The Cogman

Discussion in 'ROLEPLAY GRAVEYARD' started by Nivansrywyllian, Jan 24, 2013.

  1. Skyspire, jewel of the Triumvirate. What had once begun as a humble mining town, was now one of the greatest marvels of industrial, scientific, and architectural innovation in all the civilized world. It was the largest skyport in all of the fourteen nations, boasting a full twenty-three mountainside skydocks, each capable to receive, repair, load and unload airships of any shape and size. Cultures far and wide came through the great skyport. And it had all risen from the corpse of a war-torn empire.

    In 1678, the Straste Empire came crashing down at the hands of a coup orchestrated by a conclave consisting of disgruntled armsmen, peasants, and merchants who could no longer live under the grinding oppression of the royals. Secret meetings were held in the caves, and drug-dens of Skyspire, as the would-be assassins pulled strings and made long preparations for the day that the Great Oak would be felled.

    The coup took all of four years to plan, and arrange. And when it was carried out, it went off without a hitch. The bloodline of the Straste family was torn out, all the way to the roots. Every man, woman and child of the bloodline had been quietly put to the sword, turned on by the guardsmen that had been sworn to their service, with few exceptions.

    Unwilling to stand on the leavings of the royal line, the conclave revealed themselves to the people and were praised as heroes. The people wouldn't stand for another monarchy, so in it's stead a three-winged council was born. The military, the merchant, and the political wings. Each was meant to keep the other in check. For a time, it worked.

    But the wars started, and the military branch was pushed to the head of the council. Through a series of poor and sometimes desperate conditions, the militant wing of the Triumvirate seized power in the form of martial law. For all of it however, Skyspire continued to flourish.

    _____________________________________________________________

    A tall man walked briskly down the broad, natural stone streets of the Inner City. There was nearly no natural light in the caverns. Instead, gas lamps lined the streets, illuminating the manmade caverns and the people that walked them. He was a dapper looking fellow, with short, deep brown hair that seemed to be contrasting with the rest of his finely tailored appearance. A broad-brimmed hat sat firmly upon his head, pulled low to hide his eyes. Those were blue, big and bright. Despite the perpetual chill in the city within the mountain, the man had foregone a coat. Rather, he wore a simple vest of dark slate pinstripe, over a neatly creased undershirt. A tie was snugged neatly at his throat, to disappear beneath the vest.

    His build was neither thick nor scrawny, but landed somewhere in the middle. He didn't have the pallor of the miners who rarely saw the light of day, but neither did he have the darker skin of an outlander. His shoulders were broad, and his hands were stuffed into the pockets of his slacks. His shoes shone, the leather looking fresh and unscuffed.

    It wasn't at all uncommon for a man or woman of means to wander through the broad-way of the inner-city where the working class lived on their way to the skydocks. But the well-dressed man didn't appear to be heading to the skydocks. As a matter of fact, he didn't seem to have a definite destination at all, meandering as he was up and down the broad streets of the Inner City.

    After an hour of wandering the streets that bisected the Broad Way, he came to a stall he must have passed at least three times before. He stopped before it, and scanned the trinkets with those merry blue eyes of his, before flicking them up to give the face of the stall's owner a similar appraisal. He canted his hat backwards with a knuckle to reveal his face. He was handsome in a roguish sort of way, and had a glimmer of mischief to his eye.

    When he spoke, his voice was a smooth baritone. "What are you charging for these lovelies?"
     
  2. Samantha probably should have gone to bed hours ago. Her fingers worked feverishly with her tools, fixing in place a myriad of tiny cogs fit for mice. She worked at such a pace even she found it dizzying at times, but that didn’t change the fact that a project like this took days and days to finally bring together. She had come to the final stretch earlier the previous evening, and now at just gone five in the morning, finally…she was finished. The desire to finish always seized her, an almost maddening need to get everything done and work out the final intricacies caused havoc in Samantha’s life, but at least it usually passed upon completion of whichever project she happened to have been working on.

