Subaqueous Selection

Young and growing, that’s what she needed. She dropped the end of the stick into the water again, the end of the stick to which was affixed the Mechanism.

It was early enough in the day that the stench of gutted fish didn’t yet dominate the senses, and gull-cries were individual voices rather than the chorus that would make itself heard later. Rocking slowly on the gentle swells out in the bay, ships too big to moor at the piers were attended by smaller boats loading and unloading cargo, hands, and the occasional passenger.

The Mechanism obliged by becoming wet. At least in part. The submerged part. Still above the water was the aft-end of the short tube that led to the viewing port. Through the crystalline glass of the viewing port she beheld the barnacle-encrusted hull of a two-masted brig, lately arrived from Waterdeep carrying, in the effects of one of its passengers, a volume that would have changed the course of her life had she been able to read it.

The passenger was an antiquarian who had arrived at this wild land seeking ancient artifacts to attract the cognoscenti of the City of Wonders, and the book (he thought) was a fairy-story from after the fall of Myth Drannor, a rambling phantasy detailing the travails of a group of beasts and imaginary creatures. He was translating it from Draconic into Common in his spare time, the better to publish, amuse and profit, but he did not realize that he was removing the secret that had been enciphered into it in the way of Alchemists, who talk of Eagles, Bulls, and Hippogriffs in an allegorical tongue all their own.

And so Drusilla did not learn at that time the secret of setting spells into metal as neatly as fingers of gold hold a sapphire in a ring, but at least she had found her barnacles.

Manipulating the Mechanism along the boat’s hull (for boat it was, lacking the requisite third mast that would elevate it to the status of ship) she examined the mass until she found a newish, small barnacle. She pressed the Mechanism’s snout around it and pulled a lever, causing a thin metal shutter to draw across the snout’s opening and scrape that one barnacle loose. Free from the hull, it fell slowly in the warm bay water into the container that made up the Mechanism’s bottom.

It would be joined by another and then several more. Within the space of three-quarters of an hour, Drusilla had finished (for she didn’t need many barnacles, she just needed the right barnacles) and returned to the workshop.

This tooth would be well and truly fixed in place.


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