Let Down the Grinding Span

Winter 608/609 –

January – I think my father had a dozen names for that damn boar – Tusk, Ripper, Bastard, etc – his old bar friends certainly had hundreds of more colorful names as well. He was supposed to have weighed 200 kilograms, have teeth a decimeter long, and whose blood was nothing but piss and vinegar according to the tale. My father supposedly impaled it fully tip to tail yet it still managed to tear his arm off. I think about those stories a lot now – it seems to be the only thing anyone remembers of my parents. Supposedly, the boar’s jaw was on display in the bar for years, but after the fire the tavernkeep decided to put it in storage – he thought that with my dad gone no one would recall the tale – and yet it persists. So if he didn’t want it, I decided it would be better served in a new role – I liberated it from the dusty attic above the tavern, and saw the truth in it – a jaw around my forearm in length, a small pair of incisors, and stains implying it had been buried outdoors for awhile before being mounted to a tacky plaque. At that moment – I knew it would be a perfect tribute to Aspen – sure the jaw may not be from the boar, but that jaw is central to its story – a part of nature my father and his friends could point at and speak of how the wilds must be respected – of how the truth can become a tale, and how a tale can become the truth.

February – For those who have risen to it, responsibility is a gift – for those who have it thrust upon them it is a burden – The standing one’s powers are waning and the evil beneath the ground is stirring. The mists are weakening and our very way of life is in danger. To combat this, Aspen has granted me a stave of power – that should I determine it necessary, I can remove my circle from harm’s way. But doing so would leave the lion folk at the mercy of the enemy, whoever they may be. It is now up to me to decide when to withdraw and when to stand and fight – I do not understand the ways of the sword and pike, nor am I a grand healer – my only weapon in these dread circumstances is my knowledge, and yet – this is not a tool of knowledge, it is a tool of wisdom. With this gift, Aspen implies that they support my ascension to mother – I’m not as wise and commanding as Etienne, nor am I as loving and supportive as Colibri – I do not know what I can do to aid in these times, nor do I know how what the future holds for us. All I know how to do is run.

March – There were a number of strange happenings at market – the straight forward ones – Court of trees in the tavern, werewolf confusion and panic, and the descent into Chriopholer were at least experienced by the whole town – and all can agree on what happened afterwards (though in the moment the events were quite vexing). Yet there were two events in particular that were quite peculiar – the first I experienced myself along with several other gatherers – we stumbled upon a cottage in the woods none of us had ever seen before, being built of candies and baked goods – my musings on the structural implausibility of this were curtailed by a self-proclaimed “ginger-dead-man”, and the unarmed were quite literally forced to seek refuge in the hut. There we discovered a gruesome scene of blood and baking – following this we were able to escape the hutch and aid in defeating the confectionary foe. At this the scene before us dissolved to nothing, leaving more questions than answers – at least I wrote the recipe down, though I know not if it’ll ever be useful.
The second was a man of snow appearing during the stonewise – accounts say it was trying to assault the gatherers, and that it reacted to Étienne’s ritual eye-stone. These absurd events are… perplexing and difficult to explain – could it be fey? A strange malefic trick? Maybe a manifestation by Chriopholer? I don’t really see how these events could be explained by logic, so I may have to ascribe to absurdity and whimsy to make any sense of them.

Pascal Game 8 – So When the Buckled Girder

Autumn 608 –

For awhile now I’ve been struggling on accepting the death of my parents – when all that’s left is ashes where a home once stood – when there is no grave, urn, or memorial to them – when our neighbors and friends don’t know if they got out or not – it’s almost impossible to know for certain if they are dead. I was almost ready to accept that they were gone this market – I even prepared an offering for each of them this L’adieu – Now I know that this would have been… premature.

