Wednesday, March 27, 2019
It’s Hidebound Hump Day again, my chuckaboos! This is a rather noisy episode. I didn’t notice Cornelis Drebbel’s submarine coming into port. However, I see the harbor master waving, and now I can hear his voice. Let’s get straight to the #steampunk submarine.
Previously with Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers
From last time, Chapter 35 They decided to try a combination of da Vinci’s aerial screw and the alchemy of Cornelis lead our trio to Copper’s still missing daddy. You know as well as I do, how the Dutchman’s alchemy can go awry. Let’s see how it’s going.
Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers
36 — Purple, Diary, Kitchen
My finger traced the edge of a purple leather portfolio I found. Now the case held the priceless drawings of Leonardo da Vinci, which were previously hidden in the owl-shaped lamp. I nearly dropped the folio at the sight before me.
In open-mouthed wonder I stared at the riot of possessions and the general confusion of what might have been the alchemist’s bedroom. It was such a mess that I wasn’t completely sure it was a sleeping chamber. I thought that was a bed under a stack of shoe-boxes and a pile of clothing, though I couldn’t imagine anyone managing to sleep on it.
I came to the conclusion that the meticulously way in which the laboratory was organized was not the doing of the alchemist — or I should say the version of Cornelis Drebbel that inhabited the amethyst world. I shrugged. After all, our Cornelis kept the most haphazard scheme of things, whether on his submarine or anywhere else. So I expected it was only natural that his doppelgänger would be a slob. Alright… that wasn’t very generous of me to use such a word to describe my traveling companion. Shall I say untidy?
Thank goodness his skull, which was safely in my hatbox, wasn’t capable of disarranging things too. Then I had an uneasy thought. What if the skull had capabilities of its own? I firmly pushed that idea into a dark corner of my mind. There was more than enough trouble at hand, without borrowing even more. But I digress…
No, I thought, the orderly one must be Cal Hicks, the amethyst ape of the strange purple world of doppelgängers where we’d run aground. Cal was also the double of Copper’s father, Calvin Hixon.
I tapped my foot in a restless rhythm, annoyed with myself for wasting time, yet drawn to the room nonetheless. My intuition had become a feather, tickling a sleeping notion in my mind. That feather suddenly woke the notion and in the full light of thought, it quickly morphed into a certainty.
“Ooooh…” I murmured aloud, stretching out the word.
Abruptly I was sure that the alchemist of the amethyst world was with Copper’s missing father! However, the question remained — where? How they got together in the first place was a secondary matter. I hoped to find some sort of clue in the personal quarters of amethyst world’s version of Cornelis Drebbel. Unfortunately I had no idea what I sought, and the disarray of the room didn’t help.
A soft snuffling sound alerted me to the presence of Absinthe, the Green Fairy. He fluttered around the eyesore of a room before perching on a shoe-box. Absinthe looked at me and gave a derisive snort, clearly an opinion about the state of the bedroom. I laughed. For once I understood the little fairy.
Then Aubrieta, his mate, flew into the room. Her purple wings missed a beat when she beheld the mess. Aubrieta gave a little scream before recovering herself. I had to agree.
I felt a moment of comradery with the two fairies. They seemed to understand everything I said, but I could not interpret their snorts, grunts, and snuffles at all. However, emboldened by that friendly feeling, I told them my thoughts about the alchemist of the amethyst world and Calvin Hixon being together somewhere. I opened the portfolio of Leonardo da Vinci’s mechanical design drawings, and said that I felt one of the designs might also be involved.
When I added that I thought there might be a clue somewhere in the disarray of the bedroom, the fairies went quickly to work. They busily looked through every pile and opened every box, cupboard, and drawer.
While they looked through the room, I turned to the closet. When I opened the door I almost shrieked like Aubrieta. Boxes and all manner of other things toppled out of the closet as soon as I opened the door. Cases and trinkets continued to tumble for what seemed like an unnaturally long time. A purple feather boa draped across my shoulders as it fell. Aubrieta snuffled appreciatively. Apparently the little skunk-looking fairy thought it looked good on me.
“So you like this?” I asked Aubrieta of the boa and she chirped enthusiastically. “Well, it is your color,” I conceded with a smile.
As I held out the purple feather boa, Aubrieta wriggled the single eyebrow that was between her one eye and her golden unicorn-like horn. Static ran through the feathers, and with a spark the boa was transformed to a much smaller size — just the right length for the Purple Fairy.
By the way, I never mentioned that the Purple Fairy is a title for Aubrieta, just as Absinthe is the Green Fairy. Though I had yet to meet them, there were other purple and green fairies, but our tiny companions held some particular distinction among their kind.
I bent down to pick up a full sized feather that was dislodged from the boa. That’s when I saw the corner of a book. Its cover was made of tooled lavender leather. In the center, elaborate script spelled the word diary. It should be the journal of the Cornelis Drebbel doppelgänger. Shouldn’t it? Although, the Dutchman was a wily fellow. It might belong to someone else.
Though it didn’t really help, I took a deep breath to steady my nerves. Cautiously, I opened the lavender tome. The handwriting inside was a match for that of the alchemist of my world. I surreptitiously looked over my shoulder. I bit my lower lip, as with a bit of apprehension I began to read the diary.
However, the journal didn’t seem to be terribly personal. (I admit I was a little disappointed.) There were a lot of what I supposed were alchemy related notes, and symbols I didn’t understand. Then I found a section of spells. At least I could understand the language with those.
