In a Latitude of Temperance (The Adventures of Ichabod Temperance Book 5) (7 page)

BOOK: In a Latitude of Temperance (The Adventures of Ichabod Temperance Book 5)
7.93Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

“No, Senorita, the horse has adjusted his course. He now moves to pass beneath his dark master that runs along the walltop.”

“Henh! That interloper has foolishly leapt to his death!”

“Ha, ha, not quite, WrenneFeyldde! In a terrifying leap of expert timing, that most athletic of assassins has made a full two story fall to land astride his galloping steed. Somehow, the beast has not crushed his utilities in this daring feat.”

“Mordred closes upon us, aye.”

“Hang on, folks, I’m gonna try and ditch this feller!”

“Oh! My word! I say, I do not think I like the sound of that dire proclamation of promised intent. Dear, dear.”

“I think I am in accord with Senorita Plumtartt’s summation.

“Ayeeeiiiieeeaaahhh!!!”

Call out all members of the flying platform in a unified chorus as Ichsabod has spun the vexing vehicle in place. Had this conveyance not been appointed with handrails, it would be sans her passengers at this time.

Our dangerous driver has us charging directly back at our fearsome foe.

“I say, do you know what you are doing, Mr. Temperance?”

“Um, no Ma’am, not really, Miss Plumtartt.”

“Oh, if I die I’m going to kill you, Icksy!”

A collective scream in unified chorus continues to grow with intensity and volume {“
e
e
e
e
y
y
yya
aa
aww
!!!
”}as it appears that both chauffeurs are intent on winning this game of the pheasants.

Bucephalus takes the high road as he jumps directly over our steam carriage in a powerful leap.

“All right, folks, I’m gonna open her up a bit.”

“No!”

The hapless passengers of this suicide machine cry with emphatic insistence and in unanimous denial, but the idiot pilot dramatically increases our speed with a further accompanying loss of steering control and safe operating sensibilities.

I force myself to look back. This is not easy, for I am transfixed by the horrific vision of being sped along without so much as a pillow to protect me in this damnable open-front vehicle. Behind us, the sword wielding black banshee is gaining on our craft with alarming speed.

“Hang on, y’all!”

Our imbecilic helmsman attempts to make a perfect ninety degree turn, opposite of our ebony expert equestrian endangerment. This three wheeled monstrosity is quite capable of making the turn, at a more relaxed pace, but at the heady speeds at which we now travel, a sickening spin is instigated. We are stuck in a high spin circle! Icksi, the fool that he is, has us stuck in a vortex of revolting revolutions and is unable to free us from the steam-powered, high-speed, inadvertant carousel. We emerge from the centrifuge, sickeningly dizzy and amazed to be alive. Our ambitious driver has persevered through his difficulties of negotiating the rapid turn and has managed to straighten the path of our viewing stand again.

Tempseranci continues our flight from danger and points our craft to the deep water docks of Rio de Janeiro. It is most disconcerting that in releasing us from the spinning maneuver of the turn, the inertias have placed the third wheel in a position of pulling, instead of pushing, our steam-powered tricycle spectator’s platform. This seems to grant us a small measure of increased stability. It also frees us from the terrible vision of oncoming calamity. The downside, of course, is that we now ride backwards and cannot see where our rearward facing pilot takes us. We do enjoy a splendid view of the murderous, sword swinging cavalier astride his black charger as he now has the opportunity to chop at us with impunity as if cleaving his way through a jungle by way of machete.

“I say, I think not, sir!”

The Plumtartt girl stands, gripping a handrail for support, she skillfully parries the deadly slashing attacks of our fiendish foe with her azure parasol.

“My word, Mr. Temperance, do you not think you could manage to free us from this dilemma? Eh, hem?”

“Yes, Ma’am, Miss Plumtartt!”

The tryke is spun once more, but in doing so, Ichsabod has upset both our carriage and the beautiful stallion that is in the service of our adversary.

“Ha, ha! I count but twenty yards remaining to achieve the safety of the ship, ha, ha! Run for it, everyone!”

The Counts Sezami and Onyx’Ula, along with WrenneFeyldde, and the Plumtartt girl run for the
‘Stoker’
.

