[First half is an excerpt from Fractured Mountains Chapter 5.]
The Commander led his legion of clockwork minions into the Dark Under. They entered just south of The Fount of The Gods. The tunnel lead to a dwarven citadel, that was destroyed and overrun. When the clockwork army arrived at the citadel The Commander walked to a group of dwarves to confer with them.
“So, what are you planning to do with these strange clockwork things?” The lead dwarf stepped forward.
“They are going to help us take back your kingdom from the Dark Under. I told you I had an army.” The Commander motioned towards the tens of thousands of three foot tall clockwork foot soldiers. “They may be small, but there are more than enough of them to take care of dark creatures. We also have a large reinforcement pool that will send in more every day after we begin fighting. Don’t worry, we will rid the realm of the Dark Under scourge.”
One of the dwarves spoke up. “I think we should just take back a few cities to start. We don’t want to cause a mass exodus of creatures. They’ll wreak havoc on our surface dwelling brethren.”
The lead dwarf turned back to the speaker. “That sounds like a small price to pay brother.” He turned back to The Commander. “We shall bring the rest of our clan as promised. What I don’t understand is what exactly you are getting out of this deal. We seem to be getting the best out of this, and most other gods seem to ask much out of a deal.”
“I did tell you that I’m keeping any metal that I find in the tunnels…other than structural metal. I don’t want the tunnels collapsing on my clockwork automatons…or your men.” The Commander turned his back on the dwarves. “Also, I will be getting one hundredth of the metal you mine as tribute. Surely you knew about that.”
“That I did, but it will take us a while to get mining again.” The Commander didn’t seem to respond to this so the dwarf turned back to his men. “Yordut, you’re our fastest scout. Go tell the army that The Commander is commencing attack.”
One of the dwarves pushed out from the group and started moving against the flow of the clockwork soldiers. He quickly disappeared from view.
[End excerpt from Fractured Mountains Chapter 5.]
– – –
The Commander, Amir walked at the head of his clockwork army. One of the smaller automatons was holding a torch for him as they traveled forward.
“So, some of the priests at my temples claim that you small ones can talk to them.” Amir glanced at the small and delicate machine. “I’d like to know if that’s true, or if they’re crazy.” Amir saw a group of gaseous tendrils in the shadows ahead. “Hold that thought.”
Amir ran forward and pulled a long, thin sword from his back. As he swung at the gaseous tendrils he thought back to when he got the sword. Kemp, The Warrior, had asked…no demanded the sword at the prince’s side. Back when Amir was a prince. As the blade sliced through his enemies he turned his mind back to the battle at hand.
Several automatons, including the one bearing his torch, ran forward and attacked the tendrils that Amir couldn’t reach yet. The small automaton took a large hit and Amir moved to protect it.
When the dust settled from the battle the little clockwork soldier was heavily damaged. It turned its head to look at The Commander. My prince. I am grateful for this eternal life, but can my next chassis be sent to a temple?
Amir stared at the automaton. Unsure if he had heard its voice in his head or if he was imagining it. “By The Wanderer. Either I’ve gone mad, or you can speak. All these hundreds of years and you never said anything. If you can request a temple assignment from me in your next chassis I will honor the request.”
Amir looked again at the damaged automaton. Usually, he would just leave it to die slowly, but now he knew that they were sentient. “I hope we meet again.” He drove his blade into the head of the automaton and the movement went out of it. He turned to face the other clockwork soldiers around him. “Don’t let your brothers suffer. If they cannot be repaired send them to their next body.”
Most people in Nevre thought that The Commander’s army was infinite. This was not quite true. If an automaton fell it’s soul sought out another chassis of the same or similar type. The Commander had some of his clockwork soldiers working in a smithy instead of on the battlefield. They continually made new soldier bodies that waited for activation.
The automaton that Amir had just send along to the next body found itself in a new chassis. This one seemed to be made specifically for working in a temple. It rejoiced and walked off to an automaton that directed temple models. He was ready for his new, peaceful life.