If there is one good thing about being awake before most of the rest of the household (let alone the city), it is that there are few better times for quiet contemplation. There have been no other distractions to rob me of my focus yet, no other voices to divert and diffuse. There is only me, and a cup of fragrant tea, and a sunrise that, in this place, will never come.
At last, at last there is word. Something is happening at that small, nondescript house neat Wolfstack Docks. No one is certain quite what is occurring, but all agree the constables are providing the same time frame.
Two weeks, or thereabouts. Two weeks.
There is much yet to be done. All thoughts of relocating my household are gone. I must see to Feducci, regardless. I must settle things at Court, and it is a mark of my impatience with that place that I would much rather face Feducci. My guest lecture courses at Summerset must be concluded.
I have not, however, stopped playing cards. My skills are as sharp as ever — I have not lost a game in… months.
There are no guarantees. I ask for none. The way is no longer shut. I will be able to move forward. Again soon. No more diversions. No more distractions.
Nicholas… I’m coming, darling… as quickly as ever I can…
With a mysterious smile, Merri takes Tobias’ arm and leads him toward the stairs. On the walls are paintings and sketches, most of landscapes, flowers, and a few portraits though none are labelled. “I’ve had to take my time redecorating here. As I’m sure you know, it’s costly and my funds have gone to other pursuits much as yours have. Still, it’s been a pleasure to bring this old townhouse back to some semblance of its former glory. I do enjoy beauty so.”
His eyes move over the portraits as she lead him on, a faint smile crossing his face as he saw the landscapes. “The care you are taking certainly shows, I am firmly impressed. There is no doubt in my mind that you will have this house back to it’s full glory soon, you have an eye for such things.”
This is our last working morning in camp, as tomorrow we’ll be heading back to the coast and our disparate lives. Dear Dr. J is already anxious to get some of his findings submitted to the national institute here which governs such things and to begin writing his next paper on the flora and fauna here. He’s become quite the American in these latter years, an observation I shared with him last night which made him laugh.
It felt good and right to mend our quarrel over dinner yestereve, for unless he ventures to Fallen London I doubt I shall ever see him again.
The Madisons are already discussing their next adventure, which entails gold mining in the mountains just north of here. It’s a life that seems to suit them both for they are very much “laws unto themselves” and belong out in this country where legal protection is a far thing to seek.
As my parents have long been dead and my paternal grandparents more recently so… My marriage is dead. My child is of course dead and that is why I came to Fallen London…
…Which is now my home, the only one in this world I have left. Mayhap if I do win the Marvellous and achieve my Heart’s Desire I’ll have reason to return Northumbria – a pleasanter place for a child to grow up than the Neath, I should think, much easier to set up and maintain my laboratories here on the surface where materials are more readily available.
Maybe. Possibly. Perhaps. The future is never certain, only the past. For now I am free of surface ties; they are my past.
Like everyone else, I step into that unknown future as boldly as I may.
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I awoke this morning to discover I’d made the silliest of mistakes. I’d gifted a friend and fellow collector of First City coins with some of what I’d acquired, thinking it was “extra,” only to discover that I had not yet parted out my stake in the Marvellous. I don’t know how I made such an obvious and short-sighted error, but at least it was rather easily correctable. It did mean another rather odious visit to the Numismatrix, of course. I resumed my planning of an informal entry into the Museum of Mistakes shortly afterward and was well satisfied that I’d concocted a plan that would get me in, the coins acquired, and get me out again with no one the wiser.
To my utter astonishment and shame, I failed.
The details are a blur now. I know I took a spill off a slippery rooftop. There was something about a reflection in a glass, and snakes. Worse yet, I was sighted — oh the burning shame of it — and now I am on the “persons of interest” list the constabulary keeps.
Nightmares. Suspicion. Scandal. How I missed adding Wounds to that I’ll never know.
I’ve only ever felt worse than this once. The consequences of that incident drove me to Fallen London and the arms of the Bazaar. I have nowhere else to go now, except into laudanum’s embrace, perhaps. A night of sleep, or what passes for it. This will look better in the morning, I’m sure.
I’m scarcely faring any better in that silly archaeological dig in the Forgotten Quarter. I still don’t know how I ended up agreeing to that. One too many glasses of Greyfields 1882, no doubt. In any event, Dr. Orthos is hiring all my best assistants away from me and Virgina, that deviless with whom our dear Commodore Creazil is so enamoured, has had her minions spying on me almost ceaselessly. I’d been treating this whole expedition in a rather light-hearted vein, but after my abysmal performance at the Museum of Mistakes I do believe I’m about to get serious, very serious, about digging for relics in the remnants of the Fourth Stolen City.
Ah well. The night beckons, and another round of chances and opportunities. Good night, Fallen London. Sleep tight. Don’t let the sorrow spiders bite.