30 Unity 6107 (30 Mar 2004) Zahnrad, Amelia and Olivia take on the daunting task … of repairing a loom.
(Amelia) (Olivia) (Stonebarrow) (Sylvania) (Zahnrad)

Small Loom Area, Weaver's Workshop Four smaller, hand-powered looms are set up in this rectangular room, two situated side-by-side at either end. This leaves ample space in the center of the room for the two rows of wooden boxes that are laid there, with room to spare for passage in between them. These boxes contain the extra-long yarns and threads that are used to weave cloth on the looms and each row is organized by color. The Weavers sit on stools that are placed by the warp beams of each loom, their backs to their neighbors on the opposite side of the room.

Olivia works the loom to the immediate right of the entrance, weaving threads into a simple blue-and-white checked pattern. Although her hands and feet move very quickly, she looks as if her mind is elsewhere?" probably because of the extreme repetitiveness of her actions. She raises one set of heddles with the treadles at her feet, skims the shuttle through the shed, tightens the newly-laid weft with the reed, then lowers the first set of heddles in order to raise the second set. This process is repeated over and over; occasionally, the Skeek girl presses a lever at her feet to feed out more warp threads, but this monotony of motion is rarely broken. The other three Weavers in the room look similarly pre-occupied and the only sounds in the room are the thunks! made whenever a loom's heddles are raised and lowered.

A dark-furred Kadie head peeks in through the main door. Once she spots Olivia, the rest of Amelia enters the workshop, treading carefully and keeping between the rows of supply boxes. "Uh, Olivia?" she asks quietly, not wanting to startle the Skeek out of her rhythm.

One of Olivia's ears twitches at the call of her name, but she doesn't miss a beat. "Be right with you; let me complete this pass," she answers, passing the shuttle through the shed created by the lifting of the second set of heddles.

Amy waits, watching the motions of the loom and having to blink to avoid falling into a trance. She turns her attention to the boxes of thread and yarn instead, wonders how wool and plant fiber ends up like this.

Once the weft is laid, the Skeek girl tightens it with the reed, then lowers the second set of heddles and hops off her stool. She goes over to where Amelia stands and smiles at her in greeting. "H'lo Amy, I'm glad you came by today! I've altered those old clothes of your mother's to fit you. I've got them in a sack near my loom," she says, pointing over to where a satchel rests between the wall and the loom where she was working.

The Kadie girl's face lights up as she smiles. "Really? I figured you'd want to check them, so I came by. I didn't realize you'd have already finished though!"

Olivia says, "It's always good to try everything on just to make sure, but those measurements Zahn gave me were rather precise. I think they'll work well for you now."

"I can hardly wait to try them on now," Amy says, grinning. "Could I try them on in your room later, so I can use your mirror?"

Olivia nods several times. "Oh, certainly! I think after Zahn comes by and we work on that awful Loom #4, no one will begrudge me for taking a break!"

"I'd like to see that," Amelia says. "I'm trying to get past my distrust of machines. I keep thinking they'll try to bite like an ornery Rughrat or something."

An interesting look passes across Olivia's face – partly of fear, partly of resignation. "Um, if you're trying to get over that feeling, then this loom isn't what you'll want to see. It's infamous for hurting Weavers and Wingnuts alike, although we think it hates Wingnuts more. You, uh, sure about this?"

The Kadie's tail curls, then straightens out. "Well, I suppose if I see the worst that a machine can do, I'll at least know what to expect. And even Rughrats and Dromodons calm down if you give them a treat or a whack in the right spot."

Amy snaps her fingers, and says, "Speaking of treats… " She produces a little clay jar from her hip-pouch (since she refuses to carry a "purse" and is dressed in her usual pocket-less attire). "Fresh cherries. I picked them this morning."

Olivia gives Amelia a wry grin. "Oh, believe me, you'll see lots of whacking going on – both from us and from it! I was one of those working on it when it broke down this last time. One of the heddles broke completely off when I was trying to thread it and it whacked me in the head! Good thing I came prepared that day." Her eyes then widen as she sees the cherries. "Wow, are those for me?"

