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The square room that interlocked the room with the root wall was… - The Book of the Gear [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
gearworld

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[Dec. 25th, 2005|01:11 am]
gearworld
The square room that interlocked the room with the root wall was empty. On the far wall, another door opened into a very small nexus, perhaps four feet on a side. A corridor ran off in each direction, two unremarkable hallways of the common sort to the left and right, and forward, a circular pipe-mouth, tall enough for Heinrich to walk, and just wide enough for Mirabelle.
The pipe looked fairly intriguing, I admit, and I was just about to suggest that we head in that direction, when Heinrich put up a hand in a gesture for silence.

I cocked my head and listened. Mirabelle chose that moment to make a grumbling in her nose and shift her feet, but after a few seconds, I heard it too—a very faint clinking, the sound of metal on metal, or possibly stone. It was coming from the lefthand hallway.

We proceeded cautiously down the hall, Heinrich in the lead. It might be nothing, another suspended-object-on-a-chain clinking as it swayed perhaps. Still, with the steamjacks and all, we were more than a little jumpy at the moment.

Perhaps fifteen feet down the corridor, there was a wooden door. The planks were thick oak, with an inset barred window, and there was a heavy iron bar and heavier iron lock blocking it. On our side.

We considered this.

The clinking noise came again, from inside the room. Heinrich peered through the bars.
“Dark,” he rumbled, which provoked a flurry of agitated clinking from inside.
I was standing on the tips of my hooves (and this is harder than it sounds) to look through the door myself, when Heinrich shoved his muzzle forward so far it nearly jammed between the bars. He blinked into the dark several times, eyes narrowing, and then pulled back.

“Somebody in there,” he said. (Clink, clink.)

I couldn’t see much of anything. It was very dark. A high square window cast faded light down, with an almost yellowish tint, but this illuminated only a small patch of wall and cast a faint, brittle rim of light over flagstones and what looked like straw. It made all the shadows so dark by contrast that I couldn’t make out what Heinrich was seeing.

Generally when someone has put a lock on a door to keep something IN, there is a damn good reason. And I think that if there had been another polite note from the Monks of Perdition warning us that the being inside would eat our spleens and dance in our entrails, we would have let it alone. But there was no such note, and we had a perfectly good crowbar just going to waste, and so it took about three careful minutes and one very reckless one and we had the door open.

The inside was dark and dry and cool, and there was indeed ancient straw across the floor. The room was quite small, a circular construction of mortared stone that resembled an old well or cistern. It was at least thirty feet tall, possibly taller. The small, square window was perhaps twenty feet up, and did not illuminate anything that might be a ceiling.

We stepped inside, and the clinking went mad, a rattling of metal dragging on stone.

The light was so bad that at first I thought the thing crawling across the floor was a snake, or something’s tail. It was not until Heinrich set a foot down on it, and the clinking stopped abruptly, that I realized it was a chain.

I followed the line of the chain, and finally, in the indirect brightness of the door, saw the flat green glitter of animal eyes. They were set above the ground far enough that I had a brief, unpleasant vision of lions or tigers or bears less civilized than Heinrich. But the face was wrong, and the body underneath looked slender and huddled in the straw.

Eventually our eyes adjusted. The eyes belonged to something sadder, and much less threatening, than either of us had guessed.

It was a fox-faced youth, maybe sixteen. By fox-faced I mean he had the head of a grey fox, with huge, shaking ears and a narrow, angular muzzle. The rest was humanoid, mostly. Naked, ribs protruding, skinny arms clutching head. I have seen more flesh on mummies. No tail.

He was also apparently terrified or in shock, and nothing Heinrich or I could say achieved anything. We made soothing gestures, we tried every language the two of us knew, we sent Heinrich out of the room completely, and nothing. We offered him food, which he ignored. He stank with the rank ranginess of a fox, and we could not tell if he had been in there for a day or a year or a lifetime.

The chain ran to a shackle on his left wrist. The clinking when he moved had been the sound we heard.

After about thirty minutes of one-sided communication attempts, Heinrich did the only thing left to do. He reached down, grabbed the chain—the foxboy cringed—set the crowbar in one link, and made a quick twist. The chain parted. Heinrich dropped the free end at the foxboy’s feet, turned, and walked out of the room.

We moved Mirabelle back down the hall about ten feet and waited.

