Snippet #2768179

located in Steampowered London - 1885, a part of Death Comes to London, one of the many universes on RPG.

Steampowered London - 1885

A metropolis of clockwork and steam.


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Character Portrait: Ephraim Ramsey Character Portrait: Amelia Lancaster
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London - Circo Della Notte Grounds
June 16, 1885 - 08:04 a.m. - Fog
Amelia Lancaster

If anything, Amelia was satisfied with her behavior. She had managed not to shoot Mr. Bianchi, even if her fingers were itching to do so. This was a case, and above all, she needed to be professional about it. Mr. Ramsey wouldn't have appreciated it, if she just acted, and she certainly did not want to lose her apprenticeship with him. She fancied that more than anything else. As it was, Mr. Bianchi had been impressed to the point that he'd invited Mr. Ramsey back to his tent. Amelia had tagged along because she had also been invited back. Perhaps for something dastardly, but Amelia pushed the thoughts from her mind. She was with Mr. Ramsey, and she would leave with Mr. Ramsey.

“I'd say color me impressed," Mr. Bianchi stated, pulling back the flaps to his tent as he ushered Amelia and Mr. Ramsey inside. “I didn't think a woman could be so talented with a pistol," he continued. Amelia managed to force a sweet smile for the man.

“I'd consider it a talent that has been well-cultivated," she replied, keeping the smile on her face as much as she could. The man's breath was almost rancid, perhaps from all the drink he had around, however; Amelia kept her hands to the side. There were worse smells out there; she was mometarily grateful she didn't have Mr. Jaziri's sense of smell.

Mr. Bianchi merely laughed, the sound more along the lines of a pig choking on its slop. “There's hope for you, yet, Miss Whitaker. If all goes well, we might be able to find a more permanent spot for you," he spoke, though the way he drawled the word caused Amelia to inwardly groan. Repulsive man, was the only word that came to her mind.

“These right here," he stated, making his way towards a table, and opened one of the drawers. “These are the contracts. They state that you will work for me, and will paid a decent price for your work. You get paid per successful show, and at the end of the week." He placed a pile of papers on the desk, and motioned for Mr. Ramsey and Amelia to step forward.

“Are there any concerns you have about your employment?" he asked.

"Term o' service?" Mr. Ramsey was still affecting that strange accent, the one that made him sound so much rougher. He looked it, too, with the different clothes and the tattoos on his bare forearms. They were surprisingly thick with muscle, too, but that sort of made sense, considering what he did for a living. She found it an attractive quality, nonetheless. "I know we're temps, but how long're you lot in town?"

He flipped through one of the contracts, and though he probably read every word, he managed to look like it was a bit of a struggle to read at all, squinting at the papers as though they were irritating to him. His eyes flicked up after only a perfunctory amount of time, and he appeared to take in the tent, from the printed banner proclaiming someone called the Magnificent Martina to the shoddily-kept desk itself, to the conspicuous neck of a liquor bottle visible beneath it. There were several accoutrements of Mr. Bianchi's personal life here, too, including a large trunk with bits of fabric sticking out and what appeared to be a screen behind which the man could dress, but he must have slept elsewhere, for there was nothing of that kind, at least.

“You'll be employed for the two weeks we will be here. After that, depending on how well-received your performances are, we will renegotiate terms and conditions for more permanent spots," he replied, his eyes flickering towards Amelia. He did it in a way that looked like he was trying to be discreet about it, however; Amelia resisted the urge to roll her eyes. She wondered if he did that to all of his female employees. Most likely. Instead, she allowed her own eyes to drift back to his desk, where a picture frame was settled in the corner. She could barely make out what the picture was, but she could see Mr. Bianchi's face quite clearly. He looked a bit thinner and happier. From the way his arm was angled, she could tell he had it draped over someone.

“We will provide lodging and clothing since you cannot wear that atrocious attire into the show," he added. Amelia scoffed lightly, but decided to keep her retort to herself. The lodging was going to be difficult for her, though. She couldn't just stay with the troupe, however; if Miss Vera agreed to accomodate, she could let her father know that she planned on staying a couple of days with her.

For his part, Mr. Ramsey shrugged, producing a pen from his pocket and affixing a messy scrawl to the bottom of the page. Not his actual signature, as she knew by now that was quite neat by comparison. He offered it toward her with his left hand, raising an eyebrow just slightly.

"'Ear you've 'ad a bit o' trouble wiff folks goin' missing on ya," he remarked conversationally to Mr. Bianchi.

She took the pen and wrote her own signature, doing her best to change certain strokes to her first name as she did. Mr. Bianchi, however, laughed at Mr. Ramsey's statement. The sound was almost nervous, like he was trying to shirk the idea by simply laughing.

