Here may be found an archive of entries into the ongoing diary of Europa's Greatest Living Hero, lately serialized using the innovative journaling engine known as "Twitter." When you have finished reading the archives here, you may wish to:
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This archive reads from top to bottom (you know, the usual way.) Twitter, on the other hand, posts the newest entry at the top for convenience. And now, without further ado:
Bashing heads for Justice!!!
Hi All -- My name is Othar Tryggvassen Gentleman Adventurer! ha HA!
Dangling from an Airship in flames. Do I let go and fall to earth? or Climb up and burn? This ones a stumper
Survived the fall... again.
Received a message that the daughter of the Baron of Micklesburgh has been kidnapped by a masked man riding a flying stoat. Intriguing.
Planned on taking the train to Micklesburgh, but I am told that no trains have returned from there in the last week. Annoying.
On the road to Micklesburgh at last. No news from there for 2 weeks. Bought supplies and a good horse. I believe I shall name him Spooky.
Remember - just because someone is shooting at you, it doesn't mean they don't like you. Some habits are just hard to break
Have found a friendly farm on which to spend the night, which is lucky, as it looks like rain. Farmer's daughter seems most convivial.
A little TOO convivial. Lycanthropy is a messy business. Rain cleared up. Sun out. Spooky is fed, watered and ready to go. Onward!
A quiet day. Weather continues fine. Have made camp for the night in carapace of old clank near brook. Fish for dinner! Yum! Frogs singing.
On the road again. Did not sleep well. Frogs quite loud. Will be glad to leave this area, as they seem even louder. Weather continues fine.
Bad day. Frogs seem to be following me and they're getting louder. But I can't see them. Worrying. Spooky does not seem worried. Odd.
Whew. Found parasitic frog burrowing into ear. Much quieter now. Weather is foggy. Found tools from road repair crew. But no crew.
Search of road crew camp yields nothing. No fire tonight. Alarm wires strung. Unusual glow over horizon towards Micklesburgh. Figures.
Slept well, considering. Weather still foggy. Have noticed that Spooky is staring at me. Follows my every move. Unnerving. Ate some cheese.
Problem? According to my chronolumograph, 4 days have passed of which I have no memory. Even worse, official hero timecard not stamped. Drat.
Found a stream and was bathing (cleanliness is important) when I discovered a tattoo upon my abdomen. "Believe Green Eyes". My handwriting.
Found Spooky, made camp. Weather continues odd. Should arrive at Mickleburg tomorrow. Can see town below in valley. Looks normal.
Finally entered Mickleburg. Town gates opened at sunrise. The smell of their famous honey-bread is everywhere. Mighty tasty too. still foggy
Before I see the Baron, I shall sound out the town. First thing of note, it appears that no one is allowed to leave once they enter.
Town appears normal. There is a growing unrest amongst travelers who cannot leave, but reports of monsters is keeping them quiet for now.
Slept well. Apparently someone attempted to steal Spooky, but were fooled by the cardboard decoy. An old trick but a good one.
Have an appointment with Baron. Observed flying stoat and rider in sky. Townspeople terrified. Street cleared (except for me). We waved.
Have made inquiries. Flying stoat rider is local spark who raised stoats for their pelts for wig makers. Was never a financial success.
Have spoke to Baron. Idiot. Defaulted on his wig bill, daughter kidnapped. Here I was hoping for something different. Had him pay in advance
Stoat rider's name is Zorbit Huffnagle. Stoat farm is in giant tower in middle of town. Deadly devices through-out. Same old same old.
Have entered Huffnagle's tower and encountered first line of defense.Ten feet of stoat dung. Was going to kill him anyway, now I'll enjoy it
Second line of defenses was hoard of undead stoats. Tedious, yet unnerving. It did not help that they sang. How did my life get like this?
Giant flying stoat is a lot larger than I thought. I mean, I knew it was big- but it turns out that Huffnagle himself is twenty feet tall.
I'm sure Huffnagle had a tragic history, but you'll need haruspicy to discover it as I pushed him off the top of the tower. Stoat is mad now
As I suspected, stoat was deathly allergic to ham. Choked to death. Now I must find the Baron's daughter. View of town from tower is superb.
Problem. Have found Baron's daughter. Several times. There were three girls locked up, all identical, all claiming to be the real Rheeba.
None of them have green eyes. Have also found another prisoner unconscious. This especially worrying as it appears to be me. Handsome devil.
It is me. He has the secret scar that I got during the Nymphenburg Pudding Incident. Ah, Desdemona, you naughty, naughty girl. Dead now. tsk
As best as I can tell, my doppelganger was savaged by some sort of giant rodent. Will survive. I have mixed feelings about this. Must think.
A puzzler. All Sparks must die, yet I am a Spark. I will kill myself when my mission is complete, but now I can kill myself first. Tempting.
Decision may be problematic. My twin is not doing well. All three Rheebas are equally calm and competent and aided me in surgery.
Oh dear. Machinery discovered in closet suggests that Huffnagle dabbled in transdimensional harmonics AND time travel. Not my lucky day.
My twin is too weak to be moved. Awoke briefly. Recognized me and whispered,"You're a...number 28" before fainting. Actually I'm a size 42.
