aah kaahge vor aah vile.”

Sovereign chuckles again, nodding some. “Sounds very exciting. I could have sworn the place was abandoned though.”

Raziel blinks at the fennec. “Really? Not even a little credit? So that’s the thanks I get.” The tiger sticks his tongue out. “That’s not /quite/ what happened on top of the pyramid - though we did try to reason with them, and there was running involved. Zorro and I recovered for a bit, came up with a plan, and struck back the next evening. We blocked off the doors that the guards had used to sneak up on us, and took out the ones posted on top - but failed to get the statue before they dropped it deeper into the pyramid. We had to go inside to get Viktor, too, so we opened it back up, took out some /more/ guards, and then…we found the stairs.” He shivers a bit. Those things were murder.

Zorro winks at Raziel, “I’m just teasin’ you, Raz. In reality, the tiger there was one hell of an asset. He could shoot things, and we needed to do that a few times.” He shifts his eyes back and forth. “But yes. Stairs. Lots of stairs. Then we ended up in their village.”

Viktor sits and listens intently. Didn’t know this part. Except the stairs. Oh the stairs.

Raziel nods. “There was this trapped hallway, and hydraulic boulder smashing, and…just really, really unpleasant things. We did make it to the village - but the cages were on the far side, and I’m worse than useless at stealth, given my coloration and…skillset.” The tiger chuckles a bit, “However; using the soot left by one of the traps, were were able to disguise Zorro as one of the natives. With a considerable amount of success! He made it to the cages…” Now it’s Raziel’s turn to be filled in on details he wasn’t there for.

Sovereign blinks some at the mention of traps. “Soot? Boulder crushing traps? What are these things? They sound quite interesting.”

Zorro blinks, “You know. Soot. Like, the black residue after something burns. The trap seemed to be some sort of crushing machine that was triggered by one of the tribes’ boulder traps, so they canceled each other out.” The fox shrugs, and continues, “So, then Viktor and I caught up and discussed a few things. He explained that there was some nice researcher fellow who had been taken into this place, and didn’t know what became of him. After finding out that it was probably something dangerous, we went and got Raz, and then we went into the little place where they had taken him to find out that they were going to make him fight a bear! So we blew up the bear, and they ran away and left him alone.”

Raziel nods once more. “Yes, ancient burning trap, or something, that produced the soot. And yes, we exploded a bear. Gunpowder is /useful/ stuff to have around. We rescued the fox, got out of there with him, and Viktor…shook the whole place apart on the way out. We made it back to the trap-tunnel with surprisingly little trouble, and managed to squeeze our way past the smashed boulder, covering our tracks by piling up the stone. Then…we went back /up/ the stairs…”

Sovereign chuckles. “Yes, yes I know what soot is. The trap where the soot came from was my question. Ah yes, thank you, Raziel.” He chuckles again, amused by the exploding bear part. “Sounds like quite the adventure. Very exciting.”

Zorro nods, “And there we met this lass,” He gestures to the gal, “And she explained to us that the villagers didn’t like guards either. So we hatched a scheme to get them stuck in a room where they were trapped, and we left that fox to take care of them, since he didn’t want to leave. She also gave us the statue, since the metal was plentiful there, and she had made a copy of it for us, since she was impressed by what we had managed to do. Then we came here.”

Sovereign nods to the girl, smiling. “Thank you then, Ms. Now then, the metal is plentiful there? Marvelous, that will help immensely.”

Raziel laughs, satisfied by the accurate, if rapid, summary. “It was /far/ more challenging than we expected. But, we have the statue, and now we know that the ruins aren’t all that abandoned!” The tiger paces around - though more slowly than he was when he was talking. “Yes, that’s what Akala said. We didn’t see where the metal came from, but it’s almost certainly the same.”

Zorro nods, “Aye! Anyway, we’ve got the statue to you. So…” He looks at the two of them. “What now?”

Sovereign says, “Well, you two can go to the bank with these notes here,” He takes two notes, stamped with is seal, handing them to Viktor and Zorro, “And gather your funds. Then, if you will stay in town for another day or so, I’ll have the rest of your money for you, Viktor, and you, Raziel. Then in the near future, the bulb will be finished, and you can pick yours up then. As for the girl, she wasn’t a part of the contract. I’ve no idea what to do with her.”

Raziel scratches the back of his neck. “Neither…do we. I’m hesitant to allow a tribal girl out into the world by herself, even as capable as she is, but,” he shrugs, “I have no ideas.” The tiger takes a seat on the floor, after failing to find a chair. “And yes, I should be in town until all this is resolved, so I can wait for the Illuminator.”

Zorro looks to the gal, “We could just drop her off at a local school or something.” He twists his muzzle a bit. “She needs to get reoriented. Seems like the best place for it to be done.”