“Most of them have left on their own accord," he spoke, taking the papers that they had signed. He filed them away in another drawer, and turned back towards both of them. “Others simply never came back," he added, running his forefinger and thumb through his beard. “Since you've signed the papers, might as well go introduce yourselves to the others. You'll find them outside readying for tonight's show. You won't be required to participate in today's, however," he paused to reach for one of his wine bottles, “you'll officially begin tomorrow night. Might as well make yourselves useful and help set up for tonight."

Amelia agreed on the grounds that anywhere was better than inside Mr. Bianchi's tent. It would also give them the opportunity to investigate the other members.

With a terse nod, Mr. Ramsey saw their way out, lifting the flap of the tent for Amelia to go first, then letting it fall closed behind them. He did not speak, however, until they were a comfortable distance away, at which point his voice was soft, still clearly intended for only her to hear.

"Impressions?" he inquired, one eyebrow arched slightly.

“I can see why Miss Castine is suspicious of Mr. Bianchi," she responded. “He spoke with no remorse about his missing troupe members, and laughed as if to deny they were missing at all," she continued, pursing her lips together. This man was supposed to be their employer, someone who looked after them. If they'd traveled together for a long time, shouldn't he have shown some concern? She calmed her thoughts, though, and sighed softly.

“But at the same time, it feels like he knows something," she added, narrowing her eyes slightly. He had to know something if he were trying to deny the fact that his troupe members were disappearing. Perhaps it was just guilt that plagued him?

Mr. Ramsey hummed. "It's possible," he agreed after a moment. "Remember, though—that he's in charge here does not entail that he cares at all for his employees. Carnivals and circuses have lots of turnover—it's the reason why he'd hire temporary workers like us at all. But just because he fails to demonstrate the appropriate concern doesn't mean he killed anyone."

He paused a moment, casting his eyes around until they alighted on two men in dirty blue coveralls. They looked to be finishing the last of breakfast: bread, half a cheese wheel, and tinned sausages right out of the can. "Those will be the people we're meant to help set up, then."

If she had still been the same Amelia Lancaster from a month ago, she might have found it repulsive how they ate. Taking in a deep breath, she allowed her face to smooth over as they approached the two men. She waited politely as they wiped their faces of any remaining food before she spoke. “Mr. Bianchi has asked that we assist with setup," she spoke, keeping her expression as smooth as possible.

If Mr. Bianchi's leering had been obvious, the once-over she got from the larger of these two was glaring. Watery blue eyes trailed from the crown of her head down to the shoes on her feet, then dragged back up again with a certain kind of grimy relish. He had the build of a laborer, broad and thick on a large frame, and despite the lack of definition to his tree-trunk arms, he might have been handsome but for the crookedness of his tobacco-stained teeth and the unappetizing expression on his face when he grinned at her through his reddish beard.

“Did 'e, now?" the man asked, folding his arms over his chest. “Plen'y o' fings I'd let a girl like you assist me wif, love."

The smaller, slighter man next to him, shook his head with a frown and jabbed an elbow into the first one's side. “Be'ave, Davis." His dark brows knit. “Sorry, Miss. Davis ain't got manners, but 'e's 'armless. I'm Harris, and we're what passes for a ground crew 'round these parts. You must be new 'ires?"

"Fresh," Mr. Ramsey replied, eyes flicking from one man to the other. "I'm Ramsey. This is Miss Whitaker." He emphasized the miss just enough that she picked up on it, a strange cadence on it that sounded almost... irritated.

“Awright." Harris, at least, flinched a little, scratching absently at his thin mustache. “Well, uh. S'pose the pens need cleanin', and then we can get t' work on settin' up the main tent. So if them's you cam in wif is here to help, too, we can split the work."

Trials, she repeated the word as if it were a mantra inside her head. She had to remind herself that there would be incidents like this in their line of work and that she had to ignore them. It would attest to her growth not only as a lady, but as Mr. Ramsey's apprentice. She forced an innocent smile on her face before glancing towards Harris.

“You mentioned passing as a ground crew. Does that mean you've been with Mr. Bianchi for a while?" she asked, keeping the smile on her face as she did. “What's it like working for him?" she added on, making it seem like she were interested in the work rather than finding out about their length of employment. If they were with Mr. Bianchi since the beginning of the disappearances, they might be more open to talking about it. She would do her part in being persuasive if they weren't up to it, though.

“Us?" Harris blinked, then shrugged. “We've been 'ere forever, Miss. The job don't change much. Set stuff up, take it down. Move when we get told ta move, stop when we get told ta stop. Ol' Bianchi's same as 'e's ever been, only drunker lately." He offered an uncertain smile, but it seemed friendly enough.

