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Feb 27, 2024

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Reinventing the Lightbulb - Part 3


Previous - Reinventing the Lightbulb Part 2


Viktor wanders around through the exiting crowd, looking for those that he’d been asked to find. So he puts himself at the end of the gangplank and looks around through the crowd. Maybe it would be easier for them to find him, or something. Surely Sovereign told them about him?

Zorro peers about the crowd as well, “Did he say anything about what he looked like?” The fennec’s ears lower, and he furrows his brow, trying to remember.

Raziel shakes his head. “No, he did not. And all he implied was that he would be accompanying us as some extra muscle. So, he’s probably armed.” He shrugs, readjusting the rifle slung over his shoulder. “Then again, that’s not saying much.”

Viktor looks up into the crowd and frowns, pushing up through the crowd and onto the ship, still looking. “Now vhere kuuld you be hidink, Aai vohnder?” He shifts from one side of the gangplank to the other, trying to make his movements obvious to those who might be looking for him.

Zorro blinks, noticing this strange Arctic fox milling about as if he’s looking for someone, “Don’t think it could be him, do ya?”

Raziel shrugs. “I have no idea. Worth a shot, though.” He begins walking toward the indicated fox.

Viktor travels farther up the plank, asking strangers that fit the (very broad) bill of tiger, fox, and otter, but none really seemed to know what he was talking about, if they even knew what he was saying in the first place.

Zorro hears ‘Tiger, fox, otter’, and recalls that, before Bansi was dropped from the roster, that was them. “Excuse me, sir!” He pads up to Viktor, perhaps having to wiggle his ears to be seen, “Are you in Sovereign’s employ?”

Viktor looks down to the small fennec, blinking a bit. “Ah, yeez, daaht vuuld be me. Zoh yoo muzst be vrohm the gruup aai vohz told to vaind? Vehr iz the rezst ov them?”

Raziel raises an eyebrow at the fox’s curious accent, but proceeds anyway. “The otter will not be joining us because of prior engagements. We’re it.” He extends a paw to Viktor, saying, “Pleased to meet you. I am Raziel.”

Zorro also extends a paw, “And I’m Zorro.” His ears shiver a little. Strange accent! Hopefully he can get used to it. The fox tries to place if and where he’s heard it before. So very thick…

Viktor smiles, giving a curtious bow of his head. “Ah yez, my naahme iz Wiktor. Wiktor. W-w-v-v-Viktor, yez, zoohry. Zoh then, aai’m ‘eehre to Aahko-uhm, be vihth yoo on thiiz joournehy, help prohtekt yoo aahnd zuhch.”

Raziel expected their ‘guard’ to be carrying a gun, or at least a blade of some sort. He finds the apparent lack of anything but tuning fork like devices fairly confusing. “I don’t mean to offend, but I’m a bit perplexed as to the use of those rods you’re carrying. What do they do?”

Zorro recognizes them, “They’re tuning forks. Do you know some sort of martial art with which to fork people up?” He tilts his head, looking at the fox.

Viktor shakes his head, laughing a bit. “Hehe, noh noh, nohthink laaike thaaht. Aai viihl haave to zhoow yoo, avaahy vrohm the zihty. “

Raziel looks to Zorro, then back to Viktor. “Well, we should be ready to set out soon. I don’t know about Zorro, but all I need are a few supplies for the road, and possibly a tarp to help haul this statue back in.”

Zorro nods, “Yes, I can travel lightly enough as well. I came from the desert, after all.” He swishes his tail, looking around for some place to buy some very basic supplies.

Viktor nods. “Good dehn, aai aahm aahlreedy paahked aahnd reedy vohr thihz trip. “

“Alright then,” Raziel replies. “Shall we meet back up on the road out of town, then?”

Zorro salutes, “Sounds good to me.” He scurries off to go get supplies.

Raziel nods, then sets off in the other direction to find what he need.

(After obtaining the necessary supplies, Raziel, Zorro, and Viktor meet up on the road out of Gilead.)

Viktor leans against a post about fifty feet from the exit of the city of Gilead, waiting for others to arrive it seems. There’s a finely built shoulder bag on the ground next to him, made of weaved cloth and supple leather, tanned black. Otherwise, he’s just like he was yesterday.

Zorro pads on up to Victor, carrying a very minimal stock of supplies on his back. Seems the fennec is pretty used to traveling light, but he may or may not have found a few artistic distractions along the way. He looks up to the Arctic fox, “Ahoy. You seen our stripey friend?”

