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Thread: Like Clockwork
07-07-2012, 09:09 PM #1
(A small introspective take on Leveticus. Disclaimer: not up on Malifaux fluff, but hey.)
For the mortal man, the world is blanketed in veil after veil of gray. For every one that claims right action there is another who decries right as wrong, and they all bring cartloads of justification to defend either side. “Better him than me”, some say. “I'm sorry he's in such a way but that's life”, others might say. Or a favorite of mine: “It was necessary.”
I am indifferent, in truth. The business of right or wrong is not relevant. The universe is cold. It does not care. And I? I am the cold. I am a hollow. My husk is a withered thing with a bad leg and a hand not my own. I remember to smile. I walk with a limp and lean heavily on my walking stick. These are affectations. The veiled world sees nothing but an old man with shrewd eyes, whose coat is fine but old and dusty. Closer, some instinctively notice the truth, and their smiles quickly grow brittle as they find my smile unnerving. They find excuses to be elsewhere. Later, perhaps, they will assure themselves that it is my age that makes them uncomfortable. Perhaps my afflictions?
I do my business through middlemen.
Here, in my library and workshop, I can let the silence beat down on my shoulders and it is pleasant. I am a cobwebbed spider sitting in a web of anatomical studies, articulated machinery, clockwork and pistoned hearts, cerements, embalming machines and a hundred hundred books. Surrounded by things, my restless hunger can indulge in knowledge. It scatters puzzle pieces and carefully assembles them into patterns; my body may look frail but my mind is deadly swift.
Alyce enters the library and I notice immediately. There is a hollow in her, too, though it is not the yawning abyss that my flesh contains. Part of Alyce still clings to things like hope and love. She is not at all like the waifs who wander my library aimlessly, endlessly looking for nothing at all.
“What is it,” I say. I am still otherwise. If I still had wonder, I might wonder at the mellifluous but rusty nature of my voice. I do not, so I do not.
“Sir,” she begins. “It's the lads from Bracken and Font.”
One of the waifs starts to sing quietly. It is wordless and ghostly.
“What of them?” I ask.
“The job, sir,” she replies. “They took the job.”
Bracken and Font are newer here. Daredevils and devil-may-cares, looking for wealth so that they can indulge themselves all the way to the grave. Bracken fancies himself a 'demon hunter', or so Alyce has told me. I know they have some connections in the Guild, but they have not been listening or perhaps not asking the right questions.
Just an old man with some magic, I've heard it said. Right on the edge of dying.
The second part is right. I die perhaps five times a day, twice that if experimenting. It is not an inconvenience to me.
“We will go to the job site,” I say. “Let them do the lifting. We will take what they have. Find out who hired them. We'll go back to the one who hired, give them some salvage and they will no doubt graciously pay us a fee for recovering what the failed expedition lost.”
Alyce nods a little, thinking it out. “I'll go first.”
“Yes,” I reply. Alyce is always looking out for my welfare. I think she does not understand it is unnecessary for the most part. “Quietly.”
In my mind, I have already assembled a crew for the work. One day to let Bracken reach the site, and that will be enough to assemble the crew myself. Alyce will have arrived early, not too far ahead. I am certain it will be over quickly. Bracken and Font have misjudged me, and I do not waste time on warnings, boastings or admonishments. We will simply move in. Bracken and Font will never be heard from again.
She waits for a moment. I know her well enough that I can almost hear the echoes of her unspoken words. I do not turn from my work, and after a pause, the silence resumes. She leaves.
One of the waifs saunters by. She pauses, wide-eyed, tilts her head to one side and then meanders away again.
People often misjudge Alyce and I, as well. I know what they whisper about us. An old patron and a young impressionable woman; it is an old story and a favorite in the gutters and alleys. But Alyce's heart ticks, and I? I have none. The intimacy between us is not something that would occur to the gossips. They would not grasp my satisfaction in carefully rebuilding parts of her, nor would they comprehend the thorny seeds of attraction sown in her subjecting herself to my work. There is nothing so ridiculous or crass as physical lust here. There is no warmth in me to share.
I give her something to live for. I am the prime mover. Alyce is a set of gears.
07-08-2012, 04:47 AM #2
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Pretty cool stuff. I'm not all that up on the fluff yet myself but your story is very evocative.
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