By Linda Nguyen All Rights Reserved ©

Fantasy / Adventure

Chapter 2

Chapter Two

Vinny blinked, he was confused by Varen staring at him. And awkwardly looked at Varen, trying to figure out why the hell this random person in the saloon was staring at him like a pet. Varen wouldn’t keep his eyes off, and it was starting to creep Vinny out. He awkwardly sighed and broke the silence between them. “What are you looking at?”

“Oh nothing.” Varen looked away from him, whistling like pretending he was busy. He couldn’t help it, a slight happy grin on his face. His lost brother is here, and he has a chance to convince his brother to come back.

Victor and Ellie were waiting impatiently for Varen to start talking. They decided to order a smoothie from the bartender. The smoothie was fruity with cold ice in it. They drank slowly to try to kill time.

Varen continued whistling, and soon he mustered up the courage and turned to Vinny, “I have to ask you about something with the current rulers of the SteamWorks.”

“Yeah?” Vinny looked at his hands, folding it together, fingering at it. He was cautious. He didn’t have guards to protect him, and Varen seemed around his age, possibly older due to his body structure.

“Who are the current rulers of SteamWorks?” Varen asked, wanting to know if the person was the same who did execute his parents before. Wishing to get revenge on them for taking his brother away. But he had to focus at the task at hand, he hoped he got the right person because the hair and heterochromia eyes of blue and purple are hard to forget.

Vinny thought it wasn’t harmless. He assumed Varen was a new person from another place somewhere in the Axon dimension. So he answered, “Chronos Gear and Katrina Shee. They are the king and queen of the island of SteamWorks. They helped keep the place running as there are trains and flying boats everywhere in our cities. The gears always move with electricity and steam. By the way, once you’re in this city, you must obey the laws.”

“And the laws would be?” he leaned closer to him, grinning even more widely.

“What’s with that look?” Vinny crossed his brows, more annoyed rather than creeped out. He assumed Varen was just awkward, and tried to give him the benefit of the doubt. No, scratch that it was getting weirder.

Varen smiled inwardly to himself, he couldn’t help but bother him, even though Vinny didn’t realize who he was. He had an urge to hug him, but he can’t- not yet. Vinny was all grown-up and he wasn’t a toddler like before. He doesn’t mind that Vinny didn’t remember him, but it would take some time to remember those memories that were lost. He just hoped Vinny doesn’t resent him once he remembers those memories. He smiled, “I’m just glad to see you.”

“I don’t get it. What is that all about?” Vinny scoffed and turned back towards the counter, hoping Varen would just go away.

Varen thought the queen did not change. Still, she was the one who killed his parents and manipulated Vinny. “Can you continue explaining the rules around here? I want to know before I break any rules.”

Vinny reached for a piece of paper from his pocket and gave it to him. “I’m not reading everything aloud, but read it in your head. I don’t want to be bother with you, so can you please leave me alone?” He turned away from him, and waved towards the bartender to ask for his drink.

The bartender dressed in brown clothing with no shirts, but a brown jacket coat, opened, showing his chest and strong abs. He wore a brown hat with the green trim, and wavy green hair, with his bang covering his right eye. His pants were brown with black straps to keep it tight and wore boots to protect himself from touching the iron and metal that the chronophim picked up from the outside. He hated getting himself dirty, but he leaves his chest exposed since he was always hot in the saloon from the smog.

The bartender made the same smoothie that he did for Victor and Ellie. Then gave it to Vinny with mere greetings as if he knew him. “Here’s your smoothie. I hope you enjoy it, Vinny.” Obviously knowing him as a regular customer.

Vinny sipped his drink from the straw and sighed. The taste was sweet and fruity. He looked at Varen. “You should try the special drink. They’re safe. You would think that a saloon offer you wine and drink, but this saloon does it at night. During the day it’s smoothies.” He sipped again.

Varen didn’t want a drink. How can he start off with him without shocking him with the truth? What if Vinny didn’t believe him and called the guards on him? He had no time. He must tell Vinny about his mission. “I don’t want a drink, but I want to talk to you since you came from the authority place. I want to know about the clockwork doll.”

Vinny sipped it down quietly before staring at him suspiciously, “How did you know that? The clockwork doll was a weapon against our king and queen. We believed a man named Varon wanted to stop the rule of SteamWorks since he was a tyrant. We don’t need tyrants oppressing our rules.”

“I’m just curious. That man, who built the clockwork doll, wanted to save SteamWorks from another villain.”

“Are you making up stories now?” Vinny raised an eyebrow with suspicion, he hardly believed in what he said to him. He wanted to leave the saloon, and get away from this guy before this guy might hurt him. He called the bartender again and paid for his drink. He looked at Varen one last time, dead serious, “Are you going to make me angry? I’m very suspicious of you because you knew about the clockwork doll!”