“We gotta slow this fellow down so our friends can get aboard the ship, y’all!”

“Aye, I’m with ye’ lad.”

“I too, shall assist. To achieve this, I stomp in this wooden vegetable stand with my heavy boots constructed of rich, Corinthian leather. Now I may wrench free this five foot length pole of wood that I can employ as a makeshift staff. I warn you, my sword swinging assassin, I have some training with the quarter-staff.”

“So I see, but I shall quickly cut your wooden pole to splinters.”

“That’ll do, you!”

Curiously, and in a strange twist of irony, the Scotsman, Pol Steele, is fortunate enough to be able to arm himself with a steel pole and comes to my aid in the moment before my death strike.

Though I had hoped he would make good use of the metal pole-arm, this is vibrated out of his hands with one good strike of the heavy steel sword from the wicked warrior.

Senor Steele and I are forced to retreat, leaving Tempseranci as our last hope of defense. This last hope quickly reveals itself to be a hopeless one for the ever-idiotic boy is only able to arm himself with an armful of spilled vegetables from where I gathered my staff.

What is this I am witness to? Ichsabod is actually able to drive the demon back! He is hurling the vegetables at our foe with remarkable strength. Though he is able to hurl the vegetables with great speed and accuracy, I would not think he is throwing his veggies hard enough to hurt the man; nevertheless, our assailant is being held at bay. No, more than that, Icksabodi is even able to drive the beast backwards. Those garlic bulbs must be slightly green, and therefore very hard, for they apparently cause the black brute great discomfort. This is strange to me, as earlier, our blows had little effect. The strongly scented root bulbs are most definitely having a devastating effect against the bladed terror! Steele and I have made it to the ship!

“Henh! Cast off this ship’s mooring lines! Get us off this pier immediately! Throw off that gangplank!”

“Mr. WrenneFeyldde, no! My Mr. Temperance is not yet aboard!”

“Shut up you stupid female! Engage the paddles!”

“Senor Temperanci, the
‘Stoker’
is pulling away!”

“Disengage, Icky!”

“Run Ichabod, run! Run, run, run! Si, Ichabod, run!”

“Run, Icksy, run! Dive, Icksy, dive! Swim, Icksy, swim!”

“Out of the way, gentlemen, I am throwing out a lifeline for him!”

“Give me that sword, seaman; the determined diablos looks as if he is going to make the leap from shore to ship!”

Tee, hee! I dinnae think our bonnie, black friend likes the look of your sword at the end of his jump, for he has come to a sliding halt at the edge o’ the docksies.”

“Heh,heh,heh, ,,,h-n-n-nfire on that man! Henh!”

Krack-POW! Krack-POW! Krack-POW!

“Bah! Your stupid mercenaries have only driven that menace to seek shelter behind a stack of barrels.”

“Ha, ha, it is unfortunate that we have been unable to subtract this man from our number of enemies.”

“I say, may I have some assistance in dragging our Mr. Temperance aboard ship, eh hem?”

“Si, Senorita Plumtartt, but as we pull the drenched little fellow aboard, I am compelled to look up and back to the retreating dock. As the
‘Stoker’
departs Rio de Janeiro and loses the range of the rifle’s effectiveness, we can still see the menacing, shadowy form of our mysterious assaulter standing on the edge of the pier, watching us slip from his murderous clutches.”

 

---

Chapter Five.
Bonnie Ayries

Bae mae lights, if I ever gets back tae Rio de Janeirae, I’ll have that blouody beaerded dysc clerk’s eayres fer mae breakfast hinnies!

If naughtte this a’bein’s the worst sea voyage of me life, then me name’s naughtte Pol Aengus MacDooncan Geordie Steele!

Bae daye, the waters lie as flat and calm as Loch Lomond onnae summer’s afternoon, bhaughtte aette bae the un-natural stillness o’ a wrongfulle deaethe. The ayirre has no life tae it, nor the sea ahboot us. The oppressive silence and close autmouspheres presse hard upon me. Even the simple act o’ braething bae prooving difficult.

Bae night, though, abaerd this cursed ship, the wind roars intae aie fury that threatens tae rip the ship ah-parts! Tis’ ounly the faercely overbuilt counstructions o’ this stout beast that keep us afloat. The waves rise as the wild Highlands frae mae belouved Scotland, rivaling the greatte ranges o’ the savage North.

