The Gravity Escapement (TWS)

The Gravity Escapement (TWS)
The Gravity Escapement (TWS)
July 20th, 1890

You're fairly shaking when you see the great man himself, standing tall at the top of the Grand Staircase. As people pass by him on the great marble stairs, each gives a little tip of the hat, or a measured rise of a rosette. And why wouldn't they? This is Daniel McCloud, famed inventor and engineer, a legend before his time - and he's right there! Also waiting for you, if his troubled brow is any indication.

It's only with the slightest of trepidation that you stick out a shaking hand: "Hello, it's nice to meet you, sir. My name -"

"Your name's not important." What? He turns towards you. His face is lined but proud, lending him age he doesn't need: he looks forty, but you know from your calligraphed factsheet that thirty-one has only just passed him by. Elegant brass toolkits, full of sprockets and gears, jangle when he moves. "You're the writer I asked for?"

Okay. Okay. You rally. "I'm an author, actually, sir. I wrote the book on the Huygens royal court-"

"I don't care." Oh. "What I asked for was someone, fit of mind and of constitution, a talented writer and an adventurous sort. I don't need bookish shut-ins who spend their nights 'transcribing proofs'."

"I was capten of my university crocket team," you begin, with only a hint of resentment showing, "and the assistant capten of curling. Sir."

He seems to pick up on it. "Ah, that is good news. Perhaps you'll do, then."


McCloud's desk is surprisingly messy, as is his office. Partially-disassembled mechanisms litter the cluttered bookshelves, their cogs and gears strewn about their casings; his spindly hand reaches under the corpse of a automaton and pulls out a crumpled sheaf of papers.

"Fill this out, please. No - don't be mistaken, I still don't care. Just a formality for the bureaucrats."

Place of Birth:
Religious Affiliation:
Have you, in the past or present, been affiliated knowingly or unknowingly with members of the Renegade Nations?

I testify that by signing below, I guarantee that I have spoken true, in the eyes of gods and men, in the name of Source Gloriana and the Empire of Momentum.


conversus in aeternam

As you're filling those out, he sweeps a couple of sprockets from a plush leather chair and seats himself. "Now, you must have questions for me, so that you can start our story together." Idly, his nimble fingers clean a set of gold-rimmed loupes, stabbing at the lenses with a gentle-fibered cloth. "You must have heard so much rumour from the newsheets... about the Gravity Escapement. Yes?"

He looks through the lenses at you.

"Well? What have you heard?"

RE: The Gravity Escapement (TWS)
Name: Rachel Crocia
Gender: Female
Occupation: Author - certified
Citizenship: Federation of Southern Islands
Place of Birth: Raystation, Cleavemont, FSI
Religious Affiliation: Ray-springs Timekeepers
Have you, in the past or present, been affiliated knowingly or unknowingly with members of the Renegade Nations?
By birth and familial contact - Immigration date: December 16th, 1870

I testify that by signing below, I guarantee that I have spoken true, in the eyes of gods and men, in the name of Source Gloriana and the Empire of Momentum.

x #00BFFF

conversus in aeternam
RE: The Gravity Escapement (TWS)
Toss a barely-legible scrawl across the document, then toss it aside as carelessly as you're able without disturbing anything.

"If tabloids had any scrap of veracity, I'd be of unsound mind to seek you out."
RE: The Gravity Escapement (TWS)
Name: Vitrous Hsobel
Gender: Male
Occupation: Author, as you already know
Citizenship: Looking over this, more than half of these questions are illegal to ask in a job interview, so I decline to answer.
Place of Birth: Decline to answer.
Religious Affiliation: Dichotomy Paradox
Have you, in the past or present, been affiliated knowingly or unknowingly with members of the Renegade Nations?
Decline to answer.

I testify that by signing below, I guarantee that I have spoken true, in the eyes of gods and men, in the name of Source Gloriana and the Empire of Momentum.


conversus in aeternam
~◕ w◕~
RE: The Gravity Escapement (TWS)
You busy yourself with the paperwork in order to buy some time to think about the question. Truth be told, you haven't actually heard any rumours of the sort, even as an author who keeps her ears open. But you can hardly admit that, can you?

"If tabloids had any scrap of veracity, I'd be of unsound mind to seek you out."

He nods. "Very wise. Your generation needs skeptics." Fishing in a desk drawer, he pulls out and hands you an exceptionally fine pencil: the graphite is beautifully pure, the wooden casing delicately carved. "Here. One of Herr Schrader's new inventions; he calls it a 'mechanical pencil'. It pushes out the graphite as you need it."