Akala just kind of sits there under the everything, not really wanting to bother what’s going on, this place is new still.

Raziel shrugs. “That plan works for me, but we’d have to get her to agree.” He casts a glance back at Akala, and smirks a bit. “I’m sure she’d stick around for a while, learn the basics, but I’m sure her curiosity would take her elsewhere, soon enough.” The tiger walks slowly around the lab, his tail slowly swishing as he looks at the equipment within. “Do you know of a good place for us to stay while you prepare the Illuminators, Sovereign?”

Sovereign thinks a moment on that, hmmming a bit. “Well, if you don’t mind sleeping underwater, you could stay here. Otherwise, I would suggest the inn at the center of town. It has the most traffic anyway.”

Zorro nods, and walks over to Akala, giving a smile. “So! We think we have a plan you might like. Nearby is a schoolhouse. Normally, they only teach children, but they also should be able to help bring you up to speed on the basics of life in Loka. When you’ve learned all you need to, you can strike off on your own.”

Raziel chuckles to Sovereign, “No, I have no desire to sleep with the fishes. I shall have to look into that inn…” He slowly wanders his way back towards the jackaless and fennec, and nods slowly in agreement with Zorro’s plan.

The girl just shrugs. It’s better than probably anything she would have done. Maybe. “Okay. Where?

Zorro takes Akala by the paw, and smiles, “Follow me!” The fennec ambles his way out of the lab and toward the schoolhouse, leading the girl along.

Raziel holds up a paw, as if to say something, but they’re already gone. “Well then…” He looks back at Sovereign, and then Viktor. “Should we um…follow them?”

Viktor nods some, turning to Sovereign. “Thaahnk you aahgaahin. Ve’ll be baahk laahter.” He then turns off towards the door, following the other two.

Zorro heads toward the schoolhouse, padpadpading along the docks as he spots it, “It’s just up ahead. Looks like they’re open and running, too.” He smiles.

Raziel takes off at a steady pace when he sees Viktor turn to follow. By now, of course, Zorro and Akala are out of sight, and he has only the faintest idea where the schoolhouse is. This should be fun…

Viktor is just as confused as Raziel. Sure, he lives in the town, but he’s never actually had to go to the schoolhouse.

Zorro pads into the schoolyard— or what passes here for one in the town of Meson. He looks around for a teacher, and starts to flag one down. “Hello there! Sorry to bother, but I have a bit of a special request to ask of you…”

Raziel is not at all familiar with the city, since he’s only been here like…twice. The tiger actually has to stop and ask passing pasu for directions a few times.

The teacher, a middle aged German Shepard pasu, blinks as she lifts her spectacles. But hey, at least she doesn’t look over Zorro’s head the first time he speaks, used as she is to dealing with children. “Oh! Hello there, dearie.” She rubs her chin, thinking aloud. “I don’t seem to recall you from any of my classes. Have you come to enroll?” Yes, she’s talking to Zorro.

Zorro twists his face into a forced smile, “Ah, I’m not a student ma’am…” He then realizes he might have to prove this, and sticks his paw into his messenger bag, rendering an alumnus card from the Academy of Knowledge and Advancement. “But I have one for you…” He gestures to the jackal. “This lady here is from a previously unknown tribe, and has departed from them to learn more about the world and explore. But she needs help getting started.”

Viktor is quite familiar with the city. Well, at least enough to get to places without trouble. Except the school. The schoolhouse isn’t exactly a place he knows well. So he follows behind Raziel, leading him down shortcuts to roads he recognizes, and basically hoping to find this place pretty quick. In the mean time, Akala stands off to the side of Zorro, the teacher probably thinking the girl to be his sister, or even mother perhaps. Who knows what she’s thinking.

The teacher blinks a few times, and raises her spectacles to inspect the card. “Oh! My apologies, Mister,” she leans closer, “…’Zarro’.” She flashes the fennec a brief smile, before directing her attention to the jackaless standing beside him. “I think we may be able to help you out, though she does seem a little old to just be starting out… But, arrangements can be made.”

Raziel, having gotten himself (and Viktor) lost a couple times, finally manages to find the schoolhouse. “There! That was only…mind numbingly difficult,” he grumbles as he approaches the building.

Zorro smiles, and nods to the teacher, “I would appreciate that very much. She doesn’t really have any place to go, so getting her bearings here would be good.” His tail swishes back and forth, “And, um, it’s ‘Zorro’.” The fox turns about and spots Raziel, “Hey, Raz! Over here, eh?” Zorro’s radar ears picked up tiger grumblings.

Viktor shakes his head. “Aai’ve lived here vore the paahzt yeaahr now, you’d think aai’d know my vaahy aahround. Aahnd even then, thiz city izn’t thaaht big, you vould think aah vew directions vould be enough.”

