After Ortega had defeated his nemesis, he had discovered that Sid Weezul, a weasely individual with a reputation to be up to no good, had been in Steelhead City on the night of Hotspur's disappearance. Confronting Weezul in New Babbage, Sheriff Ortega learned of Hotspur's predicament.
Steelhead City, Oregon
The tension in Steelhead City had subsided rather quickly. The sheriff was no longer in danger, Jobias Barthelmess was defeated, with the possibility of never being seen again, and his henchmen had all been captured and were on their way to Salem to await trial. Life in Steelhead was getting back to normal.
At the train station, Koen sat on the bench with a disappointed look on his face. Purdie walked up to him and saw the disappointment.
"What's wrong?" Purdie asked
Koen looked up at Purdie, "When you asked me to assist you in an important matter, I thought it was to be another adventure, not getting lumber."
Purdie smiled and sat next to the young Neko, "This is important. Lunar has great plans for Steelhead's growth and needs the lumber. I've agreed to assist him on this matter."
Koen merely shrugged.
"Koen," Purdie continued "life or death adventures are pretty exhilerating, but, there's nothing wrong with doing an honest days work."
"I know....why are we going to Seattle, anyway?"
"Because the lumber that comes from Stempel's Lumber is the best in the Pacific Northwest." Purdie replied "The trees grow tall and strong on Bridal Veil Mountain, they are perfect for a builder such as Lunar."
"Ok.....maybe there'll be an adventure when we get back."
Purdie gave it some thought, then shrugged, "Maybe."
"Although, I wish I could've gone with Dad to San Francisco."
"He has gone with Fuzz and Angelica to help Fuzz. Turns out he's not fully recovered, his transformation to the wolf and back still leaves him a bit out of breath. And Tensai sent her cat, Dogg, to make sure that none of them go on any adventures."
The Dining Area of The Carlton Hotel, San Francisco, California
"I'm so bored. When are we going to go on an adventure?" Dogg Food asked Darien.
Darien looked up from the newspaper he was reading and glanced at the super intelligent cat. "Fuzz is supposed to be resting, you know that. Is this some trick of yours to see if there's something planned? I can assure you, there's not."
"No trick. I know Fuzz. There's an adventure planned, and I want in. I don't always take orders from Tensai."
Darien glanced across the room at Fuzz, who was playing chess with another gentleman "Well, I'm sorry to disappoint you, but it appears that's the most excitement we'll be seeing today."
Across the room, Fuzz studied the chess board as he continued his conversation with the gentleman. His chess opponent was a distinguished looking gentleman who lived in the hotel. Extremely intelligent, with a knight's head stick pin sticking in the dark silk of his cravat.
"So," Fuzz said, moving a chess piece "Fusang has taken over other sections of China?"
The gentleman nodded as he moved a chess piece, "Appears he wants access to the sea. It's very dangerous in that area of the world, and you want to head in there."
Fuzz nodded, not looking up from the chess board.
The gentleman shook his head, "I wouldn't go there even if you tripled my normal fee."
Fuzz chuckled, "A thousand dollars a job is pretty steep. But, at least you get your job done."
Angelica walked in, as she walked closer to the table, the gentleman stood up and greeted her. Angelica looked at her brother.
"Southside of the docks." she said
Fuzz nodded, "Almost done."
He moved his final piece.
The gentleman looked at move and laughed, "You've gotten better, Ortega."
Fuzz motioned at the gentleman, "I learned from the best."
The gentleman extended his hand and shook Fuzz's "Good luck, my friend. I hope you find your friend before it's too late."
"So do I." Fuzz replied "It was good to see you, again, Paladin."
Fuzz got up and looked at his sister, who was looking at Darien and Dogg across the room.
"When are we going to tell them?" she asked
"I thought we'd spring it on them, later." he replied "Did you find him?"
"No. But there's a pub near the docks. He's probably there."
"I wouldn't doubt it." Fuzz walked over to Darien and Dogg, "Come on, we're going for a walk."
"Oh yea," Dogg said sarcastically "that's very exciting.
The Drunken Mermaid Tavern
The four walked into the tavern and looked around the place. It was filled with drunken sailors who were drinking, having arm wrestling matches, or trying to stand up. Darien looked around the place and was about suggest that it wasn't in Fuzz's best interest to be here, when a voice from the past caught his ear. Fuzz smiled and walked towards the sound of that voice. The four walked closer to the bar and found a Scotsman with green hair bragging to fellow sailors.
"And The Lady Dushku," the Scotsman said "is the best airship ye'd find in these parts."
"The Lady Dushku?" Fuzz asked "You mean that termite infested flying junkheap at the airdock? Looks like it's not even fit to carry mules across the river, even if it's captained by a jack ass."
The Scotsman became enraged. Angelica and Dogg both looked around, worried that a fight was to be started.
"TERMITE INFESTED!!!" The Scotsman yelled "FLYING JUNKHEAP!!!! MULE CARRYING!!!! LADDIE, THERE'S ONLY ONE THING I HAVE TO SAY TO YE!"
The Scotsman laughed and hugged Fuzz, "It's DAMN good to see you again, Fuzz."
"Same here, Angus" Fuzz replied
"Why you insulting me lady of the air?"