Nodding, Amelia offers up the jar. "Just a little thank-you for helping me with my clothes," she says.

Olivia takes the jar from the Kadie girl and pauses for a moment to un-stopper the jar and take a sniff. "They smell wonderful. Thanks so much! And I enjoy helping folks with clothes – my little specialty, you know."

The front doorway swings open, letting in a flood of light from the outside. The light wraps around a figure in the doorway – a very strange figure, making it hard to identify. Who or whatever it is, it's definitely in some sort of armor. The light outlines what looks like layers of leather plating, a helmet, and what looks like bludgeons hanging from its waist. In one of its hands, it carries a large box, with odd shapes sticking out of it. All movement around Amelia and Olivia stop and the other Weavers turn to look, tails twitching nervously.

"A monster!" Amy yelps, as she draws her staff. "Get behind me, Olivia, while I bash it!"

"Eh?" Olivia glances over her shoulder at the newcomer. Then she relaxes suddenly. "Oh it's okay, that's just Zahn. Zahn, over here! I see you came prepared for our battle with Loom #4 today."

The Kadie girl seems unwilling to believe Olivia's statement, and very slowly comes out of her defensive posture. "It looks like a giant snapping shellback to me," she mutters.

Olivia grins. "Trust me, once you see how this loom acts, you'll know why he's dressed like that."

Zahnrad walks further in and shuts the door. When the light settles, Zahn's unique clothing can be better made out. It's thick leather armor, reinforced with chitin splints. From his waist hang two odd-looking wrenches and he carries a box of tools. "Hey, you'd prefer me to be a monster?" he comments, looking both amused and annoyed.

"Okay, that's Zahn," Amelia finally admits, and slings her staff back over her shoulder. "Wait. You didn't walk all the way from the dam wearing that getup, did you?" she asks.

"Of course I did. Why?" Zahnrad asks. "Is something strange about how I'm dressed?"

"Doesn't it make you feel hot, though?" Amy asks.

"Well, yes, but I'm not wearing much under it, you see," Zahnrad replies as he heads over to the two. He drops the toolbox on the floor with a loud bang. "Better hot than in bandages later. Have you ever tried to carry armor instead of just wearing it? It's a pain."

"I haven't tried wearing armor since I was a little girl," Amelia admits, giving Zahn plenty of room to move.

Olivia says, "Plus, there's the whole effort of putting it all on once you've arrived, and I'm sure Zahn wants to get this over with as quickly as possible. I know I sure do!"

"Well, if you ever do, wear as little as possible under it. You'll be cooler," Zahnrad says. He cants his head toward Olivia and asks, "Okay, what's the situation with the Sirus model loom? It hasn't killed anyone, has it?"

Olivia shakes her head. "Not since Kurt Weaver tried to make some tent material on it. That was years before my time, anyway. Nah, the only things it's done is break a heddle completely off and hit me in the head with it. Everyone else fled the room once I fell down." She considers a bit more. "I do believe the warp beam is cracked, too. There may even be some damage to the heddle-treadle connectors, come to think of it, if that one heddle broke off."

"Heddles hit you in the head?" Amy asks, smirking. "I hope there isn't a buttle, then."

Zahnrad shakes his head and mutters. "Not surprising, given his 'revolutionary' design on the per-thread movable heddles, really. No one has ever really used that feature, so all it does it just break," he says as he picks up his toolbox again. "Well, shall we get this over with?"

Olivia goes quickly over to her satchel and retrieves it. On closer inspection, it seems heavier than it first appeared. She gestures to a door on the other side of the room. "Let's. I'll lead the way, to lull it into a false sense of security." Then she walks over to a door on the right side of that room.

Broadcloth Looms: Loom Number Four
Sirus "Lefty" Wingnut's greatest creation or perhaps his greatest mistake. The loom referred to as Loom Number Four was to be a revolution in broadcloth loom designs; a mechanized loom with automatic shuttle feeding, control over each individual thread going through distinct heddle segments which can be linked up through various control rods. The end result was one ominous looking, huge, machine. The wood and chitin that compose its structure have weathered to an eerie, non-reflective, black hue. Gears with sharp teeth line both sides that control the movements of each heddle and of the sliding action of the shuttle. And, a bar near the back of the look is lined with a sharp chitin blade, intended to cut the cloth and threads cleanly when the desired size was made.

