The longest winter
The Clockwork Curse
As told by the last Gnome left ‘alive’ in the monastery of the Tinker’s Oath
There once was a rather unusual gnome monk called Tufty, who had the strange (and heretical) idea that machines possessed souls. Needless to say, this idea did not go down too well with his teachers at the monastery, and he was exiled. What his teachers didn’t know, however, was that some of the other young gnomes had heard his ideas about machines having souls, and decided that there must be some truth in his words to elicit such treatment from the brothers.
These gnomes took it upon themselves to find the truth in his words. Whereas Tufty took this to mean he should try to communicate with machines in order to prove his truth, the young gnomes left behind took a different view: They would try to change themselves into mechanical beings in order to bring about communion with the machines at their own level. To this end, they set about creating marvellous clockwork limbs and organs that they would replace their own body parts for. Sadly, their early experiments were less that satisfactory: They could find no way for their bodies to power the mechanical limbs that they had attempted to graft to their flesh, and the organs were no better. Amputees and severely injured gnomes littered the dorms of the monastery, and the teachers grew worried about the level of self mutilation they were seeing.
One young gnome, who now had a crude hook in place of the beautiful hand he had created to replace his flesh, had a moment of inspiration. He reasoned that in order for the metal to live in harmony with flesh, it had to come from a living thing. Knowing both of such things as metal golems, and of beings from other planes of existence whose flesh was made of metal, he set about finding a suitable donor creature from which he would forge his hand anew.
Luckily for him, one such creature was wandering around lost in an area pretty close to the monastery. Disoriented and weak, it was easy for the gnomes to capture it, and bring it back under cover of the night to their secret laboratory for study, and dissection. It’s metal flesh yielded easily enough to the gnome artificer’s arts, and new body parts were created to attach to their own flesh. These new living metal limbs proved capable of integration with the gnomes own flesh, and they exulted.
Too late, the teachers realised the scale of this new heresy, and they soon found themselves overpowered by young gnomes wielding strange metal limbs with incredible strength. Thrown into a makeshift prison, they could only watch with horror as the young gnomes made themselves more and more metal body parts, and bragged to the teachers that soon they too would join their flesh to metal. As the scale of their conversion increased, the young gnomes began to think of the limitations of flesh, and instead of merely recreating their limbs in metal, they began to make different forms for themselves. Soon, many of them no longer even looked like humanoid creatures, so changed had they become in their metal bodies.
Yet still, one thing eluded them: They had yet to achieve any form of communion with machines. So they began to build and create their own servitors to command; Clockwork hounds, hulking golems that were slaved to their will, and flying sphere shaped eyes that they could send out to search for more machines. A great tower rose up in the middle of the monastery; a temple of some sort, dedicated to the one who led them to their understanding of machines: The Tower of Tufty. Black smoke pouring constantly from it’s vented walls covered the monastery in choking smog, and many of the living things died. The remaining teachers in their prison watched as slowly their number began to dwindle, as more and more of them were taken away into the tower, never to be seen again. Inhuman cries drifted out from the tower, unsettling in their intensity. The sound of a being in immense pain.