    The object she had been working on was a little brass dragon, complete with an ability to fly, or at least hover. Steam emitted from his nostrils, while tiny green gems lit his eyes, cut in a way that made them sparkle wonderfully. It was an excellent piece, and Samantha smiled broadly as she leaned back in her chair, removing the little magnifying glass monocle which she used to get the best view of the inner workings of her projects.

    It was only now that everything was finished that the woman realised what the time was. The market would be opening soon…

    She dressed in a green, lightly patterned shirt, along with a leather waistcoat that had many pockets, it was a practical garment for one such as her. Samantha stepped from her humble home, woody brown hair falling beyond her shoulders, the few white strands laying across her forehead contrasting with the rest. Holding the tumult of casually coifed hair back was a pair of goggles, handcrafted, of course, specifically for this womans purpose.

    Soon enough she had meandered through the market to her stall, which she prepared with precision, ensuring that all her various pieces were layed out in such a way that everything was visible, but the eye was drawn to the better trinkets, particularly the dragon that had taken so long to craft. It would be a shame to part with it, but ultimately it was the money, not the joy that had to matter.

    Her sales patter was selected for only the more wealthy of passers by, and money did change hands a few times during the morning. And thankfully Samantha spotted the well dressed man, immediately attempting to draw him in, though it seemed he was intent on seeing her wares more closely anyway. Perhaps today would be a good day.

    “Oh, it depends which piece you are interested in.” Samantha smiled, though the expression was utterly fake. “May I suggest this?” She raised a small model train, perhaps too intricately crafted. It was highly priced, much too high for a simple market stall. “Make me an offer and we can come to an arrangement.” It was the usual barter system on the marker, something that so often worked out in the stallholders favour.
     
  3. The man turned his eyes back down to the trinkets, and bent at the waist to get a closer look at each of the individual pieces. He studied closely the finely crafted little train. "This was very nicely done." He admitted, "But I'm afraid I need something with a bit of whimsy." He flashed a quick grin back up to the merchant, straightening again. "My niece's nameday is near." He straightened again, to eye all of the pieces in a sweeping stare.

    "She'd shoot me such a stare if I got her a train..." He trailed off, his eyes drifting off down the street. A moment passed, and then another. Almost as if he'd forgotten he was speaking with the merchant lady. Suddenly, his attention swept back to the stall as a whole, and he continued as if he'd never stopped speaking. "That I'd drop dead on the spot." The smile he flashed was warm, and real. "She's a willful child."

    Out from his pockets came his hands, one moving to indicate another of the pieces on the table. The dragon. "Now this," He said. "This would be a gift fit for the old Straste line. If there were any left." Mused the man. "Masterfully crafted. I'm surprised that a woman with your skills doesn't own a storefront." Again, his gaze rose from the pieces to their purveyor. "You did make these?" He asked, although his tone said that the question was nearly rhetorical.

    "Yes, I think she'd like this just fine. Or something of it's like, if you can't bring yourself to part with it, of course." Back into his pocket, one hand fished. When it came out again, it held a coinpurse, fat with currency. Nudging the drawstring loose to peer within as if gauging the money he had on hand, he narrowed his eyes. "I'd be willing to part with fourteen merchants, and five envoys for the piece." The old imperial coins had been long since replaced by the Triumvirate's coin, where merchants were the most valuable. Ten envoys made a merchant, and ten footmen to an envoy.

    The man, -familiar with the system of haggling among the stalls- had undercut the thing's value by a few envoys. It meant he'd be paying more ultimately for the trinkets, but he appreciated skilled craftsmen. "But where are my manners?" He rolled his eyes, as if exasperated at his haste to complete the business transaction. "A man should know who he's doing business with. I am Vystral Cogman."

    He offered a hand across the wares, to the merchant. The name would have fit on a street urchin. Cogman was one of the twenty or so bastard names given to the nonpersons who wouldn't ever have a legacy to speak of.
     
