The Clockwork Sea

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Three Days into the Future

“That’s… that’s also a god!” Tig blurted.

The dome vanished and their surroundings sped by in blinding fashion. He saw nights and days flicker as it were a lamp, leaves rush absurdly fast and shadows alternate like the blades of a fan. It was over in seconds.

“Three days,” said Red with a raised brow.

“T-t-three days?!” The changes in light matched. The way he felt displaced and yet present struck him deeply, as if he had gone stale while the world remained fresh.

The creature who had cast the spell was just as stale. They would be anomalies together, but that creature more so. His red and lanky form, those robes that slung on him loosely, and his downwards facing ears seemed just apart from the world as Tig in Jing Mon Ceros.

“Were you expected somewhere?” asked Red ahead of him.

Tig fell into a panic as he realised he was. He ran his mechanical hand through his hair and clutched at his scalp. He considered the worst possible scenario.

“They’re dead,” he said. “I’ve killed them. They’re dead and y-y-you!”

Red raised his other brow.

“I have to find them. Now,” said Tig. “Do you have any means to track four people?”

“Are you… not aware of what I just told you?”

“Yes yes, a god, but they’re in danger.”

“Danger?” puffed Red. “You underestimate my master.”

“I mean the others.”

“You said four did you not?”

Tig blinked and held out his fingers. After a seconds count, he flung his hand down and scowled, “Not the point. I need to save them.”

“Ah that is your issue. While my master trusts you, I do not and so we arrived at a compromise.”

“What compromise? That? I’m three days into the future. I’ve only lost.”

“I’d say you gained far more than you’ve lost. Insight,” he answered before Tig could ask. “What you know is worth a hundred thousand days. You only lost three. Be happy, be ecstatic, for what you do from this second and the next will redefine the very air you breathe, the soil you callously tread.”

“I don’t understand,” said Tig.

Red smiled and grinned and snapped his fingers. His skin flickered as he began to vanish.

“You’ll will, Tiguak Trimbly,” he said as his form became the priest’s. “You will…”

Tig rushed to the changing. “No!” he yipped when he got there. He clutched the new figure by the shoulders and fell low.

“Visitor?” spoke the priest. “Can I help you?”

Tig kept his form sunk low. Red had damned him fully. Three days meant everything. There was a high chance that another Trimbly was in the city. Another Trimbly and a god.

He had brushed off Red’s revelation, but he could not deny what the strange creature had said. Somehow it made sense. The Professor was the First. The First was he. All the facts and teachings on the weakest of the Hours, the First, came rushing to the forefront of his thoughts. It made sense. The god of Serendipity. Of Luck, both bad and good. The god no one worshipped.

If the Professor had to be any of the hours, the First was the most plausible.

“Um Visitor, I’m not sure what transpired between when we met and you clung to me, but did you write that in the dirt?”

Tig glanced over his shoulder and let go immediately. There, written in imperial cogspeak, was a message etched on the dirt where he had stood.

Find him at the highest clock ship dock of the city.

“But why?” he asked no one.

The priests patted himself on the head, “I take it I was used as a medium?”

Tig nodded, turning back “Does it happen often?”

The Priest had been bothered by his surroundings, “No but it is what I trained for. My body is a mold for a higher purpose and I accept that.”

One of Tig’s black brows twitched. He could not even begin to explore the faults in the priest’s mindset. The creature that had manifested using his body was capable of physical contact. He could even stop time. He could even murder. Had he killed a turn, who would know? How would justice ever be served? Worse, who would be at fault? The priest that let it happen or turn who carried the act under his holy robes?

“I’d be careful about who you let manifest through your body,” warned Tig.

The priest cocked his head, “Was the one you saw not an acquaintance of yours?”

“No…” edged Tig as he struggled for an answer, “but he was an acquaintance of a friend of mine, a friend I must find now.”

He left to the Priest’s knowing nod. The piled up leaves to his side gave him pause. He imagined the priest served as the groundskeeper as well.

“Do many visit this place?” he asked before leaving.

“Hardly,” answered the priest with a smile. “The Rabbit is the least worshipped of the great beasts. His followers are scarce here.”

“I see.” The least worshipped Hour and Beast. Tig found some sort of pleasure knowing that. If he had truly traveled not knowing a god was by his side, then felt a little less foolish knowing him to be a lesser god.

“Though we’ve had a lot of visitors as of late,” added the Priest. “Important Visitors.”

Tig grunted without looking back. The gates passed and he took the first of many steps down the hill before he heard the priest run after him.

“Visitor!” he cried, making the boy turn. “This friend of yours...” he said at the top of the stairs. “Cherish him. There are those devote their lives to be in your position.”

Tig breathed hard. To think then he had nearly abandoned the turn and on multiple occasions. This time would be different.

He took a step then another and another until he was well on his way through the tumbling steps. He yelled back as he ran.

“You have my word!”

He felt the winds brush past him and heard the rustle of leaves that followed. He turned at the end of the steps where the leaves had blown up the hill, cascading the shrine in yellows and reds. Autumn had come in the three days he would never know. And when the leaves settled down he saw the entrance to the shrine where the priest once stood. This time would be different, he thought again.

He took a long and heavy breath. The cold air filled his un-living lungs and he faced the city proper once again.

This time would be different.

Yellow eyes traced the backs of both figures as one figure fled down the stairs and the other shuffled back into the shrine.

They had not noticed him where he hid behind the trees closest to the shrine. The man with a silver face smiled and the yellows of his eyes glistened brightly.

He was right to have taken an interest in the boy back in Kura. But for a reason he had not initially imagined. He had acquired a truth not meant for him. Why was it that the youngest Trimbly knew the foremost medium in all of Jing Mon Ceros?

The journalist fetched his notebook from his coat pocket. He had fully intended to meet the Medium for his own purposes, but once he got there he saw a strange and otherworldly orb surrounding a red bestial creature he had never seen before and a boy he very much had.

Out of fear perhaps, or genuine curiosity, he waited outside. He bided his time. He was glad he did. For now he had a reason to question the man he would soon employ and then wrench a story that would procure him his vaunted truth.

“Another string cut,” he declared to a flick of a page. “By Terret Tale.”

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