Found a hidden library. Detailed notes on operating machinery. There are a number of notes and corrections in my handwriting. Lots of them.
With these devices I could go back in time. I could correct any number of mistakes. Kill certain Sparks before they broke through. Tempting.
Business before pleasure. My twin is stable enough that I can take the time to return Rheeba to her father. But which one? All of them?
Girls came up with solution. One will return to the Baron, one will become a pirate queen and one will be my new assistant. They drew straws
Baron attempted to kill me to get money back. Newly installed Baroness Rheeba has been extremely grateful. Populace seems pleased as well.
Interesting. Baron was not responcible for sealing the town. That is the idea of the Captain of the Guards. Rheeba describes him as "a dope"
First things first. Whereas exploring spacetime would be fun, the town is suffering now. I'll have all the "me" time I want. I can wait.
I imagine that the Captain of the Guard is running a squalid little blackmarket/extortion scam. Hope so, I could use some "Punch Therapy".
Have obtained a writ from the Baroness, empowering me to deal with the Captain. We can pretend everything will go all nice and legal. Sure.
Was sent in to meet Captain of the Guards. It's another me. Sufficiently surprised that he got the drop on me. I am beginning to hate this town.
Captain me came to my cell, which is lined with skulls (tasteful). He says that he hopes that I will listen to reason this time. This time?
Ah. The skulls lining walls are apparently souvenirs of all the times "I" DIDN'T listen to reason. There are hundreds of them. Freaked out
Captain me posits that it is impossible to cleanse the world of Sparks in a piecemeal fashion as I have been doing. He may have a point...
He then goes on to say that it is possible to control a closed environment, such as a small town. I think I see where this is going. Oh dear.
Oh yeah. He's proposing the same clear and expand strategy the Baron is using. I already tried this. The Great Wall of Norway was a mistake.
THIS is interesting. Captain Me never built the Great Wall. But this was the incident that made me realize that all Sparks must die. Hmm.
Captain Me says all Othars have the revelation "All Sparks Must Die", but all are different. Captain Me's involved waffles. Buttery waffles.
Apparently ALL Othars are pre-disposed to realize that all Sparks (including myself) must die, we just come to this truth via different ways
So the question is, is the Truth so obvious that anything crystallizes it in our minds, or are we just pre-disposed to suicidal craziness?
Well obviously the first option is the correct one. A pity all of the other Othars I've met have been mentally deranged in some manner.
I do the only possible thing. I agree with everything Captain Me says, although I argue about significance of waffles as a revelatory medium
Amazing. Captain me insisted on frying up a batch of waffles to "educate me" and wound up killing himself in a bizarre waffle iron mishap.
His uniform fits. I guess I really am that fat. No strudel for awhile. Found two more me's in the morgue being turned into wall ornaments.
Have issued orders to reopen the city gates. Reviewed the records and am relieved to see that all prisoners appear to be actual lawbreakers.
City gates were opened and monsters did not pour in. Was slightly worried about that, I'll admit. All available troops are on traffic duty.
Have examined Captain Me's effects. His journals reveal a shallow existence with occasional rhapsodic passages about waffles. Burned them.
My work here is done. I should head back to the tower. Decide to look about the city instead. Feel peculiar. Funerals do that, even mine.
Although strong drink is a mocker, I find that I need to be mocked. Barenjager, schnapps & kirschwasser. Keep them coming, fraulein.
My waitress is working tables to put herself through college. Transdimensional harmonics no less. She sits down after her shift ends. Score?
We discuss Huffnagle's devices. She thinks that the device is collapsing realities as they're invoked, which is why there is multiple 'Me'.
Explain how I can use these devices to further my campaign against Sparks. She breaks a bottle over my head. The Art of Debate is not dead.
She explains (slowly) that every other Othar who used these machines got killed. Therefore, I shouldn't use them. I think I see her point.
The good I could do with these machines is overwhelming to think about. What could I do with another thousand Othars? Wait. What DID I do?
"I" spent all my energies on an insane scheme that nearly ruined this town and tried to kill as many copies of myself as I could find. Damn.
I ask Annisette (my waitress) the odds of every single other Othar being insane and unable to see the simple truths I do. Low, she says.
Very, very, astronomically, implausibly, mind boggelingly low. Wow. Well I AM pretty lucky at games of chance. That was when she smacked me.
According to 'A', Doing the 'obvious' thing always results in disaster. If I want to break this cycle, I should do something implausible.
Attempted to go on a balloon ride with a unicorn... What am I drinking?
Woke up. Annisette in my arms. What WAS I drinking? Astonishingly, I remember everything. Oh come on -it's not THAT implausible. Honest.
I should not allow a simple bout of excessive biology to cloud my judgment. Logically- ah, Annisette has woken up. She has green eyes.
I have smashed the machines and burned Huffnagle's notes. I've got to trust someone, and apparently can't trust myself. Lovely green eyes.
I could have sworn that before I smashed machines, Mickleburg was surrounded by wasteland. It's rich farmland now, and there's a river.
Annisette does not remember me.
Time to move on. The horse I pick up at the stable looks like Spooky, but has six legs. Fine. I'll take it. Still have tattoo. That's good.