  4. The woman listened to the man, appearing interested at first, actually becoming so as he began displaying somewhat odd behaviour. He just stopped, as if he had never been talking to the merchant in the first place, and then casual as you like, he took up the conversation again. Whether he was being incredibly rude or was just extremely easy to distract, Samantha had no idea, but really the only thing she needed to worry about was the money. As long as he was willing to part with a significant amount of his currency, which he soon revealed was the case, she would have no qualms with his eccentric behaviour.

    In her effort to appearcharming and polite, Samantha commented, "Your niece sounds like a fine child. The dragon would suit her well." If she was fiery as this man said she was, then it was a rather apt gift. And now to the haggling. But of course, first to the introductions. The mention of his name was a surprise, and immediately put the merchant on her guard. How this man had come across such disposable income, Samantha did not know, though she would put her own currency on the line to wager he had come by it by ill means. It seemed no one was ever really what they seemed. Even so, she did not show any change in expression, instead reaching to take the proffered hand, "Samantha Conroy, at your service."

    Once this polite little display of familiarity was over with, Samantha set about her typically hard line approach to negotiation. "Add a merchant to your offer, and we have a deal." It wasn't an overly outlandish price, particularly as she was rather fond of the piece. She of course expected this counter offer to be shooed away like a bad smell, but of course, the merchant also had her bottom line price set at fifteen merchants. Had she owned her own storefront, then it probably would have gone for double that, attracting attention from the more affluent members of society, but she hadn't the means. Most of her wares were borderline junk, odds and ends for practical repair, only saved by her occasional masterpieces, engineered from a lucky cache of junk.
     
  5. Vystral let the corners of his mouth curl upwards further yet, as he studied the effect of his name on the merchant. He did so love people watching, and he had the best time of it when he could hit them with something unexpected. His hand wasn't the same sort of roughened, thickly calloused thing that miners and laborers tended towards. Neither however was it as smooth as the hands of a noble, or a wealthy goods-trader. His grip was firm and sure, though not crushing. He retrieved the hand unhurriedly from the shake.

    "A pleasure to make your acquaintance, miss Conroy." Assured the Cogman. Fifteen merchants, five envoys. It was a steep price for a stall item, no matter how fine. But for a moment, the expression of a little girl as she worked the machination on the little dragon sprang into his mind, and his eyes glossed over. "And it seems like a fair price for a little girl's happiness. You have yourself a deal." He began to count out the coins in one palm, in clear view of the merchant. Fifteen of the little, golden pieces first, followed by five of the wider silver pieces.

    He passed them across the market stall, although he made no move to collect the merchandise until the woman had counted out the coin to her own satisfaction. He craned his neck to peer around the street once again whether or not she did, and a hand rose to pluck the broad-brimmed hat from his brow. The other rose to smooth back his short brown hair. Back went the hat, as his attention returned to the merchant. "Do you perchance also do mechanical repair, miss Conroy?"
     
  6. This transaction was certainly one of the more straightforward, and civil for that matter. Samantha thought of the shouting matches that so often broke out between the desperate and the greedy - two sides of the same coin that so rarely managed to get along. But no matter, she just counted her lucky stars that this man really didn't get the idea of haggling very well, and also tried her best not to think of what line of work he was in. It was best not to get involved with those that didn't seem to fit the mould. It was a dangerous game, one that Samantha had spent years deliberately not playing, instead turning a wilfully blind eye to the troubles of the world.

    As the coins were counted, first by the cogman, the stallholder watched him carefully, well aware that the clink of coin so often caused those in her line of work to become so enamoured that they completely missed the theft going on right before their eyes. It was a habit, she remained alert at all times, no matter how genuine a customer seemed to be. Once she held the coin in her hands, Samantha deftly counted them herself, nodding as she placed the currency away, no doubt to be spent on nothing but the basics, along with a few choice items that could not be found abandoned.

