And if it wasn't for that stowaway, the entire crew of the Mary Glory would have been lost.
— The Ghosts of the Mary Glory (Act 4, Scene 11)
Neither Brook nor Linsan slept well that night.
For Linsan, the thought of heading out back on their hunt was terrifying. As she bobbed in and out of consciousness, nightmares gnawed at the edges of her thoughts. If it wasn't getting lost in the wilderness with a broken car, it was holding Brook's body in her arms as her best friend bled out. It felt like a hundred ways of failure beat against Linsan's thoughts and there was a hint of despair lurking her mind when she finally drifted to sleep.
When she woke up again, Brook had already packed and left the room. The smell of perfume brought a smile to Linsan's lips and she dressed quickly before inspecting the drying bow. The glue had set and appeared to be hard. In a perfect world, she would have let it still for another week, but in that same world, she would have her family's wood to repair it, her father's glue and traditions, and probably a violin crafted directly for her.
She enjoyed the idle fantasy of having the perfect instrument while she set the bow into the case, made sure the violin didn't have any new scratches, and then sealed it up. She gathered up the borrowed tools to carry everything down to the main room.
Down below, she saw Brook and Har at the bar. Brook wore her yellow formal dress, with little blue embroidery along the bottom and matching gloves, boots, and a narrow-brimmed hat with a blue flower on it.
“Are you sure?” asked Har as he poured a canvas bag of what appeared to be sugar directly into a cast iron pot on the counter.
“Yes, yes,” Brook said as she stirred. “Just a bit more and it will be perfect.” She reached over the counter to grab a handful of leaves and dropped them in.
Har shook his head as he emptied out the bag. “How are you able to sleep after drinking this?”
Brook grinned and stirred the pot. “Oh… this is just about right. Please simmer it for about ten or twenty minutes until it is just about syrup and then add the milk.”
He groaned as he set aside the empty bag. “A girl as thin as you should not be able to drink this. For what? A week's supply?”
Linsan grinned as she set down her case and tools. “That's probably just for today.”
His eyes widened and he looked at Brook who nodded sagely.
“I like to drink while I drive,” she explained.
“You probably go further if you don't have to stop to pee every hour.”
“I don't stop. Besides, a lady doesn't talk about that.”
He glanced at Linsan who shook her head. Then his gaze dropped to the tools. “Why don't you leave those here? I'll get them returned.”
“Are you sure?”
Har reached out and pushed the tools away from Linsan. “You have a pressing need to be anywhere. Besides, if I don't get you out of my village, your friend is going to consume every sweet thing we own.”
Brook looked up from stirring the pot. “I'm sorry. How much?”
“Only what you've already paid, Princess.”
A flicker of annoyance crossed her face.
“Sorry. I should have asked. Do you mind being called that or do you prefer Lady Kabisal?”
She shrugged. “Princess is fine as long as I'm on the road soon.”
“If Miska said she would be done, she would have never stopped. She was working all night and finished up only a few hours ago. One thing about the Feil, if they swear on the winter winds, they will walk past the Couple to fulfill their promise. Miska is one of the good ones, you can trust her.”
He smacked the counter. “So, what can I get you for breakfast?”
Brook pointed to the pot. “I'm good.”
Har looked pained.
Linsan chuckled. “Could we get something to go? Something simple that won't make a mess?”
“Come on, Brook, let's check out the Coaster.”
“But, my breakfast….” Brook pouted as she inched away from the pot.
“I will deliver whatever you call that with the rest of your breakfast.”
Reluctantly, Brook let Linsan lead her out of the public house and across the road to the smithy. It was dark and silent, but the front of the Coaster was clearly visible. The front appeared to be pristine, from the shimmering metal to the smooth surfaces. There was no hint of a hammer or even Miska's fist. Even the top had been replaced, though the metal work looked entirely different; no doubt since the original was in some field miles away.
Brook let out a squeal and rushed forward. Her heels rapped against the ground as she plunged into the smithy.
Linsan followed slower. As she approached, she noticed a piece of paper tucked underneath a bar near the windshield. Tugging it free, she started to read it.
“What in the Father's fury!?” Brook's voice was a mixture of surprise and anger.
“Let me guess, we have a smith in the back seat?”
“She's practically naked!” Brook snapped. “Why is she there!? This isn't a bed!”
Linsan finished reading the note. “Because she got the Coaster running but doesn't think it can take more stress. So Miska decided to come with us—”
“No!” snapped Brook as she stormed out. Her face twisted in anger. “We are not letting that… woman in my Coaster!”
