Saturday, September 19, 2015

Beyond the Rim Installment 16

Oorgo opened his mouth, but before he could say anything Thurgod said, "It would be better if you asked me no more questions of the hammer."
"Is it one of the things you're not allowed to talk about?"
Thurgod was spared the jab of pain by a sudden distraction. A curious sound, a mixture of whirling and whooshing, caught the attention of both master and apprentice. Thurgod proceeded out into the courtyard beyond, with Oorgo coming behind him, still slightly wheezing. His breath was utterly caught when he looked up towards the sound.
A curious device, shaped like a butterfly but with an extra set of wings placed crosswise over the semi-sphere of its body was hovering over the courtyard, slowly descending. It spun about on its own axis even as it flapped its thin, metallic wings.
"This is the work of a master smith, Oorgo," said Thurgod, speaking slightly above his regular volume, to overcome the sound.
The device flew perfectly, though gracelessly and with an increased buzzing noise as it approached to a small half-column that stood in Thurgod's courtyard, capped with metal. Thereupon it landed, and its wings slowed their movement gradually.
"Is it magical, Master?"
"You might call it that, but even the wisest of men would know better. It does not take the word of a god to move this, only the smith craft of one. Perhaps in a dozen lives of men, or in a score, or in a hundred, they will fashion a thing like this." Thurgod gave the underbelly of the machine a twist and it came loose, resembling a basin in his hands. The metal was very thin, and Thurgod held it in his hands very gently. It looked as though even Oorgo might have crushed it in his hands.
"What is it?"
"It is a machine that I made years ago. You must be both young and from a far place to have never heard or seen one of these. These carry the messages of Cyllgod's government."
"Is it a golem?"
"It is less than a golem in intelligence. If a bird struck it while it was in flight, it could not right itself, nor could it tell its master of the problem. Happily, most birds are wiser than to do so."
"Why is it sent to you?"
"That I have yet to gain. Do you read, child?"
"No, but I can count," Oorgo replied.
Thurgod grinned, then grunted, "Yes, I can do the second as well, but on the first I suppose we both struggle. Perhaps I have asked the wrong question. Is there parchment in this carrier, Oorgo?"
The child hopped over and looked inside. "Yes, master, and it has writing on it, and a wax symbol at the bottom."
"Can you describe the symbol to me? Perhaps we will know who has sent this machine to me. Whoever it is is not wise enough to remember that I am the blind god."
"The seal looks like dying moon with a pole coming from its center where the god's grave opens."
"So it is one of the mines. They call that thing a pickax, child. Is there a number below it?"
"There is something that I cannot read. Could that be a number?"
"Tell me what it looks like, and then we'll know."
"It looks like most of a circle."
"Yes, all numbers in this country are that way, child. But which part of the circle?"
"The whole half on the left, and the lower half on the right."
"It is the seal of the Sixth Mine, at the base of the Tranquil Tower on the Queen's Gate. The piece of a golem on which I have been working is from there. Perhaps that is the business for which they write."
"Couldn't you ask the flying bug machine?"
"If it were a golem, I could, but it is not so intelligent."
"But it could see the post. It had to. It landed right there."
"It is made of a smarter metal than anything I have made in your lifetime or that of your father or his father, for as many fathers as are remembered by even his father. But I did not infuse it to be a golem."
"No, child, infuse. It is a different word. It means to put a special thing into another one and change how it works."
"Like yeast in dough?"
"Yes. But it is time to restrain your questions until we start walking. I will fetch the things for travel; the sixth mine is across the city and down to the base of the towers."
Thurgod re-emerged from the living quarters with a pack on his back, carrying ingots of iron, his sight coins, and true currency besides. He also carried a chain of very tiny links which had leather loops on each end. "I will need you to hold an end of this, Oorgo. It is long since I walked this path, and it may have changed. I will tell you where to go, but if I am to get there you must tell me where to step. But first I must get the golem-piece that remains in the forge." The god tossed the chain to the child and strode back into the forge, re-emerging carrying the joint-mechanism in his hand.
"May I carry the golem-piece, Master?" asked Oorgo, as they prepared to step outside.
Thurgod turned immediately and handed it to the child, who was immediately fascinated by the number of movable parts. He began to pull and to twist it this way and that. "You may carry it only if you do not do that with it. It is metal, but thin, and if you change its shape I must forge it all over again. I can undo the clasps and buttons the right way, but not you."
Oorgo accepted the instruction and held it gingerly in his left hand, hanging down at his side, while his right was linked to Thurgod's left arm.

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