    "Thankyou for your custom. I hope your niece enjoys it, sincerely." And she did. She wanted everyone who owned one of her items to love and cherish it. Samantha never did anything half heartedly, and so it was only right that whoever came to inherit these items appreciated the passionate work that had gone into making such unique ornaments.

    Now that the transaction was complete, Samantha supposed this Cogman would take his purchase and leave, but apparently he had another question. The merchant obliged with a suitably vague answer, "I dabble. To be honest, I mostly unassemble, but there is no reason why I couldn't repair, depending on what it was you had in mind." The whole truth was that when she had been learning her trade, it had been far more practical, and she probably would have been a machinist, had she not suddenly resolved to always lay low. Do nothing brilliant, nothing foul, and life would continue for years as normal. It was safe, and although sometimes life was tougher than it might have been, Samantha was content enough.
     
  7. The Cogman tugged the drawstrings of his coinpurse closed, and returned it to his pocket. He reached to take the little mechanical dragon in hand, smiling as he did so. He cradled it delicately in his palm, and used his free hand to cant his hat in a gesture of departure towards his new business acquaintance. "I'll be by again soon with more business. And no doubt thanks from my niece." He winked at the woman, and turned to go. It didn't take long for him to disappear into the early morning throng, despite his finery and his rather distinctive hat.

    ________________________________________________________________________________________

    It was some five days since the purchase of the dragon, that Vystral returned to the broad way in search of the merchant stall. He looked much less ostentatious than he had the day before, dressed in a much less expensive suit. The sleeves of his shirt had been rolled back to his forearms, and the cut and weave of his clothing could have been made by any of the shops in the Inner City. Which is to say they were fit for laborers.

    His vest was buttoned up, although he was absent a tie. A pair of wheelguns hung from holsters at his hips, and by the size of their cyllinders, they looked to be custom pieces fit either for high capacity, or high calibur. Under his arm, he carried a small chest that struck an odd dissonance with his attire. The chest was fine, ornamental even. It looked like it could have been looted from one of the great noble mansions of Strastehold, back before they'd been razed to the ground.

    The Cogman approached Samantha's stall with another quick smile, canting his hat back with a knuckle as he had the day before. "Miss Conroy," He mused, and set the box down on the clearest section of the table he could find. "This is the project I was hoping you could help with. The contents of this box are very important to me." He grinned at the woman. "Do you think you can get it open? Without breaking it, I mean." There was no obvious lock mechanism, but a top-panel on the box that appeared as if it could slide away. If opened, it would reveal a series of gears and cogs, springs and so on.

    "I'm afraid I'm somewhat too clumsy around gears and springs to take the thing apart without ruining it."
     
  8. Samantha nodded in return, watching the Cogman waft away on his business, honestly wondering what on earth that man was. He was not like most of the citizens, who fit into their allocated stations, just as if they had been cast in them and could not have budged, even if they wished it. Over the next few days she did not forget about the man, or his strange ways, but of course business continued as usual. It was a relatively slow week, and she was often left twiddling her thumbs, drifting into a daydream as she pondered on what to build next.

    On the day that the Cogman reappeared, Samantha was feeling somewhat disheartened, not to mention bored. There had been no scandal, and little trade, which was understandably pretty monotonous, particularly when this young soul hadn't yet been ground down to a pulp of almost robotic obedience. There was still fire in her belly, and the same could most certainly not be said of the vast majority of citizens in this city. They all learned - one way or another - that they were to go about their allocated role, never deviate, never complain, or else face the consequences.

    Now, Samantha greeted this new acquaintance politely, her eyes soon settling on this precious looking box. The friendly smile faltered a little, the merchant hesitating for a little while as she thought on this new development. Again she was suspicious, and felt that she really ought to speak up about this. Still, she did so gently, not wanting to offend, though this seemingly sharp man would no doubt cotton on pretty quickly. "Would you mind telling me what's in it?" This was passed off as simple curiosity, something that many were so often guilty of.