Like every outher lad frae Edinburgh, I knows me ships, bhaughtte this horrible monster upon which we sail mystifies mae tae nae end. Her black wood, strange design, and uncanny manner o’ construction bae unknown to mae. I’d wager she’de sail straight through the walles o’ Tantalion Castle were the seas te’ rise her up high enough. Aye, she bae a sound boat.

The crew are a morose lot and nae communicative. T’was aulle I could do tae get one o’ the pasty heatherns tae at least tell me the lumber come from Roomania, or Transylvania, or some other Eastern European forgaughtten poucket. I nae’er would have thoughtte I’d ever say such an unfair thing o’ a shippe, bhaughtte this horror positively smacks o’ an indescribable auwra o’ aevil.

Oh, ho, but here is something tae lighten mae heart! The faeir Plumtartt gel is walking mae way! Her beauty makes even this horrible voyage a pleasant thing.

“Yoo, hoo, Mr. Steele? I say, I do apologize for intruding upon you, but I was wondering if you would mind joining the rest of the more appealing members of our merry party on the forecastle, eh hem?”

“Dinnae ask mae tae pardon ye’ Miss Plouomtartt, ye’ couold ne’ar bae anything but a pleasant introusion, I assure ye mae bonnie lass.”

“I say, you are too kind, sir. I will further presume upon your gracious nature to accept this palm leaf crucifix I have crafted for you. I believe it to be in your best interest to keep it upon your person at all times.”

“Oh, aye! It truly does lift a terrible burden of oppression, for I feels it to clear mae mind and refresh mae heart as well. I thanks ye’ most profusely m’dear!”

“Think nothing of it, dear sir, for I feel it to be in my own best interest to secure as many allies as possible in what is turning out to be a most unusual trip.”

“Howdy, Mr. Steele.”

“Buenos dias, Senor.”

“And g’day to ye’ both, that is, as good a day as we’re likely to ‘ave, adrift in this listless, yellowy haze.”

~whirr, bzz, clink~
“Hello, Mr. Steele. ‘Top o’ the day’ as you human Scots might say.”

“Aye, Mr. Cogito, wae houman Scots are apt tae say sooch a thing on occasion.”

“I say, gentlemen, I am afraid that I harbor misgivings that I am impelled to share with you if I may?”

“Please share your deepest thoughts, Senorita.”

~whirr, bzz, clink~
“I am all receptor, Miss Plumtartt.”

“Nae fae shae ye’ caresies, mae dearie.”

“Sure thing, Ma’am. I got more ears for ya than a forest full of curious owls.”

“Yes, er, thank you gentlemen. There are a few characteristics about our hosts that strike me with a peculiar unpleasantness. Both of the well dressed Counts claim to suffer the same allergic repulsion to our gentle sun to begin with. Had they been true albinos, I might be more amenable to belief, but with Count Sezami’s black hair and Count Onyx’Ula’s wealth of healthy pigmentation, I am unlikely to accept this hypothesis. Another troubling concern lies with their aversion to mirrors, and symbols of Holy reference. I have had some experience with this sort of phenomenon in another acquaintance. I believe that we are under captivity by a brood of Nosferatu.”

“Nosfer-who-who, Ma’am?”

“Nosferatu, Mr. Temperance. Undead beings that prey upon the living for sustenance. By slaking an ongoing thirst for human blood, they achieve an unnatural longevity. I believe these two Counts to be vampires. The wretch WrenneFeyldde, I think, is attempting to convert himself somehow, without having to succumb to the tedious requirement of actually being dead, per se.”

“Si, I am in agreement with the enticingly beautiful Senorita Plumtartt. I harboured the same misgivings in my noble, Spanish heart, but did not want to burden my fellow companions with the disquieting deduction. I am relieved that these observations are now out in the open. Let us be vigilant against the threat of these frightful fiends.”

“Something else I noticed, Ma’am. Those two Counts have both gott’em some pointy incisors. That WrenneFeyldde fella don’t, but that fella from the docks sure ’nuff did.”

