Cortex Dreams

Its left leg clanks and bends outward with every step it takes from an injury incurred decades ago from a forgotten enemy as it patrols its length of cavern for yet another turn.  With what limited memory the machine has it cannot fathom how many times it has made this walk, searching for foes long dead.  There are no feelings of regret or depression though, the Gnomish Clang-Vincer’s cortex just doesn’t have the capacity for anything approaching emotion.  All that powers the alloy monstrosity is a sense of duty.  It must protect the masters, until the end of its days.  So it marches on.

Today there is something different though, it senses movement in the dark.  Five shapes creep toward it, they likely believe they have the element of surprise but they are soon to discover their error.  As the first leaps from the shadows the Clang-Vincer brings its armored backside to bear in a rush of whirring gears and the enemy’s sword barely makes a dent.  It is readily apparent to the others attacking that they are not going to get the jump on the machine and a full melee ensues.

A blow to the side of its head jars loose a memory and while crushing one of the villains’ legs within the clamp on its right arm, the Clang–Vincer recalls the day his master placed the clamp.  It shone bright and polished in the light of the workshop, opening and closing with oiled silence.  Nothing like the creaking difficulty with which it moved now, loud enough to be heard even over the piercing wail of the clamp’s victim.  The blow to the head must have been vicious indeed as more memories, long buried, poured through the cortex brain.  With ease the machine let them flow as the combat continued.

Memories of how it used to serve its master through labor, not dealing death.  Lifting large metallic beams high and using its torch to weld those beams together so water may flow into another fountain.  This memory passed into another where it used that same torch to melt the armor off countless foes as it stood next to its mechanical brethren.  All the while their masters fled upward into the higher portions of the mountain.  As it attempted to raise that torch now the Clang-Vincer was reminded that the torch was gone, it had been long ago ripped from its place by one of the creatures responsible for the gnomish masters’ flight.

It noted dimly that though one of the present attackers lay weakly gripping their ruined leg, things were not going well.  One of them had discovered the Clng-Vincer’s own weakened leg and had brought a heavy mallet down on the bend.  It fell.

As the Clang-Vincer lay upon the dust of the cavern floor a final memory flit through its rapidly fading mind. No…not a memory, this was happening at this very moment!  One of the masters was before its eyes, they had come back!  Was this emotion it felt?  Was this happiness?  Finally they had returned, it tried to warn the little master of the villains who had just vanquished it, for they could not be far away, but speech had never been a gift bestowed upon this machine like some others had received.  At least it had survived to see a return of the mast…

“BE DAMNED YOUR ANCESTORS AN’ THEIR GOD CURSED MACHINES GNOME”, bellowed Krint Meadbrash as the dwarf tried to put pressure on his crushed leg and faltered.  The other dwarves in the group rushed to the aid of their fallen comrade as he screamed more curses at the Gnome, but  BindiBindabick just silently straddled the machine they had just fell.

“I think it’s trying to tell me something”, Bindibindabick whispered looking into the dimming red eyes of the once magnificent construct.

“What was that?!” The dwarf hollered, in anger trying to stand.  “If’in you try an’ convince me one more God Curs’d time that these THINGS have somthin’ akin’ ta’ a brain I swear I be leavin’ you down here!”

“Oh…nothing Krint, just trying to figure out where to start salvaging”, the gnome said with a hint of sadness, “I’m certain we’ve found something great here… something real great.”

Bindibindabick began his work while the others patched up the Dwarven leader of their little band.  He kept his head down so the others couldn’t see the moisture welling, threatening to fall.

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