|After bringing Frankie's lifeless body back to the Daisy Cutter, Ts'Elf and Keratone return to the site where she was murdered i nthe hopes of learning why she refused ressurection. Suddenly attacked by more ninjas, they receive assistance from a curious rogue. The rogue, Haast, takes them to his fence to learn more about the ninjas lurking in his shadows. They return to the Daisy Cutter, having learned that Frankie, a Clockmaker, refuses to return in order to preserve the life force of her Clockwork "daughter" - were she to be resurrected she would have to begin anew. Sparks brings Shadowcog to life, but is unable fit it with a fully functioning heart. The Daisy Cutter races towards Manyberries and the hidden laboratory of Ts'Elf's maker, Blaylock. There they find the place ransacked by Neogi marauders who have uncovered a massive difference engine programmed by Blaylock to speak to Ts'Elf. With functioning Clockwork hearts in hand, the DC heads for Peppershot, bearing Frankie to her final resting place, with her newborn at her side.|
In Death, Life...
Before I came into this world, I existed with my mother.
When she rested, she would work at bringing me together and sing me my favourite lullaby.
I knew that things troubled her, but she kept that away from me.
I cannot say when it happened, but suddenly the world grew blades
and they stabbed into my mother. I felt her cry out in pain that I still cannot
quantify, and I began to feel myself fade away.
My mother put her suffering aside and embraced me, singing me the song.
I knew the blades kept cutting into her, but she did not let me go.
I felt her die.
We went to a place, and my mother kept us from passing on through
force of will.
The nightmare of the blades continued there.
Shadows took shape behind the blades, and some of their faces became apparent.
One of them stood out, a human male with a tail and dark eyes. He held a blade, but he seemed... hesitant to participate. For some reason his face was connected to the despair my mother felt.
How long her embrace protected me from this torment, I cannot say.
It was interrupted by a voice calling out to my mother, asking
her to return to the world.
She had to make a choice: if she returned, she would have to abandon me.
* * * * *
Sparks mopped his
brow. Things had gone very smooth with the clockwork construction.
The grief he felt at his niece's tragic passing was only compounded by her refusal to return.
Why had she made this choice?
Moments passed, and the clockwork finally sat itself up.
"My name is Shadowcog, and my mother needs help"
Sparks looked on in alarm as he felt his niece's despair permeate the laboratory, and the mithril sheen of Shadowcog's casing began to take on a dark tint from it.
Haast Joins the Fray
In Valparaiso, I was looking for work and had a long night and no success. Making my way to the inn, I saw two clockworks in conversation. Odd itself, they were suddenly attacked by four ninjas. The ninjas were dispatched by these clockworks but as one tried to escape, I shot him. Another did get away from the clockworks but I downed him with my bow. These ninjas had crane tattoos and fine swords. I knew that this unsanctioned attack would be of interest to Grieg. I went to him with T’Self while Keratone went back to his ship.
The meeting with Grieg was as I expected: caustic and cryptic. He took two ninja swords as payment for his information. He said the ninjas were the White Crane Assassins. They were Hankuo but now without affiliation. He told us we could get more information at a bar by the docks called the Celestial Dragon.
I went with T’Self to the Daisy Cutter. The airship was full of clockworks and gnomes. Much seemed to be going on as if I had walked into the middle of a great bard’s tale. Matters of great import and press were going on in the Federation and these adventures were in the middle of that storm. On-board was a new clockwork called Shadowcog. It (or he?) only had five days to live unless we got it to a laboratory. T’Self would be doing divination and scrying so I went with them to Manyberries near Peppershot to learn more of this present mystery. We flew in the Cutter and began our preparations. I armed myself from an armour of a kind I have never seen. It was poorly organized, much in disrepair and dirty but items both banal and wonderous. T’Self generously outfitted me.
The divination only brought up the name of “the Wind”. We scryed the one escaped ninja was facing the demands of an unseen “Wind” to explain his failure.
After two days, we entered into the laboratory and it had been ransacked. This had been the birthplace of T’Self. We faced and killed a Neogi and an Umberhulk only to again fight a Neogi Eggsack. Torn from a wall not known to T’Self. We entered into that long tunnel. At the end was the inside of a massive musical organ. While the clockworks tried to use its music, we were beset by umberhulks and neogis. Shadowcog initated a song and T’Self said, “Leave!” I faced the umberhulk and it smashed me. I tumbled past it and ran for Keretone. It was so close behind I could smell its breath.
Keretone entered battle and all were dispatched. Keretone found a mechanical heart and scavenged material to prepare to repair Shadowcog. We cleaned and prepared the musical chamber for use. Once activated, the organ spoke as a man and answered T’Self’s questions. It spoke as the voice of creator. T’Self learned he was a weapon of incalculable power intended to strike at the One in Eudamonia but that would require T’Self’s destruction. Under that dire cloud, we left for Peppershot.
Why did you implant a bomb within me?
You are a weapon.
Who am I meant to kill?
The kingdom of the 'Enemy of All'. You nkow his as 'The One'
How is the bomb triggered?
Upon your arrival in Eudaimonia
Is this the only trigger?
There is another trigger
Can I delay the explosion? To save friends/innocents?
Delay is possible. I love all life in centar, and you.
Is there another way?
The One can only be slowed. You can only
The In-Between Men still live, there may be hope.
Are there others like me? A second chance should I fail?
There were others, but they didn't work.
You T'self alone are perfect.
Must I go to Eudaimonia immediatly?
No, but soon.
T'self thoughts: It seems there
is no evading my fate. The sacrifice must be made. There is no other. But
I'm not without some control of the timing and circumstance. When is the right
time... If the 'In-Between
Men', our hopeful savours, can be found.. perhaps they can advise when
and where is best to strike. ...and it would be good to know they are engaged
in the fight before I am gone. From what little I've
learnt of these In-Between Men they seem to be aloof to the point of fading
into mythology. They must be brought into the fight.
BOOK FOUR BEGINS