Sunday, January 01, 2012


 Alessandro Maggiormente examined the hole in the ceiling with some surprise.

"Did you expect that to happen?" Eduardo said, shaking plaster dust out of his mane. He gave a good flap of his wings, too. A little white cloud surrounded him.

"I did not. This is a very good sign." The alchemist rubbed his beard with satisfaction. There was somewhat less of his beard than there had been a few moments before and the remainder had a singed edge to it, but he did not appear to notice.

"I am not sure Mme. Gabor will agree." Eduardo curled his tail around his feet.

Maggiormente frowned. They both turned toward the door expecting to hear the sound of their concierge's feet tapping their way up the stair, but there was only silence.

"She must be away," Maggiormente said, waving away any concern with her opinion. "We need to test this in a proper way before the Exposition."

Eduardo raised one eyebrow. "How much more of a test is required?"

The alchemist laughed. "I know it has great power, but can it be contained? I shall have to see if it will make a useful fuel."

"Perhaps you should try that outside."

Maggiormente nodded. "I suspect so. I need some kind of engine as well."

"What sort of engine?" Eduardo stretched. He hoped it meant a trip outside away from the unpleasant smells of alchemy.

"Oh, any sort will do," the alchemist said. "Where do you suppose one obtains an engine?"


"Is there an engine market?"

"Perhaps there is an engine area of the local market."

Maggiormente considered this. "Perhaps there are shops that sell them. They must come from somewhere."

Eduardo got his fez. "Let's go looking."

"Ah, yes. We are sure to find some shop or market." The alchemist patted his pockets, frowning again.

"What are you looking for?" Eduardo's tail lashed around him, his usual sign of impatience.

"Money. I am always mislaying this abominable French money."

"Let's go. I'm sure we can make some sort of arrangement with a shopkeeper." Eduardo headed toward the door.

"There'll be no cakes if I do not find some money."

Eduardo paused. "Have you checked the wardrobe?"

"Oh, here is my wallet!" Maggiormente retrieved the leather case from the depths of his coat.

"Cakes!" Eduardo bounced. It was an unusual sight.

The two of them bounded down the stair and into the street. It was another lovely day in Paris, a fact that had eluded the alchemist until now. He blinked in the sunlight. "This sun almost reminds me of home."

Eduardo sniffed the air. "But it doesn't smell like home."

A passer by stared at the Venetian lion and at the alchemist, too, then crossed hastily to the other side of the street. Most of the people in the neighbourhood had become accustomed to the sight of the large winged lion and no longer shrieked in alarm or ran away.

There were few, however, who welcomed the two of them. Most left a wide berth around Eduardo. Perhaps it was his very large teeth or his rather long claws. Doubtless the growls he emitted when irritated did little to calm nerves.

Not everyone was unnerved by the large creature, however, and the piercing scream that filled the air now did not indicate alarm.

"Eddie! Mon cher!"

A small girl shot out of a doorway and wrapped her arms tightly around the lion's neck while vociferously cooing at him. Eduardo took this acclaim with surprisingly dignity and did not bite the head off the child.

"Bon jour, Brigitte." Eduardo had to gasp the words as the child continued to squeeze his neck a little too tightly. "Where's your papa?"

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