Summary: As Doctor Jonis Wheellock retires from the Farseekers Lodge, he reflects on what the future may have in store.
My retirement from Farseekers Lodge comes with a tinge of regret, but I know my own quests are far from over. I remember the days of chasing leads around New Malta, and the frequent trips back to my native Nova Roma. I remember the voyages I undertook to Ming, to Starfall, to Hyperborea, and even other planes. I have seen more in a few years than most mortals do in their entire lives.
I fondly recall my active participation the Lodge's expeditions. It is only due to my Society companions that I escaped from certain death, and lamentably, not all of them are here to wish me well in my retirement. I cannot help but feel some when to face Hades prematurely, but only the Lord of Graves knows the true time of our brief tenure on Earth ends. I only hope by focusing more on my own studies, I hope to avoid those needless risks. However, no engineer must ever lower his guard around dangerous machinery. I learned this the hard way over my education.
As a doctor of mechanical engineering, I learned to keep rigorous notes and improvise when necessary. The novel sparklock ignition I added to my trusty pistol, Hephaestus' Hammer, saved my life far too many times to count. I could say the same for my knowledge of mechanics, my faith in the Forge-Father, and my study of intelligent constructs. I helped the Alexandrine Sages compile a number of texts on historic and modern machinery, of which you all are undoubtedly familiar.
In addition to my study of ancient Atlantean and Lemurian technologies, I detailed the identified two primary sources of advanced machinery in the world: the clockwork and steam of distant Aquila, and the esoteric sciences of Starfall. Through peculiar circumstances, I was even able to compile voluminous research into otherworldly Martian, Venusian, Yithian, and mi-go artifacts and constructs. I even looked into the peculiar clockworks of Neraka, with the assistance of the Mohist Academy's explorations and contacts in Nam Viet and Majapahit. My former colleague in Athenian Clockwork Chapel, High Clockmaker Elinda Sharper, appreciates those treatises far more than my atrocious puns.
I have done what I can to spread the advancement of technology across Europe, Africa, Asia, and beyond. However, I realize my own calling is not merely to pick over the inventions of others. I wish to contribute something far more than mere armaments, or an incremental improvement of something extant. I am convinced that the future for humanity, and all sapient beings, is not being constrained to a particular world. Even if Earth were to succumb to some incomprehensible fate, my research points me upwards.
Travel through the void between worlds is possible, albeit difficult. What if humanity, and all sapient species, were able to traverse the void with the ease of sailing between Nova Roma and Athens? Other worlds in our system are capable of such feats, as were the elves in great antiquity. Eponymous Starfall, which granted the land the name, was the crash of an extrasolar armada, likely from a world without knowledge of magic. The artifacts I've studied suggest that fusing such technology with magic could open unexplored vistas of discovery.
If such developments ever occur, they are likely to be centuries in the future. My own communing with Hephaestus suggests the Forge-Father desires my skills, memories, and personality in that possible, wonderous future. This brought up a conflict which I believe my recent research offers the potential to resolve.
Countless necromancers have tried to cheat death with lichdom, simultaneously forsaking morality and mortality. I have no urge to descend to such base, vile magic to prolong my own existence. My study of constructs and the nature of memory has provided a fascinating alternative. As my companions can attest, I needed to acquire countless fresh brains in the field for this research to even become possible.
Spells can transplant the soul into a previously inanimate object. The rare androids of Starfall reset their personality after a century or so, allowing multiple souls to inhabit the same body. The mi-go store the brains of victims in jars. Artificial bodies have been designed and used by some ambitious wizards. As tempting as becoming a construct, or a brain controlling a construct is, such a body is still vulnerable to physical threats. I sought a more enduring solution.
Clockwork constructs are able to store information by the configuration of switches, each corresponding to a binary signal. Starfallen artifacts like computers and robots operate with similar principles, only using electronic logic gates instead of mechanical relays. By storing information in a pattern of ones and zeros, a sort of mechanical dualism, incredible amounts of information can be stored. Given brains are a specialized type of computer, why not apply this to memories? In theory, it is possible to encode a person into such a format, although the retrieval process would be troublesome.
Thus, I have set about designing a machine that may etch my memories, personality, and skills onto a physical medium. Due to the magic involved, it will be as enduring as the Akashic Records themselves. I am even stashing several copies across the Sol System, other planes, and beyond, such that all who seek my knowledge can retrieve them. Each would be a new soul, albeit with memories inherited, like monks recanting their past lives. They can even be modified for different roles, if necessary.
I hope Hephaestus himself approves. I tested the encoding pattern on a modified music box, which Clockmaker Elinda has turned into an official hymn. I will admit, it is rather catchy. However, I cannot let such things distract me. Such a machine offers untold benefits to the followers of Hephaestus, and to the universe at large. Thus, I convert myself to the clockwork duality, merging man and machine through a fusion of magic and technology.
The Farseekers Lodge enabled me to gather the resources necessary for such a bold endeavor. Now, as I prepare to withdraw, I would offer a challenge to all whom have recently joined: Can you improve upon my work? Such is the natural way for inventions to be refined, and for the search for knowledge to be improved. The Age of Lost Omens promised a golden age for humanity a century ago. I would challenge even that, for I believe that golden age lies in our future. Go forth, and I hope I, or one of my heirs of the mind, will join you!