As soon as I arrived in the city, darkness and twinkling lights already decorated the sky. Taking out my pocket watch, I noted that it was already an hour before dinner time. I shook my head as I casually made my way to my destination, observing how the smell of smoke and steam is common in every corner of the steam-powered city.
Born and raised in this steam metropolis, I marveled at how the place evolved from a simple city trading coals, to an empire priding itself on anything steam. Mechanics helped build the place, building tall structures and factories, inventing machines after machines that’s powered by steam or made up of cogs and wheels.
“Hey lookie, the wanderer’s back!”
A random stranger called me, pointing at me while snickering. The way he called me as ‘wanderer’ was not of admiration, but more of a taunting one. I showed him a small smile and a quick nod before heading to my destination, ignoring the scrutinizing looks from the other people.
“Did you scavenge another ‘artefact’ again? Remember the last time you brought one of those? Oh was it a blast!” the stranger’s voice was of mocking than questioning.
Holding on the strap of my satchel, I made my way to Crowe’s workshop and hoped my darling bird would still be away doing her business deals. As much as my confidant care and love me, me loving her the same, her anger could match the broilers of our factory. With a shiver going down my spine, I took a deep breath and slipped inside the bustling workshop.
The city’s main and famous workshop, BlackBird.
Sneaking in the workshop, I made sure to evade the other mechanics by hiding behind the huge machineries and blending in with the surroundings. The workers were all busy with their tasks that they didn’t notice me or heard some of the noises that could give away my position—accidentally bumping on a table full of tools, toppling some of the cans, and even tripping on some wires.
I take pride in my ability to be stealthy—well almost stealthy, that I was a few steps away from my work station when I saw someone standing there, a woman, with her fingerless gloved hands on her hips. She held herself in regality that her work clothes, black sando with a brown belted corset, semi-baggy cargo pants and brown boots, looked like they were made for a queen.
“Hello darling wolf,” Crowe greeted me with a smile as sweet as coffee with ten cubes of sugar. Oh it made me internally cringe just by thinking of such concoction.
My body reacted from her greeting, standing up straight and looking obedient before her. “C-Crowe… you’re back,” I said with slight quiver in my tone
She sauntered towards me and took my satchel, placing it on my chair, and adjusted my coat—dusting the remaining debris and dirt away. “Mind telling me what insect bit your neck and made you decide to lust for travel?” she asked, voice sweet and dripping of danger and her sky-blue colored eyes looking at my chestnut colored ones that screams ‘answer or I’ll throw you to the vat of hot water’. As much as I love staring at her eyes that reminds me of the clear open sky, those stare of hers means my ass on the grinder.
“I erm…” I stuttered and looked away from Crowe’s stare that’s making me quiver. Not sure if from excitement of those hot stares of hers or fear.
“Yes?” she traced her hands on my shoulders, massaging them gently and making me feel like putty under her hands.
With a soft exhale, I smiled weakly at her. “Just your typical curiosity to see the world, darling bird,” I said with the most charming smile I could muster.
Crowe’s hands went up to my neck and back of my ear. A low growl escaped my lips as I savored her touches—that is until the growl turned to a loud cry of pain. The raven-haired beauty pinched the soft flesh on my ear, dragging me to my work table and taking out the box from my satchel. “You went to the old clock tower, just for a box?” her sweet voice finally gone and out came her commanding tone. “Because you were bored?!”
A small whimper escaped my lips as I winced from how hard her pinches were. “Ow, ow, ow! Yes! Shit! I went to the ruins coz I was bored as hell,” I said with a pained tone. “Scavenging for new things!”
She let go of my ear and sighed heavily, rubbing her temple. “Look, you know how much I love you, Jeanne, but you also know we have to work.” She looked at me with a weary expression and placed her hand on my left cheek. “I support you, that wanderlust feeling of yours, and you know that.”
A small exhale escaped my lips and nuzzled on her gloved hand.
“Darling wolf, I know how you felt caged in this city—in my factory, but…”
“But I know this is where I should belong.” I sighed and took her hand from my cheek and placed a gentle kiss on her dainty fingers. For someone who works on metal and machines, her hands are as soft as a noble woman’s hand. “I should stay here in the city. That this is where my life is; steam and machinery,” I said with a weak smile.
Crowe looked at me with care and understanding in her eyes. “You are good with tinkering and inventing. You invented the Locator on your first year here in the city. And it’s been what, five? seven years?”
“Ten to be precise,” I said with an ‘as a matter of factly’ tone. “I was 17 when I came to your factory and presented to you my plans for a location finder, and here it is—“ I removed my coat and pointed at broach-like item pinned on my vest. It was small plate with cogs and mechanisms and my first pride and joy in the inventing world. “I regret even carrying one since you’re able to find me when I go out and check the places around the city,” I joked with a small grin.
All my confidant did was leaned forward and kissed my cheek. “Well, as long as you come back to me,” she said with her sweet and loving smile and gently caressed my cheek before checking the box. “So tell me, what’s inside the box?” she tried checking for locks or openings, but there was no keyhole or padlock.
I shrugged and picked up a screwdriver from my table and jammed the tip on the slit of the box, prying it open to check the treasure of the past.
Both of us looked at the content of the box and looked at each other with raised brows. It was obvious at how flabbergasted we were at what was kept inside the box that probably was centuries of age.
A copper sphere that’s as big as a fully-ripe grapefruit.