My mother’s message came first – as I mentally prepared myself to say goodbye, Valentin and Isabel asked if I cared to explore a family monastery. In the old days, monasteries meant books, and a Merveille monastery could have some very interesting ones at that so I agreed, after all, what’s the worst that could happen? An hour later and I’m up to my neck in stagnant swamp water, smelling like the bottom of my dad’s worst whisky bottles, I still can’t totally get it out of my dress, apron, and backpack. It’s dark, it’s cold, and ahead of me Sophie holds the only lantern, her voice echoing across the flooded halls as she reads out the scribblings of some deranged man. Behind me a stone collapses onto Corbin, and it’s all Gérard and I can do to free him. Alligators keep sneaking up on us, and Alphonse’s erratic breathing through his… gills I guess puts us all on edge. Finally Isabel manages to get her pump working in a good spot and we can all breathe a sigh of relief as the water levels drop and we can take stock of what we found – while the armor and its gauntlet fascinated me, what caught my attention was the mechanical eye – unerringly its gaze followed mine as I moved it about, artificial viscera still trailing behind it. It was here that I knew my mother must still be with me somehow, guiding me here to this place to find the technology that proves her theory – that perfect prosthetics do exist – that people like my father can be fixed.

My father’s message came later that night – when Aspen answered my call. Given our last encounter, I had no idea on what I might be stepping into, only that I needed more information on what it meant to be a champion, why I was tolerated given my nature of encouraging my circle to adopt new innovations, and why they slumbered for the past six decades. He told me of the duty I must play in the circle to be champion, she answered my questions of her origins, and most surprisingly they seemed to actively support my quest to bring innovations to the Vecatrans – so long as they benefitted not only the community but our circle in particular. In that moment I could feel my father’s single hand sitting on my shoulder, pushing me forward into greater unknowns while supporting me all the while.

I know that they must be alive – somehow, somewhere. My body, mind, and soul know this. When our circle returned from the thicket, we faltered on the bridge – images of sorrow and terror woven into each of my fellows faces. They had seen their beloved departed impaled on the thorns of the briar but I – I saw nothing but the light of the town and the dark of the forest – My mother and my father.

Pascal Game 7 – The Load, The Shock, The Pressure

Summer 608 –

I lost my sister, my brother, my sibling last weekend – I watched her final breath, held his cooling form in my arms, and spread their remains to the forest.

I never had any siblings.

My sister never lived – he spent his life bound to another, their essence woven together deep underground. The only time they truly had to herself was those final moments. Did our grandfather put him there? Was this punishment or purpose?

I was an only child. I don’t even know if I remember my grandfather?

I and a few of my other siblings were there to witness the death. My grandfather refused – perhaps out of principle, perhaps out of shame. I don’t know if I’ll ever learn one way or the other, they have only spoken to me once.

I recall going down to the cave, I remember the battle, I remember mixing the ichor and the essences to make the poultices (my cloak also remembers this – will need to talk to Colibri on how to clean it), I recall Rowen awakening – weakened to near death.

After this point – I’m not sure if I can trust my memories as solely my own – nor my emotional state. This experience with Aspen still lingers with me occasionally – a day dream when I should be focusing on my work, or a nightmare when I should be sleeping.

I choose to answer Aspen’s call, and I need to be able to live up to his challenges, but his focus on Justice leaves me wondering about her focus of truth – after all, it is these truths that I think Luisant needs if we are to weather the coming storms.

I have filled nearly a dozen pages with questions for Aspen, ranging from historical information to immediate pleas, but underlining it all is just one:

Have you awoken to help us?

Pascal Game 6 – Let All Who Build Beware

Since coming back to Luisant I’ve tried to dedicate my life to progress – towards learning new disciplines, towards inventing new devices, and towards enlightening others of the ideals and practices of a modern era. I’ve had my setbacks here and there – trying to rebuild my life here has slowed me down immensely – boarding with my uncle helps, but it comes at the cost of privacy. My community also tends to look down upon my inventions – a practice that I’m trying my damndest to remedy, but I feel like I’ll be fighting uphill the whole way. At least a few in my community have started to see the merits of my work, I just hope I’ll be able to convince them all in my lifetime.

That said, while it’s been hard for me to come to grips with – Granny Jo and the others are right – there may need to be a line drawn somewhere on these innovations.

For me, the line was drawn at the last market. The line starts innocently enough – humorous even – I was out gathering with Marinette and a few others when we happened upon Henri. As usual, he was busy sticking his arm down mama snapjaw’s mouth, when he managed to pull out a gun that presumably belonged to a guard. He handed it off to me, still dripping in whatever snapjaw had had for breakfast, knowing that I could fix it up. The day passes on – it seems like the guard who lost it isn’t currently looking for it, so I fixed it back up in the meantime, and left it in my backpack, where I quickly forgot about it after the fun of the blind mason’s trial, the spring sovereign contests, a rather intimate conversation with Ellie, and the maypole dancing.