"It's fun." Fuzz said, winking, he then motioned towards Angelica "Might I introduce my sister, Angelica Daniella Contessa Ortegavich, better known as Angelica Trescothick. Sis, Captain Angus GlitterRoch, the finest airship captain from the Capper Brigade."
"Ye found her?" Angus asked "That's wonderful."
"It's a pleasure to meet you, Captain" Angelica said
Angus held up his hand, "Please, lass, call me Angus."
Fuzz pointed down at Dogg, "And Dogg Food, intelligent cat from the far future"
"How do you do sir." Dogg said
"Pleased to make yer acquaintence." Angus said, then looked at Fuzz "Cat's name is Dogg?"
"Her owner has a warped mind." Fuzz replied
"Ooooo, one of our kind." Angus smiled, then looked at Darien "Is that?"
"Ayup." Fuzz replied
Angus laughed and hugged Darien, then looked at the doctor, "So, the booger finally left ye?"
"Yea," Darien replied "Good to see you, Angus."
Angus studied Darien's face, "Afraid he left something terrible though. What's that on yer face?" he asked pointing at Darien's mustache.
"That's my mustache." Darien replied
"Ugliest lookin' thing I ever seen."
Darien smiled, "Have you looked in the mirror lately?"
Angus laughed, then motioned for the bar. "Come, let's all have a drink. Fuzz, you buying?"
"Absolutely," Fuzz replied "with Darien's money."
"Which can be found in Angus' pocket." Darien added
Angus smiled, "Great" quickly the smile faded, "Wait...."
A short time later, the group were sitting at a table as Angus heard about Fuzz's latest adventure.
"So," Darien finished "Fuzz is here for some rest and relaxation......I think."
Fuzz shook his head.
"I knew it." Dogg said "We're going on an adventure."
"Angus," Fuzz said "we need an airship."
"Ye need an airship, mine's at your disposal," Angus said, "But, Fuzz, she's a cargo air ship. Ye can get a passenger ship, it's best suited for ye."
"Where I need to go, the passenger ships aren't going there." Fuzz said
Angus leaned back in his chair, "What's yer destination?" he asked, as he started drinking his whiskey.
Angus spit his whiskey out and leaned forward, "ARE YE MAD? DO YE HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT'S HAPPENIN' THERE?"
Angus tried to remain calm, "The only people who would dare enter that area are crazy people, who are ne'er right in the head."
"Aye.......alrighty Fuzz, why do ye need to go there."
Fuzz looked at Darien, then at Angus. "A friend of ours, Hotspur O'Toole, was captured by the Dark Ocean Society. The Warlord of Fusang is an old enemy of his. I'm going to rescue him."
"On yer own?"
"No." Fuzz replied, "Darien's going with me."
This time, it was Darien who spit out his whiskey.
Angus looked at Fuzz, "Overwhelming odds. Little chance of success. Sounds like our type of adventure. Very well, Fuzz, the Lady Dushku is at yer service."
The Lady Dushku, A Short Time Later
Angelica hugged her brother as preperations were being made for departure.
"I want you to be careful." she said "It's bad enough that we almost lost you once, already."
Fuzz smiled, "I'll be ok. Besides, I've got protection from the best."
Fuzz shook his head and pointed at Dogg.
Angelica smiled, then reached into her purse and pulled out a knight's head stick pin. "Mr. Paladin asked me to give this to you. He says it's not for luck, rather a symbol. 'A knight without armor' he called you. He also said the knight was the most versatile on the board."
Fuzz nodded, "It can move in eight different directions. It can go over obstacles. It's moves are always unexpected."
Angelica smiled, again, then turned to leave. She stopped and looked at the cat.
"I'll keep an eye on him" Dogg replied
Angelica nodded, then looked around, "Might want to keep an eye on Darien, while you're at it."
As Angelica left the ship, Angus walked on deck and called out to his crew.
"ALL RRRRIGHT YE BILGE RATS. LET'S CAST OFF. MR. SIDEMAN, LAY IN OUR COURSE. DESTINATION......HELL"
And soon, the airship was on it's way.
Two hours later, Fuzz was on deck looking at the stars. Darien walked next to him and looked out, as well.
"Think Hotspur's still alive?" Darien asked
"I.....hope so." Fuzz replied
Suddenly, a sharp pain pierced Fuzz's mind. He grabbed his head and fell onto the deck.
"FUZZ!" Darien shouted
Suddenly, Fuzz saw images in his mind. A holding cell of a frieghter. He felt the lashes of the whip on the back. The image of an ancient Chinese man standing in the room.
"ANGUS!" Darien yelled as the Captain ran towards them, "TURN THIS SHIP AROUND!"
Fuzz grabbed Darien by the collar and looked at Angus, "No" he said
"Fuzz." Darien said, "You're not well. We need to get you to a hospital."
Fuzz got up and leaned over the railing. "I........saw....Hotspur."
Darien and Angus looked at Fuzz. Both were unsure of what to say or do.
The Train To Seattle, At That Same Moment.
Koen ran towards Purdie, who was laying on the floor of the passenger car. The other passengers were unsure of what to do. Koen helped Purdie up and into his bunk. He opened the window to allow some air in.
"Are you ok, sir." Koen asked
"Hotspur" Purdie whispered
Purdie looked at Koen, "I saw Hotspur.......we need to get this deal in Seattle settled quickly. I'm afraid that Colonel O'Toole is in worse danger than Fuzz predicted."
To Be Continued