The sails were blowing in the wind as the Gazelle traversed the mountains, heading back from Titania. They had been hunting bears again, this time they brought better guns and ammunition, so the two bears went down a lot easier than the last time. Alexander still had scars from that time, and a warm jacket too, but pelts would fetch a great price in Antiford. But they were headed back to Gearford on the way home, since it was in their path. The city looked like its normal self, busy as ever. They docked at the sky port and submitted to the ship inspection, which turned up nothing with everything being safely stored away in their secret compartments.
Rilain had bundled up and covered her face so in the odd chance she wouldn't be recognized by her former owners, and then they set out after she was done. They headed for Uncle Oliver's store, Things, located in the Saks district. Alexander still didn’t like the crowded Rathbone streets. He would rather deal with Conwell's pirates and thieves over the backstabbing aristocrats, and people trying to make a name for themselves. The store was small but it sold odds and ends and helped people acquire items. It had that exotic flare that made people want to keep coming back to see what was in stock. Uncle Oliver was in the back when the cashier yelled for him, saying he had visitors. He hurried out to see his nephew and what looked like a masked Vibranni standing around. They hugged as it had been a long time since he had last been in Gearford, and Alexander handed over the two large bear pelts, Oliver paying him the usual price for hides. Alexander had to fill him in on all of the new things going on in his life, the revelations of who he was before he lost his memory and all of the events that had happened in Kuu.
"So, you found your real family. Well, what was left of them. That’s wonderful," Uncle Oliver said, pouring a few glasses of whiskey for a toast. "So, does that mean you're going to change your name?" he asked inquisitively.
Alexander stated rather quickly, "Nope, I've had this name since mom and dad gave it to me. In my eyes, they’re my real parents, but I can still use my other name for other things. I’ll just stay Alexander Nolan for now."
Uncle Oliver smiled, glad that his nephew still wanted to bear the family name. They drank into the hours of the morning until they had to sleep from exhaustion, and Alexander decided to stay and run a few errands for his Uncle and catch up on his informants that hadn’t been arrested in the wake of Mr. Buttons’ death.
A week later, they departed Gearford. Uncle Oliver wished they could have stayed longer, but Alexander wanted to get back to his organized chaos of Conwell. The Gazelle kept a steady pace, cutting thru the skies like knife. The new engine parts were working amazingly, the mechanics of Kuu were talented in so many ways it was a good investment for the future, even though both of his families would rather him settle down and avoid the life of danger and adventure. The Gazelle always came close to Sorditudo and it caught Alexander’s eye, since there seemed to be more military than usual.
He pulled the Gazelle to a halt so he could break out his spyglass. There was definitely more of a military presence with a few small landships and more armed troops. The only thing that was close were a few small unnamed mining towns of Conwell to the south, but they couldn't be thinking that it proved useless in the war or they were still trying to hunt down Phinneus, still trying to find signs of the Northstar, not knowing of its fate.
Alexander decided he should head back to Conwell sooner instead of later. The engines roared to life as the Gazelle tested out her full speed with the new parts. It handled better than it had with no shaking and creaking from the engine room. He thought he really needed to find a good mechanic they could hire. The ship used to have a bigger crew, but now it was a skeletal crew. The Gazelle never really got into scrapes with other ships with the new weapons, and she could outrun most ships, since it was the way she was made. She was a Nightingale class ship designed for getting on and off the battlefield with supplies and wounded soldiers.
Conwell appeared on the horizon and it was always a marvel to see the city suspended above the canyon, certain parts of where it had expanded into the canyon walls.
The ship had lurched into the docks and safely moored. Alexander said in a hurry that they needed to report to the head law keeper about the sights of Sorditudo. The main jail had been standing since the city had first been founded, but it never really saw much use since most crimes were either solved by death or from the other law keepers taking the criminal in to collect the bounty.
Alexander entered, noticing that the inside of the building had seen much better days. Dust covered the office area except for a few desks, and the head law keeper, Daniel, was sitting in his chair, leaning up against the wall with his hat covering his eyes and two glasses filled with whiskey, one glass empty, on the desk in front of him.
"So, has it been that boring lately?" Alexander said, pouring whisky in the other empty glass and taking a seat. Daniel lifted up his hat and brought the chair back to the floor.
"Nolan, I had wondered where you had gone off to. Things had been quiet, or as quiet as can be in this town without your particular brand of justice," he said, raising his glass.
Alexander clinked his glass against Daniel’s."So, you're saying you missed me?"
"Well, you have an unusual way of dealing with your issues, even though it tends to be shooting first," he countered to Alexander's statement in a mocking fashion.
"Well, loose ends tend to be a bad thing for me, since I get in a lot of scrapes, and in my defense, they asked for it," he said, chuckling.
Daniel had a smirk on his face. "You shot a kid in the face; blew up two, count them, two pirate ships; and kicked a guy off the canyon," he said.