I was starting to worry that it was going to be the frozen deer all over again, when there was another flurry of clinking, and the foxboy poked his muzzle around the edge of the door. He looked at us both, still with those flat, emotionless green eyes, and paused. Fear? Gratitude? I don’t know. Then he tore off down the hall, running hunched over. The shackle and the two or three remaining links swung and clanked as he moved.

He turned a corner, and was gone.

The small room held only one more thing of interest. By feel only, I found scratches on the wall. They were even, regular marks under my fingers—four parallel lines, and a cross bar. Hatch marks. Counting marks.

I ran my hand along the walls, finding more marks, and more, until I lost count. They ran as high as my head, clear down to the floor, and along the walls as far as I ran my fingers. It was too dark to get any clear estimate of their numbers, but hundreds at least. Perhaps thousands.

What they might signify—days and weeks and years in the dark—could hardly be believed. There was no food, no waste, nothing in the cell at all. Someone had put the foxboy in there for a reason--probably. Maybe not. Maybe the cell had simply come into existence with its prisoner, fully formed. How could you tell?

Perhaps we’d done a good deed. Perhaps we’d set loose a monster. Likely we’d never know one way or the other.

We went on.
linkReply

Comments:
[User Picture]From: padparadscha
2005-12-25 05:48 am (UTC)
Gearworld is back! *Dances gleefully*

I'm going to have to go back and look it over. But for now, I'm just happy to have more Gearworld.
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[User Picture]From: jehannamama
2005-12-25 06:43 am (UTC)
Yay! A giftie for Festivas!
Happy Happy to us all!
And have a merry whatever you do!
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: puckling
2005-12-25 07:42 am (UTC)
Yay! Gearworld.
On the other hand, some times this place freaks me out liek whoa.
We stepped inside, and the clinking went mad, a rattling of metal dragging on stone.
This line was really quite frightening.
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[User Picture]From: sorceressakemi
2005-12-25 08:00 am (UTC)
Oh, that's eerie. Especially the marks on the wall.
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[User Picture]From: roguecows
2005-12-25 08:01 am (UTC)
I played Myst IV right before I read this, and I was struck by how much Gearworld reminds me of Myst. Not so much the plot, but the whole exploration and "I wonder what's going to happen around this corner" feeling.
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[User Picture]From: amethyst42
2005-12-25 04:07 pm (UTC)

Agreed

I feel like I'm playing MYST or Doom... I want to know what's around the bend, but I'm also terrified!
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[User Picture]From: wolflahti
2005-12-25 04:16 pm (UTC)

Re: Agreed

Myst or Doom

Now there's a juxtaposition I would not have predicted.
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[User Picture]From: whitefantom
2005-12-27 03:56 pm (UTC)
I hadn't actually thought about it before, but you're right, it *is* rather Myst-like. Especially because everything feels so solitary and abandoned. In the Myst games, you as the player are pretty much the only living thing moving around a still, abandoned landscape that *used* to be populated but isn't any longer. You wander alone, exploring, trying to piece together just what happened to cause what you're seeing. It's sort of a cross between archeology, crime scene investigation, and an eery, surrealistic dream.

--Jennifer
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From: jachra
2006-01-03 05:57 am (UTC)
Least until V, although even then you spend most of the game alone.
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[User Picture]From: iisaw
2005-12-25 09:02 am (UTC)
What a nice Xmas present! Thankee veree!
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[User Picture]From: nishatalitha
2005-12-25 09:25 am (UTC)
Yay! Gearworld! And more happening that isn't (or can't be) fully explained, which is half the fun.
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[User Picture]From: trede
2005-12-25 11:52 am (UTC)
Ooh, GW. *happy :}*
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[User Picture]From: rev_ursa
2005-12-25 12:43 pm (UTC)
It's the best Christmass present yet!
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[User Picture]From: cmorris
2005-12-25 02:12 pm (UTC)
yay! welcome back.
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[User Picture]From: tarliman
2005-12-25 03:04 pm (UTC)
Moral ambiguity on the parts of both our heroes and whoever or whatever put the foxboy in the cell. Uncertain results. No explanation forthcoming, now or in the foreseeable future.