Beautiful day. Perhaps I will go to Paris. There is a little coffee shop I enjoy, and I could use a dose of the simple pleasures. Onward!
My pocket meteorological station tells me to stay off the roads. Sure enough, I dodge meteors all afternoon. Perhaps I'll take the train.
What luck! A Corbettite Train depot in the next town. I get a good price for Spooky(he comes with his own spare!) and buy a ticket to Paris.
Have a few hours before the train arrives. Help the stationmaster patch a leak in the watertower and fill the coal bunker. Obligation clear.
The stationmaster's wife makes an excellent lunch and brews a fine mead. For a bit extra, I get a long hot bath and my laundry done. Nice.
Train whistle sounds as it arrives. Magnificent engine, provided by the Master of Paris. Ultimately he must die, but a fine craftsman.
Shown to my compartment. Only one other passenger, a brass merchant from Istanbul. Trip should take 2 days. Should have brought a book.
Another passenger in our compartment. She's a professor from T.P.U. on sabbatical. Easy on the eye, but rather prim. Good conversationalist.
New passenger. It's a Jagermonster. He's a courier for the Baron. He tries being horrible and is surprised that no one leaves. Gets slapped.
Not that I try to be combative, but he was being overly familiar. The usual parade of vendors, food, drink, cushions and religion. Good tea.
An endless afternoon of stopping at small towns. Help load freight just for something to do. The Jager joins me. Good worker.
Invited to eat with the train crew, as is the Jager. Aside from drinking from the gravy boat, he behaves himself. Great gravy, I will say.
Whistle alarm and emergency brake. Unhurt. There is a tree blocking the tracks. Deliberately felled. Shots from the dark. We're under attack
The train is armored of course, but the firing pins down the defenders long enough for attackers to climb aboard. They have green cloaks.
My mistake. They ARE green cloaks. At least that's what they look like. Bullets are useless. Flamethrower time! Luckily, I brought my own.
Green cloak creatures are supported by humans with guns. The Jager and a rumbletoy squad from the train deal with them. I'm on the roof.
Flame works well, and lights up the night. The Conductor joins me, and proves quite good at hucking bottles of oil into groups of monsters.
Suddenly a flare goes up from the train. The conductor's surprised. The attackers stop and we see them retreat. They leave their monsters.
The monsters were easy to destroy without their controllers. A form of giant slime mold, with embedded electronic collars. Taste like cheese
I aid crew in removing fallen tree. No further attacks. Conductor informs us that there is no significant damage, so we can proceed at once.
A hesitant, frankly incompetent attack. No real damage to train. Freight cars untouched. No one kidnapped. What was the point? Bad feeling.
A nightcap at the bar car. Our T.P.U. Professor allows herself a small glass of sherry. Tightly wound, that one. Conductor comes through.
Everyone must produce their tickets again. Annoying. The porter has converted our seats to beds. Really wish I had a book. The Jager Snores.
It's dark.The professor is beside me. She is slowly letting down her hair. As she does so, her clothes are drifting down like autumn leaves.
She's unbuttoning her corset, urgently telling me that I have to get up. What? In my bunk. Train porter is shaking my arm. There's trouble.
The conductor has been murdered. Nasty knife wound. His body had been stuffed out a window, but had caught on a ledge. Time to get to work.
Why? I am informed that The Baron has a payroll shipment onboard. It is untouched, as is all the freight. Conductor still has his wallet.
The Best bet is to stop the train. I am informed that this is absolutely impossible. Which was when the Jager pulled the Emergency Brake.
He says that the trainmen can't blame him, as they claimed it was impossible, thus nothing should have happened. How smart ARE they, really?
The Assistant Conductor insists that this sort of problem is usually dealt with by the Barons Questers. How lucky for them that I am here.
Oh-Ho.There IS something going on here. The A.C. brings me to the rear of the train. The caboose is a snug little armory. He hits a button.
Another train car shimmers into existence. Ah. A Von Bissel Light Folder & Stapler on the roof. The Baron has outlawed those. Interesting.
A collection of the monsters that attacked, as well as the equipment to make them, and their creator in a set of the Baron's best manacles.
I know they're the best because it takes me over twenty minutes to get out of them, and that's if no one has left any cookie dough near by.
So we were attacked by a group of the good Dr's minions and creations trying to free him. Fooled by the old invisible train car bit. Losers.
Remove the containment hood. The Doctor is a rather mannishly garbed woman. Personally I prefer my chained up women Sparks to be in corsets.
Introduce myself, get some water, explain that as a Spark she must die. The niceties observed, I ask her to explain herself. Oddly reticent.
She's embarrassed. No grandiose plans, no desire to rule the world, she just likes making ambulatory slime mold servants. She's not a Spark.
Hello? Making intelligent ambulatory slime mold servants controlled by electronic collars? This is not Gardening 102. A Spark in denial.
Oh I hate it when this happens.Now I have to waste time convincing her that I'm killing her for a legitimate reason and am not just a loony.
Discouraging. My ability to convey my philosophies is deficient. I'll bet Wulfenbach never has this problem when he has to kill someone.