    She also added a quick, "Why have you come to me? I'm sure there are plenty of tradesmen with proven track records." He didn't seem to be terribly poor, so why not go to someone who most definitely specialised in this area? There had to be a reason, unless of course Samantha was just being far too cautious. Occassionally she did find herself seeing hostile eyes everywhere, perhaps a symptom of the society she lived in.
     
  9. Vystral grinned. "Certainly. There is a stack of missives within, of some personal value. I'd rather they remain private of course. Along with them, there is an iron key, and a small ivory cameo." He let his grin fade to a more subdued expression, although the warmth was still there. At the very least, his list of the box's contents ruled him out as a simple robber, having lifted whatever he could from the palaces before they fell. That said, he left more questions than he did answers.

    At her latter question, his brows rose, that mischievous glint returning to his eye. "I come to you because proven tradesmen have steady business." He paused, his expression turning a shade more serious than he usually let it slip. "And perhaps more importantly, they have loose tongues. You don't strike me as a woman who gossips frivolously, miss Conroy." Of course, tradesmen with shopfronts were people just as any others. Some gossiped, others didn't. All were watched however, by the Triumvirate. The market stalls were much less closely guarded.

    "Not about a strange Cogman come to your stall, with a fat purse and fine clothes." That smile returned, all seriousness washed away once more. "I'm willing to pay you well for your services. You may even keep the box once the contents are retrieved, in addition to the charge for services rendered. That is if you're still interested in my patronage." He arched a brow mirthfully.
     
  10. The list of contents seemed innocent enough, although the legitimacy of these claims would only be proven once the box was opened. What all these items were doing in this box, which apparently the owner could not open, Samantha of course had no idea. There were a myriad of further questions to be asked, but being practical as she was, Samantha had deduced that any answers she gained by pressing further would only lead to more branches of information that warranted their own queries. Ultimately, so long as she dealt with the thing quickly, it probably didn't matter where it originated from. For this reason, the merchant hesitantly accepted the business.

    "Very well. I will attempt to open it for you, but I will need to return home with it." It was a weakness, but Samantha just could not work well when having to contend with noise and movement from elsewhere. It was for this reason that most of her work was carried out during the hours of dark, when all were asleep, or else drifting through their duties that they had unfortunately been dealt. Samantha continued, "If you wish, you may come with me, or else leave it witth me overnight. Business here is almost non existant today, so I would be glad of the distraction."

    Although it wasn't necessarily a great idea to invite a stranger into ones home, there was little choice in the matter. It was where this woman knew how to relax and focus, and of course the instruments she needed were ready and waiting for her. She had a small kit here, but that was more for tweaks, and minor tinkering. This was looking to be a complex project that would take some time and patience, both of which Samantha was lucky enough to have in spades.
     
  11. Vystral eyed the woman up and down ponderously, before tucking a pair of fingers into a pocket behind one of the gun holsters, to produce a little brass fob watch. It clicked and opened to reveal a simple face. It closed again, and got returned to his pocket. "I trust that it's in good hands for the evening." He said, surely. "I don't have the time to wait on it I'm afraid."

    He leaned to take the box back in hand, and tuck it under his arm once again. "But I wouldn't mind escorting you back to your residence. I don't doubt your honesty of course, but a woman walking about with an expensive box in the Inner City makes a tempting target. I wouldn't be able to live with myself if something untoward were to happen to you on my account." He said. At the very least, he sounded sincere. He glanced up and down the gentle slope of the Broad Way. "Do you live upslope, or down?"

    The Broad Way itself ran through the mountain, a gently twisting thing that had been expanded on from the veins of ore that had been mined out over the years. It let out at the top at the beginning of the Skyports. At the bottom, it lead towards the Outer City, where most of the wealthy stayed with the benefit of sun and personal gardens.
     
