Chapter 12 Excerpt from The Storm of Northreach
Another unedited sneak peek at my current project. This time, a new character! Excitement! Thrills! CRAVAT-ADJUSTING! Are you not entertained?!
The man with the golden key frowned as he examined the intricate gears and mechanisms inches from his nose. His eyes narrowed behind the glass of his gold-rimmed spectacles as they searched for anything out of place in the workings of the Gnarri-made machine. He eyed the coils and cogs and gears, making sure no tooth looked worn or scratched or pitted and that every pin and post was straight and sturdy. Only then did he place the thin key inside its dedicated slot. His fingers, though thick, manipulated the thin metal gently, almost lovingly, and a faint smile lifted the thin lips that normally rested in a sedate and calm downturn.
The man felt as well as heard the gentle clickings that resulted from his turnings of the key. The precisely-crafted instrument responded to his attentions as it had every day for the seventy-four years it had been in his Lord’s possession, never giving a clunk, neither a whirr, nor even a clink, unlike the other devices his Lord had accumulated over the years that were fashioned by the clumsy unskilled hands of man.
When the key encountered the resistance that informed of its duty fulfilled, the man gave a slight nod. The sixty-third and final mechanism was attended to, and that meant that his duties would now shift. In fact, he thought as he examined the machine, it should be precisely…now.
Four beats passed before the door opened behind him and the doorman gave his discreet cough. Frowning at the inability of the rest of the world to meet his beloved machines’ reliability, the man turned his body attentively, presenting his lined and slightly jowly face topped with close-shorn graying hair and fronted by a thick aristocratic nose to the man begging his attention.
“The last of the guests has arrived,” the doorman said to the major domo with a bow.
The man carefully removed his spectacles and placed them inside their special case, returning both to the inner pocket of his coat. “I shall inform the Lord,” he intoned, his rich rolling voice lapping at the walls of the antechamber. The doorman bowed and withdrew, leaving Lord Aravan’s housemaster alone once more.
He stepped stiffly across the expensive but pleasing rug, old damage to his left knee granting him the limping gait. Halting before the dark panels of the door leading to his Lord, he turned to the silvered looking glass in order to perform the minute adjustments to cravat, waistcoat, and trousers necessary before he made his entrance. With another minute nod, he turned back to the door, a man whose name was forgotten by everyone, including himself but excluding his Lord, the man who was called, merely, the Clockwinder.
As he entered his Lord’s favorite sitting chamber, the man was greeted by a liquid, languorous voice. “You’re four ticks late.”
The Clockwinder bowed his head fractionally. “I shall be sure to dismember the doorman publicly and have him liquefied and served to the poor as a reminder of the importance of punctuality, my Lord,” he answered drily.
“Be sure that you do.”