A clock is a piece of machinery used to measure the time. Traditional clocks use gears and weights to turn hands in order to tell someone what time it is. Sometimes these are adjusted for timezones and sometimes a clock seems to gain or lose seconds or more. The reason behind this was simple or at least it was simple to a certain man. It was his belief that the reason that time could not be accurately measured was because nobody had made a clock suitable to do so. Time was relative. Gravity could effect it. A day is not a fixed length of time. However, time clearly happened because otherwise things would not have time to occur in and so everything would stop. A perfect clock would measure the very tick of the universe. That was his goal. To make the perfect clock.
At first he had been a mortal human with a gift for clockwork and magic. Yet as time progressed he realised that his body was not like clockwork. It could not be simply wound back up or have a gear replaced. Eventually his tick would stop and it would not start again. That was why he began the painful process of replacing parts of his body with clockwork. There was very little remaining of his human self except his brain and part of his heart.
His name was Tempus and he was the clockwork man. Yet unlike a clock his motions were not stiff or jerky. No, he had managed to create a body that mimiced humanity in allmost all ways except appearence.
Now he travelled the world searching out ancient secrets and new technologies to try and make his perfect clock. A clock that would one day power his body so that he was no longer susceptible to things like gravity's effect on time. Time was his enemy and yet it was his ally. He wielded it like a sword and shield, but only to defend himself from it.
It was on his travels that he sensed a large amount of what he could only describe as temporal energy. He sensed clockwork and other such things, but something existed there that was different. It was like time, but somehow solid. Could it be the thing he was looking for?
He hurried on heedless of the risk searching for the source.
A bright golden light burned in the distant sky shining from between towering mountains on the horizon casting its rays across the landscape of rivers and barren plains to the natural stone archway that reached out over a sea of clouds ending in a grassy island above it all, illuminated by the setting sun which glittered across crystalline structures of that island. There was no sound to be heard on the approach, waterfalls remained motionless, the clouds never shifted in the way of the sunlight. The sun never set. Rocks and rubble defied gravity, remaining fixed in the air with increasing frequency on an approach towards the island over the arch, the world becoming less natural.
The world was like a painting, trapped in a moment of beauty.
A stage was set here, a lure of sorts, in the manner that a monument would draw travelers. It wasn't something that just anyone would perceive or be interested in, it was a wide net of singular intent, to draw in a wanderer like a star being drawn in by the well of another.
Eris sat in the air at the edge of the island over a jutting spire of Immortal Ice, clear and transparent as glass, the sea of clouds below. Where the clouds were thin or missing the space could be seen below. No water to be seen, but the expanse of space and the array of stars. She lifted her head away from the hole and up towards the sky as the visitor neared. At some point along his travel since the presence Eris exuded was felt, he would have passed through a fold in the fabric of reality that seamlessly carried him through to this isolated landscape.
The vivid red of Eris's hair could be seen from a far distance, standing out from the subdued colors of stone and grass and itself catching in the golden light. There were no other living creatures in the whole of the realm they were in, which accentuated the sense of presence given off from one being to another like two drops of paint on a blank canvas.
Out across from Eris over the cloud sea was a hole in the air, ringed in a thin ring of neon red, through which gears the size of mountains were turning in time with a sea of smaller ones, coming in all shapes and sizes, a whole separate world on the other side of the ring behind the woman who turned around, an ethereal weightlessness to the motion of her hair and the way she floated in the air above the crystal spire below her, similar in appearance to an array of other spires jutting up in the grass plain on the small island. For a brief moment color washed away from her in a wave or a ripple, showing her own body to appear as crystal-like as the spires themselves, before color returned with the passing of the ripple.
The place he had arrived in was strange. Time seemed frozen for everything here and yet he was able to move freely. That was strange. Normally his body stopped functioning properly in areas of slowed or stopped time. He had to use magic in order to keep himself wound as it were. However, here it almost seemed like he was in a place outside time. No, it wasn't that. Things were frozen in time and yet there was a large source of temporal energy here. He was able to channel that temporal energy and continue to move. The question was what exactly was that temporal energy? He focused briefly and his gaze extended allowing him to see the bright red hair of Eris. Could she be the source of the temporal energy? Or was there something else that he wasn't yet aware of
In his hand appeared a sword that was reminiscent of an elaborate hour hand. With a sweep of his hand a tear in the very fabric of space time appeared in front of him. Through that he walked and appeared a lot closer to Eris and his gaze swept up to the sky to see the massive gears. A giant clock? That was far bigger than anything he had seen before or even dreamed of.
The woman herself though she was also impressive. Her body did not quite seem real. It rippled faintly on occasion showing a crystal like beauty akin to the spires below her. He focused once more and small gears began to appear in front of him and he walked upwards heading straight towards this strange woman. A woman who he was gradually becoming more and more convinced was somehow responsible for this place. Even as the clockwork man that stood here he had instincts and when it came to time and temporal energy there were few who had stronger.
"Who are you?" he asked calmly. There was no sign of fear or trepidation in his voice. At most there was a slight sense of awe yet whether it was over her or the giant clockwork mechanism above them was not clear. "What is this place and why have you brought me here?" That he was convinced of. It was her who was responsible for bringing him here one way or another either on purpose or accidentally.