The loom has worked fairly well over the years for the weavers, but has equally earned quite a legend among the Wingnut clan as one of the most insidious devices ever built. All the Wingnuts who have worked on it in the past have been injured in some manner by the device. Zahn's father suffered an unfortunate incident with the multi-control heddle device that nearly left him infertile. Dieter once suffered a broken arm when the gears suddenly slipped and sandwiched his arm between the teeth. Even Zahnrad has not escaped unscathed. He once had a large chunk of fur ripped out by some of the yarn feeders when he was working to un-jam them.

Theories abound about why this loom seems to injure any Wingnut who touches it; the most commonly accepted theory is that the loom is somehow built of possessed wood, and seeks revenge against the clan who dared to cut and carve it. A lesser-accepted theory is that the design is just plain bad, which would not be all that surprising if that were the real reason. Sirus did build the loom while quite drunk thanks to some "special" booze made by one of the local Akwavi clans.

Currently, Loom Number Four sits quietly, one set of heddles raised up, and strands of red thread going through them. In the flickering light, the front of the loom looks like the maw of some great beast or demon with blood red teeth.

"That thing makes cloth?" Amy asks, staring at the monster. "What do you feed it?"

Olivia puts her satchel down near the door and begins rummaging through it. "Sturdy fibers for making tent and sail material, usually," she responds. "Although the occasional small, warm-blooded animal seems to keep it from moaning and groaning too much."

"And I think a few people bought cloth to line their walls with from it. Beats wood planking, after all," Zahnrad adds and sets down his toolbox again. "I really don't understand what Sirus was thinking with this thing; but them my grandfather was a bit off in the head," he adds, then he elbows Olivia. "And it doesn't eat animals. It just breaks down and hurts people. Difference. It's just a machine, after all."

Amelia hangs back a bit, and says, "I don't know. Isn't there a point where a machine becomes so complex that it stops breaking and becomes a living thing?"

Olivia finishes looking through her pack and comes up with several odd-looking items: two long gloves that seem made out of strong leather, what looks to be a very short-handled canoe paddle, and a small metal pith helmet with goggles attached. She grins up at Zahn. "Yeah, I know it doesn't. I'm just trying to put Amy at ease. Is it working, Amy?"

"Not really, no," Amelia admits. "It doesn't help that the thing looks like it's grinning at us either."

Zahnrad starts pulling out some short, sturdy rods from his toolbox. "Of course not," he tells Amelia, "A machine, by definition, isn't alive." He tucks the rods into his belt and pulls around a face-guard on his helmet to protect his muzzle, then pulls down his goggles. "This time, it's not going to hurt a Wingnut, either, ha!" A moment after he says that, the gears on the machine groan, then slip, causing the raised heddles to drop suddenly with a bang!

Even Olivia, long used to the antics of this loom, jumps a bit at the sound. "C'mon, Zahn, you're just gonna set yourself up for a bruising," she chides.

Amelia covers the distance to the doorway and has her staff drawn before the dust can settle. "I'll keep watch from over here, okay?"

Olivia starts donning her own strange apparel and nods to Amelia. "That's fine. Can't say as I blame you."

Zahn glances at Amelia. "Well, I was going to ask you to help, but if you're more comfortable over there, sure," Zahnrad says, then looks back at the recalcitrant loom. He walks over to the side of the loom and pulls out some of the rods stuck in his belt and starts sliding them into holes in the gears. "A few years ago we put holes in the gears so we could insert locking rods. That way it can't move suddenly," he explains.

"Maybe it's afraid of fire," Amy mutters. "Most monsters are. Or they could paint it pink or something at least… "

Olivia adjusts the goggles on her helmet and picks up her wooden paddle. She goes over to stand near Zahn. "Ready to assist, should you require it."