“She's a mechanic, Brook.”
“I don't care! I want to get away from her! She's like a tick, sticking in where she isn't wanted!”
Linsan stared for a moment. “Calm down.”
“I will not—”
“Brook!” yelled Linsan.
Brook snapped her mouth shut.
“She repaired your Coaster. She is getting us on the road to get your daddy's killers. She can fix the car if those men attack us again and she isn't asking for money.”
Linsan tapped her friend's sternum. “Quiet! You may not like her right now, but she's offering something we don't have but we desperately need.”
“She's….” Brook quieted at Linsan's glare.
“Look, I know it sucks. But you can see that we need to move and we need to catch Tilbin and his assholes. What if they do that fire hammer on us again? Can you afford to give them a few days head star? Can you trust you'll find a mechanic that happens to be willing to work for us?”
Brook's lips tightened.
“We'll keep you two apart from each other. Different rooms, even if I have to busk to pay for it. But we need her more right now. We need her to do what we set out to do, right?”
Brook's cheeks colored again as she balled her hands into fists. Then she sighed. “Damn the Couple.”
“Let's not piss off the gods right now. We still don't know if Tilbin is actually heading to Stone Over Moon Waters or not. The faster we can catch them or know their destination, the better we have a chance to fight on our terms instead of being tricked into being cursed by a damn tree.”
“What if she is tricking us?”
“Then she's putting an awful lot of effort into the con. That Coaster looks nothing like the wreck we brought in only yesterday. If it drives, then we're good. Right?”
Brook let out a long sigh. Tears glittered in her eyes but she nodded. “For Daddy.”
“For your Daddy.”
Brook sniffed and then pulled Linsan into a hut. Her body trembled with tears as she squeezed for a long moment before releasing her. “S-Sorry… I don't know how much more I can take.”
“Just focus on the goal. We need to catch his killers. We've practiced and we know what we're going to do. He won't play the same tricks on us again.”
“I… I should get my drinks and breakfast.”
Linsan let Brook go before she headed into smithy herself. Curiosity rose and she peered into the back of the Glasscoaster where Miska was sprawled out in the back seat. She had on a short top and her stained shorts on. A pair of boots were resting on the floor but there were no other travel supplies.
Automatically, Linsan glanced at her toes and winced at the rough-cut nails, dirt and grime, and scratches. She was used to the delicate flowers that stood on the stage whereas Miska looked like she could walk miles in her bare feet.
She glanced up at the tattoos, trying to discern the pattern. There was one, but she couldn't figure it out. They didn't appear to form words she knew or images she could picture.
Setting Miska's appearance aside for later, she checked the boot of the Glasscoaster to drop off her own supples but didn't see anything else. To occupy herself until Brook returned, she circled around the smithy looking for Miska's clothes.
There was a chest of drawers in the back next to a hammock. Inside where crumbled clothes and tools jammed into each of the drawers. Gathering a healthy supply, Linsan put them into the cleanest canvas bag she could find and tossed it into the trunk of the car.
She started to close the trunk but then wondered if Miska would need repair supplies. She used her fists to shape metal, but there were pliers and other strange tools, not to mention stacks of metal bars. Worrying her bottom lip, Linsan looked over them and scooped up a handful of the metal bars and tossed in what looked like to be frequently used tools.
The carriage of the Glasscoaster sank slightly and Linsan worried that she was overloading the buggy.
“Got it!” Brook said, her voice a little more sullen than before. “Ready?”
Without waiting for an answer, she slipped into her Glasscoaster and settled into place. Her bright yellow gloves were almost shining as she set down her first drink in the holder and put the rest next to Miska's boots.
Linsan thought she saw her hesitate but then Brook was back in her seat.
“Come on, Lin.”
Shaking her head and wondering what she had gotten herself into, Linsan settled into place.
Brook started the engine before Linsan closed her door. The entire buggy roared to life, shaking underneath them with the familiar gurgle and hiss of the steam boiler heating up. Moments later, gauges began to climb on the dash.
With a sigh of contentment, Brook eased it out of the smithy.
Har stood at the entrance of his place and waved.
The buggy lurched forward, engine rising in pitch as it accelerated. Moments later, it was out of the small village and racing along the road. The force pushed Linsan back into her seat with the familiar sense of acceleration.
“How does it feel?” she asked.
Brook's smile was all the answer she needed.