The Corbettite tells me she is being taken to Baron Wulfenbach for the destruction of the town of Waffenhaus. I may be overthinking this.
Her name is Van Zekkertant and I can't help noticing that she's oddly calm considering we're discussing who kills her. I'm missing something
Damnation. I get it. Why would someone kill the train conductor? Because he's the one who would first discover someone without a ticket.
The ineffective attack on the train was merely a ruse to allow someone to get on. Probably to rescue Van Zekkertant. They'll be coming here.
Obviously they don't know about the invisible train car or they would have attacked it. So the killer is still searching. Time to leave.
No one sees us leave the invisible train car. Good. I'll go through the entire train and talk to everyone. Good thing I'm a 'People Person'.
I meet a water engineer from Baden-Baden. He's invented a new filtration system from carbon & spun glass. Sounds like a Spark, who must die.
Next up is a Musical inventor/salesman who designs instruments that can be played by farm animals while they work. A Spark who must die.
Every single person on this train is a Spark. Including the engineer, who is developing a locomotive that runs on fudge. Where to start?
Hmm. The Chasm of Svantz is about 25 kilometers away. Haven't had a good old spectacular train wreck in awhile. Could be fun. For me.
What am I thinking?! These trains cost tens of thousands of Imperial Dollars! I can't afford that. I blew the budget on that zeppelin crash.
Now that I think about it, I forgot the Jager. He's not a Spark(though I still have to decide about the 'person' part). I can use him.
They have a highly developed sense of smell. Perhaps he can detect the infiltrator. I cannot find him. I have a bad feeling about this.
I also cannot locate my T.P.U. professor or my Istanbul brass merchant. The only 3 people I knew were on the train before the attack. Uh-oh.
The only thing these people had in common was that they were in my train compartment. But if they were worried about me, why not get me?
Why bother with them at all? What could a Jager, a brass merchant or a history professor do that could be dangerous to them. Or anyone?
The Jager was with me when I went to the rear of the train. Train is still stopped. Search around the train. I do find a body. Who is this?
Something is not right about this body. Crew clears freight car for an autopsy. Request medical assistance. 2 sparks respond. I know, I know
Body is not really a person, but it's becoming one. I believe it's one of the green cloaks. We are in big trouble. Even the Sparks concur.
My first instinct is to destroy it, but we must let it continue to develop, if only to find out how human it gets. Then I'll dissect it!
Creature is...ripening into a duplicate of the missing brass merchant. I have ordered the train crew to search for my companions. In pairs.
One other proto-person discovered. The chief conductor. It awakens as they are hauling it in. Seems like a normal person. Could be messy.
Interesting. It seems to think it is the chief conductor. My dissecting it will provide fodder for a lively ethical discussion sometime.
Ho ho, what a silly mistake. When you cut up something (or someone) that is still alive it's vivisection, not dissection. I AM distracted.
It play acts a train conductor perfectly. Enough so that I feel a slight qualm as I begin to cut. Unnecessary. It's like cutting a mushroom.
No blood, no bones, no internal tissue differentiation at all. Ah-and yet it is capable of almost instantaneous transformation. Monster time
An amusing cross between a spider and an octopus. Hero Tip; Locating the nerve/brain is challenging. Try right behind (or through) the eyes.
Tricky. It crumbles when you attack it, and the smaller bits become autonomous creatures in their own right. With sharp little teeth. Ow!
Time for the monster hunters oldest friend; Fire. The carboys of spirits I placed around the car explode perfectly. No one will escape! um..
When Othar Tryggvassen builds a deathtrap he does a pretty damn good job of it. Some would call this irony. Everyone else, stupidity. Sigh.
I yell to my companions, "Our only hope is the hatch onto the roof!" The monster is intelligent enough to understand, and gets there first.
Which is why the monster is the one who sets off the boobytrap I placed there. This allows me to escape without too much effort. Excelsior!
My two assistants have apparently led a sedentary life (All too typical when you can construct monsters to be evil for you) They can't jump.
Whereas I would have had to destroy them later, their deaths at this point are inconvenient. How life mocks me! Know what I want? Fudge.
Luckily, the Corbettite Monks have traditionally supported their good works by selling fudge that they make from an ancient secret recipe.
I once foiled an evil plot to capture The Monastery of St. Emo's legendary Fudge Hounds, saving many a lost traveler from starvation.
As a result, I was presented a scapula that allows me to claim free fudge at any Corbettite facility. Luckily, I have a high metabolism.
Ahh. A fine block of Bavarian Black nut fudge. I need this. Wait. I can use this. Or should I eat it? A Hero's decisions are never simple.
It's hard, but so is being a hero. I walk through the train extolling the virtues of this fine fudge which I am about to eat by myself. Yum.
I am halfway through the third sleeper car when, with a rending of metal, a Jäger hand claws through the floor. "Say, ken I haze a bite?"
It's a proven fact that a Jäger will claw through solid rock to steal fudge. Not often that esoteric knowledge like this comes in useful.
He was stuffed into the sub-floor maintenance conduit. Wrapped in some sort of organic webbing. Time to check the rest of them. Quickly.
Found my TPU Professor, delightfully disheveled, but unharmed under the Observation Car. Only the brass merchant remains to be found.