You spend a few moments examining the mechanical pencil. At one end a rubber tip, when pushed, releases a spring-loaded catch that forces the thick graphite core outwards. A boon to any aspiring transcription artist. "It's quite a piece of work, sir."

He responds by gesturing at the papers, and by pouring himself a glass of whiskey from a crystal decanter.

You have a glance at the paperwork, then begrudgingly begin to fill it out with the mechanical pencil. As you read, however, you can't suppress a slight curl to your thin lips. Most of the questions are irrelevant and needlessly esoteric, and some, you notice, are downright illegal to ask. You make sure to scrawl and to make your answers as illegible as possible, but some items still end up readable:

Quote:Name: Rachel Hsobel
Gender: Female
Occupation: A barely-legible squiggle that might be 'Author' and might be 'Secretary'
Citizenship: Federation of Southern Islands
Place of Birth: R-, C-, FSI
Religious Affiliation: [You fill in several candidates, then scratch them out into an densely-penciled squiggle.]
You do your best to treat the rest of the paper like a doodle pad.
Have you, in the past or present, been affiliated knowingly or unknowingly with members of the Renegade Nations? You actually think about this one. You were born in the Federation of Southern Islands, but it was still part of the Empire in those days; your family emigrated twenty years ago to Verobraccia, when you were just a wee stripling. But that still technically makes you affiliated with a Renegade, by birth and by familial contact. You scrawl something to that effect, and throw in a few patriotic missives about the rightness of Imperial rule, just to make sure the tichmen don't come for you in the night.

I testify that by signing below, I guarantee that I have spoken true, in the eyes of gods and men, in the name of Source Gloriana and the Empire of Momentum.

x R. Hsobel

conversus in aeternam

McCloud stares at you wordlessly throughout, though when you sneak a glance at him he wears a slight smirk at your antics. At least he approves.

Finally, you shove the papers at him, and he slips them into a prepared manila folder with a light schwip. It already has your name calligraphed on it.

"Five minutes and ten seconds. You write quickly. That's the first good news for today."

You almost see your cue coming too late. "I-I was placed first in my district for transcription skills, sir. I could have written quicker, and better, if... well..." You falter.

"I mislike dealing with the bureaucrats here with Gloriana, but a necessary evil they are now and a necessary evil they will be. Only the best should work directly with the Source, after all. Ah, but I've wandered onto a tangent. Let us get back to the subject at hand: what have you heard about the Gravity Escapement?"

You shake your head somberly. "To tell you the truth, sir, I've heard nothing at all."

He leans back in his chair and smiles. For a moment you think he's mocking you, but his grin widens into something gleeful and child-like, and he begins to laugh. "Good! Very good! If we've managed to keep our little secret from one like you, who swims in the world of information to live, then we've done well indeed."

Oh, he's good. He knows he's got you hooked now. "What would this secret be?"

Still grinning, he reaches into a pocket on his many-such-pocketed vest and pulls out a golden key. "Now remember that you are sworn to secrecy," he begins, patting the manila envelope, "until our story is finished, at least."

"Yes, sir."

A particular book is brought down from the shelf behind his head, and placed in a particular spot on the desk; a turn of the key in an innocuous knothole in one drawer leads to a whirring of gears from... inside the book?

"Do you understand the concept of the inexplicable? I'm of the argument that no one can, that all we can understand of this world is that of the explicable realm. Inexplicable things cannot exist, or are a product of mechanical trickery, or an illusion of the mind." A final half-turn of the key leads to a unlocking click from the book, and his pale hands pick it up carefully, ever so tentatively. "Nevertheless... here is something inexplicable."

He opens the book to reveal a hollow inside; his fingers reach in, pulling out a single metal part - a strangely-shaped pendulum, sheared away roughly at the shaft. He holds it up for a second at arm's length, positioning it to catch the light, and lets go.

It doesn't fall.
RE: The Gravity Escapement (TWS)
Touch it, make sure there aren't any wires or tricks you can't see
~◕ w◕~
RE: The Gravity Escapement (TWS)
Start writing!

"How does it work?"
"Can it support more than it's own weight?"
"How did you make it?"
"Do you have more?"
RE: The Gravity Escapement (TWS)
Eat it
RE: The Gravity Escapement (TWS)
>Pull out some antiquated interjection, like "Gadzooks!" or "Lord have mercy."