  12. So, they had an arrangement. Honestly, it was a joy to be working on something interesting, particularly as it would likely be several weeks before she had sufficient supplies to begin crafting another trinket worthy of note. Alot of time had to be taken, sifting through junk in order to find the gems within the rubble, and equally, money had to be spent for the more difficult items to find. It was a longwinded process that Samantha went through, and often there was little monetary gain to be had, but without these little projects of hers, it was likely that she would have gone mad due to the monotony of her work many years ago.

    "Very well." Samantha answered, beginning to pack away the various bits and bobs on display. As she did so, she answered, "Just a short way up." The home she lived in was little more than a hole in the wall, it had the bare minimum to support life, and the miniature workshop was situated in a corner of the bedroom. It was where Samantha spent most of her time, whether she was actually working, or merely thinking on life. Once the wares were ready for transportation - seeing as no one was fool enough to leave their items here, even in the most secure of containers - Samantha motioned for them to begin walking.

    "You really don't need to accompany me, I am quite capable of handling myself." There was a small firearm on her person, hidden carefully, as it would likely land her in prison - or worse. It had been crafted by herself, and was not of a type one of her status was permitted to own. But thankfully, no need of it had ever arisen, and so Samantha remained a free woman. "But if you insist, it is only a ten minute walk from here." She remained jovial enough, walking with this Cogman, still trying to work out just who he was.
     
  13. The Cogman nodded his head, smile sitting firm on his face. "I'm certain you can," He said, as he watched the woman gather up her wares. "It would put me at ease however to know that you're safe and sound." He glanced at her bundle and considered a moment offering assistance in toting the thing. He thought better of it, of course. She didn't strike him as the sort to appreciate chauvinistic gestures. Moreover, he doubted sincerely that she'd trust him with her livelihood.

    So he started walking up the hill. As they moved, his eyes scanned the crowd casually. As a Cogman, he shouldn't have been allowed to wear guns on his hips of course, and yet he did. "Your work is splendid," He observed once again. "How did you come by your craft? Are you self taught?" He didn't deign to look at the woman as he spoke. As a matter of fact, he rather acted as if he were carrying out the duties of a bodyguard, rather than a business acquaintance.

    "Or would you rather not discuss yourself?" He flashed the woman a brief smile. "I certainly shouldn't expect you to tell your deepest, darkest secrets to a near complete stranger of course."
     
  14. As it was becoming fairly late in the day, there was less milling about in the crowds, and more a uniform wave towards home. If one took the time to watch the crowds throughout the day, they would notice a marked difference as time went on. It was so often the occupation of a market stall holder, that Samantha had come to accept the phenomenon as inevitable. She hardly even noticed it anymore. Of course, it was hardly important, although it did usually mean it was time to pack up for the day. The movement of the browsers was far more accurate than any clock.

    Now, as they walked in the direction of Samantha's home, the woman listened and primly offered a small, "Thankyou." when her work was complimented, proceeding to expand on this when an interest in her origin in the trade was expressed. "My business is hardly a secret. It is exceedingly boring, however." There was no charming story to how she had become what she was. "My father taught me the basic principles, and I worked most of the rest out for myself." Her father had been a far more useful merchant. He had constructed and repaired machines, usually for domestic purpose, though occassionally more important projects would come up. He had owned a regular shop, but his daughter had downgraded. As said before, she wished to remain far below the radar.

    "Now you know mine, it is only right I know your story, Cogman. How is it that you have the means to buy trinkets for children, yet bear the name Cogman?" Gambling, maybe. She was aware that her question was probably overstepping the mark, but if she could get any information out of him in the few more yards to her house, she was going to do it. Just to be on the safe side.
     
  15. Vystral nodded ponderously, his lips curving skyward as the image of a young girl learning the trade of a tinker from her father filled his head. He loved imaginings, almost as much as he did adventure. The question returned to him was one that finally pulled his eyes away from his surroundings. His smile broke out in full then, that mischievous glimmer back in his eye.

