Tanglestone

22 - The Bell Tolls

In which a secret salon is discovered, several long falls are almost embarked upon, and a final confrontation is at last attained.

In dire need of recuperation but knowing that Fell is still on the loose, the Trade Union quickly checks the bodies of the fallen undead and moves on. Dewlian appropriates Barhook’s hatchet-grapnel, and Peluma takes the personal effects of the Dagger-cultist she recognizes as Galgajack (specifically his dagger, garrote-necklace and victim-rosary). The group then begins to search out a potential resting place, Peluma covering their tracks as they go to prevent Fell discovering them. Hinge discovers a hidden salon among similar structures, a beautiful room with luxuries fit for the Architects themselves. A few delicious drinks and a short nap later, the group is ready to press on to find the Locksmith’s moving room.

Noting a dock for a likely structure, the Trade Union heads up into the gears of the great clock itself. There they spy a similar dock with a control panel attached, but must fight their way past Savatine Fell, a pair of copper automatons, some sort of machine made of whirling cables and knives (powered, Sym theorizes, by an elemental of some sort) and a handful of spindlespikers. Hinge forces one automaton over the rail, but Peluma is also bullied off a gear by the slicing clockwork. Before she can plummet to her death, she uses a noose of shadow to pull the elemental device after her, and uses it as a grapnel to break her fall. She and Dewlian finish it off, as Hinge, Somber and Sym engage Fell and finally send him to his rest. Peluma claims his belongings, and takes charge of a sealed letter to Fell’s daughter Vigardine before Sym can break the seal and read it.

Examining the control panel, Dewlian recognizes the significance of the numbers he’d found in another portion of the Locksmith’s notes. He sets the clocks to the appropriate hours, and the room descends. However, it passes further than expected, its roof drawing level with the dock. A pair of automatons guard the roof (a brass minotaur and a clockwork bell-ringer, the latter showing signs of modification), and through a hatch on the roof appears, at last, the Locksmith, accompanied by even more spindlespikers. Only a few initial (un)pleasantries are exchanged before the mad Caretaker attacks.

The ensuing fight is high in emotion. Sym and Dewlian place themselves in uncharacteristic amounts of danger, and both pay a price — Sym is nearly sent tumbling over the edge, and Dewlian receives vicious wounds from the Locksmith. The city-speakers and the renegade Caretaker exchange heated accusations, and every spirit of Tanglestone that Sym can muster appears to join in the climactic struggle. For his part, the Locksmith electrifies the floor more than once, badly hurts Dewlian and uses an ampule of some dangerous alchemical concoction to keep himself standing — but ultimately the strength of the Battlemen and Night Sweepers, the word of the City and the fires of the Forges are too much. Brought low at last, the Locksmith clings to life long enough to return to a temporary lucidity, and apologizes before he breathes his last.

Examining the inner workings of the moving room, the Trade Union discovers the Caretaker’s workshop and living quarters. Dewlian sifts through old encrypted journals of Caretakers past and notes several copied volumes of Library books regarding the Outside, works that seem to have informed the Locksmith’s plots. With the threat of the Locksmith ended, the group prepares for a well-deserved long rest, though not too long. A new Caretaker must be found if the Clock Tower, like the rest of the City, is to return to health.

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