Disclaimer: I do not own Steamboy or anything related to Steamboy
Steamboy: The Rancour
Chapter 6: Who Is Your Father?
Every one sat around the kitchen table; Kira, Lily and Ray had blankets draped around their shoulders. All had steaming mugs in front of them to ward off the growing cold.
Emma rested her hand on Ray's arm and Kira was leaning her head and silently crying on the shoulder of one of the boys; she had seen more than she was meant to. Lily could not recall which boy was which at the moment. Her head was spinning and her thoughts were hazy and distracted.
She and Ray had just finished relating what they had seen but no more; already it was too much for Lily's liking. The fatigue from running all the way back was growing on them all as was the mental burden of what they had saw; she knew it would stay with them forever in disturbing images that would not leave.
'Hmm, "I'll be back". Do you know any person at all Lily that would want to kill you?' Dr. Steam looked first at Lily and then into his mug as if it might hold the answer.
'No, Sir,' the lies after all these years now rolled easily off her tongue.
'I think you do know Lily. I think you know a lot more than you're supposed to, girl! Out with it! Who was trying to kill you and why?' the elder Dr. Steam leaned across the table towards her in a threatening manner but Lily did not look up from the table.
'I don't know who but I do know why. I will only tell if you do not hand me over to the police; can I trust you? If I cannot this is going to be one heck of a long night,' Lily's tone did not change, nor her face but everyone withdrew from her a little. The graveness of her air at these facts was scary in a way to nearly all at the table.
'I won't hand you over to the police,' Ray was the first to break the tense silence.
'Nor I,' piped in one of the boys, followed closely by the rest. Dr. Edward consented along with Mrs. Steam. There was a quite murmur from Emma that no one could quite make out and finally every one but Lily was looking at Dr. Lloyd.
He stared at her coldly for a moment longer, 'I won't.'
Lily was dying from the inside as she told her secret to a table of people who were humble and did not need to be burdened by it. She explained all that she had to Ray; she did not look up, she thought her heart might break if she saw the horrified faces of the table and the disgraced face of Kira.
When she had finished a silence fell that could not even be matched by the graveyard; the only thing that shattered it was the constant fall of rain and the occasional crack of lightning followed by a roll of thunder.
'B…but they kill people,' Emma fearfully whispered after a while. Mrs. Steam broke into tears on her husbands shoulder, shaking her head.
'No, that's only a street myth. We only wound people to teach them lessons and they are always people who have done bad things,' Lily knew that many children had heard of the Rancour but whether they heard good or bad she did not know.
'But what do you judge as a "bad thing"?' Kira buried her head on the boy's shoulder as Ray asked this. Lily just sunk lower on her elbows that rested on the table and did not answer.
'Who was your father girl?' Dr. Lloyd suddenly looked up after listening to all this. His brain had been going like clockwork; working out the years, ages and putting the pieces of the puzzle together.
'I've already told you Sir. He was Thomas Thatcher,' Lily let out a sigh and sunk lower, her face now resting on her arms, was no longer visible. She could not tell them, she must not. She could not undo the hard work of so many years that she and her older sister had done.
Ray's Grandfather violently slammed his fist down on the table and everyone jumped except for Lily whose shoulders were now shaking, 'No he wasn't! Don't lie to me young woman! Who was your father!?'
'Thomas Thatcher!' Lily yelled at the table. Would he not leave her alone! He knew too much and both Kira and her whole happiness was now at stake. Please do not let him do this, Lily though violently.
'Who was your father!?!' Dr. Lloyd roared at her; he now stood both hands resting on the table. The tears began to flow; it was not happening, Lily would wake up in a bad dream. She just knew she would, she knew she had too.
'Thomas Thatcher!' Lily lifted her head and screamed at the old man, tears pouring down her face. The old wound opened up inside her, crimson blood of memory spilling out. She could not take it!
Mrs. Steam began to wail, she could not take it and Kira remained frozen, her whole life crumbling before although she would not know the extent of the damage until it had finished.
Ray saw the girl breaking slowly under the pressure, he wanted to beg his Grandfather to stop; if he didn't the girl would surely snap under the burden of whatever secrets she carried.
'Who Was Your Father!?' Ray was sure that his Grandfather could not yell any louder if he tried. The girls head was buried in her arms and her shoulders were shaking uncontrollably.
She lifted her head and Ray could see the grief flooding his good friend's eyes. She was about to break, she could not contain it any longer.
'Tobias Wilson!' she yelled, her voice breaking, 'Are you happy now! Are You Happy Now!!?' She threw her head back onto the table and cried. The older people in the room gasped; Mr. Steam turned her head away and Emma's grip on Ray's arm was beginning to hurt.
The whole room fell silent; Ray's Grandfather fell backwards into his chair, not saying a word. Kira raised a hand as if to comfort her sister but she could not be reached anymore.
Ray moved away from Emma and put a hand on the girls back but it was soon thrown off. The poor girl was absolutely wretched; her hands ran through her hair pulling at it as if that might relieve her grief. Her eyes were wet and red and she was breathing heavily.