“Hear, hear, thank you, Mr. Temperance. I am so happy that someone else made note of this. These animal fangs are another distinctive identifier of the vampire curse. I believe that our black garbed attacker from Rio is also a member of this species. I have it on good authority, however, that not all of this ilk are cut from the same cloth. There is, I am aware, a division within the culture of these creatures. At the risk of oversimplification, they appear to be divided between ‘good’ and ‘evil’. The ‘evil’ ones feast upon the good in humanity, and the ‘good’ among these find refreshment in dining upon the more despicable of our kind. Furthermore, it is my understanding that there is an ongoing conflict between these two disparate members of the same species.”

“Gee, whiz, Miss Plumtartt.”

“Quite so, Mr. Temperance. My conjecture is that the gentleman awaiting us for ambush outside of Pol’s hotel assumed that we are accomplices of the two continental Counts. He was, in all probability, ‘staking out’, please pardon the genre pun, Count Onyx’Ula, and is, as we, curious to the ultimate goal of our expedition. He most likely observed our arrival with Count Sezami and our rendezvous with Count Onyx’Ula, deducing that we are all in accord with the companionship. The daring fellow had no hesitation in attacking our forces, though he was greatly outnumbered. Our subsequent defensive actions most assuredly confirmed his suspicions that we are in the employ, and therefore willing associates, of the vampire conspiracy. We may have made a grave tactical error here, gentlemen, by engaging the formidable gentleman in combat, but I am not sure. It remains to be seen in which camp these two forces lie. I suggest that we attempt to reason with the fierce gentleman should we meet again. Somehow, I think we will.”

“Si, Senorita Plumtartt, until such time as we ascertain of which ‘camp’ as you put it, the two forces are in, is there anything we can do to protect ourselves against the threat of these blood sucking fiends?”

“I would like to think the Palm Leaf Crucifixes I fashioned have kept us safe, but I wonder to just what extent that protection grants, versus the level of hunger and desire in the given vampire. Perhaps we can supplement our crucifix supply when next we go ashore.”

“In truth, I think these monsters have an ulterior motive that they aspire to beyond the immediate gratification from their own needs of nourishment. This is what has helped us to retain our blood supply to date, but I have a suspicion that there is more we can do to ensure our safety. I was struck by how the strident strikes of garlic left our enemy stricken upon the docks of Rio de Janeiro. I understand that these beings are curiously repelled by the fragrant food flavoring root of the garlic bulb. There is not so much as a single clove aboard ship. I have already searched. When next we make port, I suggest that we begin a rigid regimen of this rousing roughage. Perhaps if our fluids are sufficiently suffused with the fragrant food, our hemo-globic reserves will lose their appeal, eh, hem?”

“That’s fine with me, Ma’am, I really like garlic anyway, so gettin’ to slather up lots of buttery bread with it sounds okay to me.”

“Er, yes, Mr. Temperance, that is good to hear.”

“Well, if that bae the case ye’ better tae git ye’ smoochin’ with ye’ gel, a’now Icksy m’boy. She may’nae wants nae lovin’ with the gaseous garlic fumes roarin’ from ye’ throat once ye’ gobbled down a handfull o’ the stouoffe.”

“Say! Mr. Steele has a point, Miss Plumtartt, Ma’am!”

“Indeed, Mr. Temperance, however, if we are to properly, ‘smooch’, as Pol so quaintly describes, I think that I should prefer more privacy. I suggest that you accompany me to the dinghy, forthwith.”

“Yes, Ma’am!”

---

Right on’nae schedule, the storms have returned at nightfall, blast the awful and foul weathers. T’is a treat tae bae able tae predict the unhappy meteourologaecal disturbances so easily. In a great cloud of ill-portents, we are blown up the Rio de Plata, deep intae the countinent o’ South Americae. This wide outlet is bourdered by Uruguay to the north, and the Republic of Argentina ahead and to the south. The weather has dropped off decidedly cooler as we sail intae the southern latitudes. Port is made in the city o’ Buenos Aires. Though the wind bae roaring and the lightning flashing when we make the harbor, it settles down and even stops raining when the two tuxedoed devils, Count Sezami and Count Onyx’Ula walk onae deck. Wherre a’fore the turbulent skies annae rough seas threaten tae destroy us all, the weather bae behaeving when these two mounsters bae wanting it.

