Machines in My Ghosts

Would you believe me if I told you that I barely know what I’m doing?

I didn’t think so. I couldn’t do my job if I didn’t balance the right spell while making fine adjustments on my growing inventory of devices. The newest tool I’ve been learning to upkeep since receiving one from my professor, the rune arm, is particularly challenging to keep working without blowing up in my face.

The professor doesn’t have to cut me a break, but he does. He’s used to teaching humans on the ways of House Cannith, home of the arch-craftsmen of Ebberon. I’m just an orphaned Drow lucky enough not to be wolf food years ago.

I hear a metallic creak at my feet. Syracuse, my pet defender, looks up at me. He’s a smart dog. I pick up a small metal cog and fling across the workshop–a bit too hard. It sails through a small pane in a window.

Syracuse dutifully leaps straight through the window, smashing it to bits. Not the first time it happened. I walk over and apply a repair spell on the window. After the fourth time I broke it (and the third time Syracuse leaped through it) I converted the window into a construct that holds panes and restores itself.

“You’re really intent on leaving, aren’t you?” the professor said.

I returned to my bag. One of my crossbows sat by. It needed something more, later. “Yes. I need to find why I was abandoned,” I said.

A series of hard, fast footsteps introduced Syracuse, the cog in his metal teeth. Sometimes I could swear he was smiling if I didn’t remember that I’ve not added any emotional gears and detachable plates on his face.

The professor stood up, his one adamantine leg partially glistening in a sunbeam popping through the skylight above. “There had to be a reason why. Maybe it’s best not to know. You of all people should know not to browbeat the drow.”

The professor shouldn’t assume that the irritation I felt wasn’t a racial thing.

Growing up entirely with humans has left me in a disadvantage. I’ve learned the history of drow, some tribal stories. But to other drow, I’m completely an outsider. I can’t seem to make them answer anything. It’s not as if I have a distinct difference in appearance. Maybe it’s my accent.

I finished packing, adding the last of my ingredient bags.

“You’ll write, I hope, Medes? It gets awful quiet when you’re on your adventures.” The professor looked distressed in a way I could understand, for once. It was…nice to know somebody wanted me. He was one of two men that found me. His partner had since passed on.

“I will, papa.” I walked over to kiss him on the cheek.

He patted my hand. “And, here,” he said, handing me a parchment. “It’s a special infusion you should know. This one creates a turret of flame that attracts and damages enemies. And don’t forget to continue to work on your crafting.”

“Don’t worry,” I said. The professor and I had made a meager living in the upkeep of iron constructs. Once in a while we’d get a beautiful adamantine in our shop for repair, which kept us fed for months. But it was a long time since one showed up. I needed to leave home, not just for finding my parents–anyone who can tell me who I am.

The professor would survive with the resources we had for the winter. But If I were to stay…

“I’ll send you some platinum from my jobs when I can,” I said. “Don’t futz with the furnace this winter, okay?”

The professor nodded.

“Don’t you end up getting killed. Syracuse!” he shouted at my pet. “Guard her. Guard her well.”

The construct barked enthusiastically.

I left. The usual bustle of House Cannith, of hisses and steam whistles and blindingly bright metals adorned homes and shops and constructs, even a few people.

As much as I like it here, it is not my home. Machines have crept into my memory of my infancy. I remember the smells of sulphur and grass, in the place where I was found, alone and left to die in the Searing Heights.

I need to know why I was abandoned. And once I learn why, perhaps I can return. Perhaps I can rid myself of this…anger that keeps me from being–well, whatever I need to be.

My first mission is in search of a tool I’ll need if I’m ever to survive for long. The professor said I’d never be able to wield one. I know otherwise. A rune arm will be the difference between nights in a cramped, warm inn or death on the plains outside Stormreach.

Syracuse looks up at me as we leave the enclave and head through the marketplace. I pat his head.

“You’re going to get a lot more to chase and chew on than just a rusty cog, little guy.” I load my repeater. Adventure…and answers, await.