“Why do I always get myself into this?” Varen muttered to himself and sighed. “Look, I brought friends here and I wanted to find two things. The clockwork doll and my lost brother!” then he covered his mouth when he said about the clockwork doll.

Vinny stood up from his seat and glared. “Oh... you want the doll, don’t you? Well, I’m going to send you straight to the queen to let them hear your excuses. Who are your friends anyway?” His fists curled. He was getting serious. He could call in the guards anytime now or start a fight in the saloon, but that’s not allowed under the saloon’s rules.

Victor and Ellie realized Varen got in trouble.

Victor whispered to her, “Varen messed up again, dammit how are we going to get him out this time?”

“He slipped it out like we knew he would, we gotta hide before we’re caught.” warned Ellie. She grabbed Victor’s wrist and walked out through the door like regular customers as fast as possible. Victor barely had time to pay for their drinks, but managed to do so. They crouched from the front of the saloon, watching the scene unfold from the window. They watched to see how Varen would handle Vinny.

Vinny grabbed Varen by the collar and interrogated him aggressively, “Tell me what’s your plan with the doll! I don’t care what you say! I’m going to keep SteamWorks under our protection!”

Varen pushed him away, harshly. He didn’t want that to happen, but he must watch out for Vinny’s threats. He could send in the guards anytime and he’s gotta watch his mouth from slipping up. Varen lowered his eyes carefully to Vinny’s level, “I don’t mean to harm anyone, but listen, that doll used to belong to my great-grandfather, Varon. My parents died looking for it and you’re my brother!”

Vinny heard the last part. He growled, “I’m not your brother! I’m a guard!”

“You’re still my brother! Can’t you see that I have eyes like you, but only purple?” Varen pleaded with him, but Vinny was stubborn and irritated.

Vinny glared, “I am not going to believe you. We don’t have a resemblance at all.” He raised his hands, creating an ice sword. “I warned you. Tell me your plan!”

Then, the bartender jumped in the middle between them. He interrupted, “No fighting in my saloon or otherwise I’ll kick both of you out!”

Vinny turned to the bartender, acknowledging his friend’s presence, “Hey Nemesis,” he greeted hastily. “I need you to kick this guy out of my face because he’s claiming that I’m his long-lost brother and he wants to get the clockwork doll to ruin SteamWorks’ peacefulness.”

Nemesis glared at Varen and grabbed Varen’s shoulder with glaring eyes. “Are you trying to invade SteamWorks and destroy Vinny? I would never forgive you if you did.” He growled, trying to intimidate him.

Varen wasn’t scared, but he almost lost his cool. He grinned, knowing what to say, “I wanted to ask Vinny a few things and he just refused to answer me. Besides, he gave me a sheet of paper about SteamWorks’ laws which I haven’t read yet.” He waved the paper in front of him.

Nemesis rolled his eyes, “It doesn’t mean that you’re going to assault him.”

“Look here, Mr. narcissistic bartender…” He wanted to mess with him, “Why do you have to take everything the wrong way?” Varen shook his head in disappointment. “You should know better. Don’t tell me that you’re all under the queen’s rules just because of their fear of losing power.”

Nemesis sighed, “No.” He shook his head and took his hands off of him. Varen didn’t seem to be much of a threat, in fact he sort of agreed with his views about the queen’s ruling.

Vinny turned his aggression at Nemesis, “Nemesis! Why don’t you kick him out?!”

“Have some common sense Vinny,” said Nemesis. “You’re too young, but you can’t just keep kicking people’s butt all the time. That’s not a way to treat people. You need to talk before you can assume things.”

“I don’t care! What’s the big deal with the long-lost brother thing?” Vinny was annoyed, confused, and very suspicious of Varen. He never had a brother in life, but only Queen Katrina as his mentor. He doesn’t need any more crap into his head that doesn’t seem to make sense to him, and here was this guy suddenly out of the blue claiming that Vinny and him are brothers. Vinny looked at Nemesis, pleading for his support. Nemesis shook his head, and Vinny sighed. Vinny would decide to listen to Varen, but on the brother part, he wasn’t on board entirely.

Since Vinny can’t do the one thing he knows, threaten people. He did the best next thing, analyzing Varen’s answers with judgment. What is he planning to do? Why is he here? And what does Vinny himself have to do with him aside from being ‘brothers’? He turned and asked calmly, “Alright, I’ll talk to you once and we’ll never have to deal with each other ever again.”

“Wait, not even say that you’re my long-lost brother?”

“You have to prove it to me, I don’t want to join your crazy game of trying to recreate the past of a ‘happy family’ of yours. Sorry, not interested in roleplaying.” Vinny replied sarcastically. He didn’t want to lose focus of the conversation, so he sat back down in his seats. He sighed, “Okay, so what is your plans with the doll? Are you going to destroy SteamWorks?”