"I was expecting you'd come" Eris spoke plainly as she stepped off from her sitting position that had floated above the spire that they stood on, the crystal extension reaching out over the cloudy abyss below from the island behind the clockwork man. The portal behind Eris stretched wide dominating the view of the scene in that direction, as though splitting the world before them. The red ring that marked the borders caving inwards like a shallow lens, allowing the scene behind to loom above intimidatingly as a clockwork tower behind stretched endlessly into the sky beyond the rift. "From what I can sense about you, or the information provided by those who have seen you in your travel, I suspect you'd be interested in what lies behind me. And myself." Eris added, as color drained from her again leaving her as a crystal statue, a chill wafting through the air, frost forming across the surface of herself and the crystal spires around them. With fissures in time broke through, cracking through the air in thin fractures that branched out like lightning from her hand as more of the crystal substance formed above her palm, flowering out like a snowflake before scattering like a fractal of repeated formations, until she closed her hand and the structure broke apart into diamond dust that itself faded away. "And I, am interested in you."
In the air ahead there was a perhaps disorienting sudden motion in the sky above as the sky suddenly moved for the first time, the clouds speeding across the sky as the sun itself arced overhead away from its dusk and into the dawn before it slowed, showing a reversed sunrise and two moons rose where the sun was previously setting, one full moon surrounded by sparkling objects and two large halves from what must have been a second full sized moon in the past, some of the objects that had broken off of it seemed disturbingly close to the planet they were on, if it was a planet at all, given the apparent hole in the crust they were standing over that opened up to a starry void.
Eris disappeared from where she had stood, flickering away to appear behind the clockwork man in the same moment, facing away from him out towards the moons that now remained frozen in the air where the sun was a moment ago. Her arms were crossed in front of her, one hand lifted up lightly touching her cheek as her hair rustled in a nonexistent breeze before settling. Perhaps he'd sense what had happened, that she had in fact physically walked the space between where she had been and now was, but time did not elapse to betray the movement.
Color shifted back into place across her body for the most part, color returning to her hair, though her skin remained as ice, a deep shimmering red filled her eyes like glittering rubies. "What is it you are searching for? What, do you desire" She asked without turning away from the broken moon until her last notes, her ruby eyes catching the silver light of the moon as they looked back to his, her voice growing somehow more smooth, and inviting.
This woman's power, or perhaps it was just her form, was an even greater embodiment of the power of time than his own. He was a construct that could measure time more intricately than almost any other clock. A construct that mimiced the human life he had once been even if it was truly a poor mimicry though in a way it was far superior. Yet she was not a construct of her own creation or perhaps she was that he couldn't say for certain as he did not know her past. She was a construct, but not one that measured time, but one that embodied time itself. Now that he could observe her true form her body was frozen time renewed second to second. He'd read of such things in stories where time took solid form and legends spoke of a goddess of time or the ancient king Father time. They were legends and whilst he had not written them off he had not believed them entirely nor searched them out specifically. However, now he could be said to be standing before a goddess of time or perhaps just frozen time given life by some goddess. A frozen multi-faceted embodiment of raw temporal energy and one who had heard of him and knew he would be drawn to such a place. A very interesting individual indeed.
As the fractal pattern faded into dust time and space themselves begin to move and where they were was no longer where they had been. Suddenly she was behind him and her movement had seemed instaneous. No time had passed at all. This place had a strange warped time, but more than most he was aware of when time had elapsed. No time had passed here and yet she was behind him. Nobody would of seen her move except perhaps him. Time was his domain and his understanding was great. He too was capable of creating timeless voids though not to this scale.
"All clockwork and all facets of time interest me. They are why I created this body so that I could continue to study it until my goal is reached." he said and suddenly without any time elapsing he was in front of her on another gloating gear. "That is why I journey this world. I seek to understand time in all its cruel majesty and measure it perfectly. Time as humans and most understand it is an illusion. They carve lives in the seconds, minutes, hours, days, months and years. They will continue to do so for aeons or until their own time is taken from them. Yet those measurements of time are false. They are creations of the world and do not accurately describe time. Nobody truly understands it. How could they? They exist for such a short fragement of it. In the age of the universe a human life is nothing!" He paused briefly realising perhaps he was rambling and pressed a finger to his head extending a small drill and tightening what seemed to be nothing. However, immediately his gaze which had become slightly vacant perked up.
"Some say that time itself is an illusion, but without time things could not happen. Atoms could not spin. The universe would not continue. Nothing could exist. Time exists just not in the way it is understood by most." he said and looked at her a flicker of flame in his gaze. "You are an example of this. You are raw temporal energy frozen into a living being by some arcane art. If time could not exist then you could not exist and yet even you are not the truest embodiment of time." His mechanical face broke into a slight smile.
"You ask what I Temporis Aeterni desire oh crystalized embodiment of time?" He pointed at his own chest as he said those words. "I seek to measure the heartbeat of the universe and from it create the perfect clock. A clock from which all other clocks will be set and from which time itself will be defined. Only then will this body wind down. Until then or until that heartbeat stops forever...I will continue my search." That was the purpose he had given himself long ago. A purpose he seeked to fulfill and one day he hopefully would. What drove him so was unclear. Perhaps a kind of madness or perhaps something more. It was not clear at all. What mattered though was that he was doing so.