Viktor looks down to Zorro, smiling a little. “Ah, no, Aai haave not. Hopevully he aahraaivez zoohn enough.”

Raziel walks from the city gates, picking up his pace a little when he sees the other two already waiting there. He has likewise packed very lightly, the only noticeable difference being the slightly fuller appearance of the bag hanging opposite his rifle. As he approaches, he says, “Sorry I’m late. One of the local vendors tried to cheat me. I had to, uh…rectify that.”

Viktor nods, standing up fully. “Vell, Aai hope thaht vehnt vell vor yoo. Does evaahryvohne haahve vaaht they vaahnt, or need?” He shoulders his bag, stretching out a little.

Zorro nods, and looks to his pack, “Yep. I’m all ready to go when you are.” His ears bobble a little, as if nodding in agreement with himself.

Raziel nods. “Yes, I should have everything I need. And I’m looking forward to that weapon demonstration, once we get farther away from the city.”

Viktor nods, smiling. “Pervekt. Let uz move then.” He starts to walk down the road, towards Quark, a small bounce in his step while he walks. “Zoh, how vaahz evaaryvohne’z mornink? Aai didn’t zleep aaht aahll, zoh ve maahy haahve to ztohp in a vhile. “

Zorro looks up, “Mostly uneventful.” His ear swivels around. Something— there’s a bit of red on his ear. Perhaps not as uneventful as he claims. “What about you, Mr. Raziel?”

Raziel shrugs. “My morning was fine…until one of the vendors in town decided it would be a good idea to rummage around in my pack and try to steal some of my bullets while I was waiting for my food. I don’t know what his interest in the bullets was - I suppose he thought he could sell them - but it took longer than I would have liked to chase him three blocks and retrieve them.”

Viktor nods, falling back to join pace. “Vhy vaahz yoor mornink uneventvuhl, Zorroh? Did yoo vaaiht a vew hourz doink nothink? Iz vaaht Aai did.” The fox then looks over to Raziel. “Speekink ov bulletz, do you mind showink me yoor skill viith thaaht raaivel? Aai’ve zeehn them, but aai haahvn’t zeehn it zhoot.”

Zorro’s ears turn a little pink, “Oh, you know. Just relaxing in bed, enjoying the warmth of the sun on my fur. It’s far too infrequent that I really get to relax, what with all the traveling and writing and…” He waves his arms around, “You know.”

Raziel smiles at Viktor’s request. “I’d be more than happy to give you a demonstration, once we get a bit farther away from town. I’d rather avoid he guards asking about the noise, if I can.”

Zorro frowns a little, “Give me plenty of warning ahead of time as well.” His huge, sensitive ears droop.

Viktor snickers. “Dohn’t vorry, little vohxy, Aai’ll maahke zuhre yoor eaahrz aahre not hurt. Aahnd Aai’ll zhow yoo vaaht Aai kaahn do aahz vell.”

Zorro looks up at Viktor, “What can you do, anyhow? I don’t see much in terms of weapons on you. Just…” He gestures to the fox’s tuning forks, “Those. And you’re not supposed to clock people with them, because then they can get out of tune. You’re supposed to tap them gently, I think.”

Raziel walks slightly ahead of the group, motioning for them to follow. “I’m sure Viktor wouldn’t mind explaining as we walk, and I feel as though I’ve delayed this trip too much already. Shall we proceed?”

Viktor starts to bounce along the road behind Raziel. “Heh, zuhre Aai guez. Though Aai faaind it eziier to zhow thaahn explaaine. Aai’ll need to be vaahrther aahvaahy vrohm the zhiity thaahn yoor gunzhot though.”

Zorro walks along with. Padpadpadpad, little feets having to double-time to keep up. “That sounds like… something special.” He perks an ear. “And yes, good to be moving. I’m sure we have a lot of ground to cover!”

Raziel looks over at Viktor’s tuning forks again. “Well, whatever you can do with those, it must be fairly impressive to require that much distance.” He trails off after that, giving the impression that he isn’t very good at small-talk. “So…where are you two from?”

Viktor pulls a fork off his belt. “Iz not theze thaaht do vaaht Aai kaahn do. Theze aahre juzt tools. Iz vaaht Aai kaahn do vith them. Aai maahnipulaahte maagiks…. diverehnt vrom others.” He looks off, towards the south, across the sea. “Aai kohme vrohm behind the Aahlburz mountaahnz. My paahrentz took me to live at Zhetaahyaahntii vhen aai vaahz young. Tinsy. Aahvter my maahgiks aahpeaahrd.”