“Apparently no,” Varen shook his head. “I’m not here to avenge my parents or my ancestor. My parents told me to find the doll to save SteamWorks. Did you know anything about the attacks of SteamWorks in the past?”

“No,” he shook his head, but listening. Is this guy speaks any truth- highly unlikely- then he’d have to at least listen to him.

“Do you know the clockworkers, the ones that controlled the chronophim, right?”

Vinny nodded, of course he did. He was taught that by the queen herself.

“Good. The clockworkers are up to something bad. I know SteamWorks is in trouble because we are gears. We’re made of gears and we have to defend ourselves from the clockworkers.” He paused before continuing, “I’m also here to meet the queen. I want to know about why my parents are dead, but I want to show them that I’m not a traitor or outlaw.”

“Wait, aren’t you exiled?” blinked Vinny, how the hell did this guy even get back here?

“It happened when I was five years old with my cousin. I lived on Hermit Hills Island from the outside with my cousin’s parents. You know, life is harsh without my parents. I can only talk to my cousin who acts like a big brother to me. I remembered a part of me is missing and I know he isn’t dead. He’s here right now.”

Vinny knew he was referring to him, but he wasn’t sure if the guy was telling the truth. He turned away, “Let me check with the queen and see what she’ll say. I want to make sure your past is correct, but I won’t give you the clockwork doll without permission.”

“Wait, can’t I come with you? My cousin and friend are waiting.” He stopped and looked around for Victor and Ellie, but they weren’t in the saloon. He cursed under his breath until he saw them peeking out through the window. He blinked and groaned. They avoid the trouble. How nice for them not to save him from the trouble earlier. Varen couldn’t help it and he pointed it out if he must. “They’re outside. They’re waiting for me.”

Victor and Ellie realized and nervously raised their hand. “Varen, what the hell are you doing? You’re going to get us all screwed over...” Ellie muttered under her breath.

Nemesis saw them through the window. He recognized him as he had just served them before. “They don’t look much of a threat to me.” He smiled to Vinny, “They’re just like one of us.”

Vinny growled harshly, “Don’t be so nice. The queen was rough with her people and I mean it. The king, on the other hand, is gentle. The king wanted to do nothing with his people, but to make sure his city is safe.”

Varen heard about the king and queen. The king wasn’t a harsh ruler, but the queen was. He suspected the queen is outrageous and strict on the rules of SteamWorks. She still is scary to him. How will he confront her? It won’t be safe for him, his cousin and Ellie, he’s putting their lives at stake for this.

Varen coughed, “I’m going with you. Like I said, I have no intentions to harm you.”

Vinny rolled his eyes, “Okay, welcome to SteamWorks.” He walked out from the saloon and said a goodbye to Nemesis with manners, with Varen following behind. He pushed the door and looked at Victor and Ellie.

They were surprised, seeing Vinny’s annoyed expression. They took a step back, wanting to avoid his anger. They knew he was easily irritated. In SteamWorks, the queen’s trainees are harsh, cruel, and strict.

Varen walked out from the saloon, approaching behind Vinny looking at him. He fixed his goggles on his head and grinned, “Now, take me to your queen.” He is coming closer to get his answers, and he had to make sure Vinny had at least trust them to meet the queen.

Vinny gestured them to come. He was a bit annoyed as he headed back with his fists curled in both hands. He hoped the queen would meet visitors today or he could kick them out. Maybe telling her about the clockwork doll would probably make her afraid. He’ll do that if it meant getting them out faster.

Varen, Victor, and Ellie followed behind him, secretly exchanging glances. They know what to do. Vinny doesn’t scare them, but when it comes to the rulers or leaders, they must be careful what they speak. Varen is the leader of the group and he’ll make sure to protect them no matter what. They have swords and wings of the birds to defend themselves. They are tough with their nature, but the queen herself was unpredictable so they have to be cautious as well.

When Vinny and the group arrived into the parliament building, Vinny led them to the throne room where Katrina Shee is, but the door is closed. The guards were looking at them, but Vinny told them to ignore to what he is doing.

Varen wondered why the rulers don’t have the same last names, but assumed they’d rather keep their last names to let other knows where they came from.

Vinny cleared his throat, he told them to wait outside the throne room while he gets the queen. He entered the door and the door shuts behind itself.

Varen, Victor, and Ellie were standing next to each other nervously. Varen feared if the queen wouldn’t accept their request to meet with her. It depends on how much Vinny’s convincing skills are, and if Vinny even wants to trust them. Varen hoped in his eyes that he’ll get the truth from the queen on why he was exiled after his parent’s executions.

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