2014-04-06 19:00:00

Rilost paced swiftly around his third-floor study, palms moist and breathless. A crumpled missive lay on his desk detailing Tiezau's motion to the council: the legalising of mining operations in the tunnels beneath the city. This was the "payday" she mentioned at their last meeting. Rilost's eyes were as wide as gold pieces with ambition. Finally regaining control of his limbs, he put ink to parchment to scribe a response. Expect pushback. Whatever I can do to help win the votes, my services are at your disposal.

Closing his eyes and chewing idly on the end of his feathered quill, he signed the note with a flourishing R, folded and sealed it with an unmarked blob of wax. Murmuring a brief spellword over the note to obscure it from unintended eyes, he fondled a crystal set into his desk which glowed briefly.

An animated cauldron entered the study in response. Its stubby pewter legs clacked on the ground as it made its ungainly way to Rilost's side.

"Get this to Tiezau," commanded Rilost as he tossed the message into the cauldron's mouth. It attempted an awkward tilt of acknowledgement and hobbled out of the small opening in the wall of the study. A magic syllable later and Rilost appeared in the darker, less opulent workspace of his tower's cohabitant.

Sprocket the gnome was scraping out technical drawings over a large slab of wood with a stick of charcoal. His brow was furrowed and the tip of his tongue was pointing out of the side of his mouth as he produced a perfectly straight line, contributing to what looked like a drawing of a very angular set of wings.

"Sprocket," began Rilost. "Making progress, I hope?"

"Barely, barely," replied the gnome without taking his eyes off his work. "The specification is too constrained, my lord. This mess of fins and flaps MIGHT cool her down if we were on the Zvoltë Ice Plains, but deep underground with no air movement they will likely just melt into her body and make an even bigger ball of blazing metal. We need to rethink the entire design."

"There's no time, Sprocket. Lady Tiezau's motion hits the deliberation chambers in two weeks. Even now, enterprising landowners are sending investigators below the city to scout for the choicest veins. This is our chance to recoup the money I spent getting hold of the Sundisc in the first place, and the years I lost studying with the Clerics to learn how to harness it. You came to work for me because you wanted to be the most famous gnome inventor of all time. This is how you do that."

"It takes as long as it takes! You saw what happened when you turned her on last time: she almost blew a hole in this mountain! I need to check on her anyway so can we go down now, please?"

Rilost sighed. The pair began to don treated leather overalls and gloves and windowed iron face masks. Maybe he could magick Sprocket into a time-stasis and have him work in there. Before he found Sprocket, Rilost had come into possession of an ancient, priceless divine medallion, the Sundisc. Appearing as a humble sun cut out of stained orange glass, Rilost had spent years and a vast proportion of his fortune and power acquiring the history and knowledge of this Fourth Era pendant, supposedly worn by one of the monastic Sky Lords who protected ancient Alpeia for hundreds of years from hostile forces.

His lifelong solitude necessitated a mastery of construct-animating magic, but, like many wizards, he'd come up against the limits of his own magical capacity too soon. He solicited Sprocket's skills to help build a harness for the Sundisc's energy that would power a gargantuan metal humanoid, a display of raw power that would see Rilost's name enter magical relevance again after years of absence. But the harness was too effective. It channelled so much power out of the Sundisc that the creature itself glowed hot with the power of a thousand fireballs. It melted its way through three floors of solid rock before Rilost could teleport it away, up to the top of the mountain against which his tower was built. Making periodic trips back to teleport it out of the pits it would melt itself into, Rilost and Sprocket illegally tapped the mountain springs that supplied plumbing and sewerage to the multi-tiered city and prepared to attach piping to the thing's extremities to keep it from overheating.

Whisking the both of them down into the steel-plated containment room, Rilost and Sprocket began the day's work of patching any pipes that had melted leaks and laying additional plating down beneath the golem's feet. Their temperature margins were razor-thin, and if just a few additional pipes failed simultaneously, the device could once again take out a huge piece of Rilost's tower and maybe even undermine the entire city district by blazing its way through the very earth itself.