    "Aah, now there's a question worth a pretty penny. Are you sure you want to know the answer?" He paused dramatically, a brow arched. The expression lasted for all of three steps before it melted into a merry chortle. "Ah, but I'm a terrible actor." He lied. "I do guard work most times. Informal protection, escorting valuables. It's not the best paying work, but some of my clients can be very generous." He shrugged the shoulder of his unburdened arm.

    It wasn't an uncommon sight to see a Cogman take to the military, or private protection services. Few survived long however, and fewer still owned wheelguns of their own. "I've saved up a pretty penny over the years. I do tend to spoil my relations something awful however." He said. His feet slowed to a stop as they approached the little building belonging to the woman. "Is this you?" He asked, indicating the home.
     
  16. This man was far too happy. His merriment didn't seem contrived, nor did it appear warranted, but perhaps this really was just this particular louts disposition. If he had found his lot in life and was far more than content with it, then it hardly made sense to mistrust him for it. Although the city was rife with poverty, crime and general depression, there were always bound to be a few lucky souls such as this Cogman, that just happened to fall into the perfect role. Samantha had to admit that she was devillishly close to that ideal, but unfortunately she didn't lack the inhibition to be as jolly as this young man. Still, even with all that rationalisation, and his plausible explanation of his work commitments, Samantha still felt somewhat uneasy.

    The woman left that aside for now, well aware of the fact that a path had been chosen, and she would travel down it now as surely as a train will continue along its track, never deviating from its preassigned path. It was the natural order of things, be that for good or ill. It was the same for everyone. Every decision they made was as it should be, unless they were informed otherwise by the authorities. Freewill. They all had it, so long as they chose the right path.

    And now they were indeed at the humble lodgings. "Yes, this is me." Samantha hastened to the door, unlocking it with ease, though she hoped that the lock she had in place would not be so easy to pick. Like most important things in her life, it had been crafted by her own hand, to the same high standard she always endeavoured to achieve. "Would you like to come in? I haven't much to offer, but I'm sure I could find something." If she was honest, she had no clue what was polite in circumstances such as these, and was merely guessing here. Whatever the answer to the question, however, it really was no skin off her back.
     
  17. Vystral couldn't have told the woman the whole truth of course. She'd have been as likely to send for the authorities straightaway as she would shoot him. No, his secrets were deep and dark. And if he had his druthers, they'd stay that way for the forseeable future. As Samantha fussed with the lock, he settled his weight to one side, leaning slightly in an attempt to peer at the mechanism.

    He straightened again, when it was open, and strode in. With the box tucked under his arm, he cast about for a place to leave it. "I'm afraid that I can't stay. I have pressing duties to return to," He said. He finally set the chest down on the nearest available surface, and tucked his thumbs behind his belt. "I'll be at your stall in the morning." He said, chipper as ever.

    With that, he lifted his hat in parting once again. Unbeknownst to him however, he'd be calling on the woman much sooner.

    _______________________________________________________________________________

    It was perhaps four in the morning, when the Cogman found himself jogging briskly through the streets of the Inner City once again, retracing his steps to Samantha's door. The look of easy amusement was wiped from his face, and had been replaced by one of wariness. Up to the tinkerer's door he walked, and lifted a hand to rap on the frame smartly.
     
  18. Once inside the relatively dingy building, Samantha set her wares aside in one corner. There wasn't too much free space or storage, and so most of the time the woman simply had to arrange her things along the walls in a sea of organised chaos. It was hardly ideal, but again, it was something that one got used to over time. It was probable that should she find herself suddenly situated in a larger, better furnished home, that she would go mad within the week. Change wasn't always good, and sometimes these little adaptations to accomodate life became so ingrained that it was nigh on impossible to shift the habit.