>Also, make sure to ask if this utilizes some hidden electromagnets or something, maybe glancing around for the evidence. Magnets can probably do this.
RE: The Gravity Escapement (TWS)
McCloud gestures for you to come closer. The pendulum holds itself in the air, turning slowly in defiance of gravity. You wave an experimental hand above it, and then below; there are no wires that you can see. For a moment you fumble in your jacket, producing a small magnet on a string. You give McCloud an enquiring look, and he nods; the magnet rings dully as you swing it against the strange blue-silver metal, but it does not stick. Finally, you give it a poke with your index finger, to which the metal seems to tingle your skin. It's oddly neither warm nor cold, and the markings carved on it appear to turn and twist whenever you avert your eyes.

"Fascinating, isn't it?" His already pale lips are going white, you notice, as he stares at the impossible object.

"How did you make it, sir?" The lips grow whiter. "Did you make it, sir?"

One corner of those lips twitches upwards. "Very astute. No, this mystery I found in the chronochasms below Source Gloriana. I was investigating the recent earthquakes; I found this instead."

You're scribbling all of this down when one word catches your ear. "Earthquakes?"

"As you understand we are under the utmost secrecy. The Source is the wellspring of the Empire's power and it would not do for the Renegades to hear of trouble with Gloriana." He sighs. "But yes, earthquakes. As of late minor shakings have rocked our fair isle, a disturbing trend, to say the least."

You nod, and turn your gaze back to the space oddity. It hangs there, floating in the most peculiar way, as if mocking gravity. "Do you think the two occurrences, that they might be," you spit out the unthinkable, "that one may have caused the other?"

His answer is immediate. "Presumption. As I have said, we are still investigating; this is but one of the things I discovered in the chronochasm - though it is by far the strangest." The slender hands wave in dismissal.

"All right." You frown at your notes. Something still doesn't add up - "But surely you haven't called me here just to observe the inexplicable. What is it you want? A, a newsheet article? A discovery license? A drafted research paper?"

"Hah!" His laugh comes out in a bark. "I have the skills to do each of those myself. This oddity," he gestures at it, "is a symbol of the journey you've joined me on, the story you're going to write. And in a decade, when the world clamours for the story of our triumph, this is the story you'll give them!" His eyes are shining bright at this proclamation.

"Our triumph, sir?"

He leans in close, and his voice becomes conspiratorial, dropping to a near-whisper. "I am positive that in the chronochasms below the surface, more of these oddities can be found. If we can gather enough of them, we may be able to reassemble the mechanism, which I believe to be a device for cancelling out that strange Newtonian force, gravity." He smiles wickedly, as if enjoying a private joke. "Thus the name of the project, the Gravity Escapement. A good joke, yes?"

"Very droll, sir."

"I already have several of the parts in my possession; I believe only one more expedition into the depths of Gloriana will reveal her most deeply-guarded treasures. This was where I began to realise my own capacities for recording, while useful for those with scientific and engineering training, were far outstripped by the story I was telling! So now you have your answer; that is why I have brought you here, to record the facts of the matter as we stand here, on the brink of a revolution in the mechanical sciences!" He has grown entirely too animated, considering his face is still an inch from yours and he has moved from the conspiratorial whisper to full-on shouting. He probably sees it in the set of your features, and returns to a more appropriate distance.

"And now you know the story at hand, so far. Now, if you feel that this matter is all but a load of poppycock, excuse my language, I will extend to you this courtesy - provided you remain silent," he reaches over and pats the manila envelope again - "you need not accompany me on this expedition. It very well may be dangerous, and we shall be journeying to depths no man - not even I - have plumbed before. You can walk away now a free woman, unbeholden to this story and its consequences."

You are suddenly very aware of the sound his shoes make on the rich velveteen carpeting.

"However." He takes his seat behind the messy desk again. "If you walk with me into the chronochasm, into Source Gloriana, then you are bound to this. We will see this through the end, together, and I will give you a story unlike any other in this meagre world. It will be hazardous, yes indeed, but it will also be a unique adventure of a magnitude humanity has not seen the likes of yet. I will not give you this offer again, though if I have learned enough of you, you will not need it."

The pendulum continues its stately swing.
RE: The Gravity Escapement (TWS)
>Gaze into the pendulum.

>Visually scour its silver body.

>Agape your mouth in wonder.


>Break out of it and reply a thoughtful "Yes."
RE: The Gravity Escapement (TWS)
Is this guy trying to intimidate you?

You are an author! You've dreamed fantasies more frightful than this discovery.