Eris listened to him speak as though he were confirming what was already anticipated, but it was not a leap of judgement to assume he would be interested in what she had to offer, only the extent and purpose behind it. The portal in the air that dominated the scene to their right was evidence of her intent. With a glacial cracking the spire of Immortal Ice below grew, extending out to puncture through the rift outlined by the red ring forming a bridge to the world beyond, the sound of a crystal wind cim sounding as the spire branched out, widening as it formed into a solid formidable bridge.
Eris's body flickered for an instant, for a brief moment it was as if she were facing two directions at once, one face still facing towards the broken moon and the clockwork man who had moved to hover over the abyss that lay beneath the clouds under the spire, and another face that had turned towards the great Portal at the end of the spire, motion lines still blurred in place as though someone pressed pause in a moment of movement, but Eris was not truly there, in the same flicker she had phased away towards the portal itself, faint echos like blurred after images showing the way towards where the real Eris stood, halfway through the portal looking down and half towards the clockwork man. A smile played at her lips.
"Come witness then, my tower. The observatory that peers through time and pierces space, the instrument that sings in tune to the universe, through which you may learn to uncover time's own secrets." She spoke as she passed through the veil between the two worlds and stood on the other side of the threshold.
On the other side the enormity of the clockwork observatory was felt in full, as big as it appeared from the otherside of the portal stepping through revealed that it was in fact still in the distance, standing in the center of a great pit with many arms that reached out and held the ground. Large machinations rotated around the tower, and while it possessed a number of clocks and dials it's purpose was not to tell time, but to watch it, an observatory. There was so much more room to work with though. If one desired, the many gears and foundations already present here would form a perfect basis for which one might start the work on building some true Perfect clock around the base of the tower, spreading out across the landscape the tower itself was built upon. The tower which almost faded out of sight through atmospheric pressure, but ever so fantly you could notice the base of the tower on the other side... Of the planet.
They had stepped through to Agarthon, the Hollow Planet. The horizon did not dip out of sight, but curved upwards ever so far in the distance to form the inside of a great sphere. A giant burning core illuminated the lands, while a large moonlike counterpart moved around it, the two spinning around each other, the moon casting a wide shadow blocking the day from large swaths of the hollow planet providing a day/night cycle.
Approaching the colossal hole in the crust that the clockwork tower was centered in, the thick crust eventually gave way to a black expanse of stars below, thousands of meters below, the smooth sheer sides of the hole being perfectly carved out with gears and mechanics sticking out from the sides and anchors from the tower forming bridges from the tower to the sides. The tower itself continued to extend out into the void beyond, no doubt similarly extending out from the opposite end above on the other side of the hollow planet.
Eris turned to the clockwork man, "I would offer this and my aid to you, I require only the pact, a binding of loyalty and soul, to ensure my gift remains in the hand of a friend. That you help me in turn when needed, in your own time, in your own ways unless called upon in need" With that Eris turned back to the great tower, and gestured wide with her hand. "And all this may be yours to explore and to study, to expand upon, the lenses that peer through time open to you. The automatons of the tower hinged on your word as they are to mine. A library that rivals the gods." Eris's voice tapered off. She certainly didn't say it was the best library, but it was certainly cosmic. Every book that ever was fit for mortal minds could be found here, even such with great secrets. It had its limits though, it wasn't every book that ever could be for one, just that was, and regrettably did not include more infernal or abyssal tomes the likes of which could be found in another of Eris's libraries.
"But there is no need for haste. We have time to spare." Eris said, looking to the sky that was mid day but now pun to high noon and froze in place, yet the tower still moved, its gears still turning. A red ring opened up to the right of them, showing a giant room with machinery moving in the air above, the room circular in shape and lined with balconies. Artificial creatures of all species moved, some carrying books, others tools, from clockwork foxes to humanoids, shelves were visible everywhere with rows and rows of books, and dozens of doorways leading out from this chamber, a chamber which extended up far above and below "Perhaps you'd want to see it for yourself first, the library within."
There was an immense treasure to be had here, not in gold or silver, but in word and use. But Eris could think of no one more suited to walk these halls than the man before her. Certainly no other mortal, though he had by his own hand made sure he was far more than the mortal he once was. By all accounts it was a one-sided deal on his end, if one wished to be an ally of Eris then in truth they lost nothing in doing so. But what sort of person would he be getting into bed with, what deeds would be done in the future if he went down that path. Would it be worth the wellspring of knowledge, the taste of a dream at hand? His dream would surely come to fruition eventually with the Observatory in hand.
Last edited by Eris on 26th February 2017, 8:08 pm; edited 2 times in total
The tower was, as as an object, perhaps the largest that the clockwork man had ever seen. Or at least the largest object that was not a natural formation. Its size was collosal and almost beyond belief especially when combined with the intricacy and beauty of its design. The area itself had potential and if as she said it sung in harmony with the universe then here would be an ideal place to find out that same universe's heartbeat. What was perhaps strange though made sense was that this device existed on what could only be described as another planet and not one he had been previous aware of. That was why he had not heard or read about such a device before. In truth his journies had been limited entirely to the planet of earthland. He knew there was much more to explore in this vast universe and that despite his body time was limited, but he also knew even the earth had many things to explore before he could consider himself done.
