Procrastination. Really, that’s where I’m at. I have so little left before I finish the first draft of War of Shadows, and I’m avoiding it at every turn – stupid really, but I just can’t help myself. Today, I spent most of my writing time with a new and different story idea. I don’t know where it’s going, the characters hopped into my mind, and I’m already in love with them. Someday I’m going to turn this into something, but maybe not right now. Anyhow, here it is in all its drafty glory (what do you think? Is it going somewhere or were you done before you got to the end?):
Thittlebod the Great
She looked at the little old man, bent over some unknown conglomeration of cogs, gears, springs, and flywheels. Thittlebod the Adventurer he was called or Thittlebod the Maker, Thittlebod the Secret Stealer, and sometimes Thittlebod the Great. Once she had even heard Thittlebod the Terrible. He wasn’t any of those things. As she stepped fully into the room, he looked up and removed his goggles, blinking at her with small eyes, watery from concentration. He ran his hand through his wispy white hair.
“My dear Bel,” he said with a toothy smile. “You’ve arrived just in the nick of time.”
Bel-atter was her proper name. She hated being called Bel, she was not one of those prim and brainless bimbos that flitted about the courts of the moneyed. No, that wasn’t her, never would be. Their story was always the same. There was no fairytale ending for them.
She let out an exasperated sigh. “You know I don’t care for the name.”
“Ah, yes, of course, my dear. You prefer Att. Might you see fit to forgive an old man in his dotage.”
Thittlebod’s eye sparkled at this. Whatever he was, he wasn’t dotty. Att knew he thought of her as a Bel, always had. She had been a princess in his home even since she was a small child.
“Oh, my dear,” Thittlebod said, embracing her tightly. “It is so good to see you. I am glad you have come down all this way.”
“I am pleased to have the excuse,” Att said, taking a step back and looking him over more closely. She was disappointed to see that age was beginning to catch up with him. “To what do I owe the honor of your invitation?”
“Your help, my dear, your help.”
Att raised her eyebrow. “What sort of adventure are we on now?”
Thittlebod waived his hand. “No, my dear, I’m too old for that now. Too old. No, I’ll show you.”
After fiddling with the mass of gears and what-not on his workbench, he turned crank, counting aloud to ten, then he dropped a brilliant blue gem into the mess, and clicked a panel into place over it. He took a few steps back.
“A dozen heartbeats, my dear,” He said.
True to his word, a dozen heartbeats later, the mass began moving. This time Att took a step back and reached for her pistol.
“No, no, my dear, he’s safe,” Thittlebod said, holding his hand out to stop her.
Att could feel her eyes growing wide. “He?”
They watched as the mass, sat up on the bench, stretched, and turned to face them, just as if it were getting out of bed. Att actually un-holstered her pistol and pointed it at the thing. As much as a mechanical thing could, it took on a look of surprise and held up it’s hands in a clear sign of fear.
“That’s not necessary, my dear, you’re frightening him,” Thittlebod said.
“What is this Thits?” Att said.
“It’s okay Rundis. She means no harm,” Thittlebod said to the thing, Then turning To Att. “Please, my dear, put that away. It’s not necessary here.”
Att complied, slowly lowering her weapon. “Please tell me what you’ve done now.”
“Rundis here is the world’s first auto-winding automaton.”
“Perhaps you mean the world’s first automaton?” Att corrected him.
“Details,” Thittlebod said vaguely.
“Why have you made it?”
Rundis stared at them with unblinking, glass eyes. Two little flaps, Att took to be eyebrows were raised in an expression reminiscent of surprise or curiosity, she couldn’t tell which.
Thittlebod frowned. “Why have I made him? Well, that’s why you’re here isn’t it?”
Att’s mouth fell open in an effort to find words to respond. These kings of enigmatic statements were one of the peculiar things about Thittlebod.
“I suppose you’ll be wondering what that is my dear?”
“It had crossed my mind.”
“Have I a role?” Rundis said in a metallic, echoing voice.
Att jumped back. “It talks.”
Thittlebod looked from Rundis to her, squinting. “Well, of course it does, my dear.”
Att took a deep breath, then another. “I need a very stiff drink Thits.”
“Of course you do, my dear,” Thittlebod said kindly.
“May I do a drink?” Rundis asked, cocking its head slightly.
“Two, actually,” Att added.