RE: The Gravity Escapement (TWS)
There really wasn't any question about this one. You shake hands with McCloud, looking firmly into his eyes, as if to say: "I am an author. I've dreamed fantasies more frightful than anything you can dream up under Gloriana." He smiles warmly back, the first time one has seemed genuine on his face. But something haunted in his eyes seems out of place...

You agree to meet again the following day, to plan and provision the expedition. It will by no means be an easy task, though he assures you much of the initial work is already in place, and the planning is mostly for your benefit. You nod - it's fairly boilerplate procedure as expedition goes, as far as your own limited experience tells you, anyway.

You steal another glance at the pendulum as he packs it back into its secret book. The carvings seem to call to you in a frighteningly familiar way. You've seen them before, you're fairly sure of it, in an old book or something. The memory floats hazily and tantalizingly out of reach.


The chill wind is surprisingly biting as you step from the gigantic Hall. A quick glance at your pocket thermometer shows an anomalous temperature of 9º centigrade; unusual for the Pole Isle. You've read treatises about the Elysian Field, a phenomenon extending from Gloriana that ensures perfect autumn weather... but today it seems to have the day off; a light rain peppers the road down into town, churning the frigid air into a windchill-flavored mess.

"Ach, it's right awful today. The Glass Gear's been on the fritz, as they say." You look around for the voice, and hear the sound of a pipe sparking up. The glow pierces out from the shadow under one of the giant ionic columns, where an engineer-looking type puffs the tobacco to life before replacing the pouch in one pocket of his canvas coat.

"Rachel Hsobel." You stick out a hand and walk over to the column; he offers you a smoke but you shake your head. It's not your thing.

"Lleu, m'lass. Lleu Edwards. I keep the spinnen world spinnen, if you catch my drift." He shakes your hand. "We don't see many of your like about here, do we? Authors. Bigheads up in there like to write their own work."

You nod. "I'm here at the behest of Daniel McCloud, to handle some matters."

"Ach, the Gravity Escapement?" He quips with a wry grin.

He must have seen your face freeze, because he bursts out laughing heartily. "Don't you worry, lass! I'm your technical boy for the expedition. Strange times, eh?"

"Strange times indeed. Do you know what's happened to the weather?"

"Mmm." He becomes introspective. "Glass Gear's probably gone and shat itself again."

"The Glass Gear?"

Nod. "Aye, right up high on the mainshaft. We think it's responsible for the Elysian Field, turns the air or focuses the sunlight or somethen of the suchlike. It stops turnen or gets dirty, we get weather like we're meant to have here up in Sinterklaas' workshop, hah."

You shiver. "Hopefully it gets fixed soon."

"Easy fix." He waves nonchalantly, then something occurs to him. "You aren't tryen to go to town, are you, lass? You won't be able to walk."

"I managed when I walked here. It's not that far..." You put an experimental hand out to catch the rain, and pull it back quickly: the droplets are freezing cold. "This came on so suddenly."

"Where did you grow up, lass? Down south?"


He winces. "Ach."

"With my family it was walking or nothing."

The two of you stare into the rain for a bit. Then finally, he speaks up.

"Worked your way up from nothen, eh, lass?"

You shrug. "Could still say I'm a nothing. A few books, nothing brilliant."

"You sell yourself short, lass. You made it all the way from down there to up here, I'd say that's a sign of some damn hard work, excuse my language." He reaches into another pocket and pulls out a watch - beautifully machined, but honestly at this point it almost seems ordinary. "Hmm... should be wound by now..." he mutters.

"Your autocar?"

"Aye. Latest Karin model, fresh from the factory. I did a little design work for the Karins last year, helped put together their machinen line. Mass production is the future, I told 'em. And now look where they are!" He pauses and considers something for a moment. "Would you care for a ride into town, lass?"

You look out at the falling rain.

RE: The Gravity Escapement (TWS)
>Might as well get to know the team before you really get to work, so yes.
RE: The Gravity Escapement (TWS)
Hem and haw a bit, making sure it's REALLY not an imposition before you accept
~◕ w◕~
RE: The Gravity Escapement (TWS)
RE: The Gravity Escapement (TWS)
The autocar trundles down the well-paved lane, purring as the motivators under the hood wind out compressed potential energy into forward momentum. You eye the fine leather interior as the road goes by.

"Are you sure I'm not imposing on you?" Stained mahogany edging, velvet plush, shined brass fittings. It's one of the finest vehicles you've ever seen, much less ridden in. You feel profoundly dingy and out of place.

