Tanglestone

20 - Return to the Clockworks

In which a plan of attack is chosen, an emissary from a sealed House unleashes Hell, and a long-silenced Voice is heard again.

Days pass as the Trade Union rests, researches, prepares and studies for their inevitable foray into the Clock Tower. Dewlian and Sym delve into the known lore of the Architects, noting passages about the Machinist and the Seer in particular. Peluma immerses herself in The Midnight Labyrinth and pursues a personal project. Hinge patrols, and observes several potential entrances into the Clock Tower, including two concealed portals.

Finally, the four decide to enter via the sewers, following the path they took aboard the damaged Cleaner. The service bay where the Cleaners are seen to is largely safe, but a clockwork hound set as sentinel at the lift notes them and summons assistance: two clockwork bulls and a small animated arbalest-machine. All of the hostile clockworks show signs of tinkering, in particular an odd keyhole attached to refitted areas.

After some debate as to where the Locksmith might be found, the Trade Union decides to bypass the machining floor and assembly areas, rising up to the floors of personal workshops. They examine several abandoned projects, but Peluma detects signs of recent passage. She tracks them down a floor, to an immense room dominated by a scale model of the city itself.

Absorbing as the map is, the real trouble lies with the other “guests” in the room: a woman in a horned mask and sepia costume and an armored warrior accompanying her. She speaks at first in the Pria Kumureth, and after deciding that the Trade Union will be “neither peaceable nor pliable,” she and her bodyguard attack — as does the winged, demonic ape and the gargoyle lying in wait above. The battle is an incredibly near thing, with the monstrous ape felling Hinge before Dewlian is able to finish it off. But with the apparent emissary of House Umber and her entourage defeated, the group turns its attention to an odd clockwork built into the wall, her eyes and mouth bound by padlocks. When Peluma releases those locks, she speaks:

“I am the Voice of the Machinist. Who approaches me?”

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Barastrondo

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