After no small amount of chatter and diplomacy with the Magewrights of House Cannith about his long absence, he finally made it to the Fernian Conduit Floor. His floor. Hot as it ever was, the sheer manifestation of the plane of Fernia, somewhat artificially produced, but powerful all the same – warmed him to his very core.
The everbright lanterns were still on, seemingly untouched. Not enlarged, dimmed, or even emboldened in the least since last he remembered being here. It must have been six, no, nine months? Or was it more. Yeah… It was more. Curse his faulty cerebral cortex. He had to get the diagnosis number on these error reports that were flooding to him every few moments. Yes, thank you onboard diagnostics – telling him “something is wrong” wasn’t exactly helpful. Sometimes his docent just didn’t know how to be helpful.
He approached the gate of his workshop, and took off his Ring.
It was his Ring of Master Artifice. The very first project he was tasked with creating, to prove his skills were up to the task of becoming a Master Artificer. He placed the ring into the small indentation in the center of the large clockwork door. Nothing happened. Several seconds passed, Hephaestas moved to retrieve his ring, figuring Cannith had rerouted power from his shop, as the massive door roared to life. Gears groaned. Pneumatic valves hissed, arcane patterns began to light up, and his ring began to glow. The once familiar sight he was used to every morning after his daily oilspresso, was happening once again. Oh how he missed the magnificence of it. The four metal bands of his ring wonderously unwound into the four corners of the door. Liquid white-hot. The adamantine strand to the adamantine section, silver to the silver section, mitral to it’s corner, and lastly, platinum to it’s. Once each strand unlocked each clockwork tumbler – the bands retracted and magically wove back into the ring. His hammer and anvil sigil emblazoned on the top, just as it was the moment he made it. Hephaestas retrieved the ring and planted it back onto his right hand as the door began to swing open.
He was finally back.
Hephaestas approached his workstation. Old arms, legs, faulty facial implants, scrapped docent remnants and sensory receptors lay abandoned like old mail in a heap; hoping to get a chance to be worked on again.
He hooked up his diagnostic cables and began the incantations for a self-repair mending ritual. Ahh, it was a code 1070C. Memory storage full. Well, nearly full. Luckily he had a few more Mnemonic Circuits. With barely a twitch, he sprang his tinkerers tools from his fingertips. He lowered his cowl and with just a few moments, unlatched a section on the side of his head. He walked over to his Wall of Memory, where he stored all things pertaining to his past and present, and picked up three circuitboards. He gently placed them through the unlatched side and then nimbly completed the operation. The integration stage would only take a few moments. He pulled out the heartstones from one of the bags of his belt and turned them around in his palms. So sad, he thought. Without an automaton shell, these heartstones would forever glow without a home. Unless…the tinkerer thought. The gears of his creative genius beginning to turn. Unless he did something with them…
A dangerously inventive plan hatched in his head. He rushed over to the forge, started the bellows and began stoking the fire. He set all of the Fernian Heat Valves to open. He grabbed a pile of scrap mithral and adamantine and threw it into the melting station. He picked up his hammer, Forge, began humming an incantation, reached for a foot-thick pile of schema, and started one of the most ambitious projects he’d attempted yet.