Uh-oh. It looks like almost everyone on the train is actually entombed under it. All of the passengers are monstergangers. Should've walked.
Confound it! An entire train full of helpless Sparks AND dangerous monsters AND a handy chasm nearby. Someone is tempting me. So not fair!
At least I have figured out what is happening. It is a plot to destroy Wulfenbach, and, I must admit, a pretty good one. Should I permit it?
An entire train full of monsters disguised as Sparks. The Baron will no doubt want to see them personally. Even he would be in trouble.
This is the perfect opportunity to destroy the House of Wulfenbach. I don't have to do anything, except waltz in afterwards and clean up.
You know what I should do? Get off this train and take a vacation. Yes. Right now. Here I go... Wait. I never did find the brass merchant.
This is ridiculous. There were only two and a half innocent people on this train (Jäger =0.5 person). Surely I can skip the last one. Yeah.
No. I can't. This is what being A Hero is about. I should never have taken that aptitude test back at the university. I wanted to be a chef.
I think that as long as I do nothing suspicious, I will not "activate" the transformation of the creatures. Just gotta act normal. La-de-dah
What should I do with my two innocents? If I make them leave the train, the others will notice, they'll also be in the middle of nowhere.
Explain what is going on to them. They say they'll find the merchant while I stop the monsters and save the Baron. Slight miscommunication.
I explain that this is the perfect opportunity to let the Baron reap what he has sown. Let Mad science kill the mad scientist. Tough room.
The professor trots out the old saw that the Baron has given Europe a period of stable government and increased safety. That's an easy one.
My foolproof argument remains; THE BARON IS A SPARK AND MUST DIE! (Repeat until they change their mind). Silver medal Oslo Tech Debate team.
The Professor breaks a chair over my head. Ow. Maybe I'm wrong. Damnation! I had always wondered what had happened to the Gold medal winner.
We come to a dialectical compromise. First we will find the brass merchant, then we will decide what to do. A stimulating discussion. Ow.
The Jäger assures me that the merchant is nowhere on the train. Seems he was fond of fenugreek tea, which causes a distinctive body odor.
The train has started moving again. I suspect that any attempt to stop it will result in monsterage. By my calculations, we have 20 minutes.
That is my best guess as to when the train will pass the switch that will send it into the crevasse. If we miss that, it'll reach the Baron.
Wait! There's one place we haven't searched, the secret car at the end of the train. Uh-oh, the controls to reveal it have been smashed.
This is unnerving. I KNOW there's a train car there, but it appears that I must step out into empty space while going 60 klicks an hour.
No. This just doesn't feel right. Hero instincts. You learn to listen to them. I grab a brakeman's pole and poke. No train car within reach.
The car is uncoupled, but still connected by brake cables & chain (by the feel of it). This is a pathetic attempt to kill me. Exhilarating!
If this is the best they can do then this should be a cake walk! I easily scramble across the cable and burst in the door. Ah. A trap. Oops.
They counted on my having a false sense of security for cracking a weak trap, and thus walked into a much better trap. Ah, hindsight.
Van Zekkertant is still chained (I'll admit it, Wulfenbach does good containment systems) and here's my brass merchant, trying to free her.
And here's four creatures waiting to grab me. I call that overkill. On the other hand, my reputation demands no less. Ah, the price of fame.
Yes, I am quite captured. Oh dear, oh dear. As I expected, they gloat. Ah, this explains much. The brass merchant is Van Zekkertant's dad.
That was the final piece of the puzzle. Time to escape. My captors taunt me for being so silent. Do I have a reputation for talking a lot?
It's hard to talk with a mouthful of fenugreek tea. I spit it on myself. As I thought, the monsters recoil, freeing me. Time to hit things.
You ever tried fenugreek tea? I'd rather eat monsters. It was obvious there was a reason he drank the stuff. Ooh, it makes monsters melt!
Thank goodness for waterproof boots. Zekkertant's dad appeals to me. What parent should see their child die? Even if they are a Spark. True.
Impeccable logic. I am moved. So even though he is a lesser threat, I shoot him first. Then I shoot van Zekkertant. Call me Herr Sensitive.
Now all I have to do is get to the switch before the train does. Tricky, as the train is the fastest thing in the neighborhood. A challenge!
Five minutes left. I find the Jäger and the professor and explain my problem. They agree that we have a problem. How very helpful.
I pull the emergency brake. The train shudders to a halt. I charge the professor with throwing the switch and the Jäger gets to protect her. ...
I pull the emergency brake. Train shudders to a halt. I charge the professor with throwing the switch and the Jäger gets to protect her.
Off they go. Now, my job is to distract the engineer, while not allowing myself to be torn apart by a train full of monsters. Aerobic!
Luckily I still reek of Fenugreek tea. This allows me to stroll unmolested to the engine. The engineer is preparing to move- who's this? 1
A hail from the tracks-That badge-He's a Wulfenbach Questor. They are annoyingly resourceful fellows. This could cause a lot of problems.
I grab "The engineer" and stuff him into the firebox. Then I slam the train into forward. Now I have only the coal stoker to worry about.
