Inside the Kettenrad Workshop
The inside isn't any more normal by any stretch of the means. Gearing and axles crank and groan throughout the workshop. All are powered by a large central gear linkage connected to a feeder axle on one of the waterwheels. Aside from just the general din of the gears, odd puffs and hisses can be heard as seemingly random intervals as one of Zahn's latest grand inventions is probably finding its way to a grand parts pile as it rattles itself into oblivion. Belts also crisscross throughout the rafters, transferring power from one side of the shop to the other. Still, all things given, the workshop is in relatively decent order. No unruly piles of paper stacked in corners or puddles of goo to step in. In the corner sits a desk and drafting table, which currently has a small stack of detailed plans for some sort of new flying machine.
Unable to stand the waiting at the Gnarly tree for Qing and Morgan, Amelia had gone outside to indulge in her favorite way of working off stress; chopping up whatever she can find woodwise. Of course, it's at that time that she discovers her favorite axe has become unfavorably dull. Instead of bothering her cousin, Roy, Amelia has headed over to the Wingnut compound to borrow the use of some of their tools. With the usual sounds and smells, it's obvious that at least Zahn is home and working on something as usual.
"Zahn!" Amelia yells over whatever is making noise. "I've got an axe to grind with you," she continues as she (cautiously) looks into the workshop, wary of flying Kadies or other projectiles.
"Whatever it is, I didn't do it!" Zahn calls back from behind a pile of parts. His head pops up over the pile to watch Amelia warily.
"You're starting to sound like Gunther," Amelia notes. "Or maybe he gets it from you." She holds out her stone-headed axe, and says, "I need this sharpened, so that I can vent my frustration and anger before helping Bravil."
"You vent your frustration with axes? You Blacktails never make much sense to me," Zahnrad notes as he heads over to a set of levers. He pulls a few and the noise dies down as various bits quit spinning and cranking.
"Well, what do you do?" Amelia asks.
"I build things," Zahnrad answers and walks over to Amelia. He peers at her intently and rubs his chin in the way only someone that's plotting does. "So, do you want me to sharpen it or do you want to?"
"I'm still a bit leery about using your equipment," Amelia admits, lashing her tail about.
"Why? You practically live here," Zahnrad points out. "What's the worst that could happen?"
"A ten pound stone axe-head could go flying across the room?" Amelia suggests.
"And that would be a quiet day in here," Zahnrad says with a grin. "Come on, I'll stand with you while you do it," he adds as he then heads towards the back corner.
Amy grumbles something, but follows along. "Got any wood to chop around here, too?" she asks.
"I have something better," Zahnrad says and flicks his tail back to bat Amelia playfully. The Kadie then goes about clearing away a belt driven grinding wheel. "And find some goggles. You don't want stone chips in your eyes."
Setting the axe down, Amy looks around for goggles. "Where do you keep them?" she finally asks.
"Uh, third pile on the left, probably under the towels, I think," Zahnrad says. The Kadie goes about wetting down the large grinding wheel. "So, is anything interesting going on today? I haven't been out of the shop."
While Amy digs through the pile, she says, "A Mage from the College is here to examine the necromancer remains for our bounty. And what's better than wood for chopping, anyway?"
"Why, wood that's chopped for a purpose, of course," Zahnrad says, "And aha!" He pulls a lever and the large wheel slowly starts to spin. It starts to gain momentum. "There's a mage here? Isn't that, well, bad?"
"Morgan has him under control," Amelia notes, eyeing the wheel. "Wood's always chopped for a purpose. Are you saying my reason for chopping is… pointless?"
Zahnrad goes digging through the pile now and finds a couple pairs of goggles. He tosses one towards Amelia. "It's destructive, but not pointless. Constructive hobbies with a point are even better."
Amelia straps on the goggles, and tries not to think about how silly she probably looks wearing them. "Well, what did you have in mind? I can't help Bravil if I have any bad emotions or doubts hanging around."
Zahnrad leans over and whispers in Amelia's ear, "Oh, something that will get you all hot and sweaty, so don't worry."
Amelia's tail goes straight up, then curls at the tip. "What?" she asks.
Zahnrad just grins. "All in good time," he says and directs Amelia back over to the wheel. It's now whirring away, the stone wheel a dull gray blur.
"I can't tell which way it's spinning," Amy says, holding her axe again. "How should I hold the blade to it?"
"It's spinning from the floor up. So, you need to hold the axe blade with the edge pointing upward and angled towards the wall," Zahnrad explains and moves behind Amelia. The Kadie slips his arms around her and takes her hands in his, saying, "Let me show you."
