Metamor Keep -- Snips
By Christian O'kane
Jon stopped in front of the door to Misha's room. The Keep antiquarian had a good idea why he had been asked him to come. The fox seemed to have a knack for finding all sorts of things that Jon found interesting. Curious, the white tailed deer morph knocked on the door three times.
"Come in," he heard someone say from the other side.
Opening the door Jon stepped through into Misha's apartment. The first thing he noticed was a large backpack sitting in the middle of the floor. A camouflage patterned shirt was draped over a chair, and near the bed a pair of boots lay where they had been thrown in haste. Of their owner there was no sign.
"Hello?" The buck asked aloud to the empty room.
"I'm in my workshop Jon. The door's by the fireplace," Misha answered.
Jon followed the voice into the next room, and found him kneeling on the floor of his workshop.
Misha looked up at Jon and waved him over. "Come here, you have to see what I've found, " Misha said excitedly.
Curious, Jon moved closer. Laying on the stones underneath his hooves was an odd lump of dirt and debris about as big as a man. Looking carefully he made out a small rust covered gear sticking out the top. Getting down on his knees he looked closer.
What at first glance had looked like a worthless pile of dirt and rock was instead a single corroded, dirt-encrusted object. "What is it, and where did you get it?" the stag asked excitedly.
"One of the work crews found this when they were widening a road two days ago. It was my luck to be nearby at the time. As to what it is, I don't have the vaguest idea," Misha answered.
Jon examined the object with great care. He could make out various gears, rods, and unidentifiable bits of metal all corroded together into one lump. "It looks like some sort of machine. Maybe some great clock, or the like."
Misha pointed to a small cylinder shaped bit laying on the top of the object. "Isn't that part of a metal leg," he said.
"It is!" the deer exclaimed. "Do you have anything I can use to clean this with?" he asked.
The fox reached under his workbench and produced some rags and two small brushes. He handed one of the brushes to John and together they started the laborious task of cleaning.
A few minutes excited work brought to light more of the limb and revealed part of the shoulder it was attached to. They caught sight of another leg, bent and twisted, underneath the first. The metal skin on the leg had broken, revealing rods and tiny gears inside. Misha stopped cleaning and examined the innards of the leg for a moment.
"Jon, I think this is an automaton," Misha said.
"A what?" was the reply.
"A mechanical figure. You know, you wind it up and it moves its head, wags it tail and things like that," the scout explained.
"Are you sure?" Jon asked.
"No, I'm not sure, but a statue doesn't have gears in it, and if it's not a statue or an automaton, what is it?" was the answer.
"Good question. It's definitely some sort of figure, but I don't know what type," Jon commented. The stag stood up and thought for a moment before speaking, "It's going to take a lot of work to clean all the dirt and debris off. We have to plan this carefully, we'll need more brushes, some picks, water, and some chemicals. Would you mind if I had my mentor Smithson join us? He's the real expert on things like this."
"No, I don't mind at all." Misha answered. He looked at the clock on the wall, "Its, eleven now, I have to get cleaned up and report in on my mission. How about we meet back here at three p.m. That enough time to get organized?" he asked.
"Plenty," Jon answered brushing the dirt off of his hands. The two of them moved toward the door. Misha stopped and looked at the artifact laying on the floor behind them.
"I wonder what it is?" the fox asked.
"I don't know but it'll be exciting to find out," was the reply. The deer stared at the object trying to make sense of the little he could make out. For a moment he imagined he saw the vague outline of some crouching predator, ready to spring, and a cold shiver ran down his spine.
Forward to Part 2
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