"Not at all, m'lass." Lleu doesn't seem to care so much. "The way I see it, right soon we'll be down under Gloriana herself. Now I'm a man of faith, and swear upon the Name I wouldn't want to be down there alone. Better to know your fellows and who you can count on."

"Why not, Lleu?"

"Strange place, the chronochasm. Nothen stays still there. Just turnen, turnen, all the time..." His grip on the steering wheel tightens. "Drives a man to distraction, if he can't turn his mind from it. Best to be knowen your fellows," he says again.

"Sounds... interesting." The short road widens as you go around a hill, and Port Huygens comes into view. "Makes you wonder why we bother, really."

"Ach. I suppose a 'braccian lass like yourself has earned that a little bit." He turns the corner, and the wheels slip a little on the wet concrete.

"Careful there."

"Mmm. I'll have to have a word with Tommy down at the gravel mill." He smiles. "Autocars, free of the grid, one in every home. They're the future, lass, they're the future. I'm not a young man myself and I can see that."

"So you say," you say, for want of an actual response.

"Now there's a lad at the machine shop, Henry, keeps banging on about his quadricycle. Thinks he can build a autocar that runs on alcohol, can you imagine?"

"Alcohol? Really?"

"Aye. I told him, alcohol's for burnen not for turnen. Then he started goen on about how that was the point, and... ah, anyway, chemical energy. What a laugh."

"Do you have his name?" You pull out the mechanical pencil. "He sounds as if he would make for a good interview."

"One moment, lass." He navigates the autocar over a particularly slippery patch in the road, and pulls neatly to a stop in the town square. You look around with a start.

"I hadn't realized we were here already. And the rain's stopped, too."

"It's not far, no. Small isle, fast car." He pats the dashboard lovingly. "So you should be able to find the lad down by the machine works, on the east side. Just start talken about economies of scale or somethen loudly enough, they'll know who you're looken for. Oh, and look at this."

He pulls a switch on the dashboard, and the door on your side swings open automatically. "Clever, eh? I had Jimmy Karin fit that bit in." Pause. "It does seem a little rude, now I've actually seen it done... but that's the price of progress."

"Very impressive, Lleu. Thanks for the ride into town." You hoist your satchel onto your shoulder.

"Ah, lass! You might also want to go and be buyen some expedition gear, provisions and the like."

"McCloud and I are doing that tomorrow."

"McCloud," he takes a breath, "is a shutpurse penny-pinchen miser's miser and won't buy anythen but the dregs. If you want to be buyen quality, you'll take my advice and get some now."

You nod. "Thanks, Lleu. I'll see you tomorrow, then."

"Any time, lass."


Port Huygens is a bustling town, not a metropolis. Very few - only the most skilled and talented - are allowed permanent residence on the Pole Isle, the rest being relegated to an ever-rotating roster of service staff and visitors like yourself. It's only because of McCloud's dispensation that you're allowed a hotel room at all. But despite its small population, the quiet affluence and regular military patrols clearly mark this town as the metaphorical and literal centre of the Empire, capitals notwithstanding. The roads are recently- and well-paved; the architecture isn't new but entering that age where one gracefully grows majestic over time; the people are prosperous, intelligent and happy. Truly the mark of a model modern Imperial city.

Unlike, of course, the slums where you grew up, where Gloriana wouldn't so much as pass wind to turn a windmill, as she pleases.

You chase the bitter and familiar line of thought from your mind; you've a job to do. There's the town library on the other side of the square - that half-remembered book memory is really nagging at you - and a general goods store down Main Street.

Oh damn, is that the rain starting up again?

Is that snow?!
RE: The Gravity Escapement (TWS)
Yup. That or ash.

Lets check out the library first - see what scraps you can pick up.
RE: The Gravity Escapement (TWS)
It...might be?

Let's head to the general store to scope out supplies for our CHRONO-CHASM SPELUNKING
~◕ w◕~
RE: The Gravity Escapement (TWS)
Bugger this, head to the hotel where it's warm and dry. Get your current accoutrements in order, get a nip of something bracing in you, and ask the front desk if they've any recommendations for chasmgoers and their kit.
RE: The Gravity Escapement (TWS)
You draw your jacket tighter around you as the snow falls, and shiver - not just from the sudden cold. For a moment you mistook the snow for ash.

People around have stopped to look up at the snow as well. Quite a few are making the sign of the Name; others are just sighing and pulling out dusty snow shovels from shop closets. One store proprietor - a shoemaker, at a glance - even shakes a cobweb from his shovel handle.

"Excuse me, sir?" You accost him as he steps out onto the shop porch. "Is the weather normally like this?"