Zorro’s ears really help here, what with being able to pick up the subtleties of Viktor’s words. He wonders how Raziel is handling it! “My family hails from the Samudra. They sent me to school in Muon. I learned I liked writing, so now I write.”

Raziel nods. “Ah, magic. Something I know next to nothing about. I spent my childhood learning about all manner of machines and science, and wandering some of the lesser traveled reaches of Serendipity. As for writing…well, my talents simply lie elsewhere.”

Viktor nods as well. “Aai raaight aahz vell, aah little bit. Juzt vaaht ve vere taaht in the monaahstaahry. Aahnd thiz iz aahz vaahr aahz Aai’ve ever been. The only plaahzez Aai’ve been iz the monaahstaahry, Noriaah, Mezon, Gileaahd aahnd the roaahdz in betveen.”

Raziel shrugs, adjusting his pack and rifle. “I’ve traveled a bit, but most of it has been in the north; I’ve never been as far south as Cetayanti.” He looks confused for a moment, pondering the last part of Viktor’s statement. Looking quizzically from Viktor to Zorro and back again, he asks, “I thought Sovereign said you were going to help us find these ruins?” He chuckles. “I hope he gave you better directions than he gave us, or we may be wandering through the forest for a while.”

Zorro nods, following along, “Yes, he was… pretty vague about things.” The fox scratches one of his oversized ears as he pads along. “Hopefully this place does actually exist. He didn’t look like he left his town often.”

Viktor looks at them wide eyed. “Erm…. Aai thought yoo knew vere ve were goink. Aahll he told me vaahz thaaht the ruin vaahz aahbout tveenty miles zoutheaahzt of Qvaahrk. He saahyz to follow the roaahd vrohm Qvaahrk to Zhetaahyaahnti, lookink for aah krumbled aarch. Or maahybe the baahze ov aahn aahrch? Then follow the ruin traahl through the vorezt.”

Raziel sighs. “That’s reassuring…but I suppose we’ll deal with that particular detail when we get there.” He looks back down the trail, trying to gauge the distance they’ve traveled. “Think we’re far enough away from Gilead for that demonstration now?”

Zorro looks at the two, curiously, and starts to preemptively cover his ears with a frown. He shivers a bit.

Viktor looks back down the road, Gilead far out of sight. “Ah, yez Aai zuppoze zo. Vould yoo leik me to go virzt?”

Raziel shrugs. “It’s up to you. Though I suspect magic is a hard act to follow,” he says, smiling.

Zorro looks to the two of them, back and forth, “Maybe Raziel first. I know what gunshots are like. It’ll be easier to get through it.”

Viktor nods, stopping. “Wery vell then.” He walks over to Raziel, standing unnecessarily close. “Aai vould leik to zee it aahll.”

Raziel drops his bag and unslings the rifle from his shoulder, and after a cursory inspection to make sure the mechanisms are clear, flicks the lever on the bottom of the gun. Apparently he keeps it loaded. He briefly looks around for a target, before settling on an old, gnarled tree along the path; specifically a knot about two-thirds up the tree’s height. Raziel brings the rifle to his shoulder and takes aim, folding his ears back as much in concentration as to protect his hearing. He fires six times in quick succession; strangely, every time the lever is cocked, a small puff of steam erupts from the rifle, and the gears that adorn its surface rotate slightly. The first five rounds hit the knot without error, though the sixth falls slightly lower than intended. “Ah! So close. Well, still not bad for someone with no formal marksmanship training.” He smirks slightly.

Zorro keeps his ears held tight, wincing a little with each shot. At the tiger’s finishing comment, he remarks, “I don’t think formal marksmanship training is really much different from the casual sort. You set up a target, and you shoot it. You shoot it til you shoot it good and shot.”

Viktor leans in way too close than should be safe, his hands behind his back to keep him from touching anything. His ears are perked though, even through the shots, as he gazes at the machine with awe. “Thiz think, iz incredible. Aahll the vaahy out there, thaaht ztump. Aahmaahzink. Vhot elze doez it do? Aahnythink?”

“Anything else? No, not really. It’s simply a steam-powered rifle. Though it is heavy enough to serve as a highly overqualified club in a pinch.” Raziel looks down at his rifle, before reaching under his coat and pulling out bullets to replace those he just fired. “Though I suppose ‘steam-powered’ isn’t entirely accurate description. More like steam-assisted. As rounds are fired, the burned powder generates heat, which in turn creates steam in the tanks on the side. The more steam, the more pressure, the easier it becomes to cycle the lever. The end goal is to optimize the system to the point where the lever becomes irrelevant, making the cycle is self-sustaining. But that is…a daunting task, to say the least.”

