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Emily was disgusted. “Come on, Amos,” She whined, trying to keep up with him as he walked to the pier, “It’s not like you’ve never pulled the wings off a dragonfly. I was there!”
“Yea. But we ain’t talking about dragonflies, are we? And we ain’t kids no more, Em. Sure we did that stuff when we were nine, but I’m seventeen and you’re sixteen and by now you have to know right from wrong. You don’t just go hurtin stuff for no good reason- Truth told, I don’t even know what we’re talking about. Catching fairies? Seriously.”
Amos was used to Emily’s unusual tangents, but she’d been on this one since he took port three days prior, and the non-stop pestering was wearing his nerves. He hoisted the oversized rucksack he’d been shouldering onto a bench.
Emily flopped down next to it, sulking.
“Amos. I don’t need you to do nothing bad, just get the key from Marcel. I know it sounds crazy to you, but I also know it will work. I’ve worked my whole life on it and this is the last thing I need! I have to get into that room and I need your help. I’ve never asked before…! ” Emily was plaintive.
“Why don’t you just ask him yourself, Em? Marcel knows how much you’ve invested in this- surely…”
“Oh, you know Captain Goody-Goody.” Emily rolled her eyes, “He’s certain that I can find another way, and he can’t stand the idea that maybe I’m right. Seriously. I did the work, the math, the constructions, I even found a source for the energy needed to power the thing,” Emil was indignant, “but he refuses, Amos! It’s not his design, see. He can’t stand that this would be mine.”
” Emily,” Amos propped his boot up onto the monstrous bag, exasperated. “Captain Ghostraven ain’t never done anything but teach and encourage you. I doubt the man could ever be anything but proud of what you done. He surely ain’t jealous of it. If he says there is another way, then find it.”
Hearing Amos’ words, Emily flew off the park bench in a rage. “Gods! You’re as pathetic as they say, you know? Never been good at nothing. Not school. Not mechanics. Can’t even be a decent pirate! If you was- you’d get me that key. ‘Stead you’re just stand there waiting for the next chance to disappear, and one day you will and it won’t matter to nobody. I’m all you got, Amos DeVile and if you ain’t gonna help, then you can just disappear, for good.”
Emily stood staring at him coldly, her words cutting into his flesh. His mind twisted and reeled, trying to find an equally abrasive retort, but he failed. She was right. He wasn’t good for anything. He hoisted the rucksack back onto his shoulder and continued his walk to the pier without looking back.
Emily did not follow.
Amos had been standing in front of his chessboard for what seemed an age, staring blankly. Nym was concerned, but feared that if she were to reach out again he would react in anger. Instead she watched him, unsure of what he might be thinking but certain that he was troubled. She thought she heard him whispering something about not saying goodbye, but she couldn’t be sure.
Without warning, he slammed his hands down onto the board, “That’s it, Peach! I know what we need. We’re wasting time. Come on!” Amos began rummaging through piles, throwing things on the floor, flipping over books and ledgers excitedly.
Nym was mortified, it had taken hours to create some sense of order in the room, she had only just found what might have been a real lead, and now Amos was tearing the room apart like a madman.
“Amos! Stop! Stop!” She grabbed his arms and tried to slow him, “Just please, tell me what I’m looking for. Tell me what you know.”
“It’s a key. A weird key. It looks like … ” He saw the confusion on Nym’s face and realized that he needed to explain himself more completely.
“When Em and I were kids we would come here with Mayor Perryn. Usually just to get parts or to visit with the Captain. That’s how I knew where this place was… anyway, there used to be a staircase and Em and I liked sliding down the banister.” Amos made a swooshing motion with his hand and gave Nym a mischievous grin. She was happy to see him recover some of his boyishness after the gloom of the evening.
“One day,” he continued, “When we were playing around the top of the stairs we found this door. Big wooden thing with markings all over it -at the end of a long hallway. I hated that door. It was like it called to you and warned you to stay away at the same time.” Nym noticed tiny bumps rise on Amos’ arm as he spoke of the door and knew the truth of his memory.
“Emily was fixed on it though. Each time we came here she would race to the stairs and up to that door. It was always locked with a key that the Captain wore on a cord around his neck. When he caught her near, he forbid us both to play on the banister ever again. The staircase was removed shortly afterward. I suspect that’s when the ceiling door went in too.” Amos motioned upwards with his hand. “Though I never noticed really.”
” The last time I saw Emily,” he continued, ” she was carrying on about that door. She was convinced that Captain was hiding some sort of apparatus or something that could generate tremendous amounts of energy. She thought she could use it to power some machine she had built but Marcel forbid her entry into the room-he was concerned that the thing she was after would hurt people. Still, Emily was never one to take no for an answer and when her own efforts to obtain the key had all failed, she asked me to steal it. ”
Nym looked at him exasperated, “She wanted you to steal it?”
Amos laughed, “Pirate.” He motioned up and down his torso, conjuring his bravado. Emily’s words came back to him then, and his mood darkened. “Though, let’s be honest Peach. Not a very good one.”
Nym gave him a half smile, trying to be encouraging. She had seen too much of a good man in him to argue.
“Anyway, I mighta even done it ‘cept…” His eyes seem to get lost in the memory once again and Nym had to call him back.
“Except she seemed to know that what she expected to find in the room would hurt someone and had calculated that it was an acceptable loss.” Amos seemed to wonder at this, as if it were somehow boldly out of her character. He then added, “and she was talking nonsense about fire fairies and some place called…”
“Lys.” Nym said the word with him, feeling both intrigued and silly for doing so.
She had come across the word in a letter she had unearthed from someone called TriAnna. The tone of the letter was romantic, but also urgent. The woman had called to Marcel for aid only a few days before the Celestial Heliograph was said to have been placed over Meiville. Nym was certain that the two events were linked, but – like Amos – was confused by the reality of it all.
Amos looked at her in disbelief for a moment, then added, “If the Captain had a secret, it’s behind that door – the question is, did he leave the key?”