The planet of earthland rotated at a particular speed. Its moon orbited it at a certain pace and it orbited its sun at a certain pace. It was the orbiting of the sun that bothered him the most of these measurements. A year was defined as 365 and a quarter days. However, rather than having it as that every year that quarter was 'saved' until the fourth year and used as an extra full day. It was no wonder that the human perception of time was never truly in sync. If you defined something you couldn't just magically move it. Your year was 365 and a quarter days. That was it. You couldn't move that quarter. Not if it was a true measurement of time.
What was interesting though, besides the illusion of time that humanity saw, was how false it could be. If you altered gravity on the planet, moved it slightly in orbit, altered its mass, changed its structure then the time to orbit the sun, to rotate or even be orbited would change dramatically. It was such things that he had been trying to experiment with, but effecting as large a mass as a planet was rather difficult and required a lot more power than even an ancient being such as himself or maybe even this Eris possessed.
"A promise or a pact cannot be made until every facet of what such an obligation entails is understood. A look at said library and further inspection of the tower to authenticate its verisimilitude is also needed." he said which was him agreeing to seeing the library so he more understood what he would be getting out of this bargain. As the red ring opened to reveal the library itself and the clockwork creatures within a faint smile of sorts came to his clockwork features. Clockwork fascinated him and here were so many creatures. Some were jerkily moving like he had once been whilst others were fluid and rather lifelife perhaps slightly more so than himself. Even that alone could be learning experience. One which could lead to a body more suitable to learn the secrets of the universe.
Still there was one thing that did interest him that he had not expected, but when thought of it was perhaps understood. By looking at Eris he was immediately able to accurately guess her physical measurements and her magical power. The reason he assumed was that she was an embodiment of time and if he could be described as anything then he was an embodiment of the measuring of time. As such his body instinctively measured hers and her measurements were fairly impressive. He wondered if she could merely disguise her body or if she could reshape it and thus these measurements were just the one she had chosen today.
"Two questions ring in my mind like the chime of a bell. Who exactly are you and why would you offer me such wonders?"
The clockwork beings of the library were busy carrying out their structured routines and maintenance of the library, their gears and wheels rotating smoothly with naught but the subtle noise of small motors from some of the wheeled varieities, and the metalic footsteps of those that actually had legs. As Eris floated through the portal, her body becoming intangible around her lower legs with faint trails of black smoke trailing along as she hovered down a wide open-topped hallway lined with bookshelves to either side, a clockwork maiden turned the corner with books in her arms that she placed neatly with smooth elegance of a machine that had done the action a thousand times. Seeing the two, internal calculations and measurements recognizing Eris's presence, she nodded in recognition, a small action that did not reduce her effectiveness or slow down the process. As was their programming. None of the automatrions of the clockwork observatory were truly intelligent so much as exceptionally refined machinery.
It was an easily remedied situation, Eris could easily imbue them with true intelligence, grant them souls. But it was unnecessary. Each clockwork creature had a purpose, each one was comparable to another gear in the great machine, an ecosystem of cogs and copper. Few souls ever saw the observatory, as it was all self sufficient, so it was unnecessary to establish "Service" automatrions that were more sociable. Ages ago in the earliest days of the observatory mortal hands may have once worked the gears and required such things, in the oldest parts of the tower one can find abandoned kitchens and living quarters, but now Eris and the occasional Grim were all that got to explore these walls.
"I assure you that wont be an issue" Eris said. Like when she created the fractal-snowflake of immortal ice she held out her palm again and a glowing rune pulsed into existence, a symbol glowing with primordial strength that superseded the confines of mortal language. A glance of the symbol filled the mind with knowledge and an understanding. There was a time when this was the only 'language' Eris communicated in, but learned fast that there was a use for speaking the native tongue of others. With the rune came the understanding of what was on the table, what would be expected of him, what he could expect of Eris. The binding nature of the pact, a contract that would prevent both parties from going back on their contract. Glancing at the rune assured that all that was spoken was truth. The nature of the tower, the access she would leave in his hands, his ability to come and go, and the authority she would give him over the automatrions of the tower. That he could create additions to the tower if he wished, and make use of all the tower had to offer. That he'd also be considered one of Eris's own, with access to all the other facilities that entails. Passage through the Doors and the Veins that connect the world and many others across space, room in the Temple or Velvet society, ties to an organization that controlled assets within Bosco and among the stars. Access to eternity in the physical afterlife that would await even him even should he lose his humanity entirely, his continuity would never end. Even if it took him eons more to unlock the secrets of time. No soul was required of the afterlife world Eris offered and it would accept even his artificial self.
In return he gained the understanding that he would need to actually act the part, work with others, with Eris, to help when needed, but generally having his own space and room to work with, the freedom to serve how he saw fit and as infrequently as he saw fit unless actively called upon to do so. He'd see how Eris would fight for him in his own times of need just as readily as she'd expect him to, it wasn't a one-way street. He could see how Eris sustained all those who forged a pact with her, a moment of understanding that gave the intuitive mind's eye vision of a sea of souls reaching out and connecting to her, how a part of Eris was with them all like a watchful guardian and through that connection Eris pulled them back from death itself.