"Okay," Amy says, nodding, holding the axe out towards the wheel.
Zahnrad presses up against Amelia's back as he directs her hands with his. He carefully angles the axe blade, point up. Gently, he directs Amelia to press the blade to the wheel. "Now, don't press hard, just let the wheel weight hold it there. You need to slide it side to side as it goes so you don't groove the blade… " he explains.
Amy winces a bit at the sound when the stone begins to grind, and says, "I hope I'm not distracting you from anything important… "
Zahnrad peers intently over Amelia's shoulder, watching the grinding. "Important? Not terribly. You're more important than anything I'm working on today," he says absently and slowly releases her hands so she directs the sharpening.
Amelia blushes a bit, and nearly relaxes her grip too much when Zahn lets go. "When do I flip it over?" she asks.
"Depends on how dull it was. I'd recommend flipping it every half minute or so," Zahn answers as he steps back and then to the side to watch. "Looking forward to whatever this thing with Bravil is?" he asks.
"Not sure," Amelia admits, and flips the axe. "No idea what will be in his head, but I have to try and help him. Looking forward to it more than I am to searching for Clover."
"Really? I would have thought monster hunting would be more interesting," Zahnrad says. He crouches down to get a better look at the axe shape.
"It's just that I think I can actually help Bravil," Amelia admits. "Whatever Clover has gotten into, I'm sure it's going to turn out badly. I… I've lost some confidence in my monster-hunting ability."
"Er, how can you help someone that big?" Zahnrad has to ask. "And I doubt Clover will go that badly. I've never seen you fail in hunting monsters. Granted I haven't seen you hunt much… "
"I wasn't much use against Buffy," Amy notes, and almost nicks the blade before correcting herself. "If she had been a danger, we'd be dead now."
"You were more help than I was," Zahnrad points out. "I mean, I pushed the boat. Ooo, ahhh."
"I still could have done better," Amy says, pulling the axe away from the wheel to examine the edge now. "If Clover actually needs to be rescued, it could go bad, is all. If she's badly hurt or killed, I'll get blamed. Figures she'd find a way to mess up my reputation even while getting into trouble herself."
"Eh, I wouldn't worry about it until something bad actually happens," Zahnrad comments and peers over the axe as well. "More likely, she's just off sulking somewhere, mad that her pet vampire found a new friend."
"I'm not sure she's the type to sulk," Amy notes, and works the axe head against the grinder a bit more to even it out. "Besides, the underground monsters are our discovery. She can't just go get kidnapped and ruin it all."
"Our discovery that no one was ever going to know about," Zahn points out with a shrug. "We might want to go back to that huge machine room and go down those stairs we found. Maybe she's down there."
"A good spot to start I guess," Amelia says, satisfied with the blade edge now. "Okay, what can I constructively chop up?"
Zahnrad slips an arm around Amelia's waist. "This way," he says and directs Amelia back outside, then around the back of the shop. Behind the shop are several thick logs, each about six feet long and maybe a foot and a half thick. One has already been stripped of bark and has had several marks placed along it. "I need to carve some propellers. You do know what those are, right?" he asks.
"Like windmill arms?" Amelia guesses.
"Uh, close. What you can do, if you want, is just start cutting the rough shape into that one. I'll get back to stripping the bark from this one," Zahnrad says as he steps away from Amelia. "And oh, wasn't there supposed to be a dinner at your place soon?"
"Yeah, in a few days," Amelia says distractedly as she feels the wood. "I've never tried carving with an axe before."
"Well, it's not like you have to be accurate right now. There are large chunks that need to be removed," Zahnrad points out. He fetches an odd crescent-shaped knife with handles on both sides and waves towards the log. "Just cut down to those marks."
"Okay, I'll try," Amelia says, and makes sure the log is secure before she starts whacking away at it. "You know, this isn't as crash-cart-ick when you have to actually pay attention to the cuts," she says after the fourth or fifth chop.
"Don't you mean cathartic?" Zahnrad asks, looking up from where he's using the curved edge to strip bark. "If you'd rather just go do something else, that's fine. I was just thinking you could help and calm yourself."
WHACK WHACK WHACK "Yeah, cathartic. This is okay, it's just different," Amelia says between chops. "Never had someone else around before."
"Probably because you scare people," Zahnrad notes as he runs his hand over a bark-stripped section of the log he's working on.
WHACK "I mean I always did this alone before," Amelia says, pausing to wipe the wet hair out of her face. "I don't think I can curse out loud here. Does anyone come around usually?"
