Eugenia sat on the deck of the Windshear, surrounded by the colorful crew she hired in Conwell. They had settled down for the night at the Port Town of Hatterly in the Rusticanotae region. The town was quaint but did not cater to outsiders so they had to pay extra fees just to dock. The more unsavory looking crew members had to remain aboard the ship. After picking up a few additional supplies, the Professor and two of the crew returned to the ship, there was no Inn within Hatterly.
The crew sat in a circle around a lantern light telling stories. Eugenia listened but did not join the fun. They were a ribald group; colorful and full of verve. The stories they told were just as colorful and outrageous. Captain Sidalee Sunshine had finished telling a tale of how she had bested a smuggler out of a shipment of silks before turning to Eugenia. The captain's dark eyes glittered with curiosity, "So, Professor, tell us how you came about the desire to explore the world? What made you want to leave the safety of home and hearth?"
Giving a soft smile, the Professor tilts her head as she looks into the light of the lantern they had in the center of the crew. The light shone a pale green and it was soothing in the gathering darkness of night. It seemed appropriate for the oddity of the experience she was about to share. "I was a young girl, very nearly 8, when my family visited our first Carnival in Gearford, we had to travel out of the Horn District which my family hardly ever did in my younger days."
As she spoke, Eugenia looked back on the time with fondness, remembering that she was once Marie Frachette, a docile and demure young girl... until she lost her airship toy at the Carnival. It was a true flying miniature airship and it had gotten away from her. As her family watched a man load himself into a cannon, Marie had turned away from them to navigate the busy thoroughfare in search of her ship. Chasing it through the crowds, she had become terribly lost and instead of staying in the main walks of the carnival she found herself in the seedy scenes gentle folk never saw when attending such gatherings.
There were shirtless Carnies, Women in robes and heavy make up, preparing for shows and gypsy women doing their laundry while yelling at their children to stay near the wagons. Marie definitely stood out in her pristine, sea green frock with it's delicate lace collar and cuffs and dark hair in ringlets over each shoulder. She also stared at the scene with open curiosity and no attempt to keep from staring. The carnival folk noticed her progress and stopped what they were doing to watch the young girl.
As she continued along the path, she stumbled against a laundry line. An old crone crooned at her, "What are you doing here, precious? Running away from your family? Old Aggie here can give you a home." Shrugging away from the gnarled hand that reached for her, Marie backed away from the woman before ending up teacup over kettle before another person's wagon.
Laying on the ground, she noticed a table close to the ground that she must have tripped over. As she looked up, she saw a man wearing a turban staring down at her. "Well now, it's not often that young children trip into Marcutio's life." The older gentleman had an exotic accent and spoke of himself in third person. "Are you here to learn magic from Marcutio the Magnificent? Perhaps you want a gypsy to divine your future?" The elderly man helped Marie to her feet and looked directly into her eyes. "Oh no, I see what you want, adventure. Bored of your life? No, not yet, but you will soon be."
Turning his back, he righted the table and produced two small stools, one for Marie and one for himself. He waved her to sit, which she did so gingerly, prepared to jump and run away at a moments notice. "I am Marcutio the Magnificent. Purveyor of magic. Concoctor of potions. Seeker of truths. I have seen the seven wonders and visited with tribes of unknown origins." He smiles and places Marie's airship toy on the table, which causes her to gasp in surprise, before reaching for the toy and then stopping herself at the look in Marcutio's eyes.
"To you, this is just a toy. What I see is your future. My dear child, you are too young to understand this now, but someday you will find adventure aboard a true airship. It is in your heart, you will always crave knowledge and adventure. Perhaps, someday, you will travel the world and leave no corner unturned. Imagine what you will see? What you will learn?"
Marie's eyes blink wide open before the man smiles, a gentle, grandfatherly smile. "Now, you'll want to find your family. If you run to the end of this path and turn right, you'll see Safira the Fire Eater. She can take you to the constable who will help you locate your family, if they're not already tearing down the Carnival to find you. Go along, and remember what I said."
Springing to her feet, Marie scoops up her toy, holding it close to her chest. She bobs a polite curtsy and runs a few steps before turning around to wave to the magician. However, the man, table and chairs were gone, like a strange hallucination that evaporated. Hugging the airship to her body she followed the magicians instructions and was soon reunited with her family.
"Since that day, I found daring I never had before. I challenged boys in the neighborhood to races, duels and tree climbing. From that day on, my family claimed I was a harridan. Soon they began claiming I should find a nice man to settle down with instead of playing in the rain and running wild in the woods. That was not the life I wanted.
"And that is how I got my adventurer's spirit. I never did see that old magician again. If I could, I would tell him 'thank you for shaking me from the safety and comfort of my home. I wouldn't live my life any other way.'" She smiles to the group before sitting back, inhaling the tangy scent of the ocean air and looking up at the night sky, stars she couldn't see within the city twinkling bright and foreign above her. Life is what you make it, she thought, and I will never live another boring day.