The red burning rune flickered and anchored itself in a fixed location relative to the clockwork man's arm above his wrist, not interfering with anything but was there. The rune instilled within him the knowledge that all he had to do was touch a smaller symbol on the top of the rune to accept the pact, and a similar one on the bottom to deny it.
"But there's plenty to see as you please. Not many eyes see the tower let alone what lies within. You could call it home if you wish, you'd always be able to enter and leave it as you wish. Whenever you're here you can will a door to appear that will take you to my Temple of the Undying, from there there are doors leading all over Earthland and back to the Temple, through the temple a door here accessed by few. You could perhaps establish the means to create your own doors to this place so long as you're accepted by the tower" Eris imagined that he'd fond not only of the Observatory itself, but of the machine production. He'd have all the clockwork he could dream of to augment his own body, and to make his own companions and designs. Learn new techniques and experiment at his leisure.
"Names come and go with the centuries, a new world a new face. Some names whispered in the dark, others in fear. Others in reverence. Sanguinoth. Eris. Death." Eris's body inverted on itself with an ethereal shift to face him, black vapors steaming off from her before disappearing, her body glowing subtly red from within that was most prominent in the blood red ruby of her eyes. With the slightest tilt of her head she added "What would you call me, and I you, Clockwork Man?" Names filled her mind, the perception of time and a deep intuition that ran through her that gave her the clairvoyant qualities of a seer gave her any number of options a few standing out more than others, multiple may have been right, but she spoke none. Her eyes shimmered with knowing, as though she already anticipated his answer.
"It is my nature, Tempus, to give. To grant wishes, the desires of the heart. All I ask of others is to serve, in their own time, in their own ways in as much as they are able." A momentary shadow passed behind her eyes, a darkness laying deep. A fire simmering beneath the surface. For a brief moment Tempus was filled with an understanding, as though he had seen a Rune like that which had filled him with knowledge about the pact. I don't want to kill. It was deep, buried under miles of masks of ice, like a small voice that called back to ages past in the dawn of the person before him. Perhaps it was his nature as the embodiment of that which measures time against hers as an embodiment of time itself. To one extent or another, all those who were not connected to her by a pact were to one extent or another enemies who Eris would have to kill some day, if they did not succumb to an end before then. A glimpse of the motivation why, why she tried to get people to accept her. Those marked with the pact were spared that fate, as though something forced her to slay those who were not. Something beyond her control.
Sensing something had occurred, Eris floated away in a smooth fluid motion with the flowing movement of a ghost, her body fading and becoming full again all the way at the end of the hallway, standing a ways away out in the open chamber beyond. She was leaning against a railing that overlooked the massive hole that ran through the center of the tower showing off countless layers, different floors above and below where they now stood. Giant machines and gears whirred in the center of the pit with a multitude of mechanical arms reaching out holding lenses and mirrors in a wide variety of shapes. From the balcony she looked back towards the clockwork man. The vibrant red of her eyes seemed to glow unnaturally even at the distance she had placed between them as though waiting for him to approach and see more of the library and the mechanical workings at the heart of the tower.
"Some call me a harbinger of death, I have brought worlds to heel given time, some worlds resist more than others. Life itself is an illusion, humans cling to their reality despite suffering and loss. Some call me evil, but their perception is limited. Still, I don't reap without first sowing the seeds of their salvation. The pact. Their lambs blood at the door, keeping destruction at bay. I do what I must. I shower them with gifts and grant their wishes, and for what? Even my price is a gift in many ways. Some have little to offer, but others like yourself could be of great benefit, who might help me as I help them."
The power this person possessed far exceeded his own and yet he wondered if that was because it was her actual power or a result of this pact? Could it be that those who agreed to the pact shared some of their power with her to some extent and thus she became more powerful? Perhaps those who took part in the pact also acheived greater strength in some way? Or was it instead just that in this place that was clearly hers that her power was somehow magnified. His own would be if he remained here for he would meld his conciousness somewhat into these clockwork mechanisms and become part of them as they would become part of him. A fearsome power combined with a fearsome knowledge. There was little in the pact that could deter him.
"You embody the power of time. For those who exist within time eventually everything comes to the heel of time. For is it not said that this thing all things devours: Birds, beasts, trees, flowers; Gnaws iron, bites steel; Grinds hard stones to meal; Slays king, ruins town, And beats high mountain down. For that is what time does. It is the greatest gift and the greatest curse. The ultimate giver and the ultimate taker. Perhaps your pact in its way also embodies this. You give much to gain much. You are giver and taker. Time once again embodied though in a metaphysical sense."
The reasoning behind the pact showed something he had not expected. She asked people to accept the pact so they could escape the fate of being killed by her. They would escape, to some extent, the true ravages of time. In a way he had already escaped them more than most, but even his body that was metal, crystal and barely organic at all would succumb to time's knife. To escape such would give him all the eternities possible to discover his answer. To change future eternities. To discover new questions and an endless chance to reinvent himself to solve those answers. For one such as he there could no greater gift and no cost would be to great.
He followed her over to further observe the tower and a true smile game to his clockwork features. A rare sight on one such as he. A rare sight on any clockwork creation to be able to mimic the facial features of a human so well that the smile seemed almost eerily natural.
