The Aresan Clan is published four times a week (Tue, Wed, Fri, Sun). You can see what's been written so far collected here. All posts will be posted under the Aresan Clan label. For summaries of the events so far, visit here. See my previous serial Vampire Wares collected here.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Aresan Clan pt 86

Dylan-Nantes was so frustrated by the overwhelming stench that he shouted, “Stop smelling!” at the father’s body and kicked it, but this did nothing but unleash a cloud of flies that swarmed on the body. Flies were everywhere, buzzing in swarms and infesting the air. The father was mostly naked lying on the floor, and Dylan-Nantes undressed himself, tossing the clothes of the farmer, which he had borrowed, onto the naked body and again upsetting a great cloud of flies.

It had been such a modest home: only two rooms to this cottage, with a single oven to heat the whole place and a large bed, which all five of them shared. When Dylan-Nantes had first encountered them, the parents had appeared worn down by their labors and the children in ill health. It was not a killing for pleasure, more something done out of duty, out of necessity. The bodies had been left where they’d fallen: the father first near the front door, just after he’d opened it for Dylan-Nantes; the wife next at the other end of the house where she’d fled; the three children last in their bed cowering in fear, the oldest son huddling over his two sisters to protect them. There were knife wounds on their torsos and blood had been spattered everywhere when they had been stabbed, leaving patterns of red drops dried upon the walls.

Dylan-Nantes carried the turquoise necklace that he’d taken from the teenage girl of the knight before and put it around his neck. Then he found his own outfit where he’d left it in the bedroom. The outfit unmistakably identified him as a member of one of the Itinerant tribes, but he supremely preferred it to all others: a loose outfit of animal furs and leather, free in movement and protective.

After he was changed he carefully stepped over the bodies, back through the house and left the place for good.

Noone stood on the roof of the cloisters with Eloh, where a great, stone gnomon, almost twice as tall as Noone herself cast a shadow. The sundial, of which the gnomon was a part, indicated that the day was nearly at the halfway point between midnight and midday, the so-called, “night point,” when day would transition into night. It was at this night point when dinner would be served at the Cloisters and Noone watched the sundial to assure herself they would make it to dinner on time. Eloh was filling up their water clock, which consisted of a large stone bowl, perforated by several regular lines of holes. The water clock would leak through these holes at a regular and consistent speed, which allowed them to track the time during the hours when there was no sunlight by which the sundial could operate.

“Somewhere out there, in the mind of some inventor, presumably not yet born or long ago deceased, is the idea for an ideal timepiece,” Noone said as she watched Eloh performing the strenuous labor of lifting and pouring the water into bowl, “The water clock is cumbersome, it has to be regularly filled and has to be kept clean, else the holes shrink and it looses accuracy. The sundial is perfectly accurate and easy to maintain, but it only works when the sun is up. A moondial wouldn’t work, since the moon doesn’t have the same cycle as the sun, and isn’t even always up at night. None of these are ideal. Our ancestors apparently used vibrating crystals.”

“Vibrating crystals?” Eloh asked incredulously as he heaved another bucketful of water into the water clock, “Where would one find such a things? How would it work?”

“They had mechanical device that would count the number of vibrations and that’d tell them how much time has passed.”

“I don’t know whether to find such fabulous technology wondrous or ridiculous. But if it’s less work than these, then I’m for it.”

“They also had miniature books. Now that is something wondrous. They could write a whole book on a piece of paper as small as the tip of your pinky finger,” Noone said, holding up her pinky for illustration.

“How did they write so small?” Eloh asked, still more incredulous.

“The way they did everything: with machines. These were done with tiny machines that could write at that scale.”

“But how would you tell the machine what to write?” Eloh asked.

“Well, you’d have a small, mechanical homunculus with an ear and a mouth, and you’d tell it what to write. And then it would whisper into the ear of an even smaller homunculus, and then that homunculus would whisper it into the ear of a third, extremely tiny homunculus that would write out the letters on the tiny piece of paper. And there you have it. Simply enough in principle.”

<-- Go to Part 85         Go to Part 87 -->

You can see what's been written so far collected here.

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