Author: Akhdar PM
A madman on the run, a lame toymaker trying to put the pieces together and strange men following them both.Rated: Fiction T - English - Fantasy/Mystery - Chapters: 5 - Words: 6,687 - Reviews: 2 - Favs: 1 - Updated: 06-23-11 - Published: 06-02-11 - id: 2919991
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
"This way, if you will." Hershin stepped past a cloth-covered lump on the ground as if it wasn't even there, but Jiyah felt all too aware of its presence. Even with the cloth, a tough, white fabric that looked like canvas at first glance, Jiyah had little trouble figuring out what was underneath. The canvas only seemed to accentuate the head, torso and limbs of the body underneath; moreover, blood pooled out from below, spreading in a brownish stain on the ground.
Don't look, Jiyah had to tell herself. She ripped her eyes away and followed Hershin, though she gave the body a very wide berth. Another war construct stood nearby in the room, silently watching everything yet motionless at the same time. She fixed her eyes on it, trying to distract her mind from the horror that was building in her mind; she'd never been this close to a corpse before. Whenever someone died, they were burned as was proper. She'd been around ashes many times; Niam even kept ashes in her room that she claimed was Jiyah's father.
But an actual body? Never.
"I suppose introductions are in order." At Hershin's words, Jiyah snapped her eyes from the construct and found herself facing a trio of men. One stood tall, his graying head held with an arrogant air even with his back turned, while the other two seemed barely old enough to shave. One was large, with broad shoulders and thick arms, while the other had the look of a scribe about him, with spectacles perched on his nose and ink stains on his fingers. The group turned to her, and she felt her face flush as they each looked at her crutch and pointedly looked away. Their attempts to not gawk at her handicap only pointed it out even more in her mind.
How she hated going outside.
"Master Streol, may I present craftmistress Jiyah. This is craftmaster Streol and his two assistants, Feosh and … and... remind me again."
"Drälsen, lord." The scribe gingerly offered his name before glancing down and awkwardly shuffling his feet for a moment. However, he didn't appear hurt at the oversight, but almost resigned to it. Used to being forgotten and overlooked.
Not so his master. Streol, the older of the three, considered her once more, this time with obvious distaste. "Ah yes, the toymaker." His voice was openly mocking and he named her profession with so much disdain that Jiyah felt an immediate dislike for the man. Hershin hadn't said what Streol's profession was, but Jiyah could guess. Only other Imbuists would look down on another, and within that group, those that worked in stone and metal openly disregarded those that, like Jiyah, dealt in cloth and other 'soft' materials. Streol would be one of the 'hard' Imbuists then; that at least explained his arrogance.
Feosh, his large assistant, though didn't seem to note his master's barb or Jiyah's stiffening, instead stepping up and giving her a quick bow. "We're glad to have you here, craftmistress. Drälsen and I are at wits end about this whole thing and while Master Streol certainly has quite a few ideas, it'd do us a lot of right good to have another mind to chew this whole thing over." He spoke quickly and kept gesturing behind the trio, but before Jiyah could ask him what 'the whole thing' could be, Hershin cleared his throat. At that, Feosh fell silent with almost a sheepish grin on his face.
"If you don't mind, craftmaster, I'd like to give her a moment to examine the design alone. Then, once she's had a chance to do so, feel free to compare thoughts on it. However, I'd like to allow her time to think without us tainting her perceptions." Hershin spoke with a soft, polite smile in place; once he finished, he gestured and Gelbher stepped forward, wordlessly leading the men out of the room while Hershin remained behind. Once outside, Hershin turned to her and pointed to where the men had been standing. "Try not to smudge the chalk, but do be as thorough as you can. Streol put up a bit of a fuss when we tried to stop him from taking notes, saying something about needing to compare it with books he has on the subject, so you might as well take notes as well."
Glancing down, Jiyah noticed the ground before her was covered with lines upon lines of equations, all laid out in geometric shapes, just like the small stone slab back in her shop. However, the shapes here were larger, covering nearly three square yards worth of the ground. Parts were smudged and blood covered a good third of it all. However, it was unmistakably a Portal- counterpart of the Precepts that Imbuists used to create constructs. Whereas Precepts directed and stored power, the Portal is where the power was brought forth from the Other.
But what was a Portal doing in an asylum?
Putting all thoughts of arrogant Imbuists, dead bodies and burned buildings out of her mind, she slowly lowered herself to her knees. It was hard moving about this way, but whoever had written the equations had done so with a small, neat hand, making it necessary to drop down on all fours to read the numbers used. So many numbers. The overall Portal was large, far larger than anything Jiyah had dealt with in her workshop, but with such small numbers, the equations seemed to go on forever.
Intrigued by both the mystery of the Portal and the mastery shown in its design, she pulled her small book of notes out of her small pocket and began jotting down parts that seemed remarkable. The equations were works of genius, almost pieces of art in how they balanced and mirrored each other. Aspects of one line of numbers would repeat themselves in others, while some were wondrously unique and strikingly brilliant in how it was set up. In her mind, she could almost feel the numbers becoming words, directing the power from the Other to pool here, to build up, to fold on itself in ways that she could barely imagine, much less comprehend.
It was beautiful.
"What is this?"
Jiyah didn't realize that she'd spoken the words out loud until Hershin cleared his throat. Glancing up, she saw the Inquisitor motion towards the canvas-covered corpse near the door. "From what we can tell, it's the final piece of work the late Lord Tregenseo ever did."