"Like you I do not wish to kill. I merely wish to learn and the gift your pact offers will give me that. On occasion our hands may be forced to rob people of their remaining time, but it is a necessary sacrifice to acheive greater goals. I do not like to kill, but I have killed. I have slain those who seek to rob others of their time without due reason. I have punished those who waste their short fleeting amounts of time. This I would continue to do, but my main focus would of course be the study of time and any other questions that arise through those studies." he said and without hesitation touched the top part of the rune accepting the pact. "I am yours Lady Eris and you are mine. Time and the measurement of time embodied in two indiviuals. A union of wills such as this was as inevitable as the passing of time itself."
The clockwork observatory hummed with with a rising note, a shift flowing through the clockwork halls and creatures. The moment the rune was touched the glowing mark of a hand sunk deep into his body resonating with his base existence and forming a connection to him and a world far larger through Eris, a piece of her within him that felt like a wave of warmth at first before simmering down into normalcy. The Observatory would feel more alive than before as a faint intuitive sense of the structure rested in the back of his mind. Simply thinking about a place he wanted to know about or visit would bring to him the knowledge he sought as though he already knew it, the locations of important rooms and systems, like a blueprint and schematic. He wouldn't require a guide to get around, it was suddenly on some level homey and welcoming. A bond stretched from him through Eris to touch all the clockwork automatrions they were called that managed the tower, cleaning, organizing, performing maintenance, and many others that operated looking glasses that peered through the Observatory to watch history unfold searching for hidden knowledge of all sorts, writing out their discoveries and copying books from across space and time to add to the library in halls full of humanoid automatrions working as scribes.
He would also be aware of a missing component produced in a far reach of the tower that if added to the clockwork creations would instill within them an artificial cognizance granting them a sense of self and free thought. Something perhaps for him to study, or use to create more intelligent companions to work with, having gained a second only to Eris herself regarding the Clockwork Observatory's use and any upgrades.
It wasn't all that was provided though, Eris had offered herself up for his observation, allowing him to learn more about her own nature and permitting his study of her Immortal Ice, as he now would know it to be called, time made tangible frozen into a solid as one would freeze water. He could ask for his help in any experiment whether to examine her form or to ask for some Immortal Ice. Perhaps it might be an ideal material for his research, as a watchmaker using quartz, or to work hands on directly touching time itself- herself or a product of hers like the fractal she had created before and the spires he had seen.
"If you have been confined to Earthland all this time, you may appreciate other things that are now available to you. To explore new worlds such as the hollow earth this tower is constructed in. Many worlds with their own properties. Different rotations, different mass, different moons, suns, and stars in the skies. New systems worthy of note. The measurements of time differing on them all, being devices contrived by intelligent life to understand not just time but seasons and cycles of the world they live in. Realms without order or form, existing in whole new realities with their own governing laws. And be confident in the knowledge that any life you take will find itself in my care where they'll have all the time in the world and eventually find new purpose."
This world wasn't the only one Eris had ties to, and with the ships she had stationed on the moon under her Bosco front traditional travel throughout nearby systems was also an option. A clockwork fox passed by carrying a book in its mouth, copper feet with small rubber pads making only a soft patter as it passed on with its business, the tower was bustling with activity all around them. She was waiting for his response, what he wanted to do now.
"Earthland is where my research has been confined as you guessed. Further information from other worlds would greatly advance my knowledge of that I am certain." he said calmly his eyes gazing upwards to consider everything that had potentially opened up to him. There was so much that he now had access to. Her words about lives he took caused him to shake his head. "I do not see it as taking life. I merely see it as taking back the time being wasted by individuals. I do not like to do it for time is precious, but I hate to see it being wasted." He watched some of the clockwork creatures that were moving about. They were quite advanced though not as advanced as some of the creations he could create. Then again he considered the amount of them. That was a lot of a potential that he could work with. He couldn't create so many, but he could advance what was already there.
"What perhaps fascinates me or to some might say attracts me to you is your Immortal Ice. I can manipulate temporal energy and the flow of time, but I have never seen it frozen nor can I imagine such a way to do so." he said calmly considering the ice and its potential. The clock one could make from such a clock would likely not lose time as quickly as any other clock. In fact, the temporal properties might even allow it to fix itself. That would very interesting. "With such ice a clock could be made that is more accurate than the traditional quartz ones. I suspect the purity of your Immortal Ice would far exceed even the most carefully cultivated quarts." He looked at his own body and considered it for a while. He had very advanced gears made from such carefully cultivated quartz and some other materials known to only the most skilled clockmakers. "In fact, such gears and parts could even improve this body of mine further and perhaps provide insight just by being part of me. I don't know why, but the idea of us being one in such a way is oddly tantalising."
He wondered if this was what traditional humans would consider lust. It was certainly very interesting as a prospect. There was much that could be done with immortal ice. The pact gave him much and yet took so little. Then again everything he learned she would likely learn as well. A fair trade if it got him closer to his goals. He did not care what it took. However, he would not kill unless his hands were forced or he saw someone wasting their precious time or trying to take time from others.
