Still Deeper

10th October - Deep Beneath the City - Late Morning

Eris stood within the viewing room and watched the City collapse under the heal of the Elesian invaders. They had abandoned their warren beneath the Rose District and moved to another nest beneath the City set aside for purposes such as this. She wondered absently how man bolt holes her master had, how many places he could crawl and hide as the invaders turned over every rock in Dusk to find them.

It was clear that the sky dwellers knew a great deal about the happenings of the world beneath the Dark City and she had to wonder how deep that knowledge truly went. If they knew so much of the Clockwork King, what of the Deep Delve and the Mother. Were they cognisant of everything that went on beneath the Maelstrom? Suddenly she felt an utter fool, standing there in the viewing chamber watching the events of the City unfold, were the Elesians watching her in turn? Laughing behind their hands at the clever little rats that scurried beneath their feet?

They layout of this new viewing room was similar to the old. Hundreds of dark orbs set in a floor beaten down like a wide copper bowl. She crouched to touch one of the orbs and an image of Phineas Steelhart materialised within it. She watched as he made his way through the Steamworks keeping a wary eye on the sky. He ducked back behind a parked wagon as a troop of Elesian soldiers marched out into the street ahead of him. A confused crowd of Dusk Militia and Watchmen ambled along behind them, their weapons confiscated and many of them sporting wound. To the rear one of the hulking Tin Men lumbers along. She frowned at the sight of the machine it pistons hissing steam as they drove the great steel legs onward and the green glow of flagesium seeping from its chest cavity. The metal beasts were designed for intimidation and little more, they were almost an insult.

She was forced to reconsider her assessment as one of the Militia soldier broke ranks and made a run towards where Phineas was hiding. A barked order from one of the armoured Elesians and then then the Tin Man was moving. Within two short strides it caught up with the terrified soldier and clamped a fist around the mans neck. Another order from the Elesian and there was a sharp squeeze and a fountain of blood. Eris looked away.

When she glanced back Phineas was moving again and he soldier has moved on. An intriguing man she mused. She would have to look in on him when events permitted. There was something... magnetic about his personality. The turn of phrase made her smile and shake her head.

"What amuses you my daughter?" The voice of the Clockwork King came to her mind with a familiar tingle.

"Do not call me that." she said flatly.

"Eris then, would you share your thoughts with me?"

"They are yours to take." she answered, speaking out loud and refusing to share the mental link he was using to speak with her. He gave a sigh,

"Being amongst them is changing you, as it changed me so long ago. You resent my intrusion."

"I... do." she admitted.

"When first you came you would not even have noticed it."

"No." she agreed glancing down at the soft pink flesh that now covered her once injured arm.

"So be it." he said, and there was a soft draft of air as a large portal opened high above her. There was a scraping and shuffling sound of movement as something large passed through the opening and then his voice could be heard in the room and she resisted the urge to glance upwards as he spoke,

"I will use the link only at need and grant you your privacy." he said.

"Thank you."

She touched the orb showing the abandoned complex. She watched as Edward Hanton was examined by Elesian scientists and wondered why the man was laughing. Had his injuries driven him to madness?

"Why did we leave him?" she mused.

"Our plans for the High Inquisitor require his return to the seat of power.." came the voice from above, "His purpose will become clear in time and until then we have our strings wound tightly about him."

"What use are out plans now?" she asked, "The Elesians have ruined it all."

The Clockwork King laughed, a deep rumble coming from the shadows above.

"Oh my dear, this may be unexpected but it is not unwelcome. What do we care who sits on the hill and rules the masses. There will always be a place for us here beneath the City and who knows, one day perhaps above. Just wait and see my daughter, just wait and see."

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