Journal Entry 7: The Artificer
Two days later, I went back into the tunnels beneath the tower; this time in a different direction, seeking, Ellis the artificer.
The tools of wizards are born in the dreams of craftsmen. Life on Limbo would not exist without heat exchange from our world’s fading core, water pumped from underground streams and the machines maintaining spells that conjure food from dead soil. The artificer leads an army of apprentices, charged with the continuing function of our tower and the lands around it.
But this is not why I was sent to her workshop.
The heat in this chamber made the air thick. Broken gears and wheels line the walls, many rusted into their frames. I saw a large muscular man carrying crates; he was stripped to the waist, his bare chest and bald head gleaming through the haze.
I ignored him and pressed on. She lurked at the back of the room, head bowed, crouched over a stone table. Bright sparks illuminate her work, strong arms hammering armour back into shape.
She glanced up and frowned at me as I walked towards her. She might have been pretty once, beautiful even, but the scars, burns and callouses of her craft had tempered her. A thick mop of short lank hair covered only one side of her head, the puckered skin of the other was a barren field. “Why does Abraxia send her minion here?” she asked.
I stopped. The question might provoke another acolyte, but I understood it for what it was. “The mistress asks when the armour will be ready.” I said.
Ellis grunted. “Lord Talien outstayed his welcome already?”
I shrugged. “I am only given the message.”
Ellis laughed. “Of course! And what would you gain from sharing an opinion with me?” She moved away from the table and towards me. “You see the state of Talien’s gift to me. His foolishness will take much work to rectify. My apprentices cannot repair damage to mana filters and inductors; they cannot rebuild power analysers and restore portal seals.”
“Yet I find you working on dents in a breastplate?”
Ellis smile disappear and she snorted. “You and your gifted peers require my people stir the fading heat of the core so you can play with your gifts. The sooner you master the magic, the sooner you can leave.”
“There will always be wizards. You need us.”
“Perhaps, perhaps not,” Ellis wiped sweat from her brow. “If you learn anything here, know it is unwise to cross those who you may one day rely on. Accept your place and your time. Those who exceed their position, always face consequences. Lord Talien’s armour will be restored three days from now. No more, no less.”
“Mistress Abraxia will be pleased.”
“Yes she will, but I hear the realms will not. It is said our dented friend is quite the brigand. The rents in his backplate tell me he has few friends.”
I remembered the look Sallis had given Talien as I’d helped him from the table. The artificer was still staring at me with a hungry expression, still hoping for some morsel to add to her gossip. I gathered myself and swallowed an indelicate reply. “I’m sure a wizard knows how to protect themselves,” I said.
Ellis’ smile returned. “Not always, or from everything,” she said and turned away.
by Allen Stroud