Eris regarded him cooly as he spoke about what machinations he could work with what she could provide for him, but as she spoke her mind was exploring thoughts that she had been going over for weeks before striking out to secure a method of meeting the anomaly of a man she had been detecting, observing through the many eyes of followers throughout Earthland, and her own capabilities in casting her sight across the horizon. She was not wholly so generous as to provide such access to wonders as she had now given unto Tempus, but she was looking forward towards the future putting plans into motion that may provide a key into unlocking the cosmic chains that bound her. Throughout all of Eris's domain, all her realms and access to the infinities, a master of the innumerable who provided eternity to countless souls, there was a shadow over her existence that wielded her in their interests and to their whims. A conflict that kept her locked and stagnate internally, a fundamental flaw that ran deep through her existence, a hidden war that took root in a distant memory of her earliest days, insignificantly small in the face of the time Eris had persisted as conscious thought.
This man before her had on his own power ascended above humanity through his own hand crafting for himself an existence complementary to her own in his quest for progress. If any there were a more perfect key to unlocking her potential it lay within him, if not now, then in the future. Her tower here was like a cocoon for what it could become, a prototype in her own quest for personal freedom, an observatory it was, but from Eris's prospective it was as a giant key missing its teeth. A sword without a blade. In Tempus's quest for the perfect clock, the tower yet may evolve to bare its fangs and in the process, maybe he'd be able to find the fault lines at her core in time to break the hold that was held over her by beings far beyond the reach of even the immortals and gods of men. The Pact wasn't a child's toy or a token word of promise, it was a binding contract capable of rewriting fundamental aspects of one's existence, pealing apart the layers of ones reality as one would the many pages of a book and taking out, replacing, or adding what the contract demands to provide the means to grant the clauses of both parties. In some small way the contract would make both more agreeable and less inclined to think of opposing it and what they've agreed to. Tempus could no more defy Eris than Eris could physically resist or prevent Tempus from carrying out his work or withdraw permission to enter the Observatory so long as the contract remained in place. And in some small way, because of what Eris had offered in allowing him to observe her own self, the contract would further accentuate his own traits in doing so. Preventing whatever curse was laying inside her from hiding from his observations, even from the nature of his embodiment.
There was no one being to yet exist that had more time robbed of them than the shadow had taken from Eris, and some day they will be repaid in kind.
"You have seen what I have given you here. But you are a part of much more now than what lies within this tower. There are a great many who, like you, have taken the pact. On earthland and beyond, many faces you have seen, many places you have been. Denizens of realms most mortals fear, many hope to be lies." As Eris spoke a multitude of portals opened up in the air around them both like windows or screens showing scenes ranging from scenic landscapes of unknown lands ranging from peaceful landmasses to hellish nightmares, and dozens of scenes showing individuals Tempus would have met in passing on the street or spoken to. Shop keepers, owners of ins, beggars, even children. Within which through the lens of the portals Tempus could feel his own Pact Mark within him glowing with a warmth that could be seen not visually but within his minds eye reacting to a similar mark within the many faces shown through the portals. There was a sense of kinship between them, a familiarity both through having seen them at some point but also a tangible connection as though they were somehow linked through Eris. Allies, all gears in a great machine that spread throughout all the realms Eris had passed by. Some left behind in better states than others, some conquered others pacified, others still remaining in balance like Earthland. The same connection could be felt through the portals showing the nightmares, monsters in the dark, demons surrounded by hellfire, lich-kings on frozen thrones. Realms presumed fiction, the afterlife. There were realms of infinite expanses filled with skeletal remnants lost in a limbo-like existence, though guaranteed to someday find fulfillment in eternal timescale. Others were bustling with life and activity, with cities and people going about their daily lives. Most of which bore the same mark at their cores, living their second lives free of death in the afterlife promised to them by their pacts, along with people who Tempus would be able to guess as being people she had killed, who now "lived" lives that may have been even better than what they were trapped with before. Multiple portals linked forming larger windows into specific locations, a fiery landscape with a volcano in the landscape in the distance showed a temple over a lake of fire surrounded by bones long pressed into the landscape like a rocky terrain across which undead creatures walked as though on patrol, the scene zooming through the walls of the temple to show others talking to one another in meeting halls and at tables over meals or drink provided by chefs. Each were in some stage of undeath where they desired to be, some looking as human as any living man, while others were spectral as ghosts, demonic with horns or red skin, some becoming skeletal clothed in hoods or with bone showing through pale flesh. Some had bone growing over their flesh in new ways. One man with a hole through his chest and a bone jaw over his own. In another part of the temple were similar people talking to beings that appeared to be rooted to the ceiling with many arms that reached out and managed paperwork and sent letters on their way through portals or handed them to the men and women who approached sliding them along through an opening in glass walls over desks. An office, run by undead abominations. The utmost in efficiency, issuing what appeared to be missions.
Through the other portals were scenes in other places showing lands managed and run by this group of people, Grims, under the name given by rumors as Grim Heresy that had been accepted with amusement. One of the portals showed a domed city wherein a space shuttle was launched by what could only be described as a giant cannon-platform through a hole in the dome and a second hole in the overarching dome that encased the nation of Bosco, the scene changing to show a station on the moon. Another showed a lively establishment with loud music and lights and the entertainment of large crowds who did not bare the mark, but was bared by the staff.