"Olivia, I presume you checked to make sure the thread feeds aren't jammed or gummed up, right? I don't think it should be leaking any of that light red sap anymore, but you never know. Would you be willing to check those? I have to go up top," Zahnrad says and motions upward. He then unhooks the two wrenches on his belt and slips his hands into some sort if handle on them. He snaps his arms while squeezing a trigger on them and the maws on the wrenches slide open. "Let'sdo it."

Olivia nods to Zahn. "I checked when I tried to thread the loom before it went bonkers on me, but who knows what might have happened in the interim? Sure, I'll check 'em." She walks over to the back of the loom and begins looking over each feed individually.

Zahnrad sweeps one of the wrenches upward and hooks onto one of the crossbars. He vaults himself up onto the loom with unusual grace and settles himself down on the bar. "Now, let's check for the cracks you mentioned," he says, leaning over to inspect the warp beam.

As Olivia inspects the thread linings, one of her hands gets briefly tangled up in the threads – unusual, given her familiarity with the equipment. Suddenly, it yanks forward as the tension from one of the heddles takes over. Fortunately for Olivia, her hand slips free from the threading. A moment later, the cutting blade drops down on the back with a thunk … right where Olivia might've ended up had her hand not slipped out of the threading.

"Yikes!" Olivia exclaims, and she performs the interesting up-and-backwards leap she can do when startled. She takes a few deep breaths and mutters, "C'mon, Four, it's only me. No need to get testy." When her heart stops pounding, she resumes checking the remaining feeds.

Zahnrad, meanwhile, has gone completely motionless on the top of the loom. Slowly he looks back at Olivia. "Okay, I guess we can expect it to be really cranky today." The rest of the feeds look okay; no jams. Zahnrad, after double-checking his position, leans back down to continue inspecting.

From the back of the loom, Olivia calls, "The feeds look okay, Zahn. Careful of those heddles, though. Perhaps the connectors really are out of whack. Or this thing just enjoys taking swipes at us."

As Zahnrad is leaning over and looking, a section of the heddles snap back upward suddenly. Zahnrad easily pulls his hand out of the way in time. The heddle crunches into one of the support beams. Had he not moved his arm, that might've hurt. Of course, the armor might've stopped it too. "Really cranky," he comments. "Looks like we do have a crack up here. Up for checking the beams under the loom while I plate this?"

"You'd better behave," Amy threatens the loom from across the room. "Or … or … no sweetgrass for you tonight!"

Olivia takes another deep breath at the mention of going underneath, but she nods gamely. "All right. Want me to start at the front or the back?"

"Hey, Amy! I need you to get me some of the plats out of my toolbox," Zahn calls over to her. "They're flat chitin things, with holes equally spaced along them. I'll also need some of the chitin nails in there." He pauses, then looks back at Olivia after he gets a good grip on the cracked beam with his wrench. "Start in the front. Better have Amy hold your feet too, in case you need to be yanked out."

Olivia says, "Sounds good. I'll wait for her to give you those tools before I start, then."

Making her way over to the toolbox, Amy never takes her eyes off of the hulking loom. Digging out the requested items, she asks, "Do you want all of them, Zahn?"

"I just need four right now and enough nails to fill each," Zahn tells her. The loom, meanwhile, just looks like it's grinning at Amy.

Amelia counts out the necessary number of nails, and puts them and the plats into her hip-pouch. Then she unties the pouch, and winds the straps around one end of her staff, so that she can use it to pass them to Zahn without (she hopes) having to risk climbing onto the machine.

Gripping one end of her staff, Amy stretches to try and get the pouch on the opposite end within Zahn's reach. "Here!"

Zahnrad stretches out as Amelia offers up the pouch. It takes him a moment to get the pouch while keeping an eye on the machine, though. "Thanks," he tells her and smiles cheerily. "See? It's not so bad. I'll take care of this; you help Olivia around front."

Before the Skeek girl crawls under the front of the loom, she hands Amelia her paddle. "Just in case Four tosses anything at you. It's wider than your staff and will be better for blocking flying objects. I learned that from experience. My hands will be busy, anyway, and I have my helmet, too."