"No. People give my workshop a wide berth. Things tend to explode," Zahnrad points out. He grunts a bit as he slowly rotates the log he's working on so he can strip the next section. "Feel free to yell all you want," he adds. "The worst would be my mother hearing you, maybe. And that's unlikely."
Amelia nods, but continues to chop in silence for awhile anyway. Then she pauses again, and asks, "Did you and Gunther used to spend more time together before I showed up?"
"Some, I suppose. Why?" Zahnrad asks.
"I'm pretty sure he resents me doing stuff with you," Amelia says, and starts chopping again. "He said I'd stolen you from him."
"Oh, he's just over-reacting," Zahnrad says and waves it off. "Does that bother you?"
"Yes," Amy admits. "You're his only brother, and I don't think he's close to any other Wingnuts. He shouldn't be all alone." WHACK WHACK WHACK
"We could always invite him along," Zahnrad suggests. The Kadie then pauses and looks over at Amelia, asking, "Or, is this a way of you saying you don't want to see me as often?"
"I'd prefer to invite him too, if you think he won't cause trouble," Amelia says, then sets the axe down to take off her shirt, which she also uses to mop up some sweat. "I don't want him running off after a troll or something."
Zahn can't see Amelia's back from here and goes back to stripping bark. "Well, I can't promise that. He does whatever he feels like doing at the time," he admits. "I guess you want him to see you as sort of part of the family instead of an invader?"
"Who wants to be seen as an invader?" Amy asks, tying the shirt around her head to act as a headband-hairnet. She grips her axe with dry hands, and eyes the log, taking a few deep breaths to get herself ready.
"You really shouldn't let Gunther bother you," Zahn suggests and stops stripping bark. He leans on the log to watch the now shirtless Amelia. One of his eyebrows goes up and he looks as if he wants to ask something, but isn't sure how.
Amelia tilts her head left and right, then rolls her shoulders before letting lose on the tree trunk. Wood chips begin flying as she goes berserk with the axe, spitting out between chop: "Clover! You. Buck. Toothed. Long. Eared. Mutant. Back. Stabbing. Cesspool. Of. A. Lapi!"
Zahnrad doesn't ask his question yet. Instead he just sits there, watching Amelia wail away on that log and start throwing out insults right and left about Clover.
If anything, Amy's pace begins to increase, and the curses get worse and worse until they become little more than angry chittering. This keeps up until the Kadie finally runs out of breath, and sits down next to the log with her chest heaving and her makeshift headband soaked.
"Uh, wow," Zahnrad manages to say after a short bit of awkward silence. He sets aside his tools and heads over to Amelia, to crouch down beside her. "Are you okay?" he asks.
"Oh. Yeah. Much. Better," Amelia telegraphs while panting. She also checks her shorts for any burst seems or popped buttons, but they seem to have survived the rant intact.
"I see I'll have to take you to the baths too," Zahnrad remarks as he pokes the wet headband curiously. "Do you, uh, do that often?"
"No," Amelia says, catching up to her breath a bit. "Would run out of… axe heads otherwise."
"Well, aside from that … uh, doesn't it get painful when things, well, bounce around so much?" Zahnrad asks in a rather quiet and embarrassed voice.
"Ouch," Amy says, and hugs her chest. "You had to remind me? Maybe I need a bra, or something like Deirdre wears. I should ask her."
"You could just wrap cloth around your chest," Zahnrad suggests. The Kadie then blinks and cranes up and over Amelia, trying to see her back. "Uhm, did you do something to your back… ?" he asks.
"Rats, you weren't supposed to see until after the dinner," Amy says, smacking her forehead. "My fur is probably all mussed up now too," she says, and turns around to show Zahn the colorful wings dyed into her back.
Zahnrad sits there rather dumbfounded as he looks over her back. "Liliana's work?" he asks, "Did you do this for me?"
"Yes, I wanted to surprise you with it after meeting my father," Amelia admits. "Figured you'd be a bit stressed by then."
"Oh, I probably will be," Zahnrad agrees and sits back, "I'll probably be going hyper, I expect." The Kadie shakes his head and says, "It looks really good on you. Really good. That in a low cut dress would be impressive, I would think. Now I feel boring."
"I've got a few other surprises for after, so I guess it's not so bad for you to see the wings," Amy says, looking back over her shoulder. "You? Boring?"
Zahnrad nods. "Yes. I mean, I don't have anything like that," Zahnrad says, "Not that it would look as good on me, anyway."
"You should look normal," Amelia says. "Normal is good for guys. Do you think I should get anything done in the front though? Liliana wanted to do my tail of all things."