Zorro looks at the thing, “I must say, it shoots faster than anything I’ve ever seen. I heard something about Svargan weapons that could keep shooting when you held down the trigger, but I’m not sure those really exist. Besides, with how rare their ammo is, they’d be all out in a moment!”

Zorro keeps his ears held tight, wincing a little with each shot. At the tiger’s finishing comment, he remarks, “I don’t think formal marksmanship training is really much different from the casual sort. You set up a target, and you shoot it. You shoot it til you shoot it good and shot.”

Viktor takes another close look at the gun, before standing back and folding his arms. “Vell, thaaht vaahz wery imprezihve. Inkredible efen. Aai don’t think Aai kould haahve expekted thaaht, efer reaahly.” He looks out into the feild off the road, gazing around the place, perhaps for a target. “Aai gueez iz my turn, no?”

Raziel chuckles at Zorro’s mention of Svargan weapons. “There very well might be technology like that. Not long ago, up in Muon, I had the misfortune of being on the receiving end of a Svargan repeating pistol.” He pats one of his legs, drawing attention to a slightly less dense patch of fur on the side. “It hurt tremendously when it happened, but luckily, it doesn’t seem to have done any permanent damage. Fur’s even growing back.” He pauses, beginning to reload his rifle methodically, inserting the rounds into a small groove behind the fore-stock. “As for ammo rarity, that’s a problem I run into with this thing as well. To generate the necessary amount of heat, it has to use very large, unconventional rounds. There are a few rifles out there that use them, but I end up having to make most of my own. Hence chasing down a vendor for a handful of bullets.” At Viktor’s comment, he nods, and steps back beside Zorro. “Go right ahead.”

Zorro’s eyes widen, “Wow. So that thing was able to do in the palm of a hand what your rifle does?” The fennec nods, and then looks at Viktor’s tuning fork, once again folding his ears back, and smooshing his paws against them, frowning. It’s hard to plug those things, they’re so big!

Viktor smiles, eyes going wide. “Aai vould kofer yoor eaahrz.” He jogs out a little ways off the road, looking around, before holding out his paw, palm side up and his fingers in a snapping position. In the blink of an eye, he snaps his fingers, which creates a sonic boom, a very low, very deep, rumbling sound that expands outwards, folding down the grass from the epicenter to about twenty feet away, shacking the rocks and pebbles on the path and blowing dust everywhere. Suddenly it quits out, about a second past it’s peak, just suddenly gone as if it never happened. No fade out, just silence. After another second of just smiling, Viktor breaks the silence. “Aai hope yoo plugged yoor eaahrz good, iz haahrd to daahmpen the zound aahround yoor eaahrz vihle doink thaaht. “

Raziel uncovers his ears as the sound unexpectedly dies out, looking around at the displaced rocks and settling dust. “Wow. I don’t know much about magic, but…wow. The ability manipulate sound, and at that great a magnitude… That can’t be a very common ability.”

Zorro is a shivering mess, the fox having fallen over on the floor. His eyes have teared up a bit, and he starts to sit up, trying to play it off as he wobbles and stands, “W-well, that was impressive, Mr. Viktor…” He doesn’t add ‘please don’t do it again’, though he’d rather like to.

Viktor smiles brighter, and laughs a little at Zorro. “Hehe, zoorry. Aahnd yez, iz wery unkommon. Aai haahve aah naahturaahl givt voore it. Thaahz vaaht the maahzterz zaahid. Aai’m wery good aaht it, but aai don’t do zoh good vith other maahjiks. Efen aahir maahjik. Aai juzt kaahnt do aahnythink elze reaahly. Oh vaahit, Aai kaahn do aahnother think.” He goes over to the path and picks up one of the disturbed rocks, big enough to fit in his palm and not be able to close his fingers around it all the way. He takes one of his tuning forks and taps the rock lightly with the fork end, causing a sweet melodic sound to emanate, before turning back to the two and tossing the rock into the air, swinging the fork as hard as he can and completely turning the rock into dust as the fork makes contact, though not a single sound is made, oddly. “Aai kaahn duzt smaahll objektz vith my tunink vorkz, and zhaahke aahpaahrt zome laahrger or veaahker objektz. Maahkez horrible rinkink noize though, so Aai zhilenzhed it. “

Following the demonstration, the party continues on, heading towards the town of Quark before setting out into the wilderness.


Next - Reinventing the Lightbulb Part 4

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