"Charmant!" Brigitte hugged the lion even more tightly. Eduardo's tongue hung out now as he panted.
"Ma cherie," a stern voice called. "Let him go, you are squeezing him too tightly."
"Alain!" Maggiormente clapped his friend on the back as the two embraced. Eduardo shook his mane and used a paw to rub at the location of his tender assault while Brigitte cooed nearby.
"A glorious day in the city of lights, eh, Alessandro? Where are you two bound?"
"Ah, now that is a good question. You can assist us, I am certain, my friend." The alchemist clapped his hands together in anticipation. "Is there a motor market nearby?"
Alain Fabien raised his eyebrows. "Mon dieu! A what?"
"We are in need of a motor. Where does one buy a motor?" Maggiormente frowned. "I have not had to buy a motor before."
"What sort of motor?" The Frenchman rubbed his chin. "A big one, a little one?"
The alchemist considered this. "Any kind of motor would do, I suppose."
"Perhaps a small one," Eduardo intervened.
Fabien pondered. "Perhaps we can borrow one?"
"Can we return it safely?" Eduardo growled, chafing a bit at Brigitte's attempts to plait his mane into little pigtails.
"We just need to test our fuel," Maggiormente said with a shrug.
Fabien nodded. "Surely that won't be a problem."
"The hole in the ceiling says otherwise," Eduardo said quietly.
Fabien regarded him with one eyebrow raised. "That is another matter. Perhaps we should find somewhere for you to purchase a motor."
"Do you have an idea of where?"
"Yes, come. Brigitte, leave Eduardo's mane alone."
"Papa! May I ride on Eduardo's back?"
Fabien and Maggiormente looked at the lion, who flapped his wings gently. "It will be all right, I suppose," Eduardo said at last. Brigitte shrieked and grabbed handfuls of his mane and struggled aboard his broad back between the wings.
"Can we fly?"
"Flying is undignified," the Venetian lion growled.
"I know a man who has repaired motors for the glass factory near here," Fabien explained. "If he does not have a motor to sell you, perhaps he will know where you can get one."
"That would be ideal. I need to test my new elixir." The alchemist stroked his beard with pleasure. Things seemed to be going well.
"Elixir? I thought you were working on a fuel." His friend frowned, puzzled.
"Oh yes, but it is so much more than that!" The alchemist swelled with pride. "This could be an incredible advance in the world, an explosive concoction—"
"Emphasis on the word 'explosive'," Eduardo interjected.
"You are too pedantic," Maggiormente huffed.
"Mme. Gabor will not be so pedantic when she sees the hole in her ceiling."
The alchemist waved his hand at this trivial detail. "Nothing revolutionary has ever been accomplished without a little collateral damage. It is infinitesimal in the grand scheme of things."
"You're not going to start a fire?" Alain Fabien looked rather nonplussed at the emerging details of the experiment to date.
"No, no, nothing like that," Maggiormente reassured him.
"Only the occasional explosion," Eduardo agreed while Brigitte cried, "Wheee!" on his back.
"Well, if it's only the occasional explosion—" Fabien grimaced.
"Oh, it's hardly to be noticed!" Maggiormente explained. "In a motor, such an explosion will be contained. It will only be part of the thrust of the engine. I am nearly certain."