He stares angrily up into the falling snowflakes. "Sorry, miss. Normally I'd say no, but we live in interesting times." He waves the neglected shovel ineffectually. "You aren't from around here? You should probably run back to your hotel and wait it out, then. The Tremont?"

It takes you a second to realize he's asking about your hotel. "Yes, Tremont House, down Cross Street."

"My brother Eugene works at reception there. Eugene Levy. Could I ask a favour?"


"If you see him, could you tell him David said hello, and that Dr. Hollerith's boots are ready?"

You nod, dislodging the collecting snowflakes on the fuzzy shoulders of your coat. "I'd better go."

"Stay safe." He waves you goodbye. As you walk down the sidewalk, it occurs to you that Port Huygens is, for all its importance in the Empire, still a small country town - friendly enough that a shoemaker would ask a stranger to pass a message on to his brother at a hotel down the road, important enough for a comforting prosperity to flow to the hard workers as well as the accountants and the aristocrats.

The snow is starting to fall harder, though you can see the occasional sunbeam pierce through the grey clouds. You shiver again. It must be so warm in those sunbeams. But it's not far to Tremont House, and your coat and scarf keep most of the cold out. It's your ears that hurt the most, whenever a snowflake falls on them or a chill wind brings the temperature down, and you find yourself praying (to no one in particular; as you've covered, religion is not your strong suit) for this journey to end.



The lobby seems like heaven after the inclement weather outside; the marble floors are heated and two porters stand by, taking coats and handing out hot towels. You unfold one gingerly - it's almost too hot to hold - and press it onto your face, trying to force the warmth back into your features. For a moment it clings to you like a kiss, then falls away, spent. Tired of hurting from the cold, your ears switch tacks and begin to hurt from the warmth instead. Ow.

It appears you're not the only soul sheltering from the weather. Various groups of visitors and residents stand around on the lobby floor, quietly trying to shake life back into their extremities. Like you, none of them are dressed warmly, or seem to have been prepared for more than a mildly chilly day. A few muffled sneezes send an invisible frisson of fear through the room, and the perpetrator is quickly hurried upstairs, followed by a tureen of steaming soup (chicken, if your nose tells you correctly).

You make a quiet circuit of the room, hoping to pick up on an interesting conversation, but nothing worthwhile comes of it, and the smell of soup has reminded your stomach that breakfast was a whole three hours ago. You enquire with the concierge about the possibility of morning tea...?

"All we've got is cucumber sandwiches, I'm afraid." He turns for a moment to address another visitor. "Just a moment, sir." Back to you: "This frightful weather... half our pantry has been freezer burned. Will that be all? I'm afraid we're terribly busy right now..."

"That'll be all right." Cucumber sandwiches. Decadence in tiny triangular packages. "Could I have them brought up to my rooms? With perhaps a small brandy?"

"That won't be a problem, Miss Hsobel."

"Thank you."


Several notebooks. A novel or two, for inspiration. Warm clothes. Stationery. Your factsheet folder, a watch too cheap to carry around, and - in one pocket of your satchel - your sister's tattered ragdoll, faded and worn. She made you promise to bring it along, and to bring it back. All of these you've emptied out onto the massive bed. They make a very small pile.

Your lockbox is on the bed, too. It has some money and a couple of odds and ends, including a heavy locket from your mother. A tiny lock, no bigger than your pinky nail, holds shut the locket's two halves; unfortunately you neglected to ask your mother for the key before you left and now it's less than useless. There are various inscriptions on the back.

All in all, an invisible observer would conclude that you are not a person to travel heavily.

On one wall, heavy curtains block all light from the outside world. You twitch one aside and look out the sheet-glass window - slightly distorted snow is still falling from the sky, though it seems to be slowing. Across the road, it appears as if one roof has collapsed entirely. A small crowd is pulling the occupants from the snow, and luckily it doesn't seem as if anyone is injured; in fact, the atmosphere below seems almost convivial. Flasks of something or other are passed back and forth, warm blankets are brought up from neighboring homes. Once again, the community spirit of the Pole Islanders strikes you.


You make your way downstairs, into the warm lobby. The milling people have mostly dissipated to their rooms or back to their homes, facing the slowing snowfall outside with furs and boots, courtesy of the Tremont House staff. The concierge seems less flustered now, and he's busy transcribing invoices from one book to another. A little box of gears and dials sits on one cover, and every so often he gives one of these a half-turn. Numbered prisms turn inside the box, displaying different values out a set of glass windows.