The girl slowly calmed down, her sister standing next to her confused and distraught. Lily was not a selfish girl and soon forgot the grief that stabbed at the place in her which was empty, which should have been filled but was not; instead she pulled the small girl onto her lap and stroked her hair telling her in a soft voice that "she and Louise were sorry".
'But you said Papa and Mama were killed by bad people. Who is Tobias Wilson? That's not Papa's name, and it's not our last name! Why is Dr. Steam lying to us Lily?' the small girl did not cry because she did not understand, she cried because she was a child who craved security in a life that had none; when that security was broken she felt herself vulnerable.
'You are too young to know who Tobias Wilson is my dear. When we have explained him to you perhaps you might understand,' Dr. Lloyd suddenly looked much older, lines streaked his face and a wave of tiredness must have swept over him.
'Dr. Steam didn't lie to you just then, no Kira; it is I and Louise who have been lying to you for a lifetime,' this proved too much for the small girl, all the security she had ever thought she had just shattered into a thousand pieces in front of her.
She pulled away violently from her sister who, with a calm yet eerily sad expression, held on ignoring the kicks and pushes. Lily suddenly just gave up; Ray could nearly not bear watch how easily she finally gave up this child she had raised.
'Ray,' she had run over to him, her last hope, 'You will tell me that she's lying won't you?'
Ray stared at her blankly wishing that he could just wither and die quietly under that innocent gaze and not have to give her the cruel answer she so wished to deny. Kira looked around the table slowly; all faces were turned away from her except one. Lily was silently sobbing, Kira could see her strong frame shaking; she crawled back onto a chair reluctantly to hear out what she finally must know to grow up.
'Who was he?' the people at the table slowly turned their gaze towards the elder Dr. Steam.
'Tobias Wilson was one of the greatest inventors of our time. He was a genius; he invented many things and was a humble man who lived in peace with his family. He had three daughters, two sons and a wife. Everything was happy and fine,' the Dr. told the story in a monotonous voice that had lost all meaning and feeling for this story long ago.
'Are you sure all the children need to hear this?' Mrs. Steam cut in looking nervous.
'They need to understand. And so,' he said turning back to the rest of the table, 'everything went fine for awhile until one day when Tobias went a bit…mad. Many said his work was blasphemous so the devil was in his head torturing him but this is an old legend. What had happened, and I'm not a man for medicine, but what had happened was Tobias had gotten an illness which made him see things that weren't there; it made him hear voices that weren't there. And one of these voices told him that his family was plotting to kill him.'
Some of the children with drew, knowing that this story wasn't going to be pleasant, but some luring attraction kept them in their seats. The wind howled outside and banged the shutters; the evening was growing old. Soon the candles would last no longer.
'Now Tobias was still an incredibly smart man so he planned to kill them but make it look like an accident. Like one of his inventions had blown up. So one night he put wood and coal around the house where they would no be noticed and said he was going to a tavern for a while. Outside the house he lit it before he left and then ran down to the bar where he stayed until the neighbors came running down the hill to tell him his house was on fire!'
'What about the family, Grandfather?' one of the boys voices quavered out his mother skirt.
'The singed bodies of the wife and sons were found but they never found the bodies of the daughters. But in the ruins they also found the coal, some wood and the tinder and flint he had used. They questioned Tobias until he finally caved in and told them what he did,' Ray's Grandfather sighed and looked as if the last part of the tale was the hardest to tell to children so young.
'Tobias was found guilty of murder and hung publicly from the neck until dead. They thought it was the only thing that would be suitable for punishment, even if not completely correct. It just shows you how badly madness can alter the mind.'
The room sat in silence and the child shuddered and sobbed at the truth of her real father; she had always known the story to be otherwise.
'I'm sorry, dear children,' Ray's Grandfather questioned no one in particular.
'How did you know that he was her father?' Ray was confused by all this; it was like he was living in some never-ending nightmare with a dream twined around its black edges.
'I knew Tobias before he went mad. His daughter has some of the same traits as him; and I'm sure that Lily has learnt all she knows from him. But what gave her away was her eyes; Tobias had blue eyes just like hers that were sometimes so bright it looks like they have no pupil,' Emma remembered back to when she had first seen Lily wake up and how those eyes had frightened her. She had looked like a dragon awaking from a deep sleep.
'It's been a long day,' Ray's Grandfather rubbed his face with his hands and got up to look for his pipe. That was all the dismissal that the children needed; they followed Mrs. Steam in a slow trickle out the kitchen door.
It was very late and the younger ones could hardly walk; Emma held onto a small hand while Ray, Lily and Kira carried the others. Ray could see that Lily's eyes shone proudly on her younger sister who took the news very badly yet could still help others.
The three oldest had rooms further up the corridor, and when they had left the youngsters with Mrs. Steam they proceeded further into the dark. The wind had blown all lights out and the flashes of lightning formed strange shadows on the wall.
But somehow on the way down that corridor all this didn't matter to Ray since Lily's hand had found his.
A/N: Sorry about the long wait before updating. Christmas and New Year is a busy time especially when you go away for a week.
Please R&R if you wish and I hope you're enjoying the story so far!
The next update might be awhile because I'm still looking for the research I need.
Thanks and Happy New Year,