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The Earl of Zerces: chapter 18

Lang stood there, with briefcase in hand, in a vast room with many comfy chairs and plants around him. People sat in the chairs, seemingly waiting for something. At the edge of one of the walls was a desk, with a rather burly man keeping a close watch on everything. Lang assumed that the man was a guard, but apparently the guard hadn’t noticed the sudden apparition of Lang, as he merely continued to scrutinize everything in sight. Lang decided to count his blessings, and then looked around for the “elevator”.

Suddenly a horrible thought occurred to Lang. He didn’t know what an elevator was. And now he was just standing there, looking more and more suspicious with each passing second and sweat was forming on his forehead and he was getting more and more worried and then-

The amulet glowed very slightly and moved in a certain direction. Lang silently thanked the Earl for such a useful device and then moved to where the amulet was directing him. It led Lang to a little alcove in the wall, with a sliding gate of sorts enclosing the area. In the alcove stood a neatly-dressed porter in a bright red suit and hat. When the porter saw Lang, he opened the gate for him and led him in. Lang silently obliged.

“Going down?” the porter asked politely.

“Yes, to the basement,” Lang nodded tersely.

“The basement?” the porter’s brows raised in surprise. “What sort of business could you have down there?”

“That’s none of your business,” Lang remembered the Earl’s advice.

“Alright,” the porter looked Lang up and down for a moment, and then nodded. “I understand.”

The porter closed the gate and pressed a button on the wall with the letter B on it. Immediately Lang felt the whole alcove lurch, and then move downward, leaving the waiting room behind. So this was an elevator.

After a little while of downward motion, the elevator finally came to a rest at a sterile and pristinely lit area, with two guards standing to “greet” them. The guards held up two devices similar to crossbows, but Lang had a dark feeling that these were much more dangerous than crossbows.

“Don’t worry, chaps,” the porter smiled. “He’s clean.”

“Clean?” Lang couldn’t help but blurt out a question.

“My eyes can scan you for weapons,” the porter pointed at his eyes, which suddenly glowed with a small red light. “Just a little aid given to me by the Archbishop Winter.”

“Winter?” again Lang blurted out before thinking. What a strange name.

“Yep, it seems mighty odd for a fella like him to help out some yeoman like me,” the porter smiled as though he was talking about someone important. He probably was. “But that’s the kind of man he is. It doesn’t matter who you are, he still loves us all.”

Lang stopped himself before asking anything else. He filed this Winter character into his mind for later possible use. Then he turned to the guards.

“Anyways,” Lang said in his best snobbish voice. “I’m here to see the test subject.”

“Right then,” one of the guards immediately motioned for Lang to follow him. “I’ll escort you there.”

“Fine,” Lang sighed impatiently. He hoped the guards bought his performance.

Apparently they did, because the guard deposited Lang directly at a door labeled room 001. Lang thanked the guard and walked in.

What awaited Lang was an impressive sight. About a dozen old men in white coats like Lang’s looked up as he walked in, each doing some various job. Some men were looking at screens with various images on them, others were examining a giant beast howling in a cage, but most of the men were examining a giant, steaming machine, which had no apparent purpose. One of the men there, a short, balding, beetle-browed man, waddled over to Lang excitedly and shook Lang’s hand.

“Ah, Doctor Richard!” the man smiled sycophantically. “I’m Doctor Sherwin. Are you here to see our test subject?”

“That’s exactly it,” Lang stuck to the script.

“Splendid,” Doctor Sherwin rubbed his hands together gleefully. “It certainly is a breakthrough. I’m not surprised that South Halifax is interested in a find such as this. Of course, Urbania gets credit for finding this. Don’t go stealing this one from us!” Doctor Sherwin wagged his finger playfully in Lang’s direction, and Lang suddenly noticed that the hand he had shaken with was now moist. Ew.

“Now as you know, Goddard Green first discovered what we now know today as vanwaves,” Doctor Sherwin waddled over to the machine with no apparent purpose and started pressing buttons. “However, we still are largely unaware of what vanwaves are or what they’re made out of. But this girl, she may be the key to uncovering just that!”

“Girl?” Lang was confused.

“Yes, didn’t the briefing tell you?” Doctor Sherwin looked up at Lang. “Oh well, just as well, I’d like this to be a surprise anyways.”

Grinning, Doctor Sherwin pressed one last button, and the machine with no apparent purpose went “ping”, and released a lot more steam than usual to reveal something that made Lang gasp.



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