Nodding, Amy holds the paddle ready. "If you get stuck, just … uh … squeak or something."

Zahnrad hooks the locked wrench onto the beam he's laying on to anchor the cracked one in place. He starts about the slow process of plating over the crack in the beam to strengthen it. The loom, meanwhile, looks like it's grinning wider at Amelia.

Olivia gives Amelia a small grin. "I'll just yell, 'Pull!' That should work." Then she proceeds to slide herself under the loom on her back and begins examining the support beams for any warps or cracks.

Amelia stares at the loom, holding the paddle in a threatening manner as if to try and intimidate the machine.

Olivia finds her way easily under the loom. Everything looks just fine, too! Well, except for that little line along a beam up in the machine that looks like it might either be a crack, or maybe a loose thread. It sure looks safe enough to reach to and as she's checking it out, her hand suddenly gets tangled in all the threading! The machine groans; the Skeek tugs her hand back quickly … and all chaos breaks loose! Zahnrad had just finished plating the crack, when the yank on the threading by Olivia snaps up some of the heddles. Those in turn catch Zahn's ankle. He lets out a muffled squeak as he's yanked off the loom when the heddles drop again. He goes flying … right at Amelia! Before Amelia can react, Zahnrad plows into her. Fortunately, he twists while in air and ends up having Amelia land on top of him, and the armor taking the brunt of the landing with a crunch. The loom clatters, almost as if laughing.

"Olivia!" Amy yelps as she rolls off of Zahn. "Are you all right?"

"Glad to see you're worried about me, too," Zahnrad groans from where he lays on the floor, slightly dazed.

Olivia almost sits straight up as the loom throws Zahn overboard, but she remembers where she is just in time to not crack her head. She slides out from under the loom and stands, shaking. "I'm fine, but I … and then the machine … I am so sorry, Zahn!" she wails. "Are you okay?"

"The armor should have protected him, right?" Amy asks, turning back to Zahn to see if any limbs are bent in unnatural ways. She holds up two fingers and asks, "How many fingers am I holding up, Zahn?"

Zahnrad squints, still splayed out on the floor but nothing looking bent wrong. "Either two or four," Zahnrad mutters. He pushes his goggles off his eyes and looks again. "Two."

"That's right," Amy says, satisfied. "So, is it all fixed now?"

"The crack is," Zahnrad says and he slowly sits up. "The heddles are not."

Olivia sighs in relief. "You're okay," she says, more to calm herself than anyone else. "I apologize for that. I thought there was a crack in one of the beams, or maybe just a loose thread hanging down, but it turned out to be a whole bunch of threads there. My hand got tangled in them. That's what made the heddles move." She looks terribly embarrassed.

Amelia looks back at the loom again. "You know, with a little work you could turn this machine into an automatic sparring partner for learning weapons… "

Zahnrad waves his hand. "Don't worry about it. I'm used to getting whacked by things," he comments, and then he glances at Amelia quickly. Slowly, he gets up from floor and says to Olivia, "I need to replace the second and fourth heddle section. I have spares with me, thankfully."

The loom, this time, looks like it's glaring at Amelia.

Grinning now, Amy mutters, "Yeah, add some extensions to those heddle thingies; it could work," while rubbing her chin in thought.

Olivia grimaces. "I would ask if you need any help with that, but perhaps it's better if I don't help. At least not with anything that could move suddenly on you."

"Actually, keep a grip on the heddle levers. That'll keep them from moving while I replace the broken ones," Zahnrad tells Olivia. He goes back to his toolbox and starts digging in it for parts. "You sound like a Wingnut," he says jokingly to Amelia. "Looking at a machine and figuring new uses for it."

Olivia agrees to this and moves over to those sets of levers, ready to get a grip on them when Zahn gets back in position.

"Oh, just figuring what it'd be good for after you get tired of trying to fix it all the time," Amy says, shrugging. "Might as well make it into something that'll be fun to beat up, then."