"Eugene? Eugene Levy?"

At the sound of his name, the concierge looks up. "Yes? Oh, Miss Hsobel. I didn't see you, I'm sorry. Could you give me a moment?" With a final flicker of his fingers on the box, he closes both ledgers. "The tabulator works wonderfully, Dr. Hollerith. My commendations."

The young man at the desk nods gratefully and takes the box. "It has trouble with values past 10,000, I'm afraid. I've almost got an electrical prototype ready, though of course it wouldn't be as efficient. The gearings alone..."

"Anyway, what can I do for you, Miss Hsobel?"

"Oh, a message. Your brother David says hello. And by coincidence, Dr. Hollerith," you turn to the young doctor, "your boots are ready."

"Oh, excellent, excellent! I was worried they wouldn't be completed in time. I've had them reinforced, you see. It wouldn't do to have them break on the expedition." He gives you a sly wink.

You're starting to wonder if there's anyone in town not going on this expedition.


"Hahaha! Not at all, Miss Hsobel!"

The two of you tramp through the rapidly slushifying snow. The sun has finally come out, and for the first time you see the Glass Gear, twinkling high above in the summer sunbeams. The mainshaft terminates soon after, or so you're told. To you, the golden rod just disappears into a point high in the sky.

"I'm merely part of the base camp, the crew that will act as resupply and liasion with the Hall of Artificers. We'll stay above and act as a first-stage station for further attempts at the chronochasm."

"What did you think of the-" you begin, but he shushes you.

"Please, Miss Hsobel. Daniel McCloud has organised this expedition, it is true, but I am not privy to particulars in the mission statement that he may have told you. On my honor, I would not ask you to violate his trust."

"Then how do you know there's something to hide?"

His only answer is a cryptic, "Daniel McCloud has many secrets."

All... right.


A little closer to town, you try a different question to clear the air. "Do you have any advice as to my expedition gear?"

"That I can help with," he says brightly, "you'll probably not need much. Just a large pack, and some good tools. The Eckenstein family down in Albion, who are very keen climbers, they've invented a device called a 'crampon', like an inverted rack gear. It slots into specially-altered boots and allows better traction..."

You let him ramble on. Dr. Hollerith seems enthusiastic enough about the mechanical aspects of crampons and the potential applications for redeveloping used rack and pinion gears for use in outdoor activities, but your enthusiasm for the expedition is somewhat less than excellent. According to the good doctor, McCloud has apparently opted not to take porters on the descent, which means you'll have to pack light or risk becoming a liability. Still, you've glean a few good nuggets of advice from him.


The general store has some, but not all, of the supplies you need. As per Dr. Hollerith's advice, you pick up a rugged leather water-flask and a generous portion of dried preserves. The proprietor, a swarthy southerner by the name of Whitelaw, assures you that Worth's down the road has all manner of hiking and camping equipment, and do let Worth know that he sent you.


Worth is happy to supply you with these new 'crampons' and attached boots, which look somewhat like overextended ice skates. Honestly, they seem entirely too specific an item to be useful, but you've never gone on an expedition. What would you know? You also pick up an overlarge rucksack with a light alloy frame, both of which Worth was happy to spend a quarter of an hour expounding on. Not that you find yourself all that surprised - everyone here in Port Huygens is a craftsman, after all.


You'd expected the town tailor to be an insufferably effete socialite, like the bespoke clothiers in Greater Albion, but Miss Tailor is deft with a needle and practical in her advice. "The Elysian Field terminates approximately fifty to a hundred feet down into the chronochasm. After that point, temperatures will be estimated around the zero-centigrade mark and will decrease steadily. Warm clothing will be vital." She bustles about you, adjusting various aspects of your clothing. Together with the woolen underclothes, you're actually too hot in the warm room - a good sign.

Something occurs to you. "How do you know all this?"

"Oh, you're not the first one to come in about this. You're in luck: I have one down anorak approximately your size, with a fur hood. Aside from certain experimental synthetic fills, down is your best choice in this matter. The chronochasm does not experience weather in the strictest sense, and conditions are expected to remain cold and dry."

"Pardon me for saying, but you don't speak like a tailor."

"That I do not. I also study applied meteorology at the Rogers Institute of Technology, up by the Hall. My thesis is on the mechanics of the Glass Gear and the relative microapplications of climate gearing."

You look at her with newfound respect. "A doctorate? That's very unusual."

Her face is impassive, but there is a twinkle in her eyes. "I'm the first in my family."