"Many doors are open to you, should you choose to use them. Many who you can call ally, places of respite and service. No door is closed, you could still branch out and associate with others who would not call us allies. We are considered a Dark Guild in Earthland, but they know only the tip of the ice berg. Using their terminology however, we do not care if they are Legal or Dark. Any may be welcomed to the fold, A wish is a powerful thing, and so long as we aren't in immediate opposition they can still be converted in time. But what of yourself, Tempus. What can you do for me, for them." She said, referencing the many faces that had been seen through the portals, the souls baring the same mark as he now did. "How will you choose to serve I wonder. The extent is up to your desire, you need not do what you do not wish to do. You need not harm a soul, though on occasion you may be tasked to defend or subdue. But know that life exists beyond those mortal shells, as I have shown you. What which you take with flower again in my care, if deserving. Some may find their fates... unpleasant, based on their life choices." Eris paused as a gate slowly opened, not like the small windows before, revealing a vast flat expanse of white through which a single creature could be seen distorting the space around it as it moved like a tangle of wires and polygons.
"Perhaps you'd like to show me what you can do." She said, a smooth gesture ushering him towards the gate. The creature on the other side was a spacetime anomaly that Eris had confined in an artificial layer of reality after weeks of combat and attempts at pulling it through her own rifts through dimensions. It had been drawn to her in the past, but she'd defeated it long ago. The anomaly she referred to as the True Doppelganger would adapt and mimic every skill, technique, or ability that Tempus would show and use them freely on its own. It could not be slain or destroyed and would continue relentlessly, but it would be unable to truly leave the dimension it was trapped in even if it mirrored effects that seemed like it did. Tempus could go all out, and it would do the same. But even if it did beat him Tempus would be safe himself. The white realm around them would change to suit the fantasy, taking any form imagined as a backdrop for their conflict. Cities, people, barren landscapes or flourishing jungles. But the True Doppelganger will also be capable of altering the landscape, to put Tempus in precarious situations. Though it couldn't be used to make attacks, such as imagining a volcano beneath someone's feat, it could change the scene to provide bystanders or cliffs with jagged rocks and crashing waves.
What faced him was at first formless, but soon it began to take shape forming into a replica of him physically. However, to one such as Tempus who was well versed in time he could sense it as an anomaly. It was a strange being and one which he felt would be a good experience to fight. "Let's see what you can do." he said as a thin rapier appeared in his hand and he blurred forward for a jab. The clock hand like sword was parried by a replica sword from the anomaly and it struck out towards him. However, it hit nothing for Tempus was back where he was before he'd charged forward in his thrust. He'd reversed his own time to return him to his original position which in truth wasn't that far away, but it was far enough that he could do his next movement. He assumed a pose and thrust forward again lunging with high speed to pierce his opponent. However, it leaped upwards and over him swinging round and going for the back of his head. A gear formed blocking the blow and he turned rapidly with a sweeping slash the clockwork rapier being replaced with a clockwork sabre more suited for the slash. He sheared off the arm of the creature, but as it landed it manipulated it own time to reverse the damage. The sabre appeared in its other hand so it was now duel wielding.
"So you are able to wield my weapons and reverse time as I do. I wonder what other abilities of mine you can mimic." he flicked the sabre into the air and then through a second sword that was thicker after it along with the rapier. The three weapons glowed brightly and dropped into his hand as a double bladed spear. As soon as it did the anomaly did the same. Power was flowing freel through both of them. Raw temporal power. Slowly the air began to warp and distort forming a mist. This was not a mist of water vapor or the mist of burning wood. No this was the mist of time. As it flowed over things it became harder to establish the then from the now and the future. Time was not fixed. it was ever flowing and ever changing. He lunged forward spinning the double bladed spear rapidly until the last moment where it snapped together into a new formation, a sword again, and he sliced across it, but a gear blocked his path slowing the blow a fraction and allowing the anomaly to dodge.
Tempus tilted his head slightly and his eyes flickered. "So you can move even when I stop time on you. The temporal energy within you matches my own." he said and then focused briefly. "Time does not flow here at all or the time that does will not affect the outside world. A never ending temporal loop. Fighting myself would normally be a waste of time, but here...time cannot be wasted. So let's kick it up a gear."
His body began to glow brightly and the bronze like colouration began to change forming a silvery metallic colouration. "Second gear." with that he burst forward at high speed launching slashes far faster than what he had done before.
"Third gear." the anomaly replied and its gears changed to those of quartz. Not the highest quality quartz, but still more advancaed than the silver. Its speed increased to beyond what Tempus was capable of in his silver second gear form. In fact it was to such a level that Tempus almost seemed to be standing still. It as all he could do to defend. This was not using temporal energy in the same way as Eris had done in the time frozen area before. No, this was raw speed from a near perfect clockwork body. Despite the fact he seemed incapable of retaliation Tempus was smiling faintly.
It was a few moments later when suddenly the opponent's movements slowed signifcantly for a brief second and Tempus launched a powerful palm strike that blasted the creature backwards into a cage made of gears. "You can do what I can do and know what I know. Skipping a gear is bad. The clockwork can't quite handle it and so after a brief burst of the higher speed it slows to even lower than first gear. Its a pain, but that's reality."