Tayliana Winddancer Dahtaligaar was annoyed. She’d spent the majority of her time since arriving in Sesus preparing her cabin and the iron behemoth for her experiment. Being unsure of what, if anything, would happen to her or it once she tried it naturally called for a calming of the nerves.
She’d lit candles and incense calling for purity of the mind, spent time meditating and calling upon the spirits of such things to accompany her on the journey she was about to commence. Everything had progressed in the efficient, professional manner of one of her skills and abilities…And now she was taking crap from a ruffian Selkie about her age and gender.
“I’m just saying you’re way too young and good looking to be shopping for this sort of thing,” the scraggly bearded elf said from behind the counter of a shop overlooking the harbour, “Why don’t you forget about this and slip off somewhere with me, eh? It’d be a lot more fun than cleaning anchors and chains, or whatever it is you’re doing,” he continued, holding up the little bottle of rust remover Tayliana was trying to purchase.
A fire burned in her stomach at the line, what had been annoyance at his slow gathering and flirtations turned into an insulted rage. Reaching around behind her back and beneath her coat she pulled a thick dagger from out of her belt, and watched as the smirk on the rude selkie’s face turned to fear as she thrust it towards his chin. “Listen you, you’re gonna give me the fricken bottle and let me go about my way or else I’ll cut your gods-poxed balls off, got it?” she said in a low threatening rage.
Just then a dwarf came hobbling from a back room and dropped a box of items on the floor. “Hey, let’s all just calm down here,” he said. “Give it a rest, Cutwing, get to the back and scrub the floors. Whatever it is she wants, it doesn’t matter to us, gold is gold.” the dwarf said as he took the rust remover from his assistant, stroking his beard and walking up to the counter. “Here y’are miss, that’ll be five silvers,” he continued, the rude elf giving the dwarf a nasty look over his shoulder.
“Thank you,” she said indignantly, sheathing her dagger and handing over the coins. She took the bottle and quickly made her way out of the shop and onto the street. She took little notice of the multitude of masked shoppers and onlookers crowding the alleyways, partly due to her fury-induced blood pressure and partly because they simply meant little to her. She was looking for a particular shop she’d heard of, the only one she’d surmised could deal with anything remotely resembling the workings of the metal enigma in her room.
After not too many awkward stares, and only a few near bumps she suspected to be pick-pockets, she saw it. The sign hanging over the doorway of a green building with gold window frames: Dragonwise Dials & Automata. Purveyor & Maker of Fine Clockworks. Menrva Dragonwise, Prop.
In the windows, wind-up figurines performed all kinds of different acts, such as waving their hats, smoking their pipes, and beckoning to passers-by to come and view their masters’ wares. Taking a deep breath to clear her head, she entered the shop with the sound of a bell. Inside were different sizes of timekeepers, ranging from ornate clocks, to hand-held pocket-watches, both enchanted and mundane. All over people were perusing countless tiny machines emitting a cacophony of ticks, tocks, whirs and wheezes, and at the back of the room were glass cases containing various enchanted and mechanical limbs of every variety. Automated birds chirped on perches next to a shop counter behind which stood an automated clerk overseeing a row of gold and silver dial cases, “Uh..yes, I’m looking for some…advice maybe?” she asked when she arrived at her turn in line.
The mechanical eorman’s eyes seemed to light up at her words and with an audible click in its wheezing/whirring voice it said, “Welcome to Dragonwise Dials & Automata, do you require assistance with an item you intend to purchase, or one with which you’ve already bought?” “Uh, no, not exactly,” Tayliana replied, “It isn’t mine, of itself, it’s a…friend’s. It’s a large machine I believe used to power the propellers of a ship,” she finished.
Tayliana felt she could almost hear the whirs of the automaton’s head as it mulled over what to do about what she’d presented it.
Click, “One moment please.” it said, and it left the counter and entered into a back room. Tayliana smelled it before she entered, the smell of pipe smoke being emitted from a long stemmed pipe belonging to an older woman in a flowing robe over an ornate set of britches and bodice. With a bow she said, “I am Menrva Dragonwise, the proprietor of this establishment. My clerk here says you needed assistance?”
Tayliana bowed in kind. “I am Tayliana Winddancer,” but then she hesitated, unsure of how exactly to phrase what she needed to know. What if she thinks I’m crazy? she thought. Taking a breath, she decided to just get on with it. If the wizard thought she was crazy, then she thought she was crazy — either way she’d have gotten her answer as to whether she could help. “I wanted to ask your opinion on something,” she said, pointing at one of the birds whose cogs were visible, “These automata, have you ever heard of them powering something bigger, say…a ship?”