Certainly moreso than his companion, who was looking back and forth between Amelia and Mr. Ramsey, a scowl on his face.

“Sounds rather exciting," she stated blandly, glancing at Davis only to be courteous. Her eyes wandered to Ramsey for a brief second, though, before propping a hand on her hip. “Well, hopefully we'll be here longer than the others, seeing as Mr. Bianchi had to hire temps. Do people just up and leave whenever they want to? 'Cause this seems like a really good trade to be part of," she stated, glancing in Davis's direction once more.

“It's hard work, girlie," Davis said, spitting to the side. There seemed to be something almost hostile in it, and the fact that he was now outright glaring at Mr. Ramsey confirmed that, though nothing about why. For his part, her teacher did not react in the slightest.

“People find work they like better, or they don't want ta go on the road, or we toss 'em out fer bein' useless shits. Some of 'em just leave. It happens. Any carnie worf his salt'll tell ya so." He scoffed. “The ones like yer fella here go first. Pretty ones what don't know how to handle a little dirt under their fingers."

Of that, she had no doubt, however; Mr. Ramsey was more than just a pretty face. Not that this neanderthal would know about that, but she kept that thought to herself. Instead, she let out a soft puff of amused air, and tilted her head to the left. She didn't comment on Davis's last statment, though. Let him think whatever of Mr. Ramsey's relationship to her; she was here to do a job.

“Well, I s'pose it's a good thing Ramsey isn't afraid to get a little dirt on him," she stated, grinning just slightly in Harris's direction. “Perhaps we should get started on setting up as a demonstration, hm?" she stated, arching a brow in Ramsey's direction. It was clear to her that Davis was trying to be intimidating to Ramsey, though she couldn't figure out why. Ramsey was, perhaps, the most intimidating creature here, lions and bears notwithstanding. And that's when he wanted to be, she supposed.

It also seemed like they wouldn't get much information out of Davis if his intention was intimidation. Harris seemed like a nice, meek man, but he wouldn't be of much help, either, with Davis around. She sighed softly through her nose. She might have to ask Davis questions, alone. That was, however, a thought she didn't want to entertain at the moment.

Mr. Ramsey looked like he was about to agree with her, but the conversation was interrupted.

“It's happened again!" someone shouted, apparently from some ways to the right.

“Fer fuck's sake," Davis grumbled.

Harris only frowned. “Best go see."

With a grunt, the other man led the way. It didn't take long; the commotion was coming from further in, where several of the performers had or shared quarters. Pinned on the outside of a blue and white striped tent was a scrap of paper, tidy, small handwriting with an abundance of loops and swirls easily visible for the thickness of the lettering.

Three it's been, with fourth to come
Not till ten is the game zero-sum
What you took will be paid in return
Lest your silent ally you spurns

"Not much of a poet," Mr. Ramsey muttered, too low for anyone but Amelia to hear.

Amelia merely pursed her lips and furrowed her brows. “It's a riddle of sorts," she muttered mostly to herself. While she would readily admit to anyone who asked, Amelia liked riddles. They challenged her, however; this one didn't make much sense to her. Three with fourth to come? “What did they mean by again?" she spoke to Harris whom she was closer to. She was, of course, referring to the statement made by one of the other members. “Has this happened before?" she continued. She briefly wondered if this had anything to do with Miss Castine's missing troupe members, however; Miss Castine didn't mention anything of letters or riddles.

Harris looked a little like he'd seen a ghost; beneath the mustache, his face was nearly white as a sheet; quite a feat with a Mediterranean complexion such as his. “I don't—" He shook his head as if to clear his thoughts. Looking around, his reaction wasn't too different to several of the other gathered parties; one woman raised a fist to her mouth and sobbed softly. Several of the others wore grimaces, worry clear in the lines of their faces.

“Three's... two's the number of missin'," he managed after a moment more. A scowling Davis next to him nodded. “The ones we can't figure where they went. And then there was Jacque... he's dead."

“Ramsey," she stated softly, gently touching his arm to beckon him to follow her away from the crowd. Once they were a decent distance, she turned to him with pursed lips. “If three people are dead," at this point they had to be, “that means they're going to take another person, or worse." The riddle made some sense after Harris's explanation, but she still didn't know what the other parts pertained to.

“We should let the others know," she stated. She hadn't seen the others around, but chances were Mr. Jaziri at least heard the shouting.

He nodded faintly. "Good. Gather them and explain. I'm going to watch the crowd. Who reacts how is going to be useful to know."

She nodded.