This wasn't the first time Morlock had made a hasty escape from a Prush prison but this time he was leaving with a couple political prisoners. A princess and few sailors, Lieutenant, Petty officer and a young cadet all on the wrong side of the civil war. They managed to hijack a small airship before the alarm sounded and search parties were deployed.
The ship was headed south bound and all pursuers had finally been given the slip. Bolts and panels rattled in the aft of the ship which threw the rudder off every now and again. Horace had no Idea of where they were and heading back would be troublesome even if they could find their bearings. The sun never felt so strong. Morlock unbuttoned his shirt and went to get some water.
“You must be from the continent. If this heat is really getting to you.” The lieutenant said.
Horace nodded. He didn’t think this crew would like the fact that he came from the Antiford.
“Well it's nice to meet you, I am Lieutenant Anderson from Coral city.”
The cadet ran up to the main deck recklessly knocking down a tool box over.
“WATCH IT BOY! the craft is too small to be thrashing about” the lieutenant scolded.
“Apologies sir but the ship is very low on fuel. we’ve got maybe a day at half speed” the cadet said.
“Then let's head west to those small islands so we can make a sail or something” Princess Nix said as she came down for the crows nest.
“Pardon me your grace but I don’t see any..” the lieutenant cut his sentence short. “It is worth a look,” he rephrased.
The ship veered off to the small island that came into plain view within a hours. The island looked inhabited with houses, shops, farms and a small castle with a tower. All five of them were shocked to see that there were people on the island. They set the aircraft down in a pasture by one of the farms. They were expecting the farmers to come up to them or say something at very least but they just kept working the fields.
“Hello, can you help us? Anderson shouted and waved.
The framers looked up for a brief moment then went back to tending to their crops.
“Maybe we can get help in town,” the cadet said.
“Agreed and maybe we can find a map that will show us where we are.” Nix said.
“Yes, your highness” The others responded.
They headed into town to find someone for help. All the shops were open and every one was doing business but there was a weird aura about them. There was no haggling, no running or yelling. It was like everyone was taking it easy with little small talk and quick visits to the stores. Horace and the others went to a news stand.
“Hello sir, we’re new here and wondering where we can get some fuel and if you have a map or any sea charts of this area?” asked Anderson.
The shopkeeper smiled at them and pointed at the small castle in the center of town.
“Go see the Clockmaker. He knows everything and can fix anything that you need,” the shopkeeper said. So that's what the crew did.
The walls were high and there was a clock tower or more like a tower of clocks with over twenty faces of different sizes running up and down like a puzzle. This has to be the place Horace thought. They walked up to the castle gates and pulled on the rope to the bell. A smaller door that was cut out of the gates opened up. A woman with an odd hat with tools and lenses mounted on was standing in the doorway. She took off the hat revealing her bright red hair all messed up from the hat.
“Welcome, Is there something that I can help you with?” she asked.
“Are you the Clockmaker?” asked Nix.
“Oh no, I’m the Clockmaker's wife. please come in and I’ll let him know he has a guess.” said the red haired woman.
They walked inside and sat down in a small living room. There were gears slowly moving on the walls as if the whole castle was part of one machine. The guest room was quite charming and everything from the table to teacups were a work of art that you'd see a clockmaker crafting themselves. They sat there and waited a little bit before the Clockmaker came up from his workshop with a small boy.
“Thanks for fixing my knee pops,” the boy said.
The Clockmaker laughed “don’t play too rough with the other kids now.”
“Dear, we have visitors new to the island.” The Clockmaker's wife said.
The Clockmaker reset his glasses on the bridge of his nose. “So we have, and what brings you folks to our humble little town,” he said.
“Yes sir, we are hoping to know where we get fuel for our ship and if there are any maps to tell us where we are,” The lieutenant said.
“You hear that honey, they just got here and they already want to leave.” the Clockmaker said jokingly.
“Oh, I do hope you’ll stay for a little while. We don’t get many visitors from off the island.” his wife said.
“We’ll be grateful for any help and will renbrust you ten fold for your effort,” Nix said.
“Well I’m not sure we have any airship fuel but there are some ships in the water that can take you to where you need to go. You should stay here until Tuesday when the storm passes. It will be here late tomorrow” The Clockmaker said looking through an elaborately large spyglass by an open window.
“Thank you sir, is there a town inn that we can stay at?” Nix asked.
“Yes, but I’m sure one of you can stay in our guest room,” The clockmaker’s wife said.
Nix turned to her companions and pointed to the petty officer, “Officer Starcy keep the Clockmakers company” she ordered.
“Yes ma’am,” Starcy saluted.
