Intermission: Tales from Cliffside – The Clockwork Spider 1

Image: Clockwork-Spider 1
by Sakugen

Duke Markus von Himmelman, son of Lady Margret De’Mechaump and Lord Phredrick von Himmelman, Baron of Lower East Spannerton, Duke of Topside, and a Welcome Lord in the court of Prince Reinheart himself, was furious.

He stormed about his office like a madman, pulling his watch out of his vest pocket and clicking it open every few steps. Glaring at it for only a moment, he would then stuff it back into his vest, turn sharply on his heel, and begin stomping in a different direction across the large carpet.

As he paced he passed shelves of varying shades of oak and pine. He had paid good money for them; each was hand crafted. Some were made with shallow divets that held a specific amulet or goblet with exacting precision. Others had smooth and elegant stands carefully fitted into the shelf that gripped shards of ancient pottery, holding them up like trophies.

Each shelf was decorated with elegant trim and lattece work, and a careful observer with a practiced eye might notice that the ornamentation told a story; some brief account of a harrowing chase out of deepest India or fearful journey to the frozen poles. Sometimes heroic, other times horrific, the iconography always seemed to end the same way; with a piece of treasure that now held a revered place in the owners heart, and a shelf of its own.

They were cold comfort to the Duke now. There were many other shelves in his mansion, but his mind was concerned with one of them alone. An empty one.
It had been half a year–half!–before news of Schussel and his crew reached the Duke’s ears. He had hired them in the Spring, but somehow they had managed to delay themselves so grandly that it was early Summer before they had even left for Africa. Now he was pacing his study in late Autumn, waiting for his hired explorers to finally make their way up the great slope of Cliffside to his Villa and give him what he was due.

Of course they were late. He should have expected it from the moment they started to give their numerous excuses about leaving. First it was faulty equipment–some mumbo jumbo about broken ventilators and weak gyrospanners that the Duke couldn’t have cared less about. Then there was some legal trouble with booking passage when the King had demanded all expeditions to Africa pay a twenty percent fee for some political embargo. The Duke had to finally get personally involved and mention a few names to the Airship Capitan that resulted in a five percent discount. Then the air-ship they had purchased broke down, and the money to repair it had to come straight from Marcus’s own pocket. It was one thing after another with these damn scroungers. They probably hadn’t even found the right temple.

Marcus continued to pace.