Sparrow shambled through the forest, the sounds of animals quiet as he stomped on by. His sense of smell was heavily reduced, but he could still get the aroma of sap and leaves. He hurt, every step an exercise in agony. And the lord forsaken ticking. It was constant. In his head, in his chest, in his arms, legs, and tails. In many portions of his body, flesh and blood were replaced with brass and oil. Metal fused to scale. He was an abomination. He could still remember what life was like before, before all this. The cruel smile of a small Trapwing, a dark cave with many clocks, and then so much pain.
The Mad Tinkerer didn’t believe in anesthesia, so every lopped-off limb, every ripped-out organ, Sparrow got to feel the entirety of it, sometimes blacking out, which was a mercy and a half whenever it happened. He shouldn’t be alive, but the not-heart in his chest kept him alive, moving. It powered every single of ‘upgrades’ that the Mad Tinkerer did to him. He shuffled forward another step, ignoring the hot fire that flared up when he did so. Birds flew overhead, used to his presence, used to his constant circling, away from everyone else, alone in these woods. A small lizard casually runs around and over his claws.
Sparrow stood still, the constant ticking in his head getting louder. The ticking never stopped, only slowing and speeding up. He wanted it to stop. He wanted silence for once. But it was futile, he was cursed to be like this. He picked up a small rock and threw it at a tree. The tree had a chunk blasted out, and the rock was now dust. His own strength was much greater than before, thanks to the ‘augmentations’ the Tinkerer added.
The only thing that kept him going was faith. An event that happened before his change, something he didn’t pay much mind to at the time. Now it was his everything. The one that humans knew as God. It wasn’t his God, and instead the humans, but he had no one else. So he prayed.
Perhaps it was in his mind, but whenever he prayed, he felt better. Not extremely so, but agony became only pain. The ticked was more manageable. It was part of the reason he continued to pray every day. He wasn’t sure how to, only having one vaguely remembered sermon to go off by, but he did remember that there wasn’t a wrong way to do it. As long as you had faith, it was okay. And Sparrow had nothing else, except faith. Perhaps it was all lies he told himself to feel better, but even so, there were lies he was fine telling himself.
Sometimes he wondered if the human God would accept him, a dragon, and let him into heaven when he died. He wasn’t sure what heaven was, but it was told as a very good place, and that hell, was a very bad place. Could hell be worse than his current existence? He wasn’t sure. Another thing he knew was important, was his inner self. God supposedly didn’t care about your appearance, as long as your inner self was good. Sparrow winced as his tail flared up, gritting his teeth. He hated the cold kiss of metal that would rest against his tongue.
What would constitute as good? Don’t kill, harm or steal? Those seemed like good guidelines. But what about lying, or cheating. Greed and gluttony? However, thinking on it, those all seemed like bad things. Sparrow also reminded himself that good was not the absence of evil. He had to go out and do good things, no matter how minor. But he dare not leave this forest. It was his sanctuary, where others did not tread. He was familiar with its many routes, and the creatures that lived here.
Sparrow used to speak out loud, but every day it was like more and more razor blades climbing up his throat, with only vengeance in mind. He now only had his thoughts. And the ticking. He centered himself, taking a deep breath, not thinking about how much it hurt. One day, it will go better. One day, he’ll die and go to heaven and have no more pain. It was his last hope, the only thing keeping him moving
And keep moving he will do, always marching on. Sparrow had nothing else to do. While movement hurt, but it was better than standing still. He let himself finish a prayer, and continued moving, his mind growing quiet, moving autopilot. It was his 837th time around this path. Despite literal parts of clocks, he had no sense of time, not anymore. The ground beneath him, a mix of grass and forest debris, was depressed into the ground, his constant circulation enough for him to carve his own path through the forest.
It was on his 838th time that he heard something that made his not-heart stir. It was a cry for help, distant yet close. He wasn’t sure how he heard it, but for the first time in a long while, he deviated from his path. And he shambled, wincing slightly with every step, towards that plea. It was time to do a good thing.