Turning the pages faster, I focused my search. I hoped to find some mention of Cal Hicks, or even better, Calvin Hixon. Unfortunately I hadn’t found either name. However, I was skimming the pages awfully quickly. I could easily have missed something. I began to notice repeated references to “Cu” but that made no more sense than the rest of the text. It seemed to be more of a name than initials. I shrugged. The inhabitants of the amethyst world did seem to be fond of very short names, like Cal and Von.
As I turned pages I also saw drawings and diagrams. Some of the sketches reminded me of the da Vinci drawings. I slowed down, paying closer attention.
My focus was broken by a commotion elsewhere in the laboratory. It sounded like an argument. Yes, there was some sort of disagreement. Aubrieta made an impatient snuffling sound and winged away in a blur. I figured the situation was safe in the Purple Fairy’s capable hands — or should I say wings? Paws? Whatever, I had no doubt that the one-eyed, erstwhile dragon could use that pointy horn to good effect.
I could hear the raised voice of Cornelis Drebbel, though I couldn’t make out his words. I stood, placing my finger in the diary to hold my place. I knew I’d best go see what the trouble might be before things got out of hand. Then I heard Absinthe shriek an irritated noise.
As I walked quickly down the hallway I tried to determine where the commotion had come from. Beyond the long workroom, the laboratory was a warren of hallways and alcoves. I hesitated when I came to an intersection of corridors.
A teeth jarring screech of unused metal was followed by a crash. The noise came from the kitchen. The shouting was louder, but not coherent until I heard clearly the voice of Cal Hicks.
“Lord of Alchemy!” the amethyst ape cried. “No! Please wait!”
I broke into a run.
The “kitchen” of the laboratory was a combination food preparation area, dining room, and relaxation area, with several chaise lounges. Above the wide open room was a clear crystal dome which let in the sunlight. The dome was divided into sections, much like one would cut an orange. The sections were held in place by brass strips.
Earlier, after a meal, I had stretched out on a chaise and gazed up at the pastel clouds drifting in the sky beyond the dome. It was tranquil. However, the sounds coming from the kitchen were anything but calming.
When I reached the kitchen I found Copper and Aubrieta perched on an open wooden packing crate. Another metallic screech caused me to look upward. The sections of the crystal dome slowly spread, opening to the sky. It was a fanciful idea, but it made me imagine a clear flower bud with petals opening to the sun.
Directly beneath the dome I saw Cornelis and Absinthe. They argued. Cal Hicks stood between the two, urging them to be reasonable. I got the feeling that the tableau might go on for a while. There was nothing I could do to improve the situation, and no need for me to be agitated. I leaned against the crate and turned to Copper who dangled her feet from the top of the wooden box.
“What was inside?” I asked her as I stuck my head into the empty container.
“That top thing Cornelis has. I think Absinthe wants to play with it,” Copper said knowingly. “Cornelis is too big for it. He really ought to give it to Absinthe.”
Aubrieta snorted in a derisive tone and shook her purple head. She didn’t seem to think Absinthe should have anything to do with it either. I noticed the purple feather boa had returned to full size and was draped across Copper’s shoulders. The little fairy must have wanted the boa so she could give it to the girl. I was fascinated by the way both of the fae took to Copper.
“What top thing?” I wondered aloud and stretched in attempt to see around Cornelis and Cal Hicks.
The ape and the alchemist finally moved and I saw a working model of Leonardo da Vinci’s aerial screw. It stood about waist high. The “threads” of the screw were made of linen, and it rotated slowly.
“It’s only a model,” Cornelis told Absinthe. “I need firsthand experience of it before we make a full-sized machine,” he said as the Green Fairy snorted and chirped.
Abruptly, Cornelis snapped his fingers. A yellowish green glow surrounded the aerial screw and it gently rose from the floor. With a last whine of metal, the dome finished opening. The aerial screw continued to rise. The alchemist schooled his face to a bland expression and he looked from Cal to Absinthe as the rotating machine rose above their heads.
“If the tiny fae thinks the device is unsafe,” Cal Hicks began, apparently understanding the sounds Absinthe made — was I the only one who didn’t understand fairy-speak? “Don’t you think it would be wise to listen? It needn’t be a long delay,” the ape offered in a reasonable tone.
With a mischievous glint in his eyes, Corenlis grinned. He leaped up and grabbed onto the bottom of the aerial screw. A green glow surrounded the contraption and the alchemist. The device quickly moved up into the opening of the crystal dome. Absinthe gave an angry scream. He fluttered up to Cornelis and pointed his bantam backside at the alchemist’s face in a very threatening posture. A poot of super-concentrated absinthe vapors would surely cause Cornelis to fall, and he was many feet above the floor.
“Well, climb on, old boy!” Cornelis told the Green Fairy. “There’s room for one more,” Cornelis invited as he dangled high in the air.
However, Absinthe flew in circles around the aerial screw. The Green Fairy jerked his head around, as if he heard something. He screamed again and pointed. The sound came again, loud enough for me to hear.
The linen “threads” of the screw ripped loudly. The aerial screw lurched.
Cornelis struggled to keep his grip as the machine darted wildly.
Real World Notes
Now what has Cornelis Drebbel gotten himself into? Be here next week to catch the… well dash my wig — who knows what mode of transportation we’ll use to get to the Victorian Era next time, but I hope you’ll be there!
I’m finally in my little cottage in the southwest, and have Internet again. However, I have my hands full with setting up my household, cleaning, and eventually painting. So please bear with me if I’m slow to answer comments. Meanwhile, I hope you’ll talk among yourselves in the comments.
See you next time, my chuckaboos!
Now some shameless self-promotion.
Universal link to my Amazon Author Page
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