Raziel waves back to Zorro, and shrugs at Viktor’s comment. “Well, none of the streets around here are marked particularly well, as far as I can tell. Things are so much more organized in Serendipity… Kind of.” The tiger walks over to the small group of pasu conversing.

The canine teacher nods once, and explains, “We’ll have to get it sorted out where precisely she belongs, grade level wise. I’m sure she’s fairly bright, looking at her, but coming from a tribe… Well, I’d imagine she’s lacking some of the fundamentals we take for granted. But, I’m sure the other students can catch her up, if she’s willing to make some friends,” she says with a smile. She’s mildly confused about why the tiger and arctic fox are here, but she shrugs it off with a polite smile.

Zorro nods, “Ah, yes. Thank you, Miss.” He smiles and swishes his tail, “May I leave her here with you, then? Or is there anything else you need from me?”

Viktor walks around the room looking it over. It’s small, nearly barren, and quite reminiscent of the study houses the Cela use, if not less…. elegant and… spiritual?

The German Shepard rubs her chin. “I suppose so…but I have yet to even learn her name!” She chuckles, and looks at the two foxes and the tiger. “Also, for the records, which of you - if any - would be considered her guardian?”

Zorro errrs, scratching the back of his head, “She doesn’t have one. She insisted on coming with us, and it wasn’t as though we had any real reason to stop her from following.”

Viktor shrugs. “Yez. Zhe juzt, taahged aahlonk.” He then turns to Raziel and smiles. “Though aai’m zure Mr. Raahziel vould volunteer,” he says jokingly.

Raziel’s eyes widen in alarm, and he rapidly shakes his head. The cat is not necessarily the best at detecting when someone is joking… “No, no no no! Not good with kids! Not that Akala isn’t great, but I’m not— that is to say, I can barely feed myself, and I don’t know—” The obviously flustered cat lapses into silence.

The teacher raises an eyebrow quizzically, but says no more on the subject. “Very well, then. ‘Akala’ here will simply be self enrolled.” The canine gives a warm smile, and gestures the jackal over. “I have just a few things for you to fill out, and then we’ll be all set, dearie.”

Zorro nods a little, and pads over to Akala, giving her a hug. “Best of luck to you. I hope we shall meet one day again.” He looks to Raziel and Viktor.

Viktor just laughs and laugs, shaking his head some. “Okaahy. Letz go. Aai’m zure the teaahcher kaan help her vith aahnythink elze.” He smiles and waves to the jackaless. “Goodbye! Aai’ll probaahbly zee more ov you, zince aai live here aahnd aahll, but vor now, goodbye!”

Raziel waves to the jackaless, before giving her an awkward, but firm, handshake. “I don’t know when I’ll see you again next, but I would like to thank you for helping us out. You effectively saved the expedition.” The tiger gives the teacher a single nod, before heading over to the door.

The teacher pulls out a few papers for Akala to sign, placing them on her desk - though she fails to account for the fact that the jackaless probably only knows tribal script. This is going to be a challenge…

Zorro pads up to Raziel, and looks up at him, “I’m going to go to the bank, and then I’ll be on my way. I uh…” He gives a little smile, “I had quite a time. Hopin’ I’ll see you sometime again. Maybe next time with less stairs.”

Raziel grins, and leans down to shake the fennec’s hand. “Indeed. It’s been quite an adventure.” The white feline laughs, “And yes, fewer stairs would be nice. And maybe you can blow up the bear next time?” With a smirk, the tiger steps outside, tail swishing behind him.

Viktor steps out behind the two. “Aahlright. Zee you aahgaahin zometime, yez? Heh, goodbye. It vaahz… intereztink. Very much zo. Aahnd thaahnk you.”

Zorro smiles, shaking Raz’s paw, and padding off with a wave, “Until we meet again!” Exit fennec, stage left.

Raziel smiles as he walks, satisfied with the conclusion of this long, and difficult journey. Sure, he still has to collect his rewards, but he’s finally made it to the end of the tunnel. The long, trap filled tunnel. The tiger chuckles to himself, shaking his head. “Until next time…”


Closing Thoughts from the Editor

If you’ve made it this far…I salute you. For taking an interest in our journey, and for having the patience to read through our (not so) little misadventure. Now that it’s said and done, I’ll be perfectly honest - I’ll miss this plot. Never before have I participated in such a long arc, and it truly has been an adventure, IC and out. When you play a story for as long as this one lasted - roughly six months, OOC time - it’s hard to know when to let it go, to close the book. And while it pains me to see it over, it’s a conclusion I’m proud of; a satisfying end to a memorable story. And at the risk of dragging this post script out longer, I hereby declare the Reinvention of the Lighbulb…complete.

Until next time…

~Raziel

Reinventing the Lightbulb (Main)

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