“A clockwork crew?” Dragonwise replied. “Yes, they are very common. I could even put an order in for the automata involved, for a small fee,” she continued.
Tayliana Winddancer Dahtaligaar scowled internally. She wasn’t really here to make a purchase. “Well, that’s not exactly what I meant. This is the ship itself, it includes a large set of gears and dials that I’m told power the ship. I simply can’t figure out how it works,” she said.
Menrva Dragonwise raised an eyebrow as she puffed away on her long pipe. “Hmmm, well, I don’t deal in them, but there are a few ships that are powered by clockwork automata. Auto-runners are a rare commodity, however, and I would be very interested in hearing the description of yours,” she said.
The discussion continued well on throughout the day as Tayliana described the workings of the machine in La Danse Calinda, its rusty innards that she’d spent many a lazy afternoon studying, noting the similarities and differences between it and the devices of her own world. Dragonwise seemed both at a loss for explanation and fascinated by the detailed description, no longer convinced that it was among the automata at all.
As the storm rolled in and the sun began to wane, the Winddancer was no longer sure whether Menrva Dragonwise even believed the story at all, often speaking in hypotheticals about how she would build such a machine, and Tayliana would counter with her own descriptions.
“So you say it lacks a heart dial?” Menrva said for at least the tenth time, disbelief showing in her inflection.
“Yes,” Tayliana said, the redundancy showing in hers.
“Hmmm, well, I cannot say what this device was meant to be, but if you believe it was meant for clockwork power, it would seem the proper thing to do would be to supply it with a heart dial of its own,” Dragonwise said.
“But I would have to place an order for one and have it delivered,” she finished, and Tayliana scowled once again. She didn’t know how long the Calinda would be in Sesus.
“I am a wizard myself, that is my profession aboard the vessel. Do you think with enough study, I could perform the charm myself, could you recommend anywhere that would teach me?”
Dragonwise furrowed her brow, she knew of several prominent schools in the field of automata, but they required many years of study — certainly not something a ship’s wizard could learn while performing her duties — but she was intrigued by the stranger and her story. Though at first she didn’t believe it, this Winddancer told it with such fervor and detail. She looked over towards her bookshelf. She had several of her textbooks from her own days as a young student at those universities, not much older than what Tayliana Winddancer was herself.
Thunder clapped as lightning struck outside when Dragonwise stepped towards her bookshelf and retrieved her copy of Heart Dials: The Souls of the Machine. “It takes many years to become fully acquainted with the arts and processes of building the clockwork machines. However, if your story is true, your machine is already built, it simply lacks its essence,” she said, placing her pipe into an ashtray near the counter.
Dragonise placed a hand on the shoulder of Tayliana Winddancer Dahtaligaar. “This book is very old, but it will start you on the path to acquire the knowledge necessary to breath life into the automata. As well, I suggest you contact Archmagus Dev Geyev of the Lion’s Bane at the Guild at Mt. Isolla,” she said. Dragonwise didn’t mind too terribly parting with it. She kept it for nostalgia more than anything else at this point, studied as she was in its workings.
“On one condition,” she said with a smile, “When you’ve completed your quest, I wish for you to return here with your machine, and return me my book.”