Gearworld is back, and there was much rejoicing. ("Hooray!")
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: valkyrwench
2005-12-25 03:09 pm (UTC)
Yay! More Gearworld. I've missed it.
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[User Picture]From: fatfred
2005-12-25 04:18 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
And Love and Luck to You and Yours!
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[User Picture]From: oni_neko
2005-12-25 05:01 pm (UTC)
yay! it's back! thank you. I missed it.
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[User Picture]From: void_wings
2005-12-25 05:23 pm (UTC)
Poor foxboy. I hope he's safe outside the walls! Seems so potentially cute.
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[User Picture]From: sofish_sasha
2005-12-26 12:00 am (UTC)
Definitely cute (if a bit stinky) in my imagination!
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From: (Anonymous)
2005-12-30 03:12 am (UTC)
yes, cute fox boy, hope we see him again, hope he helpes the heros.
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(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]From: c2t2
2005-12-26 12:09 am (UTC)
*Joins the general cheering* YAY! Totally worth the wait.
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[User Picture]From: aliahonegger
2005-12-26 12:26 am (UTC)
Reminds me oddly of the small black dog from Black Dogs, only less friendly. And odd anubis depiction perhaps? Churned out by whatever forces for whatever reason by the thing that is Gearworld... Hmm..

Great writing, a real sense of suspense here, with the clinking making it that much creepier.... XD
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[User Picture]From: cjtremlett
2005-12-26 02:36 am (UTC)
Oh, thank you!

I got my calendar yesterday, and this today!
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[User Picture]From: reyfox
2005-12-26 06:36 am (UTC)
OMG teh furry fanservice lolololol
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From: (Anonymous)
2005-12-27 01:36 am (UTC)
It's not furry if it doesn't have a tail, damnit.
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From: jachra
2006-01-03 05:57 am (UTC)
It's got fur!
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From: (Anonymous)
2005-12-26 11:52 pm (UTC)

foxy la... err... boy.

Uh-oh... Maybe, Gearworld, being this place that summons things from everywhere to form an absurd bricolage, occasionally summons things from our world too. Can anyone check up on Peter Gabriel? (If all you find is a simple red dress, that may well mean trouble for all of us.)

http://www.genesis-music.com/Archivephase2c.htm

http://www.rockdiscography.com/list/prog/genesis2.html
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: ladythief42
2005-12-27 04:16 am (UTC)

O.O

We stepped inside, and the clinking went mad, a rattling of metal dragging on stone.

I swear to God, the first time I read that, I thought it said the CEILING went mad. Normally, I would have automatically realized I had read it wrong. But this is the Gearworld.

Yay for it being back!
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[User Picture]From: lunar_music
2005-12-27 05:18 am (UTC)
Oh, wonderful! Wonderful! I was starting to wonder if Eland had fallen down a deep hole or something.

Oh, and -
“Somebody in there,” he said.

Heinrich said three words in a row!
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From: (Anonymous)
2005-12-27 06:54 am (UTC)

A visit to Gearworld

I'd been waiting for the Gearworld blog to start again before posting this. I got a chance to visit Gearworld a few weeks ago. Well, maybe not *the* Gearworld, but something very close. I got a personal tour of the steam tunnels under Cal Tech, at about 2am. They're full of pipes, dripping water, dim lighting, indeterminate machinery, odd graffiti scrawled all over the pipes and walls. It really was amazingly close. If I get a chance to go back, I'll tie a small gear on a piece of string and leave it hanging somewhere.

Thanks for posting again Librarian Vo.

-jr
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[User Picture]From: siege
2005-12-27 11:33 am (UTC)

Re: A visit to Gearworld

And perhaps if you've the chance, you could etch some witty phrase on the gear....
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[User Picture]From: lucid_seraph
2005-12-27 08:31 pm (UTC)
It's been so very long since I've had my recomneded daily dose of Gear. Mmm. Gears.
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[User Picture]From: ash1977law
2005-12-28 02:24 pm (UTC)
Mmm gears indeed!
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From: (Anonymous)
2005-12-30 12:25 pm (UTC)
mmm... gear :)

-The Savage Hamster
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From: (Anonymous)
2006-01-02 06:45 pm (UTC)

Surrealism

The whole thing is certainly very strange. Nothing good ever comes of setting loose what is locked up in places like gearworld, but on the other hand the fox-boy seems harmless, if strange. The image of the thousands of tally marks is very disturbing indeed, whatever that thing was it is probably very old and maybe quite powerful. I suppose we will just have to wait and see. Of course, knowing gearworld it was an isolated event and we'll never hear of it again. DAMN Ursula's good.
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From: mousewolfapple
2006-01-08 02:38 pm (UTC)
Woah. I've read this from the start, and its only just oddured to me to COMMENT DAMMIT! I like fox-boy. Maybe we'll see more of him in the future?
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