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Author Topic: Twilight Ramblings 18 - The Aged Engineer  (Read 2107 times)
Twilight Creator
Distinguished Engineer
Posts: 2637

« on: July 10, 2015, 05:16:27 pm »

This is a very short story I wrote 8 or 9 years ago when trying to flesh out the Fubarnii engineers. The old engineer is quite possibly the Fubarnii Elder I sculpted, or maybe Ondamir (Beru's old mentor), not that it matters too much!
Forgive the writing, but hopefully you'll enjoy it anyway  Smiley

The Aged Engineer

The young Fubarnii crouched silently in the low stone archway, his eyes stinging in the thick, acrid smoke which crept insidiously from the room just beyond. Choking slightly and covering his mouth with his hand, the young one crept forwards, his delicate hooves making almost no noise on the light sandy floor. This area was new to him, the sights, the smells, so different from those in the nursery. Away from the watchful eye of his sempa who had watched over him and several other young jenta for the first time. Her back had been turned so briefly as she was distracted by the mewling of the new hatchling, but it had only taken him a heartbeat to grab the opportunity he had been waiting for and to slip silently out through the nursery archway and into the unknown world beyond.

The fear that was previously so prevalent in his mind, now only a distant memory, left behind in the many tunnels through which he had run, the countless turnings he had taken. For now the worry of what would happen beyond the current moment was gone, all was forgotten apart from the brief image of a knight emerging from the archway, pausing for a second and then disappearing back into the smoke and out of sight. He had seen knights before, when he had once scrambled up the rough stone walls of the nursery and stolen a glimpse through one of the high windows. He could still vividly remember the powerful enuk struggling beneath their fully armoured riders, carrying them across the cobbled courtyard, the pale moon giving the whole scene an ethereal quality. They had been so distant, but this one was so close, and somehow different, its movement was jerky, lacking any fluidity of motion. It also seemed so much smaller than he had envisioned them to be, it must have been barely as tall as he was.

He was intrigued, what was this that was so far removed from his limited experience, the ordered life of the nursery, surrounded by many other young jenta, everything controlled, no mystery apart from the stolen views of that which lay beyond the high circular windows.

Stepping through the archway the smell of the smoke is almost overwhelming, making his eyes increasingly painful. Blinking away the forming tears and struggling to keep his eyes open the young one struggled to focus on the blurred images, strange shapes looming from the forbidding darkness above and around him. A few candles shed small spheres of light around themselves, not so much illuminating the room as providing contrast for the dark shadows.

As his eyes became accustomed to the light and smoke, the images once terrifyingly vague started to take form, but their clarity still providing little comfort. Machineries of unimaginable purpose lined the walls, some seemingly new, their polished metal surfaces reflecting his distorted features back at him, others old and tarnished with age, various fungi clinging to their rusting joints. Small patches of yellowed peeling paint, spotted with mildew could be seen intermittently through parts of the arcane machineries.

Strange creatures clung to the ceiling, threatening to drop to the ground and devour him, their long sharp teeth glowing faintly in the flickering light, but they stayed, frozen for eternity, their crystal eyes focusing upon a distant past, a rapid death.

As the young one crept forward, even more wondrous and ghastly shapes emerged from the shadows, tiny creatures scuttled away from the slight crunching of his hooves on the light sandy floor. The long room seemed to stretch on forever into the dank smoky gloom, pinpricks of light emerging, providing flickering illumination on the monstrous wonders that once lay beyond his strangest dreams but that now promised to haunt them.

Then there it was, the lure that had brought him here. A knight sitting motionless upon his steed, staring straight at him from out of the gloom. The young one stood for what seemed an eternity, staring at the black helmet which stared unfalteringly back at him. Not knowing whether to stay or run, his entire being willing him to flee, knowing that he should not be here, that he was trespassing upon a sacred place, but this dank, smoke filled room, with its lone, tiny occupant held him in its thrall. He could not leave this place of exquisite fear without knowing more, without satisfying his inescapable and overwhelming curiosity.

The tiny knight did not move, it just stood there as a statue, staring vacantly, like everything else here, it seemed dead, robbed of life, but threatening to break the deathly visage without warning. The room seemed to be waiting for something, some spark to bring it back to life, to push the machineries into motion. The spark did not come, the place remained silent and motionless, except for the flickering of the candles and the occasional scuttering creature.

Overcoming the cold fingers of fear, he broke the stand off and crept closer, his breath shallow, his hearts pounding, his eyes focused upon this remarkable figure that he had seen before, moving, alive, but that now stood lifeless, seemingly oblivious to his advance.

