Sunday, August 21, 2011


"She's gone out." Eduardo sat with his paws neatly together, drawn up to his tallest seated position. He even had his fez on.

Maggiormente looked around the room. It seemed entirely empty of occupants apart from his familiar. "I see."

The Venetian lion sighed. "No, she's gone out of the house."

"Ah." Even better that. Maggiormente sat down and contemplated his table of beakers, cylinders and unguents. It would be a lot to have to pack up and move, he realised. They had gotten rid of the crates in which they had brought everything from Rome. Then there would be a cart to arrange as well.

Suddenly he felt very very tired.

"We don't have to move," the lion said, looking a little too pleased with himself. He stretched his wings out to their full size and then folded them back down again.

The alchemist looked at him with an eyebrow raised. "What?"

"I said, we don't have to move anymore."

"We did before?"

"You were thinking it."

"True enough. So why don't we have to do so now?"

Eduardo grinned, showing his big teeth. While the alchemist was very accustomed to this display, many were understandably intimidated by the gleaming choppers, a fact Eduardo chose to be aware of only some of the time. "I solved our problems with the concierge."

The alchemist had a momentary image of the lion eating the poor woman, but doubtless he would be lying down to digest a meal of that size and he was looking far too alert and pleased with himself for that—which was a relief to say the least.

He was not pleased with Mme. Gabor, but he would not wish her to become Eduardo's supper.

"How did you solve our problems?"

"I reasoned with her." The lion looked even more smug now, shaking his mane to emphasize his pronouncement.

"How exactly did you do that? You worry me, Eduardo."

His familiar barked with laughter, which seemed an entirely unsuitable sound for a lion to make. "What can I say? I made her an offer that she could not reasonably refuse."

Maggiormente did not like the sound of that. "What sort of offer? Did this involve pigeons?"

"Only as an example," Eduardo said with a small growl.


"What? She was trouble—and it was only likely to get worse. You need to work. I need to eat. It's a fairly simple equation." The lion coughed and a couple of pigeon feathers wafted out of his mouth onto the floor.

Maggiormente considered the situation. "Well, I suppose anything is worth not having to move again."

"And the pigeons are really fat here." Eduardo licked his paw as if a taste of his feathery meal remained there. "We need to get back to work before the Exposition, piccolo mago. It's just around the corner after all."

"And I have nothing to show for it!" The alchemist threw up his hands. "The linseed oil has gone nowhere. I need sand. What if I should be working with magnetism after all?!"

"I think steam more likely to be effective for air travel. The locomotive is the model to follow after all. More certain."

Maggiormente shook his head. "No, the answer lies in alchemy. A chemical reaction that will take the place of inefficient coal. If not linseed, some other fuel from which I can release its explosive powers."

Eduardo huffed. "More smelly fluids."

The alchemist waved his hand, a faraway look evident in his eyes now. "The secrets to efficient air travel lie hidden in the smallest elements. I must delve deeper and explore the unseen world." He stroked his beard, lost in thought now.

The lion burped. Another feather floated down to the wooden floor, but the alchemist failed to notice its fall.

"I must review my Hitchcock, and perhaps Madame Atwood, too," Maggiormente muttered.

Eduardo laid down and rested his head on his paws and almost immediately slept.

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