Mooring lines are cast and dock workers secure us safely as we make the doucks o’ Buenos Aires. A fresh gangplank has been counstructed, bhaughtte the ebony and ivory hostal duo o’ Count Sezami and Count Onyx’Ula dinnae allow our exit.

“Ha, ha! Hello my guests! You are invited to enjoy our stay in Argentina aboard the ship. Ha, ha! Count Onyx’Ula and I both think that you will all be far more comfortable here, on the
‘Stoker’
. I count zero reasons for you to come with us. Ha, ha! Vee do not know if the dastardly attacker from Rio de Janeiro has somehow followed us. Ha, ha! It is for your safety, ha, ha, that we ask you to stay aboard the
ship to enjoy her protection
. Ha, ha!”

“Your thoughts as to our welfare are most considerate, Senor Count Sezami; however, my friends and I insist on accompanying you into the city of Buenos Aires. Now if you please, after you, my dear Count.”

“No, Senor MontalKahn. Please allow me to rephrase Count Sezami’s suggestion into a command. We insist, that you stay aboard the ship.”

Count Onyx’Ula steps before the gangplank as he says this and appears tae bae blocking our exit. Me blood’s starting to pump a little faster as a bit o’ tension has entered the atmousphere, aye. This Spanish gentleman, Senor MontalKahn, is a great big strapping lad, bhaughtte so is this Count Onyx’Ula. The both o’ ’em is a bit too good looking fae mae likin’. All tall dark and handsome with the carved features o’ granite, they both bae. It appears they might be getting ready to knock the attractiveness off each other! I despise most royals onnae general basis, and this Spaniard has a deep streak of nobility innae mae eyes, but a deep bred honour and nobility resides within this formidable man. So too, the Count Onyx’Ula radiates continental aristocracy frae his mahogany features. The pale Count Sezami din’nae look tae bae getting his jewel encrusted hands dirty in the proceedings.

“If we are not going, then you are not going, my fanged amigo.”

“If I did not make myself clear before, then please allow me to do so at this time. You are hereby commanded to stay on the ship!”

Tee, hee! Them’s bae fighting words, aye! MontalKahn’s sure to tan the lights o’ te’ tall dark and handsome, Couont Onyx’Ula, aye!

~whirr, bzz,c link~
“Excuse me, please gentlemen!”

The mechanical man, Cogito, has squeezed in between the two antagonists. Blast that clockwork goodie, goodie! He’s going to ruin a perfect corker of a royal row!

~whirr, bzz, clink~
“I am afraid, Count Onyx’Ula, that you have no right to keep my companions and me aboard ship against our will. Under the unusual circumstances of this peculiar trip, we feel as if we have every right to exercise our prerogative in accompanying you ashore.”

“Get out of my way, tin creature. Do not dare to interfere!”

~whirr, buzz, clink~
“I do beg your pardon, Count Onyx’Ula, but you force me to engage you physically.”

“Don’t you dare touch me! Hey! Put me down, you blasted machine!”

“I say, well done, Mr. Cogito. Come gentlemen, let us hurry down the gangplank while our clockwork companion holds Count Onyx’Ula aloft, eh hem?”

“Yes, Ma’am!”

“Okay, Mr. Cogito, we’re all ashore. You can put the Count down and join us, now.”

“Tee, hee! I hope we do not appear overly smouog at our little victory.”

“I shall destroy you all!”

“Henh! No, Count Onyx’Ula! The Master needs them!”

“Shut up, WrenneFeyldde! Out of my way!”

“Ha, ha, please calm yourself, Count Onyx’Ula. I perceive a curiosity in our travelmates that bodes the promise of limited good behaviour, yes?”

“Quite so, Count Sezami.”

“Ha, ha! There, you see? One big happy family, ha, ha!”

BOOK: In a Latitude of Temperance (The Adventures of Ichabod Temperance Book 5)
7.93Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Hunter Moran Digs Deep by Patricia Reilly Giff
Rose (Flower Trilogy) by Lauren Royal
Homecoming by Heath Stallcup
Does Your Mother Know by Green, Bronwyn
Whirlwind by Alison Hart
Pale Kings and Princes by Robert B. Parker