The port was bustling, people of all ages were filling the walkways, there was barely room to breathe. Alek grasped his satches tight to his chest, ushering Deryn towards one of the farthest docks. Children ran underfoot, nearly sending him to the ground twice. But he didn't stop to complain, if they didn't hurry they would miss their boat.
At long last they made it, just as passengers were boarding. It was a large vessel, probably larger than the Leviathan, length-wise. They hurried up the ramps, handed their tickets over, and boarded.
Alek and Deryn contained themselves to their cabin for most of the trip, not wanting to get noticed in case someone had a keen eye. The trip was scheduled to be three weeks, so they had plenty of time to plan their next move.
"I can't wait to get off this barking ship" Deryn complained, only three days in. "The water is not the most entertaining way to travel. At least on the Leviathan I had things to do besides sit on my bum in a room all day."
"I know, love. But now we have time to make sure everything is perfect when we finally arrive." Alek was pondering over a map of Europe he had purchased a few days before they left.
"So, got a brilliant plan yet?" she asked him, leaning back against the wall of the cabin.
Alek nodded. He suggested they take a train from their landing port in Brest, France, and ride it all the way to Vienna, skirting around the edge of Germany. From there, they would find out where Volger was closest to, and take trains accordingly. He was most likely up near Prague.
Deryn was still nervous, but she supported Alek's suggestions, listening and agreeing with almost everything he had to say.
The trip was uneventful, with the execption of a few whale spottings out on the deck. Their tickets had been third class, so they really didn't have much to do the entire time. Deryn sketched up on the deck on clear days, capturing the horizon, but she complained that it was much the same every day, anyway.
In about two weeks, the Captain announced that they would be arriving four days ahead of schedule, and Alek was estatic. That gave them even more time to get to Austria before Malone released his article.
The ship reached its destination ahead of schedule, as predictied. Alek and Deryn exited the boat quickly and wound their way through the throng. Alek's tutoring came in quite handy as he asked locals where the nearest train station was. They found their way there in less than an hour.
Alek read the signs to himself and swore. "Damn, the next train doesnt leave for another two hours, and it will only take us as far as Lucerne. Thats in Switzerland."
Deryn huffed, annoyed. "Well, should we wait around for that one, or catch some winks and take the earliest one tomorrow? We are a few days ahead, you know."
Alek shook his head. "No, let's get a bite to eat and wait, the faster we get there, the better."
Alek translated their way through dinner at a small cafe. They hadn't really eaten much on the ship, not wanting to leave their cabin. This resturant was dimly lit in the even hours, and it smelled divine cmpared to third class meals. Alek ordered a huge steak, while Deryn just got some kind of sandwich.
"So," she said between bites. "We're here, and im scared as hell. What in blazes are we doing Alek? This is so daft it's not even funny."
Alek sighed. He was getting fed up with her constant nagging about this trip. "It's necessary, you know that. And we're already here, theres nothing we can do about it now. I'm going to Austria, and that's that."
She was quiet, hearing the annoyance in Alek's tone. She stared down at her plate, not even aknowledging him. Damn, he thought, now I've gone and upset her.
"Look, Deryn. Dtop being so worried. Volger's no match for the actual heir to Austria with documented proof." he patted his pocket, feeling the small leather scroll. "He can't deny the pope's law, especially not when he was the one that helped my father get it for me. The man's gone mad, and I need to remind him what is actaully important in this world. And making unfair laws is not one of them."
Deryn nodded, but didn't look at him while she spoke. "I just have a feeling that....that something bad is going to happen."
He reached over and took her hand, making her look at him. "Whatever does happen, know that I love you, and I always will. But don't worry yourself unless you have to. Let's enjoy ourselves before the madness begins."
Deryn snorted. "It's already begun."
Alek ignored that and finished his meal. She wasn't hte only one scared out of her wits. Alek's gut twisted every time Volger entered his thoughts. He was frightened to death of him, but that wasn't the only thing he was worried about. Alek felt Deryn slipping away, and he didn't want his stupid blood right to take her away from him.
