The thing that intrigued me the most about the man was his stance. He didn't appear to be any different from anyone else but there was definitely something odd about this short man. Something out of place.
"My name is Mr. Nethersole. If you would kindly let me explain myself..." His voice was strange as well - almost monotonous in his speech. His smile appeared slowly, the left side of his lips curving before the right.
I put my arm around Gabriel to hold him back. "Go on then." I spat my words out. I felt cruel since he had just saved our lives but I didn't trust him. His monocle appeared to move as he looked at me.
He bowed his head slightly, letting his tall hat tip down; I assumed he wore it to compensate for his short stature. "I will, but I request that we retire to a more private location."
I wasn't sure. "Where did you have in mind?" I felt Gabriel reach forward, pulling free from my arm but I held him tight. He looked up at me and I smiled apologetically. He nodded.
"Well, my shop is just around the corner. That would be sufficiently peaceful." His smile worried me more this time as it grew even larger. I was reluctant to go anywhere with this strange man.
I looked around and found that we were stood in a fairly empty road. I pointed to a side road. "There should be fine." I blurted before he could start walking off. He nodded, his hat nearly falling off. "How did you make the horse stop?"
Mr. Nethersole blinked. "Because I know how to override them. I did build them after all." Something that sounded like a broken laugh came from his mouth. Gabriel shuddered slightly and reached out for my hand. "If you come to my shop, I can always show you all of the intricate details. Also, there are a couple of new things that I have been tinkering with. A toy for you, perhaps?" His hand stretched out towards Gabriel. It was gloved and contained a small box. His eyes were fixed on Gabriel, his monocle moving again. "Go on, lad."
I grabbed the box and opened it myself. There was a small horse inside, roughly one inch high by two inches along. Mr. Nethersole clicked his fingers and the little horse galloped out of the box and along my arm. Gabriel's eyes lit up and reached out to take it. I let him, not seeing any risk and watched him put the horse on the floor and chase it up and down the street.
"That's incredibly clever." I said, my voice full of scorn and disbelief. "Especially for this time period."
"Excuse me, my lady, but what precisely do you mean by that comment?" He glared at me blankly, his eyes seemingly unable to focus on anything.
I fluttered my eyelashes. "I was simply wondering how you had managed to invent such a marvellous contraption as we do not have anything the like at home." My lie seemed to work on him as he stopped watching me and returned his attention to the small horse. He clicked his fingers again and, as I heard a tiny clash of metal, the horse stopped. Gabriel looked up in shock, his eyes ready to plead his innocence.
Mr. Nethersole picked it up and placed it in his pocket. "Can I interest you in a variety of other trinkets and toys then? I'm sure you could take some home with you." Gabriel looked excited at the prospect, regardless of all of the wonders that he had already seen travelling. I was about to refuse when he nodded and made the decision for us. "Marvellous. Then we shall make our way to my shop."
I knew that he could offer me some answers to questions that were bugging me but I didn't want to be this direct. I caught sight of Gabriel grinning up at me. "Maybe we can find something for Mum, eh Gabriel?" He jumped up on the spot and gave me a quick hug. My mind went out to Sere - where was she? Was she alright? I knew that she'd be so worried about her Gabriel but I was here to look after him. "Lead on!" I said and waited for Mr. Nethersole to move.
Instead, he pointed to some stables that were directly behind us. "My shop." He held open a nearby door for us.
"But this isn't a shop!" Gabriel called. "This is a stable for horses and other animals."
"It's all the same to me." He replied, following us in. Gabriel ran off but I told him to stay in sight; I wanted to ask this man some questions.
"So, how did you do it?" I asked innocently.
"All of this! The horses. That isn't normal now is it? That must have taken a lot of effort." He smiled at me, this time much more like a human smile.
"It's true that I had some help but most of it is done by my own hands. You see, all of this technology, it's based on my physiognomy."
I was about to ask him what he meant when he removed his hat and exposed the metal coming from his head. I stepped back in shock only for him to remove his jacket and expose the engine that had replaced his heart.
"You see, my lady, the horses are just like me, and I them."