"And I expect you'll be coming with us on the expedition."

"Yes. I'm your navigator and microclimate expert. McCloud specifically requested me for my expertise in the unusual weather patterns that begin to form past the Henry Richmond sub-level. He had trouble with those last time, so I heard."

You're beginning to legitimately wonder, "Is there anyone in this town who isn't going on this expedition?"

Miss Tailor shakes her head. "It may seem that way, but a great deal of the doctors and artificers coming along will most likely stay within reach of the Hall, at base camp. Their retinue and support staff from around the town will likely remain there as well. McCloud's group - the actual expedition - is much smaller."

"Well, who's in it?"

"I couldn't say. The rosters haven't been finalized. I just outfit everyone who comes along."


Worth's son is a hardy boy, and he's earning his keep today as you watch him jog back to Tremont House with your new clothes in your new pack. The sun is out again, and the snow only remains in sad melting piles in corners and on the roadsides. It's once again a beautiful autumn day.

As if on cue, you spot an apple tree by the side of the road. Red apples hang temptingly from snow-laden branches, and a happy sign indicates that they are free for public consumption. Some scamp has made off with all the low-hanging ones, presumably off to set up an apple stand on the other side of town. It's been a while since cucumber sandwiches, and a snack for afternoon tea wouldn't hurt one bit.

You're reaching for an apple perched on a high branch, when it hits you like a metaphorical... apple, you guess.


Newton's Principia Mathematica. That's where you've seen those patterns before, in a dusty old volume many years ago.


"One of the original collections, dear?" The librarian of the Port Huygens Public Library is a sweet old lady, but her movements are all frustratingly slow. She shuffles through an eternity of files before looking back up at you. "I'm afraid we only have reprints of the Principia, dear. Original collections of Newton's notes, God bless his soul, we wouldn't really keep them here. Have you tried the archives up at the Hall?"

"Are you sure? I really need to see some annotations that were on Newton's originals."

"Nothing like that here, dear. This is a technical library, not an archive. But if you'd like a few potboilers, you're welcome to check our new adventure novel section." She seems vaguely disapproving of this concept in the same way that all old people disapprove of the universe in general.

"Thank you."


Well, you've achieved most of what you set out today to do. On the surface, it's been a big day... but like the icebergs out on the sea, you suspect there are far bigger things below the surface. And this was just the first day. Your mind feels positively overstuffed with new experiences.

You rack your mind to see if there's anything else you want to do, or if it's time to return to the hotel and turn in for the night... or the brightly lit never-ending summer that substitutes for night at the North Pole.
RE: The Gravity Escapement (TWS)
We should draw what we can remember of the pattern from memory before we go to bed
~◕ w◕~
RE: The Gravity Escapement (TWS)
The curtains are drawn, the lights are out. Only the lamp on your desk emits any light, and the oval pool of illumination shines on one of your many notebooks. It is supposedly night, but you know that behind the thick curtains lies the full force of the Arctic sunshine.

The patterns on the pendulum seem to twist and writhe in your memory. You only got a glimpse, but both times the eye seemed to slip away among the lines and swerves, leaving nothing behind in the mind. All that remains is conviction - that the patterns in the book and the patterns on the pendulum were one and the same.

Still, you try. It comes out to a complex squiggle of loops and whorls, roughly approximating a trefoil knot. Oddly enough, you can't seem to trace your finger along the lines you yourself just drew.

It must be tiredness. As if on cue, your eyelids grow heavy, and you are barely able to stifle a yawn. The soft bed awaits you, and it's been a long day. You're out before you hit the pillow...


Your father is hoeing the back garden, trying to coax tomatoes out of the cracked, dry soil. Suddenly, a sprout comes forth from between a pair of stones, and shoots improbably up into the air. As you look up to watch its progress, you realise that instead of bearing red tomatoes, gears are falling from the sky, and the plant is flowering into the twinkling Glass Gear. The plant is the mainshaft, which warbles out an operatic epic out of key.


You awaken from troubled and confusing dreams to the sound of birdsong. You fumble on the bedside table and check your cheap pocketwatch, ticking merrily away: it's six in the morning, give or take a few minutes. Far too early to head down to the Hall, you'd arranged to meet McCloud at noon. Still, you could head in early and have a look at the archives. Or you could wander the town and do some interviews for the story, like that Henry fellow Lleu mentioned.
RE: The Gravity Escapement (TWS)
> Find some cool people to interview.
RE: The Gravity Escapement (TWS)
Let's go find Henry, assuming he's up this early
~◕ w◕~