Chapter 3: Special Deliveries and Warnings
Leaning on the counter, Ezekiel let his legs dangle off the stool. The act made him feel like a child again. People often asked if he ever forgot about having an artificial leg and he’d often open his eyes wide and ask, “What artificial leg?” It was a mean joke, people were well-meaning, but they always acted like he was broken when he was just different. His artificial leg sometimes itched and it sometimes hurt, but so did his flesh one.
The changes that Didi had made to his leg let him tap rhythmically. It was going to make things really different tonight if she could get it working. The girl was an absolute genius but she always seemed preoccupied.
Not that he was all that much better. He worked for his father and mother at the Apollo shipping company because that’s what was expected. He was a decent bookkeeper, supervisor, and had a knack of motivating employees, but most of the time he sat at the counter waiting for someone to have a problem. It was boring, but it gave him time to think about his music.
That night he was going to be headlining at the Greasy Cog, the coolest music club in Cillian. His parents hated that he played music but tolerated it as long as he didn’t play in public. He, of course, disguised himself and went by Zed. He’d been playing on street corners and pubs for years until the owner of the Greasy Cog heard him.
If things went well tonight he could be playing for the Princess at her coronation.
“Hey Ezekiel. What’s new?”
As if on cue, she walked through the door to work on her infernal glider cycle. It was an idea that people had been trying to perfect for years. If she could actually make it work it would mean two airships could exchange goods in mid-air without docking or using a complicated anchoring procedure. She’d been working on it, as a side project, for the past two years.
He told her about the leg and she promised to look into it. She was always chipper with her catchphrase of, “Perfection through persistence.”
As she left towards her workshop, she said, “Arty here was looking for you. Take care of him, he’ll be a master soon.”
Turning towards the newcomer, he tried to ask how he could help but it just came out as a strange croak. The man in front of him was dressed as a fighting monk and was quite possibly the best looking man he’d ever seen. His strong cheekbones were made more prominent by the tight bun fashion that the monks put their hair in. The man was attractive beyond the face; his arms, legs, and chest were well muscled in a way that looked sculpted instead of bulky.
“Hi. How can I help you?” he finally managed.
“I was told I have a letter.” There was something in the way the man stood and talked that was familiar.
Ezekiel nodded and headed to the back. It took a little searching but he finally found the letter.
“I’m going to need proof of identity.”
The good looking man blushed and fished in his robes for something. Pulling up a crumpled paper, he smiled crookedly and said, “Sorry. It got wet.”
The paper had an official seal from the Hero Johann Haus but all he could read was an A and some blurry ink stains. Sighing, Ezekiel said, “I’m really sorry, but I can’t accept this.”
“The letter is a replacement for this paper…” the man paused and his brow furrowed. “Please!” It looked like it took a lot of effort to ask. As a fighting monk, Ezekiel assumed Arty didn’t need help very often.
“How about this. I’ll open it and if it’s identification papers I’ll give them to you. If they’re not I’ll call the guard?” It was an empty threat. The man hadn’t done anything illegal.
“Okay!” the man nodded enthusiastically and smiled. The smile and enthusiasm made Ezekiel’s heart flutter.
The envelope held a paper similar to the one Arty had given him and a letter. He checked the paper and it was genuine so he handed the whole thing to Arty.
Instead of leaving or putting the papers away, Arty started to read the letter. Not wanting to intrude or stare any more than he had already, Ezekiel busied himself with some random paperwork; mostly shipping invoices.
“Oh no!” Arty’s voice quavered and he looked like he was trying to decide between panic and joy.
“She’s coming here.”
“The Oracle of Espenson.”
Ezekiel groaned. The Oracle was nicknamed the Prophet of Doom. When she left her home she always had prophesies that meant terrible things for someone. Worse than the predictions was how accurate she was. It was said the more you fought her prophesies, the more you’d suffer.
“This might give me my Act,” Arty beamed.
“Act?” Ezekiel was wondering if he should maybe take a long vacation.
“In order to become a Master, I have to pass all the tests and perform an Act of Heroism. This could be it.”
The man’s passion was impressive. Between the passion and the panic, Ezekiel didn’t think before he spoke aloud, “You’re hot when you’re passionate.”
If you’re enjoying this year’s serial story why not check out those from past years?