    "Yes. Of course, I will see you in the morning." Samantha confirmed, seeing the man to the door, not that it was terribly far. Getting lost here would be a challenge indeed, and it was likely that anyone capable of that would be suffering from some form of brain disease. But that was beside the point. Samantha closed the door behind the Cogman, locking it securely, as she was accustomed to do. Of course there was a fire risk, but she felt it more important to keep burglars out, rather than ensuring her survival in the event of a disaster.

    Once he was gone, she began work on the little box. Lighting her work area, Samantha sat down at her workbench, examining the complex inner workings of the system. As with most technologies, the thing looked almost impossibly confusing, but once studied methodically, it was usually easy to see a pattern to the various wheels, cogs and springs within. Samantha worked in silence for several hours, using fine filamented tools to gently manipulate the system, doing so extremely carefully so as not to damage the box. After a time, her work paid off, the box unsealing itself, just clicking out of position. Samantha didn't peek, she simply smiled, laid her tools to one side, and hurried off to bed.

    Having slept soundly throughout the night, Samantha startled awake soon after she heard the insistent knocking on her door. Highly irregular. She rose from her bed slowly, brow furrowed as she attempted to confirm that this really was someone bashing on her door at such a ridiculous hour. Seeing as the noise didn't cease, Samantha wrapped an old blanket around her shoulders before heading to the door, not unlocking it just yet, instead calling to the unannounced visitor, "Who's there? What do you want at this hour?" She was understandably a little on the stern side, as she really did not take kindly to being woken in the middle of the night.
     
  19. Vystral wasn't in the habit of making midnight calls on unsuspecting civilians, but there were pressing matters that demanded this particular visit. "Miss Conway," He spoke through the door, lowly. "It's the Cogman. I have an urgent matter to discuss with you." He turned his back on the door to scan the street up and down the way. It was just as well lit as it was in the day, gas-lights providing light for the cavern as ever. It was however barren of the foot traffic that pervaded the streets during the daylight hours.

    The cogman looked once again different from the day before. His broad-brimmed hat was absent from his head, his hair a tousled mess. He wore a duster over the vest from the day, and it's ends were singed. He smelled heavily of smoke, and soot smudged his cheeks. His hips were still slung with his gunbelt, but only one of the wheelguns remained.

    After casting about the street for a time, he gestured briskly. Out from the shadows of a nearby alley stepped a wide-eyed girl that couldn't have been more than nine. She was shrouded in a cloak, with it's hood pulled up to hide her rather cherubic face. It was heart-shaped, with full cheeks. She had big green eyes, and golden hair that came in such a volume that the hood poorly hid it. She was a beautiful child.

    When she arrived beside the Cogman, he ushered her between himself and the door, guarding her silhouette from the street. "Please, open the door. Lives depend on it."
     
  20. Listening carefully for an answer, the now alert woman found herself somewhat bemused by the revelation that this Cogman had come to call on her at this time. Of course, whatever might have been said, she no doubt would have been surprised. Nothing that occurred at this hour tended to be expected. Even so, the tinkerer now had to come to a decision over whether to allow this strange young man entry to her humble abode. Although this was highly irregular, Samantha supposed that so far he had not alarmed her, only caused an unusual amount of intrigue. And so, just as the man mentioned that lives depended on her decision, Samantha began unlocking her door.

    This almost hysterical comment did cause Samantha to pause, though only momentarily. She had already set her mind, and so the planned course of action continued as planned, the brisk night air wafting into the building as the door swung open, revealing the two figures that called at this womans door. "I suppose you had better come in." Samantha said as a matter of course, only just then noticing the small figure that stood between her and the Cogman. It was the bright flash of blonde that alerted her to the second person present. A child. Obviously. The features were obscured, but that didn't matter.

    Samantha ushered the two in, bolting the door again, more out of habit than anything else. "Please, tell me what on earth is the matter. I assume the child is in some danger?" It was the only conclusion she could draw from what scraps of infromation she had. Her tone was stern, and perhaps she had every right to be so, given that this was more than just a minor intrusion.