His tentative approach brought him across the room and next to the diminutive knight. Holding his breath, he slowly extended his slender arm, brushing his long delicate fingers across the muzzle of the enuk. It felt strange, slightly warm, but smooth and very hard. Looking again at the knight at this distance it seemed to lose its illusion of life, what had once looked like skin, now revealing itself as painted metal, cogs visible between the smooth plates. Its wondrous form still enthralled the young one, how could something so wondrous that looked so alive be merely a creation?

So engrossed was he that he did not notice movement in the corner behind him. What had previously been ignored as a pile of rags and loose scrolls dumped unceremoniously was now rising, its one large round eye reflecting the trembling luminescence of the candles.

The conglomeration of items proceeded, shambling its way across the sandy floor, small creatures dropping away as they were disturbed from their resting places in the folds of fabric and skittering back into the shadows.

The young one flinched violently as gnarled cold fingers gripped the flesh of his shoulder. He squirmed, trying to escape the vice-like grip, but it only tightened, making him let out a small yelp of pain.

“You want to go now? Do you? Hmmm?”

The young one stopped wriggling, slowly turning to look up into the face of his captor, his own terrified features distorted and reflected back at him from the monstrous eye.

“Can’t you speak” the old one enquired, pushing his face closer to the young one’s.

The jenta stared mutely, the old one’s breath hot against his face, reeking of fungi and decay. Petrified with fear he just wished he had stayed in the predictable world of the nursery, rather than risking an unknown fate at the hands of this strange creature.

“Guess not then”, the old Fubarnii turned to the knight, “Quite something, isn’t he? It’s taken me months to build him, hmmm. Now he’s finished, perfected, and I’m at a loss.” Releasing the trembling jenta he shambled across to a nearby wall, focusing intently on a patch of particularly decrepit machinery. “But now what do I do? Hmmm? I guess I will start again, let my creation sit here, gathering dust while I divert my affections.”

The young jenta now stood, watching the elder, both terrified and intrigued, the mix of emotions keeping him frozen to the spot.

“Look around you, I made all of this”, the elder waved behind him vaguely with one hand whilst still focusing intently on the wall. Suddenly, with surprising speed he reached out with his other hand and grabbed something, “most of it doesn’t work any more, and to be honest I can’t even remember what they were supposed to do in the first place.” He pondered slowly back over to the wide eyed jenta.

“Would you like some, hmmm?” he inquired, partially opening his gnarled old hands, the bleached skin stretched across his bones. A large garkrid was struggling between his thumb and forefinger, its numerous legs waved furiously, its tiny claws snapping vainly as its tiny head searched urgently for an exit.

“Of course you would”, the old one said, reaching up with his other hand, pulling the long creature in half, handing one still wiggling half to the jenta who took it nervously in both hands, starting to gnaw at one end. “Now, where was I? Hmm? Oh yes, that was it. What did they do? I know it was important at the time, all consuming you might say. But now? They all went the way that my most recent creation is sure to go. Hmm. Sad isn’t it? But what would you know? Age is such a divider, and its affect so rapid, you have so much to come.”

A strange expression flickered across the old, wrinkled face, as if he was focussing on some distant memory. A slight smile appeared momentarily but vanished as he slowly moved his head, looking around, almost through the young jenta. With a sigh the old one turned his back on the young one and the motionless knight, stumbling back to the corner and blending back into the background, his almost silent breathing all that gave away his position amidst the jumble of the room.

The jenta stood, waiting in the near silence, unsure of what to do. A feeling that this was not his world passed over him, he did not belong there, he had been given a brief opportunity to view it that would stay with him forever, but he should trespass no longer. Dropping the hard remaining shell of the garkrid on the floor he turned and left, leaving the old creator amidst the clinging smoke and his forgotten creations.
Distinguished Engineer
Posts: 631

« Reply #1 on: July 12, 2015, 08:49:26 am »

A nice insight in the mind of an engineer.
Thank you for the story!

Roleplaying games are a bit like a holiday. You visit new places and meet interesting people.
Lost Egg
Lord of Engu
Distinguished Engineer
Posts: 989

« Reply #2 on: July 13, 2015, 07:11:02 pm »

Slightly tragic in some ways...but then the engineer seems to thrive on the act of creation, rather than the creation itself. I like it sir Cheesy
Senior Apprentice
Posts: 215

« Reply #3 on: July 15, 2015, 02:55:39 am »

another good story. it gives a good feel for the different domestic life.  it also makes me want to see a new unit of miniature mechanical knights......   Grin   Grin
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