The stoker wields a mean shovel, especially once he starts sprouting extra arms. They are deadly fighting machines once they get mad. Drat.
However, superb fighters they may be, they've no biological history or traditions to draw from. Thus "Look-It's a Monkey" works every time.
Into the firebox with him as well. Now it's just a simple job to tie the throtle of the engine down, and then leap gracefully-ow! What the?
It's The Quester! What is he...He's trying to stop the train. Of course. He doesn't know they're all monsters. How vexing. To work!
I try to explain that everyone on the train is a monster and must die. He can trust me, I'm Othar Tryggvassen! Uh-oh, now he looks mad.
What a double edged sword a reputation is. Save thousands, thwart evil, bring peace...kill one corrupt quester and it's all out the window.
Now I'm just "The Guy Who Killed A Quester." It demonizes me, and ignores all of my finer points. Bit of a resume stain, to be honest. Sigh.
Questers are usually pillars of honesty. Therefore it's understandable that people are skeptical when you badmouth one. My rep vs. theirs.
A whereas people say hurtful and misguided things about me, at least no one doubts my veracity. Usually. Except when I get philosophical.
Oooh. Nasty thought. Is he a real Quester or is he yet another monster? I stick a knife in him. Yes, that's a real person. Now we can talk.
Seems disinclined to talk. A quick peek out the window. I see the professor at the switch. The Quester is going for the brake cord.
We are past the switch! The chasm is dead ahead! Another job well done! Oh. I appear to have been hit in the head with a large coal shovel.
Can't move! Got to move! The chasm is around the next turn! The Quester doesn't look worried...He doesn't know! Got to save him. The dope.
This is going to hurt. A full body slam to throw him from the engine. Unfortunately, it'll leave me exposed to-yes, a knife. Predictable. Ow
At least the Quester is safe. Despite working for Wulfenbach, they're heroes in their own right. I appear to be floating. That's not good.
Freefall, my old nemesis! All I have to do is activate my compressed gas rocket boots and I will cheat you once again! Belt control ON!...On? ...
Oh look, there goes my suitcase, soaring off to safety. I forgot to change my boots. Okay, plan 'B'. First, find some honey...
The Jäger, my TPU Professor, and the Quester are all lined up on the rim of the chasm. Indeed, it was quite a crash. Why, she's crying. Aw.
I love the childlike look of wonder on their faces when they see me. It gives me a chance to cold-cock the Quester before he gets feisty.
Our first order of business is to reset the switch. There is a high probability that the next train won't be filled with hideous monsters.
Now we have to wait for the next train. I have to report what happened to the Monks. This could take some time. We construct a shelter.
The next train won't be by for at least 24 hours. A good roof and chinked walls. The professor builds a sophisticated firepit & chimney.
The professor built some snares and we have 3 rabbits and a squirrel for roasting on the fire. The Jäger decides to build a swimming pool.
We lounge about the pool after dinner, but it's getting cold. I volunteer to take the first watch, as the Jäger is sleepy from catching bats ...
A cold clear night. The stars are beautiful once you get away from the glare of the towns. It's good to be alive. And not mad, of course.
The Jäger shows up eventually. Strange creatures. The dip in the pool certainly helped, but I'm afraid he still has bat breath. Sleep now.
Bedding is a huge pile of cedar boughs. I burrow in and relax. What's that? Oh-it's the professor. She's crying in her sleep. Understandable
Held her all night. Slept very well. She bit my thumb when she woke up and found me with my arms around her. Apologized very nicely later.
The Jäger and I construct a simple barrier to stop the train. It works, and the train crew comes out. Armed, of course. I introduce myself.
Cheering. How rewarding. Explain that the previous train was infested with shapeshifting monsters. The professor and the Jäger back me up.
I also explain that since the Quester helped me send it over the edge, they can no doubt bill The Baron for the lost train. More cheering.
The Quester is still tied up in the shelter. No doubt he's a resourceful fellow and will easily free himself before the bears get to him.
At last I resume my trip to Paris. Offer to stoke coal and they assure me that they want me nowhere near the engine. Heh. A chance to rest.
I sleep the sleep of the just. Awaken refreshed as we enter the outskirts of Paris and pass the walls. Excellent! Croissants for breakfast!
Ah, Paris. If only all Sparks were like The Master Of Paris. Content to stay at home and simply defend their own areas. I love this town.
Of course, I cannot actively pursue my Great Mission here, as the Master maintains the peace with an iron hand. It's a challenge, certainly.
I believe this challenge can be best met in the Cafe Moliere, a place where they put the proper amount of cinnamon cream in a man's coffee.
In Paris it is disturbingly easy to forget exactly what ones great mission is. I believe that today it is to appreciate the ladies of Paris.
Monsieur Zyn, the owner remembers me, though it has been what, two years? My coffee is perfect, as are Madam Zyn's lemon squares. Happiness.
At this point we're interrupted by the waitress. I am astonished Madam Zyn allows her in the shop. She's the most delightful girl I've seen.
My delight increases when she flings herself into my lap and hugs me. All I was expecting today was coffee. Paris really is a great city.
Arlene?! This is little Arlene? Zyn's daughter?! What a difference two years makes. I used to tell her stories of my adventures. I feel old.