Zahnrad tucks some parts into his belt. "Adjust them a bit; try to get the broken ones into a high position, please, Olivia," Zahnrad says. He slips his goggles back down. "As for getting tired of fixing it, I am tired of fixing it. But, no one wants to pay to replace it."

Olivia grunts and pushes and maneuvers the levers until the second and fourth sets of heddles are raised as high as she can get them. "How's that?"

Amy pokes towards the machine with the paddle, saying, "Hear that? Better shape up, 'cuz once it costs more to fix you than to replace you, you're out of here! Then I get to play with you!"

Zahnrad climbs back up onto the machine. He eyes the positions, then nods, saying, "Perfect, Olivia. Hold them there, please." He leans down and works on repairing the mounts.

The machine doesn't look afraid at Amelia's threats. In fact, it looks to be smiling fangily, what with the two heddles raised.

"Quit taunting it," Zahn tells Amelia. Satisfied he's got the heddle mount holes cleaned out, he starts fitting on the new one to heddle mount two.

A bit of motion catches Amy's eye, and she walks over to one of the gears and grabs at the locking rod that was wobbling loose. "Oh no you don't," she says.

The rod stops moving as Amy's hand closes around it. Good thing, too. If that rod had slipped, Olivia would have found out what a nail felt like. It would've released the gear closest to Olivia, which would have dropped a bar right on her head.

Zahnrad, oblivious to all that, tightens down the replacement heddle. He then starts on heddle number four.

Amelia pushes the rod all the way back into place. "I think you need a more reliable way to keep things from moving," she comments to Zahn.

For her part, Olivia braces herself and holds the levers as steady as she can while Zahn works.

"Hmm, what?" Zahnrad asks absently. He starts attaching the second replacement. "Almost done up here. You can release heddle two now."

Olivia does so very, very slowly, watching for any unnatural reaction from the loom.

The heddle lowers down gracefully and without incident. However, for Amy, a rod in a gear near her juts out some and pokes her right in the butt.

At the same moment, Zahn says, "And there, heddle four replaced!"

Amelia spins around and nearly kicks the loom, but calms down enough to just try and push the rude rod back into place.

"Want me to lower it now?" Olivia asks.

Zahnrad hops down from the top. He gracefully lands near the loom and nods. "Go ahead," he tells Olivia.

Olivia repeats the process with the fourth set of heddles and watches again for any untoward reactions.

Nothing bad happens. They lower down quietly, the loom now having fully functional heddles again. It almost looks … disappointed.

"Well, that went better than usual," Zahnrad declares.

"Good thing you had your armor," Olivia says. "I still feel bad about causing that fall. Sorry. Should've been more careful."

"No harm done," Zahnrad tells Olivia. "It's just good it didn't fall on you or something worse," he says as he pats the Skeek's shoulder. He smiles winningly … and at that moment, one of the rods finally gives way with a snap of wood. One of the quiet heddles shifts, a lever moves and catches Zahn's armored tail, throwing it into the loom. The heddle comes down with a crunch, breaking some of the armor splints, but doesn't go all the way through the armor. Zahn, however, still lets out a very loud OW!

"Ouch!" Amelia winces in sympathy, hugging her own tail. "Are you stuck in there, Zahn?"

Olivia darts over to the lever controlling that heddle and pushes on it madly until it raises and frees Zahn's tail.

"Yes," Zahnrad hisses through clenched teeth. "Never fails. It ALWAYS has to get one of us," he growls, easing his tail out as Olivia gets it loose. He gingerly looks over the crushed section. Something drips from one of the slots in the armor. Blood. "Not broken. Ow," he says, "But I think it tore some of the skin."

"I think you need some sort of tiebacks to keep those things from moving," Amy says, looking to see how much damage the armor prevented. "Did you bring any bandages?"

Olivia lowers the heddle again, slowly. "We can patch you up here, Zahn. Plenty of cloth in a Weaver's shop for bandages! Plus, we're kind of used to this happening with Four."

"I didn't," Zahnrad admits. He starts unhooking part of the armor and folds it back. The fur underneath has a light coating of blood on a section. He winces and moves the fur around, revealing a small gash. The loom looks satisfied with itself.