"Heh, I was going to ask if there was anything you would like done on me," Zahn says. He rubs his chin, thinking a bit about the question. "So, your tail is out, I assume. Nothing was done to it. You should maybe get something that represents your personality, perhaps. Aggressive and powerful … ever consider maybe getting a dragon pattern wrapping around? The wings in back, and the head and tail snaking around the front?" he suggests.
Amelia thinks about it. "That sounds interesting… but would be hard to hide too," she says. "Anyone seeing the back would be that much more curious about the front."
"Just tell them only select people gets to see the front," Zahn says with a grin. "You want something easy to hide?"
Standing up, Amelia puts her hands to the small of her back and arches her spine, to keep it from getting stiff after all the chopping. "I'm not very artistic. I thought maybe a flower or something around my navel."
"You need something that's a little stronger than a flower," Zahnrad says and gets up himself. "So, what motivated you to start wanting to get this done?"
Untying the shirt from her head, Amy wrings it out and says, "I needed to make a statement."
"What sort of statement?" Zahnrad asks and goes to inspect the damage to the log.
Amy drapes the rolled up shirt around her shoulders, and just says, "It's complicated, but isn't anything for you to worry about."
"I'm not worrying about it; I'm curious," Zahnrad remarks and discovers Amelia didn't go too far on the log. He turns to look at Amelia again, then says, "And come on, let's get you cleaned up. The least I can do for the mighty slayer of logs." He grins.
"Okay," Amy agrees, then looks around. "First though, I need to test something. Kiss me."
Zahnrad gives Amelia a rather odd look for a brief moment. The Kadie then walks over. Slipping one arm around her waist and then the other around her shoulders, Zahnrad dips Amelia back and plants a firm kiss right on her lips. After about a minute of holding Amelia like that, he pulls his muzzle away. Slowly, he then just lifts her back up and releases her.
Amy smiles a bit dazedly, then blinks and looks around. "Wow, nobody showed up. I was sure your mom, dad or Gunther would interrupt. Good to know it's not inevitable."
"Don't jinx it!" Zahnrad says and then quickly looks around. "But, if you really want privacy, it can be arranged. Though why you would want … oh." His tail flicks nervously.
"Anyway," Amy says, grinning. "Let's see about getting cleaned up. That Mage is supposed to come around to inspect the area for whatever, and once he sees the hot springs he'll probably go in and hog an entire pool for himself."
"Erk, he wants to come into this territory?!" Zahnrad says, looking horrified. "I'll have to clear that. Gunther will freak."
"Gunther was supposed to have run back here and told you about it," Amelia says. "Have you seen him?"
"Not recently … he probably got distracted by otters," Zahnrad reasons. "Or Mom found him first and reminded him of some chores he had."
"Well, good thing I came by to warn you then," Amelia says, then tilts her head to look at Zahn again. "He might want to examine you, too. He's big, has six arms, and doesn't blink either."
"I guess if Gunther knows … then it's not complete doom ahead. More like minor catastrophe," Zahnrad says and looks a bit relieved. "Come on, I'll… Wait, why would he want to examine me? And six arms?! Are you sure he's not of of Pike's pets?"
"He's some sort of snake-man from… wherever snake-men come from," Amelia says. "Stinks like you wouldn't believe. And he might want to examine you because he's nosy, or to see if you have lingering spells on you or who knows. He's a Mage, they don't have to make sense."
"My entire involvement with that was being nearly beaten to death," Zahnrad says and winces at a memory. "But, thanks for the warning," he adds and then rubs his neck, asking, "Wasn't that Natasha also a mage? She usually makes sense, doesn't she?"
"Yeah, but she's been living in Sylvania for a decade or something now," Amelia says, as if that explains everything.
"I … guess. I don't really know her," Zahnrad says with a shrug. "Come on, let's get to the baths before the Lapis get off from the chalk mining shift. I expect you to just sit and relax. I'll take care of the soap, towels, and brushes."
"And shoulder rubs?" Amy asks hopefully.
"I was figuring full body rub, actually," Zahnrad answers, then winks. "You did say you needed to be relaxed for this thing you're doing with Natasha and Bravil."
"Oh… then we'd better hurry," Amelia says, running ahead!
Zahnrad just shakes his head. "Well, at least she doesn't seem to be wanting to break things anymore," he comments quietly to himself. He then hurries after Amelia. After the two are out of sight, Gunther's head peeks over the roof of the workshop. "So … that's how you're supposed to kiss," the younger Kadie comments.