Ah. That explains it. She was artificially aged two years by an exuberant science project. It happens all the time. At least she got an 'A'.
She insists on hearing about my latest adventures. Lucky for her, it's been an exciting last couple of years. Lots of justice & explosions.
Thus passes a lazy day. Quite a rare thing when one is in the Hero biz. All this coffee and pastry must be playing hob with my blood sugar.
At the end of the day, stuffed with pastry, I lurch back to my hotel. Notice a plains clothes gendarme loitering in the lobby. Interesting.
He asks if he may speak with me. Will say that the Master of Paris has the politest lawmen I've ever encountered. Tempted to say "No". Heh.
Starts off by asking me if I am planning on eliminating any Sparks while in town. Ha! I know this game. Remind him Paris is neutral ground.
He reaches into his coat and flips something toward me. It's a badge. I see the snake and freeze. This man is a Serpent. The Masters police.
They have the power to shoot someone down in broad daylight on the Champs Élysées and answer only to the Master himself. Dangerous people.
I try to hand the badge back and he declines to take it. Uh-oh. I see things are about to get 'interesting'. This badge has my name on it.
I am told that The Master wants me to help him. There is a problem in Paris, and he needs someone from outside the city, who's not involved.
Someone who is a proven hero, someone who has bravely survived impossible odds. With all this buttering up, I feel like a slice of toast.
Someone who can kill without pity, who can stand hideous torture, who one would miss if they were ripped into tiny bits-All right! I get it!
There have been a series of meticulously planned robberies of the Louvre. I'm shocked. The Master had claimed that this was impossible.
Museums from all over the known world have shipped art to the Louvre on "permanent loan" because it was safer then anywhere else.
I can see why the Master wants this taken care of quickly and quietly. His exterior power results from his ability to keep all of Paris safe
Now the disturbing news. Whoever is behind this has no regard for human life. 25 guards have been killed while trying to catch the thief.
There are no clues, no suspects, no leads. No one knows how the robberies are committed, and none of the stolen art has appeared been found.
I accept the job, not because I do not seriously believe I have a choice. But because even my Ultimate Mission is fleeting. Art is eternal.
My recruiter's name is Rene. He provides a schematic of the Louvre, and shows me where the robberies have taken place. They appear random.
My first step appears to be to examine the places where robberies have occurred. Rene tells me that the Louvre is closed, but not to me.
Ah, this explains much. I had seen that the entire Louvre was hidden under a gigantic tent. Had assumed that they were fogging for roaches.
Rene and I go up to the gate guard. He tells us to move along. Rene shows his badge. The guard tells us to move along. Something is wrong.
The guard looks at us and nods and tells us to move along. I try to move past him and he blocks me and with a smile tells me to move along.
I look closer. He's smiling, but his eyes are the eyes of a man who is screaming. I give him a 'thumbs up', and slam his head into the wall.
I assume he'll thank me some day. We pull back the drapes. The Louvre is gone. Even the sub-basements. Scooped out with a giant ass shovel.
Rene is surprised by this. I've seen it before, but never, I'll admit, on this large a scale. We're dealing with a tough nut this time.
I examine the site. The walls of the hole are too smooth. Some form of matter displacer. Probably combined with a miniaturizer. Good news.
The Louvre is probably still intact. The walls of the pit are still warm. This happened less than 6 hours ago. I SAID I've seen this before.
I explain that the wall's heat come from the shrinking process. As the molecules pack together, they dump excess heat. Rene's eyes glaze.
I check the map that shows where the other robberies occurred. Ah yes. A perfect pattern to cover the whole museum with the shrinkage field.
This is ridiculous. There would have been shrinker mechanisms left behind. Disguised, perhaps, but any investigator should have found them.
I ask Rene who the investigator of record on this case was. He thinks, looks surprised, and admits it was him. Then he pulls his gun. Great.
He then spins the butt and offers it to me. I breathe again. As I take the gun, he slips his finger against the trigger and shoots himself.
I am left holding the smoking gun that has just killed one of The Master of Paris' Serpents. One doesn't really get more boned than that.
Doubt I could get out of the city in time, and I suspect it wouldn't help. I've got to solve this, and I have to do it quick. Really quick.
Although I took out the nearest guard, others will no doubt hear the gunshot. I have to assume they will also be under someone's control.
Whereas Serpents have the ability to kill with impunity, somehow I doubt other Serpents would be cool with the "new guy" killing a regular.
I'll admit that my propensity for solving problems by killing evil people might give the uneducated the impression that I'm unreasonable.
There's just no arguing with some people once they've made their minds up about something, and I accept that. That's why I kill them.
Enough philosophizing. I walk out. No one in sight yet. May be able to do this the easy way. How odd. Here's a cafe facing the gate. I sit.
The first thing I should do is write a note to The Master of Paris explaining what has happened. He is said to be as fair as a spark can be.
The cafe owner supplies paper, pen, and a decent latte. I write out everything as concisely as I can, but it still takes several pages.
Now the Master has to get it. I have to assume that any government agency reasonably capable of directly delivering it would be compromised.