Dinner had satisfyed his gut, but not his mind. He still felt sick when they left the cafe and headed back to the train station. He helpd Deryn close as they walked, making sure she was at his side the whole time. There were already people waiting at the station, and he and Deryn took a seat.
When the train finally arrived, the sky was dark. They boarded and took the rearmost seat, huddling with their bags. The ride was expected to take about sixteen hours. They would arrive around noon the next day. But trains were even slower than boats, so one could never tell just how long they would be on that train.
Deryn fell almost instantly asleep. She must be even more bored then she was on the ship, Alek thought, chuckling. He too got drowsy, and sleep soon overcame him.
Alek awoke what seemed like a minute later to Deryn's mad shrieks.
"WHAT IN BLAZES DO YOU THINK YOUR DOING, YOU FILTHY SOD?!" She was standing, flapping her arms like a mad bird. A very dirty looking mad was in front of her, yelling at nearly the same volume. He was definatly French. Deryn was gathering up her things and pulling her coat around her, taking a seat. "OH, GET ON, YOU BUM-RAG. GO FIND SOMEONE ELSE TO STEAL FROM."
The man shuffled away, giving Alek and Deryn a most nasty look.
"What in the world was that all about?" Alek asked, his mind still fuzzy from sleep.
"That man tried to steal right out of my pockets! Woke up to his hand in there, and he tried to take a feel at something else while he was at it." She clutched her coat tighter, spitting on the floor. "Disgusting."
Alek took her hand. "Are you alright? Did he get anything?"
She shook her head. "He had my wallet in his hand when i woke, but I snatched it back and hit him with it. Filthy beggar should know not to mess with me."
Alek laughed, giving her hand a squeeze. She shot him a look, then rested her head on his shoulder. It was still dark outside the window, and Alek glanced at his watch. It was only two in the morning, pplenty more time on this train to go. Alek winced as his as nature made a pang in his lower abdomen. That would have to wait.
The rest of the ride was uneventful, Alek dozing in and out. Soon the sky lightened and he could see mountians in the distance. Switzerland was drawinig nearer. By about mid-day, the train windows showed signes of civilization, villages in the distance, and around one in the afternoon they arrived at Lucerne.
Alek and Deryn quickly got off the train and Alek did his best to buy them another ticket to Austria. The next train that could get them to Vienna was in five hours, and it would be making a few stops along the way. Alek was irritated but bought them anyway.
"Five more hours, love. Anything you want to do while we wait?"
"No, I just want to get some barking proper sleep." she yawned, her eyes framed with dark circles.
They mae their way into the more city part of Lucerne, finding themselves a spot to eat. The food was not nearly as good as what they'd had in Brest, but it was palatable. Alek was finally able to trot to the bathroom, Deryn right behind him.
For the next four hours they sat at the station. Their train finally came, and, at long last, they were on their way to Austria. The ride was much more interesting now that their destination was the next stop. Alek tried to sleep, but couldn't manage it. Deryn snoozed happily sitting in the window seat. Alek wasn't going to chance her getting robbed again.
This ride was much shorter, and Alek occupied himself with his map again. Only about nine hours on the train. By this time tomorrow he should still be on that ship. THank the heavens for early arrivals. Alek felt the train begin to slow and quickly stashed away his map.
"Alek" Deryn whispered as the train came to a stop. "Aren't those....Germans?"
Alek frowned and leaned over to look out the window. Sure enough, there were German soldiers on the landing. The doors to the train opened and the guards rushed foward, searching each person that got off the train.
"God's wounds, they're searching for me!" Alek swore. He knew that would be the only reason for German guards to be on the lookout.
"No, that sod! Malone! He must have - "
Alek shushed her. "No, I checked the headlines. Nothing from him. It has to be something else."
Deryn started stuffing things into one bag, discarding everything she didn't need uner hte seats. "We have to make a run for it."
"Where, Deryn? There's no way off this blasted train except the door!"
She flicked her head over her shoulder. There was a door behind them that connected the trains compartments together. He nodded, standing and pushing his way through the people crowding the aisles. He and Deryn took one last look around and shoved the door open, and the gut wrenching shriek of the alarm split the air.