They headed to a small inn by the edge of town. The town was very quiet and there was a strange feeling that lingered in the air like one would get going through a ghost town.
“It’s awfully quiet here,” the young cadet stated.
“Never been to a small town before? This is quite normal,” Anderson told him.
The inn only had two rooms to house them. The three men crammed into one small room and Nix got the bigger room all to herself.
“I wish the clockmaker had another spare room.” the cadet complained.
“Well if you were a social butterfly like the petty officer then you'd be probing the clockmakers for more info.” Anderson said.
“Think we’ll be here long?” Horace asked, looking outside at the incoming storm clouds.
The lieutenant scratched his goatee in thought.
“Well if the winds are fair and with the help of a map or a sea captain we can leave after tomorrow” he said.
The rain started to come down hard and the crew turned in for the night.
The next day the storm was still going strong and going outside was something that wasn’t easily done. They spent that day inside waiting for the storm to come out. The next day the skies cleared and they went back to the Clockmaker's castle at first light. They knocked on the door and the wife answered the door again.
“Welcome, is there something that I can help you with?” she asked.
“Yes, we’re here to get our companion.” Nix said.
The Clockmaker’s wife looked clueless to the princess’s statement.
“Is there something that I can help you with?” she asked again.
“Is the Clockmaker home?” Nix asked.
She smiled and led them into the waiting room again.
“The Clockmaker will be here in a little bit. He was working late last night.” she said.
Horace wandered about the room because sitting still wasn’t something he was good at. As he was pacing he noticed a broken lamp on the ground and scuff marks leading to the workshop. He followed the marks down a winding stairwell to an empty workshop. Horace snooped about picking up a book from a bookcase that was displayed differently from the rest.
“Horace, what are you doing here?” Nix said with a stern tone.
Horace was startled and stumbled into the bookcase knocking down a row of books.
“Now that’s not any way to compose oneself in the presence of royalty.” the lieutenant said.
“Sorry,” Horace said, feeling like a thief caught red handed. He picked some of the books and started to put them back when he noticed one book standing alone.
“That's odd,” Horace said.
“What is?” Nix asked.
“This book, it should have fallen like the others” he said as he pulled on it. The book titled as a mechanical sound came from the wall. The bookcase moved revealing a secret room. Inside there was Petty officer Starcy bond, gagged and partially automatonised. She screams into her gag begging to be freed.
“MY GOD! What in the blazzies is this!?” Lieutenant Anderson yelled, rushing over to unshackle her.
“THEY TOOK MY LEGS AND MY ARM!” she cried as soon as the gag came off.
“And you would have been fully fixed if you weren't such pain and fighting me all night.” the Clockmaker said.
He had a black eye and scratches on his arm.
“You vile evil man. Why would you do this?” Nix yelled.
“Vile, you say? Evil, you say? What I’m doing is putting this child into a body that won’t grow old, won't succumb to sickness and feel pain. I wish to give her and all of you everlasting beauty. Is that so wrong of me?” the Clockmaker said.
“Please sir, I want to leave here” Starcy cried with uncontrollable tears running down her face.
“No I’m afraid that you all will be staying here indefinitely” The Clockmaker said.
Horace rattled off a shot from his pistol, missing the Clockmakers that fled up the stairwell. He drew his sword and tossed it to nix.
“Lieutenant grab her and let go before we get trapped down here.” Horace commanded.
The Lieutenant handed the cadet his sword and picked up the petty officer and broke for the exit. There was an angry mob standing at the castle gates.
“Damn it, we’re too late,” the cadet said.
“Not yet, Mr. Morlock, can you shoot something for me?” Anderson said.
He knelt and rested Starcy on his knee, then through a bag of black power into the crowd. Horace shot the bag midway sparking a cloud of fire that lit the crowd on fire. All their clothes, shin and hair burned from their bodies revealing the mob's true form. An army of mechanical men that were still marching in.
“For heaven's sake” Anderson cried out in frustration.
That little move gave Horace an idea.
“Lieutenant, do you have one more of those bags?” he asked.
“Just one.” Anderson answered.
Anderson tossed Horace his last bag. Horace removed a cork from the barrel and stuffed it into it. He rolled it down to the mob closing in and waited to see the small opening that he put the bag in.
“Get ready to duck for cover” warned Horace.
The shot came into sight and Horace took it. The bullet struck the bag and the explosion caused the barrel to shatter and the automatons got heavily damaged. A big hole opened up with most of the mob stuck with wooden splinters jamming their gears.
“Let's move.” Horace said.
They ran to the docks and commandeered the largest vessel there. Nix went straight to the pilot station and started the ship at full-steam. Horace and the cadet frantically hoisted the anchor.
They made another hasty escape just as aimless as when they arrived.