I beg an empty wine bottle from the cafe owner, seal my letter inside, and surreptitiously sneak off and drop it off into the nearest canal.
With how things work in this town. It'll probably be on the Master's desk within the hour. But I can't count on him. First; find the Louvre.
There is no other choice. I have to see how much trouble I'm in. I stroll back to my hotel. If this is my last day, at least it's nice out.
No one appears to be watching my hotel. Grab a few devices and my armored undergarments. A working vacation is better than none, I suppose.
Othar Tryggvassen entered the hotel, but it is monsieur LeGuite who leaves. Usually I hate donning disguises, but sometimes it's necessary.
The first thing I have to do is find a place to sleep. Sufficient rest is more important than you would think from reading cheap novels.
If I don't get enough sleep, I get cranky, my judgment suffers, and I might do something foolish, like allow myself to be swayed by mercy.
Perhaps I could stay at the Zyn's? No, I had best not. My propensity for their establishment is probably already known to The Master. uh oh.
This is tricky, I have to rush over there without attracting attention. But I see I have an excuse. A column of smoke. Hope it's doughnuts.
Technically, it is doughnuts, as well as everything else. The bistro's a roaring wall of flame. Where are the Zyns? Don't see them anywhere.
Finally! The great brass water dragons of the Paris fire department lumber up, attach tails to hydrants and start spouting. This is arson.
Step back. Look again. Too many people are scanning the crowds as opposed to watching the fire. Looking for an arsonist, or looking for me?
I must take a chance. I approach one of the dragon handlers and show my badge. Did the Zyns make it out? He doesn't know, but will find out.
The first reports are coming in. Fire caused by a combination of spilt cooking oil and natural gas. In other circumstances, I'd be jealous.
As I'm talking to the firefighter, a man comes up a flips his badge. Serpent. I show mine. He nods, says there's a meeting. I follow him.
As we walk, I mention that I've never seen him before. How long has he been on the force? Who does he report to? He grins. "Nicely done."
He goes for his gun, thus opening himself up to the deadly Basque Lepus Punch, which was taught to me by a very irritated old Basque bandit.
He drops. I run. No pursuit. This is troubling. He knew I wasn't a Serpent. But how? Do they have secret signals? Or just know each other?
This means that until I have proof, I cannot deal with any of the Serpents. If I can find one that's not mind controlled. Why me? I ask you.
Ah. the rooftops of Paris. Always a fine setting for adventure. And pigeons. I set my lenses to magnify and start looking at the fire scene.
There's no danger of the fire spreading. Good. The gas main has been shut off. The dragons almost have the fire out. I do not see the Zyns.
Eventually the fire is out. Most of the crowd disperses. Firemen begin to comb the wreckage. I magnify. Charred bones. I feel ill.
They're sorting bones. Efficient. Separating them out. Wait. There are four piles, not three. Someone else was in there. I wonder who it is?
My best course of action will be to find the Louvre. This could be tricky, as it would, by my calculations, now be less than a meter square.
The only thing working for me is that objects that have been molecularly shrunk need to be kept cold. The colder the better. Not a big help.
I have an nifty refrigerator inspector disguise (little used, sadly), but it would take over 11 years to search the city. Probably too long.
Again and again I find myself asking why steal the Louvre? You can't fence it. Hmm- but I'll bet you could ransom it. The Master would pay.
The Master has made a point about Paris being a safe haven for the world's art. He'd pay plenty to prevent this being made public. Good one
Perhaps I should contact the Master directly. I'd prefer not to worry about the police. This was supposed to be my vacation. Damn it.
Contacting the Master of Paris will be tricky. He's easy to find, he hasn't left the Great Tower in years. And they sell nifty postcards.
I suppose I could infiltrate the Great Tower. But I think I have a better idea, one that requires a machine shop, as all the best ideas do.
I found an excellent little shop with a white metal forge, a disintegrator and a mini cafe. (Of course I never even open the mini cafe.)
A busy day. It feels good to use these talented hands for something other than punching out evil. A man likes to build things occasionally.
I'm finished and out with my device quickly enough that I can watch the police raid the place. Better luck next time, boys. Time to sleep.
I book a room as an inventor with his invention. Luckily, Paris is a city where the hoteliers don't care what you do in your private room.
As always, I sleep the sleep of the just. Early morning calisthenics and a hearty breakfast. Ah! Ready to save the world from itself again!
I find one of Paris' convenient deserted rooftops. Quickly assemble my device, test the controls and launch! My gosh, it looks beautiful.
It is a radio controlled airship, pulling a banner that says; LOUVRE TO RE-OPEN ONE WEEK FROM TODAY! GUEST APPEARANCE BY OTHAR TRYGGVASSEN!
It's beautiful clear day and my banner will be visible all over the city. Let's have it circle the Great Tower a few dozen times. How jolly.
I'm ready for the sound of small lightning. An electro-ionization field generates surprisingly close. Luckily I'm standing on a rubber mat.
It is an electro-æther shadow of the Master of Paris. "Thief," it whispers, "Blackmailer! You will die in Paris." Not off to a good start.
I'm unnerved at quickly he found me. I have not seen the Master for years. Not since I left college. He looks tired. And pretty cranky.