Been a few weeks, sorry about that. Got distracted with too many things, the first being these damn blueprints. I think I figured it out, the angles and lengths simply don't add up. I found spots in the design that are simply and utterly wrong. I spent five days just tracing out those damn specifications, building up some set of formulas that would make them right.

Mind-boggling difficult work, I'd like you to know.

I got it down to ten sections in the blueprints. Ten places where if you change it, it all works. I can… almost picture it in my head and it is amazing. It also hurts my brain to think about since some of these pipes and gears are smaller than my fingers. It also works in more than the typical 90 degree angles and planes. No, whoever created this thing somehow was able to create practical flowers with gears. Even the pressure release valves are artfully arranged.

It steals my breath away, but I also can't figure out those ten sections.

Also, someone is following me up on the surface. I even took to wearing my more formal gear: black pin-strip suit and an adorable bowler hat that Bonnie gave me. A far cry beyond my normal outfit of grease-soaked apron and leather boots. But, still, I get this feeling someone is just around the corner when I walked through the crowds.

It also doesn't help that the last time I was up there, I caught the tail end of an arrest. Two mage captains and a dozen guards raiding a small factory near the edge of town. From the looks of it, they were crafting pipes probably for steam engines. Not… exactly illegal in this city, but also not approved without a ton of paperwork and licenses. Actually, it probably was illegal since no industry is allowed in the island quarters and they would never give one for the shoreline. But, there are always people willing to risk setting up these tiny factories to pump out products for a few weeks at most, then hopefully disappear before the guards come for them.

The only people who got hurt were the poor who lined up for any job that gave them a few quarters on the hour. And, as I watched the guards shoving people into the horse-drawn carriages, were those poor people. Wearing rags in the cold air. Grease in their hair. Hollow looks from working fourteen hour days. I saw a few children, barely over a dozen eyars, being tossed into the back. One of them, a girl, caught the edge of the carriage, screaming for help. Our eyes matched for just a second, that terrible second before I could quickly look away.

Nothing I could do.

The mage captains were getting a bit twitchy and I needed to move. Ducking underneath a tarp at the end of the street, I quickly made a few grocery purchases from a tiny little hole-in-the-wall store (Grandma Nfani, lovely bat of a woman) and found the nearest sewer entrance. I nearly dove into it, but something tickled the back of my neck. I didn't see anyone, but I decided to–as casually as I could–pad down the street until I found one of the more formal entrances. Naturally hidden in a garden.

A quick look around and I disappeared into the shadows.

Sadly, the haunted look of that girl followed after me as I raced back to my lair.

2009-10-23