"This thing is evil," Amy claims, then asks, "Do you need any help, Zahn?"

"I can go now and get some clean cloth and a bit of ointment to kill the pain and sterilize the wound, if you like?" Olivia asks. "Amy can guard you while I'm gone."

"Well, if you want to help, sure," Zahn tells Amy. He nods to Olivia and says, "Please do."

Olivia nods and leaves the room in search of the things needed to patch up Zahn's tail. From the other room, the Kadies can hear voices rise and then a collective groaning. Apparently, Olivia was asked how the repairs went.

"So, what do you want me to do?" Amy asks.

"Ah, Amy, this can't go any further than you … but Parsley came by my shop yesterday," Zahnrad tells Amelia, sounding a bit hesitant. "And well, can you put my tools back in the box while I get this segment of armor off?"

The Kadie girl goes about collecting the various tools and putting them into the box. "These locking rods too? What did Parsley want?"

"Yes, those rods. She was hoping we had found her clothing while maintaining the springs," Zahnrad tells her. "Apparently Clover was in a serious snit and was likely going to cause trouble at the Wingnuts over it."

Amy works loose the various rods, except for the broken one. "Ah, sorry about that. I guess I didn't think through all the consequences. Did you give her the clothes?"

"This morning, yes … after I made sure it looked like they just fell in and got caught in a cleaning vent. So, no worries about that. And don't be sorry, it was worth it," Zahnrad tells her as he sets aside the armor segment. "Parsley also overheard us talking that night."

"Oh," Amy says, pausing a moment while she looks at the broken rod. "Did she tell anyone?"

"No, I don't think she did. We didn't do anything wrong, anyway. So, doesn't matter, right?" Zahnrad asks.

"Yeah, I guess so," Amy says. "I can't get this broken bit out, Zahn. The gear moved when the loom bit you."

"It did? Figures. Just grab a hammer from my box and whack it out," Zahnrad tells her. "And … I don't want to end up a problem for you. Clover would probably use me against you, if she could," he says with a sigh. "But … I'm not going to let a what if freak me out. I meant what I said that night. I just thought you should know, and Parsley did say she'd do what she could to keep her sister from getting any ideas."

"I'm not afraid of Clover," Amelia states, and finds a hammer from the toolbox. Then she takes a whack at the broken rod.

Bang! The rod shifts some. The loom doesn't seem to like it, either.

"I know you're not; didn't say you were. I don't what her making your life harder." Zahn walks over to stand near Amelia. "I just … bah. I want you happy. I want to make you happy."

Amy pauses and smiles up at Zahn. "Well, you can start by not bleeding to death," she says, and gives the peg another whack. "When do you want me to come over for dinner?"

"It's only a flesh wound. I'll survive, much to the dismay of this thing," Zahn says, pointing at the machine. The rod pops out of the hole and the gear lurches a few inches. "Dinner? Well, often!" Zahnrad replies with a grin. "But as for the dinner, how about tomorrow night or the night following?"

Retrieving the broken rod, Amy nods, saying, "I can be there either night. Olivia already altered the clothes I wanted to wear, so after I try them on today there'll be plenty of time to make any adjustments."

Zahnrad blinks. "You got clothing altered? But … I think you dress fine now." He pokes at the wound on his tail. "Ow, that hurts," he says.

Olivia now reappears with some clean cloths (some torn into strips), a bowl of water, and a jar of white-colored ointment. She goes to the Kadie boy and sets the items beside him on the floor, then removes her long leather gloves. She looks over the gash before wetting a cloth in the water and dabbing gingerly at it to clean off the blood. "Tell me if I wipe across the wound too hard," she tells him.

After returning the hammer, Amelia comes over and leans in close to watch Olivia work. "Do you think it'll need to be sewn up?" she asks the Skeek.

"I doubt you could wipe any harder than the loom whacked my tail," Zahnrad comments. His ears flatten out at Amelia's comment. "No way, you two are not sewing my tail."