There was a sigh. "Well, I had an explanation for most of those. It went with the law, ‘an eye for an eye,’ and it might have escalated quickly, but it was warranted and no one would miss them. Besides, the kids were stealing from me, so I sent a message that stated, “Don’t steal from me," Alexander said.
"I'm not judging you. You're one of the better law keepers we have, and I don’t really pay attention to that stuff. It’s just entertaining and it keeps them on their feet," Daniel said after finishing his glass.
Alexander realized he was being distracted. "Ok, the reason why I stopped by was Sorditudo had a larger military presence than it usually has. They might be heading this way, but I doubt they would use much force to not alert Prush and risk starting another war. However, be on the lookout for soldiers trying to hide out," he said, trying to be discreet about it.
"Good to know, but I trust the people here to come and try to make some good ciams by trying to turn in the soldiers or creditable information. Never underestimate greed, and in this city, nothing is secret. There are eyes and ears are everywhere," Daniel countered.
"Alright, alright, I just wanted to let you know of what I saw and get a drink. It’s been a while since I've had red sand Prussian whiskey. I forgot why I like the stuff Ruby sells better," Alexander said as he got up and started to leave.
"Always a pleasure, Nolan. Try to keep your actions down to a minimum with the fighting and killing, alright? And my whisky puts hair on your chest," Daniel said, raising another glass as Alexander left and returned to his nap.
Alexander headed to the Land’s Edge to get a better drink from Ruby and to catch up on events or the latest information she had heard. It was busy as usual and the bar had been stealing a lot of the business from The Plucked Swan on the other end of town, having better quality booze and girls. Alexander walked towards the bar, avoiding the more rowdy groups. He pulled up a bar stool with the wall to his back, took out a cigar, and lit it as the bartender poured him a glass of whiskey. He sat there for a while, just listening to the rumors being said by everyone.
He failed to see Ruby walking up to him, pulling the cigar from his mouth. "Those things will be the death of you. I thought you quit," she said taking, a drag from it.
Alexander reached out, taking his cigar back. "Really? That’s going to be the death of me? I can see so many more viable options that would end up killing me," he countered.
She took it from him this time, throwing it on the ground, and with a few stomps, mashed it into the floor. "Well, I’d prefer you to stay around a bit longer. You're the only person I’m close to," she said with a pout on her face.
"Alright, alright, but at least pour me a free drink, if you wouldn't mind," he said with a sigh.
He knew he wasn't going to win this argument. He would just have to have another cigar later when he left. They talked for a couple more hours till the sun started to set, sinking into the sand on the horizon. Alexander gave Ruby a hug goodbye and left.
As soon as he had gotten some distance, he lit up a new cigar, taking his time walking back to the Gazelle.Hopefully Rilain had fed Franklin. If not, he probably would have kept whining until she gave in like last time. Alexander chuckled, remembering the memory. He arrived at the gazelle after a nice walk. He enjoyed the scorching desert and the nights were frigid. The moons basked the sands in an eerie light. It was a very calming sight.
He climbed through the hatch, walking down the hallways to his cabin. As he entered, Franklin squeaked, "You're late, Alex. I was bored."
"I lost track of time drinking with Ruby, like always. And I had to report the information to Daniel from earlier," he replied to Franklin’s accusations.
"I need some rest, my friend, " Alexander added, taking off his shirt and revealing his torso, scars running all the way from his shoulders to his waist; bullet, knife, claw wounds that had healed over. Somehow, he was still able to move around and function when some of these wounds would have killed a lesser person. He yawned, falling face first onto his bed, letting sleep claim him until Franklin decided to wake him up for food with his usual annoyances of jumping on Alexander’s chest, squeaking, “Feed me, feed me, feed me.” After that had all been taken care of, it was time for practice.
Rilain had been slowly learning hand-to-hand combat from Alexander, since she had never really done much of it before, so he had to teach her from scratch. He had dressed down to a thin long sleeved shirt and cloth pants with no shoes. Rilain had dressed in a similar fashion. They bowed before starting to fight, Rilain rushing in on Alexander's left, trying to use his right eye as a weakness. She launched a jab to test his eyes view out, but he swatted one jab down with his right hand, throwing a palm towards her jaw. She darted back, outside of striking distance, trying to figure out what to do next.
"Patience. This job isn't always about getting the job done in one strike. You have to wait for your chance to strike. Try to find their weakness," he said, lunging forward in a swift dash, dropping to the floor and sweeping her legs out from under her.
She fell on her butt.
"It’s all about experience. The more fights you've been in, the more you learn," he added. Rilain frowned as she picked herself up and charged in again, with two jabs, but they were blocked. She spun around on her heels with a back hand to Alexander’s face, causing him to stagger back against the bulkhead. He grinned, "Now you’re getting better," he said, going back on the offensive.
An hour later, there was blood on the floor, but it was a good fight. Alexander walked back to his cabin to wash the dried blood from his face so he could go into town and check the boards for work, as well as to get something to eat. After he was all washed up, Rilain, Franklin, and Alexander departed for the Land’s Edge.