Little 'n' Large
P. W. Pennyworth Esq.
“You people with hearts,' he said once, 'have something to guide you, and need never do wrong; but I have no heart, and so I must be very careful.” ― L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Class: [Infernal] Warlock
Multiclass: Witchcraft Initiate (Wizard)
Paragon Path: Blood Mage
Background: Occupation – Military
It has a body of iron and wood and strange oils. A mind of wheels and cogs and sluggish hellfire.
A fog clouds its memories, and when the fog parts it dimly remembers battle. What war is was, when or where, it cannot recall. But it knows it strode across battlefields in the company of its kind, brown mud churning under its feet, the harsh cries of fighting men mixing with the clang of steel, the grinding clamour of great pistons.
Its arms were covered in blood past the joints of its elbows. What greater satisfaction can there be, than to meet the purpose to which you are made?
Now it recalls: that purpose came to a close. Wars will end, it supposes, struggling to grasp the fleeting recollections. There is a memory of a great foundry, and of its companions cast into vast vats of molten metal. But it did not end there. Did it escape? Was it given new orders? Or bought and paid for like a suit of will-less armour?
The memories now come hard, and it shudders to contemplate them. A profound disintegration of purpose. Death of the self. Now it stands guard by a gate. Now it stands by a square. Its movements are slow, clumsy. Now it stands.
Now there are spiders and they weave it a mantle.
Through the darkness it struggles to hear voices. There is a clink of metal. It is taken away. The caravan moves, and people gather ‘round it. A penny to see the machine, tuppence to touch it.
There is noise and torchlight, and it savours the memory in anticipation of what is to come. Its cart upends, it rolls on the ground. Blood mixes with the earth of the road. Then there is silence.
Then there is fire. Wisps first, they call to it, promise warmth like it has never felt. Its rusty cogs struggle to turn against each other but it moves, dragging itself on the ground, crawling on its four limbs. The fire guides it through the trees.
It does not recall the way. But it recalls bathing in a pool of green, flames seeping into it and imbuing it with new vitality, wholeness, sense of self. It realises: it is becoming its own being, much more so than ever before. As it lowers itself past the stone rim of the pool, it knows the fire will be with it always.
It comes to itself surrounded by carnage, and senses no emotion moving within as it assesses what the bandits left behind. There is work to be done here: in gratitude for its rebirth it prepares its past existence as a burnt offering. As the fires die down it names itself, and discovers the quiet satisfaction of self-mockery. Its soul is not so cold now.
The past moves into the present and it lets it mind turn away from remembrance. The future beckons, but it feels no hurry to join it. Its imperatives have changed and though it doesn’t understand them yet, it knows the fires in its breast require stocking.
And it remembers well the bitter reward of being a tool for another’s design. There is much that may be attended to. The day is pleasant. It is patient and it knows that whatever purpose it turns its attention to, that shall be matter of its own choosing.