I may have forgotten about it for a lot longer had it not been for the crisis of the grove that night. Fear reminded me to bring the gun, but it was madness that caused me to draw it forth, level it against the man who had given it to me to begin with, and to pull the trigger.

I will forever be grateful for the distractions of that day – had the spring sovereign festival not occurred, I may have had time to find powder and shot to actually load into the infernal device, and the event of the grove may have gone… differently.

I’ve always thought of firearms as just impractical weapons – their high metallurgical demands, their neigh-impossible to craft fuel source, and needing to collaborate with a noble to acquire and supply them always had them feeling like their applications and usage were too niche and limited to be as useful as a bow or sword. After that ordeal in the grove though – they’re not just impractical, they’re too dangerous for their own good.

And so I’ve drawn a line – a line across my life’s work of ceaseless innovation in the name of improving our lives at Luisant, with the hope that this line will prevent us losing the lives of Luisant. I need to get rid of this gun.

The Careful Textbook’s Measure

There are many large things to regret in life – enabling my mother’s obsession, not seeking help for my father’s alcoholism, trying to forget my problems while the fire claimed them both will be with me my whole life. But those are the easy things to regret – the things that anyone can regret. It’s the small regrets that fester, the things that are hard to put to words, the things that others will never fully relate to.

Running back home that night – falling into the mists: I regret not having paper, ink, and quill on me.

I think it was the fourth night in the mists – trying to fall asleep in the cold dark forest. I thought it first a dream – an amalgam of gears and springs slowly coalescing, until I woke up – a sudden bolt of inspiration going through my brain like lightning. Instinct had me scrabbling for my journal, but alas, no such luck. I set about trying to draw it in the dirt, scratching it into bark, making a model of it. I found that I eventually had memorized the device fully, down to the last excruciating detail, and satisfied, I moved on.

The next such bolt came maybe two days later, this time for a completely different device. Then another the day after, two the day after that. It wasn’t long before these bouts of inspiration were coming near each bell. Never before was I so single-mindedly obsessed with the mechanical – coming up with systems that could keep time to the second – that could ambulate of their own will – that could transport more people than in Luisant – of nature both benign and malignant.

Each inspiration had a price though – it wasn’t long before I realized I was forgetting things about Luisant – first it was small things like the menu at the tavern or the paths through the forest. Soon it evolved into forgetting bigger things – people’s names, the layout of my own house – by the time I had enough schematics memorized to fill ten tomes, I couldn’t recall the faces of my parents.

And yet the torrent of inspiration continued – I tried to record it as much as possible – I’d imagine that half of the mists is covered with trees showing gearing ratios, of engraving patterns drawn in the dirt, of moldering models depicting frameworks and enclosures. I never felt like I needed it though – my memory was good enough.

Or at least – so I thought. I heard stories growing up that people who spend too long in the mists forget names, places, and experiences, but what I did not know was that the inverse was also true – that your memories of the mist will also begin to fade, that you will recall broad strokes, but never specifics.

As soon as my foot left the mists I could feel the ideas begin to unravel – starting to forget what must have been seasons worth of these ideas. In a panic I sprinted through the snow to Luisant – trying to remember where I could find ink and paper. By the time I recalled the path to my house, I had completely forgotten most details – the gearing ratios, alloy choices, dimensions, and other minutia were gone. By the time I was rounding the final bend I had forgotten most of the major concepts. By the time I made it to the burnt out remains of the building that was once my home I had forgotten everything, leaving me hollow.,

I’ve been digging through the snow and ash covered remains of my home for who cares how long. I’ve managed to find a few remnants – some of my father’s wine stash, some of my mothers tools, the only thing of mine I could find was my calipers. I traded the wine for some paper and ink, but it was far too late. I know I should be mourning the loss of my home – of my parents, but I can’t focus on those things – instead I mourn the loss of the inspiration.

I’m still deciding if I should stay in Luisant or not – maybe the Veneaux have the right of it – going back to the mists to reclaim the inspiration is just as alluring as seeking the truth. I’m not sure what Luisant has for me anymore, I haven’t recognized anyone yet, I have nowhere to live, and I’m not sure if I can contribute in any meaningful way. I’ll see what I can get at the market day tomorrow, maybe I can find some more supplies and advice for wandering the mists, maybe I can find a reason to stay here.