The Clockwork Sea

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A Bit of Worldbuilding

On the first of the month of medicine, the fourth in the year, the monthly edition of The Empire’s Hand manifested on the floor mats and mailboxes of every subscribing patriot. It was a crisp black and white print written in brow rising prose and splattered with questionable photography. There were scenes of red-hatted protesters in the narrowing streets of Jing Mon Ceros, officials vying for the empress’s favor by the crystal palace, and, most striking of all, an in action piece of Venezio Trimbly about ready to murder a chitik boy. The caption described it as proof of the Trimbly’s villainy in Kura, yet most found it odd as to how that particular picture was captured to begin with.

Every turn knew photographs took an awful lot to conjure what with the need of time-light manipulation, something that took ages to prepare by written magic, even longer through clock engines. ‘In-actions’ were matters of coincidence, a lucky shot or a perfectly timed encounter. It was easy to become a skeptic and even easier to draw the conclusions. It was an obvious fake! A photo-realistic drawing. The work of sensationalists not journalists. But the fear that lone picture brought was real. Not one objected to that. Fear or the thought of it remained the truest feeling The Empire’s Hand proliferated. The readers lapped it up, morbidly curious as to how it would all end. ‘You could be next’ as one title read.

There were other stories that most the usual patrons skimmed through or tossed aside before reading. Slave riots in the Hungering City, horoscopes based on Hour worship, a tournament on the Seventh Sea and a whole slew of inventions penned by mechano-biologists.

The last pages were read even less than the side stories. Ship and job advertisements made it up, with an entire page dedicated to the Navy, half another for the army. And at last, a single line was scribbled right before the final margin where the date was inscribed.

Most would have missed it, but for those who read on religiously it was a reward in the form of a promise.

On next month’s edition: Interview with the Mad Tinker.

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