Olivia shakes her head and continues to clean the wound. "Nah, it's pretty shallow. I just don't want it to become infected, is all. An infected tail would be pretty painful," she answers.

"Yeah, it might fall off if it got infected," Amy says, making a disgusted face.

"My tail is not falling off," Zahnrad says flatly.

Olivia laughs a little as she begins applying the ointment with swift, gentle fingers. "I think we got to it in time," she quips.

Amelia hmms. "Maybe if you cut off this bloodied fur, you could save it and feed it to the loom before working on it next time. Maybe that will keep it docile."

"Great. Here I am stuck in a room with two women making comments about my tail," Zahnrad mutters and drums his fingers against his armor. "And you're not cutting my fur!"

Olivia grins hugely. "I do have a pair of scissors close at hand," she says mischievously. "Aww, c'mon Zahn, you'd never miss a bit of fur!"

"You'll have to wash it out then," Amy says. "Better make sure to do that before your mother sees it too."

"I refuse to have my tail-fur cut. I'll look like that dread Gallee who refuses to leave town," Zahnrad mutters.

Olivia stifles another laugh and begins winding a long strip of cloth around the wound. "Ah well. Suit yourself," she tells him.

After another few minutes of work, the gash in Zahn's tail is fully bandaged and the ends of the cloth are tied together. The Skeek girl sits back, satisfied. "There. Is the ointment taking away the pain yet?"

"Like she won't notice the bandage," Zahnrad points out to Amelia. "I don't think she'll worry too much over it. She knows I was coming here today." He reaches down to tap on the bandage and says, "A bit, yes."

Olivia stoppers the jar of ointment and gives it to Zahn. "Have this, then. In case it hurts later, when you change the bandage. We have lots more where that came from."

"Yeah, but she won't want to lick the wound clean if she doesn't see sticky blood clotting your fur," Amy points out. "At least, that was my first instinct."

Zahn sniffs the jar. "Oy, it smells like fermented tubers," he complains. He then blinks and looks at Amelia oddly. "Er, why didn't you?"

Olivia shrugs. "It's medicine. Most medicines smell weird. At least it works!"

Amelia just stares at Zahn. "You aren't my kid," she finally says.

"I wasn't suggesting that you should! It's just you didn't resist combing my hair!" Zahnrad points out.

"I was just trying to relax then," Amelia says. "And you don't have to shout."

Zahnrad rubs his temples. "Women are weird," he says.

Olivia places a hand on Amy's shoulder in a placating way. "Perhaps now would be a good time to try on the clothes I altered to fit you?" she asks. Then she turns to Zahn and says, her voice tinged with quiet amusement, "You could wait outside the door until she has them on and give us your opinion?" Her eyes twinkle.

Zahnrad looks like he's about to say something, then thinks better of it. "All right. Sounds good to me," he finally says.

"I'd rather Zahn didn't see it yet," Amy whispers to Olivia. "I want it to be a surprise."

Olivia ahas quietly and says to Zahn in a louder voice, "Well … uh … actually, there may be some more work to do on the clothing, now that I think about it. Perhaps Amy can show the outfit to you later?"

Zahnrad arches an eyebrow. "Ah, yeah, I can wait. I should get back to the shop, anyway. I've got to work on several things, including fixing that voice recorder," he says and then he just shrugs.

Olivia nods enthusiastically, then packs all of her gear away into her satchel and hefts it onto her shoulder. As she leads the way to the door, she passes close to Zahn and murmurs to him, "You have my word that you won't regret the wait." Then she quickly winks.

Zahnrad gathers his toolbox up and picks up the bit of armor as well. He looks at Olivia oddly, then just shrugs again, chalking that up to "girl-weirdness".

As they all exit the room, the loom starts moving slowly, weaving a short length of cloth … without any assistance at all. The gears clatter and chatter, as if laughing with a high-pitched maniacal laugh. It then grows still, heddles settling back into position as if grinning evilly. After all, now that it's repaired, it has all the time in the world to scheme…


GMed by Jared & Myrral

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Today is 3 days before